- Religion and Philosophy
Disturbing Figurative Language in Christianity
Normally I spend much of my time ranting against Fundamentalist Christianity, the sort of people who have decided to take the Bible literally. Today though I want to talk about some of the more obviously metaphorical ideas in the Bible, ones that many Christians admit to not taking literally. Despite these being figurative they still very often utilize some bizarre and disturbing language that, figurative or not, should raise a few eyebrows. Then again I remember that I when I was a Christian all of this stuff seemed completely normal. Now that I'm on the outside I wonder just how Christianity, by all rights a cult, ever made it mainstream.
Washed in the Blood
This is the text-book example of disturbing Christian imagery. As a kid I remember belting out hymns about being washed in the precious blood of Christ. What else could make us whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. There was great pleasure taken in the paradox that scarlet blood would make you clean again. Christ's blood washes away the sins of world once and for all according to mainstream Christian thinking. Does this idea give anyone else the creeps? The idea, figurative or not, of bathing in blood? I'd be curious to know if there are any Christians out there who also find the whole blood sacrifice thing to be creepy. Which leads me to an interrelated example.
Jesus is a Sacrificial Lamb
Jesus is compared to a Passover lamb. This is strange because Passover lambs had nothing to do with purging sin. Why are BILLIONS of people on this planet worshiping a God who demands BLOOD SACRIFICE? And why are most of the rest of us allowing this cult to continue unabated?
Jesus is meant as the end all be all sacrifice to cover the sins of everyone though I'm unsure why Yahweh demands blood in order to forgive people. I forgive people all the time without requiring an animals entrails to be torn out and without sending my only son to die. Okay I actually don't have a son but if I did I wouldn't need to have him killed by Romans to forgive people.
God as a King
This imagery is everywhere in the Bible. God is often depicted as a heavenly King on a throne. It makes sense because when the Bible was compiled into English it was a time of tyrannical Kings. Jesus and God are sometimes called the King of Kings or the Lord of Lords. Indeed God is often referred to merely as Lord. The idea of God as King often bothered me when I was a Christian. I didn't like the idea that God had the final say in everything. After all if I wanted to go and do something God could interfere with my free will. Plus I'd always been told that Jesus was sent to set me free. How the hell can I be free living under a celestial dictatorship?
God is not only a King but he also demands worship, and he has several creatures who bow down ceaselessly singing praises to him. Many people think that Heaven will involve singing praise to God. What better way to spend eternity that worshipping your King and groveling at his feet? Anyone sick to their stomach of this antiquated disturbing imagery yet?
Divine Right to Rule?
God as a Father
I mentioned this on my blog before. The idea that God is a Father is a disturbing prospect indeed considering that the sins of the Father pass to the son and Yahweh is one of the worst sinners in history (see: the entirety of the Bible). I later made a youtube video on the subject asking how we can rate God's performance as a Father by looking at the Bible. The first mistake Adam and Eve make and what does God do? He CURSES THEM and then BANISHES them from the Garden and never attempts to forgive them for what they did or make amends or anything. Later on he drowns all of his children in the Flood.
My Video on the subject of God as a Father
Joel Osteen Sermon about God as a Father
Bride and Groom
Numerous times throughout the Bible the Church is referred to as the Bride of Christ (similar to the Bride of Frankenstein no doubt). Is anyone else creeped out by this? There is even mention of a Marriage Supper taking place in Heaven in which the "Lamb" will be wed to the Church. The Church is also, strangely enough, called the BODY of Christ. So is Christ marrying his own body?
The point of this metaphor is to keep the Church "faithful" to Christ while they await his return. Wouldn't want believers to follow the first sexy savior to walk by. Regardless of what the intention was I feel this is a fairly bad metaphor to keep using especially with all the sexual assault allegations leveled against various Churches in modern times.
Here's a scriptural example of the Bride and Groom idea AND God as a King, from Revelation 19:
4 The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried:
5 Then a voice came from the throne, saying:
“Praise our God,
all you his servants,
you who fear him,
both great and small!”
6 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
7 Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
8 Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear.”
This is another big one for me. Communion, the act of cannibalizing the flesh of Christ while drinking his blood, is a bizarre cult-like ritual that still goes on today. It's usually done with wafers and wine but when I was a Christian we got Welch's Grape juice instead. According to certain Church doctrines the wine actually transforms into the blood of Christ as you're drinking it. Yes that's right some Christians TAKE THIS PART LITERALLY. The wafer also becomes the flesh of Christ.
Is there any good reason to teach this kind of nonsense to children? Is there any merit at all to eating a little wafer and pretending its part of Zombie-Jesus? What purpose is there in this ritual? Even as a Christian I didn't understand why we were doing it other than the fact it was instructed by Christ in the Bible. But Christ also suggested we cut out our eyes if they caused us to sin and that we trample of snakes and our Church did neither of those.
One has to wonder how this bizarre cult became so popular that it is now the most mainstream religion in the world. I guess we probably have the Roman Empire to thank for that. There are more examples I am sure but these are the ones that stand out in my memory. If you have any other examples of disturbing imagery or figurative language in the Bible post them in the comments section. Thanks for reading!