Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2012, but is quite relevant for the current year. As such, we’ve decided to recirculate it.
There’s a brand new thing out there that has been confusing and frightening people lately: Christians. The first prominent Christian anyone ever heard of was probably Tim Tebow, and his appearance on the national scene was quite alarming to many, as his “Christian” behavior was seen as quite odd and new. More recently, people have learned about Dan Cathy and are disturbed to discover that some businesses may possibly be owned by Christians who express Christian-type views. And then there is Olympic champion gymnast Gabby Douglas, whose constant profession of faith in God is so frightening that an extremely bewildered author wrote an article about her in Salon.
Since ignorance is what leads us to fear something (unless we’re talking about platypuses, as the more you know about them, the scarier they are — did you know they’re poisonous?), I thought I’d write an FAQ about Christians to help explain what these strange new people are, so everyone won’t be all freaked out about them.
How long have Christians been around?
While many people see Christians as a brand new and quite scary thing, records show Christians have been around since at least the 1950s, and maybe even much earlier.
What are their beliefs based on?
It’s a book called “The Bible.” It’s full of thousands-of-years-old religious writing, which Christians believe to have been written by men inspired by God. It’s very long.
I see many Bibles are labeled “Holy Bible.” What if I got a non-holy version?
Immediately return it for a refund.
The Bible is full of really old values, with lots of outdated views on things like sex. Do Christians actually follow this thing?
Indeed they try. Their view is that while society and technology change, the fundamental nature of man doesn’t, and neither do the values God gave us. Thus, the Bible is something they find relevant and expect people to read and follow many years into the future, like Harry Potter.
Don’t Christians know how weird and old-fashioned following the Bible makes them? Everyone else is fine with swearing, sex on TV, and abortion. Why do they have to be so different?
To Christians, following the ways of God is more important than fitting in with societal norms. Thus they are gladly counter-cultural.
So they’re like hipsters?
Yes, except everything they do is unironic.
There’s some really weird stuff in the Bible, like [quote of strange-sounding rule from Leviticus or Deuteronomy]. The Bible sounds stupid, and people shouldn’t listen to it.
Parts of the Bible can sound weird in isolation, but it takes lots of study to understand the Bible and how the Old Testament relates to the New Testament.
But don’t Christians just pick and choose what parts of the Bible they want to follow? Like [quote rule from Leviticus or Deuteronomy that Christians are unlikely to follow].
Christians do not follow much of what is known as the “Mosaic Law.” Much of the reasoning for this is addressed in the book of Hebrews.
Okay, so if I just check that out, I’ll find the answer and… wait a second! You almost tricked me into reading more of the Bible! I only need to know enough about it to mock it!
Almost got you. When trying to trip up Christians with quotes from the Bible, just be aware you’re unlikely to find anything they aren’t already aware of, since they read that thing religiously.
And don’t Christians know we now have science, which has replaced religion, and that there is no more need for Jesus, since we have lasers and rockets and other science stuff?
Science covers physical and temporary things, while religion covers spiritual and eternal things, so Christians still feel religion is very important — even more important than science.
That’s blasphemy! Nothing is more important than science! How can they think such things?
Maybe they didn’t watch Beakman’s World when they were young.
Why do they have to talk so much about their religion? Why can’t they just be silent about their religion and be Christians quietly in the corner or something?
Christians get great joy from their religion and the sense of love and purpose it gives them and thus want to share it. In fact, the Bible says Christians should spread their faith. It’s sort of like how I want to tell everyone about Arrested Development so they’ll all enjoy it, too
Why are Christians always judging others?
Because Christians are a subset of people, they share the faults all people have and tend to get judgmental at times.
No. This is something unique to bad Christians. They are all closed-minded, ignorant, hypocritical bigots who are stupid and dumb. And they judge people.
Again, these are faults all people have. Christians often fall short of their goal, but the point is they keep trying.
I’m pretty sure they’re judgmental. Like that Tim Tebow, I’m pretty sure he’s judging me.
I’m not even sure he’s aware you exist.
Yeah, but the way he lives his life all “holy” and “nice” makes me really feel like he’s judging me for not doing the same.
I’m pretty sure Tim Tebow is just trying to do his best in the eyes of God and isn’t try to make you feel bad by it.
Still, I’d really feel better if he was caught doing something really licentious. It would make me feel less bad about myself.
You should write a letter to him telling him that. Maybe he’ll listen.
Are Christians allowed to own businesses?
Under current understanding of the law, they are in fact allowed to own businesses, and many do.
But they’re not allowed to talk about all their weird Christany stuff while owning a business, right?
Most people would consider that to fall under our First Amendment rights — those protecting both freedom of speech and religion. Thus, people should be allowed to talk about their Christian beliefs without fearing government reprisal, such as politicians trying to block them from opening businesses.
Are you going by a strict constructionist interpretation of the First Amendment where the words actually mean things?
But what if it’s a super hateful thing the Christians say, like being against gay marriage?
While homosexuals have often been treated hatefully (and hatefulness is certainly not a Christian value), there’s nothing hateful in opposing gay marriage. Christians simply believe that the Bible clearly states what God intends a marriage to be and want to respect that and not replace it with their own wants or judgments.
No, it’s hateful. So hateful, I’m going to write NoH8 on myself and put tape on my mouth for inexplicable reasons.
If you want to believe it’s hateful, you can, but that will prevent any rational discussion on the issue.
Hate! Hateful! Hater hate hate hate!
Now you’re just… let’s move on.
Time travelers, on their way to kill Hitler, have stopped by in our time to tell us how the gay marriage debate ended and have let us know that gay marriage is inevitable. So why won’t Christians get out of its way? Won’t they feel bad and stupid when gay marriage is here and everyone likes it?
Whether or not society accepts gay marriage, many Christians will continue to oppose it since, again, the Bible seems pretty clear on marriage. So expect opposition to continue far, far into the future.
But if Christians continue to be hating haters who hate by not supporting gay marriage, won’t people stop being a part of their religion?
Christianity has survived violence and persecution of its adherents for thousands of years, so it’s unlikely the gay marriage debate will do it in. The Bible has always had a lot to say about sex and marriage that has made a lot of people unhappy in the past, but Christians will continue to teach the Bible in the future. It’s like how sex outside of marriage has become okay according to society, but Christians still teach against it, even if they are a minority voice on the subject.
Hating haters hate hate hate!
You’re doing it again.
And what’s with the opposition to making insurance pay for contraception? Do Christians really want to send us back to a time when fundamentalists controlled everything and people were burned at the stake for being witches and women had to go to Walgreens and spend their own money to get contraception?
There are numerous Christian views on contraception, but Christians universally support freedom of religion and don’t think people should have to fund what they morally oppose.
So they think that freedom of religion is more important than free contraception?
They would argue that, yes.
And what’s with Christians’ constant opposition to abortion?
I have no idea. It’s hard to imagine how anyone could find anything wrong with that.
I think you’re mocking me.
I wouldn’t do that.
Despite your explanation of Christians, I’m still afraid of them and their Christiany ways and know they’re just waiting to judge me.
There is nothing to fear from Christians. They’re people, just like you and me, who are trying to center their lives around God instead of the ways of this world. Also– AHH! DON’T TURN AROUND! TIM TEBOW IS BEHIND YOU, AND HE’S SHAKING HIS HEAD IN DISGUST!
What? Where? I don’t see him!
It was a false alarm… this time.