Recently a Christian told me that Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship. I had heard thisbefore, and have seen it on t-shirts and in Facebook posts. The implication is that it is a relationship between the believer and Jesus Christ himself.
I have to wonder how this is not a religion. Many of the belief
systems that the Christian dismisses as religions have similar ideas. I
have a Hindu friend who believes herself to be in a relationship with
Ganesha, the elephant-headed deity with multiple sets of arms (This
being supposedly protects her from harm and gives guidance). Then
there are Bhakti Hindus who believe themselves to be in a relationship
with Krishna, their deity of choice. How do I distinguish the
Christian’s claim of being in a relationship from the claims of other
religions? It strikes me as being a lot like the kid claiming that he
has a girl-friend, but she hasn’t sent him a full-body shot yet. In
order for me to take any of these claims seriously some evidence needs
to be shown that the being you are in a relationship with even exists.
Honestly, even if this being you claim to have a relationship with
does exist, your worshiping of him or her still constitutes a religion.
I would say the same about people who’s praise of their boyfriend or
girlfriend crosses the line into worship (which apparently happens to
people in relationships with cult leaders). Christians, who play the
“it’s not a religion, it’s a relationship” card seem to do so because
they don’t like the baggage associated with term religion. They view
the term religion as implying dogmatic, and unthinking types of
belief. Which they usually are. Rather than accepting that he or she
is being dogmatic, the believer seems to prefer telling herself that she
has a direct line to the all-knowing creator of the universe. As far as
I can tell Christians are Dogmatic, and often very unthinking. To me
it seems that they are simply believing in something they were
indoctrinated to believe in, usually since childhood, when they had no
way of knowing reality from fantasy.
When I look at it, their relationship seems like a pretty weak sauce
one, at best. Christians are supposedly communicating with the
all-knowing creator of the universe, and yet all the supposedly
demonstrable things he does for them are totally unimpressive. He helps
them find their car keys, but if one wants a cure for AIDS or a solution
to our energy problems, one has to look elsewhere. I have never heard a
Christian claim that Jesus has provided guidance that they could not
have come up with on their own. To me the relationship Christians have
with Jesus is in no way distinguishable from the relationship children
have with their imaginary friends. I’ll change my mind in the event
that a Christian demonstrates that Jesus can do something tangible that
an imaginary friend cannot.
Also, the idea of being in a relationship with someone who condones
eternal torment for anyone who rejects him has horrendous moral
implications. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to be in a
relationship with such a monster, unless it’s something similar to the
women who date gangsters and thugs in an attempt to stay on their good
side. In this being’s eyes the believer is a vile, sinful, undeserving
wretch, who needs to come crawling and begging for any shred of
forgiveness he or she gets. There is also the problem that the being
you are supposedly in a relationship with, actively allows an evil
supernatural being to work towards undermining your relationship.
Everything about it is truly bizarre.
Anyway, I’ll simply ask all the believers out there: Why should I
take the claim that you are in some sort of relationship seriously?
What evidence do you have that this being exists, and that he views
humans in any way other than a shallow binary: believers=1 and