It’s a sin
Everything I’ve ever done
Everything I ever do
Every place I’ve ever been
Everywhere I’m going to
It’s a sin
–Chris Lowe, Neil Tennant, “It’s a Sin”
Even though Jesus turned water into wine, don’t drink. Don’t smoke, either. Don’t gamble on that football game you’re watching, watch it with the wrong people, get too happy if your team wins or bummed if your team loses.
Don’t swear, get angry, or make people uncomfortable. Adhere to your beliefs, but don’t fight back against others who denigrate them. Remember, “turn the other cheek!” That goes for your boss, your noisy neighbor, lefties who call you homophobic, and that bastard who cut you off on the way to work this morning.
On Saturday nights, go to some boring party somewhere and play Pictionary with a bunch of dweebs who almost sometimes seem more or less happy, and don’t notice when all the women you find attractive leave promptly at nine to go meet their boyfriends who give you swirleys in the bathroom. It shouldn’t bother you that all the pretty girls go for the guys who epitomize the opposite of all this. And they’re actually having even less fun than you are, they’re just better at hiding it. They make fun of you all the time because they’re jealous. After all, they’re going to Hell. Well, at least the guys are.
The women aren’t going to Hell as long as after their second child they repent and deign to marry you. Sure, she won’t look as good and maybe she’ll see you as little more than a security blanket, but it’s the inside that counts. Don’t be superficial. If sometimes she doesn’t seem particularly beautiful on the inside, either, don’t be judgmental. Remember, as “dad” to her
and Todd’s children,you’re responsible for how they turn out. Just remember you can’t tell them what to do because they’re not really yours. If you’re nice enough to her, maybe she’ll give you a couple of chances to create one of your own. “Hubba! Hubba!”
If you’re not that patient, there’s always that frumpy redhead with skin issues who you can court today. As long as you respect her decision to consider her other options. If she feels
turned off pressured by your offer to marry her (“What?! I’m only twenty!”), remember what a princess she truly is! While you’re waiting for her to decide, you can always hold hands. If you’re engaged.
Play your cards right, and you can be just like that really nice guy who’s married to that really nice (when she’s not angry) woman who reminds you of Paula Deen. He seems to like it when she makes all of his decisions for him and makes fun of his tie. Play your cards wrong and end up like that other guy that nobody in church talks to any more because he looked at porn instead of his beautiful wife (on the inside) who looks just like Rosie O’Donnell.
Of course, it was a sin for her to divorce him, but it was really his fault. You see, he was the head of the household and therefore responsible for her feeling, even though he should never, ever, have told her what to do.
For music, no AC/DC or Stone Temple Pilots. Instead, listen to music performed by people who wanted to be in groups like AC/DC and Stone Temple Pilots but weren’t good enough. Any movies with sex or violence are out, but you have plenty of movies starring actors who were rejected by their high school drama clubs to choose from. There are lots of radio plays about how important it is not to steal, too.
You’re got to learn that it’s not about you, you selfish bastard. The selfish part of you thinks it’s about authority, about getting what you want out of life, but it’s really about sacrifice. Remember, our Lord sacrificed Himself for us
even though He had authority, too. Spend your weekends pretending you’re having fun, your marriage pretending you’re having sex, your career pretending your enjoying yourself, make money for the collective pool of your family over which you have no control, pay taxes to help sinners do stuff you were never able to do yourself find abhorrent, and wave your head from side to side like a dope in church to prove to everybody else how happy you are.
And that little black skirt that just walked by, don’t even think about it!
Trust us. This will all work out perfectly for you once you’re dead.
Where do I sign up?
Obviously, the above isn’t exactly pure Christianity, although some of the restrictions I mentioned are important. Regardless, whether or not you find my description to be pure parody or disturbingly accurate, that’s more or less how most people perceive the Church today.
I don’t advocate softening our message in the slightest or attempting to modernize. Quite to the contrary, my religious upbringing didn’t place enough emphasis on the rules, I suffered because of it, and I believe that correct codes of conduct are essential in every respect.
Nevertheless, partly because of the feminization of the Church, and partly because even some of the less churchian factions don’t understand human nature particularly well, we’re losing. We need men, strong men, and this is not the way to either recruit or keep them.
After all, if you’re a man, why the hell would you subject yourself to something like that, an endless list of rules of no tangible benefit you’ll never see in human form? The afterlife is beyond important, but why should anyone believe somebody’s predictions regarding the next life when they seem so backwards in this one?
I’m aware that some of you may object to some of what I have to say here, and that’s fine. I’m no theologian. However, even if I’m wrong on some of the particulars, overall I think I’m right.
If you think I’m not, then come up with something better.
Except perhaps for Moses, nobody in the Old Testament had a closer relationship to God than Abraham. God calls, “Abraham”, and “Abraham” replies “Behold, here I am” time after time. Abraham was tested repeatedly, and he came through like few others ever have. The final test he passed was one of the greatest turning points in human history, and it exemplifies the ideal of Christian sacrifice like few other episodes, ever. Abraham was willing to surrender his dreams, his son, his mission to the Lord. It was all about Him.
However, it didn’t start out that way. At first, it was about Abram. Genesis 12:1-3: [emphasis mine]
Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
Does God give him a command? Yes. However, at this beginning stage, God gave Abram the assurance that by doing what He asks, it’s going to benefit Abram. Furthermore, this wasn’t the promise of eternal life, it was the fulfillment of perfectly human, earthly desires: a legacy, masses of offspring (about as biological as you can get), and protection from danger. Benefits delayed? Perhaps, but benefits tangible, stuff that any man would want.
Abram doesn’t even follow the command properly. Genesis 12:1, 4: [emphasis mine]
Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house…
So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him…
Yet Abra[ha]m gradually learns to do as he’s told, and God stays with him. After some fits, starts, and failures, his faith facilitates the greatest pre-Christ moment in human history. He was truly willing to lose his life to save it, but not until he was first convinced that there was actually something to this stuff.
Along with “selfish” and “selfless”, “sacrifice” is another one of those words I’m not particularly comfortable with. All too often, it suggests giving something up for the sake of, well, giving something up. You’re supposed to do that because you should, you’re not supposed to do that because you shouldn’t, and whether or not it benefits you is irrelevant. Do it for the Greater Good.
Conservative Christians usually understand why such a system is disastrous economically, but that seems to be exactly how they want to run their churches. It makes perfect sense to them how confiscatory tax rates discourage entrepreneurs from starting new businesses, but they can’t seem to fathom why families based on socialistic mutual submission would stop men from starting new families. Driscoll’s pleas to “man-up” are going to fall on the same deaf ears as Obama’s insistence that the rich “pay their fair share”.
Economically, they get it, but in personal matters, they dismiss out of hand the perfectly reasonable question of What’s in it for me?
Sorry guys, but self-interest is a human constant, and it’s not going away. People are not going to sacrifice their financial well-being or desires for the sake of some concept, however wonderful that concept may be. Unless, of course, there’s something in it for them.
However, through better understanding the concept of Self, Christianity can not only appeal to natural human self-interest, it can make life in the here and now incredibly fulfilling. Indeed, “Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it,” not “Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall lose it, too.”
Your Self’s Mission
Somewhat like how God approached Abram, modern Christianity asks us to take certain things on faith, and this is perfectly appropriate. Unlike how God approached Abram however, modern Christianity seems to want us to accept that if we do what we’re told that our lives are going to suck. No sex, no parties (except Saturday night Pictionary with the dorks), a life of submission to everybody else’s desires. Play nice and get rewarded after you die.
Undoubtedly, this has a stronger appeal for females, for females have stronger submissive tendencies, but if you’re going to get a man to submit, you’d better give him a damn good reason why. God gave Abram a good reason and worked with him for years before it bore fruit. Eventually, Abraham got to the point where he was willing to throw it all away (sacrifice his son) for His sake, but this was only after he learned how much He cared for him.
I’m not saying that Christian restrictions aren’t important; they are. However, at first glance, especially for a man of action, they seem to be undue constraints. Thou shall not feels restrictive to a man who wants to create, to fight, to do.
So we’ve got to portray such restrictions differently. Christianity restricts your manhood like the rifling in the barrel restricts the bullet; it gives it greater focus and makes it more deadly.
But how many non-believers understand that? How many Christians understand that?
If we just focus on all the foods we can’t eat, how much our muscles are going to ache, and how much time we’re going to spend in the gym, on all we’re sacrificing, none of us would ever get in shape. Are you sacrificing lunch at Panera every day or are you getting your finances in order? Are you sacrificing all of your evenings after you’re done with your homework, or are you keeping alive the dream of mastering the guitar?
Like a child being raised by a competent father, he gradually learns that as annoying as they seem at the time, his father’s rules make him better off, that the restrictions actually set him free.
Christian discipline isn’t saying no to your desires, it’s figuring out what they really are and learning how to make them come to life. They free your mind from distractions, they enable you to get rid of the emotional baggage so that when you strike it rich you can actually enjoy your wealth, it’s keeping your relationship with your friends and family healthy so that they’re a source of support.
Some rules are easier to explain than others, some are easy and some are hard, but all of them are there for a reason. When we metaphorically castrate our boys and tell our men that their wives should be their mission, we make this all but impossible to comprehend. If this philosophy were actually supposed to improve my life, then why is following it making me so miserable? If Christ is going to help me be a better man, then why do so many of the “men” who follow him seem gay?
I find this especially frustrating because I finally understand that Christ is about me learning how to be who I was born to be here, and I see the Church telling me that it’s all about the Afterlife instead. I’m not saying that Heaven isn’t important, but if you want somebody to believe you have the key to life Elsewhere, you’d better show them you’ve got a clue about it here.
I’ve had glimpses of it myself, but nothing is more fulfilling, more inspiring, than knowing you’re doing it, you’re leading the life you’re supposed to lead. It’s Rocky calling for Adrian, oblivious to the crowds. It’s the soldier straining to hold back his tears of gratitude for being given the opportunity to save his buddies’ lives. It’s the singer wailing away with everything he’s got, losing his voice, not giving a damn, exhausted, alive.
It’s more fulfilling than anything, and it’s what you get when you do what you’re told. Nothing is more appealing to men than their sense of mission, and nothing relates more directly to Christian doctrine as its intended.
So we’re telling them they’re supposed to just suppress all of their desires instead, to please Him.
Yes, it’s all about Him. However, He is all about us. If the time ever comes, I’ll gladly give my life for Him. Nevertheless, He’s shown me some things along the way, He’s shown me that there’s more to Me than my hormones and tendons, he’s given me moments I can’t even describe.
That’s gratitude, not guilt, and it’s why I believe. It’s time we show other men that God makes their lives, He doesn’t hold us back.