Dear Margo: I’ve never written to an advice columnist in my life, but one of your answers really set me off. A woman asked for your advice about someone in her family telling her husband that he might not go to heaven since he’s not a Christian. Well, I’ve been a Christian for 50 years, and I can tell you that her family member is exactly right. You cannot enter the gates of heaven unless you ask forgiveness of your sins and accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior. It’s all very clear in the Bible — no ifs, ands or buts. You either believe it, or you don’t go to heaven. That is our belief.
Now, if you want to believe something else, then that is your prerogative — just don’t expect to go to heaven. The scripture explaining all of this is very clear. If you plan on several million Christians continuing to read your column, then I suggest you write a retraction. — Follower of Jesus Christ
Dear Fol: A retraction? I don’t think so. Here’s the thing: I find your letter a perfect example of someone who’s been indoctrinated to reject and diminish anything with which she does not agree. What you are saying is that other people’s Gods are “wrong.” Such a view is narrow-minded and disrespectful to billions of good people who believe differently. When you say, “That is our belief,” let us parse that. It is your belief — and a belief is not a fact. Neither is it knowledge. It is an opinion about something that cannot be proved.
Your Bible, the New Testament, was written by different people after Jesus died — with John’s Gospel written 100 years AD. One hundred years! The scholarship on the subject is that the written version came from the oral teachings of different sects, not unlike the way myths were passed on.
I greatly admire people of faith, but I don’t think any learned theologian would embrace your “my way or the highway” approach to religion — especially considering that God’s message is said to be one of love. And isn’t humility supposed to be a Christian virtue? I must tell you that your advisory (believe what you like, “just don’t expect to go to heaven”) makes your hoped-for destination sound a bit like a restricted country club. — Margo, ecumenically
On the Other Hand…
Dear Margo: Regarding families responding to relatives coming out, you mentioned that unhappiness with homosexuality is “like wishing a right-handed child were left-handed.” Well, I started life as a left-handed child in the ’60s and grew up to be right-handed. Why? My father would not tolerate my being left-handed, “because it’s a right-handed world.” His tactics were simple. Every time I started to do something with my left hand, he would drop what he was doing, give me a stare of utter contempt and accusingly state (with venom added for emphasis), “Lefty!” Times have definitely changed for the better for those of us wired differently. — Nostalgically (Not)
Dear Nos: Sorry about your natural handedness even being an issue, Lefty. Of course, the wild card about being able to change how someone is wired is that it’s not possible to stare down a homosexual and tell him or her to switch to heterosexual attraction — though people and organizations have tried. You are correct that times have definitely changed for the better as more people get more information. — Margo, progressively