Building “Character”

No matter what indignity, embarrassment, or outrage may be afflicted upon the fundamentalist youngster the rejoinder from his elders and betters is always the same: “it builds character.”

What exactly is this character that we build by learning subservience to a vast and ever-growing body of arcane rules? Which virtue springs from self-inflicted penury due to poor educational choices compounded by the greed of a ministry who will not pay an honest wage? What goodness comes with the constant lessons of self-doubt and self-loathing?

The Lord requires that a man do justly, and love mercy, and walk humbly but never that he prostitute his own soul liberty and good sense for the sake of putting another man’s foot upon his neck and calling it “character building.” To be sure, of all of the lessons that fundamentalism teaches perhaps none is greater than this: there is no inherent virtue in being ill-used of others.

Is a capacity for denying grace to one’s self and others truly a measure of Christian character? Perhaps “Christian caricature” would be a term more fitting.

195 thoughts on “Building “Character””

  1. There’s a fine line between building real character through patience, endurance, and strength and becoming a servile drone. Fundamentalism can do the former but often over-stresses mindless rule-following to the point of creating more of the latter.

    But FWIW, I think I’ve only ever heard the admonishment “It builds character” used in jest.

      1. Yeah, I feel for you. I know it’s out there. I probably heard the idea invoked at BJU at some point but have forgotten any specific instance. Fortunately for me, though, when I hear “It build character,” I hear my dad saying it with a smile because he would never say, “Yeah, it sucks, but do it anyway because you have to.” 😀

    1. At the completion of a physical training exercise, an individual is physically improved. e.g. stronger, faster. In the same manner, at the end of a true character building event, the trainee will have improved character, e.g. more confidence, be emotionally stronger in doing good.

      As Darrell has stated, this seems to be missing from Fundyland.

  2. Asceticism: rigorous self-denial and active self-restraint
    IFB Asceticism: rigorous self-denial and active self-restraint that you require of others. aka: Character.

    1. There’s a devastating effect created by someone in a position of spiritual authority telling you that you _must_ gladly suffer the wrong they inflict on you or not be right with God himself.

      It’s one thing to bear trials and burdens.

      It’s quite another thing to have someone piling your load high, beating you with a stick, and then telling you that to you have no legitimate cause to feel ill-used and certainly no recourse to complain about it.

        1. This post also brought tears to my eyes. The fundy world exalts the bully, puts him in a place of authority, rewards him, and on the other hand, beats down the humble. Children learn at a very young age to bully or be bullied in this kind of environment. If they want to be rewarded and given preferential treatment in fundy-land, they must learn to be a bully. Quite the opposite of what God tells us to do in His word. 😥

        2. I was taught how to be a bully at FU. I was put in a position of responsibility to enforce legalism on my fellow students. Thankfully, true grace began to pop its head during that time, and I had mercy on many people (and reasoned with them). Other people that had the same authority I had even reported each other. When it was learned that I didn’t wield the power of ungrace as the Administration would have liked, my term “ended” after that year.

        3. Bullied…maybe even that’s an understatement. It happened on so many different levels coming from so many different levels of people. The general trends were physical bullying (including beatings, being stabbed, broken bones) from my fundy peer group and emotional/spiritual bullying (although sometimes physical as well) from church leadership. There are days that I can’t figure out how I survived it all and still days today I wished I hadn’t. How does one go about undoing it all and starting anew? The damage seems so irreversible and the psychological wounds are still so painful.

        4. @Michael, come walk with us for a while. When you need to vent, then vent. We (and in this I believe I do speak for the readership here at SFL) will be here to love and support you. Many of us are deconstructing our fundy worldviews as well and are rebuilding Biblical worldviews. You’re among friends, brothers and sisters here (as I too have recently been reminded). And that’s a pretty good place to be as you heal. 😎

        1. “Are you weary, Are you heavy laden?
          Then we are doing our job!”
          Love,
          your pastoral staff

      1. @Darrell
        What makes it so frustrating in the IFB is that the requirements are a moving target and you can never achieve the level required to be right with God. (even in the IFB works environment) And it is ever growing, since you are being piled on from multiple directions. When you boil it down, it is works sanctification.
        Then, like you said, there are legitimate trials and burdens we bear. The IFB blurs the line between a legitimate trial and a manufactured one that is solely for the sake of someone else’s idea for your being right with God. 🙄
        Liberty in Christ is sacrificed on the Altar of Character Building.

        1. Exactly. This is the futility of justification by works. It’s a moving target, and always unattainable. Fortunately, the Lord requires (to repeat something that can’t be repeated enough) only that we do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.

        2. Ironically, I learned that verse at Fundy U. I had to walk through a certain floor every half hour to check the computer lab and I memorized that verse that was posted on the wall because it was so beautiful.

        3. the Lord requires only that we do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.
          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

          This verse has come up everywhere for me lately. Seriously, on a daily basis whereas I don’t really recall hearing it much at all before.

          I think God is really working on me in letting go of what I was brought up with and doing what HE commands. I still struggle with the ‘what ifs’ even though I know that it is all a load of doo-doo. Stupid fundyism.

      2. There’s a devastating effect created by someone in a position of spiritual authority telling you that you _must_ gladly suffer the wrong they inflict on you or not be right with God himself.

        And this is the story of how I dropped out of Southern Seminary. It was devastating to my faith in God but in an odd way did wonders for my character. The invective was so absurd, so patently false, so over the top, so undeniably the product of a sick, controlling person that I could no longer make excuses for it and from that moment forward I began to realize that I deserved better than to let myself be treated like that.

    2. Don, that’s a really good way of putting it. There are a lot of words that mean something completely different to people in fundyland. Like, to a normal person, discipline means developing habits that are healthy for me and the people around me, and what those habits are depends on my context. To a fundy, it means matching every detail of my behavior with the prescriptions of religious authorities so I can gain favor in God’s eyes. There are way too many other examples to list. Maybe we should start a comparative glossary.

  3. OK…I am just going to share this absolutely tragic story.
    A 12 year old boy in 6 th grade was being bullied in a well known IFB School. For years the kids would taunt him and no one would do anything about it. He tried to go to his teachers but they would tell him to just put up with it because it would teach him “character.”
    One day he took his dad’s gun and rode his bike to a park and shot himself. Yes, he was 12 and yes he was told that being subjected to constant bullying would build good Christian character in him.
    Just typing this makes me shake with rage.

    1. Even outside of IFBism, I’ve heard far too much protesting of recent legislative efforts against bullying, all because it has been precipitated by gay kids committing suicide. They say it won’t stop all suicides. Who effing cares if it doesn’t stop all suicides? That will never happen! If teachers can at least stop ignoring (or participating!) in bullying, that would be much better! Sorry if I’m incoherent, but this pisses me off! 😥

      1. Teachers who participate and egg on bullying just piss me off. I had a few that did that to me, and they were downright evil.

        I had one time where this kid was spitting in my hair, kicking my chair, calling me all kinds of names, all kinds of nasty stuff…I turned around and told her that she was a and she better and leave me the alone. I got in school suspension, and was forced to apologize to the twat.

        Yes, I still get pissed when I think about it.

    2. Yup, that’s Christian schools for you. Mine was worse… the teachers and staff could also do their share of bullying. I may not have physically killed myself; but there’s an awful lot of my personality that is only now beginning to come back, and some parts that are truly gone.

      AFAIC, when it comes to bullying, Christian schools are pure evil. The kids will naturally bully anyway; but give them a chance to do it and tack on some Scriptures, and it’s devastating. It’s like the bullies get God’s stamp of approval for acting like complete jerks. Then you get the teachers and staff who don’t take it seriously, or just think it’s “fun” and join in, and that’s worse. Add to that the doctrine of “separation” and making sure the target can’t trust anyone on the “outside” enough to go for help, or making sure the target would be shamed for making the church “look bad” if s/he reaches for help outside, and it’s really the perfect system to destroy lives.

      I do not have a child, but you can bet s/he would never see the inside of a Fundy school if I had one. I don’t want my child to suffer like that, and have them think God is OK with it.

      1. Lester Roloff’s video yesterday is a perfect example. He smashes watermelon in some kid’s face, and everyone laughs and thinks it so funny. The kid was laughing on the outside, but my guess is he wasn’t laughing on the inside. If that is what good old Lester was doing in public with camera’s rolling, I shutter to think about what he was doing in private. Being a bully in fundy-land is learned from the top down. It is very rare to find a leader or pastor that they deem successful who is not a bully or misusing his authority.

        1. Yeah, what else could he do in front of the camera? That was a complete side show with hand picked “good” boys. That was a just an infommercial for raising support.

      2. As a former Christian school teacher, I am heartbroken that children experience this in schools that purport to be exalting Christ. Jesus cared for the outcast and the loner, the rejected and the helpless. How DARE they spent all their time attacking the NIV or CCM and overlook students being belittled and tormented?

        @LMcC, you were SO right about how damaging it is to give bullies the supposed “stamp of approval from God” to justify their cruelty. Also you’re right on how “separation” keeps these children from finding any help.

      3. The local public school system has a zero tolerance policy for bullies. It is posted on the doors of the school. Once again, It is the non-Fundy society that has a clear vision of right and wrong. It is the non-Fundy society that leads the way.

        1. So did our local school – didn’t seem too effective. They still need a LOT more work in implementing their policy. The policy is good; the practice of it is sadly lacking.

        2. Zero tolerance, and a police presence on the campus. In the public school, there is recourse to both report and deal with bullying. There is little to none on the Christian school.

      4. Oh, I don’t know. At the Christian school that I went to for a few years (4th through 6th grades), it was the “bad” (less rule-abiding) kids who bullied the “good” (more rule-abiding) kids and who were popular among their peers. Using scripture to “bully” would have been pointless and would have resulted in greater victimization. In that sense, it was just like the public schools I went to. The “good” kids consoled themselves with the knowledge that they were doing the right thing, that the teachers were really on their side, and that God was the ultimate judge.

        1. Oh, if only that’s how it worked for me!

          My school was K-12, and multiple grades were in each class. Worse, at the beginning, all classes took breaks and lunch together. The older kids, who had already been in the school for a while and were often the staff and deacon’s kids, made a beeline for the newbies and made their life a nightmare. I was in fifth grade, but I was a year younger than the others in my class, and small for my age on top of that.

          I never had a chance to get any decent theology that would help me recognize their misuse of Scripture first. I learned the Bully Gospel right off the bat.

      5. I couldn’t agree more. I went to Christian school the whole time and the teachers could be as bad as the students. I remember one time in particular in 7th grade that we had played kick ball outside for 3rd period and then came inside for 4th period and there was a kid in class who was always sort of on the fringe of the group. His parents were divorced and we never knew whether or not he went to church so that didn’t place him in the inner circles because we were raised to shun the bad. I have a ton I could say on that matter but I’ll stick with the story I’m telling. We came in for 4th period history and this kid kind of stunk, well not kind of, he stunk a lot that day so instead of calmly suggesting that we go back outside because it was a pretty day, the teacher, a pastor, publicly called him out by name and made a big deal and told him several times that he stunk and that we were going to have to go back outside because of the smell because he couldn’t stand it. Of course because we were 12 and immature and our teacher gave us a sense that it was okay we all laughed at him. I get sick thinking about it.

        He didn’t come back the next year and I have no idea what happened to him but I am haunted by that day and many other days as well. He was having a rough time and he needed to be shown love, not publicly ridiculed for hygiene issues. A simple talk in the hall would’ve been enough probably, but to publicly ridicule him for his smell with his peers joining in laughing at him because they felt it was okay because you, the adult, was doing it first is unconscionable. I can’t imagine how he felt that day but there was no where in that place that he could be shown love. The Man of God who did it to him probably would have told him it was character building, but I’m sure to him, it was anything but. 😥

        1. and that being said, there was another kid like that in my class that I recently got in touch with via a social networking site and the minute I finished that post I went and sent her a message apologizing for our treatment of her. I wish I could do the same for the kid I mentioned above. I’m glad I got the opportunity to try to put things right with one, but I wish I could do it with all of them. I’ going to keep trying.

        2. Wow. I went to public school for most of my schooling and I could never imagine one of my teachers doing something like that. Our school nurses always made it clear to us –especially during the puberty years– that if we needed anything, all we had to do is come ask and they would help us out discreetly. The nurses office usually had deoderant, feminine supplies, sometimes even changes of clothes, for anyone who needed them.

    3. Anyone who has ever been bullied or is dealing with bullies needs to see this video.
      Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns tells gay teens “it gets better”
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ax96cghOnY4
      I dealt with bullies as a child in both public and Christian schools. Society as a whole did not take it seriously. My parents, teachers, and clergy did nothing. Being bullied was just viewed as normal part of childhood, even a rate of passage.

        1. Nice! I love all the star trek characters, but Sulu always makes me laugh, even more than Scottie! Great video.

        2. Well, to be fair, both kinds of douchebags have no real meaningful or useful function in society. 😛

        3. True enough, but at least the rubber kind doesn’t go around telling people to kill themselves, or saying it’s glad when someone dies of AIDS.

        4. The last time I heard about AIDS was when I read in the paper that an experimental treatment involving gene-splicing was going well. Right before I thought to pray for its continued progress, I thought of what the fundamentalist response to this would be. I had always been taught that God invented AIDS to punish the gays, and that it will never be (and should never be) cured. Sad stuff.

      1. One of the ways it gets better is that openly gay and lesbian citizens can now hold public office in Texas. In my youth, this was impossible. I recall a major legal battle that a lesbian woman fought to be allowed to join the Dallas Fire Department (about 20-30 years ago). Like I’m really going to ask about someone’s sexual orientation before I let them put out a fire in my building ❗ ❓ ❗

        Now, though, there are openly gay council members and state reps in a number of Texas cities, including Dallas and Forth Worth, and the Sheriff of Dallas County is a Lesbian.

        I know some of the readers of SFL won’t think this is progress, but I do. I remember the persecutions my gay friends were subjected to when I was young.

        1. By the way, you don’t have to actually be gay to be bullied for being “queer” (and other, worse names). Anybody the bullies latch onto is subject to this. I was called such names in school, although I don’t happen to be gay. I didn’t care much, because my friends and I had no respect for these bullies, anyway, but it could be devastating for youth who sought popular approval, or who were or suspected they might be GLBT.

        2. This is what I hate so much about GLBT stereotyping. No one is free to just be who they are. Are you a straight guy who likes theatre, music, or dance and isn’t that great at sports? A straight girl who’s a tomboy? A gay guy who would rather play football than be on the cheerleading squad? A lesbian who loves her feminine side? Well cut it out!!! Get back in the box that we think you should live in! Your confusing us…

        3. @Diachenko- Thanks for bringing up the boxes! I go to an MCC church, so there are a lot of queer people there (myself included). But the boxes are very strongly present even there. It makes me sad that many of my lesbian friends feel like they are not allowed to be pretty, because then they won’t be “lesbian enough”. 😥 And I’ve been told many times – in jest, but still – that I’m not butch enough to drive my pickup truck. 🙄 I wish more people felt free to just be themselves.

        4. I feel that I have to preface this question with an “I swear I’m not a troll” statement due to recent troll activity, but I am not a troll. OK. Now that that is out of the way, here’s my question. How do you reconcile scripture that apparently condemns homosexuality with being actively gay Christians? And just for some background, I recently started attending a non-fundie non-denominational, non-charismatic church after taking a 10 year break from fundyism. While I was running wild with no moral restraint, I formed several friendships with gay and lesbian people, all of whom without exception, hated or at the very least, had no use for, Christianity. I am honestly curious, not trying to judge anyone.

        5. @Tony P- I’m a straight trans woman, but that’s not really pertinent to your question. I use “queer” as an umbrella term that covers the whole GLBTQQI (yes those are all separate things) spectrum of people so I understand why you might have thought I’m gay. On to your question: Here’s how the pastors at church I attend explain things: http://www.visionofhopemcc.org/the_bible_homosexuality.html
          Me personally: First, I live under grace, not the Law. So all that crap in Leviticus and Deuteronomy does not apply. Second, I understand how we arrived at the canon we have. I disagree with Fundies that every word in the canon is God’s literal word. I read about Jesus and study his words and actions. I use my understanding of the character of Jesus as the lens through which I read the books we call scripture. The stuff that doesn’t sound like Jesus (including a lot of what Paul had to say about women) I do not take as God’s instruction on living my life.

        6. @Tony P, I find the conversations Tony Campolo (consevative on LGBT), and his wife Peggy (liberal on LGBT) had on the saturdays with Mark and Tony show (www.marklowry.com) to have been very well done, covering a wide spectrum of the issues, with the exception of outright bigotry. You’ll have to browse backe a bit into the archives, but there were 7 to 10 episodes about 10 minutes each. Affirms both traditions, and that even if you do believe it to be sin, helps to at least reconcile that with being willing to live in tension with those you don’t agree with.

        7. Tony P: as I thought, my reply to your question ended up way down the page. Sorry to double-post, but here’s my reply in (hopefully) the correct place!

          First, no danger of you being regarded as a troll, Tony. You asked a legit question in a respectful, not-attacking way. Thank you! I personally would agree with a lot of what Faith said, but I will be perfectly honest and say that I haven’t reconciled it all in my own mind yet. That’s why I would say that I’m basically agnostic, though a better term would be “theistic agnostic” in that I believe that God is, and that the sacrifice of Christ in our place is the only path of redemption, but I don’t think we can know nearly as much about God and His will as I have always been taught, and I’m not convinced that human ideas haven’t found their way into the Bible, whether in the original or through translation. For myself, it has come down to this. I know 2 very definite things about myself. #1: I was born again at an early age, and have seen the work of God in my life consistently, not the least of which was my inability to toss out that knowledge of Him when I came to terms with being gay. #2: I knew (by the age of 12) that I was gay, and I know that I did not choose to be. In fact, I spent many years trying to choose not to be gay. I reached a place of peace and contentment (finally!) when I stopped allowing these parts of me to war against each other. I cannot choose to be un-saved anymore than I can choose to be straight. I don’t yet know exactly how it all reconciles together, only that it does somehow.
          Hope that makes any kind of sense. I may have rambled a bit…

        8. Diachenko & Faith – Bravo!! You have both explained your individual situations in such a reasonable and rational fashion.
          It is an indictment of fundyland that in the eyes of a fundy, you are both nothing but hell-bound sinners. They would tell you that as they were hitting you over the head with their wide-margin KJV bible.
          Life is not the black-and-white picture that fundyland paints in order to control and demean it’s denizens.

        9. “Life is not the black-and-white picture that fundyland paints in order to control and demean it’s denizens.”

          Exactly!

        10. @Diachenko- “I spent many years trying to choose not to be gay. I reached a place of peace and contentment (finally!) when I stopped allowing these parts of me to war against each other.”
          Same with me, just replace “gay” with “woman.”
          Sometimes “sin” is defined as anything that gets between us and God. For you and I, living as the straight men we were expected to be was the sin keeping us from a close relationship with God. When we dropped the pretense and came before God honestly and humbly, we accepted the grace that was there all along and our relationship with God was healed. It is a peace that passes all understanding, especially by those who see any variance from traditional gender roles as sin.

    4. I was student teaching in that school when that happened. Did you notice too how quickly everyone seemed to forget about him once the commotion was over? They kept mentioning in services other people who had died because they had a good testimony. But a little boy who was so distressed he killed himself? Let’s just stop mentioning it as soon as possible. This December will have been one year.

      1. This is not on topic specifically but I think there is a similiarity:
        I remember in an IFB service there was the reading of a missionary’s update letter. They told the story of being in a hospital (I forget what country this was in) and there was a woman in the hospital with her 2 year old child who was badly burned. They were able to give the gospel to the woman, praise gawd! But absolutely no mention of the condition or recovery of the burned child at all 😡 .
        That told me they either only cared about another notch in the leather bound KJV so as to rasie more money or there was never a badly burned child to begin with.

  4. This made me think way back in my Church days in Fundamentalism and the sacrifice I made daily against any kind of personal life, whether or education or just enjoying my life…FOR FREE. That said, the topic you chose for today Darrell is one that is drilled into the Believer so effectivly that there is no cognitive dissonance at all. As a matter of fact, it is buttressed with “God will provide”, “Do All Things Heartily As Unto The Lord”, “My God shall provide all your needs”, “Going without TEACHES you to depend on the Lord”…all this = “it builds character”. Load on top of that, being watched like a hawk to make sure you LEARN character.

    1. I understand what you mean when you mention the “sacrifice I made daily against any kind of personal life, whether or education or just enjoying my life.” We’re trying to be missional, and people have been telling me to just LIVE, but do it intentionally, like go to Little League but seek to meet and talk to non-Christians. That’s when it hit me: I don’t think I know how to do that. For years, pretty much my whole life was oriented around church: my whole social life is pretty much CHURCH!!! So when you said that, it totally fit with what I’ve just been contemplating.

      Enjoyed reading “Lasting Out” on your blog. After years of being a “doormat”, it’s easy to go too far the other way. In my desparate desire to never be under the false traditions of men, I may fight back TOO much. I want to be so confident in my position in Christ that even though my former IFB friends and family criticize and attack me (even lie about me), I can respond firmly yet gently, meekly but not weakly!!!

      1. PW,
        Thanks for understanding. The funny thing is, sacrifice was EXPECTED…then it becomes slavery and not sacrifice.

        One other thought, have you noticed while under the Fundamentalist culture, merely speaking to the unsaved is a pretext to “witnessing” to them? It took me YEARS to feel comfortable enough just to hold a “hey, how ’bout them Browns” conversation with a non-religious or non-churchy type and it being just a conversation! To be honest, the reason it took so long is that I just didn’t KNOW HOW.

        Thanks for your kind words on Lashing Out. I’ll add more this weekend probably.

        1. Smith: Agreed about having to learn to have conversations with non-church people. I actually like to put myself in situations where I have to listen to other perspectives and have conversations when possible. It’s tough because Hubby is still pretty locked into a milder version of a Fundy mindset and refuses to go along, so I really have to make an effort just to learn normal ways of communicating.

        2. That has been such an issue. How to hold a real conversation with a *gasp* sinner and not have the “where can I shoehorn the gospel into the conversation, or bait and switch them.”

          the IFB disclaimer:
          “Hi, I’m a Christian and my ultimate motive is to give you the Gospel and have you say the sinner’s prayer. I really don’t care to hear about your problems and about your life because I really don’t want to invest too much time on you since there are so many others who are dying and going to hell that I need to get to. I don’t want to hang out with you because you do not fit my Christian Demographic. Can we hurry this along please. You’re a what? Well you’re going to burn in hell anyways so nice talking with you. Next!”

        3. I’ve had way too many of these conversations with probably well meaning Christians. I don’t know why they think this gives them any kind of opening for me to give two cents about they have to say.

        4. @Don: Loved the IFB disclaimer…. it is what turned me off of going “soul-winning” in the fundamentalist church I used to attend. But I was preached at, and told that I could not be used in any area unless I went out. I tried a few times, but the lack of any real compassion and some of the nasty comments made about people after they had no interest in what we were “selling” turned me off.

          So, I put in years at the church, being ostracized and miserable.

  5. Yeahhh. When I was a kid, I was taught the whole suffering = building character thing. It pretty much gives a person a martyr complex.

    My counselor and I are currently going over why it’s not okay to make sure that something bad happens to you for every good thing that happens to you; why sabotaging something because it’s “too good” is not ever going to help you.

    I realized a couple days ago that the problem is that I feel I must get a head start on God by punishing myself before He punishes me, and thus avoiding any extra divine wrath. Think about it: as my teachers and pastor used to say, “If most people like you, you must be doing something wrong!” Gotta make sure your suffering quota meets your happiness quota, or else God will do it for you. Yay for paranoia about building character.

    :pulls hair out in frustration:

    Hard to unravel something that is practically encoded in your DNA! 😐

    1. @Beckyboo
      Yup, it’s kinda like hitting yourself after you hit your sister because if you hit yourself FIRST, then mom or dad (or both) will not either spank you so hard or not at all.

      In the end, I never either understood or made the connection between being slapped silly in life and some fool saying to me “Oh! God’s trying to teach you something!”

    2. I’m broken, somewhat self-destructive. But I don’t care because most of humanity is broken, some like me, some in different ways. I sigh and remember that for some reason, God loves me, then I crank up the tunes cause it helps me to forget.

  6. I think this is what makes some of John Piper’s teachings so eye popping when you first read it in Fundamentalism. “You mean the Christian life should actually be enjoyed? We obey because we want to and God wants us to be happy as well?” or “You mean I don’t have to live a miserable life in a job I didn’t want or location I don’t like making pennies because that was the will of Pastor…I mean God?”

    How many of you heard sermons about, “Don’t ever say you’d *never* do something…cause that just might be the very thing God will have you do”? It used to infuriate me. Now I just call their bunk. When did God ever require that we live miserably. I’m a firm believer that he will give you the desires. So pursue them. You like computers…go for it. You like teaching go for that. You like other countries go for that (whatever ‘that’ or ‘it’ might be). Penniless Christian school teacher in the churches basement didn’t exist in the new testament and it doesn’t have to exist now.

    Darrell another great post. Thanks for sharing.

        1. Yes…”they want so desperately want to be the early Church”

          Boy that hit the nail on the head: EVERYTHING is about the *past*. Since they have no solid reference or connection, they can only use their vain imaginations and manufactor whay they think it might have been like. The result? More speculation and fantasy that they expect everyone else to conform too.

        2. “They want so desperately to be the early Church that they manufacture all their own Romans.”

          That’s brilliant!
          🙂

        3. “They want so desperately to be the early Church that they manufacture all their own Romans.”

          There is NO persecution of Christians in the U.S. Absolutely none. In Fundyland, they have us believe that the devil runs the White House, that Democrats are the minions of darkness, that the government limits our sermon topics more and more, and that the Illuminati is behind all of it.

          Now I realize these are all paranoid lies and compoost.

    1. “Penniless Christian school teacher in the churches basement didn’t exist in the new testament and it doesn’t have to exist now.”

      Can I get a big old “Hay-MEN?!” The lies are really the thing that dragged me out of Fundyland. BJU was wrong in 1970s with their racial policy. Everything they said about public education was a lie. I found more Jesus at Appalachian State University and Nash County Schools than I ever did at Bob Jones Academy and Bob Jones University. It’s not character they’re building, it’s robots.

      1. I worked in a Christian School for 10 years. I moved to the public school system after my kids were older and I rejoined the work force. I have found more true, loving Christians in my public school then I ever had in the Christian School. There is mutual respect and support between teachers, and a principal who makes sure I have the time, support and supplies necesary to be a master teacher instead of piling on more and more responsibilities and making me feel like a failure because I can’t do it all.

        On a side note, there will always be bullies. The difference is in the school I am in now, we do not tollerate the bullies. We are always actively on the look-out for them, and we put a stop to those actions to the best of our ability. We celebrate individualism and don’t try to make every student look, act, think, and learn in the same way.

      2. @Dan, it was/is the lies that eventually got to me too.

        @Tena: Understood. There’s more grace in professional settings (for the most part)in the world than there will ever be dreamed of in Christian settings at work. The people I work with who aren’t Christians show more compassion, emphathy and kindness than most ALL Christians I know of.

      3. Agree Dan. I had to leave BJU to find Jesus. It makes sense, though. They can’t really teach Jesus since it would mean they would have to change the way they do business in order to be like him themselves. Not going to happen.

        1. And the kids are all now safely in the public schools. Even the sixth grader who was bullied by a faculty member’s kid at Bob Jones Elementary School is finding his place. We all are doing well. Love it that I can tell the kids when something is wrong rather than having to justify the junk that comes out of Bob Jones. It’s so much more clear now.

        2. “Love it that I can tell the kids when something is wrong rather than having to justify the junk that comes out of Bob Jones.”

          That is the single most damning line I’ve ever heard about BJ and Christian fundamentalism in general. It’s this bizarre mix of Southern romanticizing the past, the Bible and gnosticism that is really strange. There’s just enough truth there to keep making you think it’s right, but it’s not.

    2. I’ve been struggling to rid myself of that whole mindset for the past year or so. It has taken its toll on my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. 🙁 I am currently in the process of (finally!) taking steps to get out of my (current) unhealthy IFB-mindset-influenced situation. Thank you for the reminder. I needed it!

    3. On the subject of penniless Christian schoolteachers:

      SFL: “I would rather be (miserable) in the Center of God’s perfect will (the pastor & staff define exactly what that is), than be anywhere else…even if this alternative is a passion I have had for years and possess a God-given talent for it.”

      Dream killers they are. 👿

    4. “Follow the desires God gives you” is great up to a point, but not when they go against His Word. Some people like torturing small animals, but this is in no way a Godly trait to be encouraged.

      In my particular torture with Fundamentalism (“soul-winning”), I have no desire to go cold-calling and try to tell someone “I’m right and you’re wrong and you must do what I say or you will go to hell”. But I’ve led a miserable life at IFB churches for feeling this way, and have learned to hide it… in fact, it is very hard for me to post how I really feel here as well.

      1. @GR ““Follow the desires God gives you” is great up to a point, but not when they go against His Word.”

        Right if your desire is for something against God’s word then there is a problem, but that isn’t what I was talking about at all. I’m talking about good or neutral desires. For instance your vocation. If you have no desire to be in front of people week after week preaching perhaps your ministry is something else and you’d be better off majoring in something you do enjoy. Another choice would be where you live. I live in Boston. Personally I absolutely love the city. In fact, I can’t imagine not living in the city. I like having restaurants and stores within a block of my house. I love the diversity. I love the activities. The city is for me and I couldn’t live many other places. But for many people the city isn’t for them. It seems absurd to conclude that God would send me to rural texas and the other person to NYC. To the person who cannot stand kids it sound reasonable that God didn’t call that person to full time Christian school teacher. God gave us desires and desires themselves are not wrong. The desire isn’t wrong…what you do with it would be wrong. Enjoying the Christian life is why God created us. He doesn’t call us to be miserable Christians. He created us to enjoy Him forever. Again you could have a bad desire, but most of our day in and day out desires are good or neutral and there is no reason we can’t pursue those desires.

        With regards to cold calling or door to door witnessing it comes down to two things. First the Bible does not command door to door or street preaching. We are to give the Gospel where we can, but how is not specified. We have examples in the Bible, but no exact commandment. It is that we give not how. They lived in a very different culture with different norms then we do now. I believe the time for door to door calling is over. Quite frankly this comes from my own experience. I visited a church once and then got visited in the middle of my dinner with no warning. I was actually more gracious then my wife…and here we were Christians annoyed to pieces that people came to our door. I can only imagine how other people respond. We live in a culture that doesn’t want to answer the door and it is quite annoying. Street evangelism can be useful, but I don’t find it all that effective. For me it is about personal evangelism. Living Christ…showing people by example and fostering relationships where the gospel can be given.

        But no matter, you shouldn’t feel guilty. God didn’t give you a desire to waste time on the street. Live the great commission as you can…there is no guilt in that. And no one should make you feel guilty about that.

  7. Right before I graduated Fundy U I was brought in for a meeting with the President. He was “concerned” because I was not going into “full-time ministry” right away (meaning make $19,000 a year working at a Fundy School in NC or some other place). Instead I chose to move to a place that had a good economy so that I could get a job. Now my wife and I both have jobs and go to a non-fundy church. We’re apparently out of the “will o’ gawd” though..

    1. Isn’t it odd that you are expected to shell out $$$ to attend a school of reputation and then THEY want you to SETTLE for (as you said) a $19K/yr job that will never all ends to be met? Meanwhile, the President’s suit, car and house does’nt live up to his own expectation(s) for you!

      1. $19 K?!? I know of a Fundy school that pays even less than that, around $12K. I heard that many teachers to tutoring on the side in order to make car payments…

        1. Meh, God’ll provide, right? How many sermons have you heard about “counting the cost” before you take on something…you would think that Churches would “count the cost” before they opened something looking like a school, huh?

        2. I’m aware of some $12k paying schools. The ones I know of also offer no benefits, and at least withheld no social security, and I think didn’t withhold income taxes either (not that you would pay any if that was your only source of income).

        3. RobM
          In the early 80s I taught in a school that paid less than $9000/year and withheld nothing–which they did not tell me about! I was fresh out of college and quite green. “Oh, we deal with this as contract labor” they told me when I hit the office in a panic. Cheapskates! I had to beg in tears at the bank for a loan to pay taxes and social security that year!

        4. And if you’re in a really fundy school or church, they will helpfully deduct 10% of your gross paycheck right off the top and keep it for the church, so you don’t have to worry about all that pesky tithing business. I made $17,000/year, plus decent benefits, but they wanted to take 10% of the gross before I even saw it. Did it ever occur to them that teaching in a Christian school automatically IS a tithe? More than a tithe, actually. I could have walked into any public school and had a job making at least $7,000 more.

    2. See your pastor was right. By not going straight into their prison trap you escaped and now look at you…you actually make money and you don’t even attend a “good” church. Your pastor was right to be concerned and where you ended up only furthers his cause for everyone that comes after you.
      _____________

      Seriously, though, this how they catch you. If you get a non-regionally accredited degree and then leave and go straight into their fundy circles they control you. This was one reason I couldn’t go into Christian school ministry. Because it would be like never leaving the BJU dorm. I’d be paid nothing, I’d have to follow all the same rules and attend the same type of churches under the threat of losing my job. Then after a few years when your eyes are opened you figure out that you never had a degree that would get you a job outside of that circle and you are behind all your peers for real marketable skills. So your choice is leave the craziness and take a starter job, get more education on a salary you don’t have, or put up with the rules because at least there you have a job even if it doesn’t pay well.

      1. You’ve summed that up perfectly. If you stay, fundamentalism will reward you with a squeaky clean reputation, a circle of friends and a great chance of making-it-big in their small pond. But, it’s so much better to face the facts and get out. Besides, I find square one is much more fun the second time around.

        1. Generally, nobody has a great chance of making it big in the small pond of IFBx unless they learn to play the game. The *good* Christians can never hope to make it big.

        2. I admit that I used to wish my husband WAS better-known and that he wasn’t the pastor of such a little church because I thought he deserved more recognition. But obviously God was preparing us to move in a different direction. Here we are on square one! (I’m trying to count it all joy but sometimes it’s intimidating to change focus after years in the IFB.)

        3. I just want to greet all of the fellow occupants of square one! I am enjoying it too. I am just glad to be out.

          It is kind of like escaping from prison. Outside you may have to sleep in a ditch but you prefer that to the bed and three squares they gave you on the inside.

      2. This has already been covered in Fundy U posts, but essentially my four years of college is worth zero dollars in the real world. The only place you can get a job in ministry is in their circles and since I refused to be in their circles anymore I had to look elsewhere for someway to support myself and get ready for my fiance.
        I think maybe they design it that way purposely, that way you’re screwed if you stay, or screwed if you leave. Yay for “True Christianity”! 👿

    3. I read stories like this at SFL again and again, but nobody uses the C word to describe it. Manipulation at this level is so typical of cults.
      I believe that nearly all Fundy organizations have cult characteristics, but the level of control is less than the classic cult.

      1. Just try to leave their churches and you will see the evidence of them being cults.

        Another point, anytime a ministry is about a sin filled MOG and not Jesus Christ, there is a strong possibility of that ministry being a cult. Is the purpose of their church to sell books/build a christian culture/expand the preachers empire…or is it to point people to the Savior? Anything less than Christ alone is moralism at best and potentially cultish.

        1. The President of said college indignantly asked me if I thought his ministry wasn’t Christ-centered… I thought.. “If I say no, do I still get to graduate in two weeks?”

  8. You don’t have to examine the Bible too closely to find a lot of meanness and encouragement of toadying to authority. I don’t see how Christianity can get any more humane unless the doctrine of original sin is tossed out.

    1. When I read the Bible, I see the love of God.

      My desire is to live by what Jesus called the two greatest commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbour as yourself.”

    2. What would you have in place of original sin? If man is not fallen by nature then what explains our propensity to sin? How can one account for the evil that is inherent in everyone if it is not the result of original sin? Original sin is not an excuse to hide behind or use to cover evil deeds but the doctrine that proves there is none good, no not one. It shows we cannot earn nor do we deserve heaven and God’s Grace. It shows our need for someone to intercede on our behalf. Ultimately it speaks of the Love of God, that He would make that sacrifice to satisify His perfect requirement for reconcillation with fallen man.

    3. You can disbelieve original sin if you want, but blaming a doctrine for the actual evils done in the world is absurd. I don’t think it was fundamentalist original sin that killed 2 million Cambodians under the Kmer Rhuge. (sp?)

    4. Nazani – I find the opposite view of authority. Jesus says in Mark 10, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant…”

      I don’t find anything in the Bible encouraging me to kowtow before a hierarchical, abusive church leadership.

  9. “I don’t see how Christianity can get any more humane unless the doctrine of original sin is tossed out.”

    … Or the doctrine of grace is taken seriously.

  10. “What exactly is this character that we build by learning subservience to a vast and ever-growing body of arcane rules? Which virtue springs from self-inflicted penury due to poor educational choices compounded by the greed of a ministry who will not pay an honest wage? What goodness comes with the constant lessons of self-doubt and self-loathing?”

    This post, and especially the paragraph quoted, brought tears to my eyes. This treacherous thinking permeates every aspect my life. At least my tear-filled eyes are open now, and that’s a step in the right direction….

      1. I never anticipated this to be such a grieving process, or to involve so much re-learning. You have no idea how invaluable and encouraging it is to know that others have “been there/done that” and walked this path before. It seems part of me has been shed in order to escape. Considering the the alternative, though, that’s not a bad thing…. How odd, I’m not even sure who I grieve for: the part of me that’s been shed, or those who are now in the process of escaping or those who are still entrenched. 😕

        1. Belle, you are definitely not alone. I could have written your post. The grief process is intense and it goes off in all directions.

          One small glimmer of hope I found, and maybe it might help you out as well. Turns out that I didn’t really lose a part of myself when I left Fundamentalism, although it sure felt like it. That part was lost in Fundyland. I just didn’t get to experience the loss until after my escape. But that’s not the hopeful stuff. The hopeful stuff comes when you’ve been out a while, and some of that missing part shows back up and decides to make up for lost time. That’s when things gets really interesting. When it happens to you (and it will!), hold on and enjoy the ride. 😀

        2. I grieved almost like I had lost a loved one. I was in full-time ministry for a decade so I was invested in fundyism pretty much. Leaving was one of the hardest things I have ever done.

          It is natural to grieve for what is lost. I encourage you not to rush the process.

        3. Well, but in a sense didn’t we? My husband and I have lost things and especially people that we love because we left. Whole churches that we are essentially not welcome at any more unless we agree to humiliating repentance and agree to immediately fall in line with the arbitrary standards. People who were friends who no longer have anything to do with us now, but not without what they term “tough love” first meaning sending us nasty messages, accusing us of all sorts of things that we aren’t even guilty of. People whose lives are in a mess, but we switch denominations in an attempt to follow Christ closely and embrace scripture and we’re the ones with a problem and we need to be immediately shunned. It hurts to have people that have been your friend for years say things like “Who in the world do you think you are?” and “You’ve swung as far from Biblical Christianity as you possibly could have” or “You’ve lined yourself up with people who don’t take at stand on anything, smoking, drinking, cussing.”-I’ll admit the last one made me 🙄 these are some of the more tame things as I don’t really like to put all the really bad crap out there.

          I mean, I’ve lost family members because of this. My dad barely speaks to me anymore, when he calls he usually just asks to talk to my kids and my Grandparents want me to start letting my kids go to church with them, because they want them in a good church which is not what they said word for word, but I knew what they meant by it. We tried to take our kids to a carnival at my old fundy church and my Grandma told the pastor that I had grew up there and had gotten married there and that they were trying to get me to come back. The pastor told us he’d like to have us back sometime if we weren’t attending church anywhere, and I told him that we went to ___ local PCA church and he said, “Well, we’d love to have you visit sometime.” Like we don’t go to church or teach our kids about Christ.

          Leaving fundamentalism a grieving process? Absolutely! How else do you deal with so much loss and insinuations about your character, or lack thereof. Being treated like you don’ t really love Christ because you aren’t doing x,y, and z and especially that you aren’t teaching your kids about Him.

    1. Preach it, belle!

      Nothing good comes from a false gospel. Fundamentalism is not the good news of Jesus Christ. If anything, it is the very “works salvation” they claim to hate. It has left so much destruction in the lives it has touched. What good can come out of being lied to, held back from growth, misled, and otherwise mistreated?

    2. belle (and anyone who have fallen prey to this),

      If your faith is in Christ, then you are fully accepted by God in Christ! (Ephesians 1) And Christ is not ashamed of you! (Heb. 2:11)

      These truths are pressious to me, and have saved me from guilt and despair.

      Don’t be deceived: the truth always sets free.

  11. The Scriptures tell us to bear one another’s burdens, to be kind, gentle, tender-hearted, forgiving, long-suffering, etc. In short to absorb the love of Christ into your own life and show that love to others.

    I don’t know where these people get off thinking that their spiritual gift is bringing suffering upon others so they may ‘build character’. I do know that idea is anti-biblical.

  12. Anyone who believes they can command another person to violate his or her conscience or even to go against what seems decent and sensible to him or her has the potential to be a terrible bully. We can exhort others to behave a certain way, but we cannot make them. In my experience, religious (including) Christian bullies are the most dangerous people on earth. CS Lewis seems to agree with me. 🙂 “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

    1. “torment us for our own good”
      Nice. Good comments. 🙂

      I find that people are most bullies when most they play god. An unfortunate favorite pastime of religious people in general.

  13. From my days as an IFB teen, we jokingly refer to times of insane rules or projects (with absolutely no logical bearing) as “CBEs” or Character-Building Experiences. Great post.

    Dig a hole…and fill it up. Then repeat. <—- that actually happened.

    1. Dig a hole…and fill it up. Then repeat.

      Anyone who has ever buried a sand flea can tell you that is military style behavior modification technique. There comes a point you just automatically do what they tell you to without thinking about it no matter how stupid the order would seem to be from a normal perspective. The goal: Instant, Willing, Obedience to orders.

      Complete obedience to authority over you.
      The Chain of Command is key.

      1. “Instant, Willing, Obediance to orders”. All you need now is a length of plastic tubing, the Pearl’s book on child rearing and the willingness to spank your baby/toddler many times a day and you can start “character building” at an early age.

        1. yep, the parallels are scary.
          It’s just that in the IFB army the Senior Drill Instructor is also the Commanding Officer and the Chaplain.

          “Onward Christian Soldiers
          Marching as to war.”

        2. My house was like this growing up. I had to do the exact thing I was told, the second it was asked of me. If I stalled, asked “why?” or even LOOKED like I didn’t want to what I was told, all Hell broke loose. I would usually be spanked and then given a looooooooooooooooooooooong lecture on how I probably wasn’t saved, how I was a horrible kid, and other things parents shouldn’t say to their children.

          On top of this, if I didn’t behave a certain way my parents thought I should be like, I would catch hell again.

          There was no physical abuse, but there was plenty of mental abuse.

          Because of my life being so controlled, as an adult, I’ve had an EXTREMELY hard time thinking indenpendently. I am never sure of my desicions, an get a sick feeling when I do things on my own withough consulting anyone. It has made nursing clinicals difficult for because my mind has a hard time standing on it’s own.

          I’ve had therapy and it’s helped a lot, and hopefully I won’t have to live in fear for the rest of my life.

      2. Ha! It is interesting actually that many of the staff were former military. In fact, it would be interesting to find out (especially around bases) how many of the military respond to IFB vs. non-IFB churches.

        My guess is that they flock readily to IFB. Sure, maybe they eventually move out of it, but it would seem more conforming to their lifestyle (at least to the person in the Armed Forces). The kids just get worn out. I’ll testify.

  14. This strikes close to home, and makes me sad. I remember when I was a counselor at a fundy camp. My “lead” counselor put her ear to the wall while I was teaching my campers. She told the administrators that I was not capable of counseling an incoming college/career age group because I allowed “too much sharing” and not enough cram-it-down-their-throats theology. Ironically, I was already a qualified teacher by then — at FU. The same “leader” told me that they had discussed me in the administrator staff meeting, and that someone said I smiled too much to be genuine. No one ever asked me if my motives were sincere — they were. Thankfully, this incident and many like it showed me the way out of fundamentalism.

  15. In the IFB church I attended last, they preached that God would punish you if you were outside His will. On the other hand, if you WERE inside His will, then Satan would attack you all the time. And of course it was up to the pastor and the congregation to decide which side of God’s will you were on if something happened to you.

  16. @Tony Mel–You are so right. Of course the pastor in the IFB chuch I attended would only scream “persecution” whenever something came up that threatened to hamper his “hard preachin'” on “queerness”.

    I can see why the GLBT community, by and large, has no use for Christianity.

    On a side note, I almost gave my husband a heart attack when I said I’d rather be in a roomful of gays and lesbians than a roomful of “Christians” (quotes intentional). Why? Because you can turn your back on the gays and lesbians without getting a knife in it.

    1. Yes! Why would anyone be attracted to a religion that not only condemns them for something they were born with, but also demonizes them as the cause of all that’s “wrong” with America?

    2. The GLBT community also realizes that man of the guys who scream against them the loudest are closet queers themselves. It’s hard to respect someone committing the same sin you are while preaching against it.

    3. I was in a room full of gays and lesbians (well, a high percentage) last might (a friend’s birthday party), and had a great time. Some people don’t know what they’re missing.

  17. I have no idea if this will post in the correct place, but it’s intended as a reply to Tony P’s question of reconciling the Bible with being gay.
    First, no danger of you being regarded as a troll, Tony. You asked a legit question in a respectful, not-attacking way. Thank you! I personally would agree with a lot of what Faith said, but I will be perfectly honest and say that I haven’t reconciled it all in my own mind yet. That’s why I would say that I’m basically agnostic, though a better term would be “theistic agnostic” in that I believe that God is, and that the sacrifice of Christ in our place is the only path of redemption, but I don’t think we can know nearly as much about God and His will as I have always been taught, and I’m not convinced that human ideas haven’t found their way into the Bible, whether in the original or through translation. For myself, it has come down to this. I know 2 very definite things about myself. #1: I was born again at an early age, and have seen the work of God in my life consistently, not the least of which was my inability to toss out that knowledge of Him when I came to terms with being gay. #2: I knew (by the age of 12) that I was gay, and I know that I did not choose to be. In fact, I spent many years trying to choose not to be gay. I reached a place of peace and contentment (finally!) when I stopped allowing these parts of me to war against each other. I cannot choose to be un-saved anymore than I can choose to be straight. I don’t yet know exactly how it all reconciles together, only that it does somehow.
    Hope that makes any kind of sense. I may have rambled a bit…

        1. george not fundie no more… george leave fundy bunker and george leaving fundy way behind. george may not know how to type write but george not fundy.
          thanks,
          george

        2. Oh, I know George has escaped fundiedom, but it takes time to shake off all that filth! A little reeking happens now and then… 😈

        3. A lot of george’s reeking is due to all that cabbage and bannas.
          I agree that the journey out of the Fundy Bunker is a process. You may be out physically but the worldview that was constructed in the bunker takes years to deconstruct, repair and rebuild.

    1. Diachenko, as I am replying, the text above my name says “Leave a Reply to Diachenko” as opposed to “Leave a Reply.” That’s how you know if your reply will be to the specific comment or if it will appear at the bottom of the comments. Hope that helps. I appreciate your response. I am a straight male, but even when I was a fundy I would secretly have doubts about how black and white the issue of homosexuality was.
      My grandmother, who was probably not a Christian, told me (when I was proabably not at an appropriate age to understand) about a neighbor who had a hermophradite baby. She described what it looked like when her neighbor would change her baby’s diaper. Like I said, I was probably too young at the time to understand at all but later on in life I read a few case studies on babies born with the anatomy of both sexes and how they grew older and had behaviors and hormones, etc. that reflected male and female so it was very confusing. Some of the subjects of the studies were confused as to which sex they were attracted to and what not. Anyways, I’m rambling here, but as a fundy, I would wonder why God would let a human be born with confused anatomy or regular anatomy with confused hormones and then condemn the resulting confused human. Usually I would pacify the argument with a “God is sovereign; He has His reasons” and be done with it but continue to hate “queers” like a good IFBer. I am grateful today for the enlightenment to know that I don’t know everything. I hope to see you in Heaven, Diachenko. And by the grace of God, I beleive that’s possible. Who gives a “good glory rip” what Phil Kidd says?

      1. Yeah, I figured out the reply thing a while ago. I just couldn’t get it to say it was going to reply in the correct area last time. Oh well!
        Your response reflects a great deal of humility and true Christian grace. You have realized that it’s not up to you to have it all figured out about someone else. Like I said above, I haven’t figured it all out yet, and I get so tired of IFB types bludgeoning me with their Bibles and interpretations and hell-fire-and-brimstone proclamations as though they have it all figured out too. That’s why I have enjoyed SFL so much. It’s a breath of fresh air to communicate and hold discussions on various topics with people from widely varying beliefs and backgrounds and at different stages of escaping from the IFB black hole. And to do it without insisting on beating down anyone who is different. 🙂

        1. I’m just thinking out through the computer keyboard here – I hope I don’t say anything that will hurt. People are gay for many different reasons. Some are born gay, others have their sexuality “changed” by lifes experieces such as various forms of abuse,( physical, emotional, mental, sexual). Recently I have got to know a number of Gay people who fall into all possible scenarios. Your sexuality is notyour choice, but what you *do* with it is a choice. I have known a lot of Straight people, even Christians, who have used their sexuality in ways that have brought shame to the name of Jesus, which I think is no worse than being Gay, but a lot of Christians, and not just fundies, would find it easier to forgive a straight serial adulterer than someone who is “Gay” but celibate. I saw it happen in the church in which I grew up (which was not Fundy).

        2. I am distubed by false assumptions that so many people, even (especially?) Christians make about Gay men. Diachenko, i hope this *never* happens to you but friend of mine, who recently came out as Gay to some people in his Church, was told to get out of the Church, and, far worse, was told my more than one man to “stay away from my little boys!”. That devestated him.

  18. I am saddened by how a teenage girl who used to be IFB left Christianity and became an agnostic but her reasons were very thought-provoking. Her reasons:

    “Those Christians always tell me that Christians shouldn’t go to this place, listen to this music, and frequently condemn others, even other Christians for being ‘hypocrites’ or ‘worldly’.
    But when I told them about how a (I presume Hyper-Calvinist) lady took the Sunday sabbath so literally they told me she was a ‘legalist’. Who is correct here? Why is it you call people who are more conservative than you ‘legalists’ and people who are more liberal ‘worldly’ folks?”

    1. The human condition requires that we are labled, catagorized and pigeon-holed for sake of societal segregation. It makes it easier to market to us if we are put into a catagory. Soap powder, toilet paper, automobiles and religion are marketed to different segments of society in different ways.

      The IFB Cult always reminds me of the show, the Prisoner. The more he tried to be an individual greater was the the pressure to conform.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xNuQ7Do_Ro&feature=related

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29JewlGsYxs&feature=related

    2. The Bible is, and always should be the standard. If the Bible is silent on a subject, we are free to act as our conscience dictates. If you believe the Bible makes a restriction in an area that I do not believe, you are welcome to (try to) convince me that the Bible so says — you don’t need to yell or scream – you can reason from the Scriptures.

      Fundamentalism needs to get rid of the mentality that anyone not just like me is wrong!!!!!!!

  19. Building character is code for manipulation. Any rebellion to that manipulation results in a criticism of the subjects character and spiritual standing before God and man. It’s a twisted circle of works based righteousness.

    1. Yes, yes, yes. Awful. I remember Dr. Bob III’s extended sermon on “first-time obedience.” UGH! These are the same people who take Jonah and make it a story about obedience. . . . it isn’t. At all. It’s about compassion.

      1. @Faith, yup I heard that. It took me decades to finally realize that I can’t will myself to be happy just because Daddy said so.
        @Camille, you are so right! I’ve heard Jonah done “a la obedience” dozens of times, but never as a compassion story. Come to think of it, I never heard anything done “a la compassion”–not even the gospel. So often you hear Evangelicals claim that you seldom hear the gospel in a mainline church, but I say I never heard the gospel in an evangelical, fundamental church. I heard repentance and obedience, but what is the gospel without compassion (“with love”)? the fundyland gospel is “a la sans-passion.”

        1. I know I’ve said this before, but I’ll keep saying it till I die. I went mainline because they’ve been more faithful to the core of the Gospel than any other religious body.

  20. RE: Bullying. . .(To just address one issue mentioned. :wink:)

    I agree w/ a lot of posts on here, but bullying happens everywhere. I disagree w/ the fact that the “anti-bullying programs” in public schools eliminate (or even reduce) the cruelty of children. I know children who have suffered/do suffer from bullying in all types of environment (even in homeschool groups, so sorry, your child can’t even be sheltered there! :roll:) At any rate, the problem is that for some reason Christians expect that at a Christian school, the children should somehow act different than their public school peers. They are held to a higher standard. Many Christian schools are full of children who are NOT Christian, same as public schools. Who is to know the hearts of anyone, other than God? (And I would include teachers in this statement).

    It’s kind of like holding the Pastor’s kid or the Missionary’s kid to a higher standard. . .it’s not fair, and it forgets that we all have the same human nature.

    Bullying will never be eliminated. It was going on in the all-so-perfect 1940’s and 50’s. Of course, back then, they fought it out in the back schoolyard to resolve the problem (think Ralphie on “A Christmas Story”). . .LOL. Kids will always be mean to each other. No anti-bullying program is going to stop that. The root of the meanness is general human nature, the child’s heart, and sometimes other circumstances (the child has been bullied, so they bully . . or the child has been abused, etc.) But on a smaller level, all kids will pick on another kid at one time or another, and if you think your sweet little son/daughter in public/private/Christian or homeschool will not participate in this, you are delusional.

    1. But surely we can encourage parents to teach their children to respect others. Of course no implementation is going to completely eliminate bullying. But there should be no tolerance for stepping on people just so you can make yourself feel better. How many suicides have been committed over the years because teachers/principals looked the other way? We can’t just ignore it and it’ll go away. We have to teach our children to respect each other, no matter how different we are. Just because it’s been happening for years doesn’t make it okay. You can’t stop people from being racist, but you can stop them from committing crimes against others. So yes, we should have anti-bullying programs.

    2. The “bullying won’t stop” is a faulty argument. Most people on this board would never say, “Kids are going to drink, so we might as well let them drink at our house.” How about sex? Of course not. We tell the girls if she has sex, she’s gonna have a baby that’ll look just like the dude who knocked you up. We tell the guy if he has sex, he’ll get some nasty disease and his penis will fall off. Will all bullying stop? No. But, that doesn’t mean we don’t try.

      1. Exactly! I think Paul addressed this, didn’t he? . . . Do we sin so that grace may abound?

        I am continually amazed at how desperately fundies will clamor to defend the Powers that Be — the bullies.

      2. my main point is, that bullying happens everywhere. Can we encourage/teach our children to treat others respectfully? Yes, of course. Will they always follow what we teach them? NO (though we hope they do). Perhaps the greater way to teach them, is to model a KIND and LOVING environment AT HOME. However, no anti-bullying program is going to make up for the fact that children go home to environments where THEY are mistreated and bullied, or where mom and dad just don’t care, etc. . .And sorry, but no anti-bullying program is that effective. . .The program isn’t the solution. It really goes a lot deeper than teaching kids “don’t bully”.

        It’s kind of like teaching kids to “not have sex”. If mom is sleeping around, or dad is having an affair, no amount of talking is going to do any good. Or, teaching kids “don’t smoke”, and the parents smoke.

        Unfortunately, more programs aren’t going to eliminate the ills of society. I guess that’s my point.

  21. Stacy, many times the gospel is presented in Fundyland as a transaction. Jesus did sooooooo much for you that we MUST give our lives in return.

    You and I very well know that this is not the gospel.

    1. Yes, Tony, that’s how the gospel was peddled when I was growing up. Very logical. A cold, hard, legal exchange. No wonder I never thought of it as a love story! I’ve been trying to “unthink” the gospel. It’s so much simpler than I was ever led to believe. God loved us. We rebelled. God couldn’t bear to lose us, so he ran after us. THAT sounds like a love story. Good news, even! I know there’s lots of complicated theology in the background of the story, but I spent years focusing on the facts (the transaction) and missed the passion of my Father. Now I’m playing catch-up on love.

      1. Loved your comment, Staci! It reminded me of a song “More Like Falling in Love” by Jason Gray. Hope no one minds if I quote the words because they’re really amazing:

        Give me rules – I will break them!
        Give me lines – I will cross them.
        I need more than a truth to believe;
        I need a truth that lives, moves, and breathes
        To sweep me off my feet!
        It ought to be

        CHORUS:
        More like falling in love
        Than something to believe in;
        More like losing my heart
        Than giving my allegiance;
        Caught up, called out,
        Come take a look at me now!
        It’s like I’m falling, oh,
        It’s like I’m falling in love!

        Give me words – I’ll misuse them;
        Obligations – I’ll misplace them;
        ‘Cause all religion ever made of me
        Was just a sinner with a stone tied to my feet.
        It never set me free.
        It’s gotta be . . .
        CHORUS:

        …It’s like I’m falling in love, love, love
        Deeper and deeper!
        It was love that made me a believer
        In more than a name, a faith, a creed;
        Falling in love with Jesus brought the change in me.

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