The drive to fill Niche Christianity has swept our culture enormously.
What previously was the venue of strange, robed old men in odd corners of the market hawking the fingerbones of saints for luck is now a vast and ever growing river of sheer cheese.
But at least, I suppose, some of them mean well.
A previous noder mentioned the instance where Jesus threw the money changers out of the Temple.
John 2:12 - 17 (Amplified) Now the Passover of the Jews was approaching, so Jesus went up to Jerusalem. There he found in the temple enclosure those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers sitting there at their stands. And having made a lash of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, both the sheep and the oxen, spilling and scattering the brokers' money and upsetting their trays and stands. Then to those who sold the doves He said, "Take these things out of here! Make not My Father's house a marketplace!" And his disciples remembered that it is written (Psalms 69:9) 'I will be consumed with jealousy for the honor of your house.'
The context of this passage is that each of those animals was required for a particular kind of sacrifice. Families would go to the Temple to have their sins forgiven by the priests and sacrifice particular animals to atone. Some clever individuals had figured out that people would appreciate saving time by not having to out outside of the city to acquire a fine animal for that purpose, when they could just buy it at the Temple, kind of a drive-through mentality of convenience. The money changers grew out of this because they were needed to make change for tithe (though they were supposed to offer this service outside of the temple),and, hey, if you have to buy an animal at the Temple at whatever price is currently being offered, then you're going to have to get change, right?
But this flies directly in the face of what is commanded of the Jews. They were to acquire the animal themselves (and there were very specific steps by which they were to do so, including if they had to pay somebody else for the service). Not only this, but the Temple was to be a place of holiness, separation from worldly things, teaching, and worship. To turn it into a marketplace was blasphemous.
Now, without a doubt, there's a burgeoning industry dedicated to providing "Jesus" sanctioned material to people. T-Shirts, bracelets...there are even ads that come into my mailbox as spam promising "debt relief the Christian way" and "Christian" credit cards...strangely enough, the companies behind these products are the same companies that are producing most of the porn. Le hrm...
And I know more than one person who has dropped out of the Christian Music Industry because at the end of the day, it is an industry run by the big names in the music business, and their only real concern is the dollar, not how God is praised in this world through their work. But that's a topic for a different discussion.
But at it's heart, most people wear those bracelets, those T-Shirts, because they want to be able to display their identity in the world. The Cross, just in case nobody has noticed, has become a pop icon. It's used in so many different venues and on such a wide scope that to many people, it's almost meaningless as a symbol. It's worn by Madonna and George Michael and varying rappers, even as they sing and rap about subjects which have no relation to Christ.
So if the symbol which has represented the church for two thousand years has stopped being anything but a cultural icon, where do you go next? You create your own, of course.
Of course, many of these new pictures, bumper stickers, t-shirts, etc. are tacky, parody, and often tasteless in and of themselves...but at their heart, most of them are a sign that these people wearing these shirts, these bracelets, blasting their Amy Grant at top volume, cavorting gleefully with their WWJD bracelets...what they want is to stand apart, when so few of them have any recognizable example to follow in the modern world of a true LIFE dedicated to Jesus, rather than just a clothing line.
And they want you to go up to them and ask them...what is with the shirt? What does the bracelet really mean to you? Why do you wear this stuff? What does it really mean?
So why not surprise them and do so?
There has been some confusion about the Christian credit card spam being related to pr0n. What I am saying here is not that Christian companies are making pr0n, but rather than pr0n companies are purporting to provide "christian" credit cards.
Though technically, to do that, there would be no interest or service charges on them.