Tuesday, April 08, 2008

What's a Hin du?

The big story in The Archers at the moment concerns Alan, the vicar, and his Hindu girlfriend, Usha. They've decided to get married and are very surprised to find that their families don't approve.

Alan's first wife died and he and his daughter are very close to his mother-in-law - we never hear about Alan's parents - who helped bring up her grand-daughter. Mabel is a black evangelical Christian, who likes Usha, but cannot approve of Alan marrying a Hindu. She is praying for Usha to convert to Christianity.

Usha's family are cutting her off as they too disapprove. Meanwhile friends of the couple in Ambridge are very happy for them as is Alan's Bishop.

So I've been pondering this for a while and wondering what I think and I'm still not sure.

Some of the friends have been laughing at the fact that Mabel is praying that Usha becomes a Christian, and that is probably the bit that concerns me most.

If you've read this blog more than once or twice you will probably know that I am a Christian, a follower of Jesus. Although there are many things that I am unsure or wishy-washy about, I am sure that Jesus is the only way. And, if Alan, as a Christian, is concerned for Usha's eternal soul, he should be praying for her too.

I have great respect for other religions and people who practise them; most religions seem to me to be based on good moral foundations. And if that is all there were to it then it wouldn't matter which one we followed. However I believe that Christianity is different in a very fundamental way.

In most religions, as far as I understand, it is about people who are searching for something: meaning, fulfilment, in whatever form that takes, be it a higher being, a supreme power, a state of mind. In Christianity it's the other way round. God comes searching for us. He reaches out to us.

He chose to give his son for us so that we don't have to do anything except believe. And sometimes that's the hardest thing.

Now where am I? How did I get here? Not philosophically or physically. I mean how did my train of thought get me to this point and where do I actually want to be? Ah, yes, so do I think an Anglican should marry a Hindu?

One scripture that is sometimes quoted in regard to 'mixed' marriages, is from the second letter Paul wrote to the Corinthians. In it he says, 'Don't be yoked with unbelievers.' Now as I've said before, I'm not that keen on Paul, and I take what he says with a pinch of salt, but I talked to a young lad from church about this and what he thought about non-Christian girlfriends. His opinion was that having a girlfriend who is also a Christian means that they would have more in common with each other. She would understand his motivation, his reasons, his way of life.

A lot of the Bible is about making life easier for us. The ten commandments make good sense. There are guidelines - rather than rules - that are for our benefit.

I'm married to a non-Christian. I became a Christian after marriage although I'd been brought up going to church. I was christened and confirmed in the CoE (or rather Church in Wales). And, yes, I pray, as do others, for Husband to become a Christian. I want him to be in heaven with me! But Christianity isn't just about the after-life; it's about life in its fullness now.

(You see this was why I was reluctant to start this post. I knew it would entail lots of explanations and going from here to there and back again, and I was afraid that you'd get bored before I finished. And I'd keep forgetting where I was.)

Husband and I have very different ideas about most things in life. But if Christianity were about being a nice person, then Husband would be a far better Christian than I am. But it's not. It's about having God in my life. It's about being forgiven, and being loved unconditionally. My faith is an essential part of me, of who I am. It's a part of me that Husband doesn't share. But he supports me in it.

And I suppose that is where I finally get back to Alan and Usha. Ambridge could have a man alone trying to do a job, supporting others, often during the worst times in their lives. Or a man doing that job but being supported himself by a loving helpmate.

Jesus was asked what was the most important commandment. He said, 'Love God and love your neighbour as yourself.' This was what Jesus thought was important. (And very hard to do when many of us don't even love ourselves.) He didn't say, 'Don't marry a Hindu.' In fact, that thought never even crossed his mind. He talked to enemies of the Jews. He went to look for them. He went out of his way to touch the untouchables, reach the unreachable.

So now I know what I think. This post has helped me work it out in my own mind. If you've got this far, well done! If you've understood, please explain it to me!

(I do understand really!)



mdmhvonpa said...

I'm living that ... my family and that of my wife's have come around. Good thing for them, because the Mrs and I have each-other (and the kids) and that is MORE than enough for us.

Ole Phat Stu said...

Despite the encouragement of Luke 18:27 - I quote Luke as you don't like Paul - I always wonder why you Xians never pray for Satan!
As the original sinner - in the biggest possible way - surely he is the one who need it most?

I never see Xians pray that Satan see the error of his ways, acknowledges his wrongdoing and asks for forgiveness.

I never see Xians pray that Satan himself asks the Lord Jesus Christ into his heart.

I never see Xians pray that God will let bygones be bygones and put this eternal feud to rest for the good of mankind. Because He's a vengeful god, not into forgiving perhaps?

Or is it that deep down inside, the Xians know that prayer doesn't help one smallest iota?

So - before you worry about a fictional problem between fictional gods in a fictional radio show - Go pray for Satan!

your Atheist friend,
Ole Phat Stu

jmb said...

Of course the situation in the Archers is extreme and probably rather unlikely as a vicar would probably not allow a relationship to develop with a non-Christian. But this is TV.
In real life there are probably more people like you and me who are married to non-believers.

Liz said...

I didn't realise, mdm.

It's true, my atheist friend, that I have never prayed for Satan to see the error of his ways. But many years ago when I was teaching in Sunday school I was asked if Satan could be forgiven; I replied that if he was truly sorry and turned away from his sin then he could.
I have seen prayer change things, but - in the big ones - probably not as many times I've not had my requests granted. However I will pray for you!

jmb, with some of the Anglican clergy we have, I really don't know whether a vicar would stop himself following that path.

Ole Phat Stu said...

Comment on your reply Liz:
Please go read


Liz said...

atu, I'm not sure why you've sent me to read this post, but it's interesting.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I can't stand the Usha character but I can't see what everybody is so upset about. I like your logic in this post, Liz.

Pixie said...

What a thought provoking post.
Thank you for visiting me so I could read it.
As someone who would like God in my life but can't find him however I try. I just lead as good a life as I possibly can. Which certainly involves looking after my fellow man, but not without making sure I care for myself as well.

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