A basic misunderstanding of six words in I Thessalonians has possibly created more strangeness in fundamentalism than perhaps any other (with the obvious exception of the “weaker brother” principle — more on that later). “Abstain from every appearance of evil” has become a guiding principle to fundamentalists that is applied to everything everywhere.
In the Greek the words are apo pantos eidous ponÃ¨rou apechesthe which literally translates to something like:
“Do not wear pants with punk rock patches. Also beware the bottles of sparkling grape juice with the foil tops, they might appear to be alcohol and stay away from video rental stores, someone might think you’re there renting a movie rated PG-13. Finally do not drive around town with a lollipop sticking out of your mouth or someone might think you are smoking.”
Which all just goes to show how important it is to learn Greek in order to get the deeper meanings out the Scriptures.
Also added to the list of things that might appear evil would be drinking root beer from dark bottles, wire-rimmed glasses, facial hair, clothing designed by gay guys, any hair style ever worn by any rock group anywhere, and anything that looks like it might be enjoyed by Billy Graham, his followers, or their household pets.
Trying to guess what innocent thing might possibly appear evil to any person on the planet makes the weirdness get pretty thick in a hurry. The Pharisees would have loved it.