Before I begin, I want to make a few disclaimers. I don’t personally know Emily Schromm, the girl on Real World D.C. I don’t know what religious background she grew up in. This post is not meant to bash her as a person. What I do know is that Emily was fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God (Psalm 139:14). She has dignity and worth in the eyes of God and I think she deserves to be treated and talked about by people as such. And Emily, just like me and every other person to walk the earth, was born a sinner. Our main problem is inside us rather than out in the world, and as a result we need Christ as our mediator. In light of these realities, I want to discuss my reactions when I watched Emily’s Real World D.C “testimonial” video.
Emily was born and grew up in Kirksville, MO and then went to college at Mizzou. (Contrary to the video portraying Columbia, Missouri in the middle of a corn field – I don’t necessarily blame Emily for that, I blame the editing of MTV). A few of her thoughts were interesting:
“[Growing up in church] we were taught to go testify. It was our duty to come get people to go to church…it saddens and disgusts me”
Again, I don’t know what church Emily grew up in, and I can’t even be certain that this is what her church taught. The Church has a place in our lives to tell us to go testify the good news of Christ because God commands us to in the Bible. However, it saddens me that a church would teach such a command so as to make it seem like you have to do so. This turns telling people about Christ in a religious duty. Telling others about Christ out of obligation and duty leads two places: pride (because you did your job and now God owes you something) or despair (because you keep falling short of all those ‘good’ people). God owes us absolutely nothing, and we have self-worth because of God sent Jesus to die for us, and that never changes (Romans 3:23-24)
On returning to her home in Kirksville, “The sad thing is people are still living here. What I’ve learned after living in a religious place for 13 years is never let yourself get stuck in a box. It’s really good to see how we’ve grown. But just live your life and don’t let a place like this hold you back.”
It’s obvious that something very upsetting happened to Emily where she grew up (hence her emotions). I don’t want to down play whatever happened to her. However, I am struck by the arrogance of her thoughts. For her to say that people living in a small rural town haven’t grown like we have? My guess is by ‘we’, she meant our society. But have we? If we have then why are there still school shootings, murders, rape? The list goes on and on. For her to claim that she is part of a group of people that has risen above all the problems of society is extremely conceited. Secondly, Emily pleaded with people not to get stuck in the religious ‘box’. What I think she fails to see is that her worldview has a box of its own. According to this interview, she is in the box that says the key to life and happiness is to indulge your every impulse and desire you have. On dating relationships she comments, “If it’s something I’m inclined to, then I go with it.” If I followed this idea to the end, that means that if I get so outraged at someone I could simply kill them and their families in cold blood and everything would be fine. No one on the planet would agree that is ok! Because of that, this means there is a standard of right and wrong that has been hard-wired in us. What is that? What is that in us that screams for justice when we see women being made sex slaves? Why are we so quick to condemn slavery in the 17-19th centuries? Because there is something outside us that lets us know it is wrong, and therefore we are not in charge of determining what is right and wrong. So the question then has to become which ‘box’ is right? Which ‘box’ is most consistent with what our experience and sense of justice tells us?
I think Christianity that is taught in the Bible is the right box. Biblical Christianity has a God who will one day condemn those who kill the innocent, those who enslave the innocent, and those groups/cults who claim to be following Christ but instead seek after their own agendas and hurt, manipulate, and use their followers (which may well be Emily’s case). This reality means we don’t have to take matters into our own hands (goodbye vengeance and revenge). Biblical Christianity has a God who values every single human life (goodbye earning our value and self-worth). Most importantly Biblical Christianity has a God who took it upon Himself to take care of our biggest problem by sending Jesus. 1 Peter 1:4 tells us this secured for us an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading – Hello eternal life!