Thursday, June 09, 2005

dialogue with "anonymous"

Among the comments I received about Tuesday's post, the longest was from an anonymous poster who raised several issues on the topic of legalism. Rather than respond in the comment section, I thought I'd share my response in a post. The anonymous poster's comments are italicized.

First, though, let me say thank you to whoever put the time and thought into their comment.

Hi Shannon, I appreciate your post and certainly understand some of your concerns. However, there were a couple of comments that I felt the Spirit move me to comment on and perhaps encourage you to think about during your quiet times with our Lord.

I hear an awful lot these days from our church and others within the Body about the need to beware of "legalism" and keep clear of it. I believe there's an element of truth in that and an element of falsehood. Clearly we see examples in Scripture of Paul admonishing Believers for their excesses. You commented, that you "didn't see a correlation between respect and God's view of bare-legged boys." While I would agree with you that God views the "bare-legged boys" hearts and not their outward appearance, I don't see how one can argue that there is a direct correlation between how one dresses and the level of respect they may be showing given a particular circumstance. This is difficult at best to explain in this forum but let me just suggest that if there were no correlation, the term "Sunday's Best" would have never been coined. Why do people dress up for a wedding or a funeral if not for respect? So what's the problem with dressing up a little for one day during a chapel service?

You make a good point, A. There's nothing at all wrong with dressing up for a wedding or a funeral or for church. As I noted, even some within our church like to dress up -- and there's no problem whatsoever with that. The only problem I have is when dress is a mandated issue, or when people look at outward appearance as an indicator of inward devotion.

One woman came to us from another much more conservative church in town after they put on a skit for their children to introduce the new Sunday school curriculum. She told me what happened. "The pastor called two women up on the stage. One wore a nice dress, nylons and high heels. The other wore denim overalls. After the kids looked at the two for a minute, the pastor then asked the group, 'Okay, kids. Now tell me ... which one of these women is a Christian?'" This broke my friend's heart because, as she told me, "My mother would be someone who would show up to church in overalls, if she ever got a notion to come. Is this the sort of welcome she'd receive?"

I also have a friend whose family came to us after the pastor of their church questioned her youngest son's salvation ... simply because he had let his hair grow long.

On a side note about weddings, after Dave and I eloped, we decided to have a second wedding ceremony six weeks later (in August) to include our friends and loved ones. Only the inner circle knew it was an actual ceremony. Everyone else thought they were coming to a reception. In the invitations, we urged people to come dressed comfortably and to be prepared for swimming (we held the service in the backyard of my parents' home, which sat on the edge of a lake). It delighted me to see people walking up to my parents' door wearing shorts and flip-flops, and I got a kick out of overhearing my good friend say to her husband, "Hey! This isn't a reception -- this is a wedding!" The reason we did this was simple: I had once attended a lengthy Catholic wedding on a sweltering August day and nearly fainted from the heat. I remember sitting in the pew thinking how much I hated the hot, merciless nylons clinging to my legs and longing for the second I could yank them off. I didn't want my guests to feel that way. I wanted clothing to be the last thing on their mind. Instead, I wanted them to have a wonderful time celebrating with us. And they did! People sat on blankets on the lawn and swam in the lake (we even had one impromptu baptism) while friends from college played the guitar in the background. It was simply perfect.

We are also told that we're to be all things to all men in order for the Gospel to be put forth.

That's kind of the point of Tuesday's post. What gospel are we advocating? The gospel that says God waits for you to clean yourself up before you're acceptable to Him? That's not my gospel. Nor is my gospel one that says, "This spot (day, activity, etc.) is holy. God is here. He's not over there, though, so that's where you can relax and let your hair down." My gospel says, "Come to Me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."

We are admonished to consider the weaker brother. We are exhorted to esteem others more than ourselves. Isn't it possible that acquiesing to the school's Dress Code might help strengthen a "more conservative's" efforts at teaching their child respect. If outward appearance is not important, then why did God go to such efforts to tell us in His word of example after example where He specifically was meticulous about dress and other ceremonial practices? What is God trying to tell us in 1Cor 4-16? Why do we sometimes go to God as Our Father, sometimes Daddy, and sometimes as God Almighty? Why do we pray sometimes driving down the road, or on our back in bed, and at other times on our knees?

First, God is all those things to us at all times. He is not sometimes Father and sometimes God Almighty -- He is both at once. The difference is in us and in our need at the moment.

As to the weaker brother, Romans 14 makes it clear that the weaker brother is the one living under and trying to adhere to a lot of self-imposed rules. We're told not to despise each other, which, applied to this situation, means I'm not to judge the one who feels it's necessary to dress up, but by the same token, they are not to judge those of us who don't dress up. Verse 4 says, "Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand." It would never occur to me to criticize those who dress up on Tuesday mornings. I'd just like them to do the same for me -- respect that I've brought the issue before the Lord and I feel the freedom to choose. (And can I say here that we DO have Tera dress up on Tuesdays? We've taught both kids that it's important to adhere to the rules of the school. But when our friend was sent home last year because he forgot and wore shorts, and Tera told me this week she'd probably be separated from the other kids and sent to the back row for wearing shorts, that's where, in my opinion, a rule crossed over and became a judgment.)

As to the detailed instructions God gave for ceremonial dress, one of the most beautiful aspects of Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) is the fact that although the High Priest wore very elaborate dress for every other occasion, on that particular day -- the one day a year when the sins of Israel were atoned for -- the High Priest was to take off all the elaborate garb and wear a simple linen robe when he went into the Holy of Holies. That meant the priest looked no different at that moment than any of the other Jewish men waiting in the courtyard. The picture is two-fold (in my opinion): it prophecized that the Messiah would come in their midst looking just like the rest of them (not set apart by finery), and two, that when we come into God's presence it's the heart He's interested in, not our outward adornment.

The Bible I read tells me that our God is not the author of confusion but rather there is order and discipline to how our God works. We are called to be in the World but not of the World. When others look at us, whether we like it or not, sometimes the only testimony they will have is our outward appearance. I see Scripture as clearly telling us that we should be different. That others should see Jesus in us and an evident difference between us and the World. Sometimes I see very little difference between those who call themselves Believers and the World. A good case in point is Howard Dean's most recent comment where he self-identified himself as a White Christian. I won't go into that because that's definitely another issue, but who would know he's a Christian by his outward appearance and things he says and does?

I'm not sure what to say about the confusion issue, because I'm not sure what you mean. I suppose I could say that it's confusing to me to understand which "accepted" mode of dress is more holy -- the Little House on the Prairie denim jumper, or the big, wild hair and spider-leg eyelashes of TBN? Neither of those alternatives is attractive to me. I'd rather dress simply and without drawing attention to myself.

As to Howard Dean, you could argue that he certainly dresses the part. But it's behavior that matters. We can't wear our Christianity like a sandwich board. It takes time to earn the right to enter someone's life and share your faith. Hopefully, what they observe in me is not that I look like the world's idea of a Christian (by my dress) but that I love others.

Remember, Jesus did not say that the world would recognize us by our appearance. Instead, He said this: "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:35)

Your blog specifically mentioned, "I'm talking about piercings and tattoos and mohawks and dredlocks and jeans on Sunday -- and all the people I love and fellowship with who have and/or wear those things." If you were to classify those things as either Godly or Worldly, which category would you put them in? Are piercings, tattoos, mohawks etc. done because God called them to or because of peer pressure, to be cool or in some other way to be accepted by the World. We are called to esteem others more than ourselves - and that goes both ways true enough - but has anyone ever considered how difficult (if not impossible) it is for me to instill respect for my beliefs from my children when all around them they get a different message. Including within the church? If I tell my kids that they can't have green hair (or piercings, or tattoos, or wear cutoffs with their underwear three inches above them at church, etc etc.) because it's dishonoring and disrespectful to me and the family name, and that if God wanted them to have green hair He'd have created them with it, then how is the church helping me when it's all over the inside? Please don't get me wrong, I know there's a danger in dwelling too much on those things. But I do believe there must be a balance. Just as there is with God. He is Holy and Righteous, Merciful and full of Grace, vengeful, a judge, and yet loving and forgiving. We cannot be totally legalistic and yet we cannot go without standards.

Ever since reading "A Quest for Godliness" by J.I. Packer several years ago, I've been intrigued by this notion of whether or not things are "Godly" or "Worldy" (Packer classifies them as "Sacred" or "Secular.") I was fascinated by his description of the Puritans. "As their Christianity was all-embracing, so their living was all of a piece ... There was for them no disjunction between sacred and secular; all creation, so far as they were concerned, was sacred, and all activities, of whatever kind, must be sanctified, that is, done to the glory of God." There's much more to it, but what I read there challenged me to see that it all belongs to God and He is in it all as long as we acknowledge Him and sanctify our activities to Him.

I'm sure you're doing a great job instilling those values in your children. But I'm also sure you tell them, "Our rules are our rules -- not everybody else's." As for our family, my children have learned that God's arms are open to all, and that a life yielded to Him becomes a thing of beauty. They've learned that there's freedom in Christ and that it's not what goes into the stomach (or on the body) that makes us clean or unclean, it's what comes out of the heart.

I agree wholeheartedly with the comment that Nancy made. If you wouldn't wear your hat to the dinner table, then why would you wear it in church?

We have to be careful to distinguish between what is scriptural and what is cultural. Whereas in our society, men (mostly in the past) took their hat off as a show of respect, in other cultures the opposite is the norm. A Jewish man wouldn't think of entering a holy place without covering his head with a kippah. So who's right? The answer, I think, is in Romans 14:14, "I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean." If you feel convicted to take your hat off in church, you'd better do so. To NOT do so would be sin to you (Rom 14:22, 23). If you feel the freedom to wear a hat, do so with a thankful heart to the One who gave you peace to do so. Elsewhere we're told, "To the pure, all things are pure." It's a matter of conscience.

Isn't it possible that with such emphasis on "not" being "legalistic", that we are failing others but not giving them the chance to understand a "Holy" God and what He means when He says "Be Holy for I am Holy?"

Holiness is a matter of the heart. It's character, behavior, attitude. Those other things? Green hair, piercings, tattoos, etc. -- all those things will be left in the grave. What we take into eternity is spiritual, not material.

As for finding another school, that's certain you and Dave's business and call. I wonder though, what's God trying to do in this situation? I'm reminded of some I've talked with who went from one church to another until they found one that they liked or that "didn't do what that other church did." I've often asked them what difference they could have made if they would have stayed where God put them and looked at what God wanted them to do in the situation rather than just getting out of something they weren't comfortable with.

That's not to say you should stay or go. As I said, that's you and Dave's call and I'm certain that you'll look to the Lord first. It's just food for thought to all who might be reading this and wondering "Why am I in this situation?"

Some may be asking what I'd do and how I'd handle it. Without full knowledge of the situation, I can only say I'd be thanking God that I have a Christian school to send my child to and I'd be teaching my kids why it's important to dress up on this one day so as to pay special tribute to God Almighty and to honor the schools officials who God has put in charge as authorities over that school. And why it also honors the other parents and children who might want to have a special dress up day to honor God. One thing I'm pretty sure of though is that picketting the school would be the last thing on my mind - not even jokingly.

I know what you mean about church-hopping. That's another issue for me. I really dislike the mentality we have in this culture that says we can just go around "kicking the tires" to see whichever church makes us feel the most comfortable or has the best donuts after service. Just as my husband and I feel "married" to our church (unlike in other denominations, we do not move our pastors around. If you plant the church, you commit to it. On rare occasions, a pastor may move to another area, but it's the exception rather than the norm. In fact, we don't even have a system in place to match pastors with churches. We'll probably be at this church until the Lord takes Dave home.), I wish that those who came would also feel that level of commitment. It's always a stab in my heart when someone just up and moves on to see what's going on in the church down the road.

But this school isn't a church. We've been here four years, and in that time we've had many opportunities to teach our children about adapting and ignoring offenses and respecting authority, even when that authority teaches something different from what we teach at home. I don't feel we're under the same sense of obligation to stick it out here as I would with a church. (Before Dave was a pastor, we once stayed at a church until it closed its doors because we never felt God was releasing us to go.)

I am thankful for all that my children have learned at this school. I'm not certain we're leaving. My husband has been gone all week at a pastor's conference and we have much to talk about when he comes home (this is not the only issue we've been struggling with at the school).

So in closing let me just say that I certainly understand some of your frustration but just as you fume over legalism, I get pretty worked up when I see people advocate no standards (or at least very lax standards) all in the name of Grace. I find it very hard to believe that when I see Jesus, He'll be full of piercings, tattoos, green hair, and wearing cutoffs and a tank top. Somehow I just believe I'll see a KING adorned as a king. It strikes me as there must have been something very striking about Jesus' appearance to have John passout when he first saw Him.

I'm not advocating no standards. We do expect that our people won't dress provocatively. To do so, especially on the part of a young woman, would be to put a stumbling block in the way of a brother. But beyond that, we just want people to come and meet Jesus.

One of my favorite brothers is a guy named Jesse. When he stepped into a Calvary Chapel in Southern California about fourteen years ago, he was shirtless, tattooed, barefoot, and in ragged, barely-there jeans. He had a diaper in one back pocket, a baby bottle in the other, and his year-old daughter perched on his hip. Did his coming cause a stir? Not a bit. Somebody scooched over, motioned for Jesse to come and sit, and handed him a Bible. The welcome he got glued him to his seat. The love he met through the pastor's words washed his soul. Jesse left his old life right there in the building when he walked out, and he hasn't stopped talking about Jesus ever since. I've sat and listened to Jesse talk from the pulpit. Sometimes I can still see that not-so-delightful tattoo sticking out from under his sleeve. And you know what? Every time I see it, I'm reminded of how great our God is that He goes out on the byways and highways and scoops orphans from ditches and brings them to His table.

I'm also reminded of something one of our pastors, Greg Laurie, likes to say: "God cleans His fish after He catches them."

I think you're right about what Jesus is going to look like when we get our first glimpse of Him -- except on one point. No, Jesus won't have a tattoo, cutoffs or a tank top (nor will He be wearing a suit and tie). But He most definitely has piercings. In fact, He has four.

Ok, that's enough. I hope I've made some sense here. Like I said, it's a difficult thing to explain without a personal conversation. I just thought I'd add a little different perspective because I felt the Spirit telling me to do so.

It is difficult to convey your heart through this format, but I do hear yours. I'm sorry if my comments offended you. They weren't meant to do that. And you did make some good points. I just think that overall, dress is a separator rather than a unifier. And the God of my Bible is One who ate with prostitutes, touched the unclean, and loved the unloveable -- despite their appearance.

God bless you, Anonymous. :)

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43 Comment:

At 6/09/2005 11:30 AM, Blogger Fran had this to say ...

I looked up the 1 Corinthians verse that was quoted; "Therefore, I urge you, imitate me." yet in the preceeding verses Paul was saying, "To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now."

I don't know that Paul would have fit in some of the churches I know. I have too many friends who have been forced out of churches because they weren't "good enough" and I myself have been unwelcome at some. Honestly, if I have to put on some sort of mask to be accepted by a church then that is not where I want to be. Jesus told the Pharisees that they were whitewashed tombs, clean on the outside but full of all sorts of death. And He told them that they washed the outside of the cup but left the inside full of filth. (Mathew 23) To me that says He isn't as concerned with what I look like as my heart's condition.

Not to mention that Paul and his co-workers did the opposite of what the world would do in the same situation. Being reviled, they blessed; being persecuted, they endured; being defamed, they entreated. This to me is an example of being set apart. Not that our clothes are different, but that our character is different. I can dress nice but still be full of malice, deceit and selfishness. The rest of the world is very good at seeing that the wardrobe doesn't mask the heart. I wish more "Christians" could see it.

If my kids were in that school the message I would be afraid they would be getting in that situation is that "you cannot come to God just as you are. You must conform to our image first then you will be acceptable."

If that were true I would still be unacceptable to God.

I appreciate a heart that wants to please God, whatever form it may take but I am glad that He accepts me the way I am.

At 6/09/2005 11:47 AM, Blogger shannon had this to say ...

Great thoughts, Fran. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment.

I may be opening another can of worms here, but I can't help but see a correlation between this topic and Jesus' explosion in the temple when He overturned the money-changers' tables. Too often, people stop short and say, "Jesus is telling us not to let money change hands in the church," but I think they're missing the point. By cheating the devoted (not changing money properly but tacking on huge sur-charges) and running a scam (finding fault with their animal sacrifices and then offering to sell them "perfect" offerings for exhorbitant prices from their friends, who were in cahoots with them), the money-changers were hindering people from coming in and worshiping God. They laid heavy burdens on the poor and made it an ordeal for those who came to enter in and seek God.

I see a parallel. When we view people with disapproval because of their appearance, we lay a heavy burden on their shoulders. And when we make them feel that they have to jump through hoops to join us (i.e, dressing better), in effect we're doing the same thing -- we're hindering people from coming in and seeking God.

What do you think?

At 6/09/2005 11:55 AM, Anonymous joe cool cowboy poet had this to say ...

Still readin' - but nothing to add, except that you write well and I agree.

At 6/09/2005 12:12 PM, Blogger whaaaat! had this to say ...

Wow, so much to digest here, so many great points (I agree with all that you are saying), and so many unbelievable glimpses of people being so narrow-minded and exclusionary like the church with the skit for the kids saying the woman in overalls was not a Christian. Whaaaat! We should be reminded of the verse after the most famous verse. John 3:17-For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. A reminder for me as a "conservative" Christian that Jesus came to save the "world" and not to condemn it and I need to share Him with others and not just others who look like me.

At 6/09/2005 1:12 PM, Blogger pam had this to say ...

I really enjoyed this blog, Shannon and that you took the time to lovingly address her concerns.

At 6/09/2005 3:18 PM, Blogger Nettie had this to say ...

I came over from Darlene's, and I too am impreessed at how you responded to Anonymous. Most people wouldn't have the patience to do that.

At 6/09/2005 3:30 PM, Blogger CJ had this to say ...

First, let me start off by saying that the following comments are the opinion of one mid-western Christian girl from Kansas. They aren't meant to ridicule or offend anyone.

I love the Lord my God with all my heart, all my strength, all my mind. I strive after him. I want to soak him up. To imitate him in all things.

Second, I have two tattoos and a pierced tongue and 2 wholes in each ear.

I am very active on my leadership team at church, on several committees, on writing team, on teaching team, soon to be on worship team. I have been very blessed to find a church where I am accepted just as I am by my fellow believers and we all know that we are accepted just as we are by God. I left my last church because I felt "excluded" or looked down on and there was a lot of general hypocrisy happening. I don't want to be a part of that. It seems pretty obvious to me that a person is more likely to worship and worship freely in the way they feel is most comfortable for themselves if they are not met with judgements and condemnation, hypocrisy and "peering down your nose over your glasses" looks. Just a thought.

The things I listed second don't keep me from my God. They don't define me. They don't make me any less of a Christian.

I am NOT the only individual on leadership team - or on any team - at church who has one or more of these things. We all have our separate identities and chose to dress how we want - some very conservatively and some very modernly. We are all different, yet one thing unites us. That one thing is our love for God and that he sent his son to die on the cross for us.

One of my tattoos is the Japanese word for Faith. This has double meaning for me. My mother's name was Faith and she passed away 5 years ago and went home to be with the Father. It also represents the faith I have in God and that he is faithful to me. When people ask me about that tattoo (it's on my ankle) and what it says I get to tell them of my mom and her immense love for her God and of my faith for that same God. I got this tattoo on purpose - for that reason. I knew people would ask me about it and I get to witness to them through it. It's actually been a very powerful "tool." Jesus said, "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations..." I am doing that in my way. It may be unconventional to some but it has worked for me for 4 years and I don't think God would have a problem with it.

GASP! Our pastor wears jeans or shorts every Sunday when he preaches from the pulpit. We are a "church for the unchurched" and believe that first-time visitors would be more likely to come back if they see the pastor in jeans and hear familiar music played by the band (U2, Train, and Lifehouse are just a few mainstream bands whose music is featured on SOME Sunday mornings), and feel they "fit in" more comfortably. Our attendance is growing praise be to God! So we must be doing something right! That's not to say that this works in EVERY church - I am sure it doesn't. But it works for us and our dynamics.

The other people that attend our church (we have somewhere around 3000 regular attenders, I think) are not "put off" by those of us who express ourselves a little more "creatively." In fact, some members of the congregation have some of the same things.

I did not get my tongue pierced to "identify with a certain group of people." I got it pierced because 1 - I wanted to and 2 - it reminds me how "piercing" the tongue can be when used improperly.

Anon did make some good points but overall I fear that she is being more judgmental than she lets on to be. Why is green hair dishonoring and disrespectful to her or the family name? I believe kids should be allowed the freedom to express themselves as individuals - within reason of course. Who does it hurt to have green hair? As far as I am concerned there are far more severe things (drugs, alcohol, sex, addictions, etc...) a kid could do to himself/herself than dye his hair green or pink or purple or get his eyebrow pierced. I grew up in a very conservative Christian home and have witnessed first hand what "over-protection" can do.

Just some thoughts...

At 6/09/2005 3:36 PM, Blogger CJ had this to say ...

Sorry, one more thing... Those of us who do express ourselves a little more creatively don't exclude those that dress more conservatively. Why should the opposite be any different?

At 6/09/2005 5:21 PM, Blogger *~Tey~* had this to say ...

I just want to share that My family and I attended a church for 10 years. My Grandad use to be the pastor there and I always said I'd stay theremy whole life. But three years ago my Grandad handed the church over the the then youth pastor. About 6 months ago the church bought their own building, which was great. But it continued to change in a way that wasn't good. I'm not talking about the way people dressed, but that it was becoming a youth church and the older people were becoming neglected and getting pushed out. Then the the pastor started taking advice from not so good mentors. Anyway...my grandad started a new church because they just love ministering into peoples lives. So many people had been pushed out of the old church. My paretns moved to my grandad's church and forced us to come and my brother and I were so resistant. We didn't want to leave the church and we couldn't see the problems, because ofcourse we're the youth. But as time went on(we still attended old church at sunday night) God opened my eyes to wat was happening and I am know grateful that my parents took me out of it.I just believe that if a church becomes corrupted (everything was about what you did and what services you attended rather than God. It was empty of God)like this old church did than it's necassary to leave. I just thought I'd tell you. But I'm all for staying in a church for a long time. I'm uncomfortable with moving and this has been the hardest thing I've had to deal with, but I believe that I'm at this new church for a reason.
Thanks for listening...sometimes I still feel very sad about it...mostly just because I miss my friends. But God is more important! I really like your blog. I'm against legalism aswell! I've grown up being taught that we are saved by grace alone. And when we start saying things like 'We are saved by grace and if we don't eat pork or cut our hair' than it becomes a cult. God wants us to be free.

At 6/09/2005 5:21 PM, Blogger *~Tey~* had this to say ...

I just want to share that My family and I attended a church for 10 years. My Grandad use to be the pastor there and I always said I'd stay theremy whole life. But three years ago my Grandad handed the church over the the then youth pastor. About 6 months ago the church bought their own building, which was great. But it continued to change in a way that wasn't good. I'm not talking about the way people dressed, but that it was becoming a youth church and the older people were becoming neglected and getting pushed out. Then the the pastor started taking advice from not so good mentors. Anyway...my grandad started a new church because they just love ministering into peoples lives. So many people had been pushed out of the old church. My paretns moved to my grandad's church and forced us to come and my brother and I were so resistant. We didn't want to leave the church and we couldn't see the problems, because ofcourse we're the youth. But as time went on(we still attended old church at sunday night) God opened my eyes to wat was happening and I am know grateful that my parents took me out of it.I just believe that if a church becomes corrupted (everything was about what you did and what services you attended rather than God. It was empty of God)like this old church did than it's necassary to leave. I just thought I'd tell you. But I'm all for staying in a church for a long time. I'm uncomfortable with moving and this has been the hardest thing I've had to deal with, but I believe that I'm at this new church for a reason.
Thanks for listening...sometimes I still feel very sad about it...mostly just because I miss my friends. But God is more important! I really like your blog. I'm against legalism aswell! I've grown up being taught that we are saved by grace alone. And when we start saying things like 'We are saved by grace and if we don't eat pork or cut our hair' than it becomes a cult. God wants us to be free.

At 6/09/2005 9:06 PM, Anonymous Lynetta had this to say ...

Hi Shannon,

I thought you handled that with grace and love. Very well said!

To many already good points made, I'd just like to point out that it wasn't necessarily the "rule" that is bad. You did, after all, encourage Tera to abide by the dress code. The problem arose from their prescribed consequences (i.e. setting her apart from the others). Like I said yesterday, that treatment is specifically admonished in scripture.

People who see "worship" as something we do on Sunday mornings (and evenings, if we're really committed) just don't get it. Yes, God loves it when we sing Him praises and lift our hands to Him. But, my husband reminded me tonight as I made a salad for dinner that even cutting a tomato is an act of worship if we're doing it to the glory of God. Writing, snuggling a little girl, helping a son with math, washing windows... all acts of worship if we do it "as unto the Lord."

So, who is really worshiping, anyway? Is it the man in a suit in church with his hands raised high, singing on perfect pitch (while thinking about a Victoria's Secret ad and how he can't wait to watch the ball game later); or is it the homeless woman on the beach with ratty clothes and knotty hair looking out over the waves and contemplating what an awesome God we have?

I seriously doubt that a child separated from the others and scolded for not dressing nice enough will be in a worshipful mood. Personally, I've been there (in church) and it cut me to the quick.

We humans can't really "see" worship, can we? Only God can see into the heart. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest! :-)


At 6/09/2005 10:19 PM, Blogger Curlyqfun had this to say ...

I came here tonight because Shannon is teaching me about Blogging and I wanted to get an idea from her's. And boy did I pick a good night to sneak a look!!!
First, let me say that I attend Shannon & Pastor Daves church and have been here for almost 4 years. And I came with only 1 tattoo and my ears & eybrow pierced. Now I have added several more piercings and 2 more tattoos. And you know what everyone still loves me there. No one cares what I have pierced or tattooed and I also wear jeans most Sundays.
Second, I know that the Lord looks at my heart. He see's my heart and my attuide. And neither of them are in disobedience or dishonoring to Him. And these things dont make me less of a Christian than any one else.
Sure I wasnt born with them, and some would not choose to adorn their bodies with them. But I do. And I like them. I did not get them because I was in rebellion or peer pressured into them. Just simply because I like them and wanted them.
Gods love and grace is for everyone, the pierced, tattooed, conservative, old, young etc....He simply says come as you are. And in the end, will it really matter who has piercings, tattoos or green hair??? We'll be in heaven with our King. That's really what we should be thinking about here. Living a life that is pleasing to the Lord and not to the world or anyone else.

At 6/09/2005 11:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous had this to say ...

Hi Shannon,

It's me again. This time I'll keep it real short though. I want everyone to understand that I'm not disagreeing with what is being said about "legalism" and God looking at the inside (ie. heart) and not the outside. But what I do think needs to be added is that Scripture is clear that Liberty can be just as (every bit as) dangerous as Legalism.

We all have a line that we draw somewhere. It's not a question of whether there is a line - only a question of where. As for the "skit" and "long hair" stories, those are horrible. I don't know what the other side would say and maybe they would have a different take on what happened, but I'm sure there are those inside the church who are that spiritually blind to do something that stupid.

I wholeheartedly agree with you (and others) about the need to accept people where they are and especially welcome them into the church whoever they are, wherever they are, and however they are. That is exactly what God has done for us through our Lord Jesus.

However, nowhere in Scripture do I see where God leaves us in that state or expects us to stay in that state. Metaphorically speaking Jesus will remove our old clothes and give us a new spotless, white robe to wear. Likewise, Jesus Himself uses clothing in His parable of Matthew 22:1-14. It strikes me as though there is a message in there apart from just the "heart issue". Additionally, if God isn't concerned about the outside at all, why did He tell Moses to take off his shoes at the burning bush? God certainly didn't need to have Moses take off his shoes to see Moses' heart. Yes, God welcomes all just as you are and accepts all who come to them just as they are - but He doesn't leave you there. He cleans you up!

I'm trying to keep this as short as possible... You mentioned in your reply, "But when our friend was sent home last year because he forgot and wore shorts, and Tera told me this week she'd probably be separated from the other kids and sent to the back row for wearing shorts, that's where, in my opinion, a rule crossed over and became a judgment.)" I don't understand. Is it rules are okay as long as there are no consequences for breaking them?

That was a great line about the piercings. I'll have to remember it. Thanks. And rest assured, you never offended me.

Now I want to quickly address a couple of comments that were from others. And this is EXTREMELY difficult because I really don't want to offend anyone and I'm afraid some may take it as my judging them. So let me first say that I'm not. To start, I'll quote some lines from others but PLEASE know that I am not singling these out for any reason other than to use as an example.

One statement was, "I have too many friends who have been forced out of churches because they weren't "good enough" and I myself have been unwelcome at some. Honestly, if I have to put on some sort of mask to be accepted by a church then that is not where I want to be."

Another that jumped out at me was, "I did not get my tongue pierced to "identify with a certain group of people." I got it pierced because 1 - I wanted to". Notice the word "I" and notice the sequence in which is was given. It was #1. This same post ends with, "I grew up in a very conservative Christian home and have witnessed first hand what "over-protection" can do."

Now let me quickly address those two things. First, it has been my experience that those who are so focused on "legalism" and staying clear from any sign of it, have all come to their perspective from some bad experience they have personally encountered. Whether it be not being accepted from a church, or a feeling of never measuring up to a parent(s), or in some other way always having to meet some standard of approval by someone. They missed something in their youth and have never gotten over it. Now that thing still has an effect on them today. In some cases I've known, someone in a church has hurt them because they were approached in love according to Scripture and confronted with a behavior that was not consistent with being a Believer. So they huffed off and called it "legalism". In the second example, it's pretty clear that it was not the leading of the Spirit that motivated the piercing and the last sentence is similar to others I've heard from people who are still in rebellion and harboring resentment. I would encourage this wonderful young lady (and anyone else reading who feels they're the result of "very conservative/over protection") to look deep inside themselves for any roots of bitterness, resentment, and/or rebellion.

We all know that we are not to preach a Gospel that's any different than the true Gospel. But I've seen too many times where other Scriptural doctrine takes a turn because of personal experiences. I've been guilty of that myself. So I just say we should be cautious that we are not seeing the whole totality of Scripture because we filter it through our own shade of glasses. So often we hear that we are to judge not lest we be judged. Sadly, we hear that from many Believers who do not fully understand what that means. All one has to do is look at all of Paul's writings to see how he (and through him the Holy Spirit) specifically charges us hold one another accountable - and he is not always talking about the inward things.

I'll end with this question. When you go to meet the King of Kings and to present your life and crowns at His feet, how do you want to look? Would you do anything to your outward appearance that is different than it is now??

At 6/10/2005 1:10 AM, Anonymous Xavior had this to say ...

Hi there,
i have read both of your posts with regards of legalism..
I agree that we are saved by grace and not by works, but faith without works is dead and we are saved to do good works. Jesus said that if you love me, do my commandments.
Personally for my own church, they do not force people to wear pants that cover the legs for guys, skirts and long hair for girls.
But the people in my church as wears pants and skirts and have long hair anyways.. why? not because my church is a legalism church.. but because of what the bible has said over such matters.
you are right that we should not look at outward appearance.. but what we believe will take it's form.. be it in our speech or our dressing.
We have to consider our weaker brother/sister do we not? We cannot say, am i my brothers' keeper like what cain has done right? if a brother is struggling with the lust of the eyes.. and because of you wearing clothes that shows your legs and it stumbles him? i am sure you wont know if it will.. but what if?
I'm sure you know the bible more than me, the bible did mention what a guy should wear and what a girl should wear no matter what is going on in their lifes.
God bless

At 6/10/2005 4:04 AM, Blogger BJ had this to say ...

There is a great conversation going on here. I've been out of the loop for a few days and just posted something without knowing about this conversation here that directly impacts what's being talked about here. I love it when God does that! :) Shannon, thanks for your honest reflections and for going at a tough issue. I have similar questions and concerns (like both you and Anonymous), and as we seek Him, He will lead us! I love that! Bless you, and may we all grow closer to our Lord through asking difficult questions about why we do what we do. And let me know what you think:

At 6/10/2005 7:12 AM, Blogger Ellen had this to say ...

I have appreciated reading the dialog on this subject. Shannon and Annon are both very articulate. There is much food for thought for all of us. As we consider the issues and side-issues (which are numerous... legalism, liberty, grace, obedience, dress, worship, yadda, yadda), I hope we can all walk away united in our faith in the finished work of our Lord Jesus, letting the trivial things that divide us give way to the important things that unite us as the Body of Christ. I pray that searching people will always find a body of belivers where they can "fit in". God needs all of us to do the work of sharing His message... we can't all relate to everyone... we need each other in order to reach the world. The Gospel is for everyone. Styles of dress and worship vary, not only in this country, but around the world. We might all be surprized someday when we reach heaven and find out what true worship was supposed to look like.
Thanks for a great blog Shannon! And thanks to Annon for entering the discussion. Let's all stay humble and get on with the work God has set before us!

At 6/10/2005 7:43 AM, Blogger shannon had this to say ...

Ellen, you said that so well I almost don't want to add a comment! That would be a good way to wrap it all up.

But I do have one or two things to add. :)

First, my comment about picketing the school was given tongue-in-cheek. I only meant to indicate that I'd like to remind the school about grace. On that point, A. asked whether there shouldn't be consequences to rules, and I agree that yes, there should. But I also believe that the spirit of the law is higher than the letter of the law. I couldn't, in good conscience, ever punish a child in that manner -- separating them from the other children as though they were unfit to be seen with them. That just broke my heart.

As to how I want to be dressed when I meet Jesus? I can honestly tell you that in all my 31 years as a Christian, that has never crossed my mind -- not even once! I guess that's because what I'm most looking forward to is seeing the look in His eyes when He's looking at my heart. To be known fully ... what is that moment going to be like? I can't imagine.

He's who I run to when I need to know I'm loved. He's the one who understands me, knows my motives, chose me when I was head-over-heels in love with my sin. He's the only person who looks past everything else straight to my soul. So it's just never crossed my mind to worry about an outer appearance with Him. Besides, won't this body (and all its adornments) be gone?

Clothing is so "of the earth." It's so unimportant. What some of this discussion really comes down to is our conflicting belief on the importance/holiness of clothing. My comment about the Little House on the Prairie clothing was meant to point out that we have some odd thoughts about what is holy. For some reason, that particular style of dress has been adopted by certain groups as being the point in history when fashion really hit its holiness peak. In the same way, some Christians latched onto hymns as though that was the one holy period of music composition. But what's funny about that kind of thinking is that Laura and Mary and Carolyn salivated over the latest fabrics and styles just like women do today. Denim jumpers were once the cutting-edge in style. In the same way, those hymns were once contemporary Christian music. And some lyrics were set to saloon tunes to draw in the drinkers!

It probably goes back to Eve. I wonder, when she was choosing leaves to cover her nakedness, if she thought, "Now THAT'S a gorgeous leaf! Adam is going to love that one."

My feeling is that when we stand before the Lord, we're going to see how silly all this is. Decency is a must. Modesty is love for the brethren. But cotton over polyester? Suits over jeans? Heels over tennis shoes? I don't get it.

For me -- and this is the bottom line -- every single day of my life is the Lord's day. I can't separate out a portion and think, "Okay. This moment is different. I must do something different today than I did yesterday or I'm not showing respect to God." Every moment of my life is an opportunity to worship Him. Sundays and Wednesdays are my gathering day to be with the body and I absolutely love coming together. But He's the same God when I go home and put my jammies on and curl up with my Bible. He's the same God when I've got my grass-stained gardening clothes on. And He's no less pleased with me when I'm paddling in the river in my swimsuit. I'm no less holy in the shower.

Can we really identify holy clothing? Don't you realize that some saints of the past would absolutely gasp to know that women today wear dresses that show not just their ankles, but also their knees?! I suppose if we all really HAVE to go back to a time when there is no dispute about what was acceptable, we'd better all buy robes. Men too. That was the dress of the day back when Jesus walked the earth.

Speaking of dress ... I must go now and GET dressed. :)

Thanks for a great discussion. I hope everyone is okay and not feeling condemned or attached. As Ellen pointed out, we're brethren. Love to you all ... S.

At 6/10/2005 8:17 AM, Blogger Jimmy had this to say ...

Being raised in the church during the 50's and early 60's, I think my upbringing was of more of a legalistic nature simply because "that's just the way church was done" in those days. Because of that, some of the more legalistic nature seemed to follow me through high school and into college. However, during one of my college internships (my major was Church Recreation Ministry), I spend a summer in an inner city church of Atlanta working with a weekday ministry of reaching community people that needed Jesus, regardless of their dress, financial standings, etc. I can remember so clearly having my eyes opened that summer to a much broader depth of Christ's love for people who were so thirsty for the Gospel even though they were dressed in torn jeans (before it was a fashion), barefoot and language that was not always the most appropriate. One dear lady who could not always contain her growing enthusiasm for the Lord would occasionally holler out a "D*** preacher, that's good!) instead of a more 'acceptable' AMEN!. I grew to love that neighborhood and ministry and it has continued to influence me and my personal ministry to this day.
I have tattoos, one of a treble clef because I am a musician and one of the Christian fish symbol because, well, I am a Christian and put together....a Christian musician. It is quite amusing to see some of the more traditional people who have known me for some time to suddenly see these symbols of my faith and my ministry. They aren't sure how to react.
God taught me that He sent His Son to "seek and save those who are lost". I am fortunate to be in a church with a degree of diversity in our congregation and ministries, however we have a ways to go and I hope that in coming months I will be in a position to help that happen. I love seeing God sweep through a fellowship when they realize that "the way we have always done it" is not always the way God wants it done.
My sincerest thanks to especially Anonymous and Shannon, plus all those who have shared their thoughts and opinions above. This is the type of discussion that makes us all stronger and brings the Church closer, regardless of denomination or affiliations!

At 6/10/2005 8:27 AM, Blogger shannon had this to say ...

Jimmy! How can that be? How could you have been raised in the 50s and 60s? Aren't you ... like ... 25? I could not be more shocked. I really and truly thought you were in your mid-20s. Isn't it funny the impression you get of people via the internet? Instead of feeling all motherly toward you, now I have to look at you as my elder! :)

Thanks for adding to this discussion. I love the transformation Jesus brought about in you through that inner city experience. And I think you should post a picture of those tattoos for us. :)

That reminds me of a story I should turn into a post ... stay tuned.

At 6/10/2005 9:34 AM, Blogger Nancy had this to say ...

I don't care what I look like the day I am face to face with Jesus, as long as my heart is "properly dressed".

And for the record, my comment was taken out of text from Annon, I said that my Catholic upbringing made it hard for me to accept my nephew wearing a baseball hat in church.

A more acceptable consequence for not dressing up on Tuesday would maybe be having to write a hundred times "I will not wear shorts on Tuesday." Not being separated from the other children. Especially if the school is having a field day or olympics, that should have taken place on a different day of the week. Poor planning.

Society has decided what is acceptable dress. Society won't save me from my sins, it only encourages them. Believing in Jesus and having a loving heart is what washes my sins.

At 6/10/2005 9:40 AM, Blogger shannon had this to say ...

Amen, Nance! Very well said.

I should add an epilogue to Tuesday's post ... I asked Tera when she came home what happened during chapel. She said she didn't get in trouble and didn't have to sit in the back. Apparently, MANY children wore shorts for Field Day, so the administration apparently looked the other way.

I'm happy they had grace. Still bothered that they'd ever THINK to separate the children that way, but happy that in this case, my daughter wasn't put in that position.

At 6/10/2005 9:56 AM, Blogger CJ had this to say ...

Hi. I don't feel "judged" now but I just wanted to comment real quick on Anon's comments about the comments that I made. The "over-protection" that I experienced as a child was a long time ago, I am almost thirty now and I got my tongue-pierced only a couple of years ago. I have found healing, my dad has found healing after realizing how deep the effects of how he (and my mother) was raising me ran. He no longer goes to the church we were raised in because he began to see by watching other parents with their kids just what was happening. The church was void of God and his Holy Spirit. I go to a church now that is very diverse - both old and young alike - and my markings and piercings have never been questioned other than someone asking me what my one tattoo means. I appreciate Anon's point of view. Ellen was right, let's separate ourselves from the things that make us different from each other and focus on what unifies us. I love you all!
Forever in the grip of God's amazing grace,

At 6/10/2005 11:03 AM, Anonymous Xavior had this to say ...

I just found some verses in the bible which talks about physical appearance..
1tim 2:8-10, 1peter 3:1-5, proverbs 6:32-33, 1cor 6:15-18, 1tim 3:2,7 2tim 2:22, deut 22:5, 1cor 11:1-16...
I understand that you are not happy about the school seperating the kids in such a way.. but think about this.
God placed the school in authority. and the school set the rules. they informed you of the rules. if you follow the rules, would you have any trouble with the rules?
Since you are unhappy with the rules.. it all boils down to being unhappy with God placing the school in authority aint it? think about it.

At 6/10/2005 11:33 AM, Blogger shannon had this to say ...

No, Xavier, I have to disagree with you. Yes, God establishes authority. But not every decision made by those authorities are completely in line with God's will. Otherwise, it would have been God's will for the Jews to be annihilated by Artexerxes in the book of Esther. After all, he made the ruling, didn't he? And yet God worked through Mordecai and Esther to save the nation from the King's decree. And don't even get me started on Hitler. Was it right for everyone to obey his orders simply because he was "in authority?" Was resisting "going against God's will?"

We have tried to follow the school's rules, not always 100% successfully. But that's kind of the story of the Law in general, isn't it? The Law came to drive us to Grace -- to show us that we wouldn't be able to fulfill every aspect of it and were in desperate need of a Savior. That's where grace comes in. In the situation with my daughter, I don't believe for one second that the God I love and serve would be pleased to have children singled out and ridiculed because they forgot the dress code. Man's solution is to be punitive; God's is to show grace. Not that a price didn't have to be paid, but it was paid on our behalf by the only One who could fulfill the Law and pay that price.

Our family answers to God Himself. I don't see a private school as being an authority God placed over me (like the church), or something we're bound to. It's an institution we are free to avail ourselves of, but we're also free to leave if and when we feel it's not the best place for our children.

I'd like to say that there's a freedom in Christ that I don't see many embracing. Not a freedom to sin -- don't get me wrong. But I truly see my walk with Him as an ever-unfolding adventure. I don't know when I wake up in the morning exactly what He's going to bring my way, but I know our relationship will have deepened by the end of the day. Too many Christians tiptoe around thinking if they move this way or that God is going to get angry at them.

It was probably ten years ago or more when I really began to understand what God meant in Proverbs 3:5,6 when He wrote, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." I had always before focused on the first part of that verse. But He opened my eyes to an incredible invitation in the second: instead of thinking life is a red light and I'm sitting there waiting for a green, I'm free to view life as a green light. If I acknowledge God before I move forward, He goes ahead of me and clears the road. He's always free to put a red light before me, if that's how He wants to direct. And often He does. But I don't sit on the couch biting my nails anymore worrying that I might be stepping out of His will if I move right or left. I (we) talk to Him about ALL our options. Unless we feel a strong check about a decision, we go forward knowing we've acknowledged Him and He's made the way clear.

How that figures into this discussion is that I won't waste one moment fearing that we're stepping out of God's will if we pull our children out of this school. We'll pray about it -- a lot -- and if God doesn't impress on us (through His Word and through peace or a lack thereof) that He doesn't want us to leave, then we're free to do so. And then it's on to the next adventure.

Be free, people! Jesus came to set you free. He came to give you an abundant life full of peace and adventure and joy and lessons and moments of stretching and new revelations and hope. Don't settle for huddling in a self-drawn box. Step out and trust that the One who loves you beyond reason will direct your steps and whisper to you as you walk together.

See ... now I'm riled up again.

At 6/10/2005 11:57 AM, Blogger CJ had this to say ...

I want to comment on something Xavier said in his first comment. He commented on being aware of our weaker brothers and sisters who might have a lustful eye and not wearing shorts or shorter skirts to church. Why is it okay to wear shorts and short skirts out in the real world then and not in church? If we are to be conscious of our weaker brothers and sisters at church, then shouldn't we be conscious of them 24/7? I agree that we should be conscious of them by not wearing "revealing" or "sexy" clothing but to say that we shouldn't wear shorts or skirts in church (or ever since we are being conscious of our brothers) might be taking the issue a little extreme. Am I the only one who feels that way?

At 6/10/2005 12:05 PM, Anonymous joe cool cowboy poet had this to say ...

Can I just say one thing?

Are you comfortable with your Grace and your decisions? You always seem to be, and I believe you are. So then why try to change the minds of Anon or Xavier or whomever. My own belief does not change because of people like them and is only strengthened by your writings.

Be strong, be true, be Good

At 6/10/2005 8:29 PM, Blogger Jimmy had this to say ...

Surprised ya, Shannon? Even though my biological age is over 50 and my spiritual age is about 40, I thank God for keeping my spirit and outlook young. Your guess of 25 about hits it right, I think. I think that is why I rarely mention my biological age is because of the preconceptions that would go with an 'old man' blogger. My faith and enthusiasm for God and His work keeps me young spiritually, emotionally and mentally. It's just a shame that sometimes the physically doesn't follow the same pattern and I have to collapse in a fetal position behind the sofa for a season to recover from a youth ski trip, softball game or such. My doctor has begun to use the horrid term "age appropriate behavior" to me and I just ignore him. And....forget that elder bit....we're all equal in His eyes. But, the motherly bit is kinda nice, especially if you can ship some of those baked goods you write about on occasion 8-)!
Jimmy, the ancient tattooed one.

At 6/10/2005 9:09 PM, Blogger shannon had this to say ...

Jimmy, I'm going to be shaking my head all night over that. I just canNOT believe it. I really am going to need to see a picture of those tattooes.

Yes ... I'll have to send a batch of almond poppy seed muffins. Be watching the mail. :)

I laughed at what your doctor said because I had a similar experience at the doctor last year. My knee kept going out every time I played racquetball or volleyball, and when I went in to ask about it, she said, "Well, at your age you have to expect those sorts of things." I had actually always assumed we were close in age,so that really startled me. All the way home I kept hearing, "Your age ... your age ... your age ..."

She made it up to me recently. I went in for something else and she said, "Well, at our age those sorts of things happen all the time." That made my day.

All that aside, are you SURE you're over 50, Jimmy? :) I'm going to need some time to acclimate myself to this bombshell.

Joe--thanks for the kind words and the reminder. I'm always up for a debate, but I suppose my time is better spent on other endeavors. I appreciate what you said.

At 6/11/2005 1:12 AM, Anonymous susan had this to say ...

What a loooonnnnnggg read! If it wasnt so uplifting to see the Christian interaction, it would have been exhausting!Sometimes i think i must be an idealist. I think like you re: appearance and judgement.Why cant we all just "love one-another"? But even here you see that judgement when one of your commenters refered to Annon and Xavier as "People like them".(hehe , Im sure to recieve a corrective email from him on that point, which Ill look forward to with relish). Sometimes even well meaning hearts catagorize people without even realizing they have done so!

At 6/11/2005 1:20 AM, Blogger thequeen had this to say ...

I don't go to church. I don't feel the need to do so. I share my love of god openly and without shame.often in my circle of friends and family god is a part of the conversation. All I know is that I don't want any part of any god who would not accept a soul just because of how they dressed. I have seen many people who where quite filthy on the inside dress to the nines. While the bum on the street with a bright shiny beautiful soul desperately needed a bath and a change of clothes. The god I believe in does not judge.The god I believe in is pure love. pure acceptence, and all about the experience of living and learning. Shannon you have much more patience then I do and a much better way of putting things. I agree with 99.9 % of what you said. and 0% of what anonymous said. I just don't see how my tattoss and piercings would keep god away from me.OR how my daughters piercings and bleached blonde hair could keep god away from her. I have so gotten off track, sorry.

At 6/11/2005 9:50 AM, Anonymous Xavior had this to say ...

First of,
I would agree with you that there are times, leaders that are placed there by God will not go by God's will.. But still, they are placed there by God.
Well, i guess different people just have different views about it :)
cj, i think you misunderstood me, please reread my comments. i did say in my second comment about how we should dress no matter where we are. :)
sorry shannon, seems like i'm flooding your comments.
anyways, peace out.

At 6/11/2005 6:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous had this to say ...

I think Xavier said in one sentence what I was trying to say in paragraphs when he said what we believe will take its form.

I noticed in all the last replies that no one bothered to comment on the parable in Matthew 22 where Jesus himself throws the man out because he's not "dressed" in the wedding garment. I'm shocked to find no one screaming, "What Jesus? Throw them out just because they weren't dressed right?" Obviously, he was being metaphorical but Jesus did choose to use those words in His analogy. Perhaps He knew one day we'd be talking about this very subject.

Having said that, I think too many here are missing the point. It's not about "dress" or "clothes". It IS about the heart and whether the outside is reflecting the heart. To say that outward appearance makes no difference is just plain naivity. Dignitaries where formal clothing when meeting other dignitaries. We all dress "up" on certain occasions so let's not fool ourselves. The guards who pace the tomb of the Unknown Soldier aren't dressed in their fatigues but in their Class A's - and that's for a reason - to show respect! Respect comes from the heart and is a heart issue.

Comments like, "I couldn't, in good conscience, ever punish a child in that manner -- separating them from the other children as though they were unfit to be seen with them. That just broke my heart." and "but happy that in this case, my daughter wasn't put in that position." are what I was referring to in my last post. I mean come on, really. My goodness, what if they have put her in the corner and made her sit on a stool facing the wall? Also, the idea that, "so the administration apparently looked the other way. I'm happy they had grace." should in any way be compared to the grace we receive or should show others I believe is outright false. Looking the other way only served to harm all those other children and parents who honored the "rule" and each other.

It was also stated, "In the situation with my daughter, I don't believe for one second that the God I love and serve would be pleased to have children singled out and ridiculed because they forgot the dress code." Two points I'd like everyone to consider on that statement. First, I hear this kind of thing all the time. Just look at the number of times something similar was said in the different replies. I find that kind of comment very dangerous and I have personally known several who created their own God based on just that sort of statement. I heard many say, "Well, I don't believe in a God who would allow an adult to hit a child (speaking of spanking)." or "Well, I don't believe in a loving God who would send someone to Hell just because..." or "I don't believe for one second that the God I love and serve would (you fill in the blank)." Remember, our God is the One who said in Deut 21:18-21 that a father AND mother of a rebellious son who won't repent after chastisement should take their son together to the elders to be stoned to death. Some would say they don't believe in "that" God. Second, rebellion can take many forms. Some are more easily seen than others. Some are very subtle.

Now before I go any further I'm going to address some specific statements and I want to be absolutely clear that this is not about Tera. I have no doubt that Tera is a very sweet little girl. I'm quoting your blog simply to address the above issue. This whole topic got started back with a statement, "She liked them so much, she decided to wear them not just for Field Day, but all day." Notice "she decided". And then, ""Won't you get in trouble?" I asked. I had visions of the school secretary calling me to fetch my rule-breaking daughter and bring her home to change clothes." And finally, "Even as I type those words, my heart is working itself up again to a raging tempo. A different seat? Away from the other kids?

Is my daughter contagious?

Or is she simply inappropriate, less-respectable, unfit and unworthy ... because she's in shorts??

There is nothing, and I mean nothing, that gets me riled up like legalism"

I submit this has nothing to do with legalism. Tera obviously knew the choice she had made and that it was wrong and that there would be consequences and what those consequences were AND that she was ok with them. That I think is something that has been overlooked in all of the dialogue. God calls us to obey the rules and regulations of those over us UNLESS they violate His Laws and His Word. If you don't like the rules, then change them but they should be obeyed until they get changed. That is Scriptural. So what lesson was learned by the incident? It's perfectly understandable for a mother to get riled up when their daughter is seemingly being "ridiculed" or treated as "unworthy" but that doesn't necessarily mean it's righteous indignation coming from the heart. In this particular instance I see the lesson given to the child as standing in opposition to what God has instructed us through His Word. This would have been an excellent opportunity to stop the car, turn it around, go home and change the clothes, and give a lesson on honor, obedience, respect, etc. while doing so and explaining why they are also going to be late getting back. Perhaps those were consequences that weren't thought of.

Another comment, "Man's solution is to be punitive; God's is to show grace." I think this is also indicative of exactly the one-sidedness and unbalanced view that is given to God's Word on this topic of "legalism". It's just flat wrong. All to often people just "look the other way" and we know what Scripture has to say about that and the consequences of it. Sure God is a God of grace but He is also the one who will give Eternal Punishment. Hebrews 12:6 and Psalms 94:12 both tell us that "whom God loves He chastises". That word "chastise" means to "spank". So let's not fool ourselves by creating some picture of God that He really isn't. For example the comment in the one post, "The god I believe in does not judge.The god I believe in is pure love. pure acceptence, and all about the experience of living and learning." I must lovingly tell you Friend, that is not God! God is God and His Word tells us exactly who He is. Is God love and grace? You bet!! But he is also Rules & Regulations (otherwise there wouldn't be sin), judgment, consequences, and punishment. The whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation shows that. You cannot take one with out the other. You must take God is His entirety for who He is. To do otherwise is pure idolatry and you have created your own god. (The thought just occurred to me to put this disclaimer. The word "you" is used in a generic sense. Meaning to be identified with the person who would do that.)

Which brings me to the following comments. First, "The boy in question goes to our church, so he's definitely getting two conflicting messages on this clothing issue." Is that what church should be doing? Giving "conflicting messages" from within the Body? Conflicting messages yes - but between the World and the Church. Everyone is so quick to espouse Unity - and they should. It strikes me that if you look at my comment above, there was no need to have a conflicting message and Unity could have been achieved. Ellen and CJ are right but it appears they are looking at it from only one side. I would say the opposite side is true also. Why is it that the very people who are so loudly proclaiming, "UNITY!" are the very ones doing their best to be soooooo different?

Second, "Calvary Chapel is about as informal as you can get. We're big on two things: Jesus, and the Word. In fact, we're so consumed with those two things that we have no energy left over to expend on dress codes." That's bogus and we all know it. Every church as some sort of "dress code" whether it's written or not. It also sounds self-righteous and condescending toward others in the Body that may attend somewhere else. Plus, like I said before, this hasn't got anything to do with a "Dress Code", it has to do with respect and the outward appearance reflecting the inward heart.

Third, "We just want you to come, and as long as all the appropriate parts are covered, we don't much care what you look like." I agree wholeheartedly with the "spirit" of what's being said. I doubt very much that was meant to be taken literally. If it is, I'll see you all on Sunday in shoestring top and thong. And believe me, you don't want to see that. A housecoat and slippers would be much more acceptable but somehow I don't think either one would show proper respect to God in His House. But I would also add, "We do expect you to grow and not stay where you are." Seems to me that's much of what the New Testament is about. Growing in maturity in our Christian life.

As Christians, are we to raise the bar or lower it to the lowest common denominator? I mean really, how long would we "allow" someone to continue to say, "D*** preacher, that's good!" before we gently took her aside and asked her to refrain from that in the future. That statement is exactly what I'm trying to say. The writer equates that to one "who could not always contain her growing enthusiasm for the Lord". That may be true but it obviously is a reflection of the flesh mixed in. That is if you believe in what Scripture says about what proceeds from the mouth. I'm quite certain that as this dear lady matures in Christ, those words will leave her vocabulary. Or should we just "overlook" that and not expect any improvement? Remember, Jesus met us all right where we were - no matter how low that was - but He NEVER leaves us there!

Before I end let me answer two of CJ's questions. She asked, "Why is green hair dishonoring and disrespectful to her or the family name?" I'll answer it this way because to do otherwise would take way too long and get us off this track. My answer is your next comment, "I believe kids should be allowed the freedom to express themselves as individuals" but then she adds the caveat "within reason of course." Why the caveat? Who is it to say what "within reason" is? Then you ask, "Who does it hurt to have green hair?" As I said, obviously you are looking at this from your perspective. Try looking at it from someone elses. If a family believes green hair is disrespectful, then honor that as it is and it hurts their family.

Finally, I'll close with this. Throughout many of the posts I see a trend of, "As far as I am concerned there are far more" or "Personally, I've been there...", or "I don't see how MY (emphasis mine) tattoos, piercing, etc..., Or "I wanted...". I wonder if the person who wrote, "That's really what we should be thinking about here. Living a life that is pleasing to the Lord and not to the world or anyone else." (which I absolutely agree with) thought about whether the Lord is pleased with living a life full of piercing and/or tattoos. I don't know if Jesus is or is not because I believe they are there as a result from within the heart and only the Lord knows whether it's honoring to Him or not. But the point is, did they seek the Lord first on the issue? Did they ask themselves, "When others look at me with my tattoos and piercings, will they see the Lord?" We are to be a reflection of Christ in all we do. Sometimes the outward appearance is the only reflection others will get to see. Did they ask themselves, "I wonder how many older folks or more conservative folks who don't understand would not come to our church because of my (you fill in the blank)." Did they ask themselves, "Will my (fill in the blank) be more likely to help the cause of Christ or harm it?" Only they know if they did and only they know what the answer was and only they will have to answer for what they did with the answer. But they are questions that I see Scripture telling us we should be asking ourselves. We Believers will give an account for how we lived our lives and what we did for Jesus and His Kingdom, so let's not forget that when we start talking about our freedom and grace.

A perfect example of that was the comment, "I don't go to church. I don't feel the need to do so." How about the fact that whether you "feel" like it or not, God said you are to do it anyway? I believe I just heard someone preach on that very thing. Going to church I mean. Does our disobedience affect our salvation and ultimately whether the Lord will accept us into Heaven? Of course not. But make no mistake, there are and will be consequences to disobedience. Both Unbeliever and Believer alike.

Yes the comment, "Be free, people! Jesus came to set you free. He came to give you an abundant life full of peace and adventure and joy and lessons and moments of stretching and new revelations and hope." is absolutely true - BUT the freedom Jesus gave us was NEVER meant to be selfish!!!!!!! Maybe if we spent a little more time thinking of others, we would not even be having a discussion about clothing, piercings, tattoos, or the rest. I doubt it though. There most likely will always be a pull from those who want to be too "legalistic" and those who see any kind of standards they disagree with as being legalistic. Just look at the comment, "I agree with 99.9 % of what you said. and 0% of what anonymous said." It is so indicative. I see it more as a 100% and 100% that hopefully gets us to the middle where we ought to be at 50/50.

If clothing were "so unimportant" and "of the earth", then why did Paul through the leading of the Holy Spirit choose to address it in Scripture? As far as I'm concerned, if it's in Scripture, it's not unimportant. Anytime we draw attention to ourselves and distract others from seeing Jesus, (Especially in His House on Sunday for the specific reason of coming before His Throne to worship Him.), I believe it is wrong. Just as it is to be talking, joking, cutting up or in any other way be a distraction from Jesus during a worship song in service. If you don't want to focus on God and Christ Jesus in a worship song, fine. Just don't be a distraction for others. (And I hope no one tries to tell me they can talk to others and focus on worshipping Jesus at the same time.) Wouldn't it be nice if we thought more about others, how we reflect Jesus, and whether we're doing the most we can for His Kingdom, than our own freedom and whether we have the liberty to do something? I wonder why it is that Scripture tells us that Jesus was just a man of no unusual beauty or attaction? I happen to think it's because he wanted everyone to be drawn to him without any outward appearance that might cause someone else to be distracted. I wonder what would happen to this discussion if we all tried to look just like everyone else? How about if we emulated our pastor as Paul said to others to emulate Paul. I'd be all for that! Emulating our pastor I mean. Seems to me that he dresses up a bit for Sunday, why not follow his example?

Now, do I sit down and think on a daily basis what I'll be dressed like when I see Jesus. No. Of course not. But I will tell you this. If I knew I had a specific appointment with a time and place that was known to me, you can bet I would put on my very best to go see my King. If I would do that for a wedding, funeral, or other special occasion of a friend, family member, or maybe even complete stranger out of respect, why wouldn't I do that for my King?????

Thankfully, I won't have to worry about it because as I read Scripture it says we will all be given clean white robes and when we go to the wedding party I believe we'll all be dressed the same. So much for the individuality. And isn't that a large part of piercings, tattoos, hair color, hair cuts, etc.? Individuality? Where does that come in with dying to self and becoming more like Christ?

Well now. It's been another long one. But this has been an enjoyable topic. As Jimmy said, "This is the type of discussion that makes us all stronger and brings the Church closer, regardless of denomination or affiliations!" I hope that is true.

We are called to "Come and let us reason together." I hope that is what has occurred here and I hope that everyone sees the "reason" and truth on both sides of this discussion.

God Bless you all!!!!!!

At 6/12/2005 7:54 PM, Blogger Darlene had this to say ...

Hi Shannon, I've been reading this week, but it seemed everytime I went to comment, the phone rang or something. I have read the two posts on this and some of the comments (not all!). It's nice to see that anonymous really loves the Lord enough to stand up for what she believes in and that you love God enough to defend your beliefs and stick up for your children.

I respect anon's opinion, but I have one of my own too. My sister-in law had a small wedding and everyone dressed to the nines, except for my brother in law who wore his torn jeans and a tshirt from the 80's. Jeff isn't concerned with his appearance and never has been, I on the other hand am totally opposite. When I look at the two of us, I can see that Jeff has got a lot more going on in that sense. God doesn't want us to be concerned with our attire, it's the inside that we need to focus on.

At 6/12/2005 11:35 PM, Blogger shannon had this to say ...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 6/12/2005 11:41 PM, Blogger shannon had this to say ...

I debated about posting this last comment by Anonymous and doing what I did before--answering point-by-point. The truth is, I'm under an editing deadline and most likely won't have a lot of blogging time before Wednesday afternoon, so I'm going to keep this short.

First, I could have saved A. a lot of microscope time and just admitted that I have plenty of chinks in my armor--as does my daughter. Yes, it's true--we're sinners saved by grace :) You're probably right about me blowing a chance to turn the car around and take her back home. That honestly never occurred to me. All last week I was a single mom (Dave was at a pastor's conference) and Tuesday, I needed to get the kids to school and get myself over to a friend's house to help her with her burned kitchen (I posted about her house fire last week). You caught me--I lost an opportunity. We do, however, teach our children to respect authority (I thought I'd already made that clear earlier).

As to Matthew 22, you're missing the point of the parable. Why was the man thrown out? Because he didn't have the proper covering. Do you not see that this is a warning to those who think they can stand before God at the end of their life with their own filthy rags instead of the righteousness of Christ? We're covered by Him. This passage has nothing to do with our wardrobes. It's about salvation, and who will be permitted at the wedding feast of the Lamb.

As to Calvary Chapel, I meant every word I wrote. You're being silly to imply that we'd not say something about someone who showed up as you described. I believe I already covered that topic as well when I discussed modesty. If someone came in attire that would stumble a brother (sexually), we'd talk to them. In fact, we've done it before and no doubt will do it again.

Your frustration to what some of my readers wrote is in stark contrast to the patience God feels toward them. I have readers who do not yet know Jesus, readers who think they're Christians because they went to Sunday school once in the third grade, readers who are being wooed by God even as we speak, and readers who already love Him deeply. I'm content to share my love and let the Holy Spirit draw those He'll draw. My goal on this blog is to be a sprinkling of salt and a tiny, beckoning flame; to share my awe of God and my thankfulness that I'm His, and to open a door with the hope that others will desire to walk through. It's possible that God has stirred some of the hearts of these readers. Please be careful you don't hinder that work by expecting them to be further down the road than they are.

I must address some errors in your theology. You said, "Sure God is a God of grace but He is also the one who will give Eternal Punishment. Hebrews 12:6 and Psalms 94:12 both tell us that "whom God loves He chastises". That word "chastise" means to "spank". So let's not fool ourselves by creating some picture of God that He really isn't. For example the comment in the one post, "The god I believe in does not judge.The god I believe in is pure love. pure acceptence, and all about the experience of living and learning." I must lovingly tell you Friend, that is not God! God is God and His Word tells us exactly who He is. Is God love and grace? You bet!! But he is also Rules & Regulations (otherwise there wouldn't be sin), judgment, consequences, and punishment."

First of all, you're using those passages to support your statement that God will condemn some to eternal punishment. This is true, but those passages are not addressing the unbeliever, the one who rejects Him. They're addressing those He has adopted. He disciplines the ones He loves--not for eternal punishment.

Secondly, you were right that God contains all those attributes in His being (judgment, justice, wrath, etc.) But you've forgotten the Cross. All God's wrath (at our sin) was already poured out on His Son. "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus ..." (Romans 8:1) You forgot Jesus.

Do I create God in my own image? No. Do I believe in cheap grace? Absolutely not. It cost God everything to make a way for us and deal with our sin. But those sins were covered.

To my readers: God bless you. Keep listening to His voice. Remember He opens a Father's arms to you, and that because of Jesus, the life He offers is one of grace and freedom. Does He expect you to change before you come to Him? No. Will you want to change when you experience His love? Absolutely ... but then it's a joy. And He'll tell you exactly what to change.

One last word to Anonymous: I do not want to stumble my readers. I feel very, very protective of the ones God has brought here. Because of them, I'd rather not continue arguing over this. But if you feel you must respond, I ask that you give me a detailed list of what holy clothing looks like. Which fiber is holier? Which cut of cloth? What is the holiest length for hems? Where do you buy holy shoes? You may email me privately with your answers if you wish.

At 6/13/2005 9:12 AM, Blogger CJ had this to say ...

Dear Anon... This is the last thing I will say on this subject. Our church has no dress code. We have never had a problem, to my knowledge, with people abusing that. I think it's a matter of common sense and most people have it.

I get the impression that you would rather be right than happy. Your words were very harsh and as I read them I felt comdemned. Shannon was right in her response. "There is therefore now, NO CONDEMNATION...!" I rest on that.

Forever in the grip of God's AMAZING GRACE,

At 6/14/2005 11:03 AM, Blogger Teresa had this to say ...

Oh My--36 comments--don't have time to read them all! Shannon, you absolutely did the BEST job addressing all of that and that is tough! God Bless You! We too, stayed at our church for 8 years and served in ministry for 6 of them, but we chose to leave and plant our current church at the Lord's leading. We eventually experienced many of these things in our old church and rather than speak against what we could not support, being that we were in positions of influence, we felt we had to leave although it is still close to our heart and we have many friends there. You are blessed to have a church that you can be forever! I too have been on this leagalism, church, religion thing, churchianity...thing latley on my blog. I think that the Spirit is moving it. I have encountered much difficulty in dealing with those that do not understand what I'm trying to get to. You did a wonderful job and I just want you to know that I will be linking to your posts on the issue. God Bless you! I might say that YOUR calvary is not the same as ALL. It begins with the Pastor (your hubbie I assume)and not the church itself and he makes the community of beleivers that you are in the blessing that it is!

At 6/14/2005 11:38 AM, Blogger shannon had this to say ...

What a nice comment, Teresa. Thank you for the encouragement. :) I do feel totally blessed by my church. I just can't imagine not having these people in my life--they really are the most loving, amazing church family I've ever been a part of.

You were right about not all Calvarys being the same. I have to say that every one we've ever visited has been very much like ours, but now and again someone will come who had a different sort of experience. Those Calvarys that stick closely to the style of ministry emulated by Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa don't seem to have those problems, but as we get into fourth and fifth generation churches, differences pop up here and there.

You were right about the flavor trickling down from the pastor. I can't possibly express here how much respect and admiration I have for my husband. He's the most gracious, patient, pure-hearted, forgiving, humble man I've ever known; a fabulous teacher, a tender shepherd. I honestly am able to set aside the fact that he's my husband while he's teaching--he's just my pastor, and the best I've had. His love for our body is what establishes those parameters. You can't help but learn to love others when that love is extended toward you.

I'm in an editing fervor right now (I'm playing hooky to answer you! :) but as soon as I get a free minute, I'll have to go check out your recent posts.

Thanks for visiting--and commenting. I always like talking with other pastor's wives. God bless you, Teresa!

At 6/14/2005 7:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous had this to say ...

Here's my last comment. I never missed the point about the parable. I know what Jesus was referring to. But evidently, I'm the only one who happens to see that He also made it a point to use "clothing" to make His point.

As far as my comments about me being more concerned about being right - nothing could be further from the truth. Anyone who wants to can go back to my posts and see that I said more than a couple of times that I agree wholeheartedly with the comments of Shannon and many others. I simply was trying to point out that there is a balance between "legalism" and "license" and that license/liberty is just as dangerous as legalism. It saddens my heart that so many on here simply will not reflect on that and accept that truth. And it is truth according to God's Word.

As far as errors in "my theology", I'm sure there are some but the ones you pointed out aren't in error. Actually, I wasn't using Hebrews & Psalms to speak to an unbeliever & Eternal Punishment. It was a continuation of thought that should have been more clearer. The fact is Our Father does "spank" us when He feels it's best - God doesn't "look the other way" and His Grace doesn't mean He won't chasten us when He feels it's needed. In fact, I believe we all, Believers and Unbelievers alike, will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ. Two different seats, true, but "judgment seats" nonetheless.

As for the Cross, that's the last thing I'll ever forget about. You quoted Romans 8:1 out of context too. Read the whole verse. It goes on to say "to those who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit." Also, I'd have to go back and look it up again but I believe the word "condemnation" actually means "separation" and therefore would be referring to "eternal condemnation" to Hell. Again, Paul's writings in several Books speaks to us "judging" one another for the Glory of God and the benefit of the Gospel. If you want to call that "condemnation" so be it. The Bible says what it says for a reason and I'll stick with it.

I will say this one last time... Yes, Yes, Yes!!!! God says, "Come as you are." and welcomes you with open arms. He just doesn't expect you to stay there!

So to all who want to do away with any sort of standards and do so under the guise of doing away with "legalism", I say God Bless you. I'm sure God will use you to bring many into His Kingdom and the Body of Christ. I'm sure once the new Believers are ready for solid food and can understand that "change" doesn't make them less of a person now or more of a person once the change has occurred, that God will bring the right person into their lives to help them along that path of growth.

You say you're very, very protective of the ones God has brought here but seem to overlook the fact that perhaps that is exactly what God did with bringing me here because He had something that the Holy Spirit wanted to be imparted and reflected on.

It's sad that in totally discounting the "spirit" of what's been written, the result is that the Spirit has been squelched and those that the Spirit was speaking to will not hear His voice now because they've been told there's only one side to this issue. So while you're out there living the life of "grace and freedom" that Shannon wants to preach to you as "the life He offers", I'd like to remind you it's also about obedience and giving up your freedom to live a life FOR HIM!!!!

It's a tough issue, no doubt - especially when you come to where do you draw the line? Too bad so many got fixated on the "line" rather than the spirit behind it. I've done the best I can do with what God has wanted me to pass on. The rest is up to the Holy Spirit now.

I won't even honor your last comments by addressing them. Seems to me that they speak much louder for the flesh than any response I may give them. That's the last I'll bother saying on this topic.

At 6/14/2005 10:26 PM, Blogger shannon had this to say ...

I'll bet that you and I agree on much more than we disagree on -- and I'm even willing to bet that much of what we disagree with here is simply an apples and oranges misunderstanding.

You have a wrong impression that I advocate "no standards." The fact that you and I differ on what those standards are does not mean you have standards and I have none -- it means we have a disagreement about where the standards are. I'm totally with you on issues of sin and sanctification, but I do not see that clothing is a clear-cut, easily defined standard. Immodest clothing is easy to define (and should not be tolerated), but I genuinely meant what I asked you. Since this whole discussion began as an issue of dress, I ask again: what are your standards? How can you define what holy clothing is? Can you define them for another person? I don't think it's possible, and I don't think it's loving. There will always be some for whom a nice wardrobe is out of the question. Single mothers, those on a fixed income, others struggling with finances cannot necessarily "dress up." At the point where we've laid a standard down and there's a silent (or not so silent) sense of disapproval toward others who would come dressed casually, we've laid an obstacle before the doors of the church. One thing I haven't even mentioned before now is the pridefulness that I've observed in churches where dressing up is the norm. One woman moved from our town and ended up in a more conservative church, and when she came back to visit, she confided in me, "I'm so tired of the dress competition at my new church. It's a lot of pressure." I knew exactly what she meant. I attended a church like that about twenty years ago where every female who walked in soon learned she'd been automatically entered in the dress-of-the-weeek pageant. No matter how you reacted, it was distracting. If you succumbed to the pressure, it distracted you from the point of church, which is to focus on God. And even if you bowed out and just wore what you had and/or could afford to buy, you had to endure raised eyebrows from others.

Legalism is drawing a big square in the sand, standing smack dab in the middle, and then pointing accusing fingers at others who are outside your box. Legalist like their box because it makes it easy for them to gauge how well they're doing. "I'm still in my box; I must be okay." That, I believe, is why Romans says that the weaker brother is the one with all the rules. It takes a greater faith to believe God accepts you simply on the basis of Jesus, not because you look right or act the way everyone else does or turn all the gray areas into black and white issues. I will stand and die on the belief that God wants to be the Author of each of His children's convictions. Doesn't He have that right? As a church body, we address sin where it presents itself, but in every other situation, we defer to God to lovingly deal with His child in His time and in His way.

Where we agree is that I know you love Jesus, as I do. I know you want the best for other Christians. I do too. I'm just not willing to jump in and direct them in areas where Scripture is silent. And though you keep insisting that the parable mentions the lack of a wedding garment for a reason, I do not see that as prescriptive of Sunday morning dress. You're reading more in there than I do ... but here's where my doctrine comes in: I am perfectly happy to let God be the Author of your conviction. All along I've upheld a person's right to dress up. I just think it would be wise for you to do the same and release the green-haired, jeans-wearing people to the God who loves them. If they keep coming, and they keep hearing the truth (and at our church that's 50 minutes of verse-by-verse, chapter-by-chapter teaching through the Bible each Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday; they're definitely going to hear every word if they're with us long enough), then God is perfectly able to mature them, convict them, and change them as He sees fit. He may address a gray issue with one and leave it alone with another. That's His perogative as Father and as Sovereign God.

I think that's it. Who knows? :) But for now, I'm tired and ready for bed.

God bless you all.

At 6/15/2005 8:04 AM, Blogger Fran had this to say ...

Several years ago my husband and I left a church that had a lot of unbiblical doctrines that unfortunately we had believed. The Lord opened our eyes and we were able to move on but because I had been deceived everything became black and white to me. If you didn't agree with me then you were wrong! God is gracious though and didn't let me stay there very long either. I have always loved the quote "In the essentials; unity. In the non-essentials; liberty and in all things; charity." (I don't know who said it so if anyone does let me know!) I learned that there are some grey areas where it's simply the convictions I personally have and I shouldn't force them on others.

I like that the body of Christ is diverse. We have people who love to sing hymns to piano music and others who like the electric guitar. (And some of us like both!) Some have quiet time in the morning, others have it at night.

I don't happen to agree with Anon on the topic of dress but I respect your right to it. If that is your conviction then by all means go with it. I appreciate that you care about people enough to share your reasoning.

I'm in a quoting mood so here are two more that I like...

"We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another." Jonathan Swift

(Oh Lord, please don't let that be us!)

"The main evidence of maturity in the Christian life is a growing love for God and for God's people, as well as a love for lost souls." Warren Wiersbe

At 6/15/2005 4:21 PM, Blogger Teresa had this to say ...

Let's agree to disagree, we have some of these misunderstandings because we are defining words differently, but ANONYMOUS, I don't understand why you are afraid to let people know who you are? I do think that on some issues here, we are forgeting what Jesus said to be THE MOST IMPORTANT THING--THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. He said it was the most important because, if you only OBEY one thing, and you obey this commandment, your life will be an outpouring of the love that God showed us through Jesus--when we look at it in the light of God's grace, we see it all differently. What would Jesus say about this ongoing discussion if He were here? I have a feeling that He would say something like "Quit concerning yourself with these things, what did I ask of you? If you love ME and others, in my name, you would not be speaking of such trivial things"! As for Mat 22, this was a parable, not literal and I think that ANON. is trying to make is fit what she is saying and disregarding the rest. Parables used things that the people would understand in their culture (contextualization) to explain something. We would not put that above the greatest commandment. You are taking the verse out of context. I would feel the same way as Shannon and knowing that Shannon has a heart for God, I believe that He will lead her, we won't.

At 7/05/2005 1:35 PM, Anonymous Josh Weaver had this to say ...

Beautiful responses. Thank you for truth and grace given in a gentle way.


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