1. Modesty compulsions – I am all for people not showing up to church naked. I am not for the feeling that no matter what I wear, someone is judging my skirt as too short, my outfit too tight, my top too low, or my clothing to be ill-fitting. Do I agree that we need to have a middle ground on our attire – I certainly do. I don’t think it’s appropriate to be at church with everything hanging out everywhere, but I also have come to learn from many years in church that people do not universally agree what is considered “too short” or “too low cut,” and we need to make allowances for cultural differences, styles, trends, and availability of clothing. I am also notably disturbed to clarify that we tend to leave men and boys out of the modesty discussion, which is unbelievably sexist. I’ve seen men in church in pants that are too tight or shirts that don’t fit, and nobody ever talks about how inappropriate that is. Modesty in the Bible had nothing whatsoever to do with sex and everything to do with flaunting around wealth and prestige, which means those outfits with the over-the-top hats, billions of rhinestones and outlandish patters are classified as “immodest” by Bible standards. Let’s also get real and admit that nobody wants to dress like a church mother if they are under sixty, so let’s stop using modesty as an excuse to be catty, shall we?
2. Male/female issues – Some people are men, some people are women. Being a woman does not entitle others to tell her that she needs to “go home,” that her “first ministry is to her husband or her family,” or that she shouldn’t be in the pulpit. There is no such Bible verse that states ANY of these things, nor implies them. Nobody ever says these things to men and that makes the statements biased and unfair. The debates between men and women have raged in church for ages and it’s enough already! Let’s move on.
3. Politics – It bothers me to admit that watching the commentaries many of my online followers and friends are posting has seriously caused me to question their Christianity. It’s not who they are voting for as much as how they are behaving over the whole thing. Look, half of the people online spouting off about gay marriage and abortion can’t even find a Bible verse that examines the issue in Scripture, let alone interpret these issues from a contextual perspective. The only reason these issues have come to light in modern times and taken a front seat at the altar of the church is because a politician used and manipulated an outdated concept of family values to get Christians to vote for them. The sooner you stop being so political, the sooner you will realize these things are nothing more than a pawn to get other people into power.
4. Naming spirits – If I hear one more person tell someone else they have the “spirit of Jezebel” without even knowing who Jezebel was in the Bible (or better yet, who her husband was and why he was relevant), I think I am going to scream. We’re trying too hard to sound like we know what we are doing when we have no idea what we are doing. Reading a book on spiritual warfare doesn’t mean you know a thing about it, or that the person who wrote that book knows a thing about it. That’s all stuff to consider when you want to assign names to spirits, like they are a bunch of dwarfs or something.
5. Victim blaming/shaming – When we start talking about people being offended as a “sin,” we start the process of blaming and shaming victims who have been genuinely hurt by someone else and have the right to withdraw that person from their lives. Being offended is not a sin, and is not listed as such in the Bible. It is not a good practice to be offended by every one and every thing that comes across your path, and being offended over nothing is not a practice that is really right, but making people feel guilty for being offended when they have a justifiable reason is uncalled for and failing to bind up the brokenhearted as we are commanded to do in the Scriptures.
6. Translation fights – I am so tired of the KJV vs. anything else debate that seems to rage online thanks to people who have read some good propaganda designed to sell KJV Bibles. Look, translations are translations, they are not perfect, the KJV did not descend from the sky on a cloud, and it is not a perfect translation. It was a translational project done in order to put the Bible into the language, hands, and customs of people in the 1600s. Reading it now is like reading the Bible in a foreign language, because language has changed. If you like the KJV or prefer it for yourself, that’s fine, but stop telling me that I – and everyone else – needs to follow your suit and abandon the translations that we have grown to use ourselves.
7. Holier-than-thou attitudes – Just because you go to church, post a million family selfies on your Facebook page, and sit in the front row with your KJV Bible doesn’t mean that you have it all together. I’ve been at this long enough to know that most people who are forever judging everyone else as inferior or feel the right to give them a piece of their opinionated mind are usually the messiest people around. Really.
8. Cliques – I’ve often described ministry as “Junior High with Bibles.” This is because we might dress better, have more money, wear higher shoes, but we tend to act just as cliquish, elitist, and exclusive as we did back then. If you never consider a preacher outside of your own immediate circle as worthy of preaching in your event or ever even give consideration that maybe somebody else has something vital you might be missing, your church circle is way too small.
9. Telling everyone they are going to hell – According to the standards I have seen online, I am going to hell for the following: cutting my hair, wearing pants, wearing make-up, dying my hair, wearing high heels, wearing designer clothing, having a t-shirt with Marilyn Monroe on it, preaching, being in ministry, supporting and loving people in my life who are LGBT, not covering my head in church, watching soap operas on television, liking secular music, working secular jobs, not having any children, and not being the world’s best housekeeper. There is not a single Bible verse – not one – that says any of these things “send us to hell.” Maybe if we would proclaim the Kingdom of heaven is at hand just like the Bible tells us to do instead of going over and over about all the reasons why we, in our estimation, think people are going to hell, people would like Christians better.
10. Promising people things for their faith – Faith is not a currency system. There is no Biblical promise that your faith is going to cause God to pop out stuff like a vending machine. Yes there are promises for His provision and there are promises for His care, but that doesn’t equate to treating faith like God owes you something every time you turn around. We need to mature in our faith and our understanding of it so we can bring people to some change in their lives, themselves.
(c) 2016 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.