By Jared Ipsen
Sep 02, 2019

What is a ‘Real’ Christian?


I’ve been going to church on and off for a while now, but it still pains me to call myself a Christian - so much so, I’ve taken to referring to myself as a ‘bad Christian.’ I pray when I remember to, read the Bible when I remember it exists, and try to be a good person - but I still smoke cigarettes, listen to satanic death metal, am pro-choice and pro-LGBTQ+ rights, and swear incessently (even though my mum tells me I shouldn’t say ‘fuck’ in my articles). I feel like there’s really something to this Jesus dude - but I have no idea what some of my fellow Christians are up to.

And so I’ve found myself stuck in the middle somewhere. Atheists will give me shit about believing in a magic man who lives in the clouds with his zombie son. Christians, who have generally been less accepting of my faith, will make me feel like I’m not a ‘real’ Christian because I don’t subscribe to the accepted beliefs of white, westernised, middle-to-upper-class Christianity. Because to me, it feels like we’re spending too much time arguing about what people shouldn’t do, and not enough time looking inwards at what we should be doing.

Maybe I’ve missed something - because from my limited understanding, Christianity is meant to be all about loving God and loving each other. But when I look around me at things going on in Christianity today, it’s really hard to see the love through the mountains of hate. I see the tears and broken hearts of women after they’ve suffered silently through an anti-abortion tirade. I see the self-hatred and growing body count of teenagers who have been told their whole lives that they’re a perversion of the laws of God just because they love someone of the same gender. I see the erasure of of indigenous communities that don’t fit in with the modern ideal of a Christian-westernized-capitalist society. I see worship bands raking in $100,000,000 of tax free money a year and worship leaders dressed in designer clothes, while families sleep in cars down by Lake Rotoroa. In Mark 12:31, Jesus tells his followers to “love your neighbour as yourself” - what happened to that? Did I miss the memo that we aren’t meant to be doing that anymore?
And sure, you can argue that the Bible prohibits some of the things that these Christians are having tantrums about - but it also prohibits eating anything that mixes meat and cheese (Exodus 23:19), planting more than one kind of seed in a field (Leviticus 19:19), cutting the hair on the side of your head (Leviticus 19:27), talking in church if you’re a woman (1 Corinthians 14:34), having tattoos (Leviticus 19:28), wearing polyester (Leviticus 19:19), and eating fruit from a tree within three years of planting it (Leviticus 19:23). For some reason, all of these are okay now, but being gay isn’t?

But still, maybe I’ve missed something. Maybe I’ve completely missed the point of Christianity in general. Maybe, to be a ‘real’ Christian, you have to protest outside abortion clinics, actively oppress the rights of gay people, colonize local cultures, vote for the New Conservative Party, and not allow women to speak in church. If that’s what it truly means to be a Christian, I don’t want any part of it. If that means I’m going to hell, put the kettle on and get out some PG Tips.

Because when I read the Bible, I see a story of an activist. A dude who was pro-women’s rights. A dude who gave everything he had to the poor. A dude who spent most of his time
with the people society had cast out. A dude who was literally homeless, with no money, that spent three years walking around telling people they should probably be a bit nicer to each other. That’s a dude I can get behind. But everything else that the church has come to represent in our society today? Y’all can keep that.

So, maybe I have missed the point of Christianity - so be it. Sue me because I think God has bigger things on her plate to worry about than whether or not we swear, or watch Harry Potter, or love someone who is the same gender as us, or if we let sad old white men decide what women are allowed to do with their bodies. So I would say to some of these assholes pushing hatred and bigotry out to the world, let’s start with some of the more pressing shit first - poverty, inequality, institutional racism, sexism, human trafficking, slavery - and then we can argue about whether two dudes holding hands infringes on your religious freedom.

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