There’s an interesting Reddit thread on whether you should pretend to convert if you have a dying loved one who really wants you to.
Most commenters seem to agree that it’s no big deal (as I would phrase it, it’s not like non-God is going to non-condemn you to non-hell for non-non-belief), although there’s an interesting discussion about the value of honesty vs. the value of doing something good for someone you love.
And I do tend to come down on the side of saying it’s OK — maybe even just plain right — to tell a religious loved one on their deathbed that you’ve found Jesus (or whoever they desire you to have found). It’s not much skin off your nose, and it’ll give comfort to someone who really needs all the comfort they can get.
But I do have to wonder about something. If someone is dying, and they really want you to be religious, then don’t they believe (assuming it’s a Christian or Muslim) that they’re going to heaven? And that everything will be hunky-dory?
Sure, the prospect of a loved one going to hell seems pretty bad, here on earth. But what kind of heaven is it that doesn’t make you happy pretty much all the time? Presumably the powers that be have arranged things so that once you see the big picture and know everything (and for me, it wouldn’t be heaven if I didn’t know everything), it all gets put in perspective and existence seems pretty darned good. I mean, that’s why it’s called heaven, right?
If that’s the case, why should they be alarmed at the prospect of someone they love not being there? Is heaven going to be a big bummer if that happens? Will they be moping around their cloud all day, disconsolately strumming their harp?
I suppose it could be that as they face the terrifying forever darkness, it’s only natural that they’d have such fears, no matter how great their faith that they’re going to a better place. But how would such fears be relieved by your pretending to convert? I mean, if the only reason to be afraid is if their cherished religious beliefs are wrong, then how would it comfort them to know that their loved one has converted to those selfsame beliefs?
(cartoon via Shoebox Blog)