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An Open Letter from a Christian to the Secular World

Dear secular world,

Let me start off by saying that I don’t want to force my faith or beliefs down your throat. I know you have had experiences with religion that have hurt you or tainted your perception of Christianity and I acknowledge those as legitimate. I just want to take a moment to have a conversation about your world and my world, to explain that I feel freedom and tolerance are one-sided and to hopefully expose some of the mistakes that have been made on both sides.

When I observe the religion in this world, I know that you are looking at me and labelling me with that same stigmatism. But my beliefs, my friend, do not make me an extremist. As with any group in this broken world, all are judged on the actions of a few. And there are some who carry our name who have made some big mistakes. Even those who love God are human, and humans are far from perfect. There are many in our past who have damaged the name “Christian.” Just as there are many in any group who have made mistakes, and the entire group must fight against the label that society lays on them for the actions of a few.

An Open Letter from a Christian to the Secular World: Christian encouragement|

A Glimpse Into the Christian Perspective

I want to state, clearly, that I do not hate transgender people. I am not afraid of someone who is gay or lesbian. I do not endorse extremist bombings. I do not teach my kids to bully someone who is different than them or believes something different. I believe that a Christian first and foremost, is called to love… not judge, never to hate, slander, or attack. But I also have to be honest to myself and others in what I believe. I have a voice, I have a heart and mind and soul just like you. Yet I see a discrepancy in what you are yelling from the rooftops, “Freedom and acceptance to all… tolerate those who are different or have different lifestyles or beliefs…” except for Christians right?

Freedom… for some

We live in a free country, a freedom that many good men and women have fought for. A country where we are free to believe what we want to, speak our minds, make decisions for ourselves, and vote for what we think is right. And yet, this freedom seems to me very one sided. You see, you are free to believe in gay rights, you are free to marry someone of the same sex, you are free to kill a baby that is completely viable, you are free to pray or speak about your faith (to any god who is not THE God that is)…

But if you are a Christian, these same freedoms of speech, of belief even, do not seem to apply.

Christians are not free to believe in heterosexual marriage, that makes them haters. They are not free to disagree with abortion, that makes them extremists. They are not free to pray to God or talk about Him in their schools or jobs, that makes them a bigot, indoctrinated, or worse yet trying to indoctrinate others! They are not free to be concerned with the agenda of the schools to teach our children to question and explore their gender, that makes them intolerant.

As freedom grows in every other realm in this world of ours, it diminishes if you are a Christian. As people become more and more afraid to believe in something that isn’t trending or mainstream, as voices are silenced, values are diminished, and opinions are dismissed and even condemned, where is the line drawn? People are afraid to speak their own opinions anymore. In an effort to abolish fear and bullying for a group of people, society has created an unsafe world for others.

Tolerance isn’t enough

If I dare to mention that I disagree with abortion or still believe in opposite-sex marriage, I am belittled, personally attacked on any and every front, and even harassed by the secular community… for what? Having an opinion? Over the past year I have come to realize that the fact that I can have coffee with someone who is gay, talk with them about their journey, and genuinely love the person… but still not agree with their lifestyle (the very definition of tolerance)… isn’t enough. In fact, it is meaningless.

Nobody cares that we are tolerating and can even love someone who is different than us, even if we disagree. The definition of tolerance has completely shifted in today’s culture, we are expected to celebrate it. If we do not actively celebrate that lifestyle, praise it as what makes them happy, then we are intolerant.

Acknowledging your Experiences

The reality is though, I know you don’t see it. I know that you are probably going to bash this article, because you are blind to the truth. You see, my faith even tells me to expect that! That I will be hated by this world, not for who I am, but for who is in me. I can tell you, however, that as much as I love and care for ALL human beings… I will continue to stand for what God has called me to. I will continue to talk about Him when I am with you, because I genuinely want you to know the truth. I will try not to be pushy or too exuberant in my enthusiasm about what God has done for me, but I make mistakes too. Sometimes God asks me to talk to you and I am afraid. I am afraid of what you might think or what you will say to me. I am afraid that I will lose friendships or be labelled.

I am imperfect my friend, sometimes I shout too loudly, I hurt people with my blanket statements, but please don’t take my behaviour as a perfect representation of who God is. Because God doesn’t label or judge us by our actions, he doesn’t see someone as transgender or gay or someone who aborted their baby. He sees your heart and He loves you, and He wants you to know that above all else. I can try my best and yet I will still fail. I will stay silent when I should have spoken and I will speak when I should have stayed silent. But my heart is this, to love you and to show you God’s heart about you.

I am sorry for the people who have gone before me and will go after me that made you feel that you were less than, that you were judged or hated or miniscule. I am sorry for the times I have been too enthusiastic or come across as judgemental and hard. If nothing else, I hope you know that those moments, those experiences you have had with Christians… that is not God’s heart for you.

I hope that (if by chance you made it through this VERY long letter) you can see that my disagreement with something, my stand for something I think is right, is never coming from a place of hatred or fear. I hope that Christians will be able to have the same freedoms as everyone else and the bullying, bashing, judgement and belittling will stop… on both sides.

Sincerely,

An Imperfect Christian

Comments

  1. Rebecca,
    I could be wrong, but I think there may be two important typos in your letter. In two places you talk about believing in same-sex marriage, when I think you may have meant to say hetero-sex marriage. I am only making this assumption because it doesn’t seem to agree with the rest of what you are saying in the letter.
    Blessings,
    Natasha

    • Thank you! There are two references, I fixed one, the first one in the letter is referring to the secular world. As in “they are free to believe in all these things” but Christians are not free to disagree. If that makes sense? Let me know if you still find the wording confusing and I will see if I can add a few sentences in there to clarify. Thank you for noticing though! I wrote this and rewrote it and rewrote and missed that in the edit, pretty important typo 😮

  2. Thank-you for your website. I discovered it after listening to your amazing talk on the Homeschooling Conference on homeschooling large families. I am a mama of 4 children, the youngest are 1.5 year old twins (then a 3.5 year old and 7 year old). And I am often going crazy so I love your ideas. I also live on a small island and have a partner who works with the RCMP =)

    I know that your post is address to the secular world, and our family regularly attends church (except today when it was cancelled for too much snow!). So we are not your prime audience. Still, I am a lesbian, and I wanted to encourage you to think about whether there is a gay lifestyle? I see you refer to a lifestyle in your post, yet in my experience there isn’t a gay lifestyle or a heterosexual lifestyle, or a white lifestyle. My life is crazy, chaotic and filled with toddler boys getting into everything while I try to teach my 3.5 year old and 7 year old. Still I love homeschooling and recognize this is just a season. Laws ensuring the safety and equality of our family give us the space and grace to continue homeschooling with our large family.

    Thank you again for your ideas at the conference on large families.

  3. Dear Rebecca,
    I am agnostic and am married to a Catholic man. I came across your letter in an effort to understand why those who are religious often say the secular world is trying to take religion away from people. I found your letter to be non-confrontational and thought you are a good person to share my perspective with. I thought I would add a “secular” view or answer to your letter.
    I would like to start by saying that my lack of faith is not due to negative experiences with religion. I simply decided that, in my opinion, no person or religion answers life’s most spiritual questions adequately. I think that the answers are beyond our intellect. I think there is most likely a creator of some sort….. I just can’t presume to know about that as a simple human. I find science to be the clues left by our creator and am in awe of the most intelligent scientists that find and learn to understand these clues and share it with the rest of us. My husband finds his answers in the Catholic faith. We both respect each others’ paths and support each other. I go to church with him and he watches science documentaries with me.
    Being so spiritually different and from different backgrounds, we are beginning to notice the negativity towards opposite sides toward each other. I see the eye rolling and hear the intellect remarks from the secular world about the religious. I also hear the comments about my type going to hell and not being of moral character.
    One re-occurring complaint I have been hearing is how the secular world is trying to take religion from people. This confuses me. I would like to address some of your complaints about secular people, from my point of view.
    * I do not have any problems with religious people introducing me to their faith. I feel warm when they say they say they will pray for me. I know these things are said and done out of care and concern for fellow human beings. I welcome such friendship and am appreciative of it. I do, however, have hurt feelings when people of faith say that I will burn in hell for my lack of faith. I have no fear that I will, but such mean comments do not make a friend out of me. Even if it’s said gently, I find it hurtful. I find it hurtful when those of faith suggest that they are more moral. I have witnessed that not to be true. My whole immediate family is secular. We care about the environment, have participated in feeding and giving Christmas gifts to those who cannot afford what they need, and do not need to fear hell to know that treating others respectfully and with kindness is the best way. We like to celebrate Christmas as a time of appreciating family bonds. We don’t believe it should be about gift giving or having the best decorations. I have actually heard Christians speak negatively about the holiday season because of how stressed they are and how expensive it is. I try to remind them that it’s not about that and they don’t have to participate in a way that shifts the focus and creates that stress, but they look at me like I’m from Mars so I let it go. As I said before, I don’t mind being introduced to people’s faith, I just don’t want to be treated like I’m lost if I don’t agree or subscribe to the same. It’s demeaning. I also feel that the secular world should not be demeaning to those of religious faith.
    * You said that Christians do not have the freedom to believe what they wish. You have the constitutional right to your beliefs, just as I do mine. What you don’t have the right to do, is tell a homosexual couple that their union does not have the same legal rights as a heterosexual couple does. I don’t believe that the concept of a legal marriage should belong to Christians only. You can absolutely disagree with the morality of their union. It’s just not moral to give them less rights because you don’t agree. Our country was founded on the beliefs that the citizens should have freedom to worship or not worship as they choose. We don’t have an established national religion. That’s what many people were fleeing from when they came to America. We were founded on the concept that we all have certain rights that should be defended.
    * People have the constitutional right to worship/pray at school, work, or other public places. What is not allowed is people with authority leading this. A student can say grace before lunch, but a teacher or principal in a public school should not tell students to do this any more than they should tell them not to. If my boss started leading prayers, could I find myself fired or not getting promotions for not participating? I am a nurse and I have participated in prayer due to patients’ requests. I feel this is the right thing to do as my patients’ well-being (including spiritually) is my responsibility. I have heard of a nurse who told patients that they would have a better survival rate from treatment if they pray with her. This is wrong as it puts her spiritual beliefs before her patients’. She was fired as many patients complained that she made them feel uncomfortable at vulnerable moments in their lives. Many Christians were outraged by this, but that is unfair to be concerned with her rights/beliefs over her patients’. Her job was to care for the sick, not scare them into believing in her faith.
    * You say that Christians are bullied. So are the secular. The common error here is not the religious or the secular…..it’s the bullies. Both sides have them. Maybe we should join together to focus on stopping the bullying rather than being pitted against each other.
    * I have heard many Christians state that non-Christians should just leave this country if we don’t agree with Christians. This hurts me terribly. I was born here. My father was a marine. My brother spent much time away from family on aircraft carriers and submarines in the navy. My son has already done one tour in Afghanistan in the army. I am thankful for my freedoms in America. It’s not perfect, but I like us and much of what we stand for. I love that I can be free to have my own spiritual journey while my husband is free to worship as a Catholic. You said that you expect to be hated for your beliefs. I wish you would hold people to higher standards than that. You should not be hated. I don’t hate you. I was warmed by your message of love and tolerance. I want you to know that many of us in the secular world would stand up for you and your freedom to be a Christian. If I was at a restaurant with you, I would bow my head with you to say grace. I would stand up for your right to do so, if anyone took issue with it. I wonder how many of the Christians around me would stand up for my rights.
    * If you lost any friends due to your faith, they were not your friends to begin with. Just continue to be yourself and you will have real friends. Peace be with you!

    • Becky,
      I want to say thank you for sharing your heart. I pretty closely have the same perspective as Rebecca. You sound like a very kind person and a lot of Christians could learn from you.

    • Thank you Rebecca for your honest letter and thank you Becky for sharing your experience and perspective. I am also agnostic and respect everyone’s faith exactly as Becky described in her reply. What is interesting with Rebecca’s letter regarding tolerance, is that I myself have feared admitting to anyone I am agnostic assuming I will be judged as not being moral or ethical. Meanwhile my religious centered friends fortunately do not live with this worry as they proudly discuss their faith without fear of ridicule. I have studied global religions and the history behind each and find their origins all so very interesting. I respect that history as well as the faith that has been passed on through generations in each culture. If respect can be truly passed both directions across all faiths, it would bring us all so much peace. Much love!

  4. Bullies are on both sides. I used to be a Christian, and after much research and soul searching, I just could not follow this religion anymore. I tried my best to silently leave, but I have been shunned and treated poorly by other Christians.I was accuses of leaving because of offense and anger, but that was not the case at all. My husband remains a Christian, and I am a Zen Buddhist. We make it work, very well, as we both have respect and tolerance for each other. WE support each other, he encourages me to meditate, I encourage him to go to church. There’s so much to be learned and so much growth that takes places when you learn to live peacefully with those who have different opinions than you do.

    Jesus talked a lot about love, God is love, so that’s is enough for me. We can be different, yet tolerate others and still love them.

    http://www.canadianmennonite.org/stories/once-around-barn-lbgtq-edition

    Religion’s original word is “unite.” I have no desire to be like one of these extremists (and each religion has them).

  5. Love your letter! I agree with you 100%. Stay strong in your journey! You will be rewarded in the next life. Hugs!

  6. Love this!!! So beautifully written. I agree with you completely. I had no idea you are an RCMP spouse! I am as well :-). Please feel free to message me anytime. I am christian and one day would love to homeschool our children too! Thank you for everything you do!

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