Seven Common Comments Non-Christians Make about Christians

One of my greatest joys in research is talking to and listening to those who clearly identify themselves as non-Christians. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not celebrating their absence of faith in Christ. My joy comes from listening to those who don’t believe as I do, so that I might be better equipped to witness to them.

Over the past several years, my research teams and I have interviewed thousands of unchurched non-Christians. Among the more interesting insights I gleaned were those where the interviewees shared with me their perspectives of Christians.

In this article, I group the seven most common types of comments in order of frequency. I then follow that representative statement with a direct quote from a non-Christian. Read these comments and see if you learn some of the lessons I learned.

  1. Christians are against more things than they are for. “It just seems to me that Christians are mad at the world and mad at each other. They are so negative that they seem unhappy. I have no desire to be like them and stay upset all the time.”
  2. I would like to develop a friendship with a Christian. “I’m really interested in what they believe and how they carry out their beliefs. I wish I could find a Christian that would be willing to spend some time with me.”
  3. I would like to learn about the Bible from a Christian. “The Bible really fascinates me, but I don’t want to go to a stuffy and legalistic church to learn about it. I would be nice if a Christian invited me to study the Bible in his home or at a place like Starbucks.”
  4. I don’t see much difference in the way Christians live compared to others. “I really can’t tell what a Christian believes because he doesn’t seem much different than other people I know. The only exception would be Mormons. They really seem to take their beliefs seriously.”
  5. I wish I could learn to be a better husband, wife, dad, mom, etc., from a Christian. “My wife is threatening to divorce me, and I think she means it this time. My neighbor is a Christian, and he seems to have it together. I am swallowing my pride and asking him to help me.”
  6. Some Christians try to act like they have no problems. “Harriett works in my department. She is one of those Christians who seem to have a mask on. I would respect her more if she didn’t put on such an act. I know better.”
  7. I wish a Christian would take me to his or her church. “I really would like to visit a church, but I’m not particularly comfortable going by myself. What is weird is that I am 32-years old, and I’ve never had a Christian invite me to church in my entire life.”

Do you see the pattern? Non-Christians want to interact with Christians. They want to see Christians’ actions match their beliefs. They want Christians to be real.

In one study we conducted, we found that only five percent of non-Christians are antagonistic toward Christians. It’s time to stop believing the lies we have been told. Jesus said it clearly: “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest” (Luke10:2, HCSB).

Satan is the author of excuses. There is no reason to wait to reach those who don’t know Jesus Christ. We must go now. The harvest is waiting. And the Lord of the harvest has prepared the way.

Pastor to Pastor is the Saturday blog series at Pastors and staff, if we can help in any way, contact Steve Drake, our director of pastoral relations, at [email protected]. We also welcome contacts from laypersons in churches asking questions about pastors, churches, or the pastor search process. 

Posted on September 15, 2012

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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  • You did a excellent job! This post sound really

  • WMDKitty says on

    I find Christianity to be a recipe for abuse, and the worst of it comes from your god. I’ve lived through enough of that already, thank you.

    God and Spousal Abuse:

    It’s common for Christians to compare the relationship between humanity and God to that between husband and wife. God is the ‘man’ of the house to whom humanity owes obedience, respect, and honor. Usually this relationship is portrayed as one of love, but in far too many ways, God is more like an abusive spouse who only knows how to love through intimidation and violence. A review of classic signs and symptoms of spousal abuse reveals how abusive the ‘relationship’ people have with God is.

    Victims are Afraid of the Abuser:

    Abusers instill fear in their spouses; believers are instructed to fear God. Abusers are unpredictable and given to dramatic mood swings; God is depicted as alternating between love and violence. Abused spouses avoid topics which set off the abuser; believers avoid thinking about certain things to avoid angering God. Abusers make one feel like there is no way to escape a relationship; believers are told that there is no way to escape God’s wrath and eventual punishment.

    Abusers Use of Threats and Intimidation to Force Compliance:

    Violence is a primary means by which abusers communicate, even with their spouses whom they are supposed to love.

    Abusers aren’t just violent towards their spouses — they also use violence against objects, pets, and other things to instill more fear and to force compliance with their wishes. God is portrayed as using violence to force people to comply with certain rules and Hell is the ultimate threat of violence. God might even punish an entire nation for the transgressions of a few members.

    Abusers Withholds Resources from Victims:

    In order to exercise greater control over a victim, abusers will withhold important resources in order to make the victim more dependent. Resources used like this include money, credit cards, access to transportation, medications, or even food. God is also depicted as exercising control over people by controlling their resources — if people are insufficiently obedient, for example, God may cause crops to fail or water to turn bad. The basic necessities of living are conditioned on obeying God.

    Abusers Instill Feelings of Inadequacy in Victims:

    A further means of exercising control over a victim is instilling feelings of inadequacy in them.

    By getting them to feel worthless, helpless, and unable to do anything right, they will lack the self-confidence necessary to stand up to the abuser and resist the abuse. Believers are taught that they are depraved sinners, unable to do anything right and unable to have good, decent, or moral lives independent of God. Everything good that a believer achieves is due to God, not their own efforts.

    Victims Feel they Deserve to be Punished by Abusers:

    Part of the process of encouraging the victim to feel inadequate involves getting them to feel that they really do deserve the abuse they are suffering. If the abuser is justified in punishing the victim, then the victim can hardly complain, can she?God is also described as being justified in punishing humanity — all people are so sinful and depraved that they deserve an eternity in hell (created by God). Their only hope is that God will take pity on them and save them.

    Victims are Not Trusted by Abusers:

    Another part of the process of making the victim feel inadequate is ensuring that they know how little the abuser trusts them. The victim is not trusted to make her own decisions, dress herself, buy things on her own, or anything else. She is also isolated from her family so that she can’t find help. God, too, is depicted as treating people as if they were unable to do anything right or make their own decisions (like on moral issues, for example).

    Emotional Dependency of the Abuser on the Victim:

    Although abusers encourage victims to feel inadequate, it is the abuser who really has problems with self-confidence. Abusers encourage emotional dependency because they are emotionally dependent themselves — this produces extreme jealousy and controlling behavior. God, too, is depicted as dependent upon human worship and love. God is usually described as jealous and unable to handle it when people turn away. God is all-powerful, but unable to prevent the smallest problems.

    Blaming the Victim for the Abuser’s Actions:

    Victims are typically made to feel responsible for all of an abuser’s actions, not just deserving of the punishments inflicted. Thus victims are told that it’s their fault when an abuser gets angry, feels suicidal, or indeed when anything at all goes wrong. Humanity is also blamed for everything that goes wrong — although God created humanity and can stop any unwanted actions, all responsibility for all evil in the world is laid entirely at the feet of human beings.

    Why Do Abused People Stay With Their Abusers?:

    Why do women stay with violent, abusive spouses? Why don’t they just pack up and leave, making a new life for themselves elsewhere and with people who actually respect and honor them as equal, independent human beings?The signs of abuse described above should help in answering these questions: women are so emotionally and psychologically beaten down that they lack the mental strength to do what is necessary. They don’t have enough confidence to believe that they can make it without the man who keeps telling them that only he could possibly love such an ugly and worthless person such as they.

    Perhaps some insight on this can be gained by rephrasing the question and asking why people don’t abandon the emotionally and psychologically abusive relationship they are expected to develop with God? The existence of God isn’t relevant here, what matters is how people are taught to perceive themselves, their world, and what will happen to them if they make the mistake of trying to leave the relationship in order to make a better life for themselves elsewhere.

    Women who are abused are told that they can’t make it on their own and if they try, their spouse will come after them to punish or even kill them. Believers are told that they can’t accomplish anything of value without God, that they are so worthless that only because God is infinitely loving does he love them at all; if they turn their backs on God, they will be punished for all eternity in hell. The sort of ‘love’ which God has for humanity is the ‘love’ of an abuser who threatens, attacks, and commits violence in order to get his own way.

    Religions like Christianity are abusive insofar as they encourage people to feel inadequate, worthless, dependent, and deserving of harsh punishment. Such religions are abusive insofar as they teach people to accept the existence of a god which, if human, would have long ago been shut away in prison for all his immoral and violent behavior.


  • You haven’t met any real people who don’t subscribe to your religion if this is what you’re “hearing.” Instead, you’re only hearing what you want to hear. If you want to know what we have to say about your religion, shut your mouth and listen to what people are actually saying to you. Here, I’ll get you started.

    1. Christians are against more things than they are for.

    What we’re really saying: “Good grief, what a bunch of hateful, judgmental people you consistently turn out to be. It’s quite a turn off that makes me really loathe your religion, if it turns out people like you all the time.”

    2. I would like to develop a friendship with a Christian.

    What we’re really saying: “Some of you would be people we’d be friends with if you weren’t so hateful, judgmental and constantly treating us like salesman’s marks to peddle your cult to. If you’d knock that stuff off, we could agree to disagree and you might actually be tolerable. Too bad so many of you refuse to do that.”

    3. I would like to learn about the Bible from a Christian.

    I suppose there are a few people without brains or intellectual curiosity who really are completely ignorant about what your cult is about, but most of us aren’t that shockingly dense. It is far more likely that we have read the book, and know more about what’s actually in it than any of you do. It’s why we don’t belong to your cult.

    Most of the time if this ever came up, it isn’t to learn anything from you about what the book says, but to get your take on it. The difference is subtle, which is probably why you wouldn’t understand it. However, get this through your head: Wanting to know what you think is different from wanting you to get us to go all in on your religion. Do you not understand that?

    Personally, if I said anything remotely approximating asking you what you think your book says, it would not be to learn anything from you about the book–I know far more about what it says than you’d be comfortable with. Instead, I’m probably bored and asked for the amusement factor of watching you try to justify believing in such a hot mess of contradictions, bigotry, misogyny and outright lies. I’m playful that way.

    What we are most definitely not saying: Please proselytize your cult to me via your frightening horror story. To think that’s what we want is only your wishful thinking.

    What can I say? You’re the masters of wishful thinking.

    4. I don’t see much difference in the way Christians live compared to others.

    What we’re really saying to you: “For people who claim that their religion is supposed to make them so moral, you sure do a lot of immoral things. This does not make your case, I hope you know that.” In other words, we’re holding you in contempt for how much what you promote as a moral good has failed so spectacularly, in your life especially, and only you are so blind that you can’t see it.

    5. I wish I could learn to be a better husband, wife, dad, mom, etc., from a Christian.

    Said none of us to you, ever. Your religion is the last place we should look for advice on how to conduct a marriage or family. Remember: We’ve actually read your manual, which has no problems with incest, polygamy, married men having concubines, selling children into slavery, murdering children for disobedience or over a promise to an imaginary friend in the sky, rape as a legitimate “courtship” method, and the requirement of women to be subservient to their husbands, to name but a few of its abominable ideas about marriage and family.

    6. Some Christians try to act like they have no problems.

    What we’re really saying: “Your life is a hot mess, but you cling to your religion so that you can live in denial about it, rather than facing reality and solving your problems. How’s that working for you?”

    7. I wish a Christian would take me to his or her church.

    We don’t say this, either, so chalk it up as another entirely fabricated lie put into our mouths by someone with an agenda.

    Look, we know we can go to where you hang out. In places like the US, it’s not like an Orthodox Jewish Temple, or the local Islamic or Sikh center, which has to hide down off-the-beaten-path side streets behind huge fences so that they’re not shot at and murdered. Places like that, you definitely need to be invited or very determined to get inside.

    That doesn’t apply to your cult. Your joints are right out in the open on the busiest of streets, and have big old signs telling us to come visit. You even tell us when they’re open for business. Worse, we can’t go a day without one of you all but kidnapping us to take us there, whether we’re interested or not. So we’re not desperate to be “invited” to these places, as much as you wish we were.

  • I am not a Christian,and the primary reason is,becasuse of the very narrow way that term is interpreted today. I practice the spiritual tenets of my Native American ancestors and am quite content
    The other thin that disturbs me about modern Christians in the U.S. is their politicization of God,turning Him into a political football. I have always felt,that religion,no matter which one,has no business in the political arena. Any elected official,who casts his or her votes,or makes decisions based on THEIR beliefa,I feel is trying to legislate their faith and impose it on others. This is an injustice to the people he or she works for,that being us. We do not elect people to think for us. We don’t need them for that. Any elected person is an employee,and like any of who are employed by others,they are only required to do as they are told.

  • This is a post that I definitely need to read so I can be equipped and equip others on how to deal with these issues!

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