This post is not meant to offend or attack Christian beliefs, despite the eye-grabbing title.
Of course, what’s fun about that disclaimer is usually people who utter it then consider it a free pass to do just what they said they wouldn’t do. Hopefully, I’m not about to do the same.
I stumbled across a post elsewhere, about a college student who said he loved Jesus, and was going to commit suicide. What he meant by the ‘suicide’ comment was that he was overloading on courses for the spring semester, and worked 20 hours a week. Only Jesus would get him through it.
But his post did get me thinking about the crucifixion and such.
One of the comments I’ve seen in certain evangelical circles is that every person who has been born, who is born right now and who will be born killed Jesus, or our sins killed Jesus, or somebody somewhere killed Jesus, who was completely innocent. Yet God still turned His face away when Jesus was on the cross because all our sins were on Jesus.
Here’s the thing with that phrasing – usually, when someone says, “You killed so-and-so,” that’s implying that someone had power over someone else, and proceeded to victimize someone. It implies that the one who was killed was killed against his/her will. It implies that the one who was killed probably fought back, or tried to hide, or do whatever s/he could to not get killed.
That’s not Jesus. In reading the Gospels, it’s very obvious that the Pharisees were after him for a very long time, and wanted him out of the way. Yet they couldn’t really go after him, because whenever they saw him, he was surrounded by large crowds and they were afraid of inciting a riot. The only way they could get to him was through betrayal, and that’s where Judas came in. Jesus also made it very clear that he had resources in which to fight back – twelve legions of angels, I believe. He told Pilate that power was given to him ‘from above.’ Jesus was not a helpless victim.
The only way Jesus could be killed is if he let himself be killed. At which point, people are no longer killing Jesus; they are helping him get himself killed. In many instances, we would then refer to that as suicide.
I know there are references to Jesus saying that there is no greater love than for someone to lay his/her life down for a friend. I agree with that. But there is a huge difference between a random person and Jesus, especially if one goes with the viewpoint that Jesus is God, or even Jesus is the Son of God. The only way to kill Jesus is if Jesus lets someone (or many someones) kill him, and that does drift into the realm of suicide. In a way, Jesus took his own life, and used the Romans and Pharisees to do so. And that starts painting a completely different picture. Is it an admirable act, if that’s the only means to salvation? Yes. But it’s also a little difficult to go around claiming that we all killed Jesus when we never had the power to do that.
And the element of suicide isn’t just in the Gospels. Romans is all about how the old man or the unspiritual man died on the cross with Christ, and how one must be dead to sin and alive to Christ. Okay. But again, the only way to do that is to ‘kill’ the unspiritual man, and be ‘born again.’ In a way, this also involves suicide, because under this system, you have to go to God and ask Him to ‘kill’ your sinful self/side. You have to be willing to do this – in effect, God can only do this if you let Him.
So as much as the New Testament preaches about an eternal life and salvation, there is a huge focus on death. And not just a ‘regular’ death, but what many view as the most selfish type of death there is. Yes, Jesus did so out of love for others – but it just feels like more emphasis is placed on individual guilt in terms of responsibility for Jesus’ death.
I’m not even sure what I’m trying to say here. I’m not trying to be insulting to those who follow this, or treasure Jesus’ sacrifice. But to me, there’s no getting around the fact that there’s a huge element of death in Christianity. Its symbol is the cross, which is an instrument of death and torture. Most churches have crosses or crucifixes around. The emphasis is always on how Jesus died for us, and not so much on the Resurrection – even though Paul is all about the Risen Christ, and without the Resurrection, there is no Christianity. Death is seen as a stepping-stone to Heaven – you only get there after you die, and that’s only assuming you’ve done the right things or held the right beliefs.
When seen in a certain light, death is almost glamorized in Christianity. It really is, and it’s somewhat disturbing. I'm not denying that it's done a lot of positive things, and that it has -- well, resurrected, for lack of a better word -- a lot of people from a horrible life or circumstance or a bad decision. It is a comfort for a lot of people. Myself included, most days. It's changed a lot of people for the better. The New Testament does have some beautiful passages.
But it can be chilling at times, too.