In previous bulletin articles we’ve been looking at common objections to Christianity. This week I want to look at the objection that religion is a private matter and therefore Christians should keep it to themselves.

Many non-Christians are happy enough for you to be a Christian – what they don’t like hearing about is anything to do with Christianity.

However it must be understood that this objection is logically impossible. What you believe is never a private matter – it spills over into the lives of those around you all the time. Sometimes this is quite obvious. An extreme example would be a religion that encourages human sacrifice – most people would not suggest that such a religion should be conducted at all, privately or publicly. Murdering others is simply not permitted. But you don’t even have to go to such extremes to realise that worldviews influence others. If you believe there is no God you will often be in favour of laws that Christians do not favour, and vote accordingly thus influencing the rest of the population.

Also, the influence of your ‘private’ worldview can be very subtle. Every time you enter into the public gaze you begin to share your worldview with others. What you wear, what you drive, the kind of house you live in – they all make statements to others about what it is you believe is important and are an encouragement to others to also share the same view. As you talk at the lunchtime table at work, you are sharing your worldview. Even if all you talk about are the tv shows that you enjoy – you are encouraging others to make time for such shows. And what you choose not to talk about encourages others to consider that such topics are of little importance too.

So for a non-Christian to suggest that a Christian should keep their religion to themselves is hypocritical. They are asking the Christian to do what they don’t do themselves because what they’re asking is impossible.

So when a non-Christian asks you to shut up about Christianity, you might want to tell them that you will happily do so – once they return the favour by shutting up about everything that they think is important too.

Do you think that religion is simply a private matter? Or do you recognise that as you interact with others your worldview is never private?

Joel Radford.