Thursday, 22 September 2011
By Ani Demirjian
I read an article today in the New York Times about a once conservative, happy, married Christian couple, Sam and Bethany Torode. They met after Bethany Patchin (her maiden name) wrote an article for Boundless, an evangelical web magazine, saying that Christians should not kiss before marriage. Intrigued by this article, Sam wrote to the editor, got in contact with Bethany, one thing led to another, and they were married.
Together, they wrote a book called Open Embrace: A Protestant Couple Rethinks Contraception about Natural Family Planning and how Christian couples ought to refrain from all kinds of birth control except what is natural (yes, even condoms). They had four children and were a very respected and admired couple in the Evangelical community.
Obviously I wouldn’t be writing if that was the end of the story. They later divorced and both left the conservative community they were a part of. Now, they are both part of different liberal churches (and I mean, very liberal) and radically changed their views on birth control and contraceptives. They are now part of the “secular” world, while still holding to their Christian roots.
I’m not even going to address the countless things that I could address about this couple (err… pair? exes?). One thing I want to talk about is what Sam Torode stated in the article. He is now writing comedy books and has asked the publishers of Open Embrace to stop publishing any more copies saying, “I am out of the business of trying to tell people what they should do. I am out of that business for good.”
I don’t get it. What’s so wrong about telling people what they should do? Especially when you really believe that that’s what they should be doing? People do it all the time! Unless you have a gun pointed at someone’s head making them do it, telling them they should do something causes absolutely no harm! Commercials tell me what to buy, teachers tell me what to pages to read, and my mechanic tells me to change my oil. So why is it, when it comes to telling people how to live their lives, we get all sensitive.
Telling people to do something causes no harm except it may make people feel uncomfortable. Big deal! If you really don’t want to do what this person is telling you, then don’t! No one is forcing you to do anything. By telling people they shouldn’t tell people what to do, you are in fact telling people what to do.
And let me not even bring up Christianity. If you really believe that something is good for someone, wouldn’t you tell them? Even atheist Penn Gillette understood that. If a nutritionist really believes that her client should be changing her diet for her own health, she will begin to tell her client what to eat. The client can choose to listen or not.
We live in a culture where people don’t like to be made uncomfortable. We don’t want to offend anyone, and we don’t want to make them feel judged. Please don’t misunderstand me. I believe that there is way to say certain things, and if you are telling people what to do just for the sake of telling them what to do and being condescending about it, then you are definitely in the wrong. However, if you truly care for someone and if you truly believe that if they begin to do something their life will improve, there is no harm in that.
As Christians, we believe that we have the truth and the answer to all the evil in the world. I hope this belief is based on more than just feeling/experience. I hope you have truly taken the time to study about why you actually believe. If we really believe that we have the answers to peoples’ suffering, why wouldn’t we tell them? It is our duty to tell. They can choose to listen or not.