The Coronation of the Infantile

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Introduction

My friend Toby Sumpter had a few wonderful things to say about one of the central confusions of our time, and it caused more discussion than it ought to have done—although the discussion did help to illustrate the confusion. But among thoughtful Christians, there really should be no discussion whatever. His words can be found here and here. At the same time, all the exercises in missing the point caused me to do some further mulling on the topic of the border country between the obvious and not so obvious. And so here we go.

I want to pour some exegetical footings first, and then move on to defend the outrageous conviction that outrageous things should be treated as outrageous, and that it is outrageous not to.

More Than Any Beast of the Field

“I may not be able to define worldliness, but I know it when I see it.”

                                                                                                            Jube Tarbox

Canyons and chasms are not nuanced or subtle affairs. But certain creatures, more subtle than the other beasts of the field, are capable of making some of us think that definitional shades and distinctions are involved.

Scripture tells us that the distance between that which is worldly and that which is not worldly is the distance between Heaven and Hell—a pretty long way. For example, James tells us that friendship with the world is enmity with God (Jas. 4:4). And John tells us that if anyone loves the world, then the love of the Father is not in him (1 John 2:15-16). There is no subtlety involved in this at all. Subtlety can be introduced by serpents and their sophistries, but there is no subtlety at all involved in “do not eat from that tree.” The subtlety came in with the question (and the questioner) that arrived after the fact—did God really say . . .?

God in His kindness writes things out for us in big block letters. “Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse” (Deut. 11:26). He sets it before us, plain as day. “And unto this people thou shalt say, Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I set before you the way of life, and the way of death” (Jer. 21:8). The way of life goes this way, and the way of death goes that way. Which one is the way of death? Well, which part of the sky has buzzards circling in it?

Three Shiny Objects

We must understand that the temptation to worldliness is the primal temptation. It is not a peripheral sin, like excessive card playing. It is the central sin. Worldliness was the cause of the Fall. We need to understand how this works, and what is actually going on when we are in the grip of it. And make no mistake—Christians who are in the grip of this temptation and sin are legion. Now Christians who are not dealing with the challenges of our time properly are either grown up and adulterous, or they are infantile and naïve, suffering with a bad case of arrested development. Follow this closely.

Note how the world is first introduced to us.

“And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil” (Gen. 2:9).

The trees were pleasant to look at. They produced fruit that was tasty. And also in the Garden were two special trees—the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The tree of life was theirs from the beginning, but the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was off-limits for the time being. This is the world—not worldliness yet. Just the world we inherited, before we broke it.

The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was not to be their introduction to basic morality. Rather it was intended to serve as their introduction to maturation and rule. In Scripture, the knowledge of good and evil relates to the maturity of authority and rule.

But in order to understand this more fully, we have to look a bit more closely at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Good and Evil in the Hard Cases

We all know that there was only one prohibited tree in the Garden of Eden, the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Note that the tree of life was not prohibited to Adam and Eve (Gen. 2:16), but once sin had entered the world it went off limits—lest we should eat from it in a rebellious condition and so live forever that way, unredeemable (Gen. 3:22, 24). So God in His mercy barred the way back to the tree of life, until it was opened up again in and through the gospel (Rev. 2:7). But what about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?

We need to take a moment to consider what that phrase means, and what it does not mean. The two basic alternatives are that it was bad for us to have knowledge of the difference between good and evil, period, or it means something else. The prohibition was temporary, and the sin was because our first parents grasped for something prematurely.

We should be able to see that it had to have been the latter by how God responds to the situation after Adam and Eve disobeyed. It cannot mean experience of sin because the Lord said, “Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil” (Gen. 3:22). The serpent earlier had promised that this knowledge would make them “as God” (or gods, elohim), “knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5). The serpent was inviting them to be inducted into the council of the gods, on their own authority, long before they were ready for it.

That is why, millennia later, the author of Hebrews identifies this ability to distinguish sin from righteousness as maturity, a characteristic with the capacity to handle “strong meat.”

Too many Christians assume that the prelapsarian lack of the knowledge of good and evil was a total blank innocence, no ethical categories at all. But if this were the case then how would Adam have been able to fall into sin? How would he have known it was evil to eat from the prohibited tree? No, the knowledge of good and evil here has to mean something more than a simple knowledge of the difference between right and wrong.

God was preparing us for rule. He was growing us up into discernment. What do I mean? He had created mankind to rule over creation and all creatures (Gen. 1:27-30). In learning how to judge and rule the created order, man really would be like God (Eccl. 12:14). Entering into that rule would have been a transition from immaturity to maturity, and not a transition from moral cluelessness into an ability to tell right from wrong. Kings have to make judgments, and they have to do so in plain cases and hard cases both. They have to be able to discern right and wrong in the case before them. And the case before them is frequently a tough one.

Now it is quite true that the Bible sometimes speaks of “good” and “evil” in simple moral categories of individuals learning how to love what is good and hate what is evil. But when we talk about discernment, and especially discernment when it comes to various cultural issues like the relationship of “reinvent yourself” pink hair and “reinvent yourself” gender bending, we are often talking about the ability to tell good from almost good, or good from too good, to discern the difference between white and off-white. Because God created us for rule, He created us to be able to handle this.

The problem is the reinvent yourself part, which is currently THE massive pomosexual campaign that is underway everywhere all the time. Or perhaps you haven’t noticed? The problem is not the color of the dye. The problem is the reinvent yourself whenever or however you want doctrine, and that is not a trifle. It is a rebellious and sulfurous stink wafting over the lip of Hell’s crater. An additional complication is created by those Christians who say that there is nothing wrong with sulfur-sniffing, just so long as you stop one nostril, and do not breathe too deeply with the other one.

Getting back to the point, when our first parents ate the forbidden fruit, they were grabbing for rule prematurely, before God gave it to them as a gift.

God was preparing us for the day when we would have the ability to make hard things simple, but we listened to the serpent, who enabled us to make a simple thing hard. And we are still doing it. Some want to say that Christian parents and pastors shouldn’t want to “control outcomes.” Sorry, but that is what parents and pastors are for. A shepherd who stands by the flock without wanting to control outcomes is not watching over the sheep, but merely looking at them. And after about half an hour of that kind of shepherding, he is looking at wolves too.

This matter of good and evil concerns what little children don’t do, and what kings are supposed to do. And the current cultural revolt against maturity is just this—an infantile rejection of God’s invitation in Christ for us to grow up. God wants to crown the infantile with maturity. We want to crown the infantile with a crown.

Consider the language of Scripture. “Moreover your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither . . .” (Dt. 1:39; cf. Jer. 4:22). This was true of a type of the Messiah, the child born in fulfillment of the promise to Isaiah. “Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel . . . for before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings” (Is. 7:14-16). Extreme old age prevents a man from being able to serve as a judge between good and evil, as Barzillai observed: “I am this day fourscore years old: and can I discern between good and evil . . .?” (2 Sam. 19:35).

And how did Solomon please the Lord when a vision was given to him at Gibeon? Even though he sacrificed in the high places, he did love the Lord (1 Kings 3:3). When the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream and told him to ask for whatever he would have, Solomon’s answer pleased the Lord (1 Kings 3:10). So what did Solomon ask for? He said first that he was “but a little child” (1 Kings 3:7), and so what deficiency did he think needed to be corrected? “Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people” (1 Kings 3:10)?

And so when professing Christians today stand gaping at the most current, high-profile, and obvious indicators of rebellion against God and His Word—not to mention God and the natural law He embedded into the very nature of things—and they just blink at stupidly, claiming not to be able to tell whether this or that is worldly, their entire enterprise is either adulterous treachery or an infantile retardation.

Back to the Primal Temptation

As mentioned earlier, worldliness is the primal temptation.

“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (Gen. 3:6).

And this primal temptation was a temptation to worldliness. How so?

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh (good for food), and the lust of the eyes (pleasant to the eyes), and the pride of life (desired to make one wise), is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:15–16).

And making a mistake on this point is no trifle. If someone is confused on this point, then the love of the Father is not in him. Why can he not make these distinctions? Because he is unconverted, radically unfaithful, or infantile. Because he is a worldly man, and worldly men refuse to make such simple distinctions. It is not complicated but folly is certainly up to the task of making it so.

“Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4).

Put another way, the sin of worldliness is not a sin out at the edges. Worldliness is not a matter of using lipstick that is just a tad too red. Worldliness is not a matter of simply using some hair dye. Worldliness is not a function of listening to music that might make you want to tap your foot. Worldliness is not defined by a generation of legalists, now deceased for lo these fifty years.

No, we live in a corrupt and decadent time when Christian fathers make their daughters insecure in the first place, and then go along with them advertising that “easy lay” insecurity to the world—by whatever the current appointed messaging system might be. We live in a time when other professing Christians think they have the authority to “pray about” whether their child should “transition” to the other gender. We live in a time when a pastor catches more grief for admonishing the saints over pink hair then he would if his wife and daughters all starting sporting the said pink hair.

And of course, when a professing Christian differs with this, they do not retreat to the law and to the testimony. They don’t want to have a Bible study. They retreat—just watch them—to their secular, individualist, pomosexual catechism. “You say that this neon hair color means rebellion, but that’s not what it means to me.” As though personal definitions down in the heart, all mixed up with the confusions down there, had any authority to determine what societal badges mean. Evangelical Christians, when it comes to copycatting the world, are like a drunk Japanese businessman in a karaoke bars, singing a note perfect rendition of “Honky Tonk Woman” by the Stones. He knows absolutely everyone about that song, every note, every inflection, and every riff. He knows everything about it except what it means.He knows everything about it except what it means.

So when—in the article referenced above—it was argued that Christians ought not to adopt an obvious badge and symbol of rebellion, some Christians decided to conduct an intervention—but not an intervention in application of the truth as taught. It is time to rise up and comment on the Interwebs! How dare a pastor notice what is happening? Noticing begins with an n, and that is just two letters away from l, which stands for legalism. Wisdom is justified by her children, but more and more of them have weirder hair than God intended.

Maturity Is Not Legalism

I have said a number of times that wise Christians see what is going on. Foolish Christians want to argue the point. That folly might come in the form of mature sin, or in the shape of immature naiveté. In neither case do you want that person in charge of anything.

It is as though a wife caught her husband in bed with the next door neighbor’s wife, accused him of adultery, and then he started to argue the point, demanding that she define her terms more carefully. “Yes, dear, but your reasoning is extremely simplistic. I am simply maintaining that there was no penetration at all. That’s my point, which I wish you would take more seriously.”

“But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” (Heb. 5:14, ESV).

This is what we are talking about. This is an era where this verse needs to be tattooed on the insides of our eyelids. Why does it take training to distinguish good and evil? Why does it take constant practice? Why is maturity necessary?

Apostles and Refugees

One last comment. I have made this distinction for a number of years, and it needs to be emphasized yet again. The Church is a place where any refugee, however messed up, however she looks, whatever he has done, should be completely welcome, inappropriate tattoos and all. The Church is God’s field hospital in the battlefield of this world, and a field hospital is no place to be squeamish about what people might bring to you. Every refugee is welcome. No refugee from the world should ever be turned away.

But apostles from the world are a different matter. We turn them away, and the horse they rode in on. And clueless Christians who provide a lame apologetic for such apostles are also a different matter.

Much more needs to be said on this topic, and so—chances are—I will.

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Occidoxy
Guest

But can you explain the semiotics of Unicorn Frappuccinos?

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

It looks rather pretty it you have a taste for drinking cotton candy. I know this is a totally insensitive thing to say, but if I were a grown man, I would not want to be caught drinking one in public. It reminds me of my daughter’s Pretty Princess Potion set from long ago.

I like your hats!

Alice Kauffman Arneson
Guest
Alice Kauffman Arneson

Clarify something for me, please. Why is there a difference between using dye to keep your original color when your hair begins to go gray, using dye to choose a (more or less “natural-looking”) color that you like better than your original color, and using dye to make your hair purple for a few weeks? Is it merely that pink, blue, green, purple, whatever hair in our culture is perceived as rebellious, while “natural colors” are okay? It seems to me that all of them are altering the same thing, after all. The thing that bothers me about the pink-hair… Read more »

valerieab
Member

Could part of the answer lie in some sort of a don’t-push-the-envelope principle? Here’s​ an analogy: My typical weekday attire of late has been jeans, a T-shirt, a denim jacket, big earrings, eye makeup, lipstick. No problem for just about anybody in northern Idaho. But if I stepped through a time portal to a century ago, I would absolutely be in sin to continue dressing this way. Respectable women of that day did not wear trousers and did not paint their faces. Doing so would be an affront to my neighbor; it would be arrogant of me to insist on… Read more »

valerieab
Member

I’ve been enjoying this blog by a lovely young friend in our congregation. That’s the sort of thing I mean by “pushing upward.”

Alice Kauffman Arneson
Guest
Alice Kauffman Arneson

Valerie, I appreciate your thoughtful response. I really am not trying to be obstructive – these are genuine questions. At my age, few of my questions concern myself – I’m more concerned about my lovely teen daughter… although I’ll admit that I’ve occasionally considered putting a streak of bright color in my mostly-silver hair just for the fun of it! (Only the kind that will wash out in a few days, though, because I couldn’t stand it longer than that.) Back to the subject at hand, I’m pretty sure that riding the ragged leading edge of fashion trends for the… Read more »

valerieab
Member

I think it’s pretty clear you’re asking constructive questions, so no need for worry on that front. ????

As for your fashion questions, that’s where my reasoning hits a wall and I ask the same ones.

As for your last paragraph, do you think Toby’s second post better addressed your concern about heart matters?

Alice Kauffman Arneson
Guest
Alice Kauffman Arneson

I think his second post is better in that regard, but this still bothers me: “But if a blog post pointing out the connections between gender confusion and gaudy hair styles seems threatening to you, I sincerely doubt your heart is very quiet.” I think my problem is that the connections he tried to point out in the first post didn’t make sense to me. I don’t feel threatened by it (no ink, no dye, and only my ears are pierced – once), and I tend to agree with him that much of the ink, dye, and metal are not… Read more »

valerieab
Member

Personally, I was posting at 1:30 a.m. because I needed for half a dozen sleepyheaded typing errors to appear in my last comment to humble me. (Yay for the edit button!) That quote in your first paragraph was one I thought was pretty spot-on. If someone’s criticism of a decision you’ve made devastates you, there can’t be a lot of God-founded confidence in that decision. And I write that with nervousness, because some of the devastated responses I’ve seen have been from ladies who are dear to me, and my heart isn’t quiet enough at the thought of them reading… Read more »

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

And I’ve noticed that at least in Orange County, there are a LOT of blond Christian women whose hair color definitely didn’t come from their mama and their papa.

JohnM
Guest
JohnM

“Are we to assume that coloring your hair – whether it’s pink, blonde, red, black, or the-color-I-was-before-I-got-this-horrible-gray – is just as much based on a dislike of the hair God created for you?”

No, we are to assume coloring your hair to look like it really was is trying to look as young adult as you were before you became an old one, and dying your hair to look like nobody’s ever did is being a child, whatever your age.

Jane
Member

That would be a false assumption — not always wrong, but not always justified. Back when I colored my hair to cover the gray, it was not because I wanted to look less than my years. It was because with my skin coloration, mousy brown-gray hair makes me look terrible, haggard, and more unattractive relative to my age than I have been at any previous point in my life, with the possible exception of the nadir of adolescence. Gray hair is an effect of the Fall, after all. Alas, I have developed an allergy to hair dyes, so I must… Read more »

JohnM
Guest
JohnM

“Gray hair is an effect of the Fall, after all.” Right, generally along with and as a result of growing older. After a certain point, and for most of us fairly early in adult life, we don’t get better looking as we get older. Since we, want to look good and not terrible (which likely only you thought you did) we often do things to try to look as good as we did, i.e. younger. I get women being more sensitive when it comes their appearance than men usually are, and maybe more self critical about it. Need to dye… Read more »

Jane
Member

No, honestly, I am not dense. I understand that I am not going to look like I did when I was younger, and am not striving for that. When I say that I was not trying to look younger, I am telling you the truth. I actually believe that I will look better as my hair acquires a more evenly gray or white tone, even though I will obviously look older, and less like I did when I was younger. Please don’t respond as though you know what I mean and what I think better than I do.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

If it were as easy as hair color, plastic surgeons and Botox makers would be out of business! As women age, typically they look better with lighter hair because it brightens and softens their face. I totally get your point.

JohnM
Guest
JohnM

Reading “Back when I colored my hair to cover the gray…” (“cover the gray” she said) I would never have gotten “…I will look better as my hair acquires a more evenly gray or white tone…”, so you are right, I didn’t know what you meant. Actually I’m not sure I do yet. Which part do you want me to take back? It won’t be my response to Alice’s “..the-color-I-was-before-I-got-this-horrible-gray”, (emphasis on “before”) because the point of the-color-I-was-before is too obviously what I said it was. It also won’t be the part about women being sensitive. But yes, I should… Read more »

Jane
Member

What I’d like you to take back is arguing with me when I said I don’t color my hair to look younger, but to look better relative to my current age. As though you know better than me what my actual motives are, and you can correct me on them. The heart is indeed deceitful, but I believe it’s God who truly knows it, not blog commenters. ;-) The gray is not horrible because older women are gray, the gray is horrible for the same reason I don’t wear (in fact nobody wears) shirts of the particular color my hair… Read more »

ashv
Guest
ashv

The relevant word is “aposematism“.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

So our hair should reflect the principle of cryptic coloration?

insanitybytes22
Member

That’s actually a really good word for this situation. We’re warning people off, we’re signaling danger, we’re declaring our specialness. So piercings, tattoos, brightly colored hair, all signify defiance, not fashion. We’re making a statement, one that says we’re bad, we’re unique, don’t mess with us.

ashv
Guest
ashv

As many a young man approaching said females has discovered to his detriment.

insanitybytes22
Member

LOL! As my husband once said of a warrior woman walking down the street, “she has a chip on her shoulder.” I went looking for a metaphorical chip,a spiritual chip, but he simply meant literally, as in she was wearing two wedges of wood on her shoulders. Made me laugh.

adad0
Member

Well, except for the wash-off Popeye tattoos I used to get in Cracker Jacks when I was 6! Those tattoos were awesome, (!) and, …………………….extremely attractive! ; – )

adad0
Member

If you happen to still have hair! ; – )
Most of mine took an early retirement! ; – )

Nathan Smith
Member

If you are arguing that Christian women need to start showing grey roots real soon, I agree with you 100%.

Carson Spratt
Member

So, Pastor Wilson, you say that thoughtful Christians wouldn’t even be having this discussion. But here we are, discussing it. I’m sure you would allow the possibility of Christians not agreeing with your point, and yet thoughtfully working through these issues? I’d say that we should be Bereans on this matter: search the Scriptures for these things. After all, there is much meaning relative to culture. It takes work to sift out what is adiaphora, and what isn’t – and what adiaphora is sending the wrong message, regardless of its innate moral quality. In other words, am I being a… Read more »

adad0
Member

“I’d say that we should be Bereans on this matter: search the Scriptures for these things.”

Yep! Romans 14:14. (and its’ neighbors!) ; – )

ashv
Guest
ashv

You’re absolutely right that this is a scale that’s invisible to a lot of people. My daughter is not yet two, but definitely understands good and evil; I caught her drawing with crayons on the wall and she quickly stopped, looked at me and say “draw on paper!”, as I’d told her many times before when she picked up crayons. :-) Obviously, as you say, fathers should have a much more developed understanding of right and wrong than that, just as kings, judges, and church elders should have greater discernment than those under their authority. Unfortunately we live in an… Read more »

Rob Steele
Guest
Rob Steele

> “draw on paper!”

Good job putting it positively. It’s hard to not be saying “no” all the time.

insanitybytes22
Member

Mr Clean magic erasers. They erase everything.

Alice Kauffman Arneson
Guest
Alice Kauffman Arneson

Amen and amen!!

Rob Steele
Guest
Rob Steele

“Know” usually means more than cognition in the Bible: Adam knew Eve and etc. I think knowing good and evil here uses the word more in that sense. The subtlety in the serpent’s question lies in how it invites Eve to consider herself competent to judge God. It assumes she has access to some standard of goodness to which God is subject and against which he falls short. She must ignore the fact that if there were such a standard, it would be God. There’s also the fact that if it were true then becoming like God would mean becoming… Read more »

melody
Member
melody

When a child or adult dyes their hair a color that could never occur naturally, the only goal that can possibly exist is to stand out from the crowd and draw attention to oneself. It certainly would not be to draw others to Jesus Christ. Coloring one’s hair to cover gray or to change from one naturally occurring color to another is generally done for the purpose of NOT drawing undue attention to oneself . ” Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I know how you feel. I still feel horrible about things I remember saying to my parents. They weren’t even all that bad by today’s standards, but they were a bit unkind or they made my parents feel bad somehow. I can remember them as clearly as if I said them yesterday. When I apologize every few years or so, my mother says she has no idea what I’m talking about. But I remember.

insanitybytes22
Member

For me it all comes back to I-dentity. It’s the “I” in there that’s a problem. Our identity is supposed to be in Jesus Christ, so when our identity is in our clothing,our status, our pink hair,our tattoos,we have a problem. We are reinventing ourselves externally. I like to dress up for church, it’s a bit like having a date, honoring the specialness of worship. Conversely however,you can dress up like a mask, like a keeping up appearances, as if your I-dentity is about parking yourself in church on Sunday and that is the only time of the week God… Read more »

adad0
Member

This is why I don’t normally dress up for my particular church.
It’s a modest counterpoint to the counrty club faction.

Dave
Guest
Dave

A Dad, perhaps you should dress in the same style of clothing you go to work in. Suit/suit; clean jeans and shirt/the same; slacks and tie/then slacks and tie. You don’t have to dress in tails as for a formal dinner, but all of us should dress appropriately for worship.

adad0
Member

Thanks Dave, see above and below! ; – )

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

I’m with you. I make a very minor protest to the set by wearing my sandals every Sunday.

I think Jesus probably would have too. :)

holmegm
Guest
holmegm

That’s actually what I do – I wear khakis and polo type shirt at work, so I wear them to church as well. I”m neither spectacularly overdressed nor underdressed given the range of what people wear to our church services.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I can’t follow your reasoning here, “A” dad. Would you refuse to wear a suit to testify in court on the grounds that the suit-wearing lawyers are the country club faction? I don’t think dressing up for church is a big issue. But I don’t think the decision on what to wear should be made on the basis of somehow sticking it to the wealthy and well dressed.

insanitybytes22
Member

It is actually “sticking it to the hypocritical and superficial,” Jilly. My husband does the same darn thing, the rare times he does go to church, he refuses to put forth appearances. He rather defiantly refuses to wear a mask, refuses to seek the favor of people over God, refuses to impress anyone. It’s actually a position that has some integrity and honor behind it, so I can’t say it’s wrong. It’s also a response to having born witness to hypocrisy within the church.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I have been mulling this over, so please humor me as I figure this out. I don’t criticize your husband at all for what he wears to church. I think people should wear what they like as long as they don’t create a public spectacle of themselves. Beach wear, for example. But this is where I don’t follow. Your position assumes that the only reason anyone would ever dress nicely for church (i.e. in a way he or she does not dress every day) is to wear a mask, to please people rather than God, or to impress people. I… Read more »

insanitybytes22
Member

“Your position assumes that the only reason anyone would ever dress nicely for church (i.e. in a way he or she does not dress every day) is to wear a mask, to please people rather than God, or to impress people.” I think not, because I began this discussion by saying that I try to dress nice for church. So, many people do dress nice for church for all the right reasons. But others do not, others go to church for appearances only. That is one problem with legalism, it is inadequate to address motivations, conditions of the heart. Two… Read more »

adad0
Member

Jilly, to Dave’s point below, I do typically wear what I wear at work, to church. My statement in dressing down, (jeans and a flannel shirt, compared to suits and ties) on a comparative basis, is a mild one. As Memi notes, for the country club set at my particular church, dressing up can be a “phylactery” type statement. Please note that I still fellowship with these people, to some degree, but since we (or they) are unable to resolve some problems in a honest on forthright fashion, modest, non verbal statements are about all the current situation can bear.… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

You have clearly not see a west coast Catholic mass. I have seen girls in flannel pajama bottoms. I have seen men in shorts that left me averting my eyes in horror. The priest pleads, in vain, that people should not wear clothes that would get them kicked out of Disneyland. So I am vastly tolerant of what people wear in the sense that little surprises me and I would rather they come in their jammies than not at all. But I am cautious about making assumptions and even more cautious about regarding my personal apparel as having some symbolic… Read more »

adad0
Member

Ah Jilly! Bottom line:
1 Samuel 16:7
……. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

God is the expert at this. Often we can only guess, though we know there are times when someone’s appearance and heart match up pretty well.
With dogs and cats, that is the case most of the time! ; – )

Larry Geiger
Guest
Larry Geiger

I’m a guy. I normally wear New Balance tenny zippers, white socks, dark jeans and polo shirts with a collar. Almost everywhere, all the time except when I’m on the ground underneath the car with oil running down my arm (like it was Saturday) or mowing. That’s what I wear to church. It’s what I wear to most funerals nowadays (here in Florida). It’s what I wear to Publix. It’s what I wear out on Friday evening. Just about everywhere except the occasional family wedding. They all live in Kansas so sensibilities are slightly different there. I have one suit… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Please tell me you have a dress shirt too! I am picturing the suit and tie worn with the polo shirt and the tenny zippers.

I think people should wear whatever they want to church as long as it doesn’t frighten the old ladies. My point to “A”dad is that we should be tolerant about each others’ choices and not think that our own make us superior. Wear jeans but don’t think a guy in a suit is a stuck up hypocrite. Wear a suit but don’t look down on the guy in jeans.

I

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

But only the individual can know his or her motives. I think we should try to be generous in assuming that other people’s motives for dressing nicely for church are as innocent as our own.

insanitybytes22
Member

“But only the individual can know his or her motives.”

LOL! I suppose you missed the part about flipping people off in traffic as soon as church is over.

I am generous, to a fault even, but I think it’s important to remember, “by their fruits you shall know them,” not by their manner of dress, or the fact that they park themselves in a church on Sundays. Where they park the other six days a week,matters too.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Yes, I didn’t respond to flipping people off because it left me shaking my head in bemusement. There are advantages to my walking around in a cloud most of the time, and this is one of them. I have missed the spectacle of Christians flipping each other off in their race to get out of the parking lot!

My discussion of motives referred only to how people dress for church.

adad0
Member

See above Jilly. For my particular church the lack of innocense in our problem is pretty well known by those involved, but not well understood by some of the same. On the interesting side, my 19 year old son with Autism is getting baptized at this church next week-end! Thankfully by a pastor who does not really know our family and has not been part of the problem. I am thinking this might be a good time to let the church leadership know that my false accusation Court case, which they really caused, is currently under DOJ review. : –… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

How wonderful, A Dad, I will be praying for you , your wife, and your son. It is a difficult dilemma for you, and I think there are people here who would give you wiser advice. But two things came to my mind, and I will share them for what they’re worth. I would not want to jeopardize the blessed happiness of the day by using this occasion to tell them about the DOJ. I would personally prefer to ask for time at a ministerial meeting. Or I would enjoy writing them a letter that would scorch the page. My… Read more »

adad0
Member

Jilly, thanks for your thoughts and prayers! Also, your comments are “right” on all counts. The involved church leadership is entrenched on this issue, due to the issue its’ self, along with fall out from previous meetings and some scorching letters previously sent. My motivation is more about me, as I would not want to remain overly silent, and later appear “two faced”, even to my self, if and when the DOJ were to investigate or prosecute the case. My pastors commited no “crimes”, others did. It’s just that their mishandling of the initial problem, then created the entire issue.… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I appreciate your wanting to be sincere and open, but can you think of it as something like a wedding party with inlaws you can’t stand? Silence and politeness don’t commit you to anything; it’s just recognizing there’s a better time and place to let them know that their nefarious deeds will–we pray–finally be brought into the open.

adad0
Member

That’s just the thing I am trying to figure! Time and Place.

I suppose I could up-date them after next Sunday!

OKRickety
Member

“In this context, the involved ministers might finally understand and admit their errors and the damage they have done.”
In my own experience, it seems to be quite difficult for ministers to admit their own errors. If yours ever admit it to you, I’d be surprised, and, if they ever admit it “publicly”, I’d be absolutely astounded.

adad0
Member

Well, 1Tim. 5:19-20 require it, so I’ll let you know if it happens!????????????
Oh, and they already offered a lame, generic apology, with no restitution, but I am still working for the above Word grounded response!

Lance Roberts
Guest

The reason to dress nice for church is respect for God; he gets our first fruits, our best.

adad0
Member

The Word of God, is of course the guide on matters of taste. Verse 14 is the “money” verse on this issue. Romans 14 10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister[a]? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’”[b] 12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. 13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead,… Read more »

mark_lacour
Member
mark_lacour

I’ve used the old adage many times: When you fail to “name the animal” you automatically “rename” the tree. Eve’s failure to name the serpent for what it truly was, caused her to rename the tree of the knowledge of good and evil for what it truly was. They’re a set — renaming and naming. A Christian who cannot discern is an oxymoron (1 Cor. 2:14-15). Either live by God’s “lexicon” of reality, or wear the number of the beast and live by its lexicon under the wrath of God

bethyada
Member

I have previously come across the idea about us being not ready for the tree here. This is a better explaination but I am not sure I have been convinced scripturally. My take is this. Adam and Eve know about evil in that they know it was wrong to eat from the tree before they sinned. But they did not know what it was to know about sin in an experiential way. They would become like God if they ate, that was not a lie. The lie was that they would not die. So I see the knowledge of good… Read more »

dal
Guest
dal

I’m going to buy some western wear and get offended when someone refers to me as “Tex” or “Podner.”

Jordan
Guest
Jordan

Really enjoyable essay. I appreciate your writing. How do you reconcile the idea that God, who loves us so much, has created a world in which we have so much latitude, and for this, among other things, he deserves all of our praise. Whereas a pastor, who might not approve of, but nevertheless may allow his daughter to dye her hair a radical color, is deserving of derision. Isn’t God our best pastor? And yet, he allows us to wander very far afield. Why wouldn’t a temporal pastor do well to lead as God does, firm in teaching the truth… Read more »

My Portion Forever
Member

Jordan, I think that’s a great question: shouldn’t we lead like God does (who is ever-so patient with us)? I think that is well worth considering and trying to implement in our lives. God is the only one who really has a right to tell us what to do, bind our consciences, and exert justice for our sins. And he is patient with us, drawing us to repentance, though sometimes using suffering to do so. However, I think that he has given authority to us in the context of relationships: the government has authority to govern society, parents have authority… Read more »

Jordan
Guest
Jordan

It is a great question and one for which I don’t pretend to have an answer. It is not the question of authority I find compelling, but rather how one ought to use authority. God has authority over everything and yet, he allows his children to murder one another. We understand God has perfect authority yet rarely interferes with the actions of his children. If God acts in perfect wisdom, I think this creates a compelling case for always deferring to forebearance, patience and tolerance. If God allowed people to crucify his son, then where would any of us derive… Read more »

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

One remembers that Paul did not compel a member of his flock and apparently close friend to release his converted slave. Nor did he compel all members of his churches to follow the same freedom in eating that he had found.

Eric Purdy
Guest

Couldn’t agree more… Everywhere we look it seems that everything is OK as long as you feel good about it. Humanism on steroids!