The following is an excerpt written by an individual who was once a dyed-in-the-wool, full-blown, dedicated Christian. About a year or so back, he left the faith. Since then, he has written numerous posts in which he talks about his “before and after” experiences. He is an excellent writer and has a real talent for sharing his thoughts and feelings.
I’m sharing a portion of his latest post because I believe the analogy is undeniable. And because I hope every Christian parent reading it will take a hard look at the questions he asks at the end.
When I was in the third or fourth grade we had a visitor at my school. He was a storyteller who was there to share some scary stories at Halloween time. He told a story that I still remember to this day…well at least one part of it. He told us of a man who one night fell asleep drunk in his home. As he slept, his arm dangled over the edge of his bed. Soon rats came and chewed off the tips of his fingers. In his drunken state, he could not tell that a large group of rats had made a meal of his fingers.
Now, what you need to remember is that I was only about 7 or 8 years old when I heard that story. This was traumatizing to me and after that day, I could not allow my hands to hang over the edge of my bed. I don’t mean for just a little while. I don’t mean for just my childhood. Even to this day, when my hand drifts dangerously close to the edge of my bed at night, I pull it back. I’m almost 41 years old now. I am old enough to know that rats are not going to come and gnaw at my fingers as I sleep. Yet the fear instilled in me as a young child still rears its ugly head and despite my better judgement, my reaction is to recoil and protect myself.
Keep in mind that this was just a scary story told to entertain children. It had no real world consequences, although my mind made me fear rats that didn’t reside in my bedroom. What happens when the scary story taught to children isn’t labeled “entertainment” up front but rather labeled as “the truth” or “God’s Word”? What happens when rats are replaced with eternal torment as you are separated forever from a loving God?
**Just an added note for any Christians reading this — Ben does not write from an antagonistic or “preaching” perspective. His goal is not to “convert.” He simply shares his before and after experiences and lets the reader form their own conclusions.**