There are accounts of a group of Christian extremists in the 4th century called the Circumcellions who were so committed to martyrdom that they took to attacking random travelers on the road with blunt clubs. The goal was to goad their victims into killing them and thus making them martyrs for their faith. Whether the travelers were supposed to know that they were dispatching these spiritual guerrillas to their blessed reward is unknown, and probably immaterial. They were just implements in God’s clever toolbox of earthly horrors. Likely they left their broken and bleeding attackers behind them on the road, saying to each other, “What the fucking fuck was that?” This was how they spoke in the ancient Roman Empire when confronted with bizarre situations.
This obsession with death and martyrdom has been a cornerstone of the Church since its inception. The image of Christ as the willing sacrifice has driven millions to go eagerly, even joyfully, to their deaths. I guess when you truly believe that this world is only preparation for the next, you’ll do anything to make sure that your place in the ‘world to come’ is secure. Even if it means being used as a human torch. Or torn apart by wild beasts. Or stabbed to death by confused travelers who are wondering why you’re attacking them yelling strange phrases in Latin.
“The battle over the marriage amendment continues to rage here in Minnesota. Last Thursday the third commercial from the anti-gay hate group Minnesota for Marriage went out on the airwaves, sparking some interesting conversation. Several media sources critiqued the truthfulness of these ads. Minnesota Public Radio summarized the ad, saying “most of [the examples cited] don’t have anything to do with whether same-sex marriage is legal or not. Local station WCCO aired an exposé, calling the ad “questionable.”
This past weekend a billboard in the Uptown area of Minneapolis, an area known for its liberal political slant and high concentration of gays, was vandalized. While vandalism of private property is never acceptable, one has to wonder what they were thinking in putting it up there in the first place. Were they expecting to change minds? Did they think that gay couples would see the sign and say to each other, “You know, maybe they’re right”?
Obsession with persecution seems to be a common theme among evangelical Christians these days. When I was growing up we were taught to expect to be reviled for our beliefs, and for speaking the truth. Jesus said to his disciples: “And everyone will hate you because you are my followers. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Mark 13:13) It’s hard not to see this now as a self-fulfilling prophesy of sorts. When you tell total strangers that they’re bad people who are going to burn eternally in the fires of hell, one can’t help but take offense. But the Christians of the early church accepted their martyrdom with joy, instead of modern Christians’ whining refrain of persecution.
It’s almost as if they’re taking to politics to force the government into action against them. Of course, they see this as a spiritual battle against the encroaching powers of darkness, as apparently evidenced by increasing acceptance of LGBT individuals and our disgusting behavior. The more fundamentalist groups even see persecution as necessary to bring about the end of the world and the reign of Christ.
What it really comes down to is what the Fifth Doctor said of the Daleks: “However you respond to them is seen as an act of aggression.”
Next time you see an anti-gay marriage ad, or really any anti-gay rhetoric, try hearing it in the staccato, hysterical tones of a Dalek having a hissy fit. The sooner the public can see these people as the childish puritans they are, the quicker we’ll be able to move on from this nonsense.