Legalism is Hell

As many of you know by a recent blog post I greatly enjoy the music of Coldplay.  I think they are one of the most creative bands of our day and I also think Chris Martin is one of the best songwriters to ever walk the face of the earth.  Their music deals with life, love and often time’s even faith.  It is reflective songwriting and I always get the picture that Martin is asking questions about the things he himself has yet to find answers for.  I have often wondered about Martins spiritual upbringing and recently, as I read an article in Rolling Stones, many of my questions were answered.  I have posted several key blips from the article below and would encourage your reading and discussion of Martins responses and thoughts on faith, religion and eternity.   


You grew up in a rural part of southwest England, in a pretty religious environment. How did that affect you?

I grew up with the prospect of heaven and hell looming ever large. What I grew up with was, if you even think about boobs, you’re going to hell. It was drilled in: These things are wrong. It was black and white, the way it still is for millions of right-wing Christians in the middle of America. I spent a year thinking I would be punished if I sang “Sympathy for the Devil”.

Punished as in go to hell?

Yeah. When I was about 14, the first band I played in wanted to play “Black Magic Woman”. I was like, “I can’t sing that because I will get bad karma.” As a kid, you don’t know any better. But then as you go on, the cracks begin to appear and your’e like “I’m not sure about this hell thing. And I’m not sure whether it’s really right or wrong to be gay, and I’m not sure whether we’re right and they’re wrong.

Did you ever think you might be gay?

It was more like “Oh, s#%, what if?” Because I was brought up to think that was really wrong. But it struck me. Who gives a s#%? And then it wasn’t a problem. It sounds silly to say it now, but when you’re a kid you think “I’m going to burn in hell for eternity if I like other guys or if I marry someone Jewish”.  

What was the first music you responded to?

Probably Bad, by Michael Jackson, and “Take on Me.” by A-ha. We’d always be in church, so the thing I heard most was hymns. That’s probably where all the life-and-death stuff in our music comes from.” 

I question how what God will say to the pastors and leaders of churches who led movements based on legalism and rules rather than on love and grace.  These types of churches have allowed religion instead of relationship to reign supreme and this is something Jesus cautioned us about over and over again in the New Testament.  People have questions and we, as followers of Christ, have the answers but they must be presented in a loving way.   

For those of you who would like to write off Martins experience as being in the minority I strongly encourage you against it.  The church is struggling more than ever before and it is because of junk like this.  Perception is reality and the perception of the church has never been worse in our American church culture.  We must love, we must show grace and we must paint of picture of hope not of doom.  God is love and it is our responsibility to replicate that love here on earth.  A tall order but one we should at least strive to fill. 



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