The Appearance of Evil

rootbeer 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 ponèrou 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.

47 thoughts on “The Appearance of Evil”

  1. Since when does beer only come in a bottle? Ever notice how a can of Barq’s rootbeer looks awful close to “Coors Lite” can? How do you justify pop in a can only, and beer in a bottle, only! Gotta love the inconsistencies! πŸ™‚

    1. Oh, great. Thanks for ruining cans of Barq’s for me! Now I’ve got that on my conscience… πŸ˜‰

  2. Hey if you don’t care about your Christian testimony, how about getting a group together to go to the bar downtown and drink soda water?

    1. I am sure everyone in the bar would be shocked and appalled at the “Christians” in the bar (drinking soda water) I actually have spent some time in the bars and would have to say, nobody in there cares who you are or what you are drinking. So get over yourself.

      1. Exactly. I have taken a supper table in the bar area, rather than wait for 45 minutes, and have run into church people every time. If they judge me, they judge me. I AM responsible for my brother or sister with the frail conscience, so, the one time I saw the recovering alcoholic from church spot me there, I engaged him in conversation, and in doing so, explained. He was relieved to know it. I wish I could completely shrug off the judgment of others, but the only one I concern myself with, is my weaker brother or sister in Christ. The Pharisees are going to judge me whatever I do. May as well toss them some juicy tidbits! πŸ˜‰

        1. One question: So what are the church people doing in the bar area to begin with? 😈 Interesting how Good & Proper Christians have a habit of turning up in the lowest places just when you’re about to do anything.

  3. how about getting a group together to go to the bar downtown and drink soda water?

    Been there, done that.

    Had some good talks about Jesus with some very interesting people.

    (next Erin will be accusing me of being a drunkard a glutton and a friend of sinners.)

  4. Back in the day, I found it amusing to see to what ends Baptists would go to make sure if someone is being driven home from church that at no point two people of the opposite sex be in a car together alone. If a guy and a girl were being dropped off, and a girl was driving, the guy would always be dropped off first. It made no matter the age or mental capacity of the people in the cars, as long as there was no less than two people of the same sex in the car, that was fine.

    I guess this is somewhat outside the realm of “appearance of evil,” but seemed close enough to share this crazy rule with everyone.

    1. Oh, it is definitely “in the realm” back in the day someone reported me for riding in a car with a male friend to and from church. Who was that person? I have no clue and they apparantly had no life!!! They approached him and told him I shouldn’t be riding with him because I was married. πŸ‘Ώ

    2. This rule belongs more to the category “avoiding the appearance of sanity” than “avoiding the appearance of evil.”

  5. This Blog site continues to create strife and friction between folks. Instead of building people up, it tears them down. I have got to stop coming here.

    1. Actually, this site has been invaluable to me in helping me see realistically what was going on around me during my formative years. Things I used to just take for granted as “normal” behavior for Christians I now realize was not normal and mostly not even Christian. It was good to finally find other people who also realized it so I didn’t feel so alone, crazy and at times rebellious. πŸ™

  6. Actually our CAP unit requires two adults anytime there is the possibility of being alone with one teenager (male or female). It’s for the protection of the adults against being accused of an imagined impropriety. So in a way, while it sounds silly, it actually is one of the things that makes the most sense. Thank the trial lawyers for that one.

    1. “For the protection of the adult”…..PALEASE, They TELL you it is for your protection, That’s their way of indiscretely saying (We cover up sex scandals and abuse). Why can’t the retarded dumb-A** religous idiots protect the children? How about for the childs protection?? Has that ever occured to you?

      By god, there better never be a child alone in a church setting. Children don’t make up wild accusations. That’s the kind of bullsh** you religous pharasee spew to protect your own sorry A**. Where is that millstone, can’t we just get on that already??

      1. Actually, I disagree with you completely. Teenage girls will make up some pretty crazy stories at times – it’s happened and has been the subject of news stories. As a man, the last thing I want to happen is for my life and my family’s life to be completely ruined because of some girl’s made-up stories.

      2. Children and teenagers have been known to make up false accusations against adults. There have been notorious cases of this. When the accusers are very young children, they generally have some prompting, intentional or unintentional, from adults. Teenagers don’t need prompting if they are determined enough to harm the adults.

        Are most accusations made by children false? No. But some of them have been proven to be so. Wise adults do guard against this.

        1. This strikes home because it happed to a friend of mine who taught Chemistry at a school. A number of years ago he was accused of “innappropriate behavior” by one of his female pupils, who bullied/coerced one of her friends to back up her claims. My friend, who is one of the Godliest Christians I have known, lost his job because of this, and had to face all the horrble gossip that goes with this sort of accussation. He was vindicated because the friend of the “victim” confessed that it was a lie. Turns out the girl HAD been abused – by her uncle who was a Pastor in a well known Fundy-type Church. My friend didn’t get his job back, though, and never will, and even today there are thouse who would wonder “are tou sure he really was innocent?”. It is mud that sticks and can never be washed off.

  7. Charles said “This Blog site continues to create strife and friction between folks. Instead of building people up, it tears them down. I have got to stop coming here.”

    Wow, you were so convicted that you had to post it twice?

    1. The people that Jesus had strife with were the Fundamentalists of the day – the Pharisees (Although the comparison is probably unfair on the pharisees)

  8. I will agree on having multiple people in the car, etc. The Catholics and Perverts out there really screwed things up-even the unsaved don’t trust someone of the “cloth” if you will. I don’t care what church background you come from, all it take is one accusation and you are ruined-even if it is false. It happened to a good non-denom. preacher here in our community.

  9. I understood all the appearance… items except the wire-rimmed glasses and facial hair. What’s the perceived problem there?

    1. Bob:

      Both are associated with the liberalism of the 60’s. Facial hair and wire rimmed glasses are the sure sign of beatniks, hippies, Berkley professors and their ilk.

  10. Thanks, Darrell. That was my assumption but I didn’t know if there was a connection between those things and specific occurrences or persons. I guess I’m in trouble as I have had a mustache for almost 40 years.

  11. This is one of your better points. It is a total misunderstanding of that verse to use it as fundamentalists do. I remember the days when I used to think people wearing a Nike Swoosh on their coat were worldly and probably didn’t love God all that much….

    Every form or variation of evil is the point, not every thing that looks like evil to someone but really isn’t evil. If we went with the fundamentalist interpretation here, we’d have to accuse Jesus, as has been brought up in the comments above.

    People said this about Jesus, He should’ve avoided being seen I guess in order to obey the teaching of 1 Thess.

    “For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!”

    Luke 7:33-34 (KJV)

    Thanks for a post that uses sarcasm to drive an important point home. You’ve gotta love what that verse means in Greek after all…..

    Blessings in Christ,

    Bob Hayton
    Fundamentally Reformed

  12. “Avoid even the appearance of evil.” This sums up all the law and the prophets. Thus saith the pastor…and my dad. Inserting the word “even” was my dad’s clever invention.

  13. True story: I had to drive to someone’s house on a freezing winter night with a woman from my church. She was raised on this standard, so we got our spouses’ permission to take the 10-minute drive together. As soon as we were in the car she said, “Oh, this feels so strange. What would my pastor say?” A few minutes into the trip my car broke down. We coasted into the nearest parking lot. The only place around to make a phone call (this was before cells) was the corner bar.

  14. Ah , the power of the weaker brother/sister! Ruling and dictating to all from his/her throne of weakness.

    1. Again, I think it is a case-by-case discernment, AFAIAC. I know some truly fragile consciences out there, and I am not permitted to simply shrug them off. The Pharisees? Shrugged off in a heartbeat.

  15. I know this post is two years old. But I’m reading it and having flashbacks – teenagers in our youth group were very careful to avoid the appearance of evil, and much less careful about avoiding the evil itself.

  16. I think if we didn’t wear clothing designed by gay guys, we’d all be naked.
    Are Naturists (nudists) the only true Christians?

  17. The only reason they preach “avoid appearances of evil” is to get people to avoid looking like sinners, so we are not tempted, like a preventative measure. But the important thing here is, appearances, they have to look good, this alone is the key to helping them (rulers in the church) cover up all their scandals, if they and their sheep look good, who will believe a lone accuser.

  18. Some people manufacture evil from the most benign of things, so to avoid even the appearance of evil, you wouldn’t be able to do ANYTHING! πŸ™„

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