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I believe that God looks at the heart. I am a modest young female, who grew up with some of the 'legalism' of the previous generation. I was very much against alcohol, and am glad that through my teenage and college years that this was imposed upon me by my own choice and church membership rules.Now I've come to a place where most of my friends go out for a (single) drink... and I'm okay with that.Yet I also believe that we shouldn't cause anyone to stumble.In regards to gambling, lodges and tobacco... I am still very much opposed to these.And just to make things interesting, I am also very much opposed to obesity. We've come to a place in society where you can speak out against the ills of smoking but not overeating. Any thing that becomes an addiction, and takes the place of God, is an idol.
I think some of postmodernity's suspicion towards the authority of texts (Scripture) has required a different emphasis and focus to make these arguments. Before, we just had to find a bible verse to match up with the "rule." Now, the trend is to drop the bible hunting and point to social factors. Jewelry, since you brought it up, is a good one. Before, we were to be "modest" because that's what the Bible said and therefore what God obviously wanted. But even now, there is a reprise of non-jewelry wearing younger evangelicals. But instead of it being based on a verse, it's based on social justice and the like. Diamonds = wars in Sierra Leone. Gold = slave labor. Christians shouldn't promote such exploitation, etc... Could it be that the "younger evangelicals" are turning into "old legalists?" hmm...
Keith,I love your ability to pull different issues together and use one of them to point out inconsistencies in our positions on the other.As to your first question, I think the lesson is that all of these are cultural issues.This is not to say that there are not biblical values that apply. But the specific implementation of the "rules" is culturally determined, both now and in the New Testament.What it says about our use of the Bible is that we are not very good at understanding it. And I'm afraid that it also shows that we are not as Bible-based as we like to believe.We select our position, then we look for support for it in the Bible.Let's face it, when it comes to ecclesiology, we are pragmatists. If it works, let's put on seminars and turn it into a denominational program.Our leaders are not theologians, they are managers. Without people like you, I'd hate to think where we'd be.Rod
Pearls with "whatever" (even jeans) were a "status symbol" in the South...it meant that the pearls were real, hence wearing them with everything...and it meant that you had enought money to buy them...and it meant you were a lady at "all times" even while wearing jeans! I'm sure all of these messages are not prevalent around the world. Culture determines the meaning...In your culture, the Bible was used as a "rule book" and obeying the rule meant you were "on God's side" because you would be adhering to the meaning (loving God above all) of not wearing jewelry...But, isn't the Scripture admonishing the woman to the positive virtue ABOVE the putting on....it is not the focus of the outward, that is irrelavant...what IS important is the inward...the heart of quiet submission...My NAS adds merely before expernal...In fact, when I get jewelry from my Dutch husband, it communicates to me his love and commitment...because I know that he has bought something that is unnecessary! Does that mean that husbands should not buy their wives jewelry because it is wasteful to communicate to their wife their "love and commitment"?So, isn't it about meaning and what meaning is of most importance to you?
Keith asked 2 questions: 1) "What does all this say about issues like drinking alcohol, or gambling, lodges, and tobacco?" And 2) "What does it say about our approach to Scripture—both then and now?"Pastor Rod stole some of my thunder with his answer to the first question. The bottom line is that the generation described was not unique in seeing an issue and then finding reasons with which to support that issue through either direct Scriptural reference (the preferred way) or through interpreting Scriture to generally say a certain thing, and thereby saying something along the lines of, "so the next logical step or understanding is..."We have to remeber that the denominations which are of the Wesleyan persuasion today (i.e., Wesleyan, Nazarene, etc.) basically trace their "Holiness" roots to the times of specific social issues in the United States.Alcohol was a national issue near the turn of the 20th Century. The U.S. Constitution was actually amended to more or less prohibit alcohol (or at least the transportation and sale of it), thus the popular name of "Prohibition." The anti-alcohol issue had been around for a long time, but it happened to be at about it's most popular level around the time the Church of the Nazarene formed in 1908, and prohibition was one of its big beliefs.My understanding is that the Wesleyan denomination originally formed in 1843 in part as a protest to slavery. A nation went into Civil War with that issue being a major factor in the decision to go to war less than 20 years later.basically, since people are imperfect human beings, they often tend to be inclined to look for ways to justify their positions with some sort of authority. The authority of Scripture is a great place to look to back up one's beliefs.And in truth, basically all of the arguments Keith stated that were used in the past to support the prohibition of jewelry are still absolutely valid arguments today. Who can really deny that Peter and Paul said what they did and meant what they said about gold and braided hair (unless someone wants to argue that Peter and Paul didn't actually compose those words in the first place, but that's an entirely different subject)? Who can really argue that money spent on jewelry could otherwise be spent directly for God's work?The problem is that too often even Christians, those who are saved by Grace apart from works--apart from following the Law--tend to start relying on following the Law to make them "good Christians." And then it follows that other "good Christians" should act the same ways.The way I see it, the main point shouldn't be about braided hair or jewelry, or about how much money it costs. The main point is being led by the Holy Spirit rather than by the Law. Maybe God specifically wants someone whom He has blessed with a lot of money to use that money to buy jewelry in order to be more accepted into certain social circles in order to witness to people in those social circles about Jesus Christ and His death on the cross for us. Let's face it--other than Mother Theresa, I don't know of too many people who would shun jewelry and give all they had to the poor who would still be able to get into a prayer breakfast and sit at the table with the President of the United States. Sometimes God gives resources to people in order for them to use it in ways that would seem wasteful to some, but for which God has a purpose that we might not understand. Where would Billy Graham's ministry have been without the use of airplanes and other expesive equipment?The bottom line is that as Christians, we need to ultimately be led by the Sprit of Jesus Christ in our lives instead of being held to standards based on the Law--the law to which Paul said he died in order to live for God (Galatians 2:19).
I think these verses are a call for believers to always be a counter-culture in the way we live. We are not to follow the priorites and values of the "world." We are not to adopt the world's consumeristic obsessions. Whether it be jewelry, gambling etc, we are called to offer an alternative. I don't think wearing a wedding ring, neckless or earring is sinful, but excess and pre-occupation with these things is what I think we are being warned not to participate in. I don't see this as an absolute prohibition, but as instruction not to follow the value system of the world.
I always find myself asking what the practical effects of a particular behavior are. No one, to my knowledge, has contracted lung cancer as a result of wearing jewelry, or has become impaired in their ability to drive an automobile to the point of taking someone's life on the highway. I'm not aware of jewelry addiction, although I suppose some people have probably an excessive amount of money on such "superfluous adornments." Cigarettes, on the other hand, kill. Alcohol has horrible effects on many who imbibe, as well as on those who interact with them. Gambling has destroyed families and turned many addicts to fraud, embezzlement, and other forms of crime to pay for that expensive habit. I agree that we need to think through principles, but we also need to be enlightened by pragmatic concerns.
michael r. cline reminds me of a sermon by Dennis Kinlaw in which he said that the early holiness movement was concerned about missions, and asked people to give up their jewelry to support mission work around the world. He didn't exactly say this, but I got the feeling that this issue was, at least at first, the heart of the matter, more than "modesty." I keep telling myself that I am going to buy Ken Schenk's book on hermeneutics, so that I can answer questions like these effectively, but I haven't yet :). I agree, based largely on things I have learned from the IWU "gang" that it is true that every group is guilty of picking and choosing where many issues are involved.
I have been interested in this area of changing behavioral standards among the holiness people for some time.My concern is that we have changed our standard of behavior without examining why. I don't have a problem with the things we have changed. In my youth we were concerned about such things as wearing jewelry, mixed bathing, card playing, attending theater and movies, dancing and other things which have largely been discarded. I have agreed that these ought to be changed, but I have watched my parents and others who taught me with passion that I ought to develop personal standards about these things and not rely on the teaching of the church. When the church changed what was in the Manual (Nazarene), these people changed their behavior. I am concerned, not so much that they have changed, but by the fact that they claimed to have personal standards and then changed those standards just because others would not live by them.I guess we don't want to reflect on how wrong we think our predecessors were, but when we change our standards it seems to me that we ought to have some teaching and develop some consensus about it.I would like for us to have some other reason than that we think it will help us draw more members.
I'm not really sure how much of Paul’s writings we should take as commands from God. Jesus speaks about Drunkenness, and Adultery but as far as I know remains silent on the issue of wearing jewelry. Certainly Paul was divinely inspired, however, when it comes to determining what is and what isn’t "sin" I like to focus on the teachings Christ. My wife occasionally wears Jewelry and makeup, gets her hair done and even shaves her legs. While I am not an expert on the female perspective I doubt very much that she does these things in vain pursuit. It simply makes her feel good to look nice. I guess I am o.k. With that (especially the leg shaving part :) Now, if she couldn’t leave the house without putting on her face, and was emptying our saving on diamonds we might have something to talk about. I guess in the end there are a couple of other thing I would want the Church to work on before we start telling women they can't wear Jewelry.
As I was reading the reasons, they all made sense. Abstaining from tatoos makes sense. It makes sense that it is pleasing to God that we separate ourselves from the vanity and wasteful spending of the world. I don't always frame my reasoning solely based on "Is it sinful". Can't some things simply be "pleasing" or "not pleasing" to God?C.S. Lewis was once asked about the notion of keeping up with the Jones's. If I recall his answer included the thought of a man on an island by himself. Would that man still want a comfortable house? Sure. But with no one to "outdo", it might not be as big. Would a woman still want to wear jewelry? Maybe?In conclusion, I'm also reminded of the Ray Stevens song that never made it into the church hymnal: Would Jesus wear a Rolex on his television show?
Great post that resonated with my upbringing in a conservative holiness church formed in 1892. To a large extent our women still don't wear jewelry today, even.Wedding rings aren't mentioned in the Bible... they were added by men for men at some point in time, evidently. One of our old preachers said one time "If wearing wedding rings kept people faithful I'd put 'em on every person I ever married!" :-)What happened in our church is that excess reared it's ugly head in other areas. Gaudy belt buckles, brooches, belts, shoes, hair clips... clothes, cars, houses, motor homes and too many other things to mention.But we don't wear jewelry! :-)"Let your moderation be known unto all men." That will keep us from excess in either direction, whether too conservative or liberal.I also know that what one generation allows in "worldliness" is exceeded and surpassed by the following generation, most every time.Gary CollierAlbany, Ga.
Give me a few days to respond. I promise I will. As for this quote "I'm not really sure how much of Paul’s writings we should take as commands from God" Wow. Probably an IWU grad...a BBC grad is smart enough to not even venture into territory like that.
Is it really "legalism" when we decide to be pleasing to God and follow his commands and be careful in our living?When we can say that God doesn't really mean what he says on certian issues like the wearing of gold, pearls, or ornaments, it opens the doors to disregard other principles, patterns and precepts in the Bible.I graduated from a Free Methodist college in the 70's and from what I observed there caused me to so clearly see what happens when one begins to disregard the principles of holy living.How many of the Wesleyan, Free Methodist, or Nazarene leaders would have ever dreamed 50 years ago, where their churches would be today. I would think that they would have learned from their mother (United Methodist) church.I have observed the lives of some Godly saints and their example has helped keep me steady.On the other hand, I have watched those who have disregarded aspects of holy living and I have observed what has happened in their lives and especially into the next generation, and it is so sad.
I want to point out that the conservative or "legalistic" standards of the early Holiness Movement were not held by many Boomers, who didn't feel they were reinterpreting scripture to suit themselves as much as rejecting some things they thought were ridiculous, and never really scriptural to begin with. This was all a part of the whole late 60's cultural shift, combined with the influence of the Jesus People movement and probably some other factors that don't come to me at the moment. I'm not saying we were always right......Which seems to me to be the way at least some Emergents operate today. In fact, based on admittedly limited knowledge, I think the whole Emergent movement is not as revolutionary as they think, it is more evolutionary. Again, this is speculation.
"Lodges?" I assume this is a referrence to secret societies? (OK, I'll admit it--I had no idea what that word meant until I started typing this question--I never claimed to be smart).I, too, enjoy reflecting on the past and noting how closely the "evil legalism" of days gone by parallels the "social responsibility" of today. Those who loudly preach abstinence from exploitative goods and petroleum products have similarly lucid arguments...but show a similar underlying legalism. OK, I have to come back to the whole issue of "Lodges"--I really thought for about 10 minutes that Drury was suggesting a campaign against rustic log retreats. You have no idea my sense of relief! :)
It surprises me how many comments appeal to experience. I suppose it shouldn't, given the Wesleyan revivalistic heritage. One's experiences of legalism don't answer Coach's questions. He's asking a very difficult question: what will the new "jewelry" be? If we could change our stance on that, what might we change in one year, five years, or ten? It's a call to examine our practice and our exegesis. What a challenge it is to attempt objectivity about our own cultural practices. I suspect one of the ruling trends of thought is ecumenism. Ecumenism today yields solidarity with the poor - ie, giving up jewelry that may fuel conflicts elsewhere - it yields an emphasis on common beliefs - thereby de-emphasizing differences among denominations such as drinking habits - it yields identification with the larger church tradition, boiling essentials down to say, the basic creeds rather than denominational creeds. In essence, I think, one could rephrase Coach's questions like this: how do you primarily identify yourself? via your denominational creed (including stances on drinking, jewelry, social responsibility) or via your Christian creed (belief in Christ, scripture, the Trinity)? In a pluralistic world, the tendency is to emphasize our core beliefs in contrast to the beliefs of Islam or Buddhism. The "pluralism" of the fifties was much more "are you Baptist or Pentecostal?" Globalization has fed the need for churches to band together. Then, in the comfort of it's own home, the church debates theological differences."What is the new "jewelry" is an uncomfortable, but important, question.
Keith has clearly identified the "jewelry" of the past and current generations. What will be the "jewelry" of the next generation?If the faithful trend of lagging our parent denominations by one to two generations continues, then it is pretty clear that in 2028 we will be blogging about how Christ never condemned homosexual marriage or abortion.
Blogging is simply superfluous. It is unnecessary. Generations have served God faithfully and gone to heaven without blogging.Blogging is worldly. It's a fad in the secular world. Are they really our model?Blogging is poor stewardship...of time.Blogging attracts attention to self. Wanna draw attention to God? Don't post your words, post HIS WORD.Blogging distracts from a believer’s true beauty...which is simple reliance on the Word, not waxing philosophically about whatever's on your mind.Blogging is condemned by the Bible. The Bible is very clear about the rules governing posts: Exodus 27:17 says "All the posts around the courtyard are to have silver bands and hooks, and bronze bases." Since weblog posts don't have these bands and hooks and bronze bases, they are clearly unbiblical.Hey Keith, this is fun!
The day that my grandmother was saved in old Wesleyan Methodist Church, she took off her jewelry. That was in 1942. She never remembered hearing it specifically being preached against...but she felt like the Lord dealt with her about it as an individual. Your column brought several questions to mind:1) How does a denomination(Wesleyan, Nazarene, etc.) attempt to reconcile itself with a spiritual heritage that they no longer embrace? 2) What was it like for you (as part of the older generation) to have watched the General Church totally change its direction?3) Does the leadership ever regret the radical changes that were made in the 1950s-1960s in regard to denominational (some would say biblical) distinctives? I remember hearing of how Dr. Roy Nicholson confessed before he died that he has missed God on the compromises that were made after merger. His own daughter now attends a Bible Methodist Church. I am personally familiar with a group of churches that maintained their original course throughout that decade of change. The New Testament ban on the wearing of gold, pearls, and costly array is still observed by their people. Frankly, I believe that the founders of what is now the Wesleyan Church would be much more at home among them than in their own denomination.
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