Monday, September 16, 2013

God: No true friend

In my Sunday edition of the Herald Mail, Billy Graham once again answers a readers question. He give a decent answer, but misses the obvious implications on the theology that he so readily preaches.
Seek friends who won't lead you into temptation

DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: I guess I just don’t have any backbone. I promise God I’m not going to do something I know is wrong, but then I get with my friends and before I know it I’m doing it. I hate being such a weak person. Will I always be this way? — M.H.
DEAR M.H.: No, you won’t necessarily always be this way if you face your problems and sincerely seek God’s help to overcome them. The Bible says, “The Lord is my strength … my heart trusts in him, and he helps me” (Psalm 28:7).
Your real problem (at least in part) is that you desperately want other people to like you, and you’re afraid your friends won’t like you and will turn against you if you don’t do what they do. To refuse to go along with them would be the same thing as telling them they’re wrong and you’re right, and you fear they’d reject you as a result.
And you may be right; they might reject you. But if so, then they aren’t really your friends. True friends would care what happens to you, but they don’t. In other words, they’re tearing you down by pressuring you into doing what they do, and that isn’t true friendship. The Bible warns, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character’” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
Begin by asking Jesus to come into your life, to forgive your sins and help you live the way you should. Then realize that you now belong to him, and he is with you and will be your friend forever. Then ask him to help you find new friends, friends who love God, and will encourage you and help you confront your temptations and grow strong in your faith.

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 Graham instantly assumes that the friends that MH is asking about are leading him/her to do terrible things and that they don't love God. Actually, the odds are that these friends are Christians as well. The truth is that with all the different sects of Christianity there are, what MH sees as wrong, may be something that MH's friend's version of Christianity is just fine with. Yes, they could be that they were convincing MH to do drugs, get involved in fights, or ay matter of other negative activity. Or could be a member of a very conservative form of Christianity. If MH is a woman, it could be as simple as convincing her to dress less plainly, or even that pants are okay. It could be that they convinced her that it's okay for her to get a job and not live life as a home maker and child factory. The one thing we know is that MH thinks whatever these things are, are wrong and not honoring God. But MH never gives us any examples, so we have no way of knowing if these things were actually bad, or what version of God would take issue with them.

But Billy Graham rightly says that friends that would cancel your friendship over a difference of opinion, or just a disagreement. Yet all too often that's all it takes for a believer to end a relationship with a non-believer. True, it doesn't always happen, but it does happen a lot. A friend, parent or lover finds out that you don't believe, and they give an ultimatum. Believe or we're through! You said that a friend that cast you aside because you won't go along with something you aren't comfortable will isn't really a true friend. So why should it be any different when a believer walks out of your life just because you don't share their belief? The answer is that these situations are no different. The believer knows you for who you are. What you do or don't believe doesn't change that. But even though you still haven't changed, they walk out. The obvious conclusion is that they weren't a true friend either.

It doesn't stop there though. Many a church will tell you that God just wants a relationship with you and to be your friend. Okay, sounds good so far. But what if you don't believe, or don't want to dislike another friend just because they are gay. Or what if you're uncomfortable with hacking the foreskin off your newborn child? Graham says that a true friend would be fine with that and still be your friend. But what if you don't do what God or Jesus tell you to do? They don't just cancel the friendship, but promise to cast you into eternal torture. That's not a friend. That's a childish and selfish being with a sadistic streak a mile wide. So by Graham's own criteria, God isn't your friend either. Yet he says that he is your friend forever. Too bad he doesn't follow through with his own explanation... Is a little consistency really so much to ask?

 -Brain Hulk

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