"If I'm a Christian, am I allowed to ______?"
If you're in any way like me, you've probably found this concept troublesome at one point or another.
I'm a Christian who loves things like anime, video games, fanfiction and other forms of art and entertainment. I spend a lot of time with my hobbies and special interests; probably more than what many people would consider to be "normal."
Also, I'm an Aspie.
Hyperfixation is something that my brain just does. But here's the thing: being an autistic Christian, for me, has come with more shame than the typical negative stigma. In my experience, church culture tends to put a lot of pressure on us to constantly be "missional" and to never "waste time." And if you enjoy something a lot and spend a lot of time with it, then it's labeled as "idolatry."
But why is that?
This, of course, depends on each individual. But ask yourself: am I putting my faith into this special interest for power or salvation? Or am I just enjoying this awesome thing that God has created? If given the choice between this thing disappearing from existence but getting to remain God's child, versus the other way around, which would you choose?
I do believe that, for the most part, the church has good intentions with these messages, as we are indeed called to live for Christ. But that can look very different from person to person. The church does not (generally speaking) speak to neurodivergent audiences. They typically aren't taking into consideration things like hyperfixation tendencies, sensory overwhelm or other struggles we face due to our differently wired brains; whether they're social struggles or otherwise.
And you know what? It's OKAY.
There are a lot of things that the church likes to frown upon that aren't even mentioned or classified as sin in Scripture.
I used to constantly put pressure on myself to be a constant apologetics machine. I wasn't allowed to do anything fun because it was a waste of time when I could be reading my Bible or theology books all day, or be out trying to awkwardly minister; worrying that if I ever screwed up then I was a failure and a disappointment to God. Even though when God looks at me, He sees the sinless Savior.
Not all of us have to live like nuns. Not all of us have to be Billy Graham. Yes, God absolutely calls some people to those kinds of things, but for others of us, maybe we're called to less theatric but equally important things. Shining the light of Christ to those closest to us. Taking care of our families. Or for people like me, hopping online and making friends through mutual interests (such as our favorite anime characters and plot twists), and talking about Jesus through those bonds.
Believe me, I still second guess myself on this stuff all the time. It's hard work to think differently about things that have been hammered into me my whole life. Having high anxiety doesn't help, either.
Is spending several hours a day watching anime a sin? I think It’s something each individual needs to figure out for themselves. The church likes to say to just pray about it, but if you’re like me, you don’t get straightforward or audible answers and it gets frustrating. So, yes, pray about it, as God always wants to hear from you and delights in you; but also use the brain that He gave you and try to figure out if it’s actually making you love God less and actually pulling you away from Him; or if it’s something you feel like you’re supposed to feel bad about because that mentality’s been hammered into you.
It's not about legalism. It's not about carrying shame around. Jesus didn't die on the cross for us to hate ourselves and constantly feel like garbage. Doing a bunch of Christian-y things won't make God love you any more than He does. Just let Him hold you, love you, and lead you to what He has for YOU. It's not going to look the same as the person sitting next to you at church.
It took me almost my entire life to come to terms with who I am. I'm an Aspie who loves to daydream and fantasize about fictional characters, even though society thinks it's weird. What if more of us felt comfortable enough to talk about it?