Thursday, February 11, 2021

Microstory 1559: The Point of Faith

My teacher told us that every day was a gift, and my friend’s parents flipped out about it, because they detected a religious leaning that none of the students noticed.

They were living in church and told us all that we would burn in hell if we didn’t do the same. I went back to school and pulled one of my friends aside and told him that there was a chance we would go to hell if we didn’t accept Jesus Christ into our hearts. I don’t even remember what his response was. I found out later that he had taken his own life. I was so angry. He was one of my good friends, and I had told him the truth. I’d said it with a lot of conviction, too. Now, I hadn’t learned a thing about the Church. I didn’t know what we were supposed to believe. I didn’t have the gospel. I didn’t know how to speak the faith into his life. All I had was a real, legitimate chance at eternal damnation, and I didn’t understand the mechanics of that. I didn’t see why I couldn’t just change my mind, just change religions if I needed to. Well, I did. I gave up Catholicism. This is one of those stories that I am glad that I have. I am glad that my heart was pure, and I found an answer to my question before it was too late. I am glad that I had enough common sense to take responsibility for my actions. I am glad that I took my friend’s death seriously. I am glad...

...that I’ve given up my superstitions. I don’t know why my friend killed himself, if it had anything to do with what I told him. But I’ve decided I can relieve myself of the guilt. We all make our own choices in the world. Sure, I might have influenced his actions, but I didn’t tell him what to do, and I didn’t purport to be some kind of authority on the matter. It’s true that there’s a chance hell is real, and that has been the case since before I came into the picture, but the degree to which he accepted this was his own decision to make. I move on with my life after this, still without a certain answer to the question, and you know what? Things have turned out okay. I look around at my religious peers, and I don’t feel like my life is any better or worse than theirs. They think they’re safer than me, because they’re doing all these things with their faith, predicated upon the possibility that it’s all true. They think I’m at more of a risk, because I don’t believe. But what if what they believe is also wrong? What if, at the end of our lives, I’ll be judged more favorably. Maybe God wants us to not believe, and it’s the believers who are in trouble. You don’t know. You don’t know. The most likely outcome is that we all turn out to be wrong, and I say that’s fine. At least, I say that there is nothing we can do about it. The reality is that a religious person having faith in their own faith is no more reasonable than a heathen like me having faith in themselves, or in other people. It’s all a crapshoot, because the point of faith is that you can’t ever be sure, and no one else can either. So believe, don’t believe, it doesn’t matter. The chances of you being right or wrong cannot change, no matter what you do. All you can really do is try to be a good person, and hope to leave the world a little better than it was when you found it.

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