Anti-Christian sentiment is running rampant these days and the attack on Christ is heating up on all fronts. It's not enough that young people are confronted with an anti-Christian message in the movies they watch, in the songs they listen to, in the classes they take at school, but now they will be confronted with such on the jeans they wear. We're not talking about another filth campaign from Abercrombie & Fitch, but about a Swedish jean company with an avowed agenda: "to make young people question Christianity."
In Stockholm, Sweden, "Cheap Monday jeans are a hot commodity among young Swedes thanks to their trendy tight fit and low price, even if a few buyers are turned off by the logo: a skull with a cross turned upside down on its forehead. Logo designer Bjorn Atldax says he's not just trying for an antiestablishment vibe. 'It is an active statement against Christianity,' Atldax told The Associated Press. 'I'm not a Satanist myself, but I have a great dislike for organized religion.' The label's makers say it's more of a joke, but Atldax insists his graphic designs have a purpose beyond selling denim: to make young people question Christianity, a 'force of evil' that he blames for sparking wars throughout history."
"In more religious countries, that might raise a furious response, maybe even prompt retailers to drop the brand. Not in Sweden, a secular country that cherishes its free speech and where churchgoing has been declining for decades."
It would be nice to believe that retailers here will not pick up the brand. But we all know better. It will be up to parents to inform their children and take a stand on this one. Too often parents cower in the face of what their teenagers want. But, with a logo openly shaming the cross of Christ and an avowed anti-Christian agenda, parents will have to develop some backbone.
Of course, biblical Christianity is not a force of evil but the answer to evil. Moreover, it is not biblical Christianity that has sparked wars throughout history. No doubt there have been those who fostered war in the name of Christ. Apart from self-defense (an admittedly complicated issue in light of contemporary possible mass destruction by a rogue terrorist), all we can say is that either they were not true Christians or they were misguided Christians. The message of Christ for His church in this mediatorial kingdom is not physical war but spiritual war. Further, His gospel is peace.
At the same time, let us quickly add that there is no correlation between free speech and churchgoing decline as the article implies. The right to free speech is grounded in a Christian worldview. The problem lies in the fact that too many Christians fail to exercise their free speech in terms of gospel witness and/or cultural engagement. A culture declines when Christians keep their mouths shut. It excels when they open their mouths to proclaim Christ and thereby shut the mouths of others who are opposed to Christ by both conversion and cultural pressure.
"Cheap Mondays are flying off the shelves at 400 kronor (about $50) a pair. Makers say about 200,000 pairs have been sold since March 2004 and little attention has been paid to the grinning skull and dark texts such as 'Over My Dead Body.' Even the predominant Lutheran Church of Sweden reacts with a shrug. 'I don't think it's much to be horrified about,' said Bo Larsson, director of the Church of Sweden's department of Education, Research and Culture."
Well, it is abundantly clear that the Lutheran Church of Sweden needs a couple of things. First, they need the same advice as American parents: get some backbone! Second, they need the same advice as too many American Christians: get some discernment!
"Out in the parishes, however, some Christians believe that approach is too soft. 'One cannot just keep quiet about this,' said the Rev. Karl-Erik Nylund, vicar of St. Mary Magdalene Church in Stockholm...Nylund complained that Swedish companies do not treat Christianity with the same respect in marketing that they afford other religions.
'No one wants to provoke Jews or Muslims, but it's totally OK to provoke Christians,' he said."
There you have it. The clear reality is that it is not people of faith who are being targeted the world over, but Christ and His church. Of course, this fact speaks to the reality that Christ is the true and only way of salvation. While at one level, issues like these serve to spur us to action in terms of gospel stance and advance; at another level they encourage us. Christ Himself said, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:10)."
"Cheap Mondays have started to sell abroad. The jeans are being shipped to Norway, Denmark, Britain, the Netherlands, France and Australia. Andersson said they're working on introducing them in the United States and elsewhere. And he did not expect the ungodly logo to get in the way. 'Surely, most people understand that we are not evil people,' he said, laughing. 'My mom doesn't think so at least.'"
Well Mr. Andersson, it doesn't really matter what your mom thinks if she differs with Christ. We can only pray that your laughing will turn to mourning by the grace of God. As with many things in our culture, the answer to Cheap Monday is Good Friday. Take heed.
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About Paul Dean
Dr. Paul Dean is a pastor, cultural commentator, and author. He serves as a Regional Mentor with the International Association of Biblical Counselors, speaks at several conferences throughout the year, and provides training for ministers and churches on a regular basis. Paul resides in the Upstate of South Carolina with his wife and three children.
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