I wrote the following many years ago before I married or had children. I was attending a Christian college, and going through a crisis of faith.
I don’t believe in God.
Oh, don’t misunderstand me. I know God is. I know he created everything, and I know he sent Jesus to rescue man from death and sin. Yes, I know the whole tired, old story. I’ve heard it in church all my life, and so have you. I believe it; it’s my ticket to heaven. But what good is it?
Sure, I know. You’re shocked. All this time you thought I was a Christian. Or worse, you really care about me, so now you’re going to pray for me. Go for it. But before you do, hear me out.
It’s not that I don’t believe in God; I don’t trust him. I don’t believe in God as God.
Oh, I trust him with my life—my afterlife, I mean. I’ve given him everything I value most—almost. Except my woman, my money, my time, …. My, my, my. Myself. No, I don’t trust him with those things. But you do, don’t you. You trust him with everything, and you follow him wherever he leads. At least that’s what you say if anybody asks. I believe you. It’s God I don’t believe.
Maybe you have greater courage than I. Maybe you just haven’t thought about it. If you don’t have courage, then don’t think about it. Dou you know what on earth it means to give up everything you call your own? Everything?
“Just give it up,” he says. So easy. “Just move that mountain a little to the left. Just wade out to the nearest star. Just pick up your coffin and follow me.”
What’s he trying to do? Scare the living hell out of me?
And you go along with it like it’s some kind of game, and you a sure winner. Don’t give me any of your religious talk. He is talking about life and death—yours and mine. He laughs. And you laugh. Joy vs. frivolity. I don’t trust anyone who laughs joyfully at death.
Don’t you see what he’s up to. He wants us body and soul and present tense. He wants us to feel the terrifying love that twists your heart and tears at your guts, and all the while you are full of irrational joy and an irresponsible peace of mind. How can you stand it?
But I believe you. You have greater courage than I. You trust him, and I don’t. And to prevent you finding out, I play the hypocrite; saying all the right words, going through the motions, and practicing the proper rituals. No one suspects—no one at all—that there is such a difference between you and me. One of us must go on lying.