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Christian Stereotypes and Corrections: A Defense of Christianity (Part 1)

by Tuckster, PenguinAttack

According to a study done by the Pew Research Center in 2014, 70.6% of Americans identified as Christians, making it the largest religious group in America. However, I believe that there are still a number of incorrect stereotypes about Christians believed by irreligious and people of religions different than Christianity. In this short essay, I will attempt to pinpoint and correct many common stereotypes in order to show people what Christians are really like and what the Christian religion is all about. 

Firstly, I would like to thank @PenguinAttack, @TheSilverFox, @Lightsong, @KaraStevens, and @Feltrix for their input. It helped me to roughly gauge different people's opinions. I am not attacking or trying to prove my correctness when I debate with their opinions, and I am not attempting to convert them. With that said, I will be addressing some of the points they have made and discussing them here. 

To begin, @PenguinAttack stated in her comment, "Christians are awful. Evangelisation is part of Christian messages, the need to go out and convert people. . . You see it everywhere, Christians are preachy - they go door to door with their bibles and their intents. The basis of Christianity (notably, I am not referring to the Hebrew scriptures particularly here) is not particularly kind to women and to those who are not straight or binary. Modern Christianity is by degrees better - tho again notably one cannot ignore that the Catholic church (leader of the largest Christian denomination in the world) is rife with corruption[.]" [sic]. 

The first part of PenguinAttack's comment was correct- evangelizing is something that Christians are taught to do. I will be referring to the Bible, the book that Christians are instructed to live by, as proof for what Christians are supposed to believe and act like. In Matthew 28:18-20, it says "Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” So yes, Christians are instructed to tell the world about Christian religions. However, Christians are not supposed to do this with an attitude of "You're wrong, I'm right, so listen to me." I believe the majority of Christians who preach to others do it because they want others to find the same joy they have in Jesus. 

Furthermore, I believe that a better way of carrying out this commandment is to show and not tell. The same principle that applies in writing that I, admittedly, preach to all writers applies here. It's much more effective to show people how happy you are by always smiling and behaving with an attitude of love than to simply say, "I am happy." It's much more convincing to show people what a difference Christianity has made in your life by giving to the poor with a smile on your face, by refusing to succumb to temptation, by doing your best to know and follow the commandments than to simply say, "Christianity makes me so happy." 

But even if it can become annoying when five people knock on your door with huge smiles spread across their faces, proclaiming their joy, I think it serves us good to remember that they are doing what they think is best. They have good intentions- to give you the same joy they have. So although door-to-door ministries may be obnoxious at times and possibly not the greatest way of presenting their religion, hopefully it benefits you to think of why they are doing this and to be encouraged by their faith and their contagious joy. 

Now to address the second part of PenguinAttack's comment- "The basis of Christianity is not particularly kind to women"-, I would disagree. PenguinAttack did mention that she was not referring to the Hebrew scriptures, which I'm assuming to mean the Old Testament, but even the New Testament shows stunning compassion to women. 

Although PenguinAttack did not claim that the Old Testament was unkind to women, I believe that many people who share similar opinions to her will not be making that distinction and as such I would like to address it. Here is just one example of many situations where the laws laid out in the Pentateuch show remarkable kindness towards women. 

Deuteronomy 22:28 says: "If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives." While this passage may seem harsh by our modern cultural beliefs, during the Old Testament times this showed remarkable compassion. This verse means that the man who raped the woman cannot treat her as an animal or a piece of property. Rather, he must treat her as a virgin. Virginity in ancient times had much more significance than it does today. If an unmarried woman was not a virgin, it was very hard for her to find a husband and her only two options for work would likely be prostitution or slavery. This verse is giving the man both a monetary fine and a lifelong commitment as punishment for his actions. As with previous verses that state that the woman shall not be punished for being raped, this passage shows that the woman is innocent. In a true situation of rape, the woman has committed no crime and therefore should not be given a punishment, even an indirect one that will cause her to suffer for the sin committed against her. 

The 'basis' of Christianity is that all can be saved through God's free gift of salvation through Christ Jesus' sacrifice. One important thing to note about this is how it refers to all people. Not just Jews, not just Romans, not just whites, not just males, but everyone. No one is excluded from this gift. Another verse that shows just how much God cares for women is found in Ephesians 5:22-23. This verse says, "Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." This sets up the family so that although wives are to submit to their husbands, their husbands are also taught to love and respect them as a valuable and precious gift from the Lord and not a piece of property. Women are given more rights in Christianity than many other religions. 

Regarding PenguinAttack's comment about homosexuality and their treatment, I believe that everyone should be treated with love and acceptance in the church. The Bible instructs us to be loving to our neighbors (Mark 12:31) regardless of their sins, but also to hate sin (Psalm 97:10). That being said, the Bible makes it clear in both the Old and New Testament that homosexuality is a sin in the eyes of the Lord. In an ideal church setting, homosexuals would not be condemned or preached at, but rather accepted and loved like any other. Therefore, the bad treatment of homosexuals is not a shortcoming of the Christian religion, but rather of Christians themselves. 

And in regards to the Catholic church's corruption, I agree with you there. I am a Protestant Christian, and I should have made it more clear that I am debating from a Protestant standpoint. That was a shortcoming on my part, and I apologize for any uncertainty that may have arisen because of that. 

Hopefully my essay cleared up some misconceptions about Christianity so that this religion may be presented in a more fair light. I especially focused on @PenguinAttack's comment, but future essays will be more general and less directed towards one person's specific point of view. Regardless of your convictions, it is only fair to express each religion's exact beliefs so that those who believe it and those who do not fully understand the arguments being made for both ways. 

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84 Reviews

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Thu Jun 01, 2017 7:56 pm
DragonNoir wrote a review...

Hello! DragonNoir here for a review!

Well, I don't know a lot about Christianity in America, but religion isn't a big thing here in the UK, if you take out all Muslim talk etc. Anyways, I'd say that the corruption part of it seems equally accurate and inaccurate. I understand that people are corrupt in every part of this world, no matter whether you're the worker or the employer. It happens and it happens a lot. But I don't see what makes it so different when the church does it. I appreciate that the Church is supposed to be a role model for all Christians and all the rest of it, but when a country like, for example's sake, America does it, it's frowned upon for a bit and then forgotten. I know it's wrong to compare a country and a religion, but they basically have the same structure.

Moving on to the part about people visiting homes, I can imagine that it can be pretty frustrating, though I've only ever heard of Jehovah's Witnesses visiting homes. I'm Catholic myself and I understand God wants us to tell the entire world about him and share the fact that our sins have been forgiven with everyone, but I do think that people do take things slightly too far by invading people's personal time. I know that there probably isn't another way to do it, but I do think it's the kind of idea I'd have a 'meh' approach to.

Lastly, about the part on women and homosexuals, I think that a lot of the media claim that the Bible says that women have to be slaves to their husbands, but they only pick out specific quotes, missing out any further bits of information. I would say that the Church is accepting of all women and any other social groups out there because, as you said, the Church preaches that everyone can be saved from sin by Jesus Christ and God. Moving on to homosexuals, I accept people who are gay and I don't have any problems with them, but I don't 'support' homosexuality. By 'support', I mean "oh yeah, we can be gay if we want because it's not against the law to be gay (yet)". I have see quite a lot things like that out there. I mean, I've heard that the Church says that homosexuals can't go to Heaven, but I mean, if you look at it from my point of view: the Church says that God has a plan for all of us. Doesn't that mean he also planned for homosexuality to be a thing? Just putting that out there.

I'm sorry if I sounded a bit rude on some of my comments, but that's my opinion.

Looking at this from the technical side, you included both facts and opinions, which balances out your article well. You also used appropriate language choices and I couldn't spot any mistakes in the entire article, increasing the overall effectiveness of your article, because it shows you know what you're writing about and that you have checked through this carefully.

Overall, I'd say this is a great article and I'm curious for what will be in part 2. :)

Tuckster says...

Thanks for the pointers! They did really help :) But I'd like to debate with you on one of your points. We can move this into PM or keep it in comments if you like.

Yes, God planned for homosexuality to be a thing. He knew that it would arise, and He knew exactly who would become a homosexual. This does not mean that homosexuality is okay. That's called an is-ought fallacy (saying that just because something IS that it OUGHT to be that way). To replace homosexuality with murder, your argument would say "The church says that God has a plan for all of us. Doesn't that mean that he also planned for murder to be a thing?" The answer is yes, but that doesn't make it OK

DragonNoir says...

I guess you have a point. If you need me to review anything else, I'm always here! :)

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Thu Jun 01, 2017 5:37 pm
ExOmelas wrote a review...

Hi there, I was going to do nit-picks but your grammar is on point so I'll just skip to critiquing the construction of your argument.

However, Christians are not supposed to do this with an attitude of "You're wrong, I'm right, so listen to me." I believe the majority of Christians who preach to others do it because they want others to find the same joy they have in Jesus.

This is a bit of an assertion. Maybe all the christians you know do it for this reason, but you only know a small number of christians compared to the overall number of christians, and presumably within one circle of people. PenguinAttack is talking about how it's ingrained in the teachings, so you need to deal with the fact that as long as it is officially a part of the church, there will be people like Westboro and other extremists who warp this message in an aggressive way.

I think it serves us good to remember that they are doing what they think is best. They have good intentions- to give you the same joy they have.

Have you ever heard that tea metaphor about consent? It's meant to be about sexual consent but I think it could apply here too. Imagine you replace Christian with "tea-enthusiast" and it is part of your tea-club's code that you go round not only giving people tea but convincing them that tea is the best drink. This is a bad example because I love tea but imagine I prefer coffee. I open the door and there's this person who really likes tea and is really happy, but they're not leaving me alone and they're making me feel bad for my gut just not being able to make them happy because I don't like tea. If you had it your way and people were nice about it all the time, this would still be wrong (because I haven't consented to the discussion) but probably wouldn't have too many negative effects, but since I've explained how you can't guarantee that, that falls.

While this passage may seem harsh by our modern cultural beliefs, during the Old Testament times this showed remarkable compassion.

I'll confess to kneejerk fury when I read the quote - the woman is forced to MARRY her rapist. And once a woman is a man's wife, she's basically his property, so he can keep on raping her. That is utterly insane and not kind to women. However, you have admitted this, sort of, when you say it's not ok by modern standards. But you still have to deal with the fact that the bible, which you have admitted is an outdated text, is still studied (literally) religiously and applied to life. If a woman was forced to marry her rapist, I'm pretty sure most people would consider that barbaric. What is telling in that passage is that the male lawmakers assumed this was what the women wanted... sorry, getting off track.

This sets up the family so that although wives are to submit to their husbands, their husbands are also taught to love and respect them as a valuable and precious gift from the Lord and not a piece of property. Women are given more rights in Christianity than many other religions.

Or you could just not believe women were property at all. But again, this comes back to still using a book from an outdated age. Also you need to provide evidence of why other religions are even worse to women.

Although homosexuality is outlawed in the Bible, homosexuals can still be forgiven for their sins and are offered help so that they don't fall back into temptation. But this is a faulty definition of kind. For example, I can be kind to a thief by trying to help them see that they shouldn't steal. This does not mean I condone their behavior, but that I see their problem and choose to help them regardless.

I don't really see where you're going with this. This still means people are going to try to convince lgb+ people to be heterosexual, which is all kinds of bad and which I'll elaborate if you like.

Overall, I think what you have here is a defence of christianity, and nothing to do with christian stereotypes. Christian stereotypes would require you to talk about christians as people not just the teaching of the bible. You'd have to show why some christians are not like this, and evidence of this. They do exist; I know at least three nice, liberal christians - one of them's even a catholic :P

Hope this helps,

Tuckster says...

Thanks for the review Biscuist! I'll go through and edit this later, but until then I'd like to give a brief reaction to your points:
1. True Christians have joy because of their salvation, and are just on fire for Jesus. It sounds really preachy and Sunday-school-y, but unless you've experienced it, I can't really describe it. The best analogy I could come up with is that you are at a store and you can choose to buy either a diamond ring for your mom or a really cool and expensive toy for yourself, let's say a Lego Imperial Star Destroyer. All around you, your friends are chanting "Take the Lego! Take the Lego!" Buying the ring will mean you are sometimes discriminated against, and telling people sometimes means you get bullied. Some people don't want you to get it because it means giving up some of your time, money, and choosing not to buy other things that give you pleasure. And some others don't want you to buy it because they refuse to see the diamond ring or cannot see it because of their obsession with the Lego set. But you know how happy you will feel once you buy the ring for your mom, so you go for it. You know that the ring comes with a delivery boy who will encourage you when the time going home is rough. So now imagine how the ride home feels, and then you got a rough idea of what it feels like to be a Christian.
2. The reason why marriage to someone you don't love would be worse than you think is because there were laws about when and where even married couples could indulge sexual pleasures, and the man would have to work to provide for her most of the day and take care of her. Also, many other cultures would not have punished the man at all. In this day and age, any punishment for the man would be unusual and show extreme compassion for the abused.
3. My point was that the Bible shows kindness to all, but does not accept behaviors. You can be kind to someone without accepting their wrong behaviors as OK.

Again, thanks for the review! I'll make my points more clear in my editing bout, and I agree with your last point- it wasn't really the best title, but I wanted to emphasize that this will fit in with a nice little mini-series of essays :)

If you want something badly, you just gotta believe it's gonna work out.
— Andy, Parks & Rec