Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Fandom of Christianity

Before I begin I will say that I know this post will upset some people. The title of the post alone will make people cringe or shy away but it's something that has been weighing on me for quite some time. For those not "hip to the ways" of my generation and those younger I'll try to refrain from using too many fandom-esque words.

Let's begin by defining this word, shall we?

Fandom: noun \ˈfan-dəm\ The community that surrounds a tv show/movie/book etc. Fanfiction writers, artists, poets, and cosplayers are all members of that fandom. Fandoms often consist of message boards, livejournal communities, and people.

Doesn't sound like something you'd associate with religion or Christianity right off the bat, does it? But if you look deeper into what a fandom consists of, the actions of the people within a fandom, you'll see some rather obvious parallels. In a fandom, someone will take what is canon (fact according to the actual book/show/whatever) and make it their own. They pick and choose what they like about the canon and add things to make it more to their liking. This is a thing that has been happening for centuries in some subtle and not so subtle ways. Take the original story of King Arthur, for example. How many times has that story been retold, taking some elements of the original story and adding or subtracting to make it different, make it more personal, make it more to the new author's liking? And it will continue to happen. Kind of like what people do with the Bible.

Over the centuries the Bible has been translated into over 500 different languages, one of them even being Vulcan. Yes, that is a thing that happened. One of the biggest arguments is that it has been written and rewritten so many times over that there's no possible way the versions of the Bible we have floating around today could be even close to accurate.* So what we do is read bits and pieces of it, listen to people we respect enough to "whole face" listen to, take pieces of sermons and encouraging Psalms and Proverbs, and we make our own version of a religion that is uniquely ours and grossly watered down to the point where, in some cases, it becomes unrecognizable. Thus making it a fandom. We're all enjoying calling ourselves Christians, basking in the love of God, wearing cross necklaces, but none of us believes the same things. At the very heart of things, on a good day, we'll all have the same core beliefs, the same "canon", but once you step away from that look out!

If you are a true follower of Christ then you believe you are to be walking in the footsteps of Christ. I believe that with my whole heart. Does that mean I will never fall, never slip up? Absolutely not. I'm a sinner not because I want to be, but because we live in a deeply broken world and daily face an enemy that knows the perfect ways to make me trip, stumble, and fall repeatedly. But for every moment of failure there is redemption in the arms of Christ. As long as I am repentant, truly repentant, I am forgiven. I will probably fall in the exact place I fell before, but redemption will still be mine should I seek it.

Intent has a HUGE part in redemption. I once had a friend who was a lesbian ask me, "If I go to church and confess to being gay, then do all my 'hail Mary' things will I be forgiven?" I told her no at the time because I was still a newbie myself, but I should have said she was already forgiven. But just because you're forgiven does not mean everything is right with you and God. Because she wasn't truly repentant, nor did she want to change. She acknowledged her sin but had no desire to align herself with the truths of the Bible.

I see this a lot on Facebook. I have a few friends who will post some random picture with a verse from scripture on it one second and then post something full of foul language or of a sexual nature the very next. You can't praise God with one hand held high while your other continues to willingly go against the very things you profess to believe to be truths. No sex before marriage, foul language, sexual immorality, lying, stealing, cheating...

"Well I don't think that verse means what you think it means." Some of the verses people argue over are pretty black and white. Hebrews 13:4 says this: "Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous." 1 Corinthians 7:2 also addresses this topic. Homosexuality is another hot topic issue. "Nowhere in the New Testament does it say..." But it does. In every verse that talks about marriage and romantic relationships it specifically speaks of a man and a woman. It never says significant other, partner, husband to husband or wife to wife. Man and woman, husband and wife, bride and groom. Plain as day if you're really reading. Does my believing that to be fact mean I can/should hate and judge every gay person I come into contact with? Absolutely not. Jesus would not do that, which means I shouldn't either. I should love and listen. Being a friend does not equate agreeing with their lifestyle. I do/say things all the time some friends don't agree with (this post is probably one of them!) but they still love me.

We're constantly projecting our own thoughts, feelings, and ideals onto text that is basic and applicable just the way it is, perverting truth to be our own version of it. Every single day seems to bring a new faction of Christianity or what some feel can be called Christianity, but really we're turning it into something cheap. It's no longer a thing we cling to, look to for understanding and guidance but something we pull out when we need to feel better or hide. "Well you can believe that but I'm going to believe this." I don't think it works that way. Either it's biblical truth or it isn't.

Stand firm in what you believe, back it up with scriptural truths, have a true heart of repentance, seek guidance from trustworthy people. But don't cheapen yourself or Christ by making your system of belief a "Choose Your Own Adventure" novel or a buffet table where you can take as much or as little of anything you want and pretend what you don't like doesn't exist.

Most of all, be brave. It takes guts to really follow Christ. You'll meet opposition, you'll probably lose relationships. But the return is so much more than anything you will ever lose.

* Rewritten Bible Versus Copied Bible

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