ow that I was saved (theological debate surrounding the sincerity of the act notwithstanding) from Hell, it was important to those charged with my education to ensure that I became the best possible Christian. In order for this to happen, I had to become familiar with the doctrine of Christianity — namely, that god created me and loves me and that Satan is trying with all of his might to destroy god’s creation and claim the souls of believers for himself. This means war!
I mean “spiritual” war. In order to combat the evil forces of the devil we children were introduced to a Christian concept known as “The Lord’s Army.” I discuss the cutesy introduction to this concept through song in my earlier post, Explicit Lyrics. Children as young as three years old are taught to “put on the full armor of god” and “be equipped with their sword” (the Bible) so that they may stand against the forces of the devil. I was obviously no exception. I was ready for battle! The funny thing is, I had no idea what this battle was, where it was being fought, or what it would take to “win” (or what “winning” this battle even meant).
Ephesians 6:10-17 – “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.
“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints….”
I memorized the books of the Bible, specific verses, songs, and pledges so that I’d be ready when (this was never presented as an if) the time came that the devil and his demonic forces confronted me. I attended church every chance I got — not that I had much choice, and I’ll get into that in a later post — to fellowship with like-minded believers (this is very important) and grow strong in my faith. At this point in my life there was no doubt in my mind that there was one true god and it was mine. Everybody else was wrong and their religions were the enemy.
After a while it became clear that we weren’t really fighting the devil and his minions; we were fighting against ideas that didn’t align with ours. We were fighting against those wicked non-believers who were rebelling against god because they wanted to sin and not feel guilty. We were fighting against the Catholics who build idols and worship Mary instead of Jesus. We were fighting against the Mormons who added another book on top of the Bible and marry too many people at one time. I wasn’t being trained to be a spiritual warrior, I was being trained to shoot down other people’s philosophies with a wave of the hand and a cherry-picked quote from the Bible. As a Christian soldier my job was to show people they were wrong because the Bible said they were wrong and tell them what they should think instead. How very peaceful, loving and tolerant.
I remember as young as fifth grade witnessing to my friends, praying for god’s support, and crying over their destination to Hell. I remember telling them where they were headed and asking them how they could be OK with that. I had a Buddhist friend who wouldn’t even come to church with me and a completely secular best friend who would come to church, but only because he didn’t have anything else going on. I had mental anguish over the souls of my unsaved friends and felt like a huge failure when they didn’t accept the gift I was trying to give them. My morale at times was at rock bottom.
In order to counteract this feeling of failure I was taken to church to recharge my spiritual batteries. Being around those like-minded people gave me the strength to fight another day…until the next Wednesday and/or Sunday, when I’d need more recharging. This is the never-ending cycle for a spiritual warrior: charge the batteries, go out into the world to combat disbelief, fail, recharge. It’s a bit like beating your head against a wall.
I’m still a spiritual warrior, of sorts. I’m just fighting for the other side now. Whenever a Christian soldier comes knocking on my door to share their good news, I’m ready for them. I know the chinks in the armor of god and I realized long ago that the sword of the Spirit is made of NERF. It’s better that way, though, because at least now the non-believers aren’t being impaled for not recanting their association with Satan.