I remember the first time I saw a Jesus fish. It really didn’t make sense to me. Why is Jesus represented by a fish? The only fish I know about was from the flannel-graph story of Jonah and the whale. But then someone told me the story about how in the early church the fish was a secret code for revealing that you were a Christian without the threat of being persecuted. I’m not sure why this has become a symbol for the backs of Honda Civics and Toyota Camry’s, considering that they are more likely to cut you off with a middle finger flying proud then being burned at the stake. Nevertheless, this has become a cultural image for American Christianity, where we boldly tell outsiders that we are in and they are out. Perhaps, I am being a bit facetious here, but hopefully you get my point.
Where the Jesus fish really begins to boggle my mind is when it is given legs and has the name Darwin. Now talk about religious persecution! Christians saw this as a deep desecration. We are being persecuted. We are no longer politically correct. We must not let Darwin and the atheists win! So how did the Jesus fish emblem movement respond? We made a bigger fish that said “Truth” on it with an open mouth swallowing up an upside-down (dead?) Darwin fish to make sure that our persecutors knew that we would not go down without a fight. Kind of reminds me of the classic little boy fight: “My daddy is bigger than your daddy!” “Well, my daddy can beat up your daddy!” It is a game of ‘one upping’ your opponent that never leads to constructive dialogue. Now, I do not want to ignore the fact that many Christians have engaged in this bumper sticker / decal dialogue because of a need to preserve their faith. The question for us will be to examine whether or not this is actually the best way to go about it.