Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Wedding Ring: Is It Worth It? #4


You readers are great! I really appreciate that you take the time to read my posts and respond with your various points of view. You keep me digging to refine my understanding! I'm sitting at my computer, working hard to respond to one of the early comments (I've hardly been able to digest all the ones you've written--some of which require me to seek counsel!) when another one comes in! I count it an honor that you care enough to share your thoughts with me.


This comment came on Facebook in response to my first post "The Wedding Ring: Is It Worth It?".

“Is it worth it?"  This is an appropriate question.  Before I can accurately answer this, I have to address the question that has been avoided:  "Is it right or wrong?"  As a mother of 5 kids, I want my answers to life's questions to be rooted in God's Word.  Once this has been established, we can then move on to the question you asked.  If the wedding band is not a matter of right or wrong, but simply a matter of tradition, then I believe this question has to be answered individually according to where God has placed him/her in life.  We do not wear a wedding band because it is against the rules where my husband has been called to minister.  We try to make a distinction between God's commands and man's traditions.  As far as the person you referred to not being used at IHC, I believe God is using him mightily.  There is a possibility that his ministry has expanded since he has not limited himself to the "chm."  If one is obedient to God, He will use him/her, whether in the "chm" or not.  The "chm" is a small percentage of the larger Christian world.  My question is, "Is there ever a time when leaders need to look at their restrictions and re-evaluate their validity?"  I say, "Yes."  Some of our leaders do not believe the wedding ring is wrong, but keep quiet to keep peace.  There will be a time when we have to determine what we value more:  truth or tradition--since they may not always agree."


Friend, you have offered a thoughtful challenge to my post. Thank you. I appreciate you taking the time to give me feedback.

As I read your comment, this is what I see. In the first part of your letter, you carefully lay the legal foundation for your position. You maintain a neutral stance. You say, "If the wedding band is not a matter of right or wrong, but simply a matter of tradition, then I believe this question has to be answered individually according to where God has placed him/her in life." This suggests a concern for more than the raw legality of the issue.  You mention  "...I want my answers to life's questions to be rooted in God's Word."  I would say that is an admirable desire.  In your mind, do you feel the assessment that for Christians there is a category called "tradition" which "...has to be answered individually according to where God has placed him/her in life" is rooted in God's word, or are you just suggesting this is obvious, or perhaps you just chose to believe it?

If your letter had left it there, your position would be much stronger, and I would feel invited to say,“Yes! Let’s discuss this further!”

You next note that your current conduct as regards to this topic is contingent on your husband's work rules, and "We try to make a distinction between God's commands and man's traditions."  This frighteningly echos Rabbinic mindset, and the fact that your behavior is coerced strips it of any moral merit (you didn't chose it as the right thing to do, you were required to do it).

The next part in your response takes a turn... since you believe you know who inspired my post and you believe that the fruits of that person's life will be good... maybe even better than they otherwise would have been, then it must have been worth it.

Please note this amounts to arguing that the end justifies the means.  Arguments of this type are generally considered suspect.

The size of the CHM is irrelevant unless of course you are suggesting that bigger is more valuable.

The last section of your letter sheds much light on which direction you lean but at the same time leaves me puzzled about what you really believe.  Gone is any vestige of neutral language... we are now dealing with merely a restriction that may need to be re-evaluated.  And yet, "There will be a time when we have to determine what we value more: truth or tradition...."  From your earlier formulation, how can there be a conflict between truth and tradition, since tradition is what we are left with when something is not right or wrong?  And if it is a matter of truth, how could we justify before God "keeping quiet to keep peace?"

Does "walking by faith" ever enter your calculations?

20 comments:

  1. Okay, so as a relative "outsider" my question stands, for CHM is this a matter of Truth or tradition?

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  2. Laura, once again you have responded to a comment without actually answering the question. The individual who left this comment for you on FB nailed it right on, and to be quite frank, I am not sure how you came up with response that you did. As far as I'm concerned we need to simply answer the question; "Is it right or wrong?" Until we have answered that question, we will not be able to come to a conclusion as to whether or not it is worth leaving the chm over the wedding ring.

    Let me pose to you a question; Is there a difference between wearing a silver or gold metal watch-band around your wrist and wearing a silver or gold band of metal around your finger? Most individuals in the chm do not have any problem with wearing a silver watch. (All of which I must say are larger than ANY wedding ring that I have ever seen.) Some might argue that a watch is a tool that serves a purpose. If that is our argument then we must be honest and say that in our society, a wedding ring serves a purpose. The wedding ring tells those around you that you have given yourself to the one that you love. There are many times when meeting someone for the first time that I mentally take note of whether they are married or not by looking for a ring.

    Many times I have heard preachers in the chm say that we don't need a wedding ring to prove we are married, but that we should act like we are married. I would then like to ask why it is that the same preachers say we need to have a certain standard of dress so that people can know we are a christian. Should we not just simply act like christians? (Btw,I firmly believe in the biblical position on modesty.)

    One of the greatest problems with the chm is the huge amount of inconsistency that can be found. It is a sad fact that many groups within the chm have selected areas on which to focus which have no real biblical basis. This has resulted in an "I'm right and you're wrong" mindset. A mindset that has done much harm. It is this mindset that causes people to judge.

    I know that I'm jumping to a different angle here, but I would just like to say that if our concern is with staying with the "original" chm, then we need to do some backtracking. The original core of the chm would have stood firmly against things like wearing short sleeves, watching movies, using video equipment, (especially in church services)and many other things now considered to be okay by a vast majority of the chm crowd. If some of the founders of the chm could come back today, I am sure they would be shocked to see the changes that have been made. They would probably feel that the crowd at IHC "have lost their way", and that the chm is "taking on the things of the world". As a matter of fact, I know individuals personally who will not attend IHC because they feel that IHC is no longer conservative. In the eyes of many, individuals in the IHC crowd have compromised by now allowing things that they once stood against.

    I will conclude my ramblings by stating that I believe we need to step back and look at the things which we have been taught. If they are not clearly backed by God's Word, then we should NOT be teaching them from our pulpits. We must be careful not to be guilty of what Jesus describes in Matthew 15:9 as "[...][T]eaching for doctrines the commandments of men."

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  3. Instead of saying "the chm is 'taking on the things of the world'", it should say "the IHC crowd is 'taking on the things of the world'." Sorry.

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  4. May I respectfully suggest a resource for your and your readers' consideration: www.disciplingnewconverts.org Under 'Other Articles,' there is a new lesson on adornment. (written and audio) It is Nathan's carefully prepared lesson on the topic and should prove helpful to those wanting to examine the text for God's thoughts on the topic, as well as applying wisdom and love to the issue.

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  5. "once again you have responded to a comment without actually answering the question."

    Anonymous,

    Your insistence that I answer your question reveals something fundamental about your worldview. The question of whether this is right or wrong in the absolute sense is only the beginning and end of the issue if you insist that the justification of behavior is a legalistic matter.
    If you do this, you cut a huge hole out of the heart of Christianity.

    It is not my goal by raising this topic to unveil some sort of new legal opinion. If you want that, they’re a dime a dozen. My point is, in Christianity, people matter. Relationships matter. And when you say the rightness or wrongness of this matters more than people do, I say no.

    This is not about me avoiding answering a question. This is about you trying to transform my point into a point of legalism.

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  6. Laura,
    The part of this discussion that I'm having the most trouble understanding is why, when you were at this conference recently, you were overcome by sadness, which caused you to ask the question, was it worth it?

    And this is why I believe it matters to answer teh question of whether this is about truth or tradition (Christ's mandate or our own conscience). Because if God had placed different convictions on this young man's heart who can now not effectively minister in this particular group of people, why does that cause sadness. Why isn't he encouraged in the place that God has called him too, knowing that he's following Christ's calling in His life.

    That's why I feel this is an important discussion. I don't agree that it twists this into a legalistic dicussion. I can clearly say I don't commit adultery because Scripture states that; it doesn't make me a legalist does it?

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  7. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the root of the problem.
    Just because a view has long been held, even by men and women of great esteem, it does not mean that the view is correct. Our beliefs MUST be based on Scripture, not just tradition. Period. Since when was the Bible not enough? Within the pages of God's Word is every principle and standard that we should live by. Every one.
    So since the main question here is whether or not it's "worth it" to sever relationships over differing viewpoints, I'll say this: Bottom line, situations/questions like this are completely unnecessary! If someone has come to realize that they have been mistaken in an area and feels that God would have them do something differently, why, I repeat, WHY should that cause a break in a relationship? I agree with other commenters; if that's the case, the relationship was shallow to begin with. I do believe that there are times when relationships will have to be severed because of matters of sin. But that's not the case with the matter in question. And that is why it IS important to answer the question, "Is it a sin, or not?"
    In the chm we're so busy labeling and categorizing every person or group that we're allowing countless thousands to slip by and go to hell. Is THAT worth it? If I were to, according to conservative holiness standards, label you and some others who claim to be conservative just by what I see on facebook and blogs, etc. I would label you as being liberal. Is that fair? No!! But that's what we do day after day. It needs to end.
    YES, there's a standard. But it's God's. Not ours. YES, we may have to end some relationships; but it should be for far more serious reasons than this, and only when absolutely necessary to our spiritual and physical well being, not because we disagree over an item of attire.
    I'm in a hurry and this isn't coming out like I'd like it to...but I'll say again that the fact that a relationship is even at risk of ending because of something like this shows how much trouble the chm is in...and how wrong they are in a lot of cases.

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  8. Dave, would you say that? Really? Is that the only reason you wouldn't commit adultery? If so, yes, that's the definition of a legalist. I don't believe that's true of you.

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  9. Dave, I'm trying to come up with an analogy to help you understand "why the sadness." Will post when done.

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  10. Laura,

    First of all, let me clarify that there are two different individuals (at least) commenting under the name "Anonymous". I am the "Anonymous" who posted concerning your failure to answer the question of whether it is right or wrong to wear a wedding ring.

    I do not understand why you think I am turning this into a "point of legalism". This is not my intention. I am simply trying to say that we must KNOW what God's Word teaches in regard to wearing a wedding ring. If the Bible condemns the practice of wearing a wedding ring, then it is not legalistic in the least to say that it is wrong, and to subsequently not allow someone to minister in the chm if they choose to wear a ring. However, if God's Word does not condemn wearing rings, then it is not our place to condemn someone for wearing a wedding ring. I am very much aware that the chm has had the long-standing tradition of not wearing wedding rings, but we need to establish whether this tradition is supported by God's Word, or if it was simply a man-made tradition that has been passed down year after year.

    I am not sure what you think you learned about my "worldview" from my comment, but I can tell you this much about my "worldview". I believe that God is to be in charge of every detail of my life, I believe that His Word contains all that I need to guide me to heaven. I am determined in my life to allow Him to lead me. I am determined to follow HIS every command. I know that I will stand before Him one day. On that day it will not matter if I have kept every rule handed down by those in the chm, and it will not matter what church I attended. On that day the only "Relationship" that will really matter is the relationship that I have with Jesus. I am determined to allow the Bible to be my guide in life because if I base my life upon the Bible, I cannot go wrong.

    As to your comment stating that, "in Christianity, people matter. Relationships matter.", I completely agree. We must remember, however, that it is a two way street. Our relationships with others do matter; in fact, they should matter so much that we are able to be gracious enough to disagree with people without marking them off our "list" just because they have a differing point of view. Churches have split, conferences have divided, and people have been hurt simply because we in the chm have not learned how to disagree agreeably. No matter how hard we try, we cannot continue to avoid the question that is pressing us. If, when wearing a wedding band, one is committing sin, then it is a serious issue and sin does divide. On the other hand, if, when wearing a wedding ring, someone is simply breaking a long standing tradition, then that is not sin, and it should not divide.

    There's nothing legalistic about that. :)

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  11. Laura,
    Thanks, it would be truly helpful. There are parts that I can relate to in a church setting, but I don't know to this degree or perhaps maybe in this nuance.

    And to answer your response, I didn't say the "only" reason I wouldn't commit adultery, I said the reason, the foundational reason. How in the world is that legalism? Legalism is when I cast God's calling in my life onto others when His calling is for me. Legalism is saying that no one should ever see an R rated movie or no one should have a glass of wine.

    There are certainly many other tertiary reasons why I strive not to commit adultery, lie, steal, or have pride, but the foundational reason is because Scripture forbids it.

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  12. One other thing about my love for "denominations" within the "catholic" church is that I have always felt they hold the whole in balance.

    I love the diversity within the body of Christ because I believe we each remind the other of some things that are important or that we may have lost sight of. This discussion reminds me of the importance of modesty, simplicity, and community.

    And as you know, I have no desire to be pitted one against the other, but more I approach it in the spirit of Proverbs, "as iron sharpens iron, so one man/woman sharpens another."

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  13. I really appreciate the civility you keep, and inspire, and also your willingness to hear both amen's and perhaps disagreements.

    I have been "CHM" for almost 62 years, so have seen quite a few changes over the years of what is acceptable, fashionable, etc, in this culture.

    I was in one of the stricter groups, but have changed some of my views on what is Biblical and what is not.

    I do think I see your main point, "is it worth it"? You are looking at it from a standpoint of is it worth it to cast aside some things.

    I look at it from the standpoint of is it worth it to continue retaining certain "standards", if you will, that continually drive the numbers that ANYONE can reach, down the tubes.

    I saw my own denomination nosedive over the video issue in the 1980's, and then the internet issue ever since then.

    Was it worth it, to lose membership, attendance, and thus, the "reachable", to keep such legalistic stances on some things that are not Biblical stances (although I agree that the sins one can get involved in by any media are indeed valid issues)?

    I fear we all pick and choose things we hold dear.

    I think you are a very wonderful person, by your attitude and desire to truly be a child of God, and influence others for good, and God.

    But (there is always a "but" :) ), what about "things pertaining to men"? When I was growing up, only men wore bill caps...my Dad wore one all day, and even on the way to and from church...but he left it in the car! Now, women in the CHM wear them outside, to garden, play ball, picnic, etc. I see you are wearing one in your profile picture.

    Do I think they pertain to men? No. But do you see the shift?

    My concern is that issues are divisive, when scripture is not clear on certain things, rings and jewelry being one issue.

    I know, the rightness or wrongness of jewelry is not your point, but "is it worth it"?

    I would ask the CHM, of which I am still a part, "Is it worth it, to hold on to certain standards that can only be traced back a few dozen decades, or less, when they become the separating point, removing people from the influence of real salvation and holy living, by setting standards that are very hard to argue, from a Biblical standpoint.

    Again, I appreciate your values, sensitivity, and sincerity.

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  14. So many keep trying to force the question away from what was originally asked.

    I understood the original question as: when you choose to reject some tenants of the group you have been a part of you naturally give up something in terms of relationships and influence with that group...was what you gained by doing so 'worth it'?

    The implications of the more defensive comments seem to be that it was somehow 'necessary' to put on a wedding ring in order to reach the lost; if that were true it would be an easy question to answer, "YES of course it is worth it." But no one has shown any connection between adding a ring and being a more effective soul-winner. Can anyone tell us that what they have done to win the lost would not have been just as effective without a ring?

    But rather than answer the question, most keep trying to change the topic to, "is it a sin? Huh? Tell me THAT!" To those I would ask, "is it a sin to eat meat offered to idols?" Paul said no, but yes! In and of itself, no. But in context of the relationships, he says you can't just say something is in and of itself "right" or "sinful." I don't think he would have answered the question, "is it sin? Answer me that, before I tell you whether it is worth it!" Had he, he would have been affirming the mindset of legalism: give me the list, and so long as I don't eat the meat, you can't judge me.

    Paul's admonition is, give up what you prefer in sensitivity to others. In today's language, maybe you could say "respect the convictions of the more cautious brother or sister." Notice that Paul didn't tell those who felt eating such meat was a sin to "get over it, bro, and just accept those who are enlightened enough to eat it, trust their hearts man!" No, he said err on the side of carefulness and respect. It doesn't seem likely that Paul meant "eat it before them on Facebook and flaunt your enlightened knowledge that it in and of itself it isn't really SIN!" either.

    Chaplaindice, your comments stand out as thoughtful and objective; and it sounds like you aren't from the CHM. But I want to challenge your thinking just a little: on nonessential issues do you really think it better to err toward "like" the lost? Would eating meat offered to idols have helped the early church to win the idol worshippers? Or--since Christ calls us to a radical about-face in thinking, not just a moderate reconsideration of how we are living life--can small distinctions be helpful in getting the attention of the lost, helping them see it isn't just a social worker giving them a sandwich but someone really different?

    This is a fascinating conversation. Some comments seem like writers are particularly 'touchy' and make me wonder if the subject has struck a nerve...are you really at peace over your decision, or are you being asked to question yourself at new level? Had you 'checked it off' in your mind ("It really isn't 'SIN' so I am fully justified...don't question me!") and don't really like to be asked?

    No-one owes me an answer. I hope I have contributed something of value, as the conversation is helping me.

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  15. I still would like to know why relationships aren't being "severed" over wearing braided hair....it's in the EXACT same verse (and as has previously been determined, the original Greek of "broided" means braided). To me, this clearly shows that this entire "issue" of severing relationships and losing influence over a wedding ring is ONLY about tradition. If you think it is a matter of the "heart of Christianity" (since you avoid saying whether or not it is a sin..so as not to be "legalistic"...), then why is wearing braided hair not a matter of the "heart of Christianity" too? Why not post about how sad it is when you see CHM girls wearing braids?

    I can tell you why - because the CHM doesn't take wearing braided hair "seriously". As you stated, "There is no generally held value among the CHM folks with regard to braided hair." Well, why not? Why is it that the CHM picks and chooses what to take seriously within the same Bible verse and context? Why get so upset, divided, and "severed" over a wedding ring, when you could care less about braids? Both are discussed in the exact same verse. Yet, as seems to be the one constant of the CHM, you have picked through the verse and decided what you want to "take seriously" and what you don't (take wearing jewelry seriously, don't take wearing braids seriously).

    There is no held value in regard to wearing braids in the CHM because, for whatever reason, that part of the verse was not included in the CHM TRADITION when it comes to women's appearances/dress. Surely if you feel that wearing a wedding ring is not what God desires for His children, then you should feel the same about wearing braids..again because both are mentioned in the same verse and same context. This leads me to believe then, that wearing rings is not about what God wants, but what the CHM wants! You like to talk about the traditions of men...well this is one of them. Why you allow relationships to be severed because of a CHM, man-made tradition, I will never understand. Severing a relationship over a band of metal would be as ridiculous to me as severing a relationship over a braid...there is no difference.

    I do not expect any of my questions to be answered. As others have pointed out, it seems as though you consistently avoid answering posed questions, but rather respond by skirting around the REAL issues at hand. I realize I have been quite frank, but at this point I think it's the only way to be about this.

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  16. P.E.T.

    Thanks for your insights, and I completely agree and resonate with what you're saying regarding a complete about-face. I believe where our thinking would perhaps begin to move away from one another's, is that I believe that a life transformed by Christ and following him, causes DRASTIC seperation and distinction from the "world" without trying to create standards of "holiness or seperation." Does that make sense? And I suppose that sounds like I'm assuming rules such as jewelry, dress, etc were simply arbitrarily created, because I'm sure they weren't, and they were done with a good spirit. But, using your example, like meat offered to idols, that wasn't a standard the church created at all. It related to those believers who were saved out of pagan religion where food was offered to idols. And that would be a whole discussion to unpack a biblical and theological view of the weaker brother and how we navigate that as godly men and women.

    Let me give one honest feeling from my perspective without it being offensive, because that isn't my heart at all. We could be blogging back and forth about the academic arrogance and pride that pervades my denomination and our many debatable views; I'm not naive:)

    But when you said of course it would be worth it to put on a ring if it actually would reach the lost. I wonder if that isn't true because I can tell there seems to be so many man-made rules and heartache in the CHM, over convictions that other chose not to hold, that aren't issues of Scriptural mandate; that I personally wouldn't want to be a part of that, and if I don't see it's biblical validity, then how much more I wonder would an unbeliever feel the same way?

    This isn't meant to be mean, or to say that the CHM is not a group of believers worth joining, but I believe the church has always been culturally relevant, without being culturally accomodating.

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  17. I would first like to note that I think biscuits above post was wonderful, both in spirit and what was specifically noted.

    It just seems to me that the question itself isn't really a question at all, but rather has its own judgement and answer embedded in it. It is certainly the prerogative of the author (it is her blog), but it really doesn't allow for substantive response that cannot simply be relegated to "missing the question".

    In the short term, it could certainly be painted as "not worth it", but it precisely why I think biscuits points and the larger questions of the "long term" are so relevant.

    For most, it isn't about "well, I can reach the world if I choose "a metal ring", but rather about a passionate belief that the CHM has adhered to a tradition that isn't supported Biblically.

    Having grown up in the CHM, these questions generally come back to the issue of not being falsifiable. What I mean by that, is no matter how much the focus is on the full context of scripture, there is always the shield of "well, they just aren't walking in the light. . . why would you want to get so close to the world. . . is it worth it" and the list goes on. I have been in more conversations than I can count where those questions took more prominence than scripture itself.

    Some just have great difficulty understanding how for thousands of years, biblical evidence seems to point to how jewelry was used as the central issue (not simply whether it was worn), and there suddenly being a blanket restriction. (Personally, I think a careful reading of I Timothy indicates an approach that is line with the rest of scripture. It's not about whether you wear gold, but your attitude in wearing it.) Jewelry was even referenced in the OT symbolically as a blessing from God and it is very difficult to understand an absolute restriction. (TH)

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  18. Well said, Chaplaindice.

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  19. There have so many good comments, it makes me hesitate to say more. But here goes.
    The answer to your question "Is it worth it?" is YES for many of our best and brightest young people. So now the question is why would people "think it is worth it". That question is for the CHM to answer with honesty and soul searching. Some are doing so and it is encouraging. I am hoping this discussion helps in that direction.

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