Monday, January 29, 2007

For or against the Christ? (part I)

I think that this might wind up being another one of my longer posts, for which I apologize in advance. But this is something I really have to get off my chest…

I spent most of my weekend in bed dealing with yet another cold (I tell you, my immune system is shot to hell) and playing email tag with Greeny. But I managed to remove myself from my joint for a brief moment yesterday to do some pre-testing of the survey instrument I plan on using for my thesis. Essentially, I wanted to try it out so that I can work out any of the kinks that I have in the instrument.

Anyway, I decided to do my data collection at a local grocery store. While I was at the store randomly selecting respondents, there was a woman coming towards me wearing a sweatshirt with a 'quote' from Satan (in fiery letters) stating: "Support homosexuality, follow Islam, and commit an abortion. Please?" On the back of her shirt, there was a punchline saying: "Let's face it. Jesus is the only way."

As I read her shirt, I was completely flabbergasted.

I wasn’t the only person who saw this lady’s shirt. Employees and shoppers alike (many of whom were young people) all stopped to get a glimpse themselves. As I sat back and observed what was going on, I couldn’t help but think to myself how many gay people were at this store. How many of them saw what this woman was wearing? What about decent, honest, law-biding Muslims? What about the emotionally and spiritually drained women who may have – or were contemplating – an abortion? How effective was that shirt toward marketing our Christ to the world?

At the point, I was overwhelmingly embarrassed to be a Christian. I felt like any credentials that I had as one of Christ’s followers was quickly debited from me after this woman sold our Christ as being bigoted and accepting these controversial practices as supporting the devil. How can we declare the Good News of a Savior who loves and accepts everyone when this woman’s shirt clearly implies the opposite? I was not only embarrassed to be a Christian, but I was embarrassed for all of those neutrally-minded people; tending to their own business; who now had this shirt right in their face.

Don’t get me wrong: I understand the ultimate point of the shirt’s message. I can also accept the idea that is she was so open and brave with her proclamation. But, I couldn’t help but to ask myself how effective this woman was with her delivery. I mean, do we serve the same Jesus? If so, I wonder what He would’ve thought about this sweatshirt.

I guess my ultimate question would be: How would people respond if a person went into a public facility wearing a shirt that said “Christianity is fake” or “There is no God”? Though we live in a free society and people are free to do as they please (allegedly), I wonder how much of a reception the person wearing this type of shirt would receive. In a somewhat related story, my boy the Hippie Conservative was recently bashed on a “liberal” Myspace.com page for sharing his conservative opinions about a controversial matter. What does this say for liberalism?

I’m interested to hear what you guys think about this. To coin the popular phrase, what would Jesus do if He saw that shirt? Do you think He’d agree with the shirt’s message or disagree? Would He have addressed the woman? Biblically, how would Jesus have responded? How would you respond if you saw this woman? What kind of argument would you present either in support of the shirt or in opposition? I don’t plan to challenge anybody’s viewpoints on this issue. I’m just interested in feedback. I actually had a conversation with the woman (to be continued in part II), so I’ll share my views later. But for now, I’m just curious to see what type of discussion can be generated.

Your thoughts?

- ACL

31 "Insiders" spoke their mind. Join in...:

Joslyn said...

Hey Andre!

I don't believe that Jesus accepts any of those behaviors listed on her shirt. Jesus "hates" all of those things. (He doesn't hate the person committing them, He hates the sin. Gotta say that!)

Anywho, I believe that some Christians do things like wear those tee-shirts just to be "right" but not to convert. For instance, a lot of times when I argue, I don't want to necessarily change your opinion, I just want to prove to you how intelligent I am. Her Tee-shirt serves no other purpose but to show how "holy" she is. A better phrased tee-shirt would have read:

"Contemplating homosexuality, abortion, or (insert other sinful behavior here)? I'm willing to talk to you." Or something of that nature.

I believe that a tee-shirt of that calibur, Jesus would have been pleased with.

I dunno, whatcha think?

KC said...

I, for one, like to see myself as being gray on the issue. I have my personal beliefs and convictions, but I don’t believe in vilifying other people and religions just to validate my own. But for me to give you a more in-depth response is gonna take some time. This one really makes me sit down and think. I’ll get back at you.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I’m offended by this post. I also read through some of your archived posts and ran across a number of equally as offensive posts (your anti-Bush material and your radicalized Jesus posts, especially the one about Jesus cussing). I think you’re making a mockery out of Christianity and leaving it open to anybody who wants to join the trend. This isn’t Scientology where anybody can just up and join. This is Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior of the world. Joining with him means that there are standards that have to be met. This doesn’t includes queers, baby-killers, and Jihadists. No nice way to put it.

Joslyn said...

Hey Andre,

It's funny how people can get "ballz" when they hide behind an anonymous cloth.

Tis all for now :)

"Joslyn" said...

What about now, smart ass?

Andre said...

@ Jos: I'm with you on what you think, but I'll admit: I'm a little suprised that this would come from you; being the one who's EVER-conscious about the importance of delivery.

But you make a strong argument nontheless. That’s my homegirl...

Thanks for your eternal friendship and insight!

@ KC: I'm pretty gray on it too. I try to reconcile ALL of my beliefs with the Bible but it can get a little difficult to do so at times. I find it hard to reconcile some of my beliefs (Jesus, as being the only way to God for instance), but not others (i.e. getting executed for working on the Sabbath day). But, I get your point. I share in the same struggle.

@ Anonymous: If you're the same person who ALWAYS criticizes me (and does so with a pretty high level of ignorance), then maybe this isn't the place for you. This is not me kicking you out (if I wanted to do that, I can easily set my blog to NOT receive anonymous crap). I like to see it more as an invitation for you not to die of high blood pressure that comes from reading my "offensive" posts. It's believed that there are approximately 50 million blogs out there worldwide (source: http://www.blogherald.com/2005/04/14/number-of-blogs-now-exceeds-50-million-worldwide/). I'm sure you won't have a problem finding another one.

@ Jos: 100% correct, my friend. Anonymity is the refuge of idiots. No offense, Mr./Mrs. Anonymous. ;-)

@ "Joslyn": Funny. Any smarter, and we'll have to start watering you and giving you sunlight.

Let's keep the low blows and the identify theft to a minimum, my anonymous friend. We see enough of it with credit cards.

Joslyn said...

Sorry,

Try as hard as you may, but you can NEVER be me.

Wow, I wish that I could be as good as Christian as you, dumb ass.



:)

Saved sinner said...

Being one of those types who used to say “The Bible said it. I believe it. That settles it.”, I was actually that woman at one point in my life. But I slowly started to realize that my relationship with Christ involved more than perpetuating a good versus evil mentality. That, to me, causes the world to hate Christians and the real message we’re supposed to be spreading.
I’m hurt to see how the church continues to tear people down with their legalism and their sense of self-righteousness. Nothing is more destructive than that. I hope that they will finally open the doors to all; just as Christ does.
I call myself a saved sinner because that’s exactly what I am. I’m a sinner (past, present, and future); who is saved by grace. That same grace is available to all; not just to Right-winged, abortion opposing, heterosexual “Christians”.

Joslyn (The Real One) said...

Kudos, saved sinner! I agree with you!

Malik said...

You know, instead of asking "what would Jesus do", the more useful question may be, "what DID Jesus do". After all, if being a Christian means following Christ in all things, you have to be instructed by His example. First of all, Christ always met spiritual seekers with love and counsel, not with threats and denunciations. He didn't ask if they were Jews or Gentiles, whether they were sinners or "righteous". He simply called men to follow Him, and the only standard He measured people with was the sincerity of their faith. It's instructive to remember that the person whose faith Jesus praised the most was the pagan Roman Centurion, and those who received Christ's most scathing denunciation were the scribes and Pharisees. The one recognized Christ instinctively and without any instruction or prompting, because of the purity of his heart. The others were immersed in the law and scripture, so immersed in it that they thought they owned it, and because of that they rejected their own salvation.

JJM said...

Like you Andre, I agree that its refreshing to see Christians embolden by their faith and not afraid to share it with the world. However, it’s also sad that she would use such a degrading and attacking shirt as her medium for doing so. I admit that I’m not as vocal as I need to be about Christ, but I don’t think I would have completely sat on this issue. I think I would’ve tried to engage in a conversation with the woman about the LOVE OF CHRIST, more than what He hates. I’ve always believed more in the power of reinforcement above the power of fear, intimidation, and judgement.

JJM said...

Nicely put Malik!

Saved sinner said...

Andre, if you don't mind I think I'm going to use this as a topic of discussion for my youth group. Of course, I'll change the names to protect the innocent! Is that OK?

This is a powerful post, my friend.

Dean said...

Joslyn, (the real one, not the bitter anonymous person): In regards to your first post, I don’t care what type of spin you put on it, Jesus NEVER treated people like this. Neither should we. I think He’d disapprove of the shirt. I’m not trying to attack you personally (please don’t take offense), but I don’t see Jesus the same way. Especially since He NEVER directly addressed any of these in the Gospels. By the way, don’t give that anonymous jerk any mind.

Cynthia said...

Honestly, I can’t see myself wearing a shirt like this. I’m more inclined to wear a shirt that would say something like “Jesus is Love” in bold print and with a tagline that says “That includes EVERYBODY.” I think a shirt like that would be more likely to generate more positive engagement from Christians and non-Christians alike.

Good post, Dre.

KC said...

Yo Dre. I found the scripture I was thinking about. Luke 9:48-56.

Gotta get back to work, but I think this passage provides all the insight I could ever try to give.

The H.C. said...

Hey Dre,
As much as I hate joining the Christian-bashing, have you ever seen this one. http://liberalavenger.com/uploaded_images/eat_a_queer_fetus_for_jesus-717964.jpg Nothing shocks me anymore.

Andre said...

@ Saved: Good call, Rob.

@ Malik: I completely agree with you. Well put. We can learn far more about what Jesus would do just by ACTUALLY LOOKING at His actions.

@ JJM: Huh? You're the LAST person I know who has a hard time speaking her mind! LOL. But I get it. I can be difficult sharing thoughts about religion without getting flared up.

@ Saved (again): I don't mind if you use me or any of my posts as references. It'll be interesting to see what thoughts develop. Go right ahead.

@ Dean: I don't think that Jos is the type to get offended easily. But she will send you a rebuttal. Be prepared...

But, I get where you're coming from with your comment.

@ Cyn: I agree. Your idea is supported by the old adage: "You can attract more flies with honey than you can with vinegar." I don't know how true that is in real life (I think flies are even more attracted to dung), but it's certain true with people as it relates to understanding and accepting Christ. You get the point...

@ KC: Good scriptural reference. Can't add much else to that!

@ HC: That's the type of ignorance and bigotry that makes Christianity look so unappealing these days. I'm sorry we had to see that. Worse yet, I'm sorry that somebody had the audacity to CREATE that.

Ellena said...

To answer your question on WWJD: I think that Jesus would’ve taken the woman’s shirt, forgave her for wearing it, washed her feet, and used the shirt to wipe them dry.

Greeneyes said...

My Greeneyed KING

Andre `,I hope your feeling much better , and it is not too cold out there for you.
Is it hot in here or what ! you like to stir that pot ,they always say the three things not to talk about Religion , Politics and money ,LOL got to love that you shredded that memo .

I am not to sure that your thesis is not on what people talk about on your blog and what subject gets people jumping in cyberville???? LOL

Addressing your POST which is an excellent one , The woman who wore the t-shirt got the respose that she wanted from wearing it ,in your face , you sinners in her eyes are wrong and are going to burn ,REPENT NOW!
I am interested in what this woman had to say and if she was clueless or not to the message she was sending or cared .(part 2 I know!!)

My belief in what JESUS would think about the t-shirts meaning :is that it would be just as much a sin for the woman to wear it in judgement of others, who have been singled out on her shirt but forgiven her. Each sin weighs the same?????
She may think she is without sin and is in line before many to salvation, so she threw the first stone , but as humans we all sin, and her judgement alone may get her own feet scorched a little.

When will people learn we all have our differences and it is up to GOD to be our JUDGE, if you want to guide someone to "salvation" , love and kindness not scare tactics are so much more "Jesus Like" and in the end , we have freedom of choice .


Get well /stay well/God bless
G

Joslyn said...

Hi Dean,

No, no offense taken! You made you're statement and you weren't disrespectful. :)

Now, I think that I've been misunderstood: I never said that Jesus treated people like that....

My point was that the lady wasn't wearing the tee-shirt to change anyone's heart. She was wearing the tee-shirt to show how "holy" she is and to cast critisims on others. She, in some way in her life, is a sinner. For some reason most feel that the sins listed on the tee-shirt are worse than others.

Let me say this: NO, THE LADY SHOULD NOT HAVE WORN THE SHIRT BECAUSE SHE WAS SIMPLY TRYING TO MAKE OTHERS FEEL BAD.

BUT

Let's not sugar-coat our God and believe that sins are accecptable. I'm not just speaking of the sins on her shirt, I'm speaking of all sins. Let's be clear: God is a WONDERFUL GOD. But he did create hell (For satan).....and in the same way that He allowed His Son to die on the cross, He surely will allow you to go to hell.

I, like the others on this page, believe that you SHOULD be a witness to others. I, like others on this page, believe that the WAY IN WHICH you witness is key. You ahve to meet people where they are. Coming out critisiing is stupid: Human nature teaches us to automatically become defensive to this.

*Sigh*

I hope that everyone understands what I'm saying...


*walks away knowing that someone isn't going to get it*

Cynthia said...

Well I get what you're saying Joslyn. And I agree wholeheartedly. Great way to communicate God's word! Don't let the words of some loser stranger who hides behind his identity throw you off (I'm referring to the anonymous bigot from earlier).

Green Eyes is correct Dre: you've managed to stir the pot again.

Cynthia said...

Well I get what you're saying Joslyn. And I agree wholeheartedly. Great way to communicate God's word! Don't let the words of some loser stranger who hides behind his identity throw you off (I'm referring to the anonymous bigot from earlier).

Green Eyes is correct Dre: you've managed to stir the pot again.

Anonymous said...

I’m getting real annoyed by all these insults. To me, there showing how clearly immature you all are. Funny behavior for people who claim to have tolerance for other people’s opinions. A little hypocritical wouldn’t you say?

As far as my ‘anonymity’ is concerned, I could give you my name or a name I dummied up. But if I don’t want to, I don’t have to. That’s my business. If you don’t like it, too bad! I stay anonymous mostly because I know how people like you act; so quick to judge others.

Now, to address your questions Andre: are you telling me that just because a few people might get offended, we should NOT proclaim the word of God? While many of you think that this woman wore this shirt to be “holy”, maybe she wore it so that it could be the start of a dialogue. Plus, the content of her shirt IS true. Islam is a made-up religion, homosexuality IS an abomination (I didn’t write it. You have to blame God if you take issue), and abortion IS murder. Instead of beating up on the woman, maybe you should be applauding her for being bold in the Word. How many of you would have the courage to wear a shirt like that?

To everyone else: Perhaps I’ve been a bit mean and critical to Andre and his blog. But I’m getting sick of this whole message of “Thank God I’m not like one of those stupid Christians” that he seems to exude everytime he posts something “spiritual”.

Joslyn said...

WHOA!

Okay anonymous, I'l bite:

Here's why I'm saying that the woman is wearing the shirt to show how "holy" she is.

To a certain extent, we are "salesmen" (Biblcal reference, fisherman) of Christ. You wouldn't bait a fish by putting a boot on a hook, right? Because fish don't eat boots, they eat worms (and other gross stuff).

So, in essence, you wouldn't "bait" a sinner by starting off offending them. Messages like that tend to drive the person away, instead of bringing them to Christ, ther-by defeating the purpose.

I think that everyone can agree that the items listed on her shirt ARE INDEED SINS.

However, WE ALL SIN! So why would I try to "bring you to the other side" by insulting you?

There are other ways to "bait" sinners other than insulting. Jesus NEVER, NOT ONCE, insulted a sinner. He opened His arms to them and welcomed them, as they were, so that HE could then change them from their ways. I mean, He invited the dude that was hanging next to Him on the cross to heaven! He didn't say, "You LOSER! YOU MURDERER! HOW DARE YOU KILL PEOPLE! He was more like, "Hey! You and I both know that you were wrong, but since you believe in me and have repented, join me in paradise today!" Now, the other due on the other cross mocked Jesus, so he went straight to hell.

Jesus is the ULTIMATE judge, yet He never put people down or insulted them......

WHY SHOULD WE?

Andre said...

@ Ellena: Hmmm. Nice. Jesus did have a way of humbling Himself so that we could learn from Him.

@ Greeny: Thanks for your concern about a brotha. I still feel like crap, but I'm making it. It was hell on earth trying to endure at work and in class all day. But, I'm a hardcore survivor! I fought through a lot of things! I'm as gangsta as they come. Now, I want my mommy-y-y-y-y!

Anyway, I think you're on to something when you indicate that scare tactics shouldn't be used as the ultimate selling point of the Gospel. Trying to tell somebody that their soul will burn forever doesn't have the same effectiveness (I think) than living a good, loving, and caring life and having others want to emmulate that. Thanks!

@ Jos: Solid points, as always. I always loved the story where Jesus bails out the adulterous woman. He asks her to locate the folks who are condemning her. She looks around to find that none of them are. Then He assures her that He won't condemn her either. From there, He gives her a pass and tells her to "...sin no more." Says it all, I think. Sin sucks, but Jesus doesn't condemn.

@ Cyn: These days, I don't have to do much to "stir the pot." I'm suprise that somebody didn't argue with me because I got out of the left side of the bed today...

@ Anonymous: Sometimes I don't get you. You claim to be the civil one. But you've called Joslyn a "smart ass", and has insulted my intelligence on countless occasions (unless, of course, I have you confused with another "anonymous"). Now, I could've gotten rid of every comment you made or -- for that matter -- turned off the anonymous option on my blog (being the administrator makes me the Lord and Master of this blog). But I didn't. I allowed your points; crude as some of them were; to survive. Pretty "tolerant", wouldn't you say?

Now, to address YOUR point: I never said that proclaming the Word was bad. It just has to be done tactfully enough to convey your point without getting your audience in a hissy fit. It's easier to reach the lost when you're not ripping their heart out.

I think that Joslyn put it best in her response to you. You might wanna read it before you try to beat up everybody's opinions. Most of them aren't that dissimlar to your own...

Marianita said...

"Islam is a made-up religion, homosexuality IS an abomination (I didn’t write it. You have to blame God if you take issue), and abortion IS murder."

Ahem. I must point out, Mister Anonymous, that CHRISTIANITY IS ALSO A "MADE-UP" RELIGION. All religions are made up. Jesus may be real, God may be real, but the fact remains Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Scientology, all of them are MAN MADE. The idea is to respect them if you want them to respect Christianity.

While the horrors of fundamentalist Islamic beliefs have destroyed my home country, I would never, EVER, wear a shirt that said such a thing.

To state the obvious, it is very un-Christian to be intolerant of others.

I was raised Catholic, and when I was dealing with feelings of resentment toward the Church and uncertainty about what it meant to be "Christian," etc, my father gave me some good advice, something along the lines of:

What makes us Christian is that we follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. The way he lived, what he said, what he believed. Nothing else matters. The Church is an institution, and they have interests of their own. The Bible is just a book. Jesus was a man, who spoke wisely, gave good advice, and provided an example for all of us to follow...

And so, that is what makes ME Christian. Read the Gospel. Christ did not teach us that following Islam is supporting Satan. Did Jesus ever even talk about the Devil? I ask, because I am unsure, but I doubt it.

In this country, we are blessed with freedom of speech. But, in this country, libel is punishable by law. I'd say this woman's shirt is bordering on libelous, because it is a GROSS misrepresentation of Christianity as an established religion.

I completely support someone wearing a shirt which states "there is no God" or "Jesus is fake" because those are opinions, just like "Jesus heals" or "God is great." But this shirt is an insult to Christianity.

Also, about this comment:
"This isn’t Scientology where anybody can just up and join. This is Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior of the world. Joining with him means that there are standards that have to be met."

Jesus accepted everyone. He accepted Mary Magdalene, the prostitute. The Church is supposed to accept everyone the same way. Christianity is not a club you join, with "standards." I mean, if it were, who sets these "standards"? We are mere mortals, only God can judge, right? How does that work out? Pray tell, good sir. Joining with Jesus does NOT mean that there are standards to be met. And if it did, the first standard would be to NOT wear intolerance on your t-shirt.

Forgiveness, tolerance, and nonjudgementalism are what Jesus was about. If I'm wrong about that, let me know, because I'll run from Christ, and never look back. I'll also invest in a T-shirt: "Jesus was a bigot."

Anonymous said...

Marianita, I don't recall asking you what you thought. But since you decided to preach to me, I can't stop you. But I refuse to waste my time responding. But let me just sum it all up:

God said it. That settles it.

Andre said...

"Marianita, I don't recall asking you what you thought.

Funny. You don't seem to have a problem telling us what YOU think. But then again, I did ask "Your thoughts?" Maybe I should watch what I say.

"But since you decided to preach to me, I can't stop you."

I'm sorry. Remind me again: who's doing the preaching here?!

"But I refuse to waste my time responding."

Hate to disappoint you, slugger. But you did respond.

"But let me just sum it all up:

God said it. That settles it.
"

In that case, I think it's about time to start executing people for working on Sundays, eating shellfish, and for committing adultery.

Taking to heart literal interpretations of the Bible is really dangerous. I suggest you do some MAJOR studying and MAJOR praying before you blindly subscribe to the "God said it" mentality. What did Jesus do?

Mari actually hit it on the head (thanks for your insight, dear. You're an intellectual for a reason). Maybe you should listen to some of what she has to say.

Joslyn said...

*ahem*

Hey Marianita! I wanted to respond to your comments. Not that I totally disagreed with your statements, but I think that there is something pertinent to remember:

Yes, Jesus accepts us as we are

BUT

He accepts us as we are in order to CHANGE US.

We shouldn't subscribe to Christianity and think that growth isn't inevitable. God wants us to change.....for the better. This means that God is basically saying, “Hey, I know that you’re an adulterer and a murderer and a (insert random sin here) and I love you anyway. Come with Me and I’ll show you how to be better.” You don’t have to change BEFORE your encounter with God, but you should definitely change after it!


Also, it is important to remember that the KEY thing in Christianity is not only following the teachings of Christ, but to accept Him as your Lord and Savior. To admit that you're a sinner and to repent, that’s key.


As far as a "made-up religion" I think what anonymous meant (And I'm SURE that he/she will correct me and insult me if I'm wrong) is that Christianity is strictly based off of what's in the Bible (A book that, while written by man was inspired by God and is written off of historical fact) while other religions follow books that typically are not based off of historical fact, rather, a book of "how-to's". While the Bible DOES teach important lessons, in essence, it's also a history Book.

I, like you, also have acquaintances that don't follow Christianity. Like you, I tell them what I believe and leave it at that. It's their choice I don't condone or condemn.


:)

ajbendaƱa said...

very intresting post Dre.

We can learn a couple of key points from all these personal views.

1. These views and opinions are just that, personal views and interpretations of the God inspired book called " The Holly Bible"

2.People are all unique, no one person is the same, so to have a discussion like this is to invoke peoples opinions. But who are we? Who are these people? Do they truly know if what they read, hear, and interpret is the correct interpretation? We are human = not perfect in this material world, we can concieve a great deal of thoughts that no other known beings can. But we cant even begin to comprehend God. How then can we try to impose our interpretations of Gods WORD to others and demand them to adhere?

------

Jesus as our lord and savior is a great thought. But could it be possible that this omnipresent force that gives us all life, our Father as Jesus states, could have sent Jesus to us in order to clear the path so that we all can learn to follow it back to our source. Isnt that what humanity and its inherent spirituallity are all about? Getting back to eden? Back into Gods grace? Jesus showed us the path back, we may all be capable of this same feat.

I am also providing a link to an intresting interpretation of genesis. Take it, read it, open minded, for we dont have the answers to what is and is not true about God.

http://www.vedarahasya.net/genesis.htm