There’s a joke in an old episode of The Simpsons…. It’s the one where a hurricane blows through town, and the only house that gets destroyed is Ned Flanders’ home. If you don’t already know, Ned Flanders is the town of Springfield’s s most devout Christian, and he’s a super kind guy–to an annoying degree. In that episode (it’s called “Hurricane Neddy”–Season 8, Episode 8), Ned loses his faith in God, has a nervous breakdown, and has to deal with some issues from his childhood. It’s a really good episode…. but there is one joke in that episode that is one of my favorite jokes The Simpsons ever made. After the house is destroyed, Ned finds his wife, Maude, safe in the rubble underneath their bathtub. When he finds her, she says, “Oh Neddy, it was terrifying! I thought I was headed for the eternal bliss of paradise.”
With one joke, the writers of The Simpsons hilariously highlighted one of the most glaring hypocrisies within modern Christianity. When I was trying to Google the line (to find out the exact wording of the line), many of the links were to Atheist web pages–THAT’s how perfectly targeted that joke was. Now, if you don’t see why that joke is awesome, I’m not going to murder the joke to dissect it for you…. But I’ve been thinking again about that joke these last few days since the massacre at Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC.
Predictably and tragically, people have started calling for guns in church as a response to the nine people who lost their lives that day at the hands of a racist, domestic terrorist with a bad haircut. Within the first few hours after the shooting, there was talk of arming pastors and elders in the church in an attempt to protect the congregation from other attackers. This is a terrific idea–If your goal is to make the world think Christians are even more full of shit than they thought they were before…. If that’s possible. Here is the flawed logic that the world sees and understands, but for some reason, so many gun-toting people in the church are incapable of comprehending:
- Christians profess to believe that when they die, they are going to go to a place called Heaven–A paradise where there is no more pain, everyone is happy, and bacon is a health food.
- Christians profess to follow a man named Jesus, who commanded his followers to love their enemies instead of hating them, and said that “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” A man who, while he was being unjustly arrested in a plot to take his life, told his friends to put down their weapons…. Even–as the story goes–going so far as to heal the ear of one of the men who was arresting him. A man who died using his last agonizing breaths to forgive his murderers. THAT Jesus.
ManyWe’ll say most of these Christians also believe that people who die NOT believing in Jesus will go to a place called Hell, where they will be tortured forever (I don’t believe this, by the way).
- Here’s where things stop making sense…. A very large portion of people calling themselves Christians are so terrified of going to the eternal paradise called Heaven that they have purchased portable, concealable, highly effective killing tools to keep from being sent there. And in order to avoid the bliss of Heaven, they are not only willing to do the EXACT OPPOSITE of what the Jesus they claim to follow commands, but they are willing to send another person to Hell. To be tortured. Forever. All to avoid dying and going to paradise. Forever.
Now, if this doesn’t make any sense to you, you are not alone. It doesn’t make any sense to me either. I mean, if you believe that the time we are alive for is all there is–That when you die, there is nothing else–I can at least see why it might make sense to carry a gun to kill someone who is trying to cut your life short. But if you believe that when you die, you will go to heaven–if you believe in the Jesus who called us to love our enemies, take up our crosses, and lay down our lives–then you have no business carrying around something designed to kill people…. Especially something that you believe is probably going to send them to Hell. GUNS IN CHURCH?!? Are you kidding me? This kind of stuff is MiracleGro for atheists. You want to see people start coming to Church again? Show the world more of the kinds of loving, merciful, forgiving reactions that the families of the slain showed the killer of their loved ones. If you want even more people running for the exit doors of the church, start calling for “pistol-packing-preachers” and more guns as a way of dealing with the problem of guns.
Alright…. It’s so late that it’s early, so I’ve got to wrap this up. I have written about this before, and I’m really proud of the things I wrote, so I’m going to post links to some of them here. If you have the time, I really hope you read them. If one of them speaks to you, maybe even give me a little Father’s Day gift and share it…. Love you guys.