Violence in Religion

Should violence be displayed in God’s sanctuaries? Should the movie Passion of Christ be censored? Why violence in religion?

Two days ago, I published a post titled Who Was Jesus?, in which I elaborated on Jesus’ divine, messianic and personal facets.

At that time I didn’t think much about it, I was just looking for a fresh picture, trying to avoid both a cheesy and a bloody illustration of Jesus. Well, it was kinda funny too and I figured girls may enjoy it a little – so why not? Do you think Jesus would have minded?

This was the featured image:

Who Was Jesus?
Who Was Jesus?

Anyways, I think I got kicked out of a facebook group because of that picture. I didn’t mind much, but something deep down in my subconsciousness kept complaining. It was the hunch that if I had used a violent image for this post, I would probably be still a member of that group. And this brings me to the subject of this post: violence in religion. People have no issue displaying Jesus in a brutal scene, but not with … how can I call this? … a beautiful male body?

I was so used to the crucifixion that I never thought of questioning its savagery. But really: why became the display of torture the most prominent image in churches – God’s sanctuaries? Why was a sadistic symbol chosen to represent Christianity?

Jesus Christ was a pacifist: Turn the other cheek and love one another. A picture of peace and love should have been the emblem of Christianity, not torture and death.

Images are Potent Suggestives

We all know too well that images are potent; therefore, displaying violent images in churches couldn’t have been without consequences. American media do their best to picture Islam as the most violent religion on the planet, but Islam doesn’t even get close to the curch’s history of violence: the crusades, the genocide of Albigensers, Cathars, and renowned Knight’s Templars, the 30 Years War, the inquisition – you name it. They even did the unthinkable and tortured children in God’s name.

One could even put a demonic spin on that: since Jesus was a peaceful and lovely man, violence is Anti-Christian, meaning the display of the crucifixion in God’s sanctuary may be the work of the Anti-Christ – just kidding, there is no such demon. 😉

Think of the Kids For God’s Sake!

My six-year-old son was startled by the crucifixion and asked me about it already a couple of times. I’m trying to avoid the subject since I don’t want to explain him torture at this tender age.

I guess it says a lot too that I still remember an event from my teenage times: on a particular Christmas Eve afternoon, I think I was 14 or 15, they showed a very violent movie on TV. The lowlight of the movie was a man running a girl over with a car for the hack of it. On Christmas, really?

Violence – yes, please! Sexy – no way! People have no problems watching violence, but they are deeply troubled by this picture. Actually, I wonder why, since it doesn’t show more than any of those traditional crucifixion pictures, maybe the abs or posture did it.

Was the Crucifixion a Non-Event?

Having a second look at this picture, I find it actually a bit inspiring. It shows Jesus taking the cross very lightly, reminding me of his remark that his challenges weighed as light as feathers.

By no means do I want to belittle his sacrifice, but really: a few hours on the cross redeemed all people’s sins once and for all? Isn’t that too easy? Oh yes – I forgot, only if people continue going to church.

What I’m trying to say is that other people have suffered much more than Jesus – e.g. weeks of torment in the torture chambers of the inquisition, and they didn’t redeem anybody, not even themselves or did they? Was Jesus’ body really that important? He was a god or even God, so, why should the death of his physical body redeem humanity, a body he resurrected after a couple of days anyways – meaning it wasn’t a sacrifice after all.

It’s also worth a thought that the crucifixion was only a painful means to a glorious end: the resurrection. Why did suffering become the prominent symbol of the church, not the resurrection? In the Bible, the resurrection is almost reduced to a side note … long chapters about torture and violence and just btw: Jesus revived himself after three days.

The Crucifixion Controversy

Newly discovered documents and the revival of Apocryphal texts have stirred a crucifixion controversy. Some Gnostics claim that Simon died in Jesus’ place. According to them, Jesus stood among the spectators while Simon was crucified and laughed about people’s naivety.

Also, the Quran claims that someone else was crucified in Jesus’ place. Others again believe that a phantom body was crucified – whatever that is.

In the First Apocalypse of James, Jesus says: “I have never suffered, nor have I been distressed in any way. People have done me no harm.” And: “In reality, I did not die, but in appearance … It was someone else, Simon, who bore the cross on his shoulder. I was rejoicing in the height above everybody … And I was laughing at their ignorance.” – The Second Treatise of the Great Seth.

I personally like the story in which Jesus got down from the cross (like an OBE), watched his body on the cross and talked casually to some of the spectators. I think that’s quite likely actually, since he was able to perform astral projections – symbolized by his capability to walk on water.

I haven’t been able to verify it, but I read that the documentaryBanned from the Bible, shown on History Channel, mentioned that some of Saint Peter’s Epistles, which professed that Jesus crucifixion was only an appearance, were excluded from the canon.

Not surprisingly, more and more people doubt that Jesus was crucified in the way commonly believed. Even the Bible seems to contradict itself. In Acts it was stated three times that Jesus Christ wasn’t crucified on a cross, but rather hanged on a tree (Acts 5.30, Acts 10.39, and Acts 13.39): Act 5:30The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you killed and hanged on a tree.

Also, the Revelation confuses: Rev 11:8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.

True, its says that Sodom and Egypt are only the spiritual places where Jesus was crucified, but that means there were a physical and spiritual crucifixion. Why does not priest talk about that?

A Better Image

The Tarot offers a much nicer and gentler illustration of the crucifixion: the Hanged Man. It doesn’t need to be violent!

the hanged man

The Hanged Man signifies a person who completely surrendered himself to divine guidance, e.g.  a man or women caught in a spiritual vision. It also implies the sacrifice of the ego and selfishness for the sake of illumination.

The gallows from which Jesus is hanging is shaped like the Hebrew letter Tav, which represents the center of physical existence or human personality, and thereby the Indwelling God. Mind that the man is hanging from a tree trunk!

The Hanged Man also symbolizes a reversal of mind or opinion (putting things upside down to get a new perspective). I’m sure that proposing the removal of violent crucifixes from churches turns me into a hanged man right here and now.

Who wants to hang with me for a while and dream of beautiful sanctuaries, displaying images of love, peace, and freedom from suffering – anyone?

Picture attribution: Copyright The Passion of Christ (movie)

3 comments on “Violence in Religion

  1. After reading your article, what i can see is your defend system automatically arised and so is your self-esteem. Excuse me if i am too frank, coz i am always a straight forward communicator, with characters of Apostle Peter!

    Anyway, my buddy advice to u will be as follows:
    – try to make criticism to yourself from an outsider perspective, ie try to think objectively as much as possible.
    – try to stay calm before all criticism to self, maybe u need to have a decent meditation in front of God before all this self evaluation.
    – try to put yourself into the shoes of the readers and think in their perspectives.
    – try to think more what really do u wanna achieve when writing this article before your ink fills up the paper.
    etc etc.

    Personally, after reading this article, i dun feel like i will click like to it… i will not tell u the reasons, want u to find out what’s wrong with this article yourself sooner or later.

    May God’s blessings flow! God bless ya! <3

  2. Dora, thank you for the in-depth psychological analysis. I think I can skip the meeting with my psychiatrist now. 😉 However, I didn’t get what your suggestions about self-critique have to do with a post about violence in religion. I need some enlightenment. :-))

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