I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a post called the greatest evidence against Christianity (or something like that), but while I know what I want to say, I haven’t really worked out the best way to say it. Last night I was busy reading in front of the telly and this rather odd, violent movie (well it wasn’t quite Saw, but that did get a mention) came on and that whole not-being-able-to-look-away-from-a-car-crash thing set in.
The movie in question was Straw dogs. A tale of a movie writer and his wife returning to her hometown in the country, presumably the Bible belt. I don’t know much about the Bible belt, but I get the impression that it is probably similar small farming towns in South Africa dominated by NGK Afrikaaners. This movie didn’t do much to change my impressions of the Bible belt, it had a drunkard town hero ex football coach; a bunch of washed up jocks & a penchant for hunting; ogling at girls; going to church and, of course, football. In South Africa we have rugby, not gridiron, but I think the general idea (for this post, at least) is the same.
During the Sunday sermon (designed to let “preacher get everyone filled with God” prior to celebrating the start of the football season) the film maker leaves, which obviously upsets the whole town, this is just not done. The interchange between the quarterback and him regarding his leaving is reasonably predictable, but as the quarterback turns to go, the film maker makes a less than subtle remark. He remarks that he agrees with at least one thing in the Bible, “thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife.” Of course the quarterback agrees, with a but, “what if your neighbour’s wife covets you? Then is it still a sin?” (Christians have a great habit of looking for loopholes.) The rest of the movie consists of them (the jocks) bullying and intimidating; killing the film makers cat; raping his wife; taking him hunting and shooting at him before leaving him in the woods alone (outside of hunting season), and assisting the already psychotic ex coach into a homicidal frenzy before trying to kill the couple. Sure, the movie is more complicated than I have just painted it, but the point is, this ain’t no Christian bunch.
One might be wondering exactly where I’m going with this, well it is simple. The doctrine of eternal salvation of the saved has become a cop out, even for many who aren’t Baptists. This is a doctrine I’d heard of, but didn’t really think anyone would promote such drivel, until I watched Kent Hovind’s seminars (for which he has much to apologise), “I can’t loose my salvation, I’m saved.” So you can rape your neighbours wife; shoot at people; destroy their property, and then just repent, then do it all again tomorrow. Now people may jump down my throat here, so let me explain, I don’t believe in salvation by works; I don’t believe God is not forgiving, but I do believe that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20) and that you will be judged according to your actions, although unrepented actions, but actions nonetheless. You can not be a good Christian, or a good ambassador for God if you aren’t at least trying to live like Christ – sinless and loving. If you hide behind being saved and thus no more is needed, then you are evidence against the saving grace of Christ, since you are showing that Christ can’t initiate change in your life. The obvious Christian defence here is that Christ needs to be allowed to initiate that change, so I’d go a step further and say if you aren’t seeing a significant movement away from your personal vices and towards Christlike living, you probably aren’t saved, because you’re not letting the Holy Spirit do His job.
So why guns and gridiron? Well, I suppose most American gridiron loving Christians aren’t much different from their rugby loving counterparts here. I enjoy watching rugby, but it is a violent game, and unlike watching a movie, I feel a vested interest in the teams I support. The emotional response is phenomenal. I tried to compare it to the emotional response I had when I finally gave in emotionally to conversion, I couldn’t, both are intense. The conversion response was longer lived, but they are completely different feelings. The rugby response is acute and violent, and I’m a teetotaller, when I did drink the alcohol aggravated the response. It isn’t a Christian feeling.
Guns are a huge problem, as strange as it may seem to the guns don’t kill, people do crowd, guns are designed to kill and maim, this is their purpose. Back to Kent, he waxes lyrical about the value of owning a gun, and how it is the right of every person to defend themselves. I agree, every person has the right to some form of defence, but planning to shoot people seems a bit excessive, and if you own a gun for self defence, then you are planning to shoot people. I’ve heard all the rhetoric surrounding this, but if you doubt what I am saying, find someone with a gun and ask them what they would do if someone was breaking into their house, then tell me they don’t plan to shoot people.
Many people, like those in the movie, like hunting – trophy hunting. They don’t see anything wrong with unnecessarily ending an animals life for the privilege of being able to compare the length of their horns with their friends horns (do I need to paint a picture of how this sounds?) Guns are like the symptom of a disease, and the idea that owning guns will somehow cure that disease, is like assuming that headaches and abdominal pains can cure malaria.
In conclusion, I’m not going to recap everything I’m just going to ask a simple question, does anyone (even non-Christians can answer this one) actually believe that the nomadic teacher/healer of the gospels, and the originator of the oft quoted, “[…] all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matthew 26:52) would promote the emotions surrounding violent sports (or the beer drinking culture that goes with it); the use of firearms; bigotry, or the kind of behaviour that characterises what is known as modern Christian fundamentalism? If people’s lives changing for the better on conversion is evidence for the saving grace of Christ, then no change, or change for the worse is evidence against. If we are Christians, we need to think carefully about what our actions and attitudes say about our God.