Well...this has certainly been an interesting challenge. As my good
colleague journalist-ga's comments make clear, your question has
sparked some thought, introspection and maybe even a bit of debate.
As a non-religious, non-Christian person, I?ve been in similar
situations in my life, with people wanting to bring me into
Christianity for a host of reasons, ranging all the way from
I must say, I?ve never felt the need to justify my decision to pass on
their offer. But it?s interesting just the same to articulate some of
the main reasons someone might choose not to join a friend?s religion.
So...here?s my list. It?s a highly personal assessment of how someone
might respond in your situation. It?s not deep or cosmic, but I think
it is pragmatic. I hope it is of value to you.
If you find that anything here needs elaboration, just let me know by
posting a Request for Clarification, and I?ll be happy to assist you
Pafalafa-ga?s Top Reasons for Not Becoming Christian:
--I?m content with my current religious/spiritual practice.
Of course, I have no idea what your current religious/spiritual
practice is, or how content you are/aren?t with it, but the basic
point here is a simple one...my religious practice is my own, personal
choice. So, my friend, I urge you (politely) to bug off!
--I wouldn?t want to make an important decision like that while feeling pressured.
The subtext here is something like: ?OK. I?m willing to think about
it a bit. But give me my space, and plenty of time, and I?ll decide
on my own. When the decision is made, I expect you...as my
friend...to respect it?
--A religious/spiritual journey is a lifetime journey...I?ll know when
the moment is right to explore new options, if I should ever feel the
Life is a long journey, with many, many important decisions to make
along the way. Not all of them will happen today, or tomorrow, or
this year, or this decade. But the opportunity to make them remains
throughout my life. Now isn?t the time -- for me -- to be making
decisions about adopting a new religion. Who knows what the future
will bring, but for now, I don?t see myself becoming a Christian. And
once again -- as my friend -- I ask you to respect that.
--Religion is a very personal matter. Your beliefs and your practice
may suit you to a tee, but that doesn?t mean they?re right for
....and without meaning to sound like a broken record...you?re my
friend, so please respect that.
--I have to admit, I?ve always been troubled by the contrast between
words and deeds in the history of the Church, and that adds to my
reluctance to really dive into it.
Your comment about ?hypocrites?, though a bit on the harsh side,
suggests you have some reservations along these lines. The church has
talked the talked of peace and love, but hasn?t always walked the
walk. I doubt there?s much to be gained (except, perhaps, as a real
test of your friendship) by getting into a full-fledged debate about
Christianity. But it?s certainly a fair point to let your friend know
that the Church?s own history -- as you see it -- is an obstacle for
--I know that -- as my friend -- you accept me for who I am, so I
certainly don?t feel a need to join your church for the sake of our
This is a way of challenging your friend a bit to do some articulating
of his/her own, by making clear that you feel friends accept one
another for who they are -- and how they are -- in the present.
Friendship shouldn?t be contingent on making changes -- especially in
something so fundamental as personal religious beliefs.
--I guess it?s just my basic notion of human rights and the human
condition -- everyone has their own right to practice (or not
practice) the religion of their choice...and I?m afraid I just haven?t
chosen the same one that you have.
This is a way of saying ?Can?t we end this g**forsaken discussion already!?
--I?m familiar with some of the basic tenets of Christianity, and they
just don?t resonate for me. I don?t accept the main doctrine of the
Trinity, and without that, I?m afraid I wouldn?t make a very
I?ve learned about it, considered it, rejected it...let?s move on to
some other topic now, shall we?
--What other religion(s) are you willing to try? If you?re willing to
convert to another religion, perhaps I?ll reconsider my own stance
Turn the tables a bit. Let your friend make the first move to see if
they are willing to take as dramatic a step as they?re asking you to
--Why is it so important to you that I practice the same religion that you do?
Again, turn the tables, and ask your friend to do the articulating,
while you find things to agree or disagree with.
--I must admit, though, you guys do have great holidays!
This is obviously half-facetious...but only half! It?s a way of
saying ?There ARE things I like about your religion. I AM willing to
participate at some level and perhaps even learn a bit more about it.
But I have to take it at my own pace, and in my way.?
I hope this is helpful, even if only in a small way. In the end, I?m
sure you know that no one else can put words into your mouth, just as
no one else can tell you what religion to practice. What I?ve offered
here is just a little food for thought. The right words will come to
you I?m sure, as will the choices about if or when to make a change in
your spiritual practices, your religious beliefs, and -- for that
matter -- your friends.
Best of luck. Let me know if you would like me to elaborate on
anything I?ve written here.
Clarification of Answer by
21 Nov 2003 09:02 PST
>>if i may speak frankly<<
>> i have doubts. i'm guessing that it's 'normal' to doubt, that is,
for non-religious people to wonder if it might be true<<
This is beginning to take quite a different tone than your original
question. At first, it seemed as if you were looking for a way to
articulate a defense of your not wanting to explore Christianity
despite your friend?s insistence.
Now, you?ve qualified that by acknowledging some ?doubts? and
wondering ?if it might be true? after all.
If that?s what you think and how you feel, then...go ahead and
explore. The real question, it seems to me, is not your original
question (?what are my objections?), but rather a question of: what do
I want to explore and how do I go about exploring it?
It sounds like your friend would like you to explore -- and would be
glad to help you explore -- Christianity. Fine. But you also need to
decide if that is your highest priority. Are you only curious to know
if Christianity might be true, or are you more broadly casting about
to see if other approaches to religion and spirituality might have
some truths to offer you.
Face it. There are those who find their faith in a mainstream
conventional church or synagogue or mosque, and there are those who
find it in Hare Krishna (or what the mainstream likes to refer to as
?cults?), and there are those who find it through a personal quest
that isn?t easily given a name.
You?ll have to set your priorities there, and figure out where the
church and Christianity and your friend lies on the spectrum of
possibilities available for you to explore.
>>to take another tack: i owe my friend a better shot at me. i.e. more
than 'bug off'. if i were to give him, let's say, specific windows to
be persuasive with me, what would i say? i.e. what exactly is my
problem to his faith, what could he say or do that would really be
persuasive to me?<<
Why look at this as such a contest...you and your objections as the
obstacle course that your friend has to somehow surmount? If you want
to explore, then by all means, explore. Offer to attend services with
your friend. Tell him what you think of them (they moved me....they
were boring as all get out....I didn?t really understand what was
going on....What a bunch of hypocrites....Anything, really, that comes
to mind). Get the dialogue going.
Ask your friend about his own personal experiences with faith and
religion. Has he ever had his own doubts? When and how did his faith
arise? Have the kind of conversations that friends have.
In short, you seem to be looking for a guide, of sorts. Your friend
is there, offering his services. Be aware that he can probably only
show one of the highlights on the tour...you may need to look around
to find others as guides for matters of faith and spiritual quests
that aren?t tied directly to the kind of Christianity practiced by
I don?t know if all this helps or not. Bottom line is that it seems
to me you?re asking how to be a friend to your friend, and that?s just
not something I can tell you anything useful about...you have to just
figure that one out on your own. Talk, agree, argue, play, do stuff,
explore, respect one another, and move closer or, if you have to, move
More than that, I?m not sure I can offer.
All the best....