Christians and the furry/goth/punk/steampunk/Ren Faire/cosplay lifestyle.

By Anthony

What does the Bible say about a Christian being a furry, goth, or punk? Is it okay to be involved with Ren faires, steampunk, or cosplay? I'll try to be as helpful as possible in giving a Biblical answer, but I won't be discussing specific fandoms. I want to be clear that the issue is not how different or socially unacceptable the practice may be. Rather what's really important is if it glorifies the Lord, and if it adds in our transformation into Christ's likeness.

When we are saved, we are transformed in our new birth. As Paul says, "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come" (2 Corinthians 5:17). We become new creatures with new hearts and spirits (Jeremiah 24:7, 31:33; Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26). Our desires are no longer directed inward, but outward to the Lord. We are told to "lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit" (Ephesians 4:22). No longer serving ourselves, we are commanded to glorify God in everything we do. Many times it's as simple as stopping drug and alcohol use, but sometimes we are caught in a different type of situation. Sometimes it's not immediately clear what we should do. That's when we can look to the Word to determine if our actions are according to His will.

Basically, there's no verse against dressing up in costumes, nor are there laws against it. The issue is not necessarily the act, but how it may hinder our ability to spread the gospel and live a life that glorifies God. I'll use myself as an example. Before I was saved, I was involved in the punk lifestyle. I had a huge colored Mohawk, jacket with patches, piercings, tattoos, grimy clothes, the whole nine yards. Now there's absolutely nothing wrong with any of that, it's just a different style. Some may not understand and they may say I'm weird or strange, but I enjoyed it and I didn't care what others thought. But when I was saved, my desires began to change. Even though there was nothing wrong with my appearance, it started to bother me a little. Not at all that I cared what others thought of me, but rather I started to care what others thought of God. I realized that I represented Christ and the change He makes in our hearts. The more I thought about it, the more I was convinced I needed to change my appearance. I knew it wasn't right that people judged me by external things (1 Samuel 16:7; Jeremiah 17:10; John 7:24), but I knew they would. And as God's representative I am called to live a life that most glorifies Him (Matthew 5:16; 1 Peter 2:12). There was nothing wrong with how I dressed, but I knew, whether right or wrong, it would hinder my ability to share the gospel with others. It was time for me to grow up, and stop chasing my own adolescent pleasures. Paul puts it perfectly saying, "When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things" (1 Corinthians 13:11).

See it would be wrong of me to say that being a furry/punk/goth/etc. Christian is sinful because it's socially unacceptable, but it'd be Biblical of me to say it's a bad idea because it doesn't glorify God. The problem with being a fandom Christian is the same problem with being involved in many counter-cultures. The fact is, it's self-serving, not God-serving. Sure we could share the gospel in a costume, whether it be a furry one or a punk one, but we'd be lying if we said it wouldn't hinder our efforts to evangelize. Certainly the Lord wants us to share the gospel with furries and punks, but we don't have to be involved to do it. Paul talks about this too:
For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it. (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)
Now Paul did not lie to all these people to become accepted into their group. He didn't dress like them, act like them, participate in their sinful lifestyles, etc. Although he became all things to all men, he never compromised himself in doing so. Basically, we don't need to be a part of the group to minister to them. You don't have to be a cosplayer to share the gospel with cosplayers, just like I don't have to dress like a punk to continue ministering to my old friends. In fact, by not joining we might help others who are unsure about the lifestyle. There's nothing wrong with dressing up in a costume, but there's everything wrong with chasing our own pleasures. Not only this, but it's important to note that even if you are not involved in cosplaying because of sexual desires, it certainly could lead to a struggle in the future. We're told to "flee immorality," meaning even if something isn't "that dangerous", if it could possibly lead to us or another brother stumbling, we are to refrain (1 Corinthians 6:18, 8:13). As Christians, our lives are not our own anymore. As we read in Romans:
Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteous ness. (Romans 6:16-18).
As servants of Christ, our lives are to be lived to His glory, not serving our own pleasures and desires. Some things do not compromise or hinder us very much, while some do. As Paul says, "All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify" (1 Corinthians 10:23). While we are free to express ourselves through dress, the question is: does it glorify God? Standing on a corner sharing the gospel would be hard dressed like a punk or a furry. Again, it's not what people think of us, but rather what people will think of God and the change He's made in our hearts. Do our lives bring glory to the Lord? Do we shine our light before men in how we approach the world? We must remember that we were "bought at a price." We read this in 1 Corinthians 6:19, "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body." As Paul says, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me" (Galatians 2:20).

There are many things that I wanted to do, as there are many things we all desire. But those things change when our heart is changed. Not that we won't struggle with them, but that as you have, we will begin to consider things closely, examining them to determine if they're right before God. As for fandom Christians, I cannot say if they are truly saved, but I can say there's about every "blank-" Christian out there you could think of. Just because someone identifies as a Christian doesn't mean they are. For example, they recently released a Queen James Bible with all the scriptures on homosexuality changed; that doesn't mean they are truly Christians. Other people aren't the determining factor, only the Lord and His Word. And in His Word we are told that our lives are not our own:
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2
In closing, I'm not telling you what to do. My desire is not for you to refrain because of something I said, but my desire is that you look at this Biblically, and determine what God has said. We must fully understand what we're doing and why we're doing it. Not ever because "we have to," but because we want to! The Lord is glorified not when we drag our feet in good deeds and obedience, but when we act with a full heart in joyful service to Him. As we're told in 2 Corinthians 9:7, "Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."
But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth (Ephesians 4:20-24).

Published 4-22-14