According to Evangelicals, we live in world inhabited by fallen, broken people. All humans are sinners, from the moment they come forth from the womb speaking lies to when they draw their last breath. Numerous Bible verses reinforce the notion that there is something seriously wrong with every one of us. We have a disease called sin and it is killing us.
According to Evangelicals, we are helpless, hopeless, and empty. We lack purpose, direction, and meaning. Simply put, we are fucked. There is no hope for any of us. From the first man and woman to the baby born just a moment ago, all of us are hopeless, helpless wretches in bondage to our wants, needs, and desires. Sure sucks to be us, yes?
But wait, Preacher Billy Mays says. All is not lost. God sent his son Jesus to earth to die on the cross for sinners. Through his shed blood sin is expiated, and by putting faith in him we can have our sins forgiven and find purpose, meaning and direction. And as an added bonus, at no extra charge, those who pray and ask Jesus to forgive them will be given eternal life and a home in God’s Holiday Inn after they die.
Millions and millions of people call the 1-800-salvation number only to find out that there is a catch. Yes, the salvation is free; yes, the eternal life and motel room is free, but there is a small shipping and handling charge. How much, you ask?
Just your life. If you buy what Preacher Billy Mays is selling, the cost is your life. Every moment of every day will belong to Jesus until you die. Your life will be governed by an ancient text called the Bible. This text has hundreds of laws, rules, regulations, and precepts that you will be expected to obey. While technically you can still get eternal life and a motel room after you die even if you don’t obey, surely you don’t want the room at the back of the motel, the room where the plumbing never seems to work.
Sold a fantastical story about sin, brokenness, and emptiness and forgiveness, healing, and fulfillment, the Evangelical gives the operator his credit card number and orders God’s Eternal Life Package, free, just pay shipping and handling. This shipping and handling charge, as they will find out later, will be charged to their credit card every month until they die.
Evangelicals love to point out the awesome freedom they have now that they have bought God’s Eternal Life package. Are they really free, the non-Evangelical asks? Bound to the words of an antiquated book, is the Evangelical really free?
According to the Evangelical, God created everything, including every human. God gave us sexual desire, the Evangelical says, but the Bible says we can only act on this desire if we are married to someone of the opposite sex. Acting on our sexual desire outside the boundaries of a heterosexual marriage is a sin, a sin that some verses in the Bible say will result in us forfeiting our Eternal Life Package and room at God’s Holiday Inn. Instead, we will get Satan’s Eternal Death Package and a room in Beelzebub’s Motel Six.
Not only does the Bible condemn any sexual behavior except married heterosexual intercourse, it also says that if we look at a person and desire him or her sexually, we are sinning against God; so much so, that God calls it committing adultery in our heart. Don’t touch, unless it is your spouse and don’t look lest you burn in hell. And Evangelicals call this freedom?
Earlier today I was watching a rerun of an NFL football game. As the camera man panned the sidelines the camera slowly focused on the cheerleaders. Next to the cheerleaders was a 40 something year old attractive woman wearing a Denver Broncos jersey. I thought nice, and I hit the replay button so I could confirm my observation. Yep, nice.
No quick prayer asking forgiveness.
Like a road trip on a beautiful fall day, I was just enjoying the scenery.
And then it hit me, here’s the difference between the “freedom” the Evangelical thinks he has and the true freedom I have as an atheist. The Evangelical has to feel guilty over being a healthy, normal heterosexual man. He dare not hit the replay button lest he lust and commit adultery in his heart. If he does hit the replay button then he must confess his sin to God and promise to never, ever, fingers crossed, do it again. And come football season, because he is a man with a normal, healthy libido, he will once again, with one eye covered, gaze upon the cheerleaders’ comeliness. And as every time before, he will claim 1 John 1:9 and promise God to never, ever, fingers crossed, do it again.
Me, the godless atheist? I am free to enjoy life without feeling guilty over being a normal, healthy heterosexual man.