Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Wedding Ring: Is It Worth It? #3

Oh, the essentials we adults miss sometimes...
I am working on responses to several different comments from the two previous posts. In case you don't follow the comment box, this comment came on post #2. I will continue to post long responses to comments as new posts so they are easier to follow.

"Laura, I believe you are avoiding some important issues here.  If you are so concerned about throwing away the CHM heritage and severing relationships over a little wedding band, then why doesn't it concern you that some of the CHM movement (not all of them, mind you)throw away their heritage concerning other issues - namely, divorce and remarriage, working on Sunday, etc.?  What concerns me is that some of the CHM (most all of them, I'm sad to say), pick and choose which preferences, (which, by the way, they've made mandatory) they want to enforce, and ignore others that we all know were upheld by their forefathers. 

If you truly believe that this heritage should be kept, then I believe you should reconsider lengthening you dresses, wearing closed in shoes only, etc.  Somewhere along the line someone "trashed relationships", because your forefathers (not mine) definitely held a strong opinion against TV, coloring, trimming, and perming hair as well as wearing wedding rings.  Some of them even had major problems with the radio - surely with Rush and his foul language!  My question is, who decided how far back into the CHM heritage line to go to start enforcing nonessential rules? God created us as individual human beings, not robots that need to be controlled by some group.  I realize that you want to conserve what the CHM once had - it is your mark of identity.  But, you must agree - that identity is long gone.  There are very few that really, really uphold what was once the true CHM. If you want to create what you would call your own CHM identity, then that's your priviledge - but please don't consider it as the true CHM - it is not.

I'm not being harsh here.  Just as you are greatly hurt and saddened by the changes in some CHMs, I also am saddened that people can get so caught up in their own little ideas of how they think God wants others to live, that they lose sight of why we are really in this world.  Bickering and nitpicking over nonessentials will never win anyone to Christ.  I doubt if the drunkard or drug addict cares at all if there's a wedding ring on the finger of the person that is witnessing or helping him. My desire is to reach the lost, NOT be wrapped up in CHM peer pressure.  What bondage!!

Thank God for a personal relationship with Him!  My desire is to please Him, and win others to Christ.  I believe I can do that as I wear my wedding ring."

Anonymous, 

Thank you for making me think. Thank you for making me examine myself. It’s good for me.

It’s apparent from your comment that you have judged me to be inconsistent. Believe me, if that’s true, it’s a serious problem I want to fix. However, your judgment seems to assume that there has been a single, fixed, universal standard in the CHM which you have insight into but which perhaps I lack. This of course is a mistaken assumption. Human behavior, including that of the CHM, is not that simplistic. You suggest that in order to fix my problem I must change the things I now do which don’t match this original CHM standard. You make the claim that you know what the essentials are and that the things the CHM has stood for are nonessentials. You say that I am seeking an identity through the CHM and that if I want the true CHM identity, I must go back to what they believed at their inception.

Your comment causes me to honestly ask myself; am I being inconsistent? Have I written anything that would cause you to make this judgment?  Is it true that I want my identity rooted in the CHM, that I am promoting a return to some former glory?  Other questions come to my mind: What are the essentials? Who decides what they are? Is it true that “reach[ing] the lost, NOT be[ing] wrapped up in CHM peer pressure,” being free from that “bondage!!” is what is essential? You express a “desire to reach the lost.” The question comes to mind, do you have any love for the poor lost folks in the CHM who don’t know what the essentials are? Would you be willing to adapt yourself, in order for them to relate to you, so as to win them to the truth?

But your questions first:

Am I being inconsistent? As I was coming into adulthood, trying to figure out what it really was to be a Christian, there were certainly things I allowed in my life which I don’t allow now, and I remain open to change anything that is not consistent with what I understand as inconsistent with my Heavenly Father’s will. My will is set to do His. I totally trust Jesus Christ and am in a pursuit of understanding what He taught, because I am convinced He is my only hope of sanity and eternal life.

Is it true that I want my identity rooted in the CHM and that I “want to conserve what the CHM once had?” You have not understood me if you think I am seeking my identity in the CHM. While I value the relationships that formed and molded me from childhood, while I value the discipline which demands that I say no to the flesh, and while I value the consistent call to seek God seriously with all my being, I seek my identity in Jesus. I want His spirit to be the very essence of my life. My allegiance is to where His values and the values of the CHM coincide.

Did the CHM ever have a unified identity on every one of these issues? I submit, they did not. My point in all of this discussion is that you don’t gain anything by walking away from what is truly valuable here.  You don’t gain anything by giving up the disciplines that are essential for creating a careful walk with God.

Finally, I ask, how does your comment relate to my original post, “Is it worth it?”  Well, it actually doesn’t. In that original post, I did not argue about the legality of the wedding ring. Neither did I communicate that I sought my identity from the CHM. My post was simply a question which was coming from a heart that seeks to find the path of wisdom Jesus would have me take. As I observed the scenario at the convention, it caused me to contemplate the question I wrote about. I sensed there was a lack of wisdom in walking away from relationships over things like the wedding ring. The wedding ring just happened to be the issue which, at the least, had limited the influence of my former IHC comrades. And I asked myself, would you be willing to make a change like that and lose your ability to potentially be a help to this crowd? What would you gain? And why would you do it anyway?

Just to make sure you understand, my intention (in the original post) was not to convert anyone to the CHM. My post was to those who had accumulated the trust of a great number of people and apparently counted it of little value. This issue is not trivial. This is not a nonessential.

Thanks for your comment. I will redouble my efforts to avoid inconsistency.

20 comments:

  1. Regina Lavy BakerApril 24, 2012 at 7:07 PM

    To quote you "My post was to those who had accumulated the trust of a great number of people and apparently counted it of little value. This issue is not trivial. This is not a nonessential."

    I look at it the other way. The person who decided to wear the wedding band may have assumed that people had enough trust in him/her that they were able to begin wearing the symbol of marriage without fear of alienation. From your posts I am assuming this is not how it turned out.

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  2. I think that God judges man by what's in his/her heart and the work they are doing to spread His word to all. Only God judges,and it would be sad if a man or woman of God were cast out from doing His work because they choose to wear a wedding ring. If you study God's word from Genesis to Revelation and compare to the man-made religions of today, you will find a lot of flaws and wrong interruptions of His word. You will find that man changed the Sabbath to Sunday and we observe a lot of holidays that are from pagan rituals that having nothing to do with God's word. We are humans and God made us to make our own choices, not be perfect robots. I feel that if someone chooses to wear a wedding ring, shorter skirt, or perm their hair but lives by God's word and commandments and witnesses to others, don't be surprised if they are they ones that are in Heaven while the persons that blocked someone else from preaching His word is not.

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  4. Laura, I have been finding your posts thought-provoking. You're making me think outside the box.

    As I read others' comments and justification for their changes, I can't help but keep wanting to ask: "Even if you have studied carefully and decided something is 'lawful' does that mean you have to do it?" Paul said no! In multiple places he said we should restrain our chosen behavior in deference to the relationships we have with other believers.

    I think you are onto something pretty important. Keep studying and sharing!

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  5. Obviously this is dipping into a sub-culture that I'm not familiar with; however, realizing that we all find ourselves in a sub-culture of one type or another.

    I'm reflecting on the post and comments from the original wedding band post. Thinking about whether it's worth abandoning a shared value of an organization or group. Because it seems there isn't agreement on whether this is an issue of right or wrong, biblically speaking.

    If a Christian has to choose between their effectiveness within the church or the world, and it is a matter of amorality, it's true that they should choose the world. Paul says, "I became all things to all people, that I might win some." Jesus emphasizes the great commission in his last days on the earth.

    If something is an amoral issue, and it is a stumbling block to both the world and the church, then perhaps a Christian should focus their attention on reaching the world with Christ, free from some potential stumbling blocks.

    Now, having said all that, I'm not sure if that is the motivation or the issue here, in this group of Christians, surrounding this issue of jewelry, etc. But it at least causes me to think about similiar things in my own faith tradition and spheres of influence.

    Okay, for what that's worth.

    Dave

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  6. Great discussions. What if someone from say the SBC felt impressed to remove their wedding ring (or any other distinctive) and move in the direction of the CHM? They would certainly strain their relationships and limit their influence. Is it worth it?

    J. Hales

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  7. "The person who decided to wear the wedding band may have assumed that people had enough trust in him/her that they were able to begin wearing the symbol of marriage without fear of alienation." Regina Baker.

    Regina, I am not being unkind here, nor am I attempting to "call you out." But, I find the above comment disingenuous.

    There is not one person who has been raised in the CHM that has chosen to wear a wedding ring that would ever assume that they would be allowed to speak or sing at IHC or many other places. We all know that our Bible Colleges, our camp meetings, our conventions have certain platform standards that would prohibit it. I am baffled by your comment.

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  8. By the way, I am not sure how to post my name. The above comment to Regina Baker was posted by me, John Myers. I did not want to post annonymously, but maybe I need to have a blogger account to do otherwise.

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  9. chaplaindice,

    To what extent does the lack of a wedding band limit a Christian's effectiveness in the world? An earlier commenter stated, "I doubt if the drunkard or drug addict cares at all if there's a wedding ring on the finger of the person that is witnessing or helping him." I'm just wondering how much difference a wedding band--or no wedding band--makes in the eyes of the world?

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  10. LJC,
    I was referring to "a shared value of an organization or group," not necessarily a wedding band, though it could be.

    For me if I'm sharing Christ with someone and teaching them at the same time to study the Bible, and I'm either stating or implying that wearing a wedding band, or drinking alcohol, or not covering one's head, or braiding one's hair, or whatever the example, is anti-Christ; then certainly that could push someone away.

    From MY perspective because it doesn't align with Scripture. But again, that's why I didn't want to speak necessarily specifically to jewelery since I recognize my viewpoint from what the Bible teaches is different than the intended audience of the post.

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  11. Cont'd:

    But for areas that I believe are "gray", the key for the believer is to check one's own heart with the regards to the matter. It's okay to abstain from alcohol because you don't want to be tempted to sin, or you feel in your particular geographic part of the world it would defame the Cross, etc then that's a right heart and motivator.

    And I should also say that for the most part an unbeliever should be able to see your heart as to WHY those things are important to you and the heart of the matter and whether or not you hold to them out of conscience or out of mandate (from scripture). Both are important, but they are also different.

    The issue is when a Church or group can't love and embrace and work alongside other believers because they don't hold to the same opinions as is related to conscience, not mandate. Does that make sense? And this is where a church needs to be definitive about those things. For since, my church when I joined it just recently here in DC taught all prospective members about our different theological tenants, and ALSO whether they were negotiable or non-negotiable. And it states that members don't have to hold to all the tenants of faith when they are negotiable, but they must agree to not be devicive in their opinions.

    This is the ONLY frustrating part sometimes about these posts for me, is I can't tell whether they are bringing up matters of conscience or matters that the Holiness church views as mandates from Scripture.

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  12. My observation has been that those who did not follow CHM "standards" were ostracized or at least marginalized. Some left these "standards with little or no thought while others made that decision with much soul searching and bible study. Many would have stayed in the fellowship if accepted.
    Recently I read a blog section of a Jewish christian. He brought up the problem of immodesty among believers.Another "can of worms" for the CHM. He got many and varied responses. Some labeled him a legalist. By the way, he does not come from the CHM point of view.His response went something like this, "Having a standard is not legalism, trusting in the standard is legalism". In my opinion, The CHM at some point stared trusting in their standard. I see value in conservatism but I also see why many have made the decision to endure the separation from the CHM. So much more could be said.

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  13. I ran across this discussion on a FB post. I have had this very discussion with someone this week. I do not know what CHM stands for, but the views posted were interesting. It has always been my experience when someone wishes to start wearing jewlery, the first place they start justifying is the wearing of a wedding band. It is never plain or simple, but is usually of the lastest style. It is not long before all other Biblical standards of dress are gone as well. I find it very often a "jumping off point".

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  15. All of this over rings??? You all have way too much time on your hands!!!

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  16. How about we switch topics now and discuss divorce/remarriage. That is sure a taboo among many chm'ers. And there are people who have pretty important jobs at IHC who are divorced/remarried. Lets not just get hung up on one thing(rings). Having divorced/remarried people in charge of things at IHC may not be sending the best example...just sayin...

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  18. Laura, Do you think this definition of "saving faith" by John Wesley is legalistic (see quote in bold letters below)? Do you think it is possible for someone to fail the test of "saving faith" over an issue such as a wedding ring? Could your sadness be due in part to a concern for the eternal welfare of the souls in question? The whole sermon "On Faith" by John Wesley may be found at the following link: http://wesley.nnu.edu/john-wesley/the-sermons-of-john-wesley-1872-edition/sermon-106-on-faith/

    10. But what is the faith which is properly saving; which brings eternal salvation to all those that keep it to the end. It is such a divine conviction of God, and the things of God, as, even in its infant state, enables every one that possesses it to "fear God and work righteousness." And whosoever, in every nation, believes thus far, the Apostle declares, is "accepted of him." He actually is, at that very moment, in a state of acceptance. But he is at present only a servant of God, not properly a son. Meantime, let it be well observed, that "the wrath of God" no longer "abideth on him.'

    11. Indeed, nearly fifty years ago, when the Preachers, commonly called Methodists, began to preach that grand scriptural doctrine, salvation by faith, they were not sufficiently apprized of the difference between a servant and a child of God. They did not clearly understand, that even one "who feareth God, and worketh righteousness, is accepted of him." In consequence of this, they were apt to make sad the hearts of those whom God had not made sad. For they frequently asked those who feared God, "Do you know that your sins are forgiven" And upon their answering, "No," immediately replied, "Then you are a child of time devil." No; this does not follow. It might have been said, (and it is all that can be said with propriety,) "Hitherto you are only a servant, you are not a child of God. You have already great reason to praise God that he has called you to his honourable service. Fear not. Continue crying unto him, `and you shall see greater things than these.'"

    12. And, indeed, unless the servants of God halt by the way, they will receive the adoption of sons. They will receive the faith of the children of God, by his revealing his only begotten Son in their hearts. Thus, the faith of a child is, properly and directly, a divine conviction, whereby every child of God is enabled to testify, "The life that I now live, I live by faith the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." And whosoever hath this, the Spirit of God witnesseth with his spirit, that he is a child of God. So the Apostle writes to the Galatians: "Ye are the sons of God by faith. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father;" that is, giving you a childlike confidence in him, together with a kind affection toward him. This then it is, that (if St. Paul was taught of God, and wrote as he was moved by the Holy Ghost) properly constitutes the difference between a servant of God, and a child of God. "He that believeth," as a child of God, "hath the witness in himself." This the servant hath not. Yet let no man discourage him; rather, lovingly exhort him to expect it every moment.

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  20. The above sermon was written/published late in Mr. Wesley's life in the year 1788. It is based on logical interpretation and application of the Bible. By the time Mr. Wesley wrote/published this sermon, he had more than fifty years of highly successful evangelistic experience. It is exceedingly difficult (perhaps impossible) to reconcile Mr. Wesley's thoughts with modern evangelistic thought even within the Conservative Holiness Movement.

    In my view, this divergence from early Methodist, highly scriptural theology has inevitably engendered mass confusion on the subjects of religious experience and scriptural standards. Mr. Wesley's scriptural system was not "broken" but we decided to "fix" it anyway. I have no doubt that there will be people in heaven that wore wedding rings while they lived upon Earth. However, I also have no doubt that there will people in hell who knowingly rebelled against the Holy Spirit on issues just as "trivial" as a wedding ring. Personally, I am glad to be free from the bondage of buying them, wearing them, and worrying about losing them.

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