A few months ago I promised I had more “Would I still be a Christian if…” questions coming down the pike. I think I’ve been subconsciously avoiding writing about these questions despite my promise to. You see, they’re difficult and make me question my dependency on religion and I can’t handle that type of questioning every week. But between the last post about still being a Christian if I were not born into a Christian family and now, I think I’ve mustered the gusto.
Would I still be a Christian if most of my friends were not? Sadly, there has only been a small time frame in my life when I could say the majority of my friends were not Christians: my first several months in Oxford. And even saying the majority may not be accurate, so let’s say the people I was getting to know best and felt closest to were not Christians. This perfectly coincided with the period I felt the deepest doubt in my faith. Until then, I had always considered myself a “doubter.” But in those months I realized I had never seriously doubted God. Even when I claimed to, I was still evaluating the life around me as if He existed. Spending so much time with my new friends who were either agnostic or atheist allowed me to feel, for the first time, what it would be like to not believe in God at all.
It was dark. It seemed empty. Yet these friends had a capacity for love that I did not expect. They were the type who would do anything for you, just like my Christian friends back home. And slowly I began to understand how I could love someone without the belief that “someone first loved me.” And that love was so fierce, because it was all they had, all they had to live for and they knew they didn’t have many years to do it.
Ultimately, I made close friends with people I went to church with in Oxford, spending the majority of my time with them. And that coincided with a type of reviving of my faith–an even deeper belief in it than before.
But what if those Christian friends had not come along? And my understanding of living without faith continued to make more sense as I spent most of my time with my agnostic/atheist friends? And what does that mean about Christianity if it can’t stand alone? Or what does it mean about me, if I can’t believe on my own?
And now it will be another several months before I ask a “Would I still be a Christian if…” question.