Guest post by M
What would you think if I told you that I had this deep relationship with Halle Berry? What would you think if told you that I walk with her, that I talk with her and that I commune with her all the time, every day? Now, if I’m a famous Hollywood actor or actress you would probably believe me, because after all, it’s not so outrageous to believe that famous celebrities hang out and have access to other famous celebrities. But unfortunately, I am no celebrity. I’m just an average guy who works a 9-5 job and runs errands and hangs out with friends on the weekend. My life is not definitely not glamorous or exciting. Maybe it will be someday though. OK, back to the point. Considering that you know that I’m no celebrity, you would either think I’m full of shit or that I have some serious mental disorder if I told you that I had this deep and real relationship with some Gorgeous Hollywood celebrity.
Now what I’m about to say may be extremely offensive to you considering your view of the world and spiritual matters. If you are an evangelical/fundamentalist Christian, you might find what I’m about to say downright blasphemous, but at least hear me out before you start with your predictable threats of hell and damnation. When you really think about it, saying that I have a personal relationship with Halle Berry is no crazier than saying that I have a personal relationship with God.
How can I say this? Well, let me give you some details about my background. I’ll try to keep it short so no one gets bored. I was an evangelical/fundamentalist Christian for just under 11 years (over a decade). One of the several things that Christians used to say to me when they witnessed to me was that I could have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. And you know what? I used to tell people the same thing when I witnessed to them. Another common line (or lie) that I used was, “Christianity isn’t a religion. It’s a relationship with God.”
Now before I continue, I want to clearly state that while I am no longer a Christian, I’m no atheist. If we have to use labels, I’d call myself an agnostic, or maybe even an agnostic theist. In my opinion, no one can absolutely prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is or isn’t a God. After all, we’re talking about matters of the supernatural, right? Even the Bible, if you want to use that as your authority, says that spiritual matters have to be believed by faith, and that if you could see empirical evidence for spiritual matters, it wouldn’t be faith. Yeah, I know this is an extremely rough paraphrase, but I don’t think it’s inaccurate either. All that being said, the complexity of much of creation and my belief in certain moral absolute truths make it seem probable, at least to me, that there is some kind of Creator/Higher Power out there. I strongly doubt that this God that probably exists is the Christian God of the Bible. I also strongly doubt that this God is actively involved in the affairs of this world. Notice I said DOUBT. I didn’t say that that I know these things for sure. Actually these are statements of faith, and I acknowledge that I could be wrong. But based on the evidence that I can see, these are the conclusions I have come to in my life right now.
Now, let’s get back to this issue of relationship. There are all kinds of relationships that can occur between people. There’s the relationship between a husband and wife, child and parent, a friend and a friend, an employee and his boss. Hell, in this day and age you can have a relationship with someone whom you have never met in person or heard their voice. It’s called the Internet, and electronic communication has made these kinds of relationships possible. I’ve just listed a few kinds of relationships that can occur in our lives. There are several more. Obviously, these kinds of relationships are very different from each other but there is one crucial commonality that they all have. All of these relationships involve mutual communication, whether it’s talking on the phone, talking in person, or email. My point is that for a relationship to be a relationship both parties need to communicate with each other. If one party in a “relationship” is doing all the communicating while the other party communicates nothing in return, THAT IS NOT A RELATIONSHIP! If a wife constantly talked to her husband and he said nothing in return even though he was fully capable of doing so, at worst that is not a relationship, and at best, it would be considered an extremely dysfunctional relationship.
I’m sure by now you probably know where I am headed. Why is there such a double standard when it comes to our “relationship” with God? We’re told that through Jesus Christ, we can have a relationship with God. But, how can we be expected to have a relationship with someone who we can’t see, can’t feel, and can’t hear. In fact none of our five senses can experience this God of which Christians talk. Sure, we can talk to God, or at least think we’re talking to Him, but He won’t talk back to us. It’s just constant silence. And don’t give me that quaint easy answer that he communicates with us through the Bible. Human beings, like you and me, wrote the Bible. Is there plenty of truth in there? Of course, and the Bible is certainly a book worth reading. But again, it’s a product of man and did not just drop down to us from the sky. I have become convince that this “relationship” with God that Christians talk about is no different than a small child who has an imaginary friend. Besides, where in the Bible, if you want to use that as your authority, does it say that you can have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ?
In conclusion, let me return to the Halle Berry example. The truth of the matter is that, believe it or not, I have a better chance of having mutual communication and a relationship with Halle Berry than I do with God. That may sound really crazy, but I’m not so sure it is. You want to know why? I could send an email to Halle through her website (if she has one) or I could write her a letter. It most likely would get in the hands of someone who is some kind of assistant to or coordinator for Ms. Berry. That person may decide to pass it on to Ms. Berry, and who knows what could happen? Perhaps Halle would write me back a quick email or letter saying thank you. It’s happened before with celebrities and non-celebrities. It’s rare but it has happened. Also notice that even just a quick note saying thank you is an objective way of communication. It doesn’t leave someone having to think that deep down Halle is saying this to me, or that because these things are happening in my life, Halle must be saying that to me. This is the epitome of subjectivism. What are the odds of receiving a clear and objective response the next time we try to communicate with God? Do I really need to answer that question?