Wearing skulls and dressing in black will get you killed – at least in Iraq, where dozens of teenagers have been stoned recently for wearing black and channeling Emo. “Emo” is a Western subculture that follows the revival of gothic and horror trends in society and literature, and also parallels closely the attraction to vampirism, witchcraft and magic.
Skulls and crossbones have become super cool symbols in international pop culture; even hello kitty is on board.
As Baghdad explores its new-found freedom, news articles like this one shock us with horrific violence at the hands of Islamic conservative fundamentalists. In particular, a recent strain of murders have focused on teenagers who want to stand out, be cool and participate in international trends of fashion and culture. This should make anyone indoctrinated into Western ideology hope that Islam as a religion goes extinct quickly: surely we don’t need that kind of backward, tribalistic, head-in-the-sand idiocracy influencing our culture or politics?
And yet, so what if Islam is stoning youths? Doesn’t Yahweh command – in the book believed as the literal word of God for an enormous percentage of American citizens – that we not suffer a witch to live? That anyone practicing magic, not following strict forms of dress code eating the right things in the right way, be punished, and possibly killed?
Didn’t Yahweh approve the slaughter of his own (Israelites) including women and children for worshiping the golden calf?
“27 Then he said to them, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: “Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.”‘
28 The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died.” (Exodus 32:27-28)
Is Emo Satanic?
Said one Iraqi commenter:
“If they are close friends who have something in common, that’s all right. If other things we hear about them are true, like sucking each other’s blood or worshiping the devil, that is not accepted in our society. But I think this is just a trend to imitate the West.”
Sucking blood and worshiping the devil are not really Satanic. They are childish experiments in doing strange things, which have no power of their own. People who don’t believe in Christianity and “Worship the Devil” aren’t really worshiping him (for whatever it is that they believe in, it isn’t the Devil of Christianity). Fake teeth, skulls and bones, black clothes and eyeliner are just bold, rage against the machine fashion statements; a product of the over-commercialization of the Vampire genre and the natural teenage over-indulgence in their own traumatically overpowering emotional states.
What is really Satanic, is Western Liberal Culture: freedom of choice, sexual permissiveness and blending of gender roles, innocent until proven guilty, education and science, the progression of mankind, human rights, religious tolerance. So in killing off any kids that aren’t confirming to the archaic ethics of Islam, this fundamentalists really are “fighting the good fight”. Just as Christians should be in America (Yes, the Bible DOES command you to stone children. Look it up.).
But the question is, if we leave religion aside for a minute and the perverse idea that “God commanded it, so it must be right, even if I don’t understand it”, can’t we begin to see that this kind of God is not good for us. Whether or not he really exists doesn’t matter – even if he exists, if he isn’t good for us, why should we listen to him?
Now, now, some people might chide God. You shouldn’t be angry. But God’s anger at sin can’t be understood apart from his own holiness, his separateness from sin, his nature utterly opposed to injustice, sin, and human degradation. Our sins offend God’s very character. The Bible contains hundreds of statements about God’s anger at sin. We, too, are told, “Let those who love the LORD hate evil” (Psalm 97:10a).
If you can’t accept an angry God, then you won’t be able to understand him. If God’s anger at sin offends you, then you have placed yourself above God as his judge, with no understanding of God’s holiness or his mercy.
This kind of thinking is exactly what those Iraqis had in mind when they were bashing teenagers’ skulls. What is the worse sin? Murder of black eyeliner? What kind of world do you want to live in? One where moral action is dictated by divine revelation, and we accept it even though we can’t understand it; or one where each of us makes our own moral choices and continuously strives to improve?