50 Shades of Decay: On the Scandal of Love


IMDB.com

IMDB.com

If Christian Grey were poor and ugly then 50 Shades of Grey would be about an abusive and controlling man. But since his abuse is wrapped in a nice suit, wealth, and good looks, it’s “sexy” and “erotic.” Beyond the erotic bondage that both the book and the movie celebrates, we see a man that does all he can to control another woman. Within 50 Shades the nightmare that millions of women endure on a daily basis is morphed into some romanticized version of torture.

If we remove the glitz and glamor, remove the good looks, remove the wealth, remove the style, then is Christian Grey still a romantic figure with a dark past who needs fixing? The story plays on the ultimate trope, which is women love jerks because they believe they can fix them. Such an approach doesn’t dignify women nor does it liberate their sexuality, rather it treats them as objects, as curing pills to a psychological diagnosis. Without all those toys, Christian Grey is no longer a fantasy character, but a person appearing on a day time talk show or the guy in the back of a police car for a domestic violence dispute. He’s a stalker, but with money and good looks he’s “romantic.”

Our culture is in many ways pornographic, and I don’t mean that in the typical sense. Porn creates a false reality and sets false expectations; what is upsetting or disturbing in real life is normal in porn. Porn, then, distorts reality in favor of a fantasy, which means porn doesn’t have to be that overtly sexual video. Fox News (or MSNBC if you prefer) is a type of porn, creating a false image of what America and the world ought to be. Reality TV is a type of porn, creating a false reality, but acting as though it is real. In the same way, 50 Shades is pornographic, not just for the explicit sexuality, but because it creates a fantasy of love without facing reality.

The books and movie creates this image of the “ultimate alpha male,” the guy that every guy wants to be like and every woman wants to be with. But such a man is a fantasy and doesn’t exist. Such an image leaves guys attempting to act like the alpha male (which is nothing more than a glorified ass) and it leaves women searching for this elusive alpha male. Of course they’ll find someone who is similar, but he’s attempting to live up to a false presentation of reality, meaning the charade will eventually collapse and the woman will end up trying to find another man, or living a life of disappointment. Society questions where all the real mean have gone; but if you pursue a fantasy and make it your ideal, don’t be shocked when you can’t find it in reality. Men and women are trained to follow roles, not to become humans; they are given a cookie-cutter image of what the ideal man looks like, or the ideal woman looks like, and we then find ourselves shocked when people can’t live up to these fake and false images.

True love, the real thing, is scary and hard to find. We live in a culture obsessed with power, where even love is treated as an old mythology and relegated to the classics. We chastise the classics as being anti-female and treating men as gods. We are too quick to condemn the classics though, for though they treated women as lesser than men, they at least acknowledge women as human. In the modern age we’ve sought liberation and equality and have only succeeded in treating women a little higher than animals and objects. No, while the ancients were wrong about a lot of things, they were at least correct in their pursuit of love. To put it another way, today we “pick up” women, whereas at one point we “wooed” women: To “pick up” applies to an object (e.g. I pick up trash, I pick up food, I am the actor imposing my will upon an object). To woo means to gain, to acknowledge that you are dealing with another free will being who is capable of thought and choice. You pick up an object, but you woo a human.

While we seek after power – being the dominant male, a woman using her sexuality to gain an advantage over a man, sharing “authority” in a relationship, refusing to give up individualism even in the face of marriage – we’ve long forgotten about love. The idea of there being rules to love, of it occurring within a marriage, of it existing solely between man and wife (at least in a sensual way) was at one point ridiculed for being “Victorian” and outdated. Now such a viewpoint is hardly considered and even its whisper elicits scandal. One can almost imagine that in a few decades the real rush for teenagers wanting to go against the flow of society’s mores will involve them refusing to have sex with each other or anyone else and waiting until marriage, and then remaining faithful thereafter. Continue reading

Hypocrisy, Stupidity, Dishonesty, Ignorance, and Evil in the Bible


Originally posted on Truth is a Man:

noah-drunk One reason I find Christianity believable is the hypocrisy, stupidity, dishonesty, ignorance, and evil in the Bible.

Take, for instance, those remarkable individuals who made it into the spiritual “hall-of-fame” in Hebrews 11:4-38.  A list of some of the most important saints who ever lived; individuals God worked through to accomplish incredible things; individuals whose lives were built on faith.  Yet, every one of them were hypocrites–that is, their lives did not always match up to the values they cherished most.

Consider Noah, one of the only men to remain faithful to God in his lifetime–“humanities last hope”.  After the flood, whilst in the primordial stages of building a new civilization, he gets wasted and exposes himself to his sons (Genesis 9:20-23).  Or take Abraham, for example, who, out of fear, led a king to believe his wife was actually his sister; thus allowing the king to take his wife into his harem (see Genesis…

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Light Doesn’t Hide From Darkness: On Christian Isolationism


DSC01668For the past thirty years, the Religious Right claimed that the US government and liberals are doing all they can to persecute Christians. The rational response is that such persecution does not exist (unless you’re Todd Starnes and just make stuff up). However, since 2001 religious persecution has existed in the United States. Many people, especially right-wing aligned Christians, have done all they could do in order to persecute Muslims. We can recall the controversy over the “Ground Zero Mosque” that forced developers to abandon their plans. Recently, however, a gun shop owner received praise by proponents on the right for refusing to allow Muslims to enter her store. Her criteria for if someone is a Muslim is if they have an Arab-sounding name. Even Texas’ state representative Molly White forced Muslims to declare allegiance to the United States before they could enter her office.

With recent events, of course, there’s a real reason to fear extreme Islam. After all, though ISIL and Boko Haram weren’t created in vacuums and there’s certainly a cause to their reaction, they are still Islamic-based and it’s worrisome. These are violent groups and we’re right to worry about extremism in any religion (or political ideology). Regardless, does such a concern justify treating all Muslims with disdain?

Leaving aside the political and legal quagmire of discrimination and privately-owned businesses, let us look at how Christians should respond to Muslims (or others). As Christians we of course acknowledge that Islam is wrong, that it is a heresy of Christianity. In fact, it was St. John of Damascus, writing under the Caliphate, that stated Islam was a heresy of Christianity. We do not embrace Islam and find it to be false. There’s nothing wrong with disagreement and such disagreement can create very healthy, interesting, and challenging discussions with Muslim friends. Why, then, do we isolate ourselves?

Sadly, Muslims aren’t the only targets of Christian isolationism. Throughout history many have faced the wrath of Christian isolationism. Martin Luther encouraged the German princes to oust all the Jews from The Holy Roman Empire, even if they converted. At other times it was witches. The Moors faced great persecution in Isabella’s Spain. Even Africans had much to worry about from Christians (even though the Pope declared slavery heretical and was defied by the European powers). Native Americans, American slaves, and many other groups felt the wrath of Christian isolationism, while few Christians stood for the ostracized and brutalized people.

Leaving aside the legal arguments for whether or not someone can or should deny service to another person, let’s look at the Christian perspective. Should a Christian refuse a Muslim – or anyone for that matter – service at his business? A very quick look at Christ’s life gives the obvious answer: No.

One can serve others without partaking in their respective sins or beliefs. After all, Jesus did it quite a bit. He still partook in the Temple gatherings even though the Pharisees dictated the rules. He still attended feasts where sinners were very present. He still drank with prostitutes and laughed with tax collectors. While Jesus did not own a business, he displayed his message in a very clear manner. He also called on Christians to duplicate what he did:

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:13-16 ESV)

The point being Christians are to be a light and to serve others in all instances. How does that work as a business owner? If you deny services to a certain group of people then how are you being a light to them? How are they seeing your light if their only interaction with you is to face rejection?

Matthew 16:18 has Jesus telling Peter that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church. The funny thing about gates is that they don’t move, they don’t charge into battle, they just stand still. For gates to prevail means they’re being attacked and pushed against. To not prevail it means that attackers have broken through the gates. For too long Christians have used this passage to justify believing that hell won’t conquer them, but they have it the wrong way around; hell has no choice but to be conquered by the Church. Hells gates stand not because they are properly fortified, but because too many Christians hide away in fear from them and refuse to charge in.

Jesus was a friend to all those who needed it. In Matthew 9 he points out that it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. It is after that when he says, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” We who claim Christ must acknowledge that we, too, are sinners. That without Christ we are no different than any group we wish to malign; all are lost in darkness and violence.

Christ came to save all. Those of us who have embraced Christ, imperfect though we are, are still called to be light to the darkness. We can’t be light if we seek to segregate ourselves from the darkness. In order for light to matter it must permeate within the darkness. In order for gates to fall they must be attacked by an invading force. And in order to see Muslims come to Christ, they must interact with Christians, and sometimes that includes your place of business.

The Problem of Feel Good Spirituality: A Robust Anthropology


IMG_0254It’s popular in some spiritual circles to act as though humans are just slightly flawed (if that) and that our little missteps are just that; little. One little writing from yesterday by Mark Sandlin of “The God Article” perfectly sums up this “feel good spirituality.” To make matters worse, Sandlin is a pastor and was his blog was named one of the top 10 Christian blogs out there. Yet, his advice is that we’re not broken, not fallen, not sinful, just a work in progress. But his argument not only misses what Christianity actually teaches, it misses the human experience.

A theology of, “You’re not broken or fallen” might work for the average middle-class person of Western Society who’s never faced the evils of this life, who has the luxury of believing that this world is soft, but for the rest of the world such a theology is astonishingly ignorant. A woman drugged and then raped can’t look at the rapist and say that he’s, …”so deeply invested in life that [he] can, at times, deny the larger good for the experience of the moment.” Such a theological viewpoint doesn’t really address the carnage of this world and truly makes Christianity a “pie in the sky” religion. It ignores the realities on the ground, that people are murdered, that people are cheated, that evil occurs at the hands of these so-called “investors in life.” A man who murders women and children hasn’t missed the point, a CEO who cuts his employee’s salaries so he can increase in wealth isn’t invested in life, and a mother who looks to her own interests before the interests of her children isn’t misguided by love; such things are sinful and are evil. Superfluous evil does occur and that it occurs is central to the Christian message.

The flaw in such humanism is that it ignores reality. Just as a belief that humans are totally depraved and nothing good can come from us looks too much at our sin, Sandlin’s view doesn’t look at our sin enough. The flaw between both views is they can’t accept the paradox of humanity, that we are capable of both great good and great evil, often from the same person. Stalin wasn’t invested in life when he ordered the deaths of millions, he didn’t just temporarily ignore the greater good.

A great quote from the movie Spanglish is when the grandmother addresses her daughter, who’s been cheating on her husband and acting selfishly. The grandmother says, “Lately, your low self-esteem is just good common sense.” It’s not that we ought to think of ourselves as dirt, but that sometimes we shouldn’t esteem ourselves. Sometimes our problems are our own doing. Sometimes we have to admit that we are actually broken, that we are fallen, and that we are sinful. After all, that is central to any Christian message lest Christ’s Incarnation be pointless.

Christianity does teach that as humans we are fallen. While some take it too far to say we are guilty or sinful by nature of being human, even within the Orthodox tradition the belief is that our wills are fallen. From birth our wills are turned from God. We freely choose to run away from him, to act on our own, and as such beget more evil into this world. This doesn’t make us evil by nature, but it does make us evil by choice. If Christianity left the story there, it still wouldn’t be wrong; how absurd to deny the one absolute, empirical, unquestionable fact of Christianity, that we are fallen and sinful. Thankfully, the Christian story doesn’t end with us being fallen.

A robust view of humans is that though fallen, by nature we are good. What that means is that we are made in God’s image, that is what separates us from the animals. God, of course, is good; therefore his image is also good. Sin is any act that goes against our nature and intended purpose, that is, sin is anything contrary to God and goodness. We choose to engage in sin and become sinners (we are not sinners by nature, as this creates quite a few problems with the Incarnation). As such, we are fallen, we are broken, and we do need to be saved. God the Word took on human flesh and took on our nature while retaining his own and redeemed our nature. To quote St. Athanasius, “God became man so that men might become gods.” The point being that Christ paved the way for us to not only reunify with our Creator (through Theosis), against whom we rebelled, but that we might actualize our nature of good and live holy lives.

Salvation and the necessity to live holy lives makes absolutely no sense without sin. While I believe the fall of man was not necessary – Christ could have shown his love to us even in a perfect world, albeit in a different way – it did happen and therefore this is the world we’ve inherited and in which we abide. We are broken and we do need help. Such an admission is a sign of tenacious humility, the kind needed for salvation. To say that we’re not flawed or broken is not just ignorance of the world around us, but a form of arrogance to say that we just need God’s help a little, that we’ve got it from here. But the greatest of saints had one thing in common, that they constantly sought after God’s help and realized they were nothing without him.

We do the world no favors if we try to remove the idea of sin and brokenness from our language and theology, for to do so makes Christians look even more out of touch with reality. Evil occurs and in order to understand the greatness of what Christ did, we must understand the breadth of the darkness into which Light came. Only by acknowledging the dark can we then begin to seek and appreciate the Light.

Why I’m Pro-Life, but Not Conservative: An Issue that Transcends Political Ideology


IMG_0397As we enter a new year, it’s not fun to look back on 2014, a tumultuous year that saw quite a bit of hardships. If we learned anything from 2014, it’s namely that human life is decreasing in value. We saw that a man throwing his hands up and attempting to reason with another human being has no right to life so long as the person being unreasonable has a badge. We learned that being white and carrying a gun in an open carry state will gather police attention, but not kill you, while being black in that same state and carrying a BB gun will result in your death, regardless of age. We learned that Planned Parenthood can celebrate the termination of 327,653 human lives by their own hands. We witnessed that people who are appalled by the previous statistic are likewise willing to defend the use of torture – even against innocent people – by the CIA, are willing to support drone strikes, are willing to support endless warfare, and still support the death penalty even though at least 4% of those on death row are innocent. All the while, people complained about “Obamacare,” helping the homeless, or enacting policies to help eradicate poverty.

Sadly, as I’ve pointed out before, “pro-life” is a bit of a misnomer as a movement. After all, how can one be “pro-life” on matters of abortion, but still advocate the destruction of life outside the womb? The cornerstone of any argument against abortion begins with the idea that humans have intrinsic value by mere fact that they exist; what good does it do us if we support positions that contradict such a viewpoint? More to the issue of being against abortion (with exception to the rarest of cases, such as the life of the mother), what good does it do to cry out about the value of the life in the womb, but then do all we can to disavow that life once born?

In the case of a mother being too poor to take care of the child, or to receive proper pre and post-natal treatment, or to obtain daycare so she can keep working or get a better education, or any of the other lists of things that cause women to consider abortion, what has the conservative side done? What have conservatives done to eliminate the conditions that would make abortion an option? See, the greatest irony is that most modern conservatives aren’t actually conservative. Some might say they’re “classically liberal” because they’re against war (such as Rand Paul), but even then that’s not an appropriate description. Modern conservatives are, in many ways, no different than modern liberals; both ascribe to a form of individualism when it’s convenient for their cases. For liberals, individualism comes into play mostly with the abortion argument, whereas for conservatives it comes into play for just about everything except social issues (but heavily on economic issues).

One can look to classical conservatives coming out of England in the 18th and 19th centuries and see a much different “conservative” than what we see today: They were anti-slavery, anti-segregation, pro-government spending on the poor, pro-social justice, anti-war, pro-civil rights, and so on. They were against government waste, against a large government in cases where a large government isn’t necessary (such as education), and supported local community involvement in instances where the government wasn’t needed. More importantly, they didn’t buy into individualism. They had the audacity to believe that we had ethical obligations to each other and that sometimes those obligations even surpassed our obligations to ourselves. Under such a system the individual doesn’t reign supreme.  Continue reading

Jesus Juking McDonalds: Love is Endless, but Your Business Model Isn’t


Josh, enjoying some American fries, the type he can no longer get in England.

Josh, enjoying some American fries, the type he can no longer get in England.

McDonald’s has taken quite a few hits lately in the news, whether it be from allegedly discriminating against employees to falling profits, right now is not a good time to be an executive at McDonald’s. While it’s been known the past decade or two that McDonald’s is hardly nutritious, the last few years their product has more than likely contributed to a decline in their profits.

Never fear, however, because in the Corporate World™ a problem with the product is easily fixed through…marketing. While common sense dictates that a problem in the product or in how a company is managed requires the product and management style to change, in the Corporate World™ all that’s required is better publicity. Such strategies have proven to work, that is, until the advent of social media. Regardless, McDonald’s isn’t aware of such things and instead has produced a “commercial aimed at millennials.” Rather than fixing the product, like Chipotle did, McDonald’s is trying to just change the public perception by focusing their commercials around the idea of “love.”

Thus, we end up with this:

Now what, exactly, does “love is endless” have to do with eating horrible tasting hamburgers and fries? How does anything in that commercial or message make me think, “Well, maybe I should eat at McDonald’s”? The idea that “love is endless” is certainly true, but to cheapen it as a ploy to get people to buy hamburgers kind of negates the sentiment.

And now for the Jesus Juke…

See, love is endless because God is love, and he is infinite. To state that “love is endless” is certainly true, but one has to ask if McDonald’s is really qualified to use this statement. After all, a Christian approach to business, one centered on endless love, wouldn’t really allow for McDonald’s business practices, especially with its employees.

The same Bible that tells us that Jesus is God and that God is love tells us that God expects fair, livable wages to be paid to employees. Consider James 5:2-5 (ESV):

Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.

James is quite emphatic about the type of wealth these people have acquired; not just wealth in general, but wealth gained off of wage fraud. The phrase “kept back by fraud” is actually just one Greek word: ἀποστερέω (apostereo), which means to hold back from someone or to deny them their due. Even Jesus in Luke 10:7 says that the laborer deserves his wages.

The idea of justice in Scripture is based on love – a love of God will always lead to justice with God and a love of one’s fellow man will always lead to justice with one’s fellow man. Justice, in a Scriptural sense, refers to putting others on equal footing with yourself (that is, after all, the second Greatest Commandment, to “love thy neighbor as thyself”). Biblical justice involves wholeness, repairing and making whole that which was broken by sin. In terms of poverty, Christian justice is the act of giving to the laborer a wage worth a living, and then giving to the needy what is needed for them to survive. Proverbs 29:7 says as much;

“A righteous man understands how to judge on behalf of the poor, But the ungodly man will not consider such knowledge; For he has no understanding heart for a poor man.” (Orthodox Study Bible)

If McDonald’s wants to try and use “love” as some gimmick, then they must understand they bring upon themselves quite the burden; love is endless, but it’s one thing to say love is endless and entirely another to live it. Now, I’m not naive enough to believe that McDonald’s actually loves its employees, but merely want to point out the importance of taking important phrases and subjecting them to triteness.

From the Christian perspective, love is endless whereas money has a definite ending. Love then is the focal point of the Christian life and supplants all other pursuits, including that of money. Not that money isn’t important or that it’s inherently wrong to be rich as a Christian, but instead that for wealthy Christians, especially business owners, that wealth ought not be obtained by denying fair wages to others. And by “fair” I do not mean the “market standard,” but instead the type of wages on which a person can live. How can Christians claim love is endless if they’re unwilling to display that love in a monetary way by paying their employees a fair wage? We can’t expect consistency from McDonald’s – even if their business model is quite absurd (they want consumers to pay for their food, but want to keep their employees poor, thus removing their employees from the consumer section and eliminating their own profit; the company’s policy of keeping wages low forces the company to eat itself) – but we should expect consistency from Christians in regards to paying a livable wage to their employees.

The Sniper and the Cross: When Nationalism Clouds Your Christianity


Warner Bros. Pictures

Warner Bros. Pictures

American Sniper officially made it big at the box office this past weekend, and of course has generated quite a bit of controversy. There’s the fact that the late Chris Kyle was emphatic that he enjoyed killing his enemy and was quite black and white in his whole approach to killing: the Iraqis were evil and deserved to die because they were Muslims and the Americans were good because they were Christians. Such a view doesn’t allow for nuance or complications; part of that might be a defense mechanism for those in combat. After all, no one would want to think themselves responsible for unjustly killing another human being. Regardless, Chris Kyle did perform heroically in many situations (even in unjust wars, even on the wrong side of a war, men can still perform heroic acts) and he has passed on, thus his judgements are his own, drawn on his experiences.

What is inexcusable, however, are the reactions of those seeing the film and coming to the conclusion that “killing for your country automatically makes you a hero.” No war, not even WWII (possibly the most clear-cut case of a “good” vs. “evil” war in history), is ever about the good guys against the bad guys. The idea of a completely good army against a completely evil army only plays out in fiction; in real life, men on both sides of the gun more than likely have families waiting for them back home, have lives that would have been better if left uninterrupted by war, who have dreams and aspirations beyond warfare. Yes, many groups commit evil acts, but no individual is truly and fully evil. All individuals, even those who commit despicable acts, are still made in God’s image. In fact, we recognize their acts as evil because it not only harms another, but those acts are so contrary to who they are.

Thus, it must pain us when such a life is taken. I am not a full-blown pacifist, I do believe there is a time to kill, I think there are times to go to war, but such times should be solemn and we ought not celebrate the deaths of our enemies. Even David mourned the loss of Saul. Yet, in the name of patriotism we have a movie that essentially celebrates and glorifies (at least that’s how it’s been interpreted) the deaths of Arabs and we praise it and the man who killed them. That is not the sign of a healthy country.

There’s a fine line between patriotism and nationalism, but you can never tell that to the nationalist, for he always fancies himself a patriot. For a Christian, it’s okay to be a patriot, it’s okay to love one’s nation. After all, for better or worse, your nation is your broader community and has helped shape you into who you are. The problem, however, is when patriotism becomes nationalism. The biggest difference between a patriot and a nationalist is that to the patriot, his nation is always seeking after an ideal; to a nationalist, his nation is the ideal, and while the government may not represent his nation, his nation exists in perfection and can rise from the ashes of a fallen society.

A patriot in America looks to his nation’s past and sees a complex story. He sees the good things the US has done, but also sees where we moved away from our ideal. To the patriot, there’s still an “American Dream,” it’s just in an ideal that thus far is left unattained. The ideal for the patriot is one that will make his country better – not like it used to be – but better than it has ever been. He will condemn his government and his nation when it goes against the ideal, when it goes against human dignity and freedom, but not out of hatred, yet out of love. To condemn one’s country for it’s wrongs is no different than to condemn one’s parents for their wrongs; it is not indicative of hate, but of true love.

Nationalism, however, does away with the ideal and believes his nation is the ideal. Nationalism is always a dangerous utopia of exclusion. Sadly, every nationalist thinks he’s a patriot, that he’s supporting his nation and all those who do not goose-step along him are not only not patriots, but against his nation. Disagreement is not allowed and all who do disagree or question aren’t loyal to the nation. His country, right or wrong, is his country and he will follow it. For a nationalist, there was once a utopia in which his people lived free, but it was corrupted by the “Other,” by some people group who now stand between his people and attaining their former greatness.

Such nationalism easily co-ops Christianity, as it has in many other nations. One can think of the current conflict between the Ukraine and Russia, where “Orthodox” adherents on both sides claim God is on their side. Or we can look to German Lutherans in WWII and how quick they were to declare that Hitler’s Germany was God’s Will. Or even to our own history and how “manifest destiny” justified the genocide against Native Americans and the enslavement and brutalization of Africans. All of these horrible actions were done with the sanction of ministers and “good, God-fearing” people. The reason isn’t because Christianity actually allows for these things – it stands quite opposed to tarnishing God’s image – but because people wrapped the cross in their nation’s flag, because they filtered their faith through their ideology.

Which brings us back to the movie and the actions of Chris Kyle; killing is a necessity in war, but should we celebrate it? Shouldn’t we be somber that another human being was killed, justified or no? From a Christian perspective we are to seek peace in all situations. We are to constantly struggle towards peace and when that peace cannot be achieved, only then do we engage in war, but always with a heavy-heart. Or, if we follow the early Church’s example, Christians ought not engage in war at all. How do we go from forbidding Christians to engage in war to declaring a sniper a holy instrument of God? If we celebrate the idea that all Muslims are evil and that it’s okay that Chris Kyle enjoyed killing them, is not the next logical step to just kill them outright? What is it that prevents us from interning and systematically killing Muslims if we believe them to be so evil? What prevents it, or so I hope, is that even in our nationalistic passion the image of God still ignites within us to tell us that such desires are wrong and evil.

For the Christian, all human beings are made in the image of God and while some war is necessary, all killing is an atrocity and indicative of a fallen world, certainly not something worthy of celebration. We cannot let our love of country surpass or interfere with our love of God and our love of our fellow image-bearers. Perhaps Christians would be better served celebrating films that promote peace, such as Selma (outperformed by American Sniper, which is troublesome), than supporting nationalistic films that promote and celebrate the deaths of the “other.”