6. BELIEFS? WHAT BELIEFS?
“It would be a total cop-out to say that you don’t agree with everything Christianity preaches. It would be the same thing as someone saying that they’re straightedge, but they smoke.” — Joe Hays in a letter published in HeartattaCk #22.
Just as there are millions of Christians in the world, there are also myriad Christian sects and factions and beliefs. However, virtually every Christian can agree on the fundamentals: God created the universe, the Earth and the humans upon it, then sent his only Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins. Through God and Jesus Christ, humanity can be saved.
After that, everything is up for grabs. Have you ever wondered why there are so many Christian sects and churches? Have you ever wondered why they all seem to believe and emphasize different aspects of the Bible and Christianity? If God’s Word is so clearly revealed to so many people, then why do all of their actions seem to contradict each other? Why do some sects welcome wealthy members while others require vows of poverty? Why do some embrace homosexuals while others reject them? Why do some preach feeding the poor and healing the sick while others use the pulpit to rail against welfare and health care? Why do some speak against abortion, birth control, and divorce, while others accept or even work to propagate those concepts?
To many non-Christians, it seems odd that the believers could pick and choose the parts of Christianity that they want to agree with. No other belief system allows such buffet-style devotion. As Joe Hays pointed out, a Christian who doesn’t agree with Christian teachings is like a straightedge kid who smokes cigarettes. Or a vegan kid who eats chicken. Or a pacifist who picks fights. Or an anti-racist who hates Latinos. It just doesn’t make sense. How can you call yourself a Christian and not believe in the teachings of Christianity?
If you’re a Christian punk or hardcore kid, look at the various teachings outlined in section 8. Do you believe in these teachings? If not, why not? Do you think they’re “outdated” or written by selfish bigots instead of worthy Christians? If you decided that part of the Bible isn’t true, how do you decide if the rest of it is true or not? Look at 1 Corinthians 7:1, where Paul says that men should never even touch women. If you declare that to be an outdated remnant of days gone by or somehow less Christian than the rest of the Bible, then you are saying that there are parts of the Bible which are wrong or no longer applicable. How do you decide which parts are applicable and which aren’t?
If you use some arbitrary method such as declaring that certain commandments and stories “feel right” or “just make sense” whereas others don’t, then you must accept the validity of any other Christian’s equally subjective interpretation. In other words, if a fundamentalist minister declares that executing adulturers “just makes sense,” then you must accept his feelings, as they are just as valid as yours.
If you try to weed out contradictory verses by comparing them with Christ’s teachings in order to discern the “true” message of Christianity, then you’re in for a hard struggle. Christ and his prophets contradicted each other constantly (see section 5 and section 7). In addition, Jesus said that the ancient laws (including those troublesome Old Testament laws about homosexuality and women and uncleanness, etc. — see section 8) are still valid. In Luke 16:17, he says “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the law to become void.” In Matthew 5:17-20, Jesus makes it perfectly clear that his mission does not invalidate the complex, bigoted rules and regulations of the Old Testament:
- “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I say to you, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
In case you didn’t know, the Pharisees were an exceedingly legalistic, nitpicking set of religious scholars who were always debating about the minutiae of divine law. Also, some Christians believe that the “until all is accomplished” part refers to Jesus’ ascension into heaven, but it seems obvious that Jesus is referring to Judgement Day and the end of the world.
What this means for all Christians, including those in hc/punk, is that they had better be obeying every rule and law set forth in the entire Bible; otherwise they are doomed to eternity in the burning hells.