On recent … public commentary

In the novel I am Legend, by Richard Matheson, the protagonist lives in a world filled with vampires, but finds that society has moved on, and that it is not he who is surrounded by monsters, but that he has become ‘the monster’.

Watching Q&A last night, I silently wondered whether this is an apt way of describing the gulf of worldview that exists between Christianity and the rest of the secular world. What I mean is this: has Christianity become the boogeyman? Let me explain.

Picture medieval village, kid running around. Mum goes out and tells him not to go into the woods. Why? The boogeyman. What’s he going to do? Tie you up, stuff you in a pie, and have you for dinner, and maybe the next day’s lunch. Weird scratches in the barn? Boogeyman. Fence post fallen over. Boogeyman. Your crops failing. Boogeyman. Your daughter sick with fever. Boogeyman. The boogeyman has claws, horns, and two heads! He hunts you silently but roars very fiercely. And he really likes children. For dinner, that is.
The boogeyman is the personification of your fears, especially your irrational fears and superstition. You tell your children about him in the worst ways possible so that they won’t go into the forest. And when bad stuff happens that you don’t understand, well, as MJ said, blame it on the boogey.

So, what does this have to do with Christianity?

Well, the question I’ve been asking myself over the last little while with all this talk over our optional wedding vows is this: Who the heck does everyone around here actually think we are? Are Christian churches filled with pre-modern indentured women? Have any of these people who so abhor our wives who submit, or rather, the men who ‘make them’ submit, actually seen a Christian marriage? Do they imagine our wives chained to the kitchen, with uptight husbands who like to throw their weight around? Do they think our sermons thunder with hate-speech? And have they even visited one of these churches they think to be empty and thinning out?

Probably not. Because for them, Christianity is a boogeyman, as are its most prominent representatives. If our loudest detractors are to be believed, Christian wives are chattels, we are all homophobic, we lack rational capability, we believe in fairytales, and we hate science and sex. I don’t know if that’s better than being generalised as a bunch of terrorists.

So how do we deal with this?

Well, the answer is really just plain and simple: Live as Christ, and invite people to church. Shouting is not the answer. Calmly showing people that we are not the boogeyman the commentators, comedians, and crackpots imagine us to be is the way.

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