Last night, I was watching a Netflix DVD (my last one before canceling the service – but that’s another story) – “Easy A.” It was so disturbing to me that I turned it off after a half-hour (and rated PG-13! I wouldn’t let my daughters watch it any more than I would the Texas Chainsaw Massacre!). Consider that your “Finding Approval Movie Review of the Week” – but it’s actually not the point of this blog post.
The real point is that there was a character in the movie who was meant to represent a Christian girl at Ojai North High School – Marianne, played by Amanda Bynes. Her character was entirely defined by hateful legalism and judgment-passing. The one quote that I remember from her was, “Olive Prendergast is a tramp – we need to pray for her. We also need to pray for her to GET OUT OF HERE.”
Marianne’s character was obviously created by a non-believer who has a pretty awful view of what Christians (if not Christianity itself) is all about. But this ranty blog post isn’t for the writers, director and actors that portrayed Christians that way – it’s for us. The people who gave them that impression in the first place. God’s people have been sucked into that trap since the Garden of Eden. That bothered me much more than anything that happened in the story … so I guess that I shouldn’t have been surprised that my REAP study this morning was on Matthew 23. Jesus’ words for the Pharisees rang incredibly true.
Instead of giving you God’s Law as food and drink by which you can banquet on God, they package it in bundles of rules, loading you down like pack animals. They seem to take pleasure in watching you stagger under these loads, and wouldn’t think of lifting a finger to help. Their lives are perpetual fashion shows, embroidered prayer shawls one day and flowery prayers the next. They love to sit at the head table at church dinners, basking in the most prominent positions, preening in the radiance of public flattery, receiving honorary degrees, and getting called ‘Doctor’ and ‘Reverend.’ – Matthew 23:4-7, The Message
Gregory Boyd’s “The Myth of a Christian Religion” posits that Adam and Eve’s sin in eating the forbidden fruit was so that they could be like God – and sit in judgment over his creation. I believe that we, as Christians, do more to harm the Gospel in 21st century America by behaving in that way than we can possibly understand. Whenever I see Christians portrayed in that way (or worse, see Christians acting in that way – or worse, see myself acting that way), I remind myself that those whom we find easy to judge … the criminals, the addicts, the prostitutes … Jesus died for each one of them because of their unsurpassing worth. How can I do less?
[UPDATED to reflect that Marianne was not, in fact the most popular girl in school, according to my wife. Apparently, I was too disturbed to pay that much attention to the details ;-)]
Well said. Nothing chaps me more than Christians acting like judge and jury over those around them, especially to each other. So many accounts of persecution throughout the NT and it’s while Christians here in America don’t have to fear jail time or stonings, we have to work to avoid the modern day versions. Whether that’s spreading gossip, making ill advised assumptions, or anything short of support, encouragement and lifting up of all the souls in need around us, believer and non believer alike. And in the spirit of this post and comment, I’m not pointing any fingers that don’t deserve to point right back at me from time to time.
I admire your quest of continued growth and learning and here’s to our attempts to ultimately finding approval from the one true Judge someday.
Reading the Greg Boyd book I cited there (Myth of a Christian Religion) got me really thinking about how judgmental I really am. Try going out to the corner of 6th and Congress, looking deeply at the people sitting on the bus stop benches, and remember that God loved them so much that he was willing to die for them. Its an awfully good exercise.
I’m glad that we’re getting out of the “We’re a Conscience in the Community” business just as we got out of the Moral Majority business in the 80s. Much better to be in the loving and serving business!!