The Christian “Better Than” Complex
Edit: I've updated the format to fit changes being made to the website. I've also added a little information to the article. If you're new here, you won't notice, if you've read this before, it just clarifies some thoughts and adds a couple more.
I hear (and read) many arguments from Christians and “Non-Christians” trying to express their beliefs with each other. In too many cases debates get out of hand. Names are called, insults are flung at each other like monkeys throwing poo and everyone walks away upset. Sometimes when the situation escalates like this, I think we are about to see a repeat of the crusades.
I know a wide range of people and I keep friends from all walks of life. Because of this and my desire to always understand everyone and everything I can, I feel I have a good grasp on perspective. I’d like to share some of my findings. Hopefully you will have comments of your own; I love discussions.
Growing up, I was raised Christian. I grew up in a small town where everyone assumed you were the same religion and if you were not, you were an outcast.
When I was young, my parents divorced. That’s when I started to reevaluate my life and decided not to go back. Everyone’s attitudes toward me changed. Most people treated me like I was less of a person. I thought it was that they all felt that they were better than me. After years of study and experience, I now know that there is a whole complex range of emotional and spiritual conflict.
So then what happens is people who are not Christians, see the Christians as being arrogant people who think they have all the answers.
The Christians see the "Non-Christians" as hateful people who can't come into Gods love and Jesus' salvation.
By the way, most people who are not Christian, dislike being called "Non-Christian." It often represents the idea that Christians see only two ways to see the world. Christian and Non-Christian (or right and wrong). Believe it or not (touch of sarcasm), people tend to be offended when you imply that they are wrong, just as much as when you expressly state it.
This label "Non-Christian" also implies that no matter what religion you believe, it's all the same. There is no nuance for belief systems, and no tolerance for lack of belief versus "incorrect belief." Christians I've talked to can't even comprehend the idea that it could be offensive to completely dismiss someone else's religion. All the while dismissing any that is not their own. I don't see this nearly as often with people who hold other religious views. The more extreme the religious sect (or the specific zealot) the worse it is.
Are you offended when a Christian calls you "Non-Christian"
Have you ever thought about how others feel when you call them "Non-Christian" instead of identifying their religion? (Spoiler alert: It doesn't make you a bad person to say "no.")
The Real Problem
Most people don’t feel better than anyone. In fact, most of us have a complex where we feel less worthy of love than others. This can lead to many problems. Where I grew up, people compensated for their shortcomings by turning to God. They did however consider their beliefs right “no matter what anyone else thinks”. With that attitude, they did not understand they behaved as though they are “better than” everyone else. Because “their beliefs are right”, it makes them seem (to many other people) pompous and arrogant. Whether it is intentional or not, anyone who does not believe the same thing is then belittled. Belittled for not believing "the truth" and belittled for believing ridiculous things.
Furthermore, someone who behaves this way is blind to other perspectives. So much so they can't see simple reason if it defies what they believe. This is actually typical of the blindness caused by beliefs. Not just religion, beliefs. We tend to look for what supports our beliefs.
I'll never forget the business owner who found out his staff was stealing. He ran a computer repair shop. Once he realized the problem, he determined the best way to combat this was to fire everyone who was not a return missionary of his religion. Convinced this would weed out the "evil doers" he thought that was the end of it. It wasn't. In the end, that decision broke his business. This did not solve the theft issue and he was sued for discriminating based on religion. The business didn't survive. He couldn't see the possibility that anyone who believed as he did could do something so bad. Had he instead investigated the problem, he'd have found the culprit and still had his business. Instead, he lost his livelihood and life long passion.
I would appreciate your thoughts on this matter.
Do you have experience dealing with this situation? What was the outcome? Did you learn anything?
Do you as a Christian have any advice that may help "Non-Christians" relate to you?
Do you as a "Non-Christian" have any advice that may help Christians relate to you?
Let us please be respectful. I wish to have all viewpoints expressed without fear of oppression or retaliation. Thank you!
© 2011 kwade tweeling