I was thinking about religion and church a few days ago, well actually I seem to be thinking about it more and more lately…….more than someone who isn’t religious should. For example I was reading a blog about it….well a 3 part blog to be precise….and it put forth some interesting questions. What to do if you’ve stopped believing in God and your Mom is a devout Christian? How do you tell her? Or do you? What if you’re worried about her health because she’s frail and not a young woman anymore? It was an interesting, thought-provoking series of posts. I thought so anyway. I gave my thoughts on them over there, so I won’t bother with it here. I do however have a few questions of my own with regards to church.
As I mentioned I’m not religious, I don’t go to church regularly but, at the same time I’m not an atheist. I guess I would say I’m an agnostic if I had to call myself something. I like to think of myself as someone who believes in God but, doesn’t necessarily believe in what religion offers. I……well, I am not particularly fond of religion for various reasons that I don’t think I need to get into in this post. I think religion can be great for people if they want it to be, there can be plenty of good that comes out of it. I guess I’m saying I don’t believe religion is right for me, for you it may be perfect though. Whichever religion you may choose.
What I wanted to talk about today was something that has happened a few times to me, since my girlfriend’s family is very religious and attends church regularly. Well, her family attends regularly…..her not so much. I wanted to discuss what happens when someone like me goes to church.
If you are religious and attend church regularly I ask you this:
Let’s say you were going to bring a friend to church with you and this friend isn’t religious. Let’s call your friend Bob. What about Bob you say? Well, what do you expect out of Bob when you take him to church? Yes, yes, I know, you don’t have any expectations for him. Bob should do whatever he feels comfortable with, participate however much he wants to. Yada, yada, yada. Please! [Coughhh, cough, crap, coughh] So, if Bob wanted to stand in the hall and listen to the service from there while you sat at your pew, you wouldn’t be surprised? It wouldn’t disappoint you a little that he couldn’t even come inside and sit with you? Of course it would because you invited Bob and you expect him to come in and sit with you. Otherwise why the heck did he bother coming with you at all, right? If he isn’t even going to sit with you he might as well just go to hell! I mean that figuratively, not literally, obviously. Back to my point now……so you have some expectations for how he should conduct himself at church……the question is how far do those expectations go?
What else do you expect of him? How is a non-religious person, I don’t want to say atheist because for all we know Bob could be an agnostic, who’s attending church supposed to act? How involved should Bob be? For example, when people stand up to say a prayer should Bob stand as well? I would imagine it would be awkward if he didn’t, right? So it’s safe to say you probably expect Bob to stand when everyone else stands, that’s not so much to ask right? I mean, the guy stands to pee, the least he can do is stand for God……or if not for God then for you, right? Ahhhhhhhh, but what does Bob do when everyone starts saying that prayer? Should Bob say it as well even though he isn’t religious? Should he just stand and pretend he’s saying it, you know, act like Ashlee Simpson on Saturday Night Live and hope nobody notices? Does it make a difference if Bob believes in God or not, as far as what he should do?
If you are religious but don’t attend church then:
What’s your opinion on how non-religious people should behave when they go to church. You know, Church? That thing you don’t bother to go to where people of the same faith celebrate their beliefs? Which reminds me, why don’t you go to church again?
If you aren’t religious and don’t attend church regularly, perhaps just on occasion, then answer me this:
How do you handle it? Do you only do what you feel comfortable doing? Is there pressure from others to pray, accept the lord as your savior and all that other stuff? Again, how do you handle it?
If you aren’t religious, but do attend church regularly then I have to know:
What the hell are you doing at church on a regular basis if you’re not religious?? I can say hell there because you aren’t religious, so don’t try to act all offended by it now! Are you just there to pick up girls/boys…….I’m referring to girls/boys of the same age group as you, just to be clear. Are you just inspired by the unity and togetherness of all those attending? Do you like to listen to the choir? Do you have nothing better to do with your time?
When you go, how involved are you? Do you say the prayers, sing the hymns, etc? Why do you do what you do, is it because you feel like you should, or is that just what you want to do?
If you aren’t religious and NEVER attend church then:
Why are you reading a blog post about religion and church in the first place? Nothing to see here, move along please….
When I go to church, which isn’t a regular thing, but seems to have happened more over the last few years, I always feel pressured to participate fully. On the one hand, I’d be comfortable sitting in my pew, standing on cue and that would be that. On the other hand, if I’m not singing the hymns I can see my mother-in-law-to-be glaring at me out of the corner of my eye, giving me that, “You know everyone else in this church is singing along, what’ll they say about us since we brought you? It’s just a song you know”, look. Usually these songs are pretty spiritual and religious so I feel strange singing them, especially when I don’t believe in 90% of the stuff I’m singing about. Which is fine when you’re singing along to some song on the radio while you’re driving in your car on the freeway. I mean, I don’t believe all that stuff about Bitches and Ho’s but I don’t seem to have any problem singing along to that……..but, in my opinion, it’s something entirely different when you are singing along in church, to God.
The next awkward part, the most awkward part, is prayers. My oh my, how I’ve tried to figure out what the best way to handle prayers is. Lately I’ve found myself standing with everyone, bowing my head along with the rest and hoping that nobody is looking as I don’t pray. I mean, you are supposed to have your eyes closed as far as I know so, if anyone sees me not praying then they shouldn’t really be saying anything, right? If they do I’d have to grill them on why in the world they weren’t concentrating all of their energy on praying to God…..with their eyes closed! Sometimes I will go so far as to mouth the words when there is a particularly large throng of people on stage looking back at us. I have no intention of saying the prayers, whether you give me a dirty look or God himself gives me a dirty look. It makes no difference to me, I can be guilted into many things but, this is something I feel I have to draw the line at. I think that’s just wrong to say these things if you don’t believe them, especially in a prayer.
In the end I seem to wind up doing something in the middle of what I’d like to do, and what those taking me to church would like me to do. Although, some things I’m just not all that comfortable compromising on. At the same time though, religious people probably take all of this a lot more seriously than I do, so I’d rather not embarrass them at something they hold so dear. What to do, what to do? But…..now that I think about it, if it embarrasses them so much for me not to pray and sing why are they taking me to church knowing that I’m not religious and probably have no interest in praying?
**Oh yeah, I almost forgot. In no way did I mean to imply that this post would discuss sex when I innocently put the word sex in the title.