The Christian Sensitivity

Just read an article in a local newspaper about why Christians feel offended when their faith is questioned. The person quoted Dawkins and said something about how delusional religion is. But some of his critiques on faith were pretty fair – historical issues, repression of ideas, pedophile priests hidden and vouched for, etc.

However I do believe Christianity should be more open to critique, if it is going to survive in any meaningful and transparent way. I have been writing this blog for about 5 years now and my whole thing is about asking those questions and seeking some tough answers; Christianity isn’t easy and it shouldn’t have to be to be ‘useful’.

Christians need to start getting used to their faith being criticized, namely when it comes to the academics of it. Christianity is rooted in history so by that it is something that enters scrutiny automatically; plus it seems to be quite political for years in Europe and now in America. We cannot be sensitive when our stuff comes under fire, because maybe it needs to be challenged (to be refined). Maybe the Christianity we inherired from years of torment in Europe and the early America’s is not (a) the same intent as to what the gospels were meaning to capture or (b) needs to change since it is lacking meaning or even truthfulness.

I get why we are sensitive, our experiences with Christianity are nothing like that which it is vilified for. However if we sit by and think this has nothing to with us then we are part of the problem, not the solution. The Catholic institution hid pedophiles and then even let them re-enter population with nothing more than some ‘counselling’ – this cannot be tolerated. Many Evangelical institutions are pro life but at the same time ‘anti-abortionists’ resulting in some discourse that lends itself to violence…we need to speak out against this attitude. Christianty finding itself attached to issues of pedophilia, violence against another, or even greed needs to be addressed and not forgotten…because it wasn’t us. I am starting to believe it is us – saying nothing is just as culpable.

I think we should be sensitive when insulted obviously – but not when something we believe or support makes no sense…then we should open our ears and enter the conversation more fully.

14 thoughts on “The Christian Sensitivity

  1. I think too, that some people have the ability to see their beliefs as separate from who they are; particularly if they have watched their beliefs change over time. Since they know their present beliefs will probably morph, they do not respond so negatively if someone pokes at it.

    However, other people highly internalize their beliefs… so to poke the belief is to poke them. My younger brother and I are no longer on speaking terms. Unbeknown to me, he was taking personal offense to every blog or facebook comment I made which questioned aspects of the Christian faith. Though not directed at him, anger was brewing in him at every contrary thought I was having. So while he took personal offense at every point, other Christians could agree, disagree, or question my points of view with detachment. I can read Christopher Hitchens and enjoy it, whereas other Christians get offended on every page.

  2. Christians who get personally offended when people critique their faith are usually not engaged in a healthy way with their faith. I wrote an article a few years ago about this dynamic and it seemed the people who get offended easily have more a joiner mentality than a seeker mentality. They’re usually the ones who bale on their faith when the going gets tough. How confident can anyone be in their faith if they take offense at every criticism?

  3. I recently have offended/”pissed off” several Buddhist on their web sites. I disturbed their bliss.
    So take heart, Christians, thee be not the only who have holy indignation.
    Hell, Atheists, love to be indignated.
    Cultivating positive emotions is no small tasks — for all of us.

  4. I have never been offended by those who question faith or simply do not accept it. This is due I believe to my own struggles with my faith. I have never been someone who could wrap myself in a bubble of belief and never venture outside. Sometimes I have to fight to believe. Its my choice. Truthfully it is easier for me to be offended by those within the church than it is those on the outside.

  5. I was “offended for most of my life as a Christian. It is only now that I see, as an “outsider”, how foolish that was. It is often a surprise to me how I’m NOT offended when someone becomes critical of Christianity.

  6. if we don’t critique our own group, the outsiders will do so with a broad brush and far less empathy. “All Christians are XYZ.” “Religion is just ABC.” i think you and i do this and it comes natural to us. other, more conservative types, can’t handle this.

    i was just writing to Sabio and i remarked how dialog and criticism can be frustrating and it seems that the religious side seems to take have more clout in these types of conversations. atheists come at religion with nothing to lose and nothing is sacred whereas the religious types have a dog in the race so to speak, and thus have more to lose. they may also have a favored interp of a story or doctrine that has really helped them over the course of time that can’t be articulated or even valued to and by others in this forum. could be so? or are we all jerks who are beyond redemption?

  7. @ Zero
    The question is, what sort of “dog” do we have in the race? When we doubt our own dog (as in my comment above) our vehemence increases. Doubt makes us easily offended.

    But many atheists can be easily offended — I offend them all the time. For they are attached to particular definitions of “religion” and “faith” and “science”. But even more basically, the are very attached to their notion of “self”. The irony of thinking only religious folks have irrational, unfounded attachments is sadly humorous. That is, we are all humorous — and thus, we should be nicer to ourselves.


  8. “When we doubt our own dog (as in my comment above) our vehemence increases. Doubt makes us easily offended.”

    i don’t know about this. i have all sorts of doubts and feel i’m fairly open to other considerations. for me, doubt is a good and essential part of faith. the opposite of faith isn’t doubt, it’s certainty. i feel that it’s those who have their minds made up, who have certainty that become the most easily offended.

    “That is, we are all humorous — and thus, we should be nicer to ourselves.”


  9. Christians can go ahead and be offended when they are critiqued, if they are willing to keep critiques of other people to themselves. It is because Christians generally seem more than willing to make judgements of other belief systems that their sense of injury when the same is done to them seems uncalled for.

    Which is to say, if you can’t take it, don’t dish it out. Or else make your criticisms and then accept those leveled at you with grace. But you can’t have it both ways.

    (by “you” I am invoking the larger group, not you, societyvs, because I think you specifically are very good at being fair in this matter)

  10. I am not offended by christians trying to defend their faith, I just find that most fundalmentalist have never really examined what they believed. I once was a believer, however, I have thought critically about what I was taught and I no longer believe in an all knowing all loving god of the bible. The violence in the old testament is not acceptable, David’s baby dying because of David’s sin is not the actions of a loving father. No offense taken or anger just bewilderment at those who never look deeply at what they believe or really know what the bible teaches.

  11. “I just find that most fundalmentalist have never really examined what they believed” (Cerbaz)

    True. The critical examination of something you love is required for it to be worth anything at all (ie: like a marriage or one’s job). Truth is the bible is filled with wild stories and some things that are plain false (ie: virgin birth). Yet, for me, this takes nothing away from the gravity I allow it.

  12. read a great quote the other day:

    “The only way one can stay a fundamentalist of any sort is by ignoring information.” -Richard Rohr, Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality.

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