It’s a fair question, one I’ve been asked more than once, and in a word, the answer is yes. In three words, the answer is yes and no.
It’s a fair question because if you knew me before I was married, you know that I was NOT a Christian. I was an Agnostic at best- only willing to admit that I wasn’t willing to rule out that there was a Creator. I wasn’t saying that there WAS, I just wasn’t going to say that there wasn’t. And that’s about all I WOULD say about the subject.
For one, I wasn’t raised in church. My grandmother, whom I deeply respected, died an Atheist, and my mom wasn’t far off from that. We never talked about God, we never asked questions… I remember being an adult when I learned that Jesus Christ was actually a person, and not just someone you chose to believe in or not- like Santa Clause. Yes, I didn’t even know that JC was an actual human in history.
I remember thinking that one day, we would all look back at the time when everyone believed in that stupid book ‘The Bible’, just like we all now look back on when we thought the world was flat. Like ‘Wow, can you believe we bought that crap?’
Part of why I felt this way was because of the way I was raised to think about the Lord- which was to NOT think about the Lord.
And another part of it was because- and forgive me for saying it this way- I didn’t want ANYTHING to do with people who called themselves Christian. To me, Christianity stood for judgement, hypocrisy, damnation, holier-than-thou type thinking and an ‘us’ vs ‘them’ mentality. I was happy to be in the ‘them’ category, because I didn’t want to associate myself with the ‘us’ that included Christians.
Unfortunately, in so many ways, not a lot has changed in that arena, and unfortunately, now that I have joined the ‘us’ and call myself a Christian, I have lost friends, I’ve made people feel isolated and I’ve turned people off! Can you believe that? People I respect think I’m stupid- as in, not intelligent, now!
I had a VERY close friend tell me that he knew I hated gay people- he is gay. He knows I don’t hate gay people. He knows I have and WILL ALWAYS love him. But now that I’m a Christian, he ‘knows’ my views have changed. Now, by default, I hate.
What he obviously doesn’t know, and isn’t learning by our example- Christians- is that GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD- not just the Christians. And because of the example that he ‘knows’ to be true, he hasn’t sought God in any way, shape or form, and frankly, I don’t blame him. I didn’t seek God either, for the same reason. Is this a win for God? Are we spreading the good news of Jesus?
I didn’t seek the Lord because I felt judged, less than, and excluded by the people who claimed to follow Jesus. So why on earth would I try to get into that club or even LISTEN for one second to what they were trying to ‘teach’ me about my salvation? The parts I knew about the bible spoke of love, and forgiveness and EVERYONE being sinners, and yet… it felt like maybe I had the wrong version.
The thing is… It’s hard to hear about ‘God’s love and salvation,’ when we’re using words like ‘judgement day’ and ‘eternal damnation’. When you’re quoting a book that I haven’t read and don’t believe in, you’re NOT speaking my language.
So, to circle back to me being a Christian because of my husband…
Like I said, the answer is yes and no.
The answer is no because: I have a brain. I didn’t just decide one day to do what my husband does. I didn’t just listen to the story of Adam and Eve and decide ‘I’m in! Sign me up! Sounds good!’ I wasn’t brainwashed, or lovestruck into a lower level of thinking, or any of that. In other words, Thomas is not the boss of me. I have a brain. And in truth, my NOT being a Christian COULD have and- so the bible says- SHOULD have been a deal breaker for him. But it wasn’t…
I also did not, for the record, un-believe everything I know to be true about science! This is not a game of one or the other. I don’t NOT believe in evolution now because I believe we were created. I’m pregnant, for crying out loud! I believe that a single cell can evolve into a fully independently operating, beautifully perfect human being! I just believe that God created the cell, and the process. I don’t say that what science has proven isn’t accurate, I just believe that science has figured out what God has done! How cool! If anything, the more I learn, the more I think that every little perfect thing, from the wonder of gravity keeping us grounded, to the precise function of how plants are able to make food for themselves from the sunlight, to the fact that the sun is exactly close enough and far enough away for us to even exist here… is just more proof of God.
So, the answer to the question is no, I’m not JUST a Christian because my husband is.
The answer is yes because: Thomas was one of the FIRST TRUE examples of what a person of God should be, in my humble, then non-Christian opinion. And I respected the heck out of him for that from the beginning. Did I think he had drank the kool-aid, absolutely! But at least he wasn’t preaching hell’s fire and damnation at me all the time! He LOVED me, with all my imperfections, my sins, my blemishes of character… sound familiar?
Thomas was, and still is I must add, one of the first people who I ever met who was just good. He was just good to the core. No one could say a bad thing about him! I had known him in high school and he was always respectful, respected, talented and humble, hard working and honorable… he was good. And when I was getting to know him in the week before I fell forever in love with him, I realized that he was that way because he loved the Lord. Simple as that. Simple qualities and traits. He was good because he was a follower of Jesus. He was imperfect, he was flawed, he admitted his sins, his struggles, his daily slip ups. He was not JUST good and therefore, saved. He was saved, and therefore grateful to the Lord for loving him DESPITE all the perfectly good reasons why he was undeserving. It’s important to note that he wasn’t perfect! He was just trying his best to live the way God wanted. And that was what I saw.
Had I known before that he was a Christian? No. Had I ever heard him say a bad word to anyone ever for NOT being a Christian? No. Was he preaching the bible all the time? Nope. Damning the gays and the sluts and the unwed mothers? Not that I knew of!
He was just the example of love. He loved because he was called to love by Jesus Christ. Everyone. No exceptions. No judgment. Just love. And for that, my heart was opened just a tiny bit to what the Lord had for me…
I adore my father in law, but I have to say… JUST as I was starting to think that maybe there might be something to this whole Christian thing… Tom’s dad told Tom that he couldn’t marry me because I wasn’t a Christian.
Welp, in that case, sign me up… said no one ever.
More judgement. More holier-than-thou. More exclusivity. More Hypocrisy. More of what I ‘knew’ about Christianity and what I had always witnessed that it really stood for…
Sidebar: my father in law loves me now, obviously, and I think is more proud of his son than ever…
My husband married me when I was not saved. He didn’t require anything of me. He didn’t push me. He never even asked me to go to church with him, or read the bible verses that would prove my damnation or anything of the sort! And now, I thank GOD for that…
It’s not that he didn’t advocate for the Lord- don’t get me wrong! I remember having MANY discussions with my husband about how he would have to explain to our children why mommy was going to hell and they were all going to heaven. Thomas never affirmed my assumptions as to what he thought about my salvation. I remember telling him that I would never attend church. He told me why it was important that he and his kids did. He always highlighted the undeniable good and positivity that would surround them growing up knowing the Lord. And although I was unyieldingly unwilling to ‘buy in,’ I couldn’t say I didn’t respect, or even disagree with his values surrounding the good of fellowship and learning strong morals.
The point I often found myself stuck on was that God could forgive a murderer, but if I lived my whole life abiding by all the morals God wants us to live by, that wouldn’t be good enough for me to get in- not unless I was ‘saved.’ And what the heck did ‘saved’ even mean? A good question with a simple answer… I asked it. Thomas answered it. He advocated. And he did it with love.
Thomas never pushed me, but he asked me questions. I, on the other hand, pushed him on every point and he took it all. He took it all and loved me even still. He said “okay, that’s fine. I understand where you’re coming from.” He debated with me, he certainly made me think long and hard about what and WHY I believed what I believed, always advocating for the positive and loving aspects of what I was rejecting, but he never made me feel stupid or less than (and certainly not damned forever) for believing what I believed.
And then, over time, our discussions started to change from “I’m standing firmly over here” to ” Tell me more about why you’re over there…”
And over time, Thomas showed me what patience and love and forgiveness really looked like… and I knew that he learned that from Jesus and the bible.
He was the example. And he gave the glory to God. And for that, I became saved…
The story is long, and the details are fading, but I know that it was a very slow and untrusting journey towards the Lord for me. I had so many questions. I had a really hard time with the idea of this ‘leap of faith,’ knowing I would not ever have all the answers. Why did God let bad things happen to good people? Why we’re those murderers forgiven? What happened to my grandma?…
I also had a hard time talking to someone in my head, whom I had been denying even existed. I had a hard time admitting that maybe I had been wrong. I had to swallow pride. I had to conquer some ego! And I had to start to seek God. But harder than anything, was accepting that I was going to be joining the group of people who had for the most part ALWAYS turned me AWAY from even CONSIDERING what God had for me… Christians.
I hear people say all the time that they are ‘not religious.’
I am not religious either. Religion, for me, is hard to get behind. Because for me, it means the church standing in the way of my relationship with God.
When I say I am ‘Christian’, I mean:
- I am saved by Jesus Christ and I believe he is the son of God.
- I have a relationship with Jesus and with God.
- There are no conditions to my salvation- no rules I can break where I’m out. Nothing I can do to get un-saved. Nothing I can do to become unloved.
- I believe in God, talk to God and believe that that doesn’t have to happen in a church.
- I’m not perfect, no where near it, and never will be and that is WHY I love the Lord. He loves me anyway, and His son died for me BEFORE I got my crap together. He died for ME before I even believed in HIM, knowing full well, that I might never believe…
- I believe that the MOST important thing about calling myself a Christian (and again, this is my definition for myself so I hope no one takes offense) is that I am to be the EXAMPLE of Christ- or so I should STRIVE to be. I am good- as good as I can be- and I give the glory to God. I don’t judge, I love. I don’t hate, I love. I don’t tell everyone how they better wise up, or they are going to hell. I don’t feel obligated to TELL anyone that the are damned and I need to show them the light… I just try to show them the light.
- It is NOT my responsibility to judge. I’m not God. And I know that Jesus was sent to earth NOT to judge, not to celebrate with the believers alone, but to FIND and INSPIRE new believers… and to ME, that is what is most important for us to do as Christians.
I never really saw that, or knew that, until I met Thomas. I never SAW the light- I heard about it… oh how I heard about the GLORIOUS light that I was forever going to be robbed of if I didn’t x, y, z… but I never SAW it until Thomas.
If I had to sum it up, I’d go ahead and use God’s words…
‘For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.’ John 3: 16-17 (NLT)
We went over this verse in church today, and ironically it was the final thing that compelled me to write this blog. Our pastor broke it down like this:
God didn’t love the believers… He didn’t love the good people… he loved the WHOLE world of people. He loves everyone.
And because of this love- this unconditional love- he sent his one and only son so that anyone who chose to believe in Him would be saved from death and spend their eternal life in heaven. He paid the ultimate price for us. He knew the cost. He knew we were sinners. He knew we couldn’t HELP ourselves.
And yet he even went so far as to say that he didn’t send his son down to the world full of people that he loved so much to judge them, or tell them how much they were blowing it, or to shame them, or criticize them. Nope… none of that is there. Jesus just came to save us. He came, because God LOVED.
Now THAT, I can get on board with. That is pretty remarkable to me. And if I’m called to do as Jesus does, I’d say my job is to save… not to condemn. My job, as a believer, is to be the example, not to throw the stones.
That’s the part where I think so many of us are getting it wrong…
What if Thomas hadn’t been that example for me? What if he would have preached at me, and damned me, and rubbed his salvation in my face? What if?
What if he hadn’t married me because I wasn’t a believer… yet.
So am I a Christian because my husband is? Yes. And no. But mostly yes.
He showed me the way, he showed me the light, and he has shown me how to LOOK for those who are the example to go learn from… and I’ve been blessed to find so many sisters and brothers in Christ to do that with. I’m still learning, but I know I’m learning it right…
My only hope is that I continue to learn, to grow, to seek God- because in that, God seeks and reveals Himself to me- and to continue to try to always BE the example for God of what it looks like to love. I’m not perfect, I’m a human after all, but I’m saved and I’m grateful to God alone for that.
It is SO not my hope that this is offensive in any way or starts arguments- and I certainly do not mean to shame all Christians- this is only my PERSPECTIVE on what I’ve learned on my personal walk with the Lord. We’re all on a journey. Not one of us is perfect- myself SO included. We’re not the people or even the Christians today as we were yesterday, and we’ll hopefully be better even still, tomorrow. My walk has taught me to reach out a hand to those who are struggling to see who Jesus is, and what he stands for and say ‘hey, I get it! I was there!’ My hope is that this inspires other believers to reach out a hand of welcome, and not a harsh hand of rejection. We can be that example in this world of hope! And to the non-believers, I hope you see that EVEN US CHRISTIANS can get it SO wrong. That’s what makes us all human! And that’s why God is so great… He loves us anyway!
Start to seek your answers, your clarity… and you’ll find it. God is faithful.