Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Wedding Ring: Is It Worth It? #6




Friends, certainly you understand that when a blogger gets this many comments, time alone will not permit him or her to respond to every comment.

“Biscuit” gives us a kind, thoughtful, rational comment. Thank you, Biscuit. I will respond in red, so all can clearly follow.

biscuitsaid...

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.

Let me clarify: My point is a little bit more than that. I am asking, when you have a platform, an influence, when you have convinced people that you are on the same page with them and they have grown to trust and admire you, and you choose to walk away from that and embrace instead your freedom over an issue of the flesh that really doesn’t matter, is it worth it? Do you see the subtle difference? My concern is not that you are casting aside "a tradition of questionable legality" but that you are embracing "a tradition of questionable legality" and casting away what really is valuable.

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.

Please note, while there’s no virtue in being small, it’s certainly not a principle of Christianity that we should just do things for the numbers.

On the other hand, my friend, people don’t care whether or not I have a wedding ring on. Not wearing one doesn’t hurt my influence. My attitude (based on how I think) about the issue is everything. If I do not think as a legalist, people sense that.

My college years were spent on a university campus.  My fellow students respected me. One lesbian friend even asked me to pray with her. My choice of attire did not affect my influence negatively. To the contrary, it caused people to pause and think and question, “Why? What does she value?” It took them to the questions of eternity, of what matters, of God. I also have many Christian friends from many backgrounds. I have been told numerous times that they appreciate my attitude.

The CHM has touted "Christian education" as the solution for saving our kids, but it seems that many who have been through the system, when hit by adulthood and having to engage with the rest of the world, in fact, don't see much from their past worth holding onto.  (For those who have trouble processing honest observations, this is not an attack on Christian education or a promotion of public schools, it is a concern that we have oversimplified the problems and the solutions.)

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)?

My posts clearly do not affirm a legalistic mindset. I am not suggesting that there are not major problems in the CHM. My first post stated, “There is much confusion in our midst...”

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.

Friend, let me tell you my first response, based on a non-legalistic mindset, based on a Christ-like perspective—as best I understand it. When you mentioned the bill cap, my first thought was, “Oh, my, I never dreamed that was an issue. If that offends someone, I don’t have to wear those. Maybe I should change that picture. Bill caps certainly don’t matter in the light of eternity.”

Of course, we could go crazy trying to make sure we don’t offend anyone on every issue, so I have to balance that heart response with logic and a rational understanding of the Bible. Given my place in life, I have to in faith say, “Father, would it be best for me not to wear bill caps?”

As a follower of Christ, as a person who trusts Him and is seeking to walk in His steps, I am willing to question myself about anything. I have died to my right to anything. I die moment by moment to my flesh and its desires.

But do you see the shift?

Not meaning to ignore your question, for I certainly recognize that over the years accepted attire goes through changes. That just isn't my point in these posts.

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.

Language is fascinating, is it not?

“Is it worth it” can point in different directions. And so then we have to determine, what is the valid question. I’d like to bring this point up in the future.

Thank you again, Biscuit, for taking the time to share your thoughts kindly.

17 comments:

  1. Bobbi Young KingeryApril 26, 2012 at 4:29 PM

    Laura:

    As always, I find your blog posts thought provoking. I know next to nothing about your church, but I truly admire your journey toward understanding. You have a wonderful ability to question as you walk your path, and to share with us those questions so that we too, can evaluate and better understand our beliefs. Civil discourse about these topics is vital for all if we are to grow. Thank you again!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think this has been touched on above, but think it deserves more exploration. I wonder a couple of things:

    1.) Is there implicit in the question and subsequent commentary a suggestion that the question should only be directed to the "now ring wearer". I ask because I believe that wouldn't go far enough. I think an important and connected question is "Why does an atmosphere exist within any church or movement where wearing a ring (after once believing it sinful) leads to broken relationships/broken trust/discord?" (This question obviously moves the focus away solely from the "ring wearer".) I acknowledge it is my personal opinion, but I think it is a far more cogent question.

    Personally, I want those I respect and admire to be able to "change course" on certain issues if they feel so led.

    2.) I am going to posit an answer to my larger question that also may perhaps touch on why relationships end up broken. While I won't suggest this is across the board, I have run into the following (limited) answers that seem to pervade the CHM when one "makes a shift". a.) They aren't walking in the light. b.) They are trying to get as close to the world as possible. c.) They have turned their backs on God.

    Until the movement as a whole truly embraces/understands there is another option, I think it will create an atmosphere where discord is far more prevalent. The other option is simply this: Some passionately there is no scriptural prohibition and have earnestly prayed through on the matter and feel clear that God is not requiring this prohibition. If I only honestly believe the first three options, the implications are profound. If on the other hand, the movement can instill in its members a desire for holy living with an understanding that there is a "fourth option", I passionately believe it will revolutionize the atmosphere.

    While I understand you are staying away from the technical merits of "right or wrong", I firmly believe there is an undercurrent that exists within the CHM that absolutely contributes to an atmosphere where simply believing "differently" and wearing a wedding ring can lead to broken relationships.

    I don't think it's really about the piece of circular metal. I really believe there is also something much deeper than disappointment over "hey, we used to be on the same page and I respected/trusted you". (TH)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Bobbi, it is such a delight to hear from you. I'm so glad we have been able to reconnect via the Internet after these many years since college. I'm thankful you are able to find some value in my blog. Blessings, my friend!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Laura,
    Thanks for your explanations! Another good discussion, though my brain is now worn out!:)

    You always handle fireballs with grace, and that is a testament of Christlike character.

    Have a great evening!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I know exactly what you mean, David. I'm pretty weary myself.

    I love your family so much. Appreciate all of you.

    Laura

    ReplyDelete
  6. This topic has taken an interesting path. I decided to be a part of this discussion based on the assumption that you were willing to actually discuss the subject you had brought to everyone’s attention. I enjoy studying and seeking to better understand God’s Word on various lifestyle issues. I am a bit disappointed that you were willing to open this controversial “can of worms” yet continue to avoid stating your true position. We can only assume that you do not think “it was worth it.” Many times we have asked you a question and you tell us that that is not the matter of discussion. You want us to answer a question you still refuse to. I think some of us have made it very clear that in some situations it is worth it to change a position on a tradition that we once believed in. Where do we get the idea that change is always wrong? Sometimes we do things because we are raised in a certain manner. After studying God’s Word, we realize we were wrong. Sometimes God asked us to become stricter in a certain area of our lives—sometimes He points out that our previous view was not correct and He puts His smile of approval on a change that is less strict. STRICTER DOES NOT ALWAYS MEAN SAFER.
    The word tradition was tossed around a lot. I value traditions, but think that they should be based on the Word of God. If we have come to the conclusion that the wedding band is merely a tradition, the situation is sadder than I first anticipated. I believe that we are placing too much value on the ring if we let it dictate whether we accept a brother or sister into our fellowship.
    Instead of addressing our questions, you have attacked our thinking. You said, “It amazes me how steeped in legalism some of my readers (who comment) are—Many just can’t think outside of that box, and I am trying to help.” I do not know where you got this, but I would be willing to change if God showed me this was a problem in my life. Why must labeling become a part of the attack? I also found it amusing that a person commented to you that some of your readers were bitter and mean. How does this person know the intent of a heart? I know that I do not feel that spirit to anyone involved in this discussion. Some of us can disagree and still discuss controversy with a kindred spirit.
    It comes across to me that you put a high emphasis on relationships, but I know for a fact that some were deeply hurt from bringing this subject up at a time when most of us knew who you were talking about. If relationships are important, what about their family’s feelings? Does this enter into your calculations?
    I do not know what your true motive was in this discussion, but I have been encouraged to realize there are others like myself that have decided to not let a tradition come between us as brothers and sisters in Christ. They might not be used on the platform at IHC at this point, but who knows… now that we have come to the conclusion that several CHM no longer hold this tradition to be Biblical, there might be more unity if we changed our position. I want to show the proper attitude and have a Christ-like spirit to all of God’s children. I have really enjoyed the discussion. Thanks for opening your blog to us! Sherilyn

    ReplyDelete
  7. Sherilyn, you are right. I have removed the comment I made where you felt labeled and in essence put down. That is not my intent.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Sherilyn, we don't have to keep posting both on Facebook and here. I did at first since you had commented on FB. I'll do whatever you prefer. You say, "I know for a fact that some were deeply hurt..." Can you please tell me what they were hurt by?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Working in a hospital, raising 2 children alone, and living outside a parsonage for the first time in my life, I've become very aware how completely out of touch we are with the real issues facing people today. Our teens are dealing with drugs, gangs, suicide, abuse, bullying, and other issues too horrible to mention - on a daily basis! - yet we are still stuck on a hangover non-issue from a century ago. When will we wake up and deal with the things that really matter in today's world? Until we do, we will continue to affect no one but ourselves.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Sherilyn,

    Thank you so much for your last comment. You did an outstanding job of saying what needed to be said, and you said it in a kind and gentle manner. I agree with you completely.

    Laura,

    Thank you for being willing to allow this dicussion on your blog. I realize that it may seem that some of us have attacked you in our comments. While I cannot speak for everyone, I know that that was not my intention in the least. (I am the anonymous that "insisted" that you answer my question.)

    While I agree with Sherilyn that you "continue to avoid stating your true position" on this matter, I would like to say that I appreciate the way that you have conducted yourself overall during this discussion. I also appreciate your willingness to take down some of the comments that you have posted.

    Although we may not agree, (assuming that you do not feel that "it was worth it") I do not feel that this discussion has been in vain. It has proven to me that there are many others, like myself, who are coming to terms with the fact that we have been following a lot of man-made traditions and that we must each decide what we are going to do about those traditions. Every one of us must do our best to live according to the teachings of God's Word. We are responsible to pray and seek His face concerning what to do with these man-made traditions. There will never be a time when we all see "eye to eye" on everything, but I trust we can allow the Lord to help us to disagree agreeably.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Dear Anonymous,

    Thank you for your comment.

    My "answer" is coming. But I cannot give you the full answer in one part. I am working on a post which I hope to have completed before the day ends. It explains what I mean when I use the term "legalism."

    My difficulty in expressing my position fully is that we are barely speaking the same language.

    This process has been enlightening to me.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Laura, I do not think I could hold up under the pressure here, and none of us desire you to be in a hot seat at all. You are doing awesomely.

    I think, I truly think, that people are having a chance to declare, to vent, if you will, their thoughts on the directions and mindsets of the CHM in general, and your blog on wedding rings was the bonfire that drew us around, and let us poke our hot dog into the embers.

    The CHM has endured much "infighting" over the last few decades, and many have "come and gone from the place of the holy"...some, as you say, no longer come around, by choice, or by a feeling of ostracism.

    This has left those that remain, sad, frustrated, confused, and tearful. Those that have left, or have "taken a lesser way" (of "holiness", even), also feel resentment that they feel they had to leave, or be untrue to themselves.

    And each side has, in their inner being, the question, "Is it worth it?" Of course, I have also heard this question from the pulpit and in talk circles, in one form or another.

    Those that remain in a given group ask that question of the leavers and their reason for leaving.

    The leavers would ask the old group, "was it worth the downsizing, the confusion, the leavers tossing it all out the window?", in order to maintain the status quo, in this case, no wedding rings.

    Each side may feel that only by adhering to, or by distancing from, a given "standard", can they continue their personal or ministerial walk with God, or even be true to themselves and their beliefs.

    Each would argue it was, indeed, worth it to remain, or to leave.

    How does God, well, how does the devil, look at it? Sadness from God? Glee from the devil? Which group does the devil fear most? Which group does God bless most? Or is the answer, both?

    While I am thinking of it, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do not stop wearing bill caps, nor remove it from your profile picture. If you did, put it back. :)

    I simply was using this, something that I could see about you, as a point of how we see things differently, or totally as non-issues, as the years roll by, and I have seen quite a few of them roll by! Never be in bondage to men, but only to God as you feel led. (or not led :) ).

    My next chore is to "prove that I am not a robot" by typing in the two words shown. But my ability to do that will in no way prove that I am upright, honest, pure, decent, or even "saved". It is a non-issue to this blog, in itself.

    That is the way many feel about the jewelry, hair, dress issue, that it may be a non issue.

    Laura, I again applaud your courtesy and grit.

    I also think you have done a lot of people a lot of good by letting off some steam that has built up over maybe almost three decades, and we are just doing it around your campfire. Thanks for that.

    By the way, you have to sign in somehow, and mine does it with "biscuit", but I am David Cary.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I failed, I fear, to say I more and more understand your real question, "Is it worth it?"

    Laura said, "Let me clarify: My point is a little bit more than that. I am asking, when you have a platform, an influence, when you have convinced people that you are on the same page with them and they have grown to trust and admire you, and you choose to walk away from that and embrace instead your freedom over an issue of the flesh that really doesn’t matter, is it worth it? Do you see the subtle difference? My concern is not that you are casting aside "a tradition of questionable legality" but that you are embracing "a tradition of questionable legality" and casting away what really is valuable. "

    Your last sentence includes the word "tradition." I know that in a sense, it can be something long practiced or accepted. Or it can be the start of some new habit.

    The word "questionable" is also important. This word is what makes good people take two sides on an issue. Interpretation of scripture, being raised in different cultures, different CHM groups, and different people having different life experiences that could swing their own beliefs one way or another.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Laura,

    I follow your blog from time to time, and have been reading this particular thread about "Is is worth it?". Before I bring up what is on my heart concerning this discussion, I would like to answer your question.

    My answer to your question is, yes, it is worth it. I choose to wear jewelry and do certain other things that my heritage deemed sinful because I did not see them as sinful. I understood when I made those decisions there would be some who would think of me differently, and may cause some to question my relationship with God and even cause them to lose confidence in me. Sadly, this is their choice; their opinion.

    Now, I would like to make a few comments concerning this discussion.

    I think this discussion could go on and on because it is based on opinion. Your initial question, "Is it worth it?", set up the answer for either 'yes, it is worth it' or 'no, it is not worth it'. Maybe in your thought process you were going beyond the question to wonder how and why people make certain choices, especially in light of relationship. Your question did bring up a particular issue which has caused such division within the body of Christ. I would like to focus on the underlying issue of relationships.

    Here is a comment you made to Biscuit. "On the other hand, my friend, people don’t care whether or not I have a wedding ring on. Not wearing one doesn’t hurt my influence. My attitude (based on how I think) about the issue is everything. If I do not think as a legalist, people sense that."

    First, I would like to point out, that our influence only extends to those who wish to receive it. We cannot influence someone if they choose not to be influenced. Furthermore, it is work of the Holy Spirit that does the influencing, not us. It is our words, actions, attitudes that the Holy Spirit can use to influence others. His work always points to Jesus and so it is important that our lives reflect Jesus.

    Second, In your comments to Biscuit, those you mentioned (your lesbian friend, others you were able to influence) accepted you. Their acceptance was not based on whether or not you wore a ring, but based on your love for them.

    I believe love, or lack of love, is at the core of any issue.

    Doesn't John say, people will know God by the love we show each other... Jesus summed up all the commandments by saying, Love God, love others... I Cor. 13 says, the greatest of these (gifts) is love... Love is supreme... Peter even went as far as to say, "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." Love covers a multitude of sins. What an amazing statement!

    God's standard of love far exceeds human ideas of love. God has a lot to say about love and Jesus' life shows us what love looks like. God makes love the issue and leaves it to us to choose how we love one another.

    Whether a person believes it is sin to wear a ring or whether a person believes it is not a sin, love is to be the foundation of the relationship. Relationships are not one-sided. Relationship involves choices, my choice and your choice.

    Here is how I see love displayed as we look at the issue being discussed. If I think you are judging my choice to wear a ring, if you tell me it is sin to wear a ring, love covers. Our relationship is more important than the issue. God wants my love for you to cover any offense I may feel. Maybe I don't take offense; love still covers. If you think I am sinning when I wear a ring, love covers, meaning you continue to love me just as God loves you. If you don't think I am sinning, but think it is not a good choice to wear a ring, love covers.

    Relationship is what God is all about. He wants relationship with us and He wants us to have relationship with others. In any relationship, love covers all. It is what God does. He loves us and it is His love that covers our sin. We are to extend that same love to others - no matter what.

    sheryl

    ReplyDelete
  15. Laura,

    I follow your blog from time to time, and have been reading this particular thread about "Is is worth it?". Before I bring up what is on my heart concerning this discussion, I would like to answer your question.

    My answer to your question is, yes, it is worth it. I choose to wear jewelry and do certain other things that my heritage deemed sinful because I did not see them as sinful. I understood when I made those decisions there would be some who would think of me differently, and may cause some to question my relationship with God and even cause them to lose confidence in me. Sadly, this is their choice; their opinion.

    Now, I would like to make a few comments concerning this discussion.

    I think this discussion could go on and on because it is based on opinion. Your initial question, "Is it worth it?", set up the answer for either 'yes, it is worth it' or 'no, it is not worth it'. Maybe in your thought process you were going beyond the question to wonder how and why people make certain choices, especially in light of relationship. Your question did bring up a particular issue which has caused such division within the body of Christ. I would like to focus on the underlying issue of relationships.

    Here is a comment you made to Biscuit. "On the other hand, my friend, people don’t care whether or not I have a wedding ring on. Not wearing one doesn’t hurt my influence. My attitude (based on how I think) about the issue is everything. If I do not think as a legalist, people sense that."

    First, I would like to point out, that our influence only extends to those who wish to receive it. We cannot influence someone if they choose not to be influenced. Furthermore, it is work of the Holy Spirit that does the influencing, not us. It is our words, actions, attitudes that the Holy Spirit can use to influence others. His work always points to Jesus and so it is important that our lives reflect Jesus.

    Second, In your comments to Biscuit, those you mentioned (your lesbian friend, others you were able to influence) accepted you. Their acceptance was not based on whether or not you wore a ring, but based on your love for them.

    I believe love, or lack of love, is at the core of any issue.

    Doesn't John say, people will know God by the love we show each other... Jesus summed up all the commandments by saying, Love God, love others... I Cor. 13 says, the greatest of these (gifts) is love... Love is supreme... Peter even went as far as to say, "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." Love covers a multitude of sins. What an amazing statement!

    God's standard of love far exceeds human ideas of love. God has a lot to say about love and Jesus' life shows us what love looks like. God makes love the issue and leaves it to us to choose how we love one another.

    Whether a person believes it is sin to wear a ring or whether a person believes it is not a sin, love is to be the foundation of the relationship. Relationships are not one-sided. Relationship involves choices, my choice and your choice.

    Here is how I see love displayed as we look at the issue being discussed. If I think you are judging my choice to wear a ring, if you tell me it is sin to wear a ring, love covers. Our relationship is more important than the issue. God wants my love for you to cover any offense I may feel. Maybe I don't take offense; love still covers. If you think I am sinning when I wear a ring, love covers, meaning you continue to love me just as God loves you. If you don't think I am sinning, but think it is not a good choice to wear a ring, love covers.

    Relationship is what God is all about. He wants relationship with us and He wants us to have relationship with others. In any relationship, love covers all. It is what God does. He loves us and it is His love that covers our sin. We are to extend that same love to others - no matter what.

    sheryl

    ReplyDelete
  16. I couldn't imagine not wearing my ring, but I do understand and respect your point.

    ReplyDelete