10 signs you should stop pretending to be a Christian

1. You’re a dick. I don’t know how many people I’ve met and seen who treat other people like dirt and then turn around and claim to be Christians. I’ve known many self-proclaimed Christians who are consistently hurtful to other people and who seem to take genuine satisfaction from tearing other people down. And I’m not just talking about the extreme Westboro Baptist Church-goers wearing “God Hates Fags” t-shirts. I’m talking about the normal guy in the office next to you. I’m talking about the guy you always knew was a dick head, and then one day you saw him praying before a meal in the break room and you thought, “What the fuck?”

I cannot fathom how one brain can cultivate and contain enough cognitive dissonance to be a complete dick head to everyone around him and still claim to be a Christian. So if you’re that guy, and you’re reading this, you almost certainly fail to recognize that I’m talking about you. Just know that if Jesus really died for our sins, you will be the first to get thrown in Hell not just for the inexcusable way you treated God’s children but also for how irreparably you soiled Jesus’s name with your crappy, juvenile behavior.

2. You own expensive luxury items. I’ve seen Jesus fish car magnets on Hummers, BMWs, Cadillacs, Mercedes and every other luxury automobile I’m too poor to afford. I’ve heard self-proclaimed Christians brag about how many Gucci purses they own. I’ve seen pastors wearing suits that cost more than my entire wardrobe. I’ve watched TV on self-proclaimed Christians’ 50 inch plasma screens inside their million dollar upper class houses. I’ve seen people wearing 24 karat gold “WWJD” jewelry without expressing a hint of irony.

I must have read a different Bible than these people, because in the one I read Jesus was penniless and consistently urged his followers to give up everything they owned so they could devote their lives to helping the poor. Owning expensive luxury items is so opposite of everything Jesus stood for that I can’t even really articulate how hypocritical that is other than to just repeat what I just said slower and louder.

Obviously you’ve found some way to reconcile your hypocrisy in your own head and would be more than happy to use it to shoot down my accusations, but honestly, if you had that argument with Saint Peter at the pearly gates do you think he would be impressed by your mental gymnastics? Dude, you’re not getting into Heaven. If you’re going to choose the way of the world then just run with it and live it up while you can. Quit wasting your time with pretenses.

3. You spend more time sitting in church than you do working in charity. How many times did Jesus enter a church in the Bible, and what did he do when he was there? Off the top of my head I can only think of 2 times he ever entered a church. The first time he was a child, and he was telling the religious leaders they were fools for putting too much importance on the law and not enough importance on people. He returned to church as an adult and went on a rampage over how profit-centric the church had become.

2000 years later Jesus is still rolling in his grave. Self-proclaimed Christians would say that religion does a lot to help people, and that’s great….but what about you? Do you just punch your time card with God every Sunday and then get back to taking care of your own family? Have you ever eaten with a homeless person ever? Did Jesus set up a $50 recurring direct deposit to the Roman equivalent of the Salvation Army and call himself a martyr? No….because that’s not good enough. That’s borderline pointless, and if that’s what you do then it’s pointless to call yourself a Christian.

P.S. If you do in fact go out of your way to consistently help people at noticeably expense to your own quality of life, then I’m not talking to you. But let’s be honest, you don’t go out of your way to consistently help people at noticeable expense to your own quality of life.

4. You habitually indulge in self-gratification. I’ve actually had multiple religious arguments with self-proclaimed Christians while they were holding a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other. And yes, that was in Texas. Their justification: Jesus never said you couldn’t smoke. True. Jesus also never said you couldn’t buy season tickets to your favorite sports team. Jesus never said you shouldn’t watch professional wrestling. Jesus never said you shouldn’t eat so much processed food it gives you diabetes. Jesus never said a lot of things, but he did live a distinctly ascetic lifestyle (and not just for 40 days). Do you live a distinctly ascetic lifestyle or do you live more sumptuously than 2/3 of the world’s population? If you have to make excuses for your relative decadence, I don’t want to hear them because really, the only point in trying to justify yourself to me is to justify your actions to yourself. Tell your bullshit to God. He’s the one you’re going to have to answer to anyway. But until you see the Lord face to face, you may want to stop telling people that you base your life on the example Jesus set….because you don’t, and it’s blatantly obvious to everyone but you.

5. You’re prejudiced. Not all self-proclaimed Christians are prejudiced, but enough of them are that prejudice and Christianity have become synonymous. Hitler used Christianity to justify the internment of the Jews. The KKK used Christianity to justify enslaving African Americans. The Westboro Baptist Church isn’t an isolated anomaly but merely the far extreme of a broad spectrum of intolerance in the name of Jesus.

Having said that, nobody would argue that Jesus was an intolerant, xenophobic racist at the end of his life. You could even argue that blind acceptance of our fellow man was the crux of his message. So if you’re in favor of closed borders, segregation and the persecution of sinners and dissidents, find a different group to identify with than Christians because that’s just not fair to people who do actually emulate the egalitarian beliefs and behaviors of Jesus.

6. You don’t live in an egalitarian commune. To be a Christian is to be Christ-like. This makes being a Christian hard, because from the time Jesus started his ministry he basically lived as a traveling beggar and public speaker until his death. This isn’t a lifestyle choice we can make a categorical imperative out of. If everyone in the world sold everything they owned and travelled the world preaching to each other the human race would die off in a generation from lack of productivity. So this is one instance where you really have to disregard Jesus’s example a little. This raises the question though, how much should a good Christian tone down Jesus’s fanaticism to arrive at a level that’s sustainable while still honoring the spirit of Jesus’s teachings?

Given that Jesus was penniless and an adamant advocated of asceticism and austerity, I would say that living in a $250,000+ house with a huge entertainment system in the living room, a luxury automobile in the parking lot and a golden safety net in the bank would be the extreme example of how not to be Christ-like. I would argue that Paul was closer to the mark (Acts 4:32–35) in how he lived communally with his Christian brethren, owning nothing and sharing everything equally. I certainly can’t find any reason why Jesus would object to egalitarian communal lifestyle. But don’t take my word for it. There are millions of monks all over the world who have come to the same conclusion.

7. You’re a pedophile. Seriously. If you can’t keep your dick in your pants then don’t stay in the ministry. You’re not doing anyone any good. And don’t defend pedophiles in the ministry. Disown them the way they disowned Christ. Nobody will fault you for that. They will fault you for covering up sex crimes and operating sex rings, and that will hurt your entire religion’s reputation.

8. You support the military. We all know that Jesus said if your enemy strikes you then you should turn the other cheek. I’ve also heard it argued that Jesus actually intended to mobilize an armed insurrection against the Romans, which would make sense why they killed him in a way that made an example out of him, but even if Jesus did support military action against the white, western imperialist nation that was building permanent military bases in the Middle East and setting up puppet leaders in the local government, that would still set a precedent that Christians should stand opposed to military aggression, particularly in the Middle East.

Having said that, let’s suppose Jesus really meant it when he said to turn the other cheek. Logic tells us that it’s impractical, even reckless, to make a categorical imperative out of this rule. A lot of American Christians own guns and believe in their right to defend their house, and it’s fine to believe that….as long as you don’t call yourself a Christian. You certainly shouldn’t call yourself a Christian if you serve in a military that actively invades other countries. If you’re actually in the military you probably justify it to yourself by saying that you’re fighting for freedom, and that’s fine. You can call yourself a hero for that. Just don’t call yourself a Christian. Jesus didn’t kill for freedom. He allowed himself to be killed. Even if you aren’t in the military but still actively support the military and the troops who do the killing, then by all means, call yourself a patriot, but don’t call yourself a Christian because you’re advocating the opposite of what Jesus advocated.

9. You don’t speak Aramaic, Hebrew or at least Latin or Greek or have an intimate knowledge of ancient Middle Eastern history. I’m not saying that just because Jesus spoke Aramaic that you have to speak Aramaic too in order to be Christ-like. What I am saying is that in order to think and act like Jesus you need to understand where Jesus was coming from. The better you speak the language he spoke in, and the more you understand the culture he was raised in, the better you will understand his message. The less you understand these things the less you’ll understand his message and thus the less chance you’ll have of being able to follow his example. The less you understand the original context of the Bible the more you’ll subconsciously project your own context into it. When you do that you end up reading what you want into the Bible, and all your Bible study does is serve as a mirror with which you justify to yourself the modern values of the culture you were raised in.

In other words, don’t claim to be a die-hard, card-carrying member of the Shakespeare fan club if the only thing you know about Shakespeare was what you gathered from watching the Leonardo DiCaprio version of “Romeo and Juliet.”

10. It’s been thousands of years since Jesus died. It’s been 2000 years since Jesus supposedly lived. You live a life of luxury and privilege. You barely know anything about Jesus’s life and environment. You spend more time making excuses for why you don’t live like him than you actually do living like him. And you’re an intolerant jerk…or at least effectively apathetic to the suffering of the poor. The only real Christians are Biblical scholars living in monasteries, and they’re no use to themselves, God or anyone else. They’re living in the past while you’re pretending to. Fuck it. Give up the charade. Admit you’re not a Christian and take a more reasonable, logical, scientific approach to self-improvement. You can start by reading “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie and “How to Argue and Win Every Time” by Gerry Spence.

Originally published at thewisesloth.com on July 6, 2011.