Question:

Hello,

I have a high-functioning form of Autism. After living many years in a false religion, I have recently heard about Christianity a few years ago. I am still trying to get the hang of understanding how Jesus can love me when he died many years ago. There is a problem that is blocking my true path to Heaven (Due to certain web sites, I will go to Hell if I die tonight because Christ is not in my heart yet).

Due to my Autism, I have an aid who is paid to teach me certain life skills, such as staying healthy, shopping wisely, and being aware (and kind) of other people besides me. My Life Skills Aid (LSA) is also my best friend; we talk about our current issues, we go out to fun events (I cannot drive), and we meet up with friends. You may think this is good for me, which it is! Sadly, my life skills trainer is not a true Christian because he believes that the Bible is written by people who never knew Jesus. He does not believe in Hell, and he believes that every good person goes to heaven; with or without Christ. As a result, more than 50% of his Christianity is false. My LSA is the one of the closest friends that I always look up to. We both care for each other. When I tell him that I am scared to go to hell because I do not repent for my sins, he comforts me with the fact that "I will always go to heaven because God would never want to torture me in everlasting fire." After feeling good inside, I then forget about that one sin I have done earlier that day (mostly telling lies in order to hide things). This is bad. I have a harder time fighting the temptation of "sticking to his false beliefs," and what makes it worse is the fact that he teaches me life skills but does not have a clean Christian lifestyle. He listens to filthy music and talks a lot about sex because he has a sinful side. Before I met him, I never made sexual jokes, I never laughed or made fun of people, and I never sinned as much as I do now. I feel guilty now, but I cannot leave him because my parents are paying for his services and I do like the good side of him (helping me with college stress). Yes, I have this feeling that I must repent for my sins, but with my Autism, it is almost impossible for me to do it.

I wish I knew which type of Christianity is 100% true. Many of my friends are telling me that I should not follow the Bible literally because it is not 100% true. If I do have to repent, it will be very hard for me. Change is very hard for Autistic people like me. I know you might tell me that I should look and find other close Christians to help me, but I have a very hard time making friends. The only few Christians I know tell me that I do not need to repent because everybody sins and as long as you have Jesus in your heart, you will live with him forever. Besides those few Christians, almost everybody else I know believes in a God, but not through the Bible! This makes me feel like I am fighting a war on my own. I do not live near a church. What do I do and how should I block that dirty side of my LSA's attitude.

Thank You

P.S. - If Jesus and God hear what I think, why should I still pray to them out loud?


Answer:

I have a number of friends who have either Autism or Aspergers, so I understand a bit about what you go through each day. You're welcome to write as often as you would like. I can't always respond immediately, but I'll try to get back to you as soon as I can.

It is interesting that people call themselves "Christian," yet do not believe the very book that defines who Christ was and what a Christian is. The reason they fill themselves with doubt about the Bible is because they don't want to actually follow the Bible. They are willing to accept the things in it that they agree with, but if it disagrees with any of their choices, then they can just ignore it -- telling themselves it is just a book by men anyway. I'm going to assume that you pretty much accept that the Bible is true, but when you have a question let me know and I'll try to help you work through the issue.

You and I don't have to guess about what the Bible teaches on different subjects, we can look in our Bibles and read it for ourselves. Finding the right sections to read is often difficult for people new to the Bible and that is what preachers are there to help with. You have a good head on your shoulders, so you are able to read what is in the Bible and compare it to what people tell you. Sometimes people with autism have trouble with figurative speech, where ideas are relayed in word pictures instead of straight forward language, but even here you can get the hang of it by knowing when to look for the clues. So ask when something doesn't make sense, and I'll try to put it into different terms.

Let's start with some of the things your friend, the Life Skills Aid, stated without proving his point. It isn't that I want to pick on him, it is just that he raised issues that caused you to ask questions. What I want you to see is that the Bible does talk about those things. I would like you to get a Bible and look up the verses for yourself. Read some of the verses before and after the ones I cite so that you see that I'm not pulling them out of their context and making them to appear to anything different from what was originally intended. Checking is exactly what God wants you to do. "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (I John 4:1). The way to check is to compare what a person claims God said to what is actually recorded.

Your friend claims that the Bible was written by people who did not know Jesus. What a strange claim! He ought to have really strong evidence since he is just one man who is living 2,000 years after the events. But I suspect that this is just what he says. I doubt he actually has any strong evidence. If we go to court, a judge and the jury listens to a set of witnesses to determine what actually happened. Having multiple witnesses saying the same thing makes it more likely to have happened. "One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established" (Deuteronomy 19:15). The four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are four separate accounts of the events in Jesus life. All four completely agree about both the broad things and the details of his life. Four people writing independently about someone they never met could never do that. Then we have a series of letters from Romans to Jude by various followers of Christ talking about Jesus' teachings, and the letters all agree with each other and with the gospels. Then there is the fact that the books and letters were all written within a few decades of Jesus' life (this is established by history). If there were errors in their content, you would expect those who actually did know Jesus to speak up against them. We see from history that later others tried to add letters to the Bible, but they were rejected because they did not match what people knew actually did happen, so people were checking. This is just a few small points, but it is enough to say that the evidence is stronger that the Bible was written by people who knew Jesus than by people who never met him.

What about hell? Is there such a place? Jesus said so, "Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life" (Matthew 25:45-46). Notice that Jesus treats everlasting punishment (hell) as equal to eternal life (heaven). You friend wants to believe in heaven and reject hell. You can't reject hell without rejecting heaven -- at least not honestly.

Your friend is somewhat right about one thing: God isn't trying to send people to hell. What God is trying to do is keep people out of hell. "Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea" (Micah 7:18-19). Now that doesn't mean, as your friend desires, that God is going to ignore sins. He is still a just God. Ignoring sins would not be just. He is willing to forgive people of their sins if they will change for the better. ""But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live. Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?" says the Lord GOD, "and not that he should turn from his ways and live? But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die"" (Ezekiel 18:21-24). In other words, God looks at who you are and not who you used to be.

Now, when God says he wants you to change, He is not saying you have to list out every single sin you have ever committed. Most of us don't have good enough memories to do that, nor good enough understanding of what is right or wrong to recognize all sins. What God is talking about is the direction of your life. So when you realized that you lied because you were afraid, then you tell God that you realize you made a mistake. If the person you lied to is there, apologize to them for misleading them and then tell them what the truth is. Then figure out what you can do in the future so that you won't be so afraid to say the truth. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9). It is because everyone sins, that everyone needs to repent. "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" (Romans 6:1-2).

Because your friend is living a bad life in some ways, it doesn't mean you have to follow him. (I know, your autism makes this part particularly hard.) You can say that you don't enjoy his dirty music, so could he find something nicer to listen to while you are there? Sexual jokes are not good because sex is a serious part of life. "But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God" (Ephesians 5:3-5). Making fun of other people is not good, unless they know you are teasing. It can get you into trouble. Your friend is failing his job if he is teaching you to belittle other people. What I suspect is that he is trying to help you learn humor, but some of the things that he thinks is funny isn't appropriate.

Change is actually hard for many people, having autism just makes it a bit harder. But think of it this way, if you know one direction is wrong or bad for you, continuing doesn't make it better. You figure out the best way you know at the moment and go that way. And you keep watch because you will learn more things that will make you better at picking the best way to go.

Now in regards to being a Christian, yes, there are a lot of people going in all sorts of directions. But there is really only one Bible that says which way is right. "Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me"" (John 14:6). People will ignore things they don't like, so you should expect people to ignore Jesus' teachings when his teachings prove them to be wrong. But that doesn't mean you should ignore Jesus like the rest. You know you've found the right church when what they teach is found in the Bible and they aren't playing games with what the Bible says.

Finally, in regards to prayer, nothing in the Bible says a prayer must be said out loud. Some people think better when they hear their own words, so some people prefer to pray out loud. In a worship service, the person selected to lead the prayer says his prayer out loud because the rest are unable to read his mind and follow along. But when you are praying privately, you don't have to speak your words out loud; God knows what you are thinking. "O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O LORD, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me" (Psalms 139:1-5).