Friday, May 05, 2006

Crusading

The modern American church has never lacked for evils to denounce. Whether that 'evil' be Darwinian evolution, feminism, rock music, gay rights, Dungeons & Dragons, Harry Potter or whatever else, conservative Christians have long made a career of defining themselves by what they're against, to the point that few in the general public are aware of anything positive that they stand for.

In nearly every case there was something problematic that gave Christians genuine cause for concern, but like a bull distracted by the matador's red cape, most believers inevitably lost their focus on those elements that first drew their attention as they launched a crusade against the larger institutions with no regard for their praiseworthy elements.

The crusade against rock music, which some staunch fundamentalists have yet to abandon, makes for an interesting case in point. Why did conservative Christians so vehemently denounce rock music? There are several major reasons:

-Its rhythms were similar to those found in African tribal music, much of which is used in pagan rituals.
-The "rock and roll lifestyle" was popularly associated with drug use, sexual promiscuity and a generally rebellious mindset.
-It just plain sounded icky to older listeners, not at all like the "godly" hymns that they had grown up with.

Sound similar to the reasons Christians object to the 'gay lifestyle'? Some Bible teachers like Bill Gothard even found verses that they could pull out of context to use as "proof" that rock music was inherently satanic. They also tied their argument into nature and the allegedly detrimental effects of rock music’s "unnatural" rhythms (bolstered by such urban legends as the houseplants that died from heavy exposure to rock & roll).

Granted, this is where our parallel weakens, since Christian tradition has generally condemned homosexual behavior since the days of the early church, whereas rock music has only been around for the last half a century. On the other hand the concept of a homosexual orientation has only been around for a little over a century, and the idea of monogamous same-sex couples building family units is extremely recent.

It's easy to understand how most Christians could assume without further thought that these contemporary situations are morally identical to the ones denounced in the Bible and in church tradition. Why spend time thinking about something that you find personally distasteful, when you have an apparent precedent for denouncing it as immoral? Unfortunately, even if conservatives ultimately prove to be right about what God does and does not approve of, the crusader mentality that they've carried into the debate over gay rights has proven to be every bit as counterproductive as it has been every other time it's been employed.

The Christians who have had the most impact on the rock and roll subculture are those who have entered it, identified its praiseworthy elements and employed them in the work of the church. By viewing the gay subculture - and gays themselves - as nothing more than an evil to be eradicated at any cost, the church has abandoned its role as a transformer of culture and cut itself off from whatever God might have wanted to do to transform the gay community from within.

God's plans will still be accomplished, of course; it's just a question of whether the church chooses to work with him or against him.

2 comments:

Abiding said...

I used to hang out with a Christian Rock band back in the day. I can remember several debates with people canvasing the audiences with anti-rock literature. I would try and talk about lyrics and they wanted to talk about the sexual energy of drums! In retrospect it is all quite funny to me, especially my big aqua net hair!

Whew, haaa, smile. Thank you for bringing up these memories.

nonsequitur said...

Almost everything that fundy Christians have ever opposed has a dark side... as does ANYTHING in life. Opposing something because of it's potential for evil is ridiculous because you would then have to oppose EVERYTHING, even your own religion. Using this fundamentalist logic, one would have to oppose kitchen knives because they could potentially be used for murder, cars because some people use them irresponsibly and get into accidents, et cetera. It's far better to let things attain their own balance and teach your young ones how to pick out the good and the bad in everything and give them the wisdom to help them gravitate toward the good.

As a gay Christian, I'm ashamed of what fundamentalists are doing to the Christian church. Really, these boycotts and political initiatives are a smokescreen for a select few people who want to gain power, impose a strict set of rules on everyone, and take away our choices in life.

As we all know, they use any method they can to support their opinions; including twisting scripture out of context while standing for "truth". They don't really care what effect this has on the people or how many souls they damage along the way. Their view of a perfect society is, in essence, a bunch of lobotomized slaves.

Hehe, I'm done ranting now. Your post just struck a nerve.