- an act of violent or open resistance to an established government or ruler.
- “the authorities put down a rebellion by landless colonials”
- the fact or state of departing from usual or accepted standards, especially in social or sexual behavior.
Christianity has been stated, by Christians, to be a very offensive belief. Admitting we are in need of something greater than us, that we are not good enough on our own, and that our salvation is dependent on a savior who gave us a choice rubs people the wrong way. More than those things, though, is where I believe things get increasingly offensive.
To preface, I spoke recently with a friend who struggles with their faith. They said that beyond doctrine, belief, relationship, and experience to be had with Jesus, one thing they couldn’t get over was an innate desire for rebellion and deviance. Hence, the definitions. I agreed with them; to a certain degree, many people, and especially young people, crave to be rebels. An article posted by Renzo Novatore, Of Individualism and Rebellion, captured this thought well in 1922:
Among human beings — only the rebel is the most beautiful figure and the most complete being. He knows how to be the potential tool of his desiring will. He knows how to obey himself and command himself, to preserve himself and destroy himself. Because the rebel is the one who has learned the secret of living and the art of dying.
* * *
The one who falls rebelling against each and all, prevails even while falling.
And prevailing means instilling the flame of her thought and imposing the light of her ideas in others.
But the fallen rebel’s truest follower is the one who, when falling, knows how to rebel even against the “rebellion” of the already fallen hero.
I know, this is a lot. But it’s cool, right? This sort of rebellion that Novatore is talking about makes the idea of skipping classes or getting wasted seem petty, but the idea is still there. I really do believe there are people, like my friend, who are hardwired with a desire to break the standard and become a social deviant just to show people they can. There is a beauty and wholeness of knowing oneself more than identifying with any organization, and standing for the truths humanity has caused us to believe, rather than what society has forced upon us. Knowing our mortality itself holds value for our cause, giving it power in death, even if many causes of rebellion aren’t worth standing for. But then again, maybe that is exactly my issue with the standard for rebellion.
Devote your life to a cause, start a revolution, or accept martyrdom as a worthy death and you will earn my respect. Most people won’t, though more than who do will admit a desire for actual rebellion, masked by an unfulfilled want for deviance and standard breaking. We want experiences; those who also want rebellion might seek after their fulfillment where full devotion is craved, and this comes out in the form of recreational drugs, drinking, and other “college age,” lifestyle norms. That’s right, I meant that. As much as we want to see them as rebellion, at a certain point of regularity among peers, it becomes the norm. With this in mind, I come to the statement that my faith is the most rebellious thing I will ever perform.
I don’t want this to come off as a plea to understand why breaking the law or having the college experience doesn’t fulfill our desires. That horse is dead, so I don’t want to beat it. I instead argue that rebellion is a gift, and it should not be contained. The idea of wanting to break free from societal norms in a stand for personal freedom is so integral throughout the gospel, and it is what I desperately strive to live for. Life without the passion of a rebel is not worth living for those who desire it, and I think many non-believers view the life I live as a pair of shackles, telling me how to live my life and conform to what a greater being has forced upon me.
Jesus had a notable tendency to break norms and challenge standard ways of thinking. His life was given up for a cause, given in totality, and eventually ending in His dying due to the rebellion and deviance he stood for. When He beat death, He told those who believed in his cause to do the same as He did, and thus Christianity is still around. The most notable Christians in history are those who were rebels and earthshakers, living lives of deviance to fight for their understanding and the spread of goodness it stood for. Don’t give me the American Dream, two and a half kids, or a pension. Just give me a cause worth fighting for.
In totality, I fight for the truth to be known of what Christianity is about. It isn’t weekly church, prayers before meals, or forcing morals on your life because an ancient rulebook says so. When I talk about my life, I get the high of deviance knowing that people think I’m crazy, and that all that I do is for something bigger than I. My ideal death comes through dying for what I believe, and my way of living should rebel against what other twenty-two year old’s life looks like. I am not shackled; I am free and thriving, called to be more than what I am capable of. It’s offensive, obtrusive, rebellious, deviant, and above all, worth fighting for.
Novatore would have been a firecracker of a Christian.
Also, so would my friend.