Al Mohler and the Rise of the Christians Fleeing the Church: Day 33

"Gratitude goes beyond the 'mine' and 'thine' and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift. In the past I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy."   Henri Nouwen

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US FIsh and Wildlife Service-Public Domain.

Recently, in an Associated Baptist Press post, here, Al Mohler, responding to the elections had these two things to say:

“It’s that the entire moral landscape has changed. An increasingly secularized America understands our positions, and has rejected them” (New York Times). "

“Far fewer Americans now attend church, and a recent study indicated that fully 20 percent of all Americans identify with no religious preference at all” (AlbertMohler.com)."

I believe that Al Mohler either does not understand the nuances of the changing religious climate in the the United States or he is deliberately pointing the finger at those "outside" the church to deflect criticism away from the evangelical church. I'll get back to this in a minute.

I recently returned from a 10 day cruise which included passage through part of the Panama Canal. This was a longstanding desire of my elderly mother. Shortly after arrival on the ship, I realized that there was a problem accessing the Internet through my Mac.Others experienced the same issue. The tech person offered to mess around with my settings, but I did not desire to give our Guy Behind the Curtain heartburn. So, reluctantly, I gave up the Internet, except for some quick texts throughout the trip.

I believe that this was all in God's plan for my expedition. I slept an inordinate amount, ate too much and ended up reading 5 1/2 books, one of which was Rachel Held Evans book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood. Next week, I plan to write about my thoughts but, short version, I enjoyed it and believe that many people are deliberately "missing the boat".  Even more, I was dismayed by Mary Kassian's response and cannot believe that TGC and others did not tell her to revise her post. But, I shall save this for next week.

When my nose was not stuck in my Kindle, I took a great deal of interest in all the people I met on the trip. And this is why I want to contest Mohler's use of the word "secularization" of America in describing those who "reject our positions." It is illustrated by two conversations I had with some fellow passengers. The first took place on a domed train, being carried through to the Canal's Pacific Miraflores Lock which is about 1 hour from Gatun Lake which is located on the Caribbean side of the canal. I tired of my rather scrunched seat and decided to stretch my legs.

Shortly after passing the dumpy jail in which General Noriega resides (he is the only one who get an air conditioner), a pleasant woman started talking with me. I am still not sure how the conversation progressed but she suddenly said that it gave her great peace to know that God loved her enough that He sent Jesus to die for her. I asked her what church she attended and she started to cry and said she did not attend church. Seeing that she was upset and wanting to comfort her, I told her about the blog and that we had discovered that there was a rising group of people called the "nones." I relayed to her the information in our post "The Nones: Are the Faithful Fleeing the Church?" link.

When I explained that there are probably millions of people who are still believers but have left the church due to bad experiences, she exclaimed, "That's me!" I told her that she was not alone and that we started an E Church to reach out to those who wanted a safe place to be encouraged in the faith. She wrote down all of the information and said she would visit as soon as she got home.

I had another encounter with an older couple who attend a well known, Reformed church. When one of my family members spilled the beans about my blog, I chimed in that we deal with many issues surrounding abuse and the church. They told me they had a close family member who was seriously abused by the church and who now refuses, along with his immediate family,  to attend church. I explained to this couple that we have many, many people who have been hurt by the church who inhabit  this blog and support one another. They said they would put him in touch with us.

Please understand, in four conversations about faith with four different sets of people, half of them have been let down and hurt by the church. I batted 50% on those who have fled the church! 

Of course the country is becoming more secularized. But, I also believe that something else is in play. In the past 10 years, the number of "nones" has doubled in the US. This coincides with increasingly strident teaching on gender roles, Young Earth creationism, exposes of sexual abuse and the development of the"untouchable" (and occasionally wealthy) leadership. Al Mohler, along with many others, have coddled and protected each other in their quest for "gospel" rules.

Mohler has spoken out about the need for strict reporting  standards in pedophile cases. In the next breath, he slobbers all over  CJ Mahaney who is facing some serious charges of having allegedly presided over an entity with some mighty strange views on how to handle children who have been molested. (Click on the links at the top of our home page to read some of these disturbing stories.)

The Gospel Coalition front pages Dinesh D'Souza's fall from grace due to an alleged affair and then remains defiantly quiet when one of their own is caught in the cross hairs of what appears to be a developing scandal of major proportions. Folks, we are on Day 33 of DEAD silence from TGC, Al Mohler, et.al.

Let me rewrite Al Mohler's statement “It’s that the entire moral landscape has changed. An increasingly secularized America understands our positions, and has rejected them" to reflect my view from bleachers.

"It's that the entire basis of moral, ethical and Biblical (Hey, if they can use it, so can I! ) church landscape has changed. An increasingly educated Christian population has begun to understand the legalistic positions of the modern Pharisaical leadership and are walking away. The church is its own worst enemy."

As I now turn to celebrating Thanksgiving, I want to take a moment to thank all of you, our dear readers, for your comments that have opened our eyes to the problems in today's church culture.  You have taught us by the honest sharing of your pain and hurt. You have educated us with your thoughtful and in-depth understanding of Scripture and theology. It is because of you that I was able, when confronted by a dear woman in a train in Panama along with others, to speak to the essential Gospel and bring grace to those who have been banged over the head with rules and regulations. This Thanksgiving, I am thanking God for all of you.

May you be blessed by this Thanksgiving medley. We will not post tomorrow. We will be too busy indulging in God's many blessings!

 

Lydia's Corner: Numbers 8:1-9:23 Mark 13:14-37 Psalm 50:1-23 Proverbs 10:29-30

 

 

 

 

Comments

Al Mohler and the Rise of the Christians Fleeing the Church: Day 33 — 173 Comments

  1. Do you think that Mohler was referring to “issues” like so-called Gay Marriage, and that the culture has moved on those issues, paricularly so-called Gay marriage?

    In that regard I would agree with him.

    The priest abuse scandal in the Catholic Church has certainly gone on for years, with many affected, and decisions to not only not prosecute, but to continue to employ such persons as priests and such. I know many Catholics whom this has affected, but many, also, who still love the church.

    This issue is affecting the Protestant church as well, but due to the lack of connection due to theological differences, in most of the stories I have seen on Protestant clergy abuse, you have a problem in one church with no reporting to police. Then the guy goes out and gets another job etc. from a new organization. In the Catholic setting – the same people that fire are doing the hiring.

    So, there’s abuse to go around.

    I believe that people are leaving the churches because of that, too.

    Though I woudl add that I talk to more people who leave the church over 2 other issues – 1) legalism, making an excessive number of rules (this is often the basis of some entire denominations, or 2) politics in the local church. Lots of people get hurt as business meetings and other loud people in the congregation who give very little grace.

    So, people leave for a variety of reasons.

    The church should do the best it can in these areas.

    But as to whether the culture at large recognizes fundamental spiritual truths (e.g. the foundation and nature of marriage), that is often beyond our control.

  2. This site has been a tremendous blessing for me over the past couple of years. Even though I usually lurk I was able to realize my crisis of faith and agnosticism was based on my rejection of the Calvinista heresy. I am now in a much better place and have moved on to healthier and deeper faith I never knew was possible.

    Maybe I didn’t post much in the past because Eagle would say what I was thinking. Eagle hang in there and find a good Catholic, Lutheran or Eastern Orthodox church in which to heal. The holy spirit is pulling you back, and I have hope that you will return as I did.

  3. “Do you think that Mohler was referring to “issues” like so-called Gay Marriage, and that the culture has moved on those issues, paricularly so-called Gay marriage?

    In that regard I would agree with him.”

    I think this is exactly what he was talking about. And I think he’s mostly right, except that I think we’ve been there for a while. And I don’t think it’s a bad thing.

    I do not think that lessening the legal restrictions on people’s moral behavior is an indication of a more sinful people- I think people are must more open about their sin. I guess I do not tow the Evangelical line when I think that it’s better to have it out in the open than to have obedience that is outward only. And if people are going to start living according to a Christian ethic, I hope that it is because of a heart change, not enforced behavior based on what I think is right.

    I’m fiercely conservative in my beliefs about what is righteous behavior, but I am mostly libertarian in my political views about moral issues.

  4. Seanr

    So, are you trying to make me cry? Thank you for saying what you did. May you know the blessings of His presence as you walk through this life!

  5. Anonymous

    The Catholics are no better or worse than the evangelicals when it comes to abuse. I remember hearing Christian claim that, if the priests could marry, the abuse would decline. Well, one only has to look at the number of incidents in the SBC involving married pastors to realize how stupid that “solution” was.

    As for the gay issue, none of the “nones” that I have spoken with brought that up as an issue. Also, none of the”Christian”  nones I have spoken on this blog have mentioned this as an issue that caused them t leave the church. However, a few have mentioned Young Earth Creationism, Al Mohler’s baby, as a problem. BTW, whatever happened to his promise to make 2012 the year of YEC? We wrote about this over a year ago and we have his quotes.

    As for grace, that is for the less Christian amongst us. You know, too much grace and people will go donw the path to hell.We now need Wayne Grudem’s 83 rules for complementarian living to be real Christians. I will get to that next week.

  6. The Moral Landscape Hasn’t Changed – People Are Just Realizing That Mohler and Those Who Support Him Have About As Much Integrity as Bernie Madoff

    Mohler’s comments about the election are so predictable and uninspiring that I can’t think of anything to add about them – the post above sums it up for me.

    Broadly speaking, in my opinion, the moral landscape has not changed in that for a long time people have chosen to do, in the long run, what we all know is the right thing to do, no matter how much folks like Mahaney and Mohler try to obfuscate the truth and persecute those whose only sin is disagreeing with them and/or messing with their business interests.

    What’s changed is that fewer and fewer people believe that Mohler has any business talking about morality, conviction, integrity, Christianity, etc. for many reasons.

    Like Mahaney Mohler is just a ruthless business-man who’s making a last-ditch effort to cash in because people aren’t buying what he’s selling and he’ll likely have some hefty legal fees to pay in the future when the sh– hits the fan regarding the SBC the way it has regarding SGM.

  7. Dee, did you see the comments about John Piper I just left on Friday’s post? It was about an article he wrote two years before TWW was started.

  8. Glad you’re back safely, Dee! You were missed!

    I do hope the woman you spoke to who was hurt by the church will come here and find some healing.

    Everybody, I would be thankful for any prayers offered up for me this week. Thanksgiving will always be a hard day for me, since one of my children died on Thanksgiving Day last year. It was the day I stopped being able to reconcile a sovereign God with a good God and stopped believing he could love me (I was a hardline Calvinist, and it was my second time watching one of my children die).

    Reading here and being able to safely voice my thoughts, questions, doubts, etc. has brought so much healing, and has been a major factor in my journey back to understanding God primarily as Loving and good. I still experience a lot of doubt, I still waver, but when I find so many people here who show love and grace, I know that a loving God must be a reality I can put hope in, and not just some unlikely wish. Thankful for all of you this Thanksgiving, even if it is a sad day for me.

  9. Looking for You, I’m so sorry to hear about your child. I pray for peace and comfort for you and a revelation of the love God has for you and having lost His own Son, rest assured He understands your sorrow.

  10. Speaking as an outsider, I wonder if the US public is tired of being permanently told by conservative evangelicals that they should vote Republican? Obviously Christians must make an informed choice, but it seems to me that religion and politics are never happy bedfellows.

    As for the gay marriage issue, ok, I still feel unhappy with it myself (it’s becoming a hot potato in the UK as well). But in one sense we are returning to the world of the 1st century AD where such behaviour was widespread. I don’t think human laws pro or contra will affect God’s ability to work in people’s lives.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you all, and may God touch those here who are hurting for whatever reason.

  11. I believe that this was all in God’s plan for my expedition. I slept an inordinate amount, ate too much and ended up reading 5 1/2 books, one of which was Rachel Held Evans book…

    Sleep is good, Dee.

    And the one time I was on a cruise, I’m surprised I didn’t gain 50-100 pounds in four days. There are some SERIOUS spreads in those dining rooms and buffets.

  12. Thanksgiving will always be a hard day for me, since one of my children died on Thanksgiving Day last year. It was the day I stopped being able to reconcile a sovereign God with a good God and stopped believing he could love me (I was a hardline Calvinist, and it was my second time watching one of my children die). — Looking for You

    Oooo. I’d be surprised if you DIDN’T have a reaction like that. Especially coming out of Calvinism, where Predestination produces a God who is Omnipotent but NOT benevolent. That’s a “Take Your God And Shove It” reaction waiting to happen.

    I’d be even more worried if instead you had the Shiny Happy Clappy Christianese reaction — you know, “The LORD Giveth, the LORD Taketh Away, Blessed be the Name of the LORD” (followed by a Happy Clappy Joy Joy “Homegoing Party” instead of a funeral). Because it’s just not natural (in a BAD way) to have that Christianese reaction, and a lot of churches pressure you to do so. That’s a crash-and-burn waiting to happen.

    Speaking as an outsider, I wonder if the US public is tired of being permanently told by conservative evangelicals that they should vote Republican? — Kolya

    Jesus Christ: Wholly-owned Subsidiary of the Republican Party.

    What’s Wrong With This Picture?

  13. I would second what Kolya said. To those of us outside of America, this close, strong connection between evangelicalism and a particular political party is very strange. It simply doesn’t happen here. Now that’s partly because the “Christian” vote isn’t politically significant, so nobody is trying to woo us, but it’s also because (at least in churches I’ve had anything to do with) no minister would dream of getting up and preaching politics.

    I do know that here (I can’t speak for anywhere else) the growth of complementarianism is driving people from the church, and there is definitely a trickle-down effect from the big-name American preachers; here the young and eager are all tuning in to podcasts by Piper, Driscoll etc. I would add that the increasing education of women factors in here — women who have power and affirmation in the workaday world are less likely to settle for being treated as 2nd class citizens when they come to church

    To Looking for You — my prayers are with you, that the God of all comfort will hold you in His arms and bathe your lacerated heart with His tenderness

    To all of you in America– a blessed and happy Thanksgiving!
    and to Dee and Deb — God has raised you up for a time such as this. As you gather with your families, may you be aware that our Lord is saying, “Well done, good and faithful servants!”

  14. Looking for You,

    I am so sorry about the loss of your children, one on Thanksgiving day. I can’t imagine the pain of that. I will certainly keep you in my prayers.

  15. Looking for You

    I have put your prayer request at the top of our home page. I am so sorry for your pain.

  16. Dee,

    Welcome back Reverend Mother! And here’s wishing you and your tribe a Happy Thanksgiving!

  17. I was raised half a world away as a missionary kid in a loving and grace-filled community diverse Christ followers who had their priorities straight (ministering in a country that is 97% Muslim tends to help believers focus on what’s important and ignore what’s not).I’ve been a believer since elementary school and even have a seminary degree. But my family and I over the past few years have become some of the nones.

    A big part of the problem as I see it, and what really makes me angry, is that the evangelical church in America has been hijacked by various forms of legalism. Sometimes that takes the form of the culture wars; other times it shows up as a narrow and strict literalism or other interpretive grid that excludes even other believers based on very secondary issues; and sometimes it becomes a political animal feeding on a very narrow set of moralistic issues and ignoring many others. Always it defines and excludes, and at its worst exhibits contempt for, the other and the outsider. And far too often it has an element of spiritual pride.

    All of this is so far from the gospel of grace, from our Lord who hung out with priests and prostitutes and tax collectors, and from the kingdom of which he spoke, that it frequently takes my breath away.

  18. John,

    You are not alone. I too am a seminary alumni, and I am a none. I am so upset at the business of religion now becoming a literal business. A money making, building buildings business…all the while preaching authoritarianism, and looking for a reason to “discipline” the congregation in order to keep them in line.
    I no longer see the missionary spirit in the church. We no longer want to see Jesus. We want to see a new fountain in front of the church.

  19. Looking for You,

    I will be definitley be praying for you.  Please keep one of my daughter’s friends and her family in your prayers.  The dad was doing repairs on the roof of their house this afternoon and fell.  They rushed him to the emergency room, and he died.  We are heartbroken for this family.  :-(  

  20. Looking for You – I am so very sorry for your loss and can’t begin to imagine how you must feel. Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. (((((((LFY))))))) [“old” internet-speak for hugs is (((([name]))))]

    Deb – on no. family is in my thoughts and prayers, and you guys, too.

    *

    As for Al M’s pronouncements, I think he is actually describing – as Dee said – the alienation of those who don’t fit into (or have been driven away from) the kind of church that he believes is The True Church.

    Thing is, the on holy catholic [universal] and apostolic church is FAR bigger than he imagines. (Than any of us can imagine.)

    As for secularization, yes and no. I think church used to play a much bigger part in most Americans’ lives by virtue of the fact that people socialized there. While that’s still true, it’s very different today – you don’t see Sunday School orchestras or other community-oriented things where people (not just church members) can get together, play music together and just hang out with others – and give concerts for the entire community. (My grandfather was a member of a church SS orchestra back in the 20s… they were a big deal in this part of the world and, I think, were one of many ways that the church helped facilitate active participation in the arts. Once TV came into vogue… SS orchestras and many other “make your own entertainment”-type programs, both church-sponsored and “secular,” disappeared.)

  21. Kolya, Lynne T, John and Haitch – Our habit of intertwining politics and religion must indeed strike others as strange, and no wonder!

    Though i think you will find that the mainline denoms – and pretty much anything outside the evangelical sphere – is not tied to the kind of political bloc voting that has characterized evangelicalism since the rise of Jerry Falwell’s “Moral Majority,” back in the 1970s.

    Side note: I once tried to watch Falwell’s “Old Time Gospel Hour” back in the late 70s or early 80s, and was so put off by all the images of US flags, the Capitol dome 9etc.) in the opening credits that I quit after less than 2 minutes. Talk about NO separation of church and state! It really appalled me then, and i feel the same way now.

    And I’ve gotta say that being bossed around about voting (always vote Republican!) for several decades was soul-crushing. It was as if we weren’t really permitted to think for ourselves about the whole political process. I think many younger people have zero tolerance for this, and I can’t blame them one bit.

  22. The Belted Cow – I have officially passed out from the cuteness! Thanks so much for posting the link to that vid. :D

  23. John

    Thank you for telling your story. Those in the church want to blame it on secularization. I don’t believe it. i think many still believe but have been disillusioned by the legalistic antics of the church. I am beginning to think that many of the nones may be smarter than those in the church. 

    About a month ago, i was looking at the car in the lot next to mine. It had one of those fancy stickers on it with the name of the church. It dawned on me that, years ago, we used to have stickers mentioning Jesus. Now, it is a church with its own distinctive “rules” for living. We are following churches and men these days. Where did the Jesus stickers go? 

  24. Add me to the outsiders completely confused about the flag-pin Jesus of American politics.
    Even here in the theologically conservative Sydney diocese, political/policy statements from leaders are few and far between, and stop a long way short of endorsing a particular party. I even read recently an article about whether Christians can vote Green. It was two columnists, one saying yes, one saying no. Most Christians won’t vote for the Greens (the main reason was actually because of a false rumour that the Greens wanted to legalise and sell all drugs), but they generally can talk about them without the histrionics that seems to go on in American politics.

    And Deb, Looking For You, prayers for both families right now.

  25. some thoughts – I agree Dee it is not about the “gay issue” because most church statements of faith don’t say anything explicit about homosexuality per se, morality/immorality isn’t in the main statement – usually just inerrancy, God as creator vs. God as the creator of Adam/Eve as first couple, the end (tribulation, Israel, rapture) and sometimes which confessions, doctrines or traditions the denominations comes from. At least in Canada it isn’t, but then our laws are quite different and direct mention could be construed as hate speech, not sure if they explicitly mention homosexuality in the US statements in the same denominations.

    To Haitch, Koyola, Pam, and everyone else wondering about evangelicalism and politics being uniquely American – don’t relax too much. Up until this current crop of leaders, elections here were never about religious affiliation – a former conservative leader had been a big flop. Then, the Conservatives joined with a very religious political party (called the Reform Party) and many Christians felt they would represent “family values” etc. I don’t think it has really gone that way, the former Reformed group was mostly kept quiet on social and moral issues so the Conservatives wouldn’t say anything the press could have a field day with. Despite the Conservatives not really living up to the hopes Christians had for repealing the gay marriage laws, or making a law (any law) on abortion, the Cons still garner the Christian vote at election time. It is Christians who work the campaign offices and many local candidates are openly Evangelical.

    Like Complementarianism, at least here in Canada, it is never directly said who to vote for from the pulpit, it is implied Christians will believe the Cons are going to bring in a blissful theocracy and respond by voting Conservative in that weird way a new believer picks up all the cultural Churchianity cues as if by Osmosis. The funny thing is, the Conservatives shy away from morally conservative issues like a wild baby bunny shies away from humans while they are in power, yet Christians still think they are going to “fix” these things. Never mind the Cons core financial base is Alberta – Oil Sands, big business interests, etc. It is hard to see why people don’t feel used by that party after many years in power and no real response on the “pet” issues, but they do all the American political tactics here now – convince the Christians, conservative immigrant families, nuclear families, etc. that they are on “our” side, air nasty attack adds against their opponents, campaign via a host of religious volunteers, promise to put forward socially conservative issues in Parliament – but forward it in a way it won’t change the status quo. Play politics with every financial decision, and, well, welcome to America Jr. come election time.

    Regarding the nones: one survey pointed out the “nones” mention “Jesus” and “faith” while the church attenders mention ” Beliefs” and “church” more when describing their faith. The nones are still Christian, they just don’t affiliate with a church anymore. That’s a little different than Al’s definition of the non-church attenders being “secularized”. Sure, nones are rejecting Al’s positions, just not Jesus’ positions, so they are hardly secular.

  26. Welcome back Dee. A very insightful piece.

    Let me just add that perhaps postmodern thinking is playing a part in what we see.

    Postmoderns don’t like absolutes, so the idea that a particular doctrine (YEC or Calvinism are good examples) is the definitely true doesn’t sit well with them. Instead, they are happier to study the Bible, ask questions, and admit they don’t have all the answers – witness the popularity of Rob Bell, Ann Voskamp, and Rachel Held Evans, and the way their books have been slammed by conservatives.

    And a key approach of postmodernism is to ask “why” someone is promoting a particular viewpoint. There is a lot of cynicism – is a preacher telling me something because he’s concerned for the salvation of my soul, or because he wants to increase his power-base, business empire, and personal wealth. There is plenty of evidence for this in conservative christianity.

    Anyway, must finish now. Just my two cents.

  27. I knew I had another point.

    Jesus said the greatest commandments are to love God and your neighbor. And the biggest disconnect in evangelicalism is that the more people claim that they love God and are zealous for what they see as the truth, the less love they show to their fellow Christians. The firing of Sheri Klouda is high-profile example, but there are thousands of other cases that never make the press. And this is what drives people out of evangelicalism, either into liberal churches or no church.

  28. Ian, it grieves me to say that there is some truth in this. I have seen conservative evangelicals leave churches that said the right things and on paper were theologically very sound, but whose practice ended up driving people away, even those who had been there for some years and very involved. It is a tragedy.

  29. Ian

    Good comment. I guess I fit quite well into the “why” camp. This is an excellent statement. “the morepeople claim that they love God and are zealous for what they see as the truth, the less love they show to their fellow Christians.”

    I think their love of God is based more on “the rules” than “grace.”  Grace is too easy for them. There have to be rules to show that they are “real” Christians. Then the rules become an end unto themselves. 

    A man sent me a church covenant to review. Love, in that document, is now defined as leaders telling you what is wrong with you. They said in this ridiculous document that this would be a long and hard process but that one’s soul was at stake. (I thought Jesus had taken care of that but no matter).

    Back to the turkey tending.

  30. @ Numo:

    “I think church used to play a much bigger part in most Americans’ lives by virtue of the fact that people socialized there.”

    There’s a good description of this in the prologue of James Hudnut-Beumler’s book In Pursuit of the Almighty’s Dollar: A History of Money and American Protestantism (“Prologue: Sunday Morning, 1750″):

    “The most public day of the week arrives. From Massachusetts to Georgia, people in England’s American colonies come together to spend the morning at their community’s church. In all but the largest cities, there is no choice in the matter of which church to attend. There is but one church for the settlement, be it a rural Anglican parish in Virginia, or in an urbanized settlement of German Lutherans just outside Philadelphia. People do not choose their churches; their churches are closely bound up with what it means to be part of a community. Churches are public institutions in the way that schools would later be regarded. A church building itself is the largest, and usually only, public assembly space in a town. Decisions about fixing roads and dividing land are made in this meeting house. Men were elected to the vestry, or council, or as justices of the peace in this place. Taxes and rates are set to support the public’s business, and no business is more universally important in colonial America than divine worship. On this day, other business affairs were left outside the church’s doors, though their presence was evident even in worship.

    The Lord’s Day began in earnest with the sounding of a church bell or a town crier summoning the community to church. In New England most townsfolk live no farther than several hundred yards from the church, a practice required by law in the seventeenth century and continued in common practice in the eighteenth century. In the urban centers of Boston, Newport, New York, Philadelphia and Charleston, the distances to church are even shorter. In rural areas of Virginia and the Carolinas, one may be a considerable distance from the church, but bells carry long distances in an age free of mechanized noise. Moreover, at the crossroads where the parish church stands, community is to be had, a gathering of kindred men or women, friends, rivals, other youth, servants, a relief from the monotony of one’s own household and a reminder of a larger world beyond daily work.”

    Unusually picturesque for a rather dry academic work.

    Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

  31. “Jesus said the greatest commandments are to love God and your neighbor. And the biggest disconnect in evangelicalism is that the more people claim that they love God and are zealous for what they see as the truth, the less love they show to their fellow Christians.”

    Ian, this is so true. Jesus said the greatest command is to love God, and the second IS LIKE IT: to love your neighbor (which he basically defines in the Good Samaritan parable as ANYONE you cross paths with). So many today treat the two commands as polar opposites. If we have no love for our fellow man, we make it clear to the world how we really feel about God (is that in 1 John?).

  32. Thanks for your prayers everyone. I woke up rested and peaceful and just… thankful that I can spend today with the family I still have (which includes several VERY healthy, happy children).

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

  33. Deb, that is so awful what happened to your daughter’s friend’s father. I will be thinking of them today and praying.

  34. Last week at Bible study in a mainline church, we realized about half were refugees from the SBC.

    A few were refugees from ultra liberal churches.

    While most would, on a survey, check “none” as to religious affiliation (no need to be twice burned!) most were very definitely churchgoing, active participants in the faith.

    Home churching, house churches, and lay led contemplative services are growing here. So are the mainline churches. In our town they are far more conservative than their parent bodies.

    Catholics are doing fine also.

    Maybe people are not so much leaving the church as leaving fundamentalist, Calvinista, emotionally manipulative, life controlling little demigods and their fiefdoms.

    It might be that the church is actually growing–that is, if we don’t define the church as dispensationalist, or Calvinist, evangelicalism.

  35. Looking for You – I am so sorry to hear of your loss, I am not a great prayer but I will keep you in my prayers. I am happy for your healthy children and will pray that you can parent them well while grieving after such a great loss.

    I agree with you Looking for you, Love your neighbour = the good Samaritan story. The one thing I have noticed is how the Calvinista leaders twist Love into “set people straight” if their views differ on secondary issues. Then, if they don’t see it the Calvinista leader’s way, then Love = excommunication or shunning or dismissing.

    Ian – consider that postmodern questioning may not simply be cynicism, but awareness. We are all wired and networked now, can check facts easily, are exposed to more than one point of view and realize jamming a person’s head with facts is not the best goal of education. Where does that leave the Reformation church model? The pastor isn’t going to teach something radically different from what can be downloaded from at least several popular preachers. This creates a tribalism, and division. People are thinking: “I agree with this or I don’t agree with this interpretation”. It becomes pastor vs. their favourite blogger.

    Now, people are choosing churches based on personal views/ interpretations of secondary issues. Churches haven’t figured out how to be inclusive and relevant to diverging secondary views – complementarian/egalitarian, arminian/calvinist/anabaptist, republican/democrat, literal creationism/theistic creationism. Partly, I think, because having one person do the teaching all/most Sundays for most of the time people spend in church is becoming pointless. The early church had so many people participating in church Paul had to tell the prophets to sit down if someone else got a prophecy (he didn’t tell the prophet interrupting the speaking prophet to wait, rather, the he told the one giving the prophecy to sit down and let the interrupter speak, that always struck me as strange). Hard to figure out what the 99% are supposed to do to participate in churches now, as most don’t do their learning at church anymore.

  36. I woke up rested and peaceful and just… thankful that I can spend today with the family I still have (which includes several VERY healthy, happy children).

    So glad to hear that, Looking for You!

  37. Ian – I think Val hit the nail on the head re. honest, healthy questioning vs. cynicism. Is it cynical to question? I don’t think so, but a lot of evangelicals would say it is.

    and that’s because those who ask questions are perceived as threatening.

    Been there, done that, have the scars to prove it.

    (btw, I am not so sure that the label “postmodern” – as it’s been thrown around in many evangelical circles – means much, but that’s a debate for another day. :))

  38. Deb,

    That is so sad about your daughter’s friend’s father. Again, I can’t imagine. They are in my prayers this holiday season.

  39. Val, as a fellow Canadian, nice analysis re: Christians and conservative politics. Stephen Harper et al prove that you can promise Christians the family values moon and they will let you do whatever you want to the environment. economy, etc. Even if they never fulfill their family values promises. In fact, you’ll soon get Christians thinking that the entire conservative party platform is somehow more biblical than the NDP, Liberals, Greens, etc. It is so sad – and alienating.

    Though I think we’d have to admit that our evangelical-conservative alliance isn’t quite as shrill and steadfast as in America. That probably has something to do with a slightly more realistic view of God’s relationship to the state. We’ve never claimed to be a city on a hill, a new Jerusalem. Though that is changing, too. We even have our own version of the Ron Paul Revolution – the quaint Wild Rose party.

  40. Thank you for telling your story. Those in the church want to blame it on secularization. — Dee

    More like “blame it on The Other”.

    “BLAME CANADA!
    BLAME CANADA!
    BEFORE ANYONE CAN THINK OF BLAMING US!!!”

    — Kyle’s Mom, South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut

    About a month ago, i was looking at the car in the lot next to mine. It had one of those fancy stickers on it with the name of the church. It dawned on me that, years ago, we used to have stickers mentioning Jesus. Now, it is a church with its own distinctive “rules” for living. — Dee

    That is, if it’s even recognizable as a church sticker. A couple years ago, Anaheim Baptist near where I live Got Relevant(TM) and changed their decor to grey and muted maroon and their name to PORTAL(TM). In none of their flyers, cards, or stickers is there even one clue that they are a church — only PORTAL(TM) in hip maroon and grey graphics.

    Then, the Conservatives joined with a very religious political party (called the Reform Party) and many Christians felt they would represent “family values” etc. — Val

    Funny thing, there was a Reform Party south of the border, too. AKA the “Ross Perot for President Party”. Started in ’92 for the usual reason of USA third parties and circled the drain for the next decade before dropping off the radar completely after Y2K. My parents were Perotistas and in my last visit to them in the summer of ’92, they spent most of the visit Witnessing to me to Accept Ross Perot as My Personal LORD and Savior. And after Ross Perot is President, all America’s problems will disappear completely. America for Real Americans!

    Messiah politics…

    Is it cynical to question? I don’t think so, but a lot of evangelicals would say it is.

    and that’s because those who ask questions are perceived as threatening. — Numo

    Beware Thou of The Mutant.

  41. Val: “Churches haven’t figured out how to be inclusive and relevant to diverging secondary views”
    And “The early church had so many people participating in church…”
    You remind me to give thanks today for an unusual church of which we were part for about 20 years.
    Participation by many people in many ways when we came together was really a priority. I suppose the prime operating verse was:
    “He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” Eph 4:16 NLT
    And guess what? Secondary issues usually remained just that!
    Praying for Looking for You and for friend’s family!

  42. Headless Unicorn Guy
    In our community Second Baptist Church changed to a SUMMIT… Then we have a Vertical Church, a Gathering, a Connection, a Revolution, an Oasis, a Pursuit, and a Drive, amongst others.
    But wait, there’s more! Your favorite, Trademark Church! (TM)

  43. According to most “church” people(like Al Mohler and such), the “nones” like myself are backslidden. If I was really saved then I would want to be at “church” with “God’s people,” doing a service of some kind.

  44. Here is where I think Mohler is really coming from/. He needs a culture war (and he IS a culture warrior) to hold on to his base. yes, he has a base tht is more political than folks think. The culture war was highly successful in evangelical circles for about 40 years. It made mini empires and dynasties in evangelicalism.

    The problem is there are fewer and fewer culture warriors. He is trying to instill the culture warrior instinct into the young minds full of mush who are his base now. the “culture” is the enemy they need to maintain and grow a movement.

    They are never the problem. He cannot understand that he promotes and champions a reprobate culture full of fake Christianity himself by promoting and protecting guys like Mahaney. By loving authority and power over victims. Nevermind his putting Ezell in a position to partner with Acts 29 which reeks of Driscoll DNA, the culture of sex and hating women.

  45. “ccording to most “church” people(like Al Mohler and such), the “nones” like myself are backslidden. If I was really saved then I would want to be at “church” with “God’s people,” doing a service of some kind.”

    The problem is you are not “accountable” to one of their officially approved anointed ones whose job it is to disciple you. You don’t need the Holy Spirit when you are in one of their local churches under the authority of one of the great men of God who hold the keys to the kingdom for you. You are too indepedent so they write Icabod on you and proclaim you “not one of us”.

  46. Anon 1,

    Yes, great point. The culture war is what makes Mohler relevant. He’s nothing without it. His whole tenure at SBS has a culture war driven inquisition against liberal Christianity and lashing out at ‘the culture’.

  47. Crowds followed Jesus for all kinds of reasons, of course. For some, preaching him (or a version of him) is a great career move. The role of international speaker and consultant – where you get to tell everyone what to do but nobody can reciprocate – is very appealing to the uncrucified ego.

    For others, being a part of something that tells them they’re right fulfills the same kind of role. A pastor friend of mine used to be one of Jehovah’s witnesses, and told me the story of a major conference in the US that the Watchtower called to stem the tide of people leaving the organisation after the world so conspicuously failed to end in 1975. In that gathering, apparently, one acolyte stood up, waved his regulation NWT bible, and proudly said words to the effect of:

    This book appears to me to be green. But if the Watchtower tells me it’s black, then as far as I’m concerned, it’s BLACK

    He was loudly applauded.

    That, surely, is one of the major reasons for the growth often boasted of by stridently legalistic churches. A gifted leader doesn’t have to garner that big a following before it reaches a critical mass and begins to grow, by itself, through the simple appeal of group-think. But ultimately, it provides too few answers to complex real-world problems.

  48. “As for grace, that is for the less Christian amongst us. You know, too much grace and people will go donw the path to hell.We now need Wayne Grudem’s 83 rules for complementarian living to be real Christians”

    Great observation, Dee!

  49. Which, by the way, was the reason my friend found the strength to leave the Watchtower. He was simply an honest man who could not pretend to himself to be as superior-through-doctrine as the Watchtower said he was.

  50. “This book appears to me to be green. But if the Watchtower tells me it’s black, then as far as I’m concerned, it’s BLACK”

    If that’s how it works then the shadowy leaders of the JW movement could have just tried to insist that the world DID in fact end in 1975!

  51. I can only suppose they thought it would be bad for business.

    The way they actually got around it was their “present truth” doctrine. Based on a rip-off of 2 Peter 1:12, in which they translate the phrase “the truth you now have” as “the present truth”. Either way, they claim that all their doctrines and prophetic calculations are infallibly accurate based on the truth that Jehovah has revealed up to now. When they’re forced to change a doctrine or retract a prediction, it’s not because they screwed up; it’s because Jehovah has rewarded their faithfulness by revealing more truth. So, of course, they can never be wrong, even when they are.

  52. “This book appears to me to be green. But if the Watchtower tells me it’s black, then as far as I’m concerned, it’s BLACK”

    Comrade O’Brian, Inner Party: “What is Two Plus Two?”
    6079 Smith W, Outer Party: “Four.”
    Comrade O’Brian, Inner Party: “And if The Party decrees it is not Four but Five?”

  53. If that’s how it works then the shadowy leaders of the JW movement could have just tried to insist that the world DID in fact end in 1975! — Sophie

    I think one minor end-of-the-world cult actually did try that after-the-date explanation. Something about “The world DID end on The Date, but Satan hath sent you strong delusion that you believe the lie.”

    And as for the 1975 Rosh Hashanah Rapture Scare, that WASN’T limited to the JWs. It may have originated among them, but it made the jump to a LOT of Evangelicals and Fundies and Fundagelicals with no trace or mention of its JW origins. I remember it very well — it was THE biggest Rapture Scare I have ever experienced.

  54. When they’re forced to change a doctrine or retract a prediction, it’s not because they screwed up; it’s because Jehovah has rewarded their faithfulness by revealing more truth. So, of course, they can never be wrong, even when they are. — Nick Bulbeck

    Isn’t that the same rational the Mormons used re Plural Marriage and Ham’s Curse Upon All Blacks?

  55. Yes, great point. The culture war is what makes Mohler relevant. He’s nothing without it. His whole tenure at SBS has a culture war driven inquisition against liberal Christianity and lashing out at ‘the culture’. — Anon1 & CalebW

    Just like previous generations lashed out at “the Jews”…

  56. Here is the Amazon page where Adrian Warnock gushes over Mohler’s hypocritical new book while Samantha tells the truth. Mohler’s drones are busy thumbing down my and Samantha’s comments.

  57. I posted a comment on Warnock’s article directing readers to the last article on Mohler here at TWW. Let’s see how long it stays.

  58. I’ve posted at this blog before, but maybe under a different name. I am bad at remembering which names and e-mail addresses I’ve used at blogs before, unless it’s a blog I post to very frequently (as in daily).

    Kolya, I am a Christian and a Republican.

    I really don’t have a problem with the political aspects of American evangelicalism, that they tend to lean right or vote Republican, or to support Republican nominees.

    I am, however, getting a little tired of the *constant emphasis* placed on the politics.

    I’ve lurked at this blog for awhile and had a hard time posting. I don’t agree with all the view points I see all the time from everyone, but I do relate to certain aspects of things I see mentioned at times.

    I have experienced some hurt at the hands of other Christians (not as severe as some of the other things I’ve seen on this blog), but due to being judged and criticized or ignored by Christians, especially at one of the lowest times in my life.

    After someone close to me died a few years ago, and I turned to other Christians for support, I got judgement instead, or platitudes, criticized, or ignored.

    Therefore, I’m reluctant to go back to a church, or confide in other Christians (at least in person. I’m a little more comfortable with doing so online).

    I am a YEC (Young Earth Creationist), but I’ve not heard it or seen it crammed down anyone’s throat, or used as a litmus test.

    I’m not denying it may have happened, but I’ve just not seen first-hand accounts of it. I’m pretty laid back about the YEC / ID / evolution/ Age of Earth topics myself and don’t care to argue about the particulars of any of it.

    As a YEC, I sometimes see YEC (and the people who hold to the view) get mocked by other Christians online, in addition to atheists who mock YEC.

    Over the last ten or more years, I have been attacked or criticized online (and a few times by phone or in person) by other Christians for things such as my prophecy views (i.e., being a Pre-Trib / dispensationalist), and for having clinical depression.

    A couple of Christians at one site, who view themselves as apologists, told me that “real” Christians cannot have depression, or any sort of emotional or psychological issues, and so I must not be saved.

    One large reason I feel alienated from most churches these days, aside from the reason or two I already gave, is that they continue to preach and behave as though America is still in a Brady Bunch television show re-run, where every one is married with a few kids.

    If you are not married by 25 years old with a couple of kids (as used to be typical in America, until about 3 or 4 decades ago), most American churches have no use for you, you will not feel included, there is no place for you to serve, especially if you are a single woman who has no kids.

    One of the few capacities most American churches will allow older (or even younger), unmarried- with-no-kids women to serve, is in the church nursery.

    I have no desire to be around children or babies or do similar tasks that are considered by most American Christians as fitting for women, considered “maternal” or “nurturing” (such as volunteering at homeless shelters, which I have tried, but it didn’t fit me).

    Almost all mainstream Christian blogs, magazines, and church sermons and activities at churches are for married people who have kids.

    Many in the American population these days are not getting married at all (they are staying single. I believe current stats are something like nearly 50% of all people age 18 to 40 or 50 are never married), or people’s first marriage is not taking place until late 20s or longer, but most American churches act like every one is still getting married at 21 or 22 years old and immediately having a couple of kids.

    If you are a Christian who is 30 or 40 years old and are married with a kid or two, you probably do not notice the amount of discrimination that happens against Christian people age 30+ who are still not married, and who don’t have children.

    Almost every sermon at most American churches is about marriage, or uses marriage as an illustration for everything (like to compare God to a husband, Christ to a bride, etc.).

    Or, most American churches/ preachers (in their sermons and teaching materials) talk about how to be a wonderful parent.

    All the church announcements at most churches on their bulletins and from the pulpit are for “Father and son picnics,” “Marriage seminars,” “Mom and daughter quilting parties,” or “Family fried chicken dinner night,” and so on.

    Constant emphasis on marriage ‘n’ kids, marriage ‘n’ kids, marriage ‘n’ kids.

    If you’re over 30 and never been married/ never had a kid, you feel totally over looked and excluded from churches (even the televised church services are bad; TV preachers are always offering “how to spice up your marriage,” “raising up godly children” sermons, and similar crud).

    As long as the American church continues to behave like everyone is (or has been) married (yes, it’s often assumed if you are 40 years old and show up alone at church that you were divorced at one point – even though you have never married), they are not welcoming environments for single people, and those who have never married, so we stay away.

    I’ve also heard that widowed/ widowers of all ages feel ignored.

    Most American churches choose to expend all their time, money and energy on (meeting the needs of and attracting):

    – kids to teens
    – 20-something people
    – married people age 25 – 50

    If you are not in one of those groups, churches don’t care about you, and you notice it, and you give up and stop going to church.

  59. When I said:
    “I’ve lurked at this blog for awhile and had a hard time posting.”

    I meant problems as in technical problems. Any time I tried to post (up until about a week ago), the blog would tell me I’m a spammer and freeze me out.

    Also, my last post, something else. It’s pretty ironic and pathetic that singleness is (and unmarried people are) treated so horribly by most American churches given that Jesus Christ (our founder, hello!!!!) never married and neither did Paul, and Paul said singleness is groovy with God.

    So funny that so many conservative American denominations, such as SBC, claim to be so biblical (and I agree in many ways they are), but not so much when it comes to single-hood and how they treat singles.

    Jesus Himself (being a never married guy with no kids) would probably feel pretty out of place in most American churches these days.

  60. Warnock criticizes the Vatican for covering up sex abuse (and normally I’d say rightfully so) but hypocritically recommend’s the SBC’s “resources” on this issue without telling the reader of their despicable conduct in this area. — Nicholas

    That’s because the Vatican is Antichrist Romish Popery, but SBC Is God’s Anointed Who Can Do No Wrong (Humbly, of course). Ever read the Landmark Baptists’ “Trail of Blood”?

  61. Yeah, I know of the “Trail of Blood.” It’s total historical nonsense, but most IFB’s believe it. It’s probably taught as history in their “colleges.”

  62. Almost all mainstream Christian blogs, magazines, and church sermons and activities at churches are for married people who have kids. — Daisy

    And Focusing on Their Families(TM)…

    Many in the American population these days are not getting married at all (they are staying single. I believe current stats are something like nearly 50% of all people age 18 to 40 or 50 are never married), or people’s first marriage is not taking place until late 20s or longer, but most American churches act like every one is still getting married at 21 or 22 years old and immediately having a couple of kids. — Daisy

    21 or 22? They waited THAT long? In some churches, you’re an Old Maid if you’re single at 19!!! Or not on your third kid by 22!!! No wonder the Christian divorce rate is so high if you’re marrying that young out of sheer desperation!!!

    If you’re over 30 and never been married/ never had a kid, you feel totally over looked and excluded from churches (even the televised church services are bad; TV preachers are always offering “how to spice up your marriage,” “raising up godly children” sermons, and similar crud). — Daisy

    There’s a now-defunct blog called “Onward, Forward, Toward” by someone who was (1) over 30, (2) never married, and (3) not rich as a megachurch pastor. He described church experiences where since he was 30 and single, he HAD to be a pedophile or perv. Period.

    Oh, and “spicing up your marriage” now includes both ends of the alimentary canal and forcing your Christian Wifey to service you while she’s puking her guts out from morning sickness.

    And “raising up godly children” includes twelve-inch glue sticks and quarter-inch plumbing supply lines, wielded so as not to leave marks at the slightest sign of hesitation in first-time obedience.

    And it’s not just “never had a kid”, it’s “not having a kid for every year of your Christian marriage”, and all of them have to be homeschooled from birth.

  63. Daisy,

    Reading your post makes me so sad. A disturbing thought came to mind as I was reading it: “Only the contributors get fed.” It’s the Republican (and possibly Democrat? now that I think about it) way of thinking. Only in this case we’re not talking about money/economics, but about the church’s most valued possession (apparently): Children. They are the future, religion’s hope for its own continuation.

    So, they minister to current “contributors” (married people ages 25-50, most of whom are parents), and future potential contributors (children/youth/20s). But not really anybody else. And that is how we know the modern american church has become more concerned about the instution than the individual. Sad. :-( I’m sorry that this has been your experience.

  64. BTW all, I just bumped into another person hurt by the SGM machine today. Thankfully, my friend developed a bad feeling about their control issues pretty early on. When they found out my friend was a professional counselor, things got pretty ugly, and that was the end of it. Thanks to reading here, I was able to confirm for my friend that SGM does indeed have serious control issues (described the lawsuit and their determination to keep everything hidden).

  65. Quoting HUG,
    “There’s a now-defunct blog called “Onward, Forward, Toward” by someone who was (1) over 30, (2) never married, and (3) not rich as a megachurch pastor. He described church experiences where since he was 30 and single, he HAD to be a pedophile or perv. Period.”

    I feel sorry for Christian males over 30 who have never married, because they do tend to get hit with “you’re a perv or a homosexual” suspicions or accusations and by other Christians, no less.

    If you’re a Christian lady over 30 and never married, you don’t get subjected to so much of “you’re a perv, we can’t trust you around kids, or you’re a lesbian.” We go ignored (which can be very hurtful, too, though).

    Or, if we get noticed at all, we have the opposite problem from never-married men when it comes to kids.

    Whereas older single guys are viewed as pervs who will hurt kids, so church people don’t want them near kids, most church members want to immediately shove a kid in the lap of single women, stick you in a nursery, or ask you to teach Sun. School to five years olds.

    This is a problem if you are a woman such as myself who does not feel comfortable around babies/ toddlers/ kids and who finds them completely irritating, not adorable.

    But we seem to mostly be ignored. It’s like most American denominations do not even stop to consider there is such a creature as a woman age 30 or over who has never married or had a kid. But we do exist.

    It’s funny that the Christian gender complementarians rarely address women over 30 who have never married. It does not cross their sexist minds that such a creature exists. They assume all women are married, so they sit around writing blogs telling women to submit graciously to their husbands.

    I forget where I saw it, but on some site, there were quotes by a guy who used to be a married pastor who talked about his experiences.

    After this guy’s wife died, his church wouldn’t allow him to remain a pastor, or (my memory is shaky on the details), he had to quit for awhile to help with his wife.

    After she died, and he was ready to be a pastor again, nobody would hire him, despite the fact he had been a pastor for 20 – 30 years.

    Churches would not even allow him to be a teacher/leader for singles’ classes. They all kept insisting they needed/wanted a married guy for whatever position he interviewed for.

    The American church is far, far too consumed with marriage and parenting.

    They are, in the process, ignoring or mistreating the never-married,the married with no kids, the childless, the Child Free (some Christians choose not to have kids), the divorced, the widowed, etc.

    Quoting HUG,
    And “raising up godly children” includes twelve-inch glue sticks and quarter-inch plumbing supply lines, wielded so as not to leave marks at the slightest sign of hesitation in first-time obedience.

    And it’s not just “never had a kid”, it’s “not having a kid for every year of your Christian marriage”, and all of them have to be homeschooled from birth.

    To be fair about things, and I don’t have any hard data to back this up, it’s only an impression of mine, I think that’s in the super fringe elements of American Christiandom and not too common.

    I don’t think it’s something you’re going to run in too, too much (the home schooling, the Quiverfull stuff, etc).

    The stuff I wrote about seems to be more prevalent, like the non stop stress on marriage ‘n kids in everyday, run of the mill churches in America, in the sermons and so on.

    In the New Testament, Christ taught that spiritual relations are on par with, or more important than, flesh- and- blood ties. Christians are to enlarge God’s kingdom by spreading the Gospel to anyone and everyone, not by getting pregnant and having more kids.

    HUG said,
    21 or 22? They waited THAT long? In some churches, you’re an Old Maid if you’re single at 19!!! Or not on your third kid by 22!!! No wonder the Christian divorce rate is so high if you’re marrying that young out of sheer desperation!!!

    I think that’s still more fringe element. Most mainstream type groups still have an expectation that marriage ‘n’ kids will happen to most Christians by mid 20s or certainly by 30.

    On the other hand, there’s been a slight trend where over the past few years, some mainstream groups (including Mohler of SBC and other Baptists) urge Christian youth to marry right out of high school (by age 18/19), though, since it’s become apparent that there are now boatloads of Christians over 30 who have never married.

    You mentioned Focus on the Family.

    They started an online journal for 20-somethings who are single, but they continue to ignore the over-30s.

    The under-30s don’t really need help, IMO. Once you hit 30 and upwards, it becomes incredibly, incredibly difficult to meet single Christians your age. When you’re in your 20s, it’s still a little easier to meet other singles in that age group.

    Dating sites are not a magic cure-all, either. I say that because so many married Christians at this point jump up to say, “try online dating!!!!,” or, “my sister Freida met her husband Jack on eHarmony, it will work for you!,” as though online dating works instantly and for everyone. It doesn’t.

  66. Looking For You wrote, I’m sorry that this has been your experience.

    Thank you for the sympathy, and for even acknowledging it happens.

    I’ve discussed this issue before at other blogs (not always Christian ones), and it’s surprising how so many Christians are in denial about it, they act like I’m making it up, or they assure me that their church doesn’t treat singles the way I’m describing, so it must not be true, or doesn’t happen often.

    In the last few years, I’ve read more blogs, online articles, and books about the topic, and there are many other, never- married Christian people over 30 who feel just as alienated by churches and many have stopped going to church.

    Christian married couples who don’t have children feel like misfits at churches too.

    Christians need to get more perceptive about stuff, even small things can hurt, like Mother’s Day, for instance – I personally don’t like it when churches honor mothers, because mine is dead. It’s another reminder she’s gone.

    I’ve read online stories by Christian women who can’t have kids (they wanted to have one but kept having miscarriages), and they say how painful it is to sit through the service when the preacher asks all the mothers in the congregation to stand up so they can be acknowledged, or to step forward and receive a flower for each child they have.

    I’m not saying churches need to completely do away with things such as Mother’s Day ceremonies or honoring motherhood, but they might want to skip a year or two.

    At the very least, they might want to be very sensitive in how they go about it, to mention something like, “we know some women here today have chosen not to have kids; that is fine; some of you cannot have children due to medical issues, some of you have lost children; our prayers go with you,” -etc. etc.

  67. Daisy – I hear you. am in my mid-50s, never married, never had kids.

    I don’t like doing Sunday School, etc. etc. etc.

    And I felt like such a weirdo – and so alone! – for many, many years.

    Also… the evangelical church is generally *not* sensitive toward those who are widowed/widowers. (Divorce is a whole other can of worms…)

  68. Daisy, relate to most things you say. But I’m pretty clueless what a Pre-Trib / dispensationalist is, so I’ve one less thing to argue about with folks.

    I remember sharing similar thoughts about relationships with a single friend who was in her 50’s. I was around 20 years younger. She said, ‘it gets better ! By the time you are in your 50’s your married friends’ children have left home and they’re getting ready to re-establish friendships again…’ Yeah right. I said I wasn’t prepared to wait until then !

  69. (Divorce is a whole other can of worms…)

    Numo, you can say that again! The way divorcees are acknowledged is by forming “healing/grieving” groups. They never stop to consider some may be rejoicing over being divorced due to the prolonged adverse condition of the marriage.

    And God forbid you ever DARE seen speaking to a man at church!! You are perceived as flirting or seducing. Women stay away and become fierce “protectors” of their husbands. You don’t feel comfortable at any of the family events especially if you don’t have children. You stick out like a sore thumb…no husband (your fault) and no children (poor thing).

    And the worst unspoken label is that you are living with a sin that is treated nearly the same as Hester Prynne’s and in lest some gentleman express an interest, the word of shame is passed on secretly to squelch the interest.

    Some churches could avoid a lot of pain for “misfit” believers by posting a sign outside that says “Couples ONLY!”

  70. “But I’m pretty clueless what a Pre-Trib / dispensationalist is, so I’ve one less thing to argue about with folks.”

    Ha Ha! I have never understood the intense focus of escatology with some groups. The whole “Left Behind” craze left me speechless. The books were written on a 6th grade level and romanticized end times with the hero’s working for the anti Christ. Sheesh!. I feel same way for the amills who claim that Satan has been bound up.(Fits the determinist god filter)

    I hardly see the point in arguing about any of it. Discussing it is fine. It is almost like discussing translations! Have you ever met a KJO person?

  71. Victorious

    Your comment  at 7:33AM was so insightful. In fact, it has the makings of a great post.  Do you think you could expand oon your examples, etc. I would be willing to help.

  72. Numo

    Any church who did not realize what a prize they had in you is a church not worth attending. The American church appears to worship at the altar of the nuclear family. conveniently forgetting that both Jesus and Paul were single.

  73. Daisy, I can relate to what you’re saying and I just want you to know that there are people who can really sympathise. The church I went to was quite good for singles and didn’t seem to over-emphasise family stuff too much, at least from my perspective (although I have no idea whether other people felt differently). One of the pastors, however, was a whole other story.

    One night, me and my flatmate (who also went to the church) got into a discussion about kids and I said I didn’t want any. I was 21, at university, I didn’t have a boyfriend, and my experiences of looking after other people’s children had, frankly, left me shell-shocked. I could hardly believe that anyone would actually CHOOSE to be responsible for these tiny little screaming people who seemed intent on injuring themselves. To my flatmate this was quite shocking because she had no real interest in education or a career but desperately wanted to get married and become a mother to at least 4 kids ASAP. She asked why I didn’t want kids and I said ‘oh, you know, varicose veins, incontinence…’. Yes, it was a flippant, silly answer, but I only gave it because I knew that she was unlikely to understand or accept any answer to the question ‘why don’t you want kids?’ no matter how thoughtful, practical and sincere. I was sure she knew I was just joking around because she let the matter drop and we went on to talk about something else.

    Anyway, not long after that conversation I had this pastor approach me during a social event and tell me that he had found out that I didn’t want kids, and asked me why not. I should have told him politely that it was none of his business but we ended up having a discussion about it. A while later he approached me and told me that on the basis of me not wanting kids, he thought I’d benefit from reading this book, which he then handed to me. I read a few chapters and discovered that it was about the emotional problems that can stem from being abused as a child. Even now I can remember the rage that welled up in me when I realised that this man who barely spoke to me had ‘diagnosed’ me with ‘co-dependency’ as a by-product of childhood abuse, based on a solitary piece of gossip my flatmate had passed on. I could not believe anyone could be so nosy and rude and presumptuous. Even worse, for a few months after that I had my flatmate and this pastor approach me at random times, look at me sympathetically and say ‘So have you thought any more about having kids? Do you want them now?’. I considered leaving the church but instead the next time I was able to have a conversation with the pastor in question I just made it clear that he had been totally out of line. He was the kind of action-not-words guy who would act impulsively and speak before thinking, and as a result couldn’t help putting his foot in it quite often. And he I think knew he had this habit, so he was willing to apologise. But the whole thing was one of my worst church experiences.

    You said you find children irritating, Daisy. I never understood why so many people think you HAVE to like kids and if you don’t there’s something wrong with you. Children are not automatically likeable at all. They are extremely noisy, yet you can’t have a decent conversation with them. They make a mess with food wherever they go, yet they are always hungry. They can’t be reasoned with because they have no concept of ‘tomorrow’ or ‘later’. To them, delayed gratification is no gratification. And yet people insist that if you’re a woman who doesn’t have this vague, undirected maternal feeling swilling around inside of you ready to lavish on a child whenever it comes into your line of vision, there is something wrong with you.

    The truth is, even a lot of great parents don’t even particularly like any kids other than their own. The whole ‘there’s something wrong with you if you don’t like kids’ thing is a myth.

  74. Maybe my use of “cynicism” wasn’t the best wording. Postmoderns do tend to be suspicious of “experts” due to previous failures, vested-interests, and corruption. So they prefer to study, question, and make up their own mind from the various options on offer. I could say this is healthy scepticism or a desire for learning. And as someone said, we can all easily research things ourselves now. To fit this into modern church, the idea of someone saying that calvinism or complementarianism is the gospel (as various TGCers have down) is not going to be well-received in a postmodern setting.

  75. Dasiy, Hatch, Hug. Victorious, Eagle, Brad, Numo (I know  there are more)

    I am really interested in doing a few posts on singles and the church. Much to my detriment, I am not well versed in this area. However, I have long wanted to write about this.

    I am wondering if there is a way for some of you who are single to write about your experiences or situations with which you are acquainted and i could mesh them together into a few posts?

    Here is what I propose. Write like you are writing a comment but longer. Send them to me via email. Then, I could put them together.

    I believe this is very important. We must never forget that Jesus and Paul were single so it is a state to be honored, not shoeved aside.

    As for Focus on the Family-Dobson’s son is divorced and remarried and his daughter never married (unless something has happened in the last few months)so that organization whould be well versed in these areas, shouldn’t they? However, that doesn’t get discussed much, does it? 

    Finally, one observation: Nacny Leigh DeMoss-a high profile single woman gets plenty of attention. I am specualting here but could it be due to her very, very wealthy background? Money matters in these instances. Or am I being cynical?

  76. Dee – I hope you roll with that idea. I’ve done a couple posts on singles/divorced and these folks are treated like they have the plague. This is just one more church hypocrisy that needs to be exposed. I’ve had quite a few e-mails and it just breaks my heart. After that, I started paying attention to what is offered at churches and it is just as Victorious says. Churches seem to have a very difficult time integrating singles into ordinary church programs, they leave them out of sermons, they don’t know what to do with them. Good grief. I’m getting upset just typing this thinking of the personal stories I’ve read. I’m going to continue to discuss this, too. A single or divorced person is no better than me. Where does this crazy stuff come from? It’s like the church has to portray the perfect picture of who goes to church: the Norman Rockwell church family. Heaven forbid a spouse die, someone go through “biblical” divorce or – – – careful now: REMAIN SINGLE!

  77. HUG

    I am finishing up a book of the supposed “conservative” realignment of the SBC. Of course there were some people who had gone off reservation with some theology but what is not discussed is that many had not. They had letimate differences in secondary areas. But secondary areas were raised to primary-something I will discss today.

  78. Daisy

    I have no idea why you were blocked by our site. We do NOT intentionallu block comments. In fact, some folks would say we should block more comments but we are pretty open about such stuff. However, some of our spam filters will stop some posts with two or more links. Then we will  hand approve them but it might take some time if we are out, etc.  If you will send us the comments that have been blocked, we can see why that happened.

  79. Ironically I just checked my email and read a bulletin sent out by a church I’ve attended a few times:

    “Singleness, relationships and sex are such important subjects and as a church we want to equip people with truth based on what the Bible has to say about these subjects. With that in mind, we’re running a seminar when Pete will be sharing on these subjects, so whether you’re single, dating or divorced, we would love to see you there. There will also be opportunity for Q & A as well as fun afterwards with games, speed dating, music and food for sale in the cafe.”

    Sounds like this church at least perhaps have caught on to the existence of dissatisfaction among non-married people(funnily enough it’s the same church that was host to Mark Driscoll and the OralSexgate incident).

  80. Julie Anne

    We could share the stories that we get and maybe both sites could post on this issue. It might get more attention. My thought is for people to share their experiences and feelings and then put them together. We could develop categories like single pastors, singles serving in leadership, married women who are fearful of single women talking with their husbands, etc.

  81. “As for Focus on the Family-Dobson’s son is divorced and remarried and his daughter never married (unless something has happened in the last few months)so that organization whould be well versed in these areas, shouldn’t they? However, that doesn’t get discussed much, does it? ”

    Amazing isn’t it. All those years of radio teaching and books, all the millions given to them to tell us how to live and it did not work with their own kids. Funny, that.

    “Finally, one observation: Nacny Leigh DeMoss-a high profile single woman gets plenty of attention. I am specualting here but could it be due to her very, very wealthy background? Money matters in these instances. Or am I being cynical?”

    I cannot figure out why she is an icon or sought after teacher in the biblical womanhood movement. I do think the money gives her a pass. Wonder who the man is gives her spiritual covering now?

  82. Hey Daisy, nice to have you here…yeah, churches can be pretty weird places for singles, I didn’t get married until I was 36, but I had the fortune to go to a church that isn’t as weird as many, and I fit into some other categories – Youth Worker with the teenagers, long -term ill health (I had what I think Americans know as Imune Deficient Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for 22 years)so people could relate to me in other ways. I also ‘may’ (ha ha) be quite sharp tongued about people going on about those who aren’t married, I turned down a non-christian guy I very much wanted to marry in my early/mid 20’s (he just kept telling me he still wanted to marry me…I had to say no for 4 years…no easy thing)because I didn’t think it was compatible with being a christian. So, being single was a deliberate part of following Christ for me, at huge cost (for him as well as me)…many people fail to understand that for many singles that is the case.
    And now I’m 44 & married without kids…& not intending to have any. I’m only just getting my health back & I can’t face being that tired again – ever. I see how my incredibly healthy/younger relatives & friends struggle with having young children, & for me I can’t go there. I probably would have if I’d always been healthy, so I have missed out big time due to illness. Again, if anyone gives me a hard time about any of this I am quite likely to have a little word about it rally being none of other people’s business, I have become a little bit straightforward like that in my old age…not offensively, just assertively.
    I also used to joke with my single friends who were fed up of being asked about their love lives that they should ask how the marriages were of those married people harassing them…:)

  83. Hi All – And thank you so much for All who comment here.

    This Blog is really special. I so appreciate the commenters and the freedom to tell their stories.
    The freedom to agree and dis-agree – The freedom to warn, The freedom to ask for prayer.
    My heart breaks for many – And my heart rejoices with many.

    I just enjoy reading, and learning from, the varied backgrounds that comment here. :-)

    1 Cor 14:26
    How is it then, brethren? when ye come together,
    every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue,
    hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.

    It is a joy to see this scripture come alive.
    Where all can, and are expected to, participate.

    Seems to me it is “The Body of Christ” in action –
    Where every joint supplies. And The Body edifies itself in “LOVE.”

    But speaking the truth in “LOVE,” may grow up into him in all things,
    which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together
    **and compacted by that which every joint supplieth,**
    according to the effectual working in the measure of every part,
    **maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.**
    Eph 4:14-16

  84. Dee – That’s a great idea. I’ll send a note to some of the people who have contacted me privately and see if we can do something together.

    Yes, I was up early because my 18-yr old daughter and her friend wanted to do a little early bird shopping. We got in and out pretty quickly without even waiting in line to check out. With 5 boys, I appreciate the 50% off socks. Don’t get me going about socks and boys. It’s not a pretty subject.

  85. EAGLE!!! HA – I should have figured out after the title, but nooooooooo, I kept reading and then finally I looked at the “news source”. You know, the sad thing is there is some truth to that article among fundies.

  86. Dee – I hope you roll with that idea. I’ve done a couple posts on singles/divorced and these folks are treated like they have the plague. — Julie Anne

    Maybe it’s the Christianese version of “Virginity is today’s Leprosy”? (Those who claim “AIDS is today’s Leprosy” have obviously never seen a virgin get outed.)

    (jingle of bells) “UNCLEAN!!! UNCLEAN!!!”

    I cannot figure out why she is an icon or sought after teacher in the biblical womanhood movement. I do think the money gives her a pass. Wonder who the man is gives her spiritual covering now? — Anon1

    George Washington (on the $1s), Abraham Lincoln (on the $5s), Alex Hamilton (on the $10s), Andy Jackson (on the $20s), Sam Grant (on the $50s), Ben Franklin (on the Benjamins)…

    Well one Sunday I went up there and this woman prayed for me. She told me she had a word from God for me and it was this.

    Being single is a sin. And I was living in sin since I was not married. — Eagle

    Let me guess. She married at 18? That’s the usual pattern for Church Lady Kyle’s Moms that know what Singles should be doing.

    And coming from a church where Mary Channeling is the preferred way to flake out, I am very skeptical of Special Revelations (the Romish term for “having a Word from God about so-and-so”). Both Internet Monk and Christian Monist have written extensively about guilt manipulation and Special Revelation claims used as a weapon to force compliance.

    The sad part is this guy and his wife are trying to have a kid JUST so they can fit into their church. — Eagle

    And chances are they married for the exact same reason. However, after one kid they will find they don’t fit in because they must have multiple kids to fit in. And then they will find they MUST homeschool all their stair-step kids to fit in. And then…

  87. Hi Daisy, I can relate to what you are saying. I noticed how my own life changed after my wife left me, when I did receive sympathy and a lot of help from a few Christian people but suspicion or what I regarded frankly as silly ignorant comments from others.

    I’ve also never strongly felt the child-raising urge. This can be an issue for older singles when they meet single parents – are we really prepared to go into a relationship with children involved, having not had any prior experience?

    The thing about singleness being a sin is so nutty and unbiblical as to be hardly worth commenting on. Neither state is to be esteemed above the other.

    Daisy, while there are a range of views on here on different subjects such as creation and dispensationalism, I hope you will feel welcomed by everyone. Sometimes the saloon gets a bit rowdy, but that’s when Ma Dee or Ma Deb start firing their pistols into the ceiling! :-) (As they should…)

  88. I feel sorry for Christian males over 30 who have never married, because they do tend to get hit with “you’re a perv or a homosexual” suspicions or accusations and by other Christians, no less.

    If you’re a Christian lady over 30 and never married, you don’t get subjected to so much of “you’re a perv, we can’t trust you around kids, or you’re a lesbian.” We go ignored (which can be very hurtful, too, though). — Daisy

    A novelty song that brought to mind. Enjoy!

    Or, if we get noticed at all, we have the opposite problem from never-married men when it comes to kids.

    Whereas older single guys are viewed as pervs who will hurt kids, so church people don’t want them near kids, most church members want to immediately shove a kid in the lap of single women, stick you in a nursery, or ask you to teach Sun. School to five years olds. — Daisy

    Because all women want/have to be MOMMIES (or as close to it as they can get)…

    forget where I saw it, but on some site, there were quotes by a guy who used to be a married pastor who talked about his experiences.

    After this guy’s wife died, his church wouldn’t allow him to remain a pastor, or (my memory is shaky on the details), he had to quit for awhile to help with his wife.

    After she died, and he was ready to be a pastor again, nobody would hire him, despite the fact he had been a pastor for 20 – 30 years.

    Churches would not even allow him to be a teacher/leader for singles’ classes. They all kept insisting they needed/wanted a married guy for whatever position he interviewed for. — Daisy

    That exact subject showed up on Internet Monk a year or two ago. Some say it was long-term fallout from the Reformation Wars, where married or single clergy announced Whose Side Are You On? And because Enemy Christians (Romish Popery) have all-single clergy, We Must Have all-Married Clergy. Some say it’s a “twofer” — two for the price of one, since the Pastor’s Wife will work all those Pastor’s Wife Volunteer Duties for FREE. (Other sources relate horror stories about what happens to pastors’ widows in that environment, i.e. outlived their usefulness, discard and replace with New Pastor’s Wife. Praise God(TM).)

    Dating sites are not a magic cure-all, either. I say that because so many married Christians at this point jump up to say, “try online dating!!!!,” or, “my sister Freida met her husband Jack on eHarmony, it will work for you!,” as though online dating works instantly and for everyone. It doesn’t. — Daisy

    I can vouch for that. For 10 years after my breakup with my only girlfriend, I must have flushed three-four grand down the crapper of dating services. And over a grand of that was for CHRISTIAN dating services. Spent most of that time talking to answering machines and never got beyond a first date. And the most spectacular pre-first-date rejection I ever got was from a CHRISTIAN dating site match.

    Judging from the “who I am” and “what I’m looking for” on the female dating-service sheets, a lot of the women would really be happier “married to Jesus” as a cloistered nun, with 24/7 prayer and devotions. The “Who I am” was straight out of Proverbs 31 by way of Jack Chick — Uber-Spiritual, Uber-Godly, with NO other life than 24/7/365 prayer and devotions and Witnessing. And the “What I want” was so identical on them they could have been pre-printed: An Uber-Spiritual, Uber-Godly, Uber-Christian man so Edward Cullen Perfect that even Christ Himself couldn’t have measured up.

    (You’re giving me WAAAY too much stuff to work with, Daisy…)

  89. I’ve read online stories by Christian women who can’t have kids (they wanted to have one but kept having miscarriages), and they say how painful it is to sit through the service when the preacher asks all the mothers in the congregation to stand up so they can be acknowledged, or to step forward and receive a flower for each child they have. — Daisy

    Daisy, Daisy, you’re giving me way too much to work with. Especially when something you throw out causes a random-association cascade in my ex-kid-genius brain.

    Ever wonder whether churches like that should get hold of the molds and dies for these and start passing them out instead of flowers:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross_of_Honor_of_the_German_Mother (GODWIN’S LAW WARNING)

  90. HUG, Finally enough time has passed we are starting to see the eharmony type marriages breaking up or on the rocks.

  91. Sophie – Am so very sorry to hear what you went through via the *gossip* (yes, it was) that your roommate spread. (although I must admit that I did some things that were that thoughtless at 21 and after… live and learn.)

    I had something very similar happen to me when I was in my 30s. Someone assumed from a comment I made that I’d been sexually abused as a child (this was back when all kinds of hype about “repressed memories” was big in many churches) and a couple of well-meaning pastors’ wives kept after me and AFTER me about joining a group for survivors of sexual abuse and… Oh man. I kept telling them that I’d never been sexually abused, but they literally refused to accept my word for it.

    : (

  92. As for being treated as if I were a predator of some kind (being single), to the best of my knowledge, that’s never happened to me.

    Some fundagelical/charismatic circles are better than others re. this, and re. some other issues, but in a very general and vague way. I think the vagueness is there because they just sail blithely on, assuming that their State in Live (married) should be everyone’s state in life, and something all people automatically aspire to.

    so… that leaves out widows and widowers, as well as those who are divorced + everyone else who has never been married (straight and gay).

  93. Eagle – I know you’ve said that you’re not interested in liturgy, but to be honest, I think that you might well find that a good liturgical church would be FAR more welcoming re. all of the questions you have and the issues you’re wrestling with.

    Not meaning to be pushy here… it’s just that I have personally found this to be true. I think that if you keep knocking on evangelical doors, you’re likely to keep on running into the same problems. That’s not to say that liturgical churches are without problems – they all have their own specific sets of issues… but there’s generally a little more room – mentally and emotionally – for doubt; oftentimes quite a lot of room. I think one reason for that is that there is a far more realistic understanding of what it is to be human; that all people struggle with questions and pain and hurtful things that are part of life.

    also, fwiw, in many liturgical churches, ministers have to take a *lot* of psych courses and practicum on how to help those who are grieving, who are experiencing physical/mental illness, etc. I know that’s true in my denom (or, I should say, in my synod), and you might find it beneficial to check into what kinds of things are required for people who are ordained in x or y denom whose church you’re visiting. If they don’t have much – or any – training in actual psych/counseling (and I do NOT mean “nouthetic” stuff!), then… I’d steer clear.

    But that’s just me.

  94. Eagle – fwiw, I belong to the same Lutheran synod (ELCA) that Chaplain Mike has joined. Likely one of the reasons he’s having to pursue a lot of education there prior to being ordained has to do with the synod’s emphasis on actual pastoral work (you know, the kinds of things good hospital chaplains do, but expanded to cover an entire congregation).

  95. Beakerj – I’m so glad to hear that you were treated with compassion re. your CFS diagnosis and its limitations.

    Overall, I have not been nearly as fortunate – in church (and sometimes, other) – circles when I have told people about *my* diagnosis. In fact, I’ve run into brick walls, including a so-called “pastor” refusing to believe that I had it, which progressed to an accusation of my having gotten Social Security disability benefits on false grounds.

  96. Eagle, I would agree on the whole with Numo’s comment on liturgical churches, provided their theology hasn’t completely gone out of the window (in either direction LOL).

    HUG, my experience with a Christian dating site has been a bit different. The impression I came away with was that most of the ladies on there really wanted to travel and have holidays halfway round the world. Perhaps they thought it made them look adventurous! Also I noted that there were a high number of Joyce Meyer fans on there. I’m not knocking these ladies for a minute, but it did make me think.

    I know it has worked for some people, but I wonder if it tends to favour those who are closer to the “golden mean” or mythical ideal – either well-off and able to provide (if male) or attractive (if female). Just my thoughts, other people’s are welcome!

  97. I first joined a church at 18 and was married at 24, so I spent 6 years as a single church-member. I certainly noted that babysitting was assumed to be work for “singles”. And in one of the sillier manifestations of The Pastor Has A Vision For Everyone, the entire non-married over-18 population of a church I was in once was required to join a “youth group”, despite the huge age-range involved (some folk were nearly 30). In one really instructive episode, during the phase when it was referred to as “the singles group”, one of us invited a non-christian friend along and his answer was “it’s OK – I’m spoken for”. To the church, a “singles group” was a kind of dustbin housegroup in which to dump everyone who wasn’t married and therefore had no responsibilities and infinite time to doorknock and evangelise. To everyone else, of course, it was a group for people who were looking for Someone.

    Fortunately, that particular “singles group” died the death after a couple of months.

  98. Just re-reading this Mohlergram:

    It’s that the entire moral landscape has changed. An increasingly secularized America understands our positions, and has rejected them.

    I think that sentence would make perfect sense with the addition of just one word (oh, and the replacement of the zed, obviously):

    It’s that the entire moral landscape has changed. An increasingly secularised America understands our positions, and has understandably rejected them.

    Jesus himself never set any store, in his roughly 3-year ministry, by the kind of proof-by-aggressive-assertion we seem to think so meritorious. Nor did he ever demand a vacuous “blind faith”, but urged his disciples “…at least believe on the evidence”. And as for the scriptural scriptures in what was later to become the biblical bible, he didn’t simply ram them (with his pet interpretation) down peoples’ throats, but fulfilled them. Sorry, everyone – I know you’ve read all that as well.

    Perhaps if we (the biblical bible-believing church) directed more of our attention to fulfilling scripture, and less to expounding it verse by isolated verse, we would have less secularisation to complain about.

  99. Eagle – I’m not talking about fads or crazes. I was raised Lutheran.

    I have found that good ELCA churches have been not only receptive and welcoming, but “safe” for me, ever since I got booted from That Church 10 years ago.

    It’s *not* the fact that Lutheran churches are liturgical; it’s the *theology* AND practical approach to human existence, questions of suffering, God’s goodness, etc. + the emphasis on ministers doing actual pastoral work – y’know, being there for the people and helping with their needs.

    ikwym about RC exclusivism; some Lutheran synods – like the MO Synod and Wisc. Synod – are totally “closed communion.” (They will not knowingly serve communion to someone from my synod, in the stricter MO Synod churches, anyway.) I think closed communion is ridiculous and back in my early 70s, charismatic renewal days, knew a fair number of Catholic priests who felt they could not turn away anyone who confessed Christ… in other words, when they were celebrating Mass, people like me were welcome to take communion.

    Rome had a fit about guys like that, but they couldn’t stop them, either.

    Back to the main point: I have yet to be in an evangelical church – unless we’re talking Low Church Anglican – that is not tied to perfectionistic standards and rules governing behavior.

    However… you might want to investigate some United Methodist churches. Not sure what the spread (liberal to conservative) is like in the D.C. area, but around here, there are some good churches/ministers. You might feel more comfortable in their environment, where the service has some structure but isn’t liturgical.

    Also, rejecting all liturgical churches on the basis of experience with only one of them is – totally imo – a bit like throwing the baby out with the bathwater, but hey – you need to do what you need to do, and I respect that.

    I wonder, though, if face-to-face convos with people might be better in terms of asking questions than simply sending emails after visiting?

    Just my thoughts, to take or leave… absolutely no pressure intended!

    Note: I don’t know that it’s about crazes or fads so much as it is about looking for balance. (In my case, anyway.)

  100. Eagle, I have one other thought for you, based on my own experience.

    The 1st church group I was involved in was a discipleship movement-oriented Catholic charismatic group. Serious problems developed – it was an abusive environment – and so I went off to another, similar group, having heard that it was better.

    In some ways it was, but in the ways that count most, it wasn’t – in short, it was very abusive, and I got badly burned there and avoided xtian groups and churches for several years… until a while after I ended up in D.C., when some old friends talked me into becoming part of their church, which they said was so much better than the group I’d been in previously.

    But it was from the same nexus (charismatic movement with discipleship movement influence). And I left, this time headed off for That Church, which seemed like an oasis, free from discipleship movement influence.

    it wasn’t. And I was booted out after 10 years.

    The take away: I kept going to the same kinds of churches, hoping against hope that they would be better than the last one.

    That’s a LOT like going from one abusive personal relationship to another.

    I got burned by/in ALL of these groups.

    So… my reversion to my Lutheran roots has a great deal to do with needing a safe place after being in all of these places, every single one of which proclaimed that they they were “safe” and free of discipleship movement ideas and methods. NOT!

  101. Numo,

    I agree with Dee on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 09:15 AM.
    They wouldn’t know what human greatness is if it bit em’ in the ass.
    It’s their loss if they choose to remain blinded by dogma.

  102. Dee and Muff – Aww gee [blushes] Thanks!

    But you have to understand that they all thought *everyone* should be married… and, in the case of That Church, I asked questions that were apparently threatening. (As in “Why is the Nicene Creed not part of our doctrinal statement?” – I kid you not, re. that being perceived negatively by the person of whom I asked it, who had been ordained by the C of E!!! Of all the ridiculous things… that was/is one of the most mind-boggling to me.)

  103. numo, you said what I was going to say about theology being what is important, not liturgy. Liturgy is just a good way of keeping the church service from becoming a show. Also, I wasn’t aware that there was a “Lutheran craze.”

    Regarding close communion, the LCMS has pulpit fellowship with the following Lutheran communions: http://www.lcms.org/page.aspx?pid=1372

    The reason that LCMS doesn’t have pulpit fellowship with the ELCA is because theological liberalism rules the day there. There are thelogically conservative churches left in it, but they are the exception rather than the rule. It was the top leaders of ELCA who voted to allow the ordination of practicing homosexuals. The ELCA would have never gotten to that point if it and its predecessor denominations hadn’t tolerated seminary professors, ordained ministers, and denominational leaders who denied the central tenets of the Christian faith (virgin birth, miracles, subsitutionary atonement, bodily resurrection, and inspiration and infallibility of Scripture.) The history is pretty much the same with all the liberal mainline denominations.

    The LCMS does have a procedure for administering Communion to individuals who are not memebers of churches in communion with the LCMS. If you told them you were an orthodox believer from an orthodox church in the ELCA, you could probably receive communion in an LCMS church.

    The WELS is a different story. It is they who refuse to be in fellowship with the LCMS over trivial reasons. I hate to use the term “fundamentalistic” to describe any Lutheran group, but if there are any Lutherans (besides the pietists) that it could legitimately refer to, it would be the WELS. That said, I have great respect for WELS, as well as NALC, LCMC, and any conservative churches left in the ELCA.

  104. Nicholas – Re. theological liberalism and the ELCA, I think you might be mistaken. Yes, there are some extremely liberal churches, but many others are middle-of-the-road, and still others quite conservative.

    In some ways, it’s a bit like a very small version of the Anglican Communion in that respect.

    I wonder if you have ever visited an ELCA church?

  105. If you told them you were an orthodox believer from an orthodox church in the ELCA, you could probably receive communion in an LCMS church.

    OK, why should this even be necessary?! If a person believes in Christ and what’s contained in the Apostles and Nicene Creeds, there is – imo – absolutely no problem with them receiving communion.

    Pastors aren’t meant to be cops, checking the spiritual equivalent of drivers’ licenses. They are there to care for the congregation, not play Big Enforcer.

    Just my opinion… (goes for all churches, not just Lutheran!)

  106. I haven’t but if an ELCA church was theologically conservative, I wouldn’t have a problem with visiting it.

  107. Re. the WELS, they are extremely fundamentalist, in their own Lutheran-tinged way. I would not wish to be involved with a WELS church, as I know I would not fit there.

  108. Nicholas – see, cut us a break! You can’t tar us all with one brush. (Well, you – or anyone – can, but…)

    I have spent time attending a very good LCMS church – back in the 80s – and met some wonderful people there. fwiw, the pastor knew I was ELCA bur I was more than welcome to take communion with everyone else.

    My hunch is that there’s quite a spectrum within the LCMS, especially as one gets further away from the Midwest.

  109. Nicholas – 15 years ago, I was totally against the idea of gay people being ordained.

    Now, I am pro-ordination and recognition for LGBT people. The truth is, there have always been LGBT people in ministry (lay and ordained), and the vote was partly an apology for the poor treatment that many have received from the church (ELCA).

    Also, the implementation of ordination (etc.) and pastoral ministry of LGBT is *totally* on a congregation-by-congregation basis. Individual congregations have the vote on that.

    I am saddened – though not surprised – by the furor over this.

  110. Hey Numo, I’m really sorry to hear that you’ve had problems with CFS too…I hope you are much better. I’ve generally had good responses my being ill, but I’ve also had some total bulwarks. My favourite comment was, ‘ Are you sure you’re not just a tired person?’ to which I replied, ‘Are you sure you’re not just a stupid person?’ :)

  111. Daisy
    Your postings were right on the mark.You have really studied this issue quite well.
    Thanks you for your insights.

  112. Beaks – superb. Worthy of Dogbert!

    Another reason for the rise in the Nones population, in the UK at least, is very different from what’s been discussed up to now in this thread. Namely, sheer frustrated boredom. A proportion of people just drift away from traditional churches, not because they’re not amused or entertained, but because they’re not occupied – there’s nothing meaningful for them to do there. I don’t know how widespread this problem is in the US, but there’s a strong church sub-culture here that is dedicated to creating safe, gentle, non-threatening environments so that church members can remain baby-like, passive, and contented.

    At times this can be quite smothering and almost, in a weirdly backwards kind of way, aggressive. I remember this exchange from a prayer meeting in my student days just before the summer exam season:
    Leader: We’re going to pray for [the students] now, because they’re all quaking in their boots about these exams.
    Me:… er – I’m not [true, and probably speaking for most of us]
    Leader (to congregation):Nick puts on a bold face, but we know he’s frighted on the inside
    Me:No, I’m not.
    Leader:You can’t fool us, Nick!

    At which point I gave up; there’s no winning that kind of argument unless you have a very strong and intimidating personality, which I don’t, or very strong standing and credibility, which I didn’t. I’m hardly going to call that single incident “abuse”. I think the chap in question was simply being a little impulsive and unwise. But a church that persists in treating all its members as helpless babies, hurting and broken, isn’t a welcoming place.

  113. I’ve never attended a “singles” group (and I’m a single 20-something), but my experience looking in from the outside is that they seem to fall into two groups:

    1. Groups made up entirely of college students and the recently graduated. These seem to have a very high turnover rate as pairing off and marriage happen pretty quickly.
    2. Groups made up entirely of divorced and/or perpetually single 50s. To be honest the ones I’ve seen came off as a bit of a meat market – the goal was most definitely to encourage “coupling.” I got roped into attending a “singles’ dance” at a local studio with one of these groups once and there was definitely a “trolling” atmosphere. I don’t mean that to be offensive and really do wish I’d had a better experience.

    So yes, I think the idea of a singles’ group that ISN’T about marrying people off would be very foreign to most churches. It doesn’t seem to occur to them that some people (esp. in the 50-something group) might not want to get married.

  114. Also, let me just add that, as a single Christian 20-something who hasn’t yet begun dating – I’m honestly scared of the Christian dating scene. Between the courtship-purity movement and the heavy-handed complementarianism currently making the rounds, I’m afraid that any guy I’d meet who was committed enough to label himself “Christian” is going to be pre-infected with one of these dangerous theological viruses. I know more than a few guys in their teens and twenties who would DEFINITELY consider it a dealbreaker if a woman told them that she would not stand for the authoritarian notion of “headship” in their marriage.

    I don’t know if Dee would be interested in this perspective for any upcoming singles series, but this is my two cents as a somewhat anxious Christian single standing on the edge of the dating scene.

  115. I only skimmed the comments, but wanted to chime in.

    David was 33 and I was 29 when we met and married. We met online back when no one knew anyone who had met someone online. (This was in 1996 when most businesses didn’t even have websites yet.) And, ironically enough, we met through the Focus on the Family section on America Online.

    I always thought when I married, I would fit in at church. But by the time I got married, everyone our age already had children and we didn’t. So we didn’t fit in.

    I always thought when I had children, I would fit in at church. But by the time we were blessed with a child, we were 43 and 39. Now we had a child, but everyone our age had children in middle school and up. So we didn’t fit in.

    I don’t know what the answer is. I don’t even know how many people really feel like they fit in at their church. I know I’ve had more success trying to develop friendships with people who are in completely different life stages than myself.

    Re: the lack of good men out there… I prayed for a loooong time. I dated very little. But God kept David hidden out there for me. I’m not saying that everyone who wants to be married will be married. But there ARE good men out there. No, David was not exactly the man I thought I would marry. But GOD knew what I needed and He brought us together.

    I do think there are many quality men (and women) out there, but women have such unrealistic expectations that they don’t realize the decent man with a good heart is a terrific blessing.

    I’m always saddened when I read women who think there are no good men out there. There are. And I think any woman who wants to be married and feels called to continue to pray about it should be praying passionately for her future husband’s purity and spiritual health.

  116. Hester – I hear you on the meat market/trolling thing. I’ve never encountered that myself, but I’ve known a fair few others who have.

    As for women having unrealistic expectations, I think that’s not *always* the case… ;) but I know that I – and others in an age group that I sued to know, ranging from late 20s-late 50s – felt like there was just *no* place to meet men who were interested in serious relationships and marriage. Occasionally there’d be one or two (new to That Church, or met elsewhere), but they were snapped up pretty quickly.

    So… no soup for you! (More or less.)

  117. In many ways, I think like a none-affiliated and had the same experiences most of the non-churchgoers here describe. But one thing keeps me at church still: I actually love/like (not all teaching experiences are equal) teaching Sunday School to children, and it seems God made me pretty good at it.
    There are truths children should learn about God. And I try, as far as I can, to be the non-hypocrite, the Christian who shows the love of Christ to the children…
    But I probably go home right after SSchool and before the sermon (our Sunday school is before church) more often than any other Sunday School teacher in the church.

  118. Also… there are a lot of women out here “with good hearts” who haven’t been able to find anyone who’s *not* part of the comp crew. (As Hester noted.)

    Shortly after I moved to where I now live, I went one night to a bible study at a local Church of the Brethren (anabaptist, PA Dutch) and there was a youngish man (quite good-looking) who went on and on and ON about “how women should behave” vs. how men were supposed to act + general spouting off about gender roles.

    I never went back.

  119. Judging from the “who I am” and “what I’m looking for” on the female dating-service sheets, a lot of the women would really be happier “married to Jesus” as a cloistered nun, with 24/7 prayer and devotions… And the “What I want” was so identical on them they could have been pre-printed: An Uber-Spiritual, Uber-Godly, Uber-Christian man so Edward Cullen Perfect that even Christ Himself couldn’t have measured up.-HUG

    HUG, I was like those women. Try to get it from this angle: Christian women are told they should SUBMIT in everything in marriage. The less perfect a man is, the scarier that idea, for obvious reasons. Submitting to Jesus is good because He knows better than I, love me more than I love myself, and I already know what He commands. He’s not gonna give any selfish orders in an audible voice next week.
    They are also told he should be “the spiritual leader” (whatever that means). They thus look for a man who is more spiritual than they are. http://biblicalpersonhood.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/what-the-man-should-be-the-spiritual-leader-did-to-me/

  120. Retha – I had some marvelous SS teachers when I was very young, and they were (gasp!) “old maids.” (As people used to say, even in the 1960s.) One of the most respected people in the congregation – and in town – was an elderly single woman who started a kindergarten long before public schools in my state had such things.

    she ran that kindergarten (Miss Keller’s Kindergarten) for close to 40 years. My brothers went there, though – sadly – I missed out on it and ended up in public school kindergarten, which was likely *much* less interesting/creative than Miss Keller’s establishment.

    She also helped run the SS program at the church where I grew up, along with some of those other “old maids.”

    From a kid’s pov, they were all wonderful people – though likely seen by a lot of the adults as eccentric and even strange.

  121. Retha – Yep!

    I think that all the ranting on “unequally yoked” put paid to my being able to believe that I could meet a good man outside of very strict evangelical/charismatic circles.

    Now… non-evangelical churches don’t harp on that text. They just don’t, though obviously, “mixed” marriages were regarded as problematic by many and might still be.

    I am going to be honest here: I would FAR rather marry a Jewish or Buddhist (etc. etc.) man who is decent, kind, thoughtful and respectful of me than being tied to a so-called “Christian” who can spout chapter and verse but wants to be some sort of monarch/prophet or who simply blows off everything he claims – publicly – to believe.

  122. HUG – Retha’s right about women being scared, too.

    Who would want to be stuck in a marriage where one partner controls the other?

  123. Numo- interesting that you mention “unequally yoked.” What is more unequally yoked than one partner having all the say?

    (Comps will say no, it is more like 51%/ 49% of the say, but where is the difference when two people decide what to do?)

  124. “Infected with the double viruses of courtship-purity and complementarianism”. LOL! Wow, that really speaks to my daughter’s experiences. I don’t have time to tell our complete story now, but I will write it and send it to Dee And Deb. I’m afraid that the full story will amount to gossip. But I can fully relate to the stories I find here of abuse and hypocrisy.

  125. Wow – so much meat in all the comments. Looking – I can’t imagine the pain and my heart goes out to you. And Deb, praying for your family and that other family. It seems like crazy things happen around the holidays.

    Daisy and Sophie – I am right with you. I am in my early 50’s and have never been married. I wanted to marry once, but that passed, and I never really wanted children. But I work with children and enjoy it. God has truly made all of us different.

    I had a generally good experience in a singles group after I left CLC, but after that, I never again went. When you hit a certain age, unless you make good friends who are encouraging you spiritually and emotionally, things can get really unhealthy really fast. I truly agree that the church doesn’t know what to do with all of us, although in the D.C. area there are more of us than in other parts of the country. But still there’s no church that’s really figured it out, especially for older folks, and it seems like programs often fade away or go downhill pretty quickly.

  126. “Daisy and Sophie – I am right with you. I am in my early 50′s and have never been married. I wanted to marry once, but that passed, and I never really wanted children. But I work with children and enjoy it. God has truly made all of us different.”

    You’re one of those people who contributes a lot to kid’s lives without actually being a parent. The ‘you must have children’ brigade tend to forget that it takes a village to raise a child. I recently became an aunt to a wonderful little girl so I’ve been thinking a lot about the many ways in which non-parents contribute to children’s lives.

  127. Sophie – Kids need so much more than what their parents can give them. They need aunts, uncles, older brothers and sisters, grandparents, teachers (good ones, that is) and other adults who work with them in education and in creative endeavors.

    Treasure your niece and the time you get to spend with her. You can both enrich each other’s lives in ways that are truly invaluable (too valuable to be quantified/qualified).

    I am, sadly, unable to be with my great-nieces and great-nephews due to serious family problems, and I miss them greatly.

  128. Sophie (again) – You’ve got company in the “I don’t read the Bible” (etc. etc.) brigade.

    I find it very difficult to adhere to any kind of daily “prayer time” after years and years of feeling like I never measured up when trying to do this. I don’t know about the UK, but in the US there is a big subset of evangelicalism that elevates “quiet time” to the level of… a deity, really.

    I used to get so depressed that my mind wandered, that I fell asleep, that I didn’t get some kind of deep revelation from God… that all I could see in the Bible were words on a page.

    In many respects, there is a search for “deeper meaning” that simply isn’t there – the text is what it is, and there aren’t any esoteric or “deeper” readings.

    At this point, I could probably benefit from doing a bit of reading and prayer from a lectionary, rather than ever again attempting to make myself fit into that burdensome, painful requirement of “daily prayer time.”

    I had heard and heard and heard (ad infinitum) that if one stopped doing the “quiet time” thing, one ceased to be an xtian. I’ve found out that this simply isn’t true – and what a freeing thing that’s been!

    In some cases, even reading “good” passages – like the one about love in 1 John – can make me flash back to unpleasant preaching and “application” of such texts.

    I really need time – and distance – from all of that.

    And yet, I can affirm everything in the Apostles and Nicene Creeds wholeheartedly.

    I think that means that I am still very much xtian, but no longer part of the subset of evangelical/charismatic sects that demand that their followers adhere to a lit of rules that are – for the most part – not mentioned anywhere in the Bible.

  129. Numo–I recently found an old treasure at a used book store. It is an old “red book” Lutheran hymnal, from Concordia, from the 1940’s.

    The collects in it are a wonderful source. Don’t have to follow anybody’s interpretation of the scripture, but just one a day really is wonderful.

    And yes, a good lectionary reading plan can be a help, but they can also be pretty daunting as they can be a lot of reading.

    When my recovery from fundamentalism was at that stage, just the gospel portion was quite enough, sanitized from interpretations such as study Bibles, etc.

    Although I admit, I do love the notes in the Wesleyan and LCMS Bibles, as well as ELCA’s. Don’t agree with every jot and tittle, but I’ve come to love finding what I disagree with and thinking about WHY I disagree.

    But mostly I like to just experience God by reading a bit of His Word and spending time with Him.

    Hang in there. There is life after legalism. When the Lord renewed my faith I was surprised to find myself suddenly again thirsty for prayer and Bible reading.

    Not as worshipping the quiet time, but now it is just time with Him and I cherish it.

    Just as my husband would find it strange for me to be in love with him but avoid him, I would find it strange to believe I love the Lord but never want to talk to Him or let Him talk to me.

  130. Numo, thanks for your encouraging words. I’m so glad not to be the only one who has felt defeated by the dreaded ‘quiet time’. When I first started praying I found it very easy but over time it got much harder. I can’t have quiet times because I don’t have a quiet mind. It is always racing. People have commented that I look like I’m always thinking about something. I have a very short attention span and feel constantly over-stimulated. When people say things like ‘be still and listen for the voice of God’ I wonder if they know what a difficult thing they’re suggesting. I just don’t do it anymore because I can’t cope with the guilt and difficulty, not to mention the confusion and attack of doubt that comes when prayers aren’t answered.

  131. Sophie, A very good time to give up on it all, you’ll feel better…at least I did.

    Off topic – Does the “sinful” nature pass down via genetics? (ues, there’s a second question coming…)

    Oh and Happy Thanksgiving to all!

  132. We had a singles group in our church that we started just for anyone kind of under 40 that wanted to hang out. I called it WD40, as in, it’s always around, no-one pays it much attention but every now & then it comes in handy…

  133. linda – you found a treasure! I loved the “red book” but it’s almost impossible to find a copy these days.

    As for reading *everything* in the lectionary every day, I’d be more than happy to read the Gospel passages and the collect.

    Sophie – otoh, you could be like me and be either distracted or falling asleep. I wonder if you’ve checked with a doc about your attention span? (Not meant to make you feel bad; just a thought I had…)

  134. Sophie (again) – I have serious doubts as to how many people are actually able to “be still.” Especially in contemporary society – it seems like the pace of life mitigates against it.

    In other words, to my mind, it’s a big catchphrase, mostly devoid of meaning. (i.e., jargon.)

  135. Susan aka Velvet Voice,

    Gossip is by definition casual conversation involving unconfirmed reports about someone. If you lived it / directly experienced it, it is not gossip.

    If you’re concerned that the telling of your story implicates other people without the having an opportunity to speak for themselves, make the other parties involved anonymous.

    If you’re concerned that by telling your story you walk a fine line of being sensational for its own sake, consider that manipulative, controlling behavior of church leaders is abusive and ruins people for years and it needs to come to light. Bringing it into the light of day can be healing and freeing and brings opportunity for words of wisdom born from experience.

  136. In one really instructive episode, during the phase when it was referred to as “the singles group”, one of us invited a non-christian friend along and his answer was “it’s OK – I’m spoken for”. To the church, a “singles group” was a kind of dustbin housegroup in which to dump everyone who wasn’t married and therefore had no responsibilities and infinite time to doorknock and evangelise. — Nick Bulbeck

    i.e. a Free Labor Pool to do all the church work so the Marrieds could stay home Focusing on Their Families(TM).

    And a couple years ago on Internet Monk, somebody expressed “Singles Groups” this way:

    Tuesday Night: Alcoholics Minstry.
    Wednesday Night: Singles Ministry.
    Thursday Night: Homosexuals Ministry.

    Beware Thou of The Mutant.

  137. At times this can be quite smothering and almost, in a weirdly backwards kind of way, aggressive. I remember this exchange from a prayer meeting in my student days just before the summer exam season: — Nick Bulbeck

    That’s as bad as the one therapist I had, oh, 20-odd years ago who KNEW I was homosexual and in denial. At which point, Conspiracy Theory Logic came into effect where any evidence against his theory was PROOF of his theory. And the more I said I wasn’t, the more In Denial I had to be. Bad Craziness.

    Also, let me just add that, as a single Christian 20-something who hasn’t yet begun dating – I’m honestly scared of the Christian dating scene. Between the courtship-purity movement and the heavy-handed complementarianism currently making the rounds, I’m afraid that any guy I’d meet who was committed enough to label himself “Christian” is going to be pre-infected with one of these dangerous theological viruses. — Hester

    It ain’t just the men, Hester. The whole Christian Dating scene is Bad Craziness.

    Aside: Can somebody tell me WHY all these Christian singles groups and Christian dating services can only think of organizing “Dances” for their large-scale mixers? I had my fill of “Dances” in High School.

    Shortly after I moved to where I now live, I went one night to a bible study at a local Church of the Brethren (anabaptist, PA Dutch) and there was a youngish man (quite good-looking) who went on and on and ON about “how women should behave” vs. how men were supposed to act + general spouting off about gender roles. — Numo

    My writing partner (the burned-out preacher-man) is Church of the Brethren (Anabaptist, PA Dutch). There is a LOT of weirdness in “Anabaptist, PA Dutch”.

    HUG, I was like those women. Try to get it from this angle: Christian women are told they should SUBMIT in everything in marriage. The less perfect a man is, the scarier that idea, for obvious reasons. Submitting to Jesus is good because He knows better than I, love me more than I love myself, and I already know what He commands. He’s not gonna give any selfish orders in an audible voice next week.
    They are also told he should be “the spiritual leader” (whatever that means). They thus look for a man who is more spiritual than they are. — Retha

    All I am sure of, Retha, is that there is NO WAY I would want to be “Equally Yoked(TM)” with a woman like that. When I was growing up as a kid genius, Absolute Utter Perfection was the MINIMUM expected of me, and it almost killed me. (No matter how much I accomplished, it was NEVER enough; no matter how perfectly I did it, it was NEVER good enough.) NO WAY am I ever going back to that.

  138. Ah, yes, the holy Quiet Time…

    I’m not saying it’s Wrong. There is, after all, a verse that says to be still and know that God is God. That’s not the only verse, though, is it? What about the verse about Jesus offering up petitions with loud crying and tears? And all the other stuff about singing, joyful shouting, and (as they say) much, much more.

    Sophie – it’s probably true (as per numo) that very few people are able to be still. I find it very difficult to focus my attention (I’m borderline ADHD) and so the formulaic quiet time doesn’t work for me either. The whole “worship” scene overlaps with this…

    Not to self-promote, but there’s a wee post here at godsjobcentrestirling.wordpress.com/2012/11/11/worshipping_vs_worshipper/ on so-called “asmr” and worship. I think a lot of traditional christian liturgical habits are simply built around things that work for a certain subset of people. My brain is simply not wired such that I readily enjoy traditional charismatic worship, and so I never quite fitted into those settings. Nor do I find, either in scripture or my own experience, that the most life-changing revelations happen in the quiet place where I’ve managed to quietly quiet my mind into quietness etc etc.

    One more recent story… I was driving up to the far north of Scotland the other week, and having set off at about 6am, my brain was a bit sluggish as I approached Inverness. But I felt that I needed to pray one or two things through regarding work. So on that occasion, I really did need a kind of musical warm-up. The only christian music I had in the car was Kingdom of Comfort by Delirious?!!?!?? – don’t misunderstand, I really like them, and I think it’s their best CD. But somehow I just wasn’t in the mood. God gave me a nudge at this point: well, why don’t you listen to Queen instead? So I started up with…
    I WANT – TO – BREAK FREE-EE… (those of a certain age will know that one)
    It worked really well, I can tell you. I couldn’t shake the feeling God was joining in, actually.

  139. … in the quiet place where I’ve managed to quietly quiet my mind into quietness etc etc.

    LOLZ – so true, Nick! ;)

  140. Nick – Per your blog post, I think it’s more than ASMR. It’s the fact that people feel OK about allowing all kinds of emotions to come to the surface – very intense things.

    The “worship” in those churches gives people an opportunity to express/vent all kinds of things. Not saying that’s a bad thing, merely that it’s something I’ve observed and even participated in at times. It can be very cathartic, but is it the same thing as “experiencing the presence of God”? Not in my book, not at all – cf. the passage about Elijah and the wind, earthquake, etc. (Good description of how we all tend to try and make sense of things by saying “God must be doing something here.”)

    As for praying vs. “quiet time,” understand that I’m not for one second advocating that people abandon praying – and if a daily “quiet time” works for someone, that’s great. But for so many, it’s an impossible burden, as we’ve been taught that our spiritual life and relationship with God is somehow measurable by the quality (or lack thereof) of these “prayer times.”

    Which is one of the reasons that I felt a need to state that there’s no such commandment in the NT. Encouragement to pray? Emphatically yes. But nowhere is there a rule that says one must have a Daily Devotional Time Or Else.

  141. HUG – as I’ve said before (and probably don’t need to repeat), not all PA Dutch/German people are emotional/psychological wrecks.

    yes, the things you and your writing partner – and Looking For You – have talked about are all true, real and valid. But that doesn’t mean that *everyone* who comes from that cultural matrix is automatically screwed up.

    Not saying that you said that, but I think it’s important to see that it’s so easy for any of us to create and perpetuate … well, not sure how to put this: extreme views, or maybe stereotypes?

    We already have far too many of those in our society as it is.

  142. Is it any wonder why we have a rise of the nones when whack-jobs like Tim Bayly go saying things like this. Am I reading this right? Is he saying what I think he’s saying? He is a sick, sick man.

    http://baylyblog.com/blog/2012/11/pastoral-care-times-war-and-incest

    It seems like blaming the victim to inquire about extortion or violence against civillians when the man you’re talking with is crying over the death of his squad member. So also it seems like blaming the victim to inquire of a young woman crying over the sexual crimes her older brother committed against her to ask whether she came to enjoy and initiate the sin?

  143. Tim Bayly sounds like one of those blame-the-victim IFB fundamentalists. But he’s PCA! He’s certainly a fundy, though.

  144. “Here is a critical article on Tim Bayly: http://www.poohsthink.com/the-new-enlightenment-part-10-the-presbyterian-patriarch-tim-bayly/

    The author, Michael Metzler, is an atheist but was once a member of Doug Wilson’s Christ Church in Moscow Idaho, I believe.”

    I used to read his blog. he was at one time being mentored by Doug Wilson. Going to school there. He became disillusioned and started writing a blog about it using the “kirk” as his them because of Wilson’s love of all things “kirk” and Scottish. This was way back in 06 or 07, I think.
    i am glad to see he kept the blog up.

    Sheesh! Another former Reformed former believer.

  145. Liela, the article you linked to made me want to puke.

    Tim Bayly wrote, “Incest is a sin that is particularly prevalent among large homeschooling families.”

    Prevalent?
    Maybe in his organization.
    What a sick a-hole this guy must be – making such broad, unsubstantiated allegations.

  146. Sorry – an award-winning example of a mis-typed href command there! On angular bracket the wrong way around…

    Reminds me of the urban legend of the Mariner 1 spacecraft crash.

  147. @ Nicholas & Anon 1:

    “[Bayly] said that he was not accountable to them. Ah, yes. Rather, he explained, he was accountable to a board of elders.”

    Ah, the privileges of holding the keys to the kingdom… You can do whatever you want and no lowly keyless peasant can rain on your parade. At least that’s what a control freak thinks.

    I think I had read that particular article before a while back. Bayly is SO amazingly rude to people on his site. I’m disappointed that the PCA hasn’t reprimanded him somehow, given the reams of public evidence that he violates 1 Timothy 3:3 and 2 Timothy 2:24-25 on a daily basis (and celebrates his violation of them) and is thus exhibiting behavior unbecoming a pastor at best.

    I tried to follow Metzler’s site for a while, but I couldn’t figure out the old site vs. the new site and I think I lacked some of the background info to understand it completely.

  148. Numo–I will watch for a red book for you, and if I can track one down reasonably priced, I will try to see if dee and deb can help me send it to them to get it to you.

    In the mean time, I bet the good folks at St John’s Lutheran in Killdeer ND might be able to help you find one. I think Vang still uses theirs, but there might be one available.

  149. Oh, Numo, just learned they are around $30 at Northwestern Publishing House. Also they show up regularly on e-bay and seem to sell around $15 plus shipping. Might try Craig’s list. Let us know in comment stream so I know if I need to watch for you.

  150. My natural reaction to the Bayley Brothers is rage, closely followed by despair. They can’t even manage ordinary courtesy, let alone christian love.