Sanctified and Seperated Seclusion

amishThere are constant warnings in fundamentalism not to get too close to the world and worldly people. The idea seems to be that sinners will always cause Christians to sin rather than Christians making sinners more holy. For this reason, fundamentalists organize their own schools, sports teams, drama clubs, and social activities lest being in proximity to the unrighteous somehow should soil them. It would seem that sanctification is a very fragile thing indeed that only requires the tiniest of temptations to crumble completely.

This so called “doctrine of separation” has created many illustrations that are familiar to any fundamentalist. Stories of the clean glass and the dirty glass, the canary that learns to sing like the crow, and the drop of poison in the good food are repeated over and over. Evil always triumphs over good. It’s a wonder that anybody ever manages to stay pure.

How exactly we are to be salt and light in the world if we never actually spend any time in the world is unclear. Evidently, Christians are supposed to go out like hunting parties (always two by two, never alone!), club the nearest sinner and drag them back into the haven of the church. After all, that’s what Jesus did. He never spent time with sinners.

If you think that the Amish have the right idea about how to deal with the temptations of the world, then you may very well be a fundamentalist.

31 thoughts on “Sanctified and Seperated Seclusion”

  1. I thought these same things when i watched “The Village”. Oops, I watched a movie… to turn in my fundie membership.

  2. Ah yes, the good old fallacy that sin is outside us, and if we just separate from “the world,” we will be safe.

  3. “Oops, I watched a movie… to turn in my fundie membership.”

    Depending on the variety of fundamentalism you’re in, that would depend on WHERE you saw the movie. If you saw it at the theater, that’s a big no-no, but if you waited six months and rented it at Blockbuster, that’s perfectly ok. Never did understand the logic of that one.

  4. Amanda – “If you saw it at the theater, that’s a big no-no, but if you waited six months and rented it at Blockbuster, that’s perfectly ok. Never did understand the logic of that one.”

    The logic is that someone might see you going in or coming out and not know that you were there for the “PG” and think you were watching some National Lampoon movie.

    Same goes for a when you get the town’s best fish and chips at a pub – they might see you and assume you were drinking alcohol (gasp!).

    It could cause them to “stumble” or it could tarnish your “testimony”. Check out this sight’s posting on “the weaker brother” for better understanding.

    Happy Easter (oh yeah, you can’t call it that…gotta be Reserrection Day or nothing at all!) to everyone

    -from another former fundie

  5. I know, I’ve heard the arguments more times than I can count. However, to be consistent, that would also mean you can’t shop at Walmart (who’s to know you bought a gallon of milk instead of some dirty movie) or the grocery store (where they also sell movies). Frankly, I’ve never seen someone take it to that extreme.

  6. I never understood that line of reasoning either… It’s not OK to go to a movie theater because someone might think you were watching an R-rated movie, but it’s OK to own a TV, DVD player, computer, etc. How do people know you’re not performing the much more likely action of viewing porn on all of your home electronic devices?

    The tragic thing is that all of this stems from a misunderstanding of what Paul wrote to the Thessalonians about abstaining from the “appearance” of evil. Victims of their steadfast choice of Bible versions, they don’t understand that “appearance” means “form” in this case.

  7. Hey, a little respect for the Amish!

    Seriously, the Amish lifestyle is one of the most misunderstood and caricatured things out there. . .my own Amish friends were not at all separate from the world. They chose to stay away from activities that they deemed unholy, but I would not at all have characterized them as fundamentalist.

    What most people don’t know is that the Amish avoidance of cars, telephones, electricity, etc. has (according to friends’ explanation) far more to do with DEPENDENCE on the world than CONTAMINATION by it. In other words, they chose to live “off the grid” before that phrase was developed by the greens, in order to be reliant on their community of faith and not on the world that might demand they compromise their ethics.

    The telephone is actually an interesting illustration of the point: Amish may use telephones, but if they have one, it’s in a shack at the end of the driveway, not in their house. That way they use it on their terms–it doesn’t invade the sanctity of their home. Ya know, they have a point. . .of course, I haven’t lived in Lancaster Co. for 25 years so I don’t know what they have done with cellular technology, etc. My information is old. . .but at least I don’t mock a group I don’t understand in order to make a point.

    I absolutely agree with you that salt doesn’t accomplish a thing if it never leaves the salt shaker. Your overall point is good; I just take issue with the illustration & tag line.



    1. Dan,

      I have many Amish and Mennonite relatives in the Delaware and Ohio communities. Believe me when I say I meant no disrespect.

      What I was referring to was the common stereotype about the Amish, not the reality of how they live. I’m well aware of the discrepancies. Chalk it up to quickly written humor trumping nuance.

      I appreciate your thoughts.

      1. I have relatives in the Ohio Amish communities as well. My grandparents were Amish for a time and ended up leaving. We could be related…lol 🙂

  8. Should Christians use the Internet? After all, there is a lot of Pornography out there, and how can you prove you weren’t viewing a triple-XXX site? Or go to the library? after all, there are “dirty” books there and even the “Religious Section” is Devil-inspired because none of the books agree with pure Fundamentalist doctrine. The list goes on and on and on and on…….

  9. The fundy churches I went to always made a point to separate themselves from their stereotyped idea of how the Amish live. It was something along the lines of “Well, we do believe in separation, but not isolation like the Amish!”

    Yes, we don’t believe in isolation, just that you should never come in contact with The World. 😆

    1. Of course, the Amish don’t go door-banging soul winning either…gotta notch those belts and keep the website ticker spinning

    1. It’s not really a good thing, and it’s getting pretty hard to find religiously affiliated schools with denominations other than Baptist or Catholic most of the places I go.

    2. not all public schools are the wild, worldly indoctrination centers that get reported in news articles that have an agenda. Just remember that the news is always biased and is reporting from someone’s chosen worldview.

      It is our job as parents to be involved with our children’s education. The indoctrination that takes place in some Christian schools is worse than anything they will face in the local public school. So it is our responsibility as parents to be involved and know3 what is going on. I was once one of those parents that thought Christian School was the panacea for worldly influence and after thousands and thousands of dollars I realized that I had sacrificed my childrens education on the altar of “Christian Schooling.” I also realized that that Christian School was just as worldly in practice as any public school. I found out that that public school offered a greater educational experience for the tax dollars I was already paying and the school was not a hive of sexual activity, druge dealers and atheists. As the man says your mileage may vary.

      1. The “some Christian schools” you are talking about are IFB schools. I do not recommend them.

        I believe that homeschooling is best, much better than leaving your children with others for most of the day. So I agree that parents should be responsible for their children’s education. But private Christian schooling is the next best alternative to public school. RobM is wrong. Christian school, and private school in general, is much superior to public school. Mabye RobM actually wants kids to be taught “its ok to be gay.”

        All reading this should watch the videos at Citizenlink.

        1. I believe ‘Christian’ schools directly violate Christ’s command to be in the world.

        2. I was home schooled. I generally counsel people to only consider it as a last resort. It was impossible for my mother to be a mom and a teacher – and I quickly outstripped her knowledge base. I regret my experience, and don’t generally recommend the practice.

        3. boymom, do you know what you are saying? We’re talking about children, not adults here. Young children cannot be missionaries in schools. When children are at a public school, Christian parents have not control over what is being taught there. Young children cannot be expected to be discerning enough to know when the teacher is speaking falsehood. Watch the video I linked to. Also watch this one:

          The risk of pedophiles being in public schools is as high, if not higher, than religious schools. See the following:

          Being in the world does not mean trusting your children’s education to others, least of all non-Christians and the state. The Bible tells parents to train up their children. Read what Doug Kutilek wrote on the topic:

        4. Christian school, and private school in general, is much superior to public school.

          That is a generalization that I completely disagree with. The public school that my daughter is now in is far superior to any of the local “Christian” schools.
          Like I said parents need to be involved and informed.

        5. ahhh, you lost major cred points when linking to

          The stuff on there is majorly tainted with legalism and fundie crap. Sorry but I used to live in and around those websites and the bias is greater than the information you may find there. If it works for you and your family that’s great but I’ll pass.

        6. I have to agree with Don on the generalization issue. My Fundy High during my high school years had an excellent English Grammar teacher, and a good history teacher. The math teacher was a great guy, but not as a math teacher. My math skills, nominal at best, greatly suffered. I had no foreign language options, or any other electives to speak of.

          Although, had I gone to public school, I would have missed years of Jack Hyles “sermons” in chapel, I may have never heard Garlock’s “A Big Beat A Rock Blast” presentation, and I might not have learned just how holy my list of rules made me.

  10. I know what I’m saying. I went to public school and do not become an indoctrinated drone. Your fears show a lack of faith in God to keep and protect. As for pedophiles, they are wherever sinners are, which is everywhere. Including ‘Christian’ indoctrination centers, aka schools.

  11. We homeschooled our 3 kids. Two much more successfully than the third. Had we lived the next county to the southwest, we likely would have sent them to the public school. Now that they are out of school, there are several quality, non fundy Christian school choices. The kind my Fundy High would have called “not really Christian” because they don’t burden the students with a lot of Pharisaical rules. But they do have good academics taught from, as best as I can tell, a Christ centered world view. Not Fundy centered. They are non-denominational, and not “ministries” of a particular church.

    Homeschooling isn’t the best choice for all. There isn’t a single correct answer for everyone. The major factor in any child’s education is parental involvement.

    1. I think you’ve summed it up well, Uncle Wilver: “There isn’t a single correct answer for everyone.”

      While I have my preferences and ideas for how I want my children to be educated in the future, I don’t think only one way must be used. The important thing is for the parents to instill their values in the children and teach them to weight the facts on any subject.

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