Spiritual obstacles are an independent, fundamental Baptist staple for some very good reasons. One is that literally anything can be declared a spiritual obstacle. This gives IFB preachers a place to hang any of their particular theological idiosyncrasies. Related to this is the ease with which legal solutions can be prescribed. Third, by their willingness to harp on such drivel, IFB preachers can reinforce the social cohesiveness of their particular sect by assuring hearers that they won’t hear such preaching elsewhere… Well thank God for that!
‘Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us’ [He 12:1].
Who is to say what particular sin entangles us. Moreover, even if it isn’t a sin but only an encumbrance, you must still cast it aside. No, that isn’t responsible exegesis. But so long as people don’t know the difference, I can ‘preach’ it without being challenged. Just obey and be blessed…
So let’s talk about hands and eyes, young people! Where do they go? What do they do while there? What do they think about afterward? A bit uncomfortable? Then you know you’re doing wrong!
Friday Challenge — The Real Obstacles:
Dale Fincher’s article at Soulation speaks of a woman who ‘longed to experience Christianity in a healthy way,’ but couldn’t read her Bible. Why? All she could hear was ‘my old pastor’s voice.’
That is truly sad. And it probably happens in IFB sects more than one might suppose. Yet I suspect that few independent, fundamental baptists hear sermons on IFB pastors being spiritual obstacles. But maybe that was your experience, or the experience of someone you know.
Either way, today you can sound off on this ironic situation in which your local IFB pastor or sect was that encumbrance to your walk with Christ.
Unfortunately, I can’t claim originality for the ‘God made Breasts’ thing since it was David Hayward’s title for a post over at Naked Pastor.
I’m no woman, so I can’t answer this; but I wonder if IFB women ever tire of hearing about woman things. Their pastors seldom tire of speaking about them. You’d think woman parts corrupt more men than the Devil himself. What’s worst — half the people on the planet are women! So there’s really no avoiding them. For many, that’s a non-issue; but not in IFBdom! When preparation time runs low, sermons can always distract attention from the lack of homiletic content by taking a swipe at women.
I’ve seen women look highly livid as they were shamed for being women. Perhaps it’s just me, but I’ve wondered what those women were thinking. Sending hymnbooks flying at the pulpit, perhaps? Not undeserved.
David’s cartoon might remind us that we’re actually discussing God’s creation. And while God pronounced all of creation good, that hardly means that the preacher’s opinions should count for nothing.
Today’s challenge doesn’t ask for a gender-shaming story, although that is certainly allowed if one needs to vent. Today’s challenge is to relate a gender-shaming story after which a woman or women put a pastor, deacon, elder or member in his place, and what was the outcome.
If such stories were heard, other women might find strength to stand that their dignity be respected. Small, little, suited men in pulpits shouldn’t get to shame half the human population because they don’t know what to make of their differing parts.
David Haywood’s ‘Black Sheep Matter’ cartoon generated some indignant responses based on the presumed reference to ‘Black Lives Matter.’
Yet for those raised in Independent Fundamental Baptist sects, the ‘black sheep’ metaphor takes on other connotations. The ‘black sheep’ of the family was the kid in the stuffed quiver that never took well to the quiver. The ‘black sheep’ was the one that caused the parents much of the grief. The ‘black sheep’ may be the member or adherent that left the IFB fellowship. Or, said sheep may actually have had the gumption to stand up and call out the preacher, telling him from the Bible why he’s wrong.
George Orwell’s works contain a number of famous lines. Perhaps one of the better known is taken from the last of the seven commandments found in Animal Farm. It said:
All animals are equal.
But as we know, some animals are more equal than others.
Today’s [Black Sheep] Friday Challenge
In the spirit of the Naked Pastor’s cartoon, and Orwell’s famous line from Animal Farm, what ‘more-or-less-equal’ sheep and/or black sheep stories can you relate from your experience or observations in the IFB movement? Do all sheep equally equal? Or is ‘equal’ decided by which family produced this particular sheep? Or maybe how much a sheep matters turns on how much wool the sheep contributes. What if the sheep really is ‘black?’ Or, do other factors count?
Where was this sheep black — in an IFB sect, a Christian Day School, or at Fundy College? What did this sheep do that made it black? Was the phrase, ‘black sheep’ actually used? What happened to that black sheep?
David Hayward of Saint John, New Brunswick gets Stuff Fundies Like. That, or we get him.
For years, David Hayward has maintained the ‘Naked Pastor‘ website. With 30+ years pastoral experience, there is little anyone can tell him about church culture. David plies his wit with artistry. The Naked Pastor website displays countless cartoons, essentially doing what we do here at SFL. But David does so primarily with his masterful cartoons.
Regarding this cartoon, David understands that questions can be dangerous things.
More years ago than I’m going to admit, I had a conversation with a Hall Monitor. The Hall Monitor was the person to whom BJU room spies [APCs (Assistant Prayer Captain) and PCs (prayer captains)] were to tattle illicit activities. I don’t even recall what the issue was, but the monitor decided that my comment required redress. I was advised to be careful with my words. It seems that some such talk about certain matters lands one ‘in trouble.’
My sense was that the Monitor’s censure was supposed to instill in the erring the fear of the Yom Yahweh. I was supposed to back down, become all submissive and compliant like. If so, this strategy was a resounding failure.
I asked whether we were at a university. It seemed that we were.
I pointed out that universities had always been communities of discussion, that education was impossible without it, that only those without answers fear questions. And I pointed out that the postulation of questions was integral to university life. To put this off limits belied the prior claim that this was a genuine university.
It was amusing to see the reaction. It wasn’t clear what shocked this monitor most: that any action taken would surely result in my expulsion and therefore [unquestioningly] my eternal damnation. Or was it that this poor fellow feared that lightening would strike for hearing such things? Then again, this might have made more sense than he expected.
We are not all blessed/cursed with drive to stand up to and call out heavy-handed louts in the service of injustice. Less belligerent souls are too often cowed into slavish submission, living in silent isolation among throngs of plastic happy-happy people. It’s all quite destructive to life and faith.
Especially young women have borne atrocious burdens in the ‘Name of the Lord.’ Home-schooled in IFB culture, some face unimaginable dilemmas. Lacking non-IFB contacts or life skills, and with no home to go if they are expelled/censured/shunned/shamed, they experience a power imbalance that is at once shocking, unjust, dehumanizing and dangerous.
Some localities really are not ‘question-friendly’ places. David Hayward found it liberating to leave such places to find freedom to question and explore and discover. He offers this simple word:
I encourage you to get to a place where you can do one simple thing: question.
With as much or as little detail as you like, today’s Friday Challenge is to name a question, injustice, fear, practice, situation or other issue that arose in your life, or that you witnessed in others because IFB culture does not support question-safe places.