Monday, 19 October 2009

'Non-christians'

We talk a lot in church about 'non-christians'. I used to just accept this phrase, and used it a lot when describing my friends who didn't go to church, were members of other religions, believed different things etc. Its only recently that I've realised how horrifying I actually find this term. I don't think anyone would actually voluntarily describe themselves as a 'non-christian' (except maybe if this was a new development and they used to be a christian). People may describe themselves as muslims, jews, atheists, pagans, non-religious, socialists, anarachists, disinterested in religion/politics or any other number of things, but people very rarely describe themselves as something that they are not, at least in my experience.

I can no longer conceive of describing one of my friends, who has opinions about spirituality, life, politics and everything else under the sun as merely 'a non-christian'. I think it shows a disctinct lack of respect for all that people are and believe to describe them in this way. I would love for more of my friends who don't know Jesus (ha! thats such an evangelical thing to say) to become christians, because I think christianity has such a huge amount of truth and beauty, my life (and my eternity) would be so much less without it. But when I engage with people I care about around issues of faith and spirituality, I want to know what they believe as well as sharing with them what I believe. I want to know how they express their spirituality as well as talking about/showing how I do. When we describe people as 'non-christians' and describe them by their LACK of belief, then we do not leave the door open for this kind of interaction. This is a sad loss for all of us.

5 comments:

Hannah M said...

Good post; i definitely agree with this. I think i'm probably guilty of using the term at times as it is very commonly used but it can be very alienating and dismissive.

Feminist Avatar said...

This reminds me of the 'hate the sinner, not the sin' discussion with reference to homosexuality- which a lot of Christians use to 'accept' gay Christians into their lives, without critiquing how it sounds to gay Christians.

Sarah said...

It's a horrible phrase - I think used more by people with a bunker mentality as a way of distinguishing 'people like us' or 'people we feel safe with' from 'the other people. It pigeon-holes people and affects how they are treated. It shouldn't really matter.

robertjessetelford said...

Pretty much all Christian language is abhorrent. We should throw all of it away and just talk about people as people.

Let's keep the words love, peace, justice, mercy and kindness. And a few others that are just normal words that are taught as doctrines in Christianities.

Kimberly said...

I thought the phrase was "hate the sin, not the sinner". Wouldn't the other would be basically saying "Your homosexuality doesn't bother me, I just hate you."