Tuesday, 23 July 2013

William Lane Craig, Agony Uncle

In a remarkable question of the week, William Lane Craig responds to a common conundrum for theists: what to do when you fall in love with a non-believer, and in marrying them thereby go to hell!?

Yes, really; this chap (I assume) is worried that he will go to hell if he marries a non-believer. Rather than celebrating the joyous confluence in the lives of two human beings, and revelling in it for what it is, he seems pre-occupied with just his own well-being. This does not sound like the sort of selfless behaviour that characterises a healthy loving relationship. Whatever happened to true altruism?

His lover has said, sure, I'll convert to any religion to be with you (pretty selfless for a non-believer!):
So my question is this: if she does convert, how could I be sure that she really believes in Christianity? 
One might ask: how can one be sure anyone believes in any religion? The differences between religions are largely a result of arbitrary cultural currents, since their beliefs occupy that territory beyond the universally verifiable, so on the plus side it's pretty easy for someone to commit to something that might be as true as the next belief system; but on the minus side, theists are typically not impressed by people who treat their specific belief as a happy accidental one.

Craig's initial thoughts seem to hint at the difficulty of determining another's beliefs:
When I first read your question, Shane, I thought, “He’s got nothing to worry about! She’s ready to become a Christian, and the sincerity of her commitment is between her and God.”
But, he's worried:
But the more I thought about it, the more I came to think that you do, indeed, face a rather difficult situation.
Is he concerned about this couple's well-being? Well, not so much:
Forget about going to hell. What you should worry about, rather, is ruining your life by marrying someone who is a nonbeliever and therefore not God's will for your life. You don’t want to wander off the trajectory that God has in mind for you and so miss all that He has in store for you.
Craig agrees that this guy should be worrying about himself first of all. Apparently God has some trajectory in mind for him that, despite his omnipotence, could be diverted by this heathen-ess.
Well, the problem is that in this case her motives for becoming a Christian seem not to be that she has fallen in love with Christ but that she has fallen in love with you!
How could she have made such a schoolgirl error?!
A person who says that “she would convert to any religion” to be with you reveals that she has not understood that Christianity makes objective truth claims about reality.
Sure, but by saying that she would convert to any religion to be with the guy, she may have noticed that the objective truth claims of various religions are not objectively verifiable.
She seems to think of embracing a religion as akin to following fashion: you can change fashions without concern for truth. Such a woman has not yet arrived at the point that she can be trusted. For she seems willing to say or do whatever it takes to get the object of her desire.
And a Christian is doing what, exactly? Should not a Christian say or do whatever it takes to get the object of their desire, Jesus Christ?
You need to wait until you have proof-positive that she has fallen in love with Christ for his own sake, not for yours, and wants her whole life to be lived in obedience to him as Lord.
Despite homophobic Christian talk on the sanctity of marriage as one man, one woman, here Craig seems to be insisting that there be three people in every marriage: a husband, wife and Jesus Christ.
The difficulty, Shane, is that meanwhile you are in danger of getting inextricably bound up emotionally with her, so that your love of her will seduce you to do something that your mind tells you not to do. So you need to create some emotional space between you and her while you wait to see if her commitment to Christ is genuine.
Nice. Much better to eschew the possibility of a lifelong relationship with a potential soul mate than to risk the wrath of an imaginary god.


  • Diacanu says:
    23 July 2013 at 10:04

    I still say he looks like an older more straight-laced David Lee Roth.

  • Mark Jones says:
    23 July 2013 at 17:10

    I think you may have something there Mike. The syllable count in their names sort of matches too. Coincidence?

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