(I’d like to note that this article represents my own personal opinion only.)
The thing that characterizes modern Christianity most is probably fear. Fear of the future, fear for our children, fear of our government, fear of poverty, fear of our neighbors, fear of our colleagues, and even fear of unpopularity.
We are not, in other words, very Christian-y Christians. Christians are supposed to be characterized by the opposite emotion: joy. People are supposed to see the intense joy on our faces and in our lives, and want to live with us in that joy. Christians are supposed to be a people who have conquered fear and been born again into eternal joy. Even our suffering should be a cause for joy.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
— James 1:2-4
For in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.
— 2 Corinthians 8:2
You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
— Isaiah 9:3
Joy is a celebration of life and freedom, as opposed to fear and death. The old motto “live free or die” was chosen to reflect joy. Joy that was unmarred by fear, even when facing seemingly insurmountable odds. The people who carried those banners assumed that they were marching like pigs to the slaughter, and they kept marching anyway. They were joyful in their suffering and misery. They had hope. They didn’t know if they’d live on earth for long enough to see things improve, but they hoped they would eventually improve.
The fact that we aren’t exactly living up to that standard has been amplified by the recent massacre in Newton, Connecticut. We have now split along the lines of those who think our citizens need fewer guns (but who remain silent when their Great One blows up another child in a foreign country or gives another speech promoting the mass-slaughter of the unborn), and those who think we need more guns to protect ourselves (and more defense spending, and more anti-terrorism, and more border controls, and more capital punishment, and…)
In other words, the current debate in America is between those who want to murder people, and those who want to murder other people, with some crossover of people everyone wants to murder as some people just really need killing. There is currently no group of people who wants to… you know… stop murdering people.
I have become politically disenfranchised.
But I have also become more joyful. Few things are as liberating as abandoning your faith in earthly kings. I now expect nothing from either party, and they never disappoint me. I no longer expect my fellow citizens to side unequivocally with life, and they also never disappoint.
My natural allies on the right are, you see, still very afraid. They haven’t yet walked through fear and come out joyful. They are hiding out, so that Big Brother and their neighbors can’t get them. It is a twisted form of militarized cowardice, where you conceal yourself in your basement, count your gold bars and freeze-dried edibles, and take comfort in your bullets. They can’t get you now. You’ll be safe.
Or you simply learn to hold your tongue in public. If you don’t say anything wrong, maybe they won’t notice you. You make plans to move, to mass together for safety, to go off the grid, to figure out how to escape notice.
I’m tired of being afraid. Fear is exhausting and debilitating. I’m feeling more joyful now. I’ve been infected with the true Spirit of Christmas. Yes, the world is going to Hell in a handbasket for the 928407th time, but when I die I will rest easy in the Lord, so oh well. Same ole, same ole.
I’ll just keep doing what Christians have always done: protest wickedness, pray for mercy and justice, try to raise my children up in the way they should go, stay married just to spite everyone who thinks lifelong marriage is impossible, and keep on keeping on.
So, I’m writing under my own name from now on (not that I’ve ever been particularly anonymous) and I’m going to publicly share my honest opinion when it’s asked for. I’m going to march and protest, and write letters, and evangelize unapologetically. Whoever doesn’t like it can line up to take the first shot at me. Everybody has to die sometime and I’m not afraid to die, and now I’m going to live like I really mean that.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.