“I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world.” 1 Corinthians 5:9-10
This post is the thirteenth 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 #13: Friendships and romances severed or never started over religious differences.
I have friends who are not Christians. I would never think to exclude someone from my friendships only because he was not a Christian. Nowhere in scripture it such action prescribed. Where platonic friendships are concerned, this “harmful effect” is an objection to a commandment that the Bible doesn’t make.
Where romantic relationships are concerned, the bible very clearly forbids Christian believers to enter into marriages with nonbelievers. However, the authors of this list fail to make the case that this biblical proscription in harmful. They claim there is harm in the non-existence of relationships that never start. What’s the harm of something that never happened? The answer to this question doesn’t seem like anything anyone, except perhaps God, can know. Consider the following counter-factual:
If John had entered into a relationship with Suzy, they both would have had a happier life. However, John did not enter into a relationship with Suzy because he was a Christian and she was not.
It’s one thing to state a counter-factual such as this. It’s another thing to know that it’s true. Such a conclusion simply can’t be made given the limits of human knowledge. Atheists often demand proof of God’s existence. I’d like to see atheists try and prove such a counter-factual. When I analyze it, such a counter-factual seems unreasonable. People who disagree on something as fundamental as religious worldview are bound to clash over other important issues. It doesn’t seem wise that such persons should enter into a romantic entanglement. Romantic relationships that don’t work out often cause harm to the participants. Break-ups can be traumatic and depressing. Perhaps then, Christianity, prevents harmful romantic entanglements.
There is a counter-factual that can be proven true quite easily. Consider the following:
If there were no religions, religion would not be a hindrance to the formation of romantic relationships.
It’s made clear once again, this list item is not a polemic against Christianity, but against religion in general. Like other list items, it fails to demonstrate a harmful effect specific to Christianity. Like other items on this list, it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. In fact, this item is so nebulous, it is difficult refute.
In my next post in this series, I’ll address the following:
Harmful Effect #14: “Abstinence-only” sex education, resulting in five times the amount sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancies – often leading to ill-fated “emergency” marriages.
[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.
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