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Sunday, May 02, 2004

Christianity, Cutting and Corn Dogs

When I come across a link entitled Weblog: Is Christianity to Blame for Teen Self-Mutilation?, it is the kind of thing I cannot often resist reading. When I then realise that the blog is written by Christianity Today I certainly cannot resist!

It is written in response to a Guardian article which turns out to be about self harm generally in young people, about the worryingly younger ages of children who are self harming, and such. The section about which the Christianity Today blog is referring to is as follows:

"Images of self-harm are all around us, particularly in religious iconography. Christianity is founded on the notion that Christ suffered for the world's sins and there have been sects which practiced self-flagellation and mutilation throughout history. Pain and the spilling of our own blood are seen as ways of cleansing ourselves. Likewise, when teenagers cut themselves they often say it is a release, a way of punishing themselves or others."

Now, while I would never say that Christianity or Catholicism have caused my self harm, for life is never so simplistic, I will say that the doctrine of punishing your body, of mind-pleasure being superior to bodily-pleasure, of overriding your body's needs, and of overriding pain for the sake of spiritual development, have all contributed to a state of mind in myself where self harm seems not only acceptable, but even kinda the best thing to do, with regards to a Catholic lifestyle.

Not logically, of course, but in that place where your head can take you, especially if that head is a Roman Catholic one.

But unfortunately, the above weblog's intelligent response to the debate was "Whatever" so I'm not much wiser on the other side of the argument.

"What does the Bible say about body piercing?" was an equally intriguing link, with almost laughable prescriptive and out-of-context quotations from Leviticus et al, and references to the evil background of body piercings and tattoos in (oooh) witchcraft and false religions (sic)...

Helpful comments such as, "Some even have this done on unspeakable parts of their bodies. These are abnormal and unnatural." and "Because the youth of our day are despising and rebelling against their parents this is very displeasing to the Lord as one of the Ten Commandments in the Bible is to honor our parents" really do not contribute much to the debate of the rights and wrongs of body piercing / adornment / whatever.

And is anyone surprised by this tirade of contradiction and woman-hating...?

"It is a different matter when women wear pierced earrings as a custom, without the rebellion and pride attached to it. However, this could even be wrong if women are filled with vanity and pride over their appearance. Remember God looks at our heart attitudes. In fact, the Bible speaks of a generation of women that will be alive at the coming of the Lord that will be judged severely for their flirting and their haughtiness."

I think not...

Unfortunately it is what we have come to expect from Christianity. I don't care what people do or don't believe in, but really, if you are going to have the backing of something influential (for right or wrong) like Christianity, use it for *good*. Use it to feed starving people or to banish oppression. Analysing the differences between pierced earrings in respectable women, compared to pierced earrings in women who are doing it to rebel, and condemning anyone and everyone over minutiae, just makes most people raise an eyebrow and walk on.

And, in the spirit of totally lowering the tone of intellectual discussion, meet corndog.


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