Recently, I’ve had some interactions with a fairly respectful Christian on Twitter. Let’s call him “X”. While X and I disagree on most things, we keep it respectful and even playful at times. I don’t consider him a friend, really, because our interactions have not moved beyond religious discussions and his interactions sometimes make me feel he is dishonest. Think William Lane Craig – super nice outwardly, kinda slimy underneath. Or Sye Ten Bruggencate – seething anger simmering just below the surface.
X has taken to saying “I love you” from time to time. He’s not in love with me, obviously (I hope? Kidding). X will just say it in the middle of a thread on some discussion on religious points. It’s not like a “love ya, have a good night” type of thing that I’d say to friends. At first glance it seems that he is actually embodying the type of love Jesus advocated by saying “Love your neighbor as yourself” and “Love your enemies”. I mean, I’ve never had a Muslim say they love me.
I think it’s a sort of conversion tactic. Like if they say “I love you” enough we’ll think Jesus is showing his love through them. Not a bad route to take.
But think about that for a second. It’s actually condescending, especially in the middle of a discussion in which you disagree: “I love you anyway even though you are an evil atheist.” Similar to “I’ll pray for you.” What am I supposed to say to that? “I love you too?” I don’t “love” everyone. I have compassion for every human. I wish good things for everyone. I don’t harbor ill will for others. But I think saying you love everyone cheapens it a bit, don’t you? However, if I express this to X, I am almost certain he would say it’s because, as an atheist, it’s impossible for me to have that sort of love. I think he would want me to dislike him using that phrase, so he could say it’s because I can feel Jesus calling to me and I’m rejecting him or some other nonsense.
I don’t think they really love everyone. In fact, I think it’s self-righteous on top of being condescending. “Look at me; I can say ‘I love you’ to this baby-eating Satan worshipper!” It’s a way to act holier-than-thou and gloat when the atheist doesn’t respond in kind.
Sometimes, I even think it’s a diversion tactic – “I don’t have any answer to your argument, so I’m going to say I love you so I can seem morally superior”. So I just ignore it and continue on with the discussion 🙂
Update: I actually wrote this blog post sometime last year, when I was still getting involved in a lot of debates on Twitter. As stated above, X and I were very friendly and cordial. One day out of the blue, he announced that my “conscience was seared” and blocked me. I had to research this as I’d never heard of it before.
From gotquestions.org (a Christian apologetics site):
The Bible speaks of a seared conscience in 1 Timothy 4:2. The conscience is the God-given moral consciousness within each of us (Romans 2:15). If the conscience is “seared”—literally “cauterized”—then it has been rendered insensitive. Such a conscience does not work properly; it’s as if “spiritual scar tissue” has dulled the sense of right and wrong. Just as the hide of an animal scarred with a branding iron becomes numb to further pain, so the heart of an individual with a seared conscience is desensitized to moral pangs.
Wow. So after all the discussions we had, he really thought that I was so morally decrepit that my conscience was “seared”? How do I reconcile this with the Christian love he so often professed? I can only make it fit into the second category – that he felt he was somehow superior by “loving” this nasty Satan’s minion.
What do you think? Is Christian love sincere? How would you respond? Let me know in the comments!
Another update here: Mystery of the Loving Christian – SOLVED!