Thursday, May 6, 2010

When your friend thinks you're going to hell

Today, I had the nicest conversation I've ever had with someone who thinks I'm going to hell.

I'm a volunteer tutor with a literacy program associated with the local public library. Twice a week, I meet with a woman who wants to improve her reading skills. It's been going quite well as a rule - we get along and she's making progress.

I've known for quite a while now that she was brought up Catholic and has been going to a Jehovah's Witness Bible study group for about a year. This made me a little nervous, but when she wasn't much bothered that Ricky Martin came out, I figured she was okay.

But today we talked about her interest in Bible study and she mentioned that a gay guy she knows invited her to study with him, but she didn't want to because according to her, he doesn't follow the commandments. I pointed out to her that nobody manages to follow all the commandments, even if they're trying, and that he might be very knowledgeable anyway, and it came out that the reason she says she has nothing against gay people is that she figures they'll get their just desserts in the afterlife! She didn't put in quite that way though. I tried to talk to her in straightforward terms about why I support gay rights, and I don't know how much of it got through, but when she asked if I had a boyfriend, I ended up coming out as a lesbian. She didn't believe me at first, because she said I didn't look like one (I told her that most of us don't look like we are).

So now she thinks I'm going to hell, if she didn't previously think I was as a non-Christian. I also came out as an atheist, although not in so many words.

But the weird thing was that it didn't get heated at all. I could have taken offense at some of the things she said, but I didn't. How do you deal with someone who thinks you're going to hell, but who doesn't yell at you about it?

1 comment:

  1. I don't understand either. A lot of Christians who interact regularly with atheists have become used to the fact that most of their friends are going to hell. How that works, I don't know. I would guess that that isn't her situation in the first place, since atheists are a small minority in most of this country.