Friday, April 27, 2012

The Wedding Ring: Is It Worth It? #7


Laura,

Thank you for being willing to allow this discussion 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.

Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for your comment.

My "answer" is coming. I am working on a post which I hope to have completed before the day ends. 

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

This process has been enlightening to me.


24 comments:

  1. Laura,

    I was very surprised to read your response to Mary Ellen on your FB wall. You told her that "No particular people are the topic of conversation here"; however, I would like to remind you of your words in your very first post. You said "One I know would not be able to minister to the people at this convention anymore. He made a choice that would forever remove his ability to influence or help this crowd of over three thousand souls". Unless I (along with others) have misunderstood, you were talking about a certain individual who made a choice to put on the wedding ring. If that is not what you meant, then you did not do a very good job of making yourself understood.

    I am not trying to be harsh, but I am starting to think that you have stepped into deeper water than you realized, and now you are not sure what to do about the situation. I realize that this discussion involves many posts and many more comments, but I would like to kindly encourage you to use extreme caution not to contradict yourself when you respond to the comments that are being made. I trust that I have not spoken out of turn, and I hope that I have not seemed unkind in my comments to you. I just think that in a discussion of this magnitude we all have to be careful to make sure that we have as much accuracy as possible in our posts/comments.

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  2. Anon is right -- even though it's a shame anon is anon

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  3. Laura, I just went back and read your first post on this subject. I have to agree with "anonymous" above that you are not standing by your original comment or making plain what you do mean, if in fact,we have misunderstood. So this discussion is becoming increasingly convoluted.
    One thing is sure, you have touched a nerve and the CHM needs to address it.

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  4. I will answer these comments after this next post I'm trying to finish.

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  5. Laura,
    I'm late to your blog and I really haven't yet gone back through all the earlier posts. Although we're not acquainted, I find several of my friends involved in commenting. I'm impressed with your openness and your attitude toward those who raise questions. You have given a lot of effort to keeping the thread on topic. I also admire that. Now, I guess I'd like to do the same thing. If I had to describe the one thing that is most damaging to the CHM, of which I am a committed part, it is neither the legalistic pressures from those who would require things far beyond the scriptural demands nor the permissive tendencies of those who would make allowances for obviously un-Biblical behaviors and attitudes .
    Rather, the most hurtful thing is the tendency from both camps to seek out even the slightest differences and magnify them to the extent that they create a sort of enemy camp entrenchments with a combat zone between them. Your question "Is it worth it?" is the real key. I've seen posts here that seem to search out a word or two of disagreement rather than try to find any common ground. The results I've seen indicate that it really isn't worth it.

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  6. Anonymous:
    Any honest reading of this series of blog posts make it clear that a particular incident and family at IHC merely illustrated a much bigger issue in the blogger's mind: "Many of the youth of yesterday are gone. They have dissolved their relationships with most of the people I saw this week. They have moved into myriad other relationships, organizations, worldviews, and belief systems."

    The topic of the post is not a person. She says a person and situation motivated her to address the elephant in the room issue.

    You can parse words and try to make "him" or "them" the topic, but that simply appears to be one more atttempt by those who don't like the question--the topic--and want to divert attention to personalities, perhaps make "wedding ring martyrs" of the family.

    If YOU are wearing a ring and have lost the ability to minister to the more conservative people who have been in YOUR life, did YOU gain enough to make that choice worth it?

    I think that topic has been rather clear from the beginning.

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  7. Praying for you, Laura. I don't have to agree or disagree with you to realize that you are under tremendous pressure trying to cope with the volume of heartfelt responses and the varied directions of each response.

    May God give you clarity of mind and peace of heart as you seek his will regarding your posts and comments.

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  8. I have read through the comments above and must admit that this has been a huge concern in my life... but in the reverse. I would be so bold to say that the real question in my mind would be , "Is it worth it for a "movement" to lose 70% of their young people and a good portion of their older crowd over wedding rings, short sleeves, etc. Having been on both sides of the coin, growing up in a family that did not wear wedding rings and now as my own choice, see no problem with wearing a wedding ring or other jewlry for that matter, I can speak from the other side of the aisle. Its sad to me that while I hold all the same CORE beliefs that the CHM does, and want my children to learn the same, I feel slightly pressured not to go to events such as IHC or some of the Holiness Camps,etc unless I go through mine and my childrens wardrobes and carefully make sure I do not have anything offensive present itself in the event of the hour. Which is a thankless job because you can never please everyone, in any matter of life. There will always be some that disapprove. This uncomfortability for me is largely in part to worry that this exact form of thinking will be applied to my children and I. Because lets face it, if I showed up at some such event and then come to the knowledge later that I had a blog entry amongst all the people I have grown up with and loved, written about my personal choice in Jesus Christ.... I would be very disappointed. Because I would be assuming that I was worshipping amongst fellow believers in Christ and I would not assume that they were silently judging me from across the pew for my attire. I love the CHM and believe those in it to be the kindest and real people. I just wish that some of my friends and relatives didn't feel like they no longer could be a part of some things because of how their choices on some of these issues are viewed by the CHM.

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  9. Wow! Now I am very curious! Will someone please say who the family is from IHC that she is talking about? Lovin' this gossip! Haha! But that is one of the things CHM people are good at!

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  10. Ok. Just checked the IHC website and now I am sure I know who you are talking about (family from IHC). I thought that some of them were wearing rings. Thanks for confirming that for me, Laura! I don't get to IHC much so it's hard to keep up on all of the "gossip"! Haha! Appreciate you! Keep up the good work!

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  11. Laura, IHC may not allow anyone with a ring grace their platform...but I know fact about one particular preacher who graces that platform that makes a weding ring look pretty trivial. I know this because my Father served in situations along side this man and learned his true colors. Had to do with money he owed, wouldn't pay, etc.. etc... Makes me sick when a person gets away with sin on the inside, but as long as the outside meets CHM rules, then, bless God, it's ok.

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  12. To the "Any honest reading of this series" Anon above.

    Given the context of this discussion, I think it is perhaps you who are attempting to "parse". Trying to separate the catalyst for the blog series from the larger concerns seems a little unnecessary. No one reading this denies or thinks that there isn't also a larger concern present. I just don't believe that clears up any of the apparent contradictions. (I'm not arguing there are contradictions, but thus far the presentation has certainly let to the appearance of them.)

    You cannot start a series mentioning a very specific catalyst and then criticize those that choose to focus on the very catalyst mentioned.

    The more I read these posts on Facebook as well as here, the more I am convinced that this would have been a matter kept more generalized (or personally confronted) and also one that is directing the question to the wrong recipients.

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  13. I've had many thoughts going through my head about the entire discussion over the last several days. I am going to attempt to articulate a couple of them.

    1. Laura, I think I understand what you were trying to say with your original post. Perhaps it was unwise to mention a specific family as an illustration, because obviously that has become a distraction from the main point. We have had family members and pastor friends who have changed their position on some CHM "lifestyle standards." While I am sure they felt the freedom to change, I felt sadness because something in the relationship changed. Although I still love them, and can worship with them, there is still a loss that is felt and that causes sadness.

    Let me try to illustrate ... imagine two best friends who grew up together and eventually went to college together. They shared many common experiences -- unfair teachers, hard tests, many hours of study, rooting for the same teams, etc. Then one friend transfers to a different college -- there is some distance, they now root for different teams, have different teachers, etc. -- and as a result there is not as much in common. Not saying that either friend made a wrong choice, but that relationship is not as it once was, and there is sadness over that change that was made.

    In the context of lifestyle changes, in Laura's post, specifically the wedding ring, what I understand her to say is that she is saddened by the fact that there are some of her friends who have "switched colleges" -- and the relationship is not what is used to be because we no longer have that similar "distinctiveness" in common.

    2. A lot of time, passion, tears, and energy have been poured into this topic. I would have to ask is that worth it? There are problems in our churches such as gossip, critical spirit, lack of unity, and selfishness that need addressed. There are hurting people in our communities that need to be shown the love of Jesus. If we could harness a fraction of the energy that has been used in the last few days about the wedding ring on some of these other areas, perhaps we could see revival.


    Obviously there are some strong opinions that have surfaced during this discussion. I'm glad that we have a God of grace who can enable us to extend hands of fellowship to those who hold differing positions on some of these issues.

    Thank you for the space to share some of my thoughts.

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  14. As a former CHM'er, let me say, YES IT'S WORTH IT. I was raised in it, attended HSBC in the late 80's but have been a Naz pastor for 16 years. Let me assure you that the CHM is not the only way and just as God is using this family as Mary Ellen noted, God is using me where I am.
    Thankful, Joseph

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  15. It strikes me as a little strange that so many readers choose to zero in on this one particular family upon whose identity everybody seems to agree. Is it not obvious from the original post that Laura was trying to protect that identity rather than flaunt it? Why do so many feel the need to ignore her argument in order to “defend” this anonymous family?

    If you read that post, recognized to whom she was referring, and identified with them out of some sort of camaraderie, you probably felt an “Ouch! That hurt!” Yet I beg to remind you that this involuntary response is merely an emotion, something with neither rational nor spiritual basis. We must step outside of emotions and analyze them, determining whether they align with rational and spiritual truth before accepting them as a valid representation of reality.

    Was the attitude of the original post in the form of a “slam” against that family? Laura says she was weeping for this father, clearly a sign of her love for the family. Was this post meant as a personal attack? While one of the purposes of her post was “to try to get the many who have made choices like this to re-think their decisions,” her spirit was never to attack, but to question out of love. Are we as Christians afraid of loving criticism? How will we ever grow in our faith without other Christians to point out blind spots?

    Further, Laura clearly stated that her purpose was not just to question this one family, or even just those who have left the CHM, but to also give another perspective “to those who might be considering going the same direction.” From the way she described this family, they have certainly held a leadership position in the CHM for many years. For this reason, they must be “public figures,” so to speak. Those in this position demand public admiration and following and simultaneously incur upon themselves public criticism. This is just a fact of life. If one believes God has placed him in an office of public influence and leadership, he must be willing to be made an “exemplum.” When someone in a non-leadership position believes such a leader to be taking hundreds of “followers” in an unwise direction, it should not be taken as a personal attack if they cautiously question the actions of that leader. And again, I think everyone should deeply appreciate Laura’s sensitivity and tactful choice to veil this leader’s identity, making it clear that her purpose was not to attack the family but to ask both them and the many who are under their influence to look at this issue from another perspective. Only those who feel it necessary to pull this discussion down to a level of personal feelings and attacks can construe her attitude as caustic or unloving.

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  16. To the CHM pastor above:
    Good illustration. Although I disagree with Laura's sentiment and I feel like she's skirted the real issue here, I know how she feels about this. I, too, used to feel the same way when I heard of someone "changing". Actually, I still do (a little). But I've come to realize that it's more nostalgia and a fear of losing the familiar that I feel and not a...sadness?...that someone has lost their way, compromised, drifted, and what have you, as many in the CHM would feel.
    You said, "If we could harness a fraction of the energy that has been used in the last few days about the wedding ring on some of these other areas, perhaps we could see revival." I would respectfully submit that that is exactly the main point many of us "anonymous" writers have been trying to make. Many in the CHM will hang onto outdated and restrictive traditions and will fight tooth and nail for them when they should be focusing on the real needs of the souls around us. That is indeed a waste of energy. I've sensed a common frustration and desire for serious change among many of my generation. It might be labeled as a drift or a "falling away" and, in some cases that is exactly what it is; however, in a LOT of cases, these people are just like my husband and myself. We see the flaws and major inconsistencies in the CHM and we want the real...the genuine...a godly, biblical lifestyle that is grounded in a love for Jesus and for others--not in the desire/need to please others or to be accepted.
    Therefore, when issues like this (the wedding ring) are brought up and made so all-important, it does indeed touch a nerve with those of us who are like-minded.
    So, to put it simply, I see your point and I think you put it well. But I STILL believe that an issue is being made of something that shouldn't BE an issue, and I feel that this man and his family are being unfairly judged. There are far more important issues on which to focus. As long as we keep pointing fingers at each other we'll never do anything for God.
    "One of the other anonymous-es"

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  17. I so agree with this last "anonymous posting. The college illustration is good except for the fact that many were forced to move to a different college because their choice in such things as wedding rings was not allowed in the first college. We can not sweep this issue aside even for a claim of interest in the lost. The CHM has made these "life style standards" of paramount importance for decades and many would like the CHM to take a second look rather than watch as many change to another college. Personally, I have no interest in rings of any kind, but am very interested in the greater issue.

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    1. To answer the original question ...is it worth it (whatever your version of "IT") is. Yes it is. I wear a wedding ring. I was not married with one. I can say that I have a deeper closer walk with God than I have ever had in nearly 49 years of my life. Did the ring do that for me? No. It also did not hinder me.

      Lynn Hobbs

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  18. What about gluttony and obesity? Why does that not sadden you? I've been to IHC and many CHM functions and EATING is one thing people can do. Grossly obese preachers panting across the stage preaching against wedding bands and other peripheral, non-essential issues. May God have mercy on the hypocrisy of those people and I thank Him daily for delivering me from such cult-like activity. I think God's heart is grieved by this entire dscussion. Laura, you are dismissive, instructional, and condescending and one day you will be embarrassed by all of this. I recommend you delete the posts and focus on things that glorify Christ. Just silly and sad at the same time. I remain anonymous ONLY because of the volatility of the issue, but I will gladly send you a private email with my name, if you desire.

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  19. YES! I agree with the above comment. How ignorant do you think we are? Identifying this family and then denying you did so. I am tired of you dumbing everyone down. And you apparently lack ability to answer a simple "yes" or "no" question when asked if you think a ring is wrong. It brought you to tears thinking about this man's son who now wears a ring. Have you stopped tp think about how many you brought to tears by wearing short sleeves? I would be embarrased about this whole ridiculous mess and it all should be deleted. This is just one more thing to make CHM look like idiots.

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  20. Laura,
    I am new to your blog and have found this discussion very interesting. I understand your original post. I also am part of the CHM. May the Lord bless you and give you wisdom as you answer these comments.

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    1. Thank you for letting me know, Esther. I appreciate your thoughtfulness and your prayers.

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  21. Laura,
    Quite an interesting Blog.

    I see that all the comments are over a year old. There are some thought provoking opinions here. I don't think the matter here is of wearing of an item or putting off of an item as much as, "where is my heart?" or "am I truly seeking God?"

    I am reminded of this verse: (Jeremiah 6:16) Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. (KJV)

    It seems like many today are straying from the "old paths" found in God's Word. I believe that if we seek inward heart purity until we are filled with His Spirit, it will take care of the outward too.

    It does make a difference if we are straying from what God wants us to be and it is not worth it if our actions do not manifest His presence in our lives.

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  22. Thank you, RES for sharing your thoughts. You are right; the heart, the will, questions like what am I truly seeking, valuing, and trusting are issues I was addressing.

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