How do I explain that Christianity is not a coping mechanism?

@davidsmith. SO many good thoughts and perspectives.

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@Brian_Upsher this was helpful

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Hello @matthew.western Thank you for another great post. I appreciate your articulate and well written reply.

Your comment below -

I couldn’t agree more. :slightly_smiling_face:

Grace and peace,
Mary Beth

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Marie, your question is not weird, as all of the above responses attest. It is a serious and meaningful question.

Sometimes we just need to let people see how we live. I know someone who is now a Christian who also opined that Christianity is a crutch. I did not know how to answer her, either. I just limped through my very imperfect life with Jesus by my side. Somehow she saw Jesus in me and a few other people and learned that having Jesus for a crutch is not a bad thing.

Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17b, ESV). If I live as I truly am, a sinner saved by grace, then that is the most persuasive argument of all.

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Thanks so much! @MaryBeth1, @matthew.western! Your contributions from a Western perspective are enlightening to me as well. Existence of the spiritual realm was something I never questioned growing up in India because of the experiences I had. Having to prove that through rational arguments is something I am learning only in the last few years and I appreciate your insights!

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Interesting as I recall C.S. Lewis’s book on Joy and also I am recently reading Billy Graham’s book : The Secret of Happiness. I am not a biblical scholar. I am a work in progress but this book is on the Beatitudes. I used to have the hardest time with the beatitudes as who wants to be poor in spirit, mourn, meek and hunger for righteousness, but the way Billy Graham explains them makes me feel much better and I understand. I don’t think it is so much a coping as with and in Him, you can only be truly happy. Focusing on things of above and not earthly desires gives you peace. Maybe his “coping” is a change of his heart and a beginning to understand more. But, how wonderful. Praise God! You obviously showed him a light within- of God in you. You were a blessing to him.

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I am moved by the following words you shared and want to encourage you with another more personal perspective. You wrote " So, this young man saw something in our family that after moving away and now in college, he comes to visit when he comes back to town. This last visit turned to faith. (SO EXCITED!).

I am very EXCITED and encouraged for you and him. After years of working as a pastor and missionary I believe this young man is not seeking an argument or answers to his struggle but rather a living example of the hope he desires for himself. This question is not always answered with convincing words. It is answered when a conviction arises out of a lifestyle than can not be explained away… yours.
In his book “The Logic of God” page 95 Ravi writes “In surrendering to Christ we have the victory over sin. When we die to ourselves, Christ then lives within us, When that crucified life is seen, men and women are drawn to the Savior because they see what the gospel does in a surrendered heart.”

Surely this young man sees something in you and your family that compelled him and he “turned to the faith”.

Thank you, to you and your family, for surrendering to Christ. You may ask him the question what does he desire that your family has, that he sees, and is seeking? My prayer for you is that this prodigal son will find the family of God the best crutch for a broken world looking to be restored.

To all, what amazing insights and needed clarification(s) I will do my best to keep up.

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@RWomack Thank you for your prayers for this young man and the intersection of my family in his life. Thank you for your encouraging words. We are a perfect representation of imperfections blended with forgiveness, grace, mercy, love and lots of mistakes.

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Someone specifically asked that I share any followup. Scrolling through, I can’t seem to find that post quickly enough. BUT, I am confident any future conversation with this young man has been covered in prayer. He called me tonight and we talked for a good hour. As Kouhl says in Tactics,the Lord allowed me to put a pebble in his shoe. That is not without saying that all the previous posts to my original question floated around in my head (as I have read and reread and that is how I learn) and the Holy Spirit helped me pull the right questions into the conversation.
I first asked his definition of optimist nihilism, of which he had to look up. That led to a comment he said about a ‘small aspect of morality’, of which I asked him to define morality. He answered ‘right versus wrong’. I asked him who defines morality. After much quiet and much thinking on his part led him to say he thought society did. (Thank you Lord for the next words…). I said ‘we are pretty much doing that right now, defining morality by the violence and destruction going on with BLM, right?’ He said that was a very good point and something to think about. We had to part ways, but not without leaving a pebble in his shoe.
Praise HIS Holy Name! Thank you for the continued prayers.
He asked a question that I did my best to answer, but I am not convinced I did it well. He said “so do you think that if we all did what was right according to the Bible, everything would be better (ie. life)”. I could not say that was a cut and dry answer when it comes to the definition of God being love, and we bearing his image, yet given free will…I felt I might have muddied the waters, but I drew an analogy of being married. Just because I didn’t feel good in my marriage didn’t mean the right thing for me to do was divorce. I was trying to paint a picture of self sacrifice, what Christ did for us in love.
Oh, he also brought in the very wealthy pastors, private jets and throngs of people. Of which I shared that in the end times, there are those that only want to hear what tickle their ears and that hospitals were for the sick (churches are for broken people). I said churches are full of broken people, imperfect people, of which I am one.
He brought up that Christianity made things easier. Of which, I responded, not necessarily true. Christianity does not make us immune to hardship or selfish desires, but it does equip us to cope by the Spirit inside of us. I was able to talk about Father the God, Jesus the Son, and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
We covered a LOT! I must say I have been a stay at home mom for nearly 19 years, and I think the Lord allowed that time ( a lot of bible studies, rich studies) to prepare for a time such as this and this community. Thank you!

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Hello @Malie Thank you so much for the update. It is encouraging to hear about how the Lord is working in specific ways in your life and in his. I commend you for speaking the truth in love and kindness. He obviously respects you and values what you have to say.

Last night, I was reading one of Ravi’s books called “Jesus Among Other Gods” and in it he said, “The moment of opportunity is built on hours of preparation.” Your comment above reminded me of this quote.

May the Lord continue to give you wisdom and discernment to speak His words of life to others.

“Timely advice is lovely, like golden apples in a silver basket.” (Proverbs 25.11)

Grace and peace,
Mary Beth

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Beautifully spoken. Thank you.

I’d at least partially agree and say, “Yes, Christianity is a coping mechanism!” To be a true Christian is to realize that you Don’t have it all together, to realize that you are weak, frail, mortal, & sinful. As Christians we realize that we need more “help” than we can possible muster within ourselves. It is our desperate situation that drives us to Christ.

Alongside this, I’d also say that it could be that God has created us with desires for Him that only He can fulfill. Everywhere else we look for fulfillment only leaves us empty and bitterly dissatisfied. I’m certain that every human being has experienced this dissatisfaction before. These are mere pointers to God Himself. So, God has made us for Himself and we will not find rest until we find our rest in Him (paraphrasing Augustine).

Additionally, one could also argue that other belief systems are coping mechanisms as well, especially atheism. You can refer to the book by Dr Paul Vitz who wrote the book “Faith of the Fatherless” where he studies the home life of atheists (dead and alive) & discovers that many of the prominent atheists (Darwin, Freud, etc.) all had either a distant relationship or no relationship with their father. He argues that their rejection of God has a psychological origin in their broken relationship with God. In other words, atheism is a “coping mechanism” as well. They do not want there to be a God and it would be psychologically traumatizing to them for God to exist.

Finally, I given what I’ve written above (leaning, of course, on the work of others), I’d want to make the case that the claim about Christianity being a “coping mechanism” actually favors Christianity and gives good reasons to believe Christianity than not.

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Marie, thank you for the update. You clearly are developing a great relationship. I love the way that you conversed with him in a natural, practical way that allowed the Spirit to work for you. You mentioned that he asked:

Maybe you can ask him what he means by “better.” What would he like to become better in his own life? This might help him to internalize some of the things that you are talking about.

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Excellent thoughts! Thank you. I am finding a great appreciation for this iron sharpens iron community.

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Good thoughts! Thank you. I have so much I desire to read and limited time. :flushed: so, thank you for good references and additional information for me to reflect on and possibly use in conversation.

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