Non-Christians (and sadly Christians too) are well known for slogans and rhetoric when they engage in conversation with followers of Christ. One that I’ve heard a few times is “Christianity is just a crutch” or “God is a crutch” or “God is just a comforting delusion for those who can’t handle the horrors of reality. Belief in God is for the weak minded, it makes life easier” or some variation. There are many different ways of getting this point across. There are at least 3 problems with it though.
1: It Doesn’t Do Anything To Undermine The Truth of and/or Justification for believing Christianity.
The truth of Christianity isn’t harmed by such rhetoric even if it’s true. I think it commits the ad hominem fallacy (or possibly the genetic fallacy) since it attempts to undermine the opposing person’s worldview by pointing out something about them rather than attempting to point out potential flaws in beliefs themselves. Maybe Christianity is a crutch for many people. So what? So what? Does that mean that God does not exist? Does it mean Jesus never existed? Does it mean Jesus never claimed to be God? Does it mean Jesus never died on a cross and rose from the dead? Does it mean there’s no Heaven and no Hell? No. If anyone were to claim that it did, they’d not only be committing the Genetic Fallacy, their argument would be a non-sequitor. That’s Latin for “It does not follow”. As in, it does not follow that because Christianity functions as an emotional crutch for Bob that therefore, it isn’t true.
Since it doesn’t do anything to undermine any evidence or arguments for Christianity and it doesn’t undermine epistemological justification for believing it (assuming the reason Bob has and has given objective reasons to believe it’s true not just because it makes him feel better), then it’s a rhetorical ploy that is useless. Christianity might be a crutch for Bob, but that doesn’t undermine epistemological warrant for belief in Christianity if his reason for believing it isn’t because it makes him feel good about life. Neither the ontology nor epistemology of Christianity is harmed by such rhetoric.
2: Christianity Is The Exact Opposite For Many People.
I’d love to hear the non-Christian tell the Apostle Paul that Christianity was just a crutch for him, that he believed in Jesus because it made his life easier and made him feel good. You know, the man who endured “Hardships, Calamities, Beatings, Imprisonments, tulmuts, labors, watching, hunger." (2 Corinthians 6:4-5) simply for preaching the gospel everywhere he went. When you think about it, his earthly life would have been much happier if he had either not become a Christian or at least disobeyed Christ’s command to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19).
Tell the numerous Christians who were persecuted by Nero in the 60s A.D that Christianity is just a crutch for them to make their lives easier and to escape the horrors of reality. Tell the 12 disciples of Jesus who went to their martyred deaths how much being a Christian makes life easier. Tell Peter hanging upside down on the cross that “Christianity is just a crutch to make yourself feel better”.
Tell that to Christians living in the 21st century who are being killed in the middle east by radicalized Muslims that Christianity is just a “comforting delusion”.
All of these people would have led much happier lives if they had simply refused to be Christians. The reason they endured everything they went through is because they knew that their sufferings were only temporary and that they had an eternity of overwhelming joy, peace, and comfort to look forward to. Paul, in mentioning his suffering said "We do not lose heart for this slight, momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient but the things that are unseen are eternal." - 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Being a Christian certainly doesn’t make life easier for those who have to endure persecution because they’re Christians.
3: Crippled People Need Crutches
Maybe God allows people to be crippled so that they’ll come to Him. I pointed this out in “The Problem Of Evil and Suffering (Revisited)”. It makes sense. Some of the most devout believers are those who endured the most severe suffering during their time as an unbeliever. I’m thinking of Lacey Sturm for example, the former frontwoman of the band Flyleaf, who was literally hours away from committing suicide before she had an encounter with God at her local church that her grandmother nagged her into going to. God knew that she would give her life to Him if she were allowed to endure the suffering she went through.
There’s biblical evidence of this by the way. The prodigal son in Jesus’ parable lost everything and had hit rock bottom before he decided to return to his father (see Luke 15:11-32). If he hadn’t hit rock bottom, he likely would not have freely chosen to come back.
As C.S Lewis once put it, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world”
And as venerable archbishop Fulton J. Sheen once said “Sometimes the only way the good Lord can get into some hearts is to break them.”
By the way, if you think it’s unloving of God to allow affliction just to get us to come to Him, consider this; which is worse; To suffer temporarily or eternally? I don’t know about you, but I think it is infinitely better than to suffer temporarily than to suffer for eternity. I think if you were to ask anyone “Would you rather be in agony for 5 minutes or 5 years?” I’m certain they’d say “5 Minutes”. Considering how horrible a place Hell is, God sees that it’s better to allow us to have a free sample of it if it keeps us from it.
It could be Christianity is a crutch for some people. But it’s very plausible to think that getting emotionally crippled is the only way some stubborn hearts would yield to it. "My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees." - Psalm 119:71