For those of you that are just joining us, we are continuing our examination of Dear Princess. To start at the beginning, click here.
If you've spent any time around conservative Mennonites, you are probably aware that they take "The Word of God" very seriously, especially when it refers to outward appearance, which I estimate to be about .2% of the time.
This is not majoring on minors, of course, because the first thing Adam and Eve did when they sinned was sew clothes, and the first thing God did was clothe them with better clothes, so we can see the entire Gospel story in a nutshell right there.
"Obeying the Word of God" is a code used in these circles to indicate maintaining a personal appearance that matches the party line of the church.
Think how it must wound the heart of the kind heavenly Father, to have His love spurned, His Word carelessly regarded, and for those He loves so deeply to say that they do not believe Him.
Of course, when we say that people do not believe God means what He says, what we really mean is that people do not believe that God means what WE say He says.
There's a very subtle difference there, but I hope you can catch it.
Faith is basic to our salvation. "With the heart man believeth unto righteousness." This believing in the heart is faith, a faith that will produce the works that are an evidence that our faith is real and alive.
We have now completed our lip-service to the concept that salvation is by faith, so we can now get to the part about works.
(We all know that the real point is works, and when we say "works," we mean "dressing in specific cultural ways.") (Also, showing up to all the church events.)
Erma says that she has faith in God, but she is a very deceitful girl. Her friends never know when to believe her. Does Erma really have faith in God? Does she believe that all liars will have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone?
No, she does not believe it, or she would obey the command to "lie not one to another." Her professed faith is dead.
Barbara has cut her hair and arranges it in the modern worldly way. Does she believe God? Is her profession truly genuine if she disobeys the plain teachings in the Word which forbids cutting the hair and arranging it for adornment?
This looks like a fun game! Can I play?
James is a Mennonite minister. He knows that the law says that he should report suspected child abuse to the proper authorities, but instead, he quietly handles it with a few brethren from the church. Is he a true man of God, if he refuses to obey Scripture's clear teachings regarding obedience to the rulers that God has ordained in the country?
Frank is a bishop who expects his word to be unquestioned law. He rules the church with an iron hand. Is he truly a follower of the One who said, "The princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you"?
Paul is a deacon who recently preached a sermon on "Doing Things Decently and In Order." In it, he criticized Pentecostals and other groups for their emotional displays of worship. Does Paul truly believe the Word of God which commands men to "pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands?" (We know that Paul knows the verse is there, because it's right next to the one about women not adorning themselves with gold and stuff.)
Samuel is the owner of a bulk food store. He employs a number of single Mennonite girls and young ladies, whose parents will not allow them to work in a non-Christian environment. Samuel ignores labor laws, and expects the girls to eat lunch on their feet, while they work, despite laws requiring him to give them breaks. He also pays them as little as possible, because he knows they have no other options. Samuel's business is financially prosperous as a result. Is Samuel a true child of God? Does he truly "love his neighbor as himself?"
You see, boys and girls, taking the Bible seriously, and "believing and obeying the Word of God" means that we obey the parts about clothes, and hair, and anything that restricts women, because we know they are the most important parts.
And while we're at it, let's put a plug in for anti-intellectualism.
Nancy is just too "intellectual" to believe everything the Bible says, just as it says it. She must study things through and know what and how and why. What she cannot reason out, she finds hard to believe.
Nancy's "intelligence" is nothing more than unbelief, a tool of the enemy to destroy a beautiful faith in God.
There's no room for logical thinking here, folks!
Anyone who asks questions, or says, "Wait a minute! I don't think that verse means what you say it means" is dangerous! They only want to cause trouble. The best solution is to plug your ears and sing until they go away.
Never mind the verse about the noble Bereans who "searched the Scriptures daily whether those things were so." ("Those things" they were wondering about were obviously the head covering and no jewelry.)
When conservative Mennonites tell you that they "believe and practice the Word of God," you must understand that they are talking about following Biblical directives on a handful of specific things, and everything else is up for grabs.
Until next time!
To read the next post in the series, click here.