The Pen

40 harmful effects of Christianity – #12

He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” Jesus as recorded Matthew 10:37

This post is the twelfth in a series that addresses a list of “40 harmful effects of Christianity” that originated on the American Atheists Facebook page and has since made its way around the internet. In this post, I examine the following “harmful effect” from the list:

Harmful Effect #12: People disowning family members for leaving their religion

This particular “harmful effect” leaves me quite perplexed. If Christianity is exceedingly harmful, as the author of this list claims, wouldn’t it be to someone’s benefit to be disowned by a Christian family for leaving the (harmful) religion? It would seem that the disowned person would be better off to be out of such a toxic environment. So, even if this “harmful effect” were actually an actual observation of Christianity, it wouldn’t make sense to call it harmful. However, this “harmful” effect is not actually an observation of Christianity.

I was raised in a Christian family and became a Christian myself over a quarter-century ago. In all my life, I have never known anyone who has been disowned by his family from leaving the Christian religion. There is no biblical mandate to disown family members for leaving the Christian religion. Such a mandate doesn’t make sense. How could the person be won to faith if he were disowned?

Perhaps the author if this list is confused about the meaning of 1 Corinthians 5:1-2 in which Paul states:

It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife. You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst.”

In this particular situation, Paul is ordering what could reasonably be described as a shunning. However, the individual is not being shunned for leaving the faith but rather engaging in unrepentant sin while still claiming to remain in the faith.  Christians should not tolerate any fellow Christian who engages in open sin and refuses calls to repentance from the body of Christ. I doubt, given the apparent biblical ignorance of the list’s author, that he even has the level of biblical awareness required to even misapply 1 Corinthians 5:1-2. The author of the list is perhaps lumping Christianity in with those religions (such as Islam) that do call for disowning (or worse) of those who leave the faith. It is not atypical of atheists to lump all religions together for condemnation.

Christians, when considering family rifts caused by religion, should consider the words of Jesus in Matthew 10:37 and Luke 12:53. One’s commitment to Christ can cause disowning, the disowning of a Christian by his family. It happened in New Testament times and it still today happens. Christians are called to value Christ above all else and everyone else; than includes the members of their own families.

Jesus said, ‘Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in he age to come, eternal life.’” Mark 10:29-30

In my next post in this series, I’ll address the following:

Harmful Effect #13: Friendships and romances severed or never started over religious differences.

[Contributed by Seth Dunn]

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

Seth Dunn

Masters of Divinity in Christian Apologetics, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Member of the Evangelical Theological Society Certified Public Accountant