“Sheep” – More Punk Than Most
You hear it a lot. Christianity is for sheep who do not want to think for themselves and just follow the crowd. It is fairly rare, to put it mildly, to see “Christian” and “countercultural” in the same sentence. Yet, it is my contention that those two words actually belong in the same utterance and breath.
The punk movement prides itself on its edgy dissent from the norms of the dominant culture. In some ways it is what it claims. Politically, punk decries the rule of the few and the wealthy in favour of systems more equitable. In other ways, punk is simply a mouth-piece for whatever mainstream cultural currents are present. In sexual ethics, morality and more, punk offers nothing different to anyone else. That is not to say that punk has nothing to offer, but the “edgy dissent” is exaggerated. All that said, I love punk music.
In a world where “sin” is reduced to your personal reality or version of the “truth”, Christian faith stands out. Jesus Himself was hated for His stance against sinful practices of His time. Christians are not so different in how they are reviled for their support of God's righteousness and Jesus' teachings on different ethical issues. For example, take adultery. Have you ever checked out a woman's rear or a man's six-pack with a few carnal thoughts? Who hasn't, right? That is, according to Jesus, adultery. Whether it meant nothing or not; whether it led to something physical or not, that one look qualifies us as adulterers (Matthew 5:27-28). This is in stark contrast to a culture that holds that even porn is fine because it is “just fantasy”.
Who would not retaliate in kind when someone kicks you in the sensitives? Well, once you collected yourself enough to do anything about it. Our culture even celebrates this revenge or so-called “justice”. Just have a look at action movies for a good slice of revenge-inspired celebration. Yet, in Matthew 5:43-45, Jesus says “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”. Not to mention that famous, but awkward, verse about turning the other cheek.
Jesus was not talking about a vague sense of love, but one that took on active meaning for those who would seek our harm. “Pray” means to ask God to bless and take care of those who have sunk their boots into our privates. This not merely to seek their well-being, but to seek their flourishing by imploring God to step in on their behalf. For any Christian who has a gun for “protection”, this should at least give some pause for thought and prayer. Putting a bullet in our enemies is not loving them. On this, Christian faith is about as counter-cultural as you can get.
Our culture is based on ideas of what feels good to you and that you should look out for you. Your chosen path is the absolute. Galatians 5:19-21 would beg to differ. Lying to get ahead, selfish and vain ambition, jealousy about the success of others and more will render us unacceptable for the Lord's Kingdom. Here, true Christians stand in total counter-cultural revolution.
Rather than being pliable sheep who merely go with the flow of society, Christians stand for values and ethics that are based in the Bible (non-essential variations not-withstanding), and go against the flow. It is not just a knowledge of the coming judgement, but it is motivated primarily by a God who put the “love your enemies” teaching into action first by doing just that. God loved us, His enemies, by putting His Son on three nails.
Christians are more punk than most. Henry Rollins is an exception. He is the embodiment of punk. Sheep? Please, find a new cliché.