On a Secular Classmate

For this post, I wanted to try something different. I’ve lately been interested in how my classmates feel about religion. I decided to interview one of my friends who I felt could give me an typical view. I asked him a few basic questions, and then asked him what he thought students in general were like. I was surprised at some of the answers, and not others.

Q: Do you go to church?

A: “My mother always forced me to go to church. I’ve stopped going to church since I came to school. I started partying on the weekends, and I like to sleep.”

Q: Do you think religion is important?

A: “I believe it instills good values in people, but after a certain point, it’s not super useful.”

Q: Do you read the Bible?

A: “No, but I have one. That counts for something, right? I’ve read parts of it.”

Q: Do you believe in God?

A: “I believe in a higher power. I believe that there is something greater than us, such as intelligent design. I believe that something better than us is out there.”

Q: Do you believe that this ‘higher power’ is involved with our lives?

A: “No, I believe in free will. I can do whatever I want.”

Q: Do you believe in heaven?

A: “Not really. I believe that when we die, we die.”

Q: Do you believe in hell?

A: “No, but I believe we should be moral, anyway.”

Q: Why should we be moral?

A: “One person’s happiness should not make other people unhappy. Everyone has a right to be happy. Which is why I think religion is good for instilling good beliefs.”

Q: Do the differences of all the religions of the world matter, if the only purpose is to instill moral beliefs?

A: “No. All the major religions teach morals. The basic principles of every religion are exactly the same. ‘Don’t murder’, ‘Don’t cheat on your wife’. The only real differences are minor. They’re rituals. I believe that people should be allowed to do what they want, and do whatever they want with their own bodies. That’s why I disagree with Islam. I should be allowed to drink and smoke and do drugs, if I want to.”

I’ve met lots of cool friends in college. One of my friends tried to make me go to church. But she wasn’t insistent. And then she ended up being too busy getting drunk and sleeping on the weekends.

Q: Would you say that most students don’t value church?

A: “Yeah. It’s not of the utmost importance. Most people see it as a waste of time. Especially if they’ve been forced to go their entire lives. College is a time of freedom, and people want to exercise that.”

A: Do you think that most students believe in God, or a ‘higher power’?

Q: “I would say so. A higher power, anyway. I’d say it’s hard to live without one. It’s part of human nature. I’m a member of a church, and I volunteered for 8 years of my life. I spent every other weekend volunteering. I videotaped the services to show on TV for the people who couldn’t make it. Mostly people in nursing homes. I feel like my debt is paid. Well, I don’t feel like my debt is paid to society, but I feel like I can take a few years off. And I’m tired of going to church every Sunday.”

Well, there you have it: a picture of a college student and their beliefs. This is one interview, but the student speaks for many others, even though these answers do not apply to everyone. Yet, I would say that this belief in a sort of ambiguous “high power” is a popular thing among most of my peers.

Thank God there are Christians at my school too. They would answer these questions very differently. I’m grateful for that and for the ways we can support each other in our faith.

So should we just ignore people like the classmate I interviewed, and only spend time with other Christians? That might sound safe, but it isn’t what Christ did. He wasn’t afraid to interact with people who were full of sin and doubts and false ideas. If you listen to them, maybe they will listen to you. If you know what they think and believe, maybe you can better reach them with the truth of God’s love in Christ.

Contributed by H.A.