It’s a racket

With a mobile phone/appliance rental/bank loan/investment product contract, it’s all about the conditions – conditions which have been carefully put together to simultaneously protect the provider and the receiver. Default on a repayment or use your product or service in any way that’s contrary to the conditions in the fine print and you lose your rights. They can take your TV back & sue you for payments, void your warranty, cut off your phone service; maybe they’ll raise your interest rates without notice or perhaps the bank can go under and they can file for bankruptcy and be freed from giving you back any of the money you invested – but you agreed to all of those potential outcomes when you signed up. Perhaps you didn’t read those parts but hey, you signed the bit indicating that you had, which makes you responsible.

But that’s what happens with a normal contract made between two adults who it is assumed are aware of their rights and responsibilities. But what about the contract that Christians believe we’re all bound to?
The substance of this contract is this:

  1. All humans are born carrying the guilt of our original ancestors who dared to use their god-given free will to defy the god (hereafter referred to as “God”) who created them & the universe
  2. An avatar of God, named Jesus, came to Earth to spread the word of God, perform miracles and was tortured, executed and later returned to life in order to forgive us all of this inherited culpability
  3. All humans are born with an immortal, non-physical soul which will leave our bodies after we die
  4. Those of us who accept (1) and (2) will be rewarded with a place in an infinite paradise where our departed souls (as noted in (3)) will dwell in blissful eternity alongside God
  5. Those of us who do not accept either (1) or (2) (or both) will have their souls damned for eternity, in a place of unspeakable agony either created or merely allowed to exist by God; this place is named “Hell” and run by a former employee of God
  6. There is no “opt-out” clause. Once you’re alive, you’re eternally bound by this contract
  7. You can not choose to not have a soul or choose to just cease to exist when you die; you MUST exist forever and you MUST do so either in bliss or torment
  8. The ONLY thing you can do to escape the eternal torment mentioned in (5) and win the bliss mentioned in (4) is to believe (1) and (2). You can not do so by good works, being a decent, humble, person, being a loving compassionate humanitarian and good example for your children, neighbours, and everyone else. It’s (1) and (2) or it’s (5).

So there’s really no two ways about it. By the terms of this contract, a truly rotten, murderous, lying, thieving, child-raping bastard of a Christian who repents on his deathbed has a better chance of entering Heaven post-mortem than a Hindu, Jew, atheist, Zoroastrian or Muslim or Buddhist or Raelian who dedicates his or her life to being a shiny happy benefit to the world whilst alive. Theoretically you could be better than Jesus himself (hey, he did have one or two unseemly public outbursts) and still become the Devil’s property.

Speak of the Devil … there exist in history inummerable dark, cautionary tales of signing contracts with he of the awesome guitar-shredding skills and promising him your eternal soul in exchange for temporary Earthly power or pleasures or profits. It is always explained in these tales that you can’t, shouldn’t, mustn’t take the Devil at his word, even if you do have his word in writing. But hey – he’s The Devil, right? Lord of Evil, Prince of Darkness, The Deceiver, He Who Graces Countless Heavy Metal Album Covers? With names like that, why should anyone be naive enough to trust him at all? It’s an unwritten law that any contract with the Devil isn’t worth the skin it’s carved into.

But this other celestial contract we’re all presumably bound to, in-utero & in perpetuity, is authored by the all-knowing, all-loving God of the universe. He of the perfect goodness – why, the word “good” is derived from his very name itself! Given that, you’d expect God to at the very least be fair, to give us what we need to use the free will he allegedly bestowed upon us to make an informed choice. But we don’t know anything about this arrangement until after we’re born. We don’t get a choice, let alone an informed one – the Christian operating system is marketed as the only one in town and you either play by its rules or you go to Hell. Once born, you’re told starting from before you can even understand how to not defecate on yourself that you’re the product of something called Original Sin, that you’re stained with this Sin from hundreds of generations ago and that unless you repent for this crime of someone else that you barely understand and accede to the terms of the contract, you’ll pay the price. Forever.

This is not a contract. Contracts are entered into freely by two or more informed parties. You don’t just draw up a contract with someone behind their back and give them no choice but to be bound by it – and you certainly shouldn’t do so while they’re still a foetus. This is little more than a racket. It’s an offer you can’t refuse, straight out of the gangster stereotype playbook: “Hey, nice little soul you got here. Shame if something … happened to it. We can help you. We’ll keep this Devil mook out of your face, no problem, but you gotta do for us, capiche?”

But look, if Christianity is so awesome, why not let it sell itself? Why doesn’t the avatar named Jesus bounce in now and again? And I don’t mean by appearing in a tree stump, a dog’s arse, or a cornflake. I mean by actually physically coming back, like he told his disciples he would, and giving us the sales pitch of a lifetime instead of relying on innumerable salesmen in amusing hats telling everyone something different. Imagine that – getting the full story from the source. Not just that, but it’d be a gesture of good faith if he give us an opt-out because he respects the free will he says he gave us. It’s hardly “free” to give someone a binary choice between ecstasy and torment. Why should this Christianity plan be compulsory with Hell being the only other option? Believing in God as the creator of everything, accepting Jesus as his awesome hippy avatar and having faith that he loves you – that’s one thing. Leaving aside the lack of support for those claims, there’s nothing really that bad with believing that kind of thing. If “God loves me, be nice” were the sum total of the doctrine, most people would probably be ok with that. But the fact that Christianity needs to bolster those beliefs by telling people they’re the protagonists in the ultimate horror movie – and that there’s only one way out of the clutches of the killer – has to make you wonder about the alleged infinite goodness of the God behind it. It certainly has to make you wonder if someone prepared to do or allow such a horrible thing for not loving him is worth your love at all. Indeed, if God was so very concerned about us going to Hell, it should make you wonder why he allows it to exist in the first place and why he doesn’t give everyone the same information as to how to avoid it.