A common meme from anti-Christians is that Christianity is a restrictive religion. Many modern churches have also begun to sing this refrain as they attempt to abandon “legalism,” which they mostly define as rigid rules put in place by churches on music and attire (this is not true legalism, but difference in preference as I wrote about here). The Bible is a book of negative liberties – it tells us what NOT to do, therefore, true freedom can only be found by abandoning organized religion.
This line of thinking is dangerously ignorant.
Most people fail to realize that the “fun” they have at social gatherings is not due to drinking or taking other substances, but from the social gathering itself. Sociologist Emile Durkheim called the euphoric feeling at a social event “collective effervescence.” He theorized that it was this very effervescence that formed the basis of religion as a social system. He believed that religion is the worship of the group, therefore, specific doctrine, rites, and rituals are irrelevant. What matters is that people do it together.
This effervescence transcends substances. The only necessary ingredient is having a group of people in the physical presence of others, and essentially performing the same ritual – whether that be prayer and worship at church or doing the wave at a football game.
Religious groups are incredibly fun, in that they enjoy the same effervescence that secular groups feel. It is euphoric to gather and get to know people with similar interests. The only “restrictions” at most Christian events are no drugs or alcohol, no nudity or sex, and not engaging in other taboos. Again, if fun is based on being social, those additional “freedoms” are unnecessary.
Notice I put “freedoms” in quotation marks. This is because I do not believe true freedom comes from the sins of secularism.
Go to any recovery group and ask the members there if drinking or doing drugs brings freedom. At Reformer’s Unanimous, the Faith-based recovery group I attend, we speak of addiction as bondage. You might be fortunate enough to not suffer from a substance addiction, but a huge number of people do. They will tell you that the urge to use supersedes basic life functioning. Addicts often struggle with depression and other mental health issues.
This is not freedom.
If you have fallen for the lies of the “free love” movement of the 1960s in which we should all have the “freedom” to engage in uninhibited sexual conquest and public nudity – would draw your attention to the recent allegations throughout the #metoo movement. This social movement was born the minute that we told men and women that sex outside of the confines of marriage comes without repercussions. We now have exceptionally high single-parent poverty, abuse of power through sexual assault, increases in sexually transmitted diseases, and contentious debates over “toxic masculinity” and our universities being bastions of “rape culture” manifested on campuses.
This is not freedom.
Furthermore, Cultural Marxists infesting the media, universities, and Leftist political parties constantly remind us that we are all oppressed in some way. Racial and ethnic minorities, women, Muslims, LGBT, the poor, the uneducated, children, adults, the mentally ill, etc. living in a Western, capitalist society are oppressed by our economic system. Those not living in a capitalist society are oppressed by economic colonialist nations. Unless you are a member of the white, patriarchal, bourgeoisie, you are oppressed.
Statistics show that many of those elitist bourgeoisie also face greater risk of suicide and stress related deadly diseases. Being a wealthy, white, male business owner is oppressed by health risks.
This is not freedom.
Far too many in society try to convince us that wealth, sexual promiscuity, drugs, alcohol, and constant partying are expressions of freedom. This is simply not true.
Is religion, particularly Christianity, also oppressive?
There are certain periods we can point to in which major atrocities have been committed in the name of religion. The Crusades and Inquisition are blights on “Christian” history, but these events are not based in true Christianity, rather, they are based on the evil acts of wicked people who happened to call themselves Christians.
True Christianity demands that we avoid dangerous behavior. We have plenty of evidence that “the wages of sin are death”, not just spiritually, but they often lead to an early and painful demise in this life. Diseases linked to drinking, drugs, and smoking cigarettes number in the hundreds of thousands (the majority come from smoking). Contracting an STD can be range from perpetually irritating to deadly.
What comes from behaving in a Christ-like fashion? Being ostracized from society from not being like them. Have any diseases been linked to any specifically Christian behavior? Are there any unhealthy Christian addictions? Do true Christians start wars? Starve citizens? Murder children? Rape women? Enslave minorities? Murder the innocent?
The answer is clearly no. Christianity does not oppress Christians or anyone else. True Christianity is freedom; not freedom to be enslaved by behavior, but from being enslaved by it.
If you want true freedom, turn to Jesus Christ.