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Why bad is good for some Christians
By Elson T. Elizaga
Published October 28, 2018. Expanded from a column in Mindanao Gold Star Daily. Updated Wednesday, January 15, 2020 10:14 AM.
Man rising from the sea after baptism
Bravenet stock photo.


Since I became a born-again Christian, I never imagined I would vote for someone who admits of killing 1,700 people. I never believed some Christians like me, possibly millions, would do so, because I thought supporting a self-confessed murderer was not part of the Christian way of life. So, I was surprised when I discovered that 7,000 pastors had endorsed Rodrigo Duterte for president in 2016, comparing him to Moses and Nehemiah.

What convinced them to choose this decision?

1 Perceived rampant crime and slow judicial system. Many people felt insecure and vulnerable. They wanted a quick fix, and saw Duterte as the most qualified to deliver an instant-noodle solution. His widely-publicized, extra-judicial response to suspected or convicted criminals in his hometown Davao City inspired hope among the weary. He promised to end crime in the entire country in three to six months, and people cheered.

That's three to six months for 7,500 islands, low-tide or high tide, and everyone knew the promise couldn't be fulfilled, because nobody else had done it in any country. But the idea was better than nothing. Duterte is not perfect. But God is with Duterte and God will make it happen.

2 The God that would assist Duterte is the Old Testament genocidal God, the God who demolished the human population, save for Noah and his family, a couple of duck-billed platypusses and other beasts; the God who massacred the first borns in Egypt, the God who ordered his Chosen People to slay their enemies, including women and children. This is the God of rampant, ruthless massacres, the God who would also put to death the evil drug lords of the land.

3 the New Testament, loving God. My Sunday-school indoctrination was focused on this God, although it was equally clear that God subjected his own son to harrowing torture by having him nailed to the cross. (Ok, ok. it's Adam and Eve's fault and that rare, endangered talking serpent.)

Here in the New Testament, we find a teaching that says a bad guy who repents and accepts Jesus as his Lord and Savior, is far better than someone who is good from the beginning. God's power and glory is more dramatically demonstrated in the transformation of the bad guy. So, as we can see, Christians love drama, too.

This is the message of the "parable of the prodigal son".

So, during my active years in church, I was exposed to a lineup of preachers boasting about their sinful lives, how they ran after beautiful women, how they neglected their wives and children, how they wasted their money on drugs, alcohol and gambling. Then their talks ends with a sobering claim. The last part of the sermon, usually a tiny portion, is always a dramatic narrative about the preacher's discovery of Light, Salvation and Glory.

A good, old book that illustrates this formula is The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson. The novel was so popular in the 70s among Protestant Christians that it was turned into a film. Larry Flynt, the founder of the pornographic magazine Hustler was also, for sometime, a celebrated convert. His transformation was highly-publicized. But it did not survive. He resumed his contract with the Devil, so to speak.

Christians, however, are not bothered by this setback. Only God is perfect; not man.

This message about rooting for bad guys, or guys with moral defects, or incompetent guys, or guys with scientific bent because they doubt, or have psychological disorders or physical limitations, or just plain ordinary eventually merged in mutations of the same meme. They circulated online and found millions of receptive hosts, like a neurochemical that locks itself in the brain receptors. The meme says:

“Jacob was a cheater. Peter had a temper. David had an affair. Noah was a drunk. Jonah ran from God. Paul was a murderer. Gideon was insecure. Miriam was a gossiper. Martha was a worrier.1 Thomas was a doubter. Sarah was impatient. Elijah was moody. Mary Magdalene was a hooker.2 Moses stuttered. Zacchaeus was short. Abraham was old. And Lazarus was dead.3 God doesn’t call the qualified.4 He qualifies the called! Repost if you know you are not perfect but God has a plan for you anyway. Amen.”


Third, the Philippine Constitution. Many fundamentalist Christians don't give an ass about the Philippine Constitution, except for the preamble: "We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploring the aid of Almighty God ... do ordain and promulgate this Constitution."

So, God is above the Constitution. God is superior to human laws. Moreoever, the government is put in place by God, as claimed by Paul in Romans. And God will unlease His Angel of Death anytime He sees fit, to cleanse the world and restore order. (Read: "If you destroy my country, I will kill you.")

The police, being under the God-established government, are instruments of God. The can be judge and executioner. There is no need for them to follow the law when the Godsend gives them instructions. To many Filipinos, especially those who consults the Bible daily, the Constitution is a useless document that nobody cares. It is filled with goobledygook and far more remote that a pile of archaic manuscripts from the sands of the Middle East. Black square indicates end of article.
I became a born-again Christian years ago. I believe I was baptized in the sea. I was submerged for a few seconds but did not see Jesus. At that time, it was not necessary to see Jesus, because Jesus did no swim underwater. He walked on water.

After my baptism, I emerged from the salty fluid like a turtle, happy to set foot again on dry land. I was a child of God in the most solemn way as promised in John 3:16. The world before me was the same, but also different. It was a little brighter, and inside of me I felt a glowing sense of tranquility and meaning.

Today, some converts are not as lucky. They are treated like turkeys and repeatedly submerged by their pastor until they see Jesus. The first time they are brought back in the air, they are asked: "Do you see Jesus?".

"No, pastor."

So, they are are pressed underwater. Each time they reply "No, I don't see Jesus" they are pushed deeper and longer underwater until panic attack sets in. Frantically kicking and flapping they finally declare: "Yeesh! I see Jesuuuss! Help!"Black square indicates end of article.

1 Probably just serotonin-deficient.

2 Mary Magdalene was not a hooker. The misleading statement is possibly newly inserted. Similar memes exclude Mary Magdalene from the list. See the Wikipedia article on Mary Magdalene.

3 Is being dead a fault?

4 Especially if you have a Wharton or Harvard degree.

5 A self-professed or a self-confessed murderer is simply a person who claims he has killed someone. He himself said so, not the author of this article, or another person. Whether or not he is really a murderer is a matter that can be argued in a court of law.

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