The Cost of Purity: Frederica Mathewes-Green believes it is worth the persecution
Frederica Mathewes-Green is an Orthodox Christian, speaker and blogger. Her writings and information on her speaking availability can be found at frederica.com. She agreed for her recent article “Why They Hate Us” to be reprinted here. (The article was first printed by the Eighth Day Institute in February 2019.) If you read to the end, you will find a scripture quote near and dear to my heart.
Why They Hate Us
by Frederica Mathewes-Green
Back in my college days, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I was a hippie and a spiritual seeker. The range of spiritual options on campus was broad, and I sampled a bit of everything: Ananda Marga Hinduism, Zen Buddhism, Hare Krishna, Transcendental Meditation. I say I was a “seeker,” but that’s not exactly right; I didn’t expect to reach a destination. I was, more accurately, a spiritual explorer, always traveling toward a new horizon.
There’s something about that era that I don’t understand, though. My friends and I savored all the more-esoteric religions, but for some reason we hated Christianity. We ridiculed it automatically, reflexively. The Jesus Freak movement had arrived on campus and, when I ran into newly born-again students, I enjoyed trying to shake their faith. I’d tell them that the myth of a dying-and-rising god isn’t unique to Christianity, but appears in religions around the world. I savored any opportunity for unsettling them and sowing doubts.
Christianity roused in us a kind of malicious delight, though I don’t know why. Somebody donated stacks of the paperback New Testament, Good News for Modern Man, and they were placed in all the dorm lobbies. My friend George, at his dorm, tore them up. When bystanders objected, he said, “It’s a bad translation.” We thought this was hilarious—a witty bit of revolutionary theater.
And we felt, for some reason, that Christians deserved this kind treatment. We told each other that it would do them good. I don’t remember how hearing their faith mocked and insulted was supposed to help them. But something stirring inside made us want to embarrass or sadden them. Other religions didn’t stir up this zestful cruelty; only Christians roused this desire to wound and gloat. The hostility was so inexplicable, yet so intense, that you’d almost think it was related to some unseen spiritual battle.
We told each other that Christians deserved this treatment because they were stuffy and judgmental. But the Jesus Freaks on campus weren’t like that. They looked like our fellow hippies, and were humble, cheerful, and generally amiable. We found that irritating. I would say, “There’s something wrong with those Christians. They’re too clean.”
(Read more here.)