The Priceless Privilege (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of a series. Here's Part 1, if you're just joining us.

So Rosemary, our confused protagonist, is desperately looking for answers. Is there a true church someplace that both follows the Bible by wearing the right clothes, and also obeys the Bible by not fighting and bickering?

She doesn't believe that's possible.

Fortunately, help is on the way, in the form of Menno Kropf and his wife Marie. Rosemary works for them, and their home is a happy one, unlike her own.

Meals in the Kropf home were spiced with lively conversation. "I saw Dan in town this morning, Marie," Menno began, spooning mashed potatoes into little Larry's mouth.

"Dan? Dan Smith?"

"Yes, Oscar's son. Marie, you'd hardly know the boy. He had a hippie hairdo and was puffing away on a cigarette. I smelled liquor on him, too." Menno's lean face was drawn with concern.

This is like a checklist of BAD.

  • Hippy hairdo
  • Smoking
  • Drinking
  • Watching TV
  • Listening to the radio
  • Driving a two-tone vehicle
  • Not wearing a plain hat

OK, the story doesn't list all of them, but they would have if the author could have figured out how mention them.
I love how the "spicy, lively conversation" in the home is discussing the failings of others. (Of course, since his face is lined with concern, it's all cool. It just goes to show how spiritual he truly is.

"Oh, poor Dan. And poor Oscars-- how must they feel?

Menno shook his head. "If only they had seen it earlier. Marie, do you remember what happened soon after we were married?"

"You mean the time you were helping Oscar build his broiler house?"

"Yes. Dan was sixteen at the time. One day, I heard him singing a strange song," Menno went on, turning to Rosemary. "I recognized it as the same nonsense I had heard at a filling station. Now where was our minister's son picking up such a song?"

I dunno. I'm gonna guess maybe he heard it at a filling station?

Menno took a bite of bread and went on. "A day or two later when Oscar and I were alone I asked him kindly where his boy was under the influence of a radio. I explained why I wondered about it. You see, there was another man working with us who was not a Christian and he would surely recognize such songs. It was a poor testimony, to say the least."

Am I the only person who finds the "poor testimony" line of reasoning incredibly tiresome?

It's like "the world" is a monolithic entity, and "they all know" what we're supposed to be doing and not doing. And if "we disappoint them," they will die and go to hell, and it will be our fault.

But the logic is only used sporadically, and promptly forgotten when it is convenient.

Rosemary listened with interest, her fork poised in midair above her plate.

This illustrates one of the sad side effects of taking a stand against Netflix.

Menno's story is mildly interesting, yet Rosemary is transfixed by the unfolding plot.

I firmly believe that 90% of the problems in these churches is because they are so bored that they have to create their own drama,so that even someone whistling a "radio song" is enough to stop people from eating from pure fascination.

Yet they mock "worldly women" who get caught up in soap operas that "have no basis in reality."

If conservative churches would allow Netflix, church drama would dramatically decline for a month or so, because people would have something else to worry about.

The tension would then increase dramatically for a few months, as members realized that their ministers were basically living out a religious version of House of Cards.

After the smoke cleared from dealing with that issue, things would even out considerably. And people would be amazed at how awesome it feels to just be chill about stuff that doesn't matter.

(We can dream, can't we?)

"Oscar didn't know where Dan was hearing the radio," Menno continued. "He said they had a radio in the car, but it was supposed to be disconnected. Then he said, "Dan is young yet. He thinks he's smart, but he'll grow up one of these times and behave himself."

"I was shocked at his reasoning, so I dropped the subject. Later I learned that Dan's grandfather, too, had the idea that all boys must go over fool's hill. It wasn't long till everyone knew that Dan was smoking. We could see that he had no peace and was fast slipping away. Now.... we see where he is, out in the world and deep in sin."

"I guess we will never know what might have been," Marie remarked quietly, "if Dan's father and the church had disciplined him in true love."

 ---(I'm skipping some of the discourse, because it's more of the same- the church needs to excommunicate bad people so that it isn't corrupted, etc)---

"Of course, if Dan's parents had faithfully done their part early enough, probably no church discipline would have been necessary," Menno stated. "If only they had realized that no one will ever "grow out of sin." Being born again, becoming a new creature in Christ Jesus, is the only answer. We must pray for Dan that the Lord will yet lead him to repentance."

Now pay close attention to this paragraph, because there is a lot going on here, and the inconsistency is going to become manifest later.

Of course, excommunication applies to smoking, drinking, radio-listening, and hippie hairdos, but not so much to physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.

So here we see parents criticized for not taking appropriate action with their children. If they do, the church won't have to. I agree with this idea. Parents should definitely take the primary responsibility for what their children are doing.

One of the primary issues in conservatism is the desire of parents to outsource parenting to the church. Almost anybody who has been part of a ConMen church can tell you a story about how parents tried to get the church to pass a rule so that they could use it to control their children.

I would commend the author for taking this stand, if it wasn't for what comes later in the same chapter.

But before we talk about that, let's talk about Dan. Why is this guy part of the church? Menno says that he needs the New Birth? But doesn't that indicate that Dan wasn't a Christian when he joined the church? Or maybe he was and backslid or something.

This is a common problem in these churches. They pressure 10 and 12 year-olds to "make a commitment," and then baptize them, and get them to promise, along with baptism, to keep the church rules forever and ever, and then, when the kids hit adolescence and their teen years, the church uses those childhood promises as a handle to control them, and try to keep them in line. It's perverse.

So Rosemary walks around thinking and troubled, and gets into a conversation with Menno's wife, Marie.

"There are so many things I don't understand, Marie."

"I don't understand it all, either." Marie's eyes were warm. "What did you have in mind?"

"Well, there are so many things wrong with our congregation. We might as well be in a real liberal church," Rosemary said frankly. "We have so much more trouble and disunity than we had when we were in a liberal church, don't we? Of course, I was only ten when we made the change. That was ten years ago; I might have forgotten what the church was really like."

Now this is one of the things that makes me spitting-nails angry about this book, and it will come up again and again throughout this series.

The author pretends to be really facing the tough questions head-on. Asking the hard stuff, really digging in deep. The characters again and again seem to be really hitting hard questions and objections to the Mennonite way of life and worldview head-on. But it's a deception.

Again and again, right at the crucial moments, there are sly side-steps, away from the obvious conclusions, and the truly devastating follow-up questions are never asked.

It gives the appearance of logic and reason. And if you were to read this book as a young person, seeking answers, you might even have the illusion that they had been addressed. But it's all smoke and mirrors.

As we move forward, I will identify smoke and mirrors moments, so that you can get a good look at the deception up close. In the process, you can learn to spot it in other interactions you have with these kinds of people, who use what Ephesians refers to as the "sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive."

In this example, Rosemary makes a bold statement, phrased as a question: A liberal church would be better, in terms of more peaceful, than their current conservative church.

Now this appears to be a willingness to actually address the dysfunction that exists in so many ConMen churches. But, as soon as the question is out of her mouth, Rosemary walks it back. Well, she doesn't ACTUALLY know that, because she was young, and maybe it was actually pretty bad there, too.

The author continues this subterfuge in Marie's response.

"I think you are partially right," Marie spoke thoughtfully. "Pinecliff has so much bickering and discord. It is hard to see how such things can be in a body of born-again believers."

So now Marie appears to be considering Rosemary's question honestly, and agreeing that bitter, snarky, angry conservatism is no better than worldly liberalism. And then, she immediately walks it back with some bold assertions, and redefinitions of words.

"But there was no true unity in the other church, either, Rosemary. Worldliness and carnality divided the church. The difference is that in the other church, most people were content to overlook sin and just let things drift along. That didn't make much trouble as far as getting along with each other was concerned, but it was not true unity, either."

This is 1984/Animal Farm/George Orwellian level stuff.

Rosemary is specifically talking about the bickering and fighting at Pinecliff.

Marie deftly steers the conversation with the use of the Mennonite god term "unity." (If you are not familiar with god terms, you can read about the concept here, here, and here.)

She tells Rosemary that she is actually wrong, because it only looked as though the other church had Unity. It wasn't truly real actual Unity.

She even concedes that the members didn't have much trouble, "as far as getting along was concerned," but proceeds to insist that that does not mean True Unity.

This is a classic side-step that appears to answer the question, but actually avoids it by redefining terms, and pretending that there was no question to begin with.

After all, even if the other church does not have True Unity, they are still in the same position as Pinecliff, which also lacks True Unity, or unity of any kind. Yet, somehow, Pinecliff is seen as better to the "worldly church," because in this twisted world-view bickering and fighting and name-calling is actually closer to True Unity than getting along.

No wonder there exists such perversion in these churches. Words don't even mean what they mean.

Rosemary guided the iron smoothly over a green dress.
"I remember hearing Brother Alvin say that the fellowship churches left conference so they could keep purity and truth," she put in. "But then, why are we in the shape that we're in?"

"Menno says it's because we are failing to keep purity and truth," Marie replied. "Just like Dan Smith-- he was allowed to bring known sin into the church, and it was not taken care of. You know the other problems we have right now that are not being dealt with-- Roy Keller, for one. Brother Oscar's bitter attitude for another. When there are people in the church who have not truly repented of sin, there are always problems."

Wait, wait, hold it!

Let's look at this a piece at a time, because there is a serious shell game going on here.

1) The fellowship churches left the conferences so that they could do Thing A (Keep purity and truth)
2) By Menno's own admission, the fellowship church they are part of is NOT doing Thing A. HE SAYS SO HIMSELF!
3) Yet, everyone persists in concluding that somehow this fellowship church is superior to a liberal church, EVEN THOUGH, by their own admission, there isn't bickering at the other church.
4) The stated reason for the lack of bickering at the liberal church is because they let sin go.
5) But in her next breath, Marie admits that the fellowship church is letting sin go.

"Then how are we any better off than if we'd still be in the church we left?" Rosemary pressed her point home. "Or in any worldly church?"

Great question, Rosemary! I'm sure that Marie will finally explain the answer for us. There must be one, because, after all, the superiority of the conservative churches is axiomatic.

"If sin is not dealt with, there is not much difference. But in any church setup, Rosemary, each member is influenced by whatever the whole ministerial body decides to overlook," Marie explained slowly. "As long as everyone is spiritual, fine. But when sin is let go in one congregation, the members in a more spiritual congregation can't do much about it as long as they continue to have fellowship with them. Yet they are still influenced by the carnality in the other church, and still have fellowship with the members who are living in sin. It is an unequal yoke, Marie."

So... we just admitted there wasn't much difference, but then we did a quick pivot to an explanation of why fellowship churches are good, and conference churches are bad.

Because if other churches in the conference let sin go, your church will be forced to ignore it, and it is an unequal yoke.

Meanwhile, Marie completely ignores the fact that she is in just such an "unequal yoke" because sin is going unaddressed in her own church.​​​​

She has yet to explain how her sin-tolerating, unequally-yoked fellowship church is better than the unequally-yoked, sin-tolerating conference churches, despite the fact that the fellowships are fighting and bickering and the conference churches aren't.

(A reviewer pointed out to me that this dysfunctional behavior is triangulation, as described in this thoughtful article on dysfunctional relationships. Understanding the concept of triangulation explains so much about conservatism.)

Instead, she tells this scintillating story, as proof of the manifest evil of the conference churches.

"I remember when I was in my teens, the girls in our particular congregation all wore cape dresses. That was the conference standard for all the churches. But the girls our age in all the other congregations wore capeless dresses, and the trend soon came into our church, too. My mother protested when my sister and I left off our capes, but we could combat her protests very well. All we had to say was, 'But, Mother, none of the girls in the other churches wear them; not even the bishop's girls do,' and what more could she say?"

I know a fun game. Let's make a list of five things more that Mother could have said. Ready?

Mother could have said:

  • You are still my daughters in my house, and I expect you to dress according to our family rules.
  • The conference standard is to wear capes, and you agreed to wear them, and I expect you to keep your word.
  • What does what the bishop's daughters wear have to do with anything? You know what you should do.
  • What is your conscience telling you?
  • Looking at others to decide what is right and wrong is not safe, even if it is the bishop's family. 

I am sure that my astute readers can think of many other things Mother could have said. My mother would have said, "I don't care if every woman in the conference is wearing a capeless dress, even if it's the bishop's wife, or his Aunt Tilly! You're not the bishop's daughter. You're mine! And if you live in our home, you're going to follow our rules."

And that would have been that.

But instead, Mother (and presumably Father) abdicate their parental roles and authority to the church, and wring their hands about how nothing can be done about The Drift.

What's seeing-red infuriating about this passage is that Oscar was just criticized for his lack of leadership in the home. We heard just a few paragraphs ago how parents doing their job keep problems from becoming church issues.

And now, suddenly, dumb-founded parents, who are unable to act when the church won't, is shown to be an expected thing.

This is double-tongued serpent speech!

"And you got by without wearing cape dresses then?"

"I'm sorry to say we did. But my conscience wasn't as easily silenced as Mother was, and the Lord soon brought me back to a better standard of modesty," Marie concluded humbly.

Wait! Hold on a second! Hold your horses! Stop the presses! Wait a minute! WHOA!!

According to Marie's OWN testimony, despite the fact that A) everyone, including the bishop's daughters was doing something, B) the church was doing nothing to enforce it, and C) Mother was powerless to prevent it, SOMEHOW Marie went back to wearing cape dresses, because (her words, not mine) The Lord... brought her back to a better standard of modesty."

So somehow, without the help of coercion, or pressure, or even peer pressure, or rules, GOD WAS ABLE TO LEAD MARIE THROUGH HER CONSCIENCE. What a shocking thought!

Which leaves us with the obvious unanswered question- If God is able to guide people through their conscience to do what is right, in spite of what everyone else is doing, why not just let Him do His job, and cut out the middle-man?

This is a concept which will never come up in this book, I assure you.

Instead, Marie's job is to go find a church to make her do what God was having her do anyhow, because somehow that pleases God more. Because, of course, reasons!

"Menno says no church should be yoked together with any person or group whose influence cannot be controlled, or cut off, if necessary, by the discipline or counsel of that church."

So it's basically like individualism, except when a church is doing it together, that makes it fine. I guess. This is, of course, a plug for the "fellowship" model of churches, which had no hierarchical structure of any kind. It was pure coincidence that the same three guys made all the decisions, I assure you.

The chapter ends with an invitation to go visit the little congregation in Hope Valley, which might just have the answers for Rosemary.

"Maybe--just maybe, Hope Valley can supply some answers to my questions," Rosemary mumured to herself. "Maybe, after all, that would be better than turning to a liberal church. You wouldn't really want to turn back to worldliness--you know that, Rosemary Witmer."

And so, we reiterate again, conflict and strife is bad, and if you can find a church that doesn't have it, that's cool a blessing. But a fighting conservative church is still better than a peaceful liberal church, even though even Marie admits that in a liberal church you can follow your own conscience anyway.

Next time, we'll talk about the "Promised Land" of Hope Valley, and the evils of youth socials! Talk soon!

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11 thoughts on “The Priceless Privilege (Part 2)

  1. Shirley says:

    This is an allegory about what I see happening with conservatism and this blog.
    A very long time ago there was a group of people who learned that mixing minerals from the ground and putting it into food and creams helped keep them healthy. Soon some people who were brilliant at doing this built a factory and made it possible to distribute in easy to use format saving many from the work of doing it themselves. Through the years it became a family enterprise and they soon found many ways to create products other than for health. Soon there started competition among them and each family attempted to control the market. As a result others attempted to build their own factories and soon health became less of an issue and other products that people liked -because they it saved them time and effort to do themselves were being created. Eventually many people began to have health issues . The factory owners by now had condensed a lot of the health products into one simple pill and said “this should work” However the pill began to have side effects that weren’t immediately visible but affected their children. The factory owners then required everyone to take the pill before they were able to obtain any of the other products. Soon people began to realize that other things they bought from the factories were not of the same caliber as before. So many who worked fro those companies again attempted to start their own but using the same process and chemicals. Then one day someone came along who had worked for one of these companies. No one knew who this person was but suddenly products were available to test the pills ingredients. People could use the testing system and on taking apart the pill could identify what was making them sick.They could also test the products in their homes to check what might be making them sick. and everyone was rejoicing that one person was able to create the testing system so they could stay healthy.

    • By Thy Words says:

      I really like your allegory.

      Some people like a lot of the ingredients in the “conservative pills.” And that’s OK.

      But they should at least be able to remove the parts that are making people sick.

  2. a concerned reader says:

    Dear writer, have you considered how that your attitudes towards the church and it’s standards may be because of a rebellion in your heart? Have you searched your heart to look for a beam in your own eye before casting judgement on those who are still faithful members and see eternal importance to keep the faith by living with conservative values?

    • By Thy Words says:

      You’re kidding, right?

      Passive aggressive concern doesn’t work on me anymore.

      You insinuate that I must be rebellious, because I have issues with spiritual abuse disguised as “standards for my own good.”

      You suggest that I must have a beam in my own eye, because I am criticizing abusive power structures that cover for abusers, and afflict the victims.

      I’m trying to decide if you are actually serious, or if you are just trying to wind me up.

      I have many friends who are still Plain, and I have no quarrels with anyone who wants to live that way of their own free will. There are a lot of valuable parts to the culture.

      But when there is deceitful “logic,” double-dealing, and dishonesty like I demonstrated in this post, I have no time for it. And I’m calling it out.

      It’s abusive, and it’s under the condemnation of God.

      If you have issues with what I’m saying, then let’s discuss where I’m wrong. With logic.

      If you’re sore because I’m criticizing standards that are abusively enforced, and the corrupt system that they prop up, we’re probably not going to get anywhere.

      If you think I’m wrong, read this article and the others on the site and SHOW ME WHERE I WENT WRONG.

      Do it without threats of damnation for daring to disagree with the preachers. Do it without insinuations that I have bad character. Just interact with the facts and ideas.

      Let’s have a discussion, and if you show me where I’m wrong, I’ll publicly recant.

      But if you’re wrong, then you have some serious thinking to do about the next steps.

      Think about it.

      I’m here if you want to publicly discuss where I’m wrong.

      • Jeremiah says:

        This is a excellent response to that comment. I was just thinking the other day, Why do ppl put there concerns into questions like that? “Have you considered this” or “Is that what we want”, type of questions. It such a indirect method of asserting their opinions. As far as rebellion against the church. That is absolutely fine to harbor rebellion when there is notorious spiritual misconception being distributed like the above story.
        I hope that concerned reader is concerned about the right things. But I doubt it.

  3. a concerned reader says:

    Dear writer, yes you can use big words to scare those who may not have a great deal of education, but the truth stands on it’s own!! Should we not have a simple faith that dos not need big words to distract from those things that matter most? How are you making things better by writing against the church? I do not say that you have a bad character but many people are easily led astray and have wrong ideas. You say “call it out” with what you think is bad, but when I “call it out” with your writings you take my questions and twist them into saying I am sore and give threats about damnation when I did not say those thing? Why is it ok for you to twist my words and say all that about me when I just ask questions but then you think you are right? Please give careful thought to what you are doing here. Have you been in prayer about these concerns before you start making articles and put them on this internet webpage?

    • By Thy Words says:

      You haven’t called out anything in my writings, except to insinuate that I have rebellion in my heart, and a beam in my own eye.

      You have yet to address anything that I have said. If you are willing to do that, then we can talk.

      I agree that truth stands on its own, which is why you should not be bothered by what I am saying. After all, if I am in error, truth should be able to set me straight.

      You seem not to understand what “calling something out” is.

      In this article, I explained clearly WHAT is being taught, and WHY that teaching is wrong.

      You haven’t done that with my writing.

      You haven’t called me out. You’ve just indirectly accused me of rebellion and having a beam in my eye.

      And please do not pretend you are “just asking questions.” If that is the case, then I will answer them, and you should be satisfied with my response. (But I have seen too often that “just asking questions” is a way of making veiled accusations.)

      Yes, for years I thought that I had issues with the church because something was wrong with me. But I eventually discovered through prayer and study and sharing with good friends, that the problem wasn’t with me. So no, there’s no rebellion in my heart. Secondly, I have diligently sought for a beam in my own eye, and when I found it, I cast it out, as our Lord said to do. Now I can see clearly to take care of the mote in their eye.

      Also, I have prayed and sought counsel from others, and I feel that this is the work God has laid on my heart. I believe in praying, but I also believe in doing something about it. As James says, “Faith without works is dead.”

      I hope this answers your questions. Have a blessed day.

  4. a concerned reader says:

    Dear writer, to share some exact things about your writings to “call out” please think about these things from your article. Do you not share any concern for how that wearing hair in worldly ways inspired by drugs and loose living as well as smoking and drinking will affect the life of a Christian? The checklist you give will make it appear that you are not troubled by such things. And should not parents be concerned for the souls of their wayward children? If a minister is not ruling his family well, is that not a concern for the congregation to show care about? Surely parents having respect for church authorities and submitting themselves is not wrong? Is making it sound as though watching worldly television is like discussing concerns about brothers in the church an unequal comparison? Just because a church is not experiencing unity because of unrepented sin surely doesn’t mean that they should abandon scriptural principles!! Also, should a church never come out from among a larger conference if it is going off the rail? Hopefully these things mentioned from your writing will be food for thought. Having a church where strife ceases and peace reigns is truly such a blessing. Does your writing help people to find such a place of refuge in a church that follows Scriptural principals? I did not say that you should refrain to share your concerns in any way and do see how that things you write about can be problems in the church. Is there a way to do this without making a mockery of the practices of those who seek to live a holy life? We do need to seek truth and I can appreciate your desire for that.

  5. By Thy Words says:

    Excellent! Now we can have an actual discussion.

    I think it’s clear that the way that Oscar’s son Dan is living is not a good path. I certainly do not condone drinking, smoking, using drugs, or the sexual promiscuity that often goes with that lifestyle.

    The checklist I gave was making a point about the way the writer writes. I was showing how the list of Bad Things Dan was doing read like a “List of Bad,” as I put it. Most, not all, of the things on that list are things that should be avoided by Christians.

    Parents absolutely should be concerned about their wayward children, and the Bible clearly teaches that ministers should have their households in subjection with all gravity. Ministers who cannot rule their own household are unlikely to lead the church well. Paul says exactly that, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

    The point I was making was the Marie’s mother allowed her daughter to go against the church standards, and that was viewed as expected, because the rest of the church girls weren’t obeying the rules. It’s unfair to criticize Oscar without also criticizing Marie’s parents. They are both to blame.

    As far as supporting the church rules goes, I don’t believe in being a troublemaker in the church. I have no problem with a parent expecting their children to follow the rules. (That’s my criticism of Marie’s mother. She expected the church to do what she as a parent should have done.)

    If the standard practice is to do something a certain way, you should not make a big fuss, or make trouble. If you can’t do it for whatever reason, you should find someplace else to go. Unfortunately, people who do that are often “put through the wringer” by the church, and told that they are straying from God, or going to Hell, just because they are trying to find a place that they can better agree with the rules. (I am talking here about extra-biblical rules.)

    As far as discussing concerns about brothers in the church goes, there is a place for that at times. But most of the time, in my experience, and the experience of many others, it is a result of people not minding their own business. It is especially a problem because many of the same churches who meet to discuss concerns about a member’s car or truck or business practices will turn a blind eye to emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. I have heard many first-hand accounts of this very thing.

    If a church was not experiencing unity because of unrepented sin, and they are not dealing with it, they have ALREADY abandoned scriptural principles. That was my point. They were no different than the conference they had left. They were also disobeying the teachings of the Bible. Unfortunately, they believe that Bible teachings on outward appearance are more important than Bible teachings on dealing with sin.

    I have no issues with a church leaving a conference for any reason at all. But, if they are going to leave, and claim to be better than where they left, then they should be actually living differently. The church at Pinecliff was not living according to Scripture any more than the conference that they left. That was my point.

    You said, “Having a church where strife ceases and peace reigns is truly such a blessing.” I completely agree. But sadly, there are very few conservative Anabaptist churches that have this peace. There is much bickering and fighting and disputing. And often after one group splits, it isn’t long before they split again. This violates Scripture even more than not wearing a cape dress does.

    You asked, “Does your writing help people to find such a place of refuge in a church that follows Scriptural principals?” I have heard from dozens of people who have told me that my writing has helped them to heal from years of confusion and turmoil, because of the spiritual abuse that they have suffered. I sincerely hope that my writing is able to point them to the Truth that is in Jesus Christ, our Lord.

    You asked, “Is there a way to do this without making a mockery of the practices of those who seek to live a holy life?” There is a lot going on in your question, and I don’t feel inclined at this point to dissect all your terms. Suffice it to say that I believe in living a holy life before God. I believe that you can live a holy life without needing the church to force you to do it. Marie is an example of this. She felt that God wanted her to wear a cape dress, even though the church wasn’t making her do it.

    I believe if someone’s conscience is leading them to wear a cape dress, or suspenders, or anything else, and they feel that it is the best way for them to honor God, that we should respect that. I do not believe that they should try to force that idea on other people. I believe we can trust God to work in people’s hearts.

    To the best of my knowledge, with God as my witness, I have not mocked sincere people who are following traditional practices out of a heart of love for God. I bless them in that. May God find their service acceptable to Him.

    What I do attack is people who are dishonest with the truth, and try to force people to do things by using dishonesty, trickery, and emotional manipulation. Those people are preying on the weak, and they need to be resisted, just as Paul resisted the Judaizers who tried to bring the early church into bondage to their pet ideas.

    Thank you so much for responding and engaging. I truly appreciate it. This is how we can learn from one another.

    If you would like to discuss this further, you are always welcome here. We may not always agree (probably won’t) but I pledge to respect you as long as you respect me and the other readers of this blog.

    Whatever church you find yourself in, if you are honestly serving God to the best of your ability, I bless you in it, and I pray that God finds your service to Him acceptable.

  6. a concerned reader says:

    Dear writer, I can see some of what you are saying and do thankyou for writing back and to answer to the questions I had written. It is true that parents should be looking after their children and not leave it to the ministers all of the time. It can make for problems later when the young people are growing up so they do not become adults who can make good choices. And I see how you say not to cause trouble in the church but to give thoughts to leaving if one does not agree. This may be a good way if there is strife. I am sorry if you have not found a church where peace reigns!! There are many concerns to be had in church matters and I think too that sometimes the ministers do not always do things right which can be a dangerous thing to say!! It is good to learn from one another as you say and some times it does seem that we can not learn from one another because there is pride hidden within our heart. I do hope that you will keep on writing the articles so that I can be reading them. It can take quite a bit of courage to write on a webpage like this where all can see but I do want to have courage and not faint by the way. Someone that is my friend who knows a lot about computers today sent on an email pictures from another webpage where people can write in comments too. He said it’s called the face books, and that some on there were saying things about me there and my writing. Some of the pictures on the email did made me sad to read them. It can be quite a challenge to know how to write things and especially since I cannot write as well as some. But I do think that if my writing only will make people to laugh that it may just be best if I do not write here more on your articles. I do not think that I did attack any one with my writings but if I have caused any offenses to you and others than I do ask for your forgiveness.

    • By Thy Words says:

      To be honest, I didn’t expect you to respond to my invitation to discuss this.

      I appreciate your willingness to do that, even if, as you say, writing is difficult for you.

      I want to start by addressing why I posted your comments in the Facebook group.

      Many times, when someone starts out by asking the type of questions that you did, it is because they are trying to insinuate and accuse without actually coming out and saying it. A lot of people in the By Thy Words Facebook group have experienced that, and we all thought that you were taking that approach. But, you say that your intention was not to attack anyone, and I am willing to take you at your word.

      Instead of hitting and running, you stuck around and took my invitation to discuss where you were coming from. I misjudged you, and for that, I am sorry.

      I realize that we probably will disagree on a lot of issues involving church, but I can respect someone who is willing to actually discuss it.

      I welcome you to comment anytime, and I renew my pledge to treat you respectfully, as long as you respect others, as you have so far.

      I do intend to keep writing, and I hope that you keep reading. If you have questions, or don’t agree with or understand something I said, feel free to comment and ask, or if you would like to discuss something privately, email me at (If you email me there, leave a comment that you sent an email, because I hardly ever check that email in that account.

      I pray that as you go through life, that Christ walks with you.

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