Awhile back I had written a piece on those individuals who have a serious obstacle in their Christian lives by adhering so firmly to a pet doctrine that they throw away all common sense. They have the tendency to measure orthodoxy and their association with a church to this particular “doctrine”. I have had the unfortunate experience of seeing someone leave the faith due to what they saw as an inconsistency among professing believers. In other words, since Christians don’t seem to believe this clear teaching of scripture then Christianity only produces frauds. We are not speaking of the doctrine of justification by faith, the Trinity or the Resurrection but some “implicit”, “questionable” or “non-essential” biblical teachings.
I spoke with someone very close to me recently who is in this situation. This individual is obsessed with a teaching which is found in scripture to the extent that he makes it the standard for Christianity and the foundation for everything else. He is so consumed with this teaching that he refuses to attend a church that doesn’t practice this strictly. The teaching is based upon the appearance of the woman in church. He is convinced that a woman should wear a veil when worshipping in a church ( 1 Corinthians 11), that she should have long hair ( 1 Cor. 11) and that she should wear a dress (specifically a loose fitting dress down to her ankles). I will say from the beginning that I’m not opposed to these things since I feel that modest apparel is tremendously important for both women and men. The worship of God should be conducted with a mindset that Christ is in the presence of His people when they are gathered together. We are gathering for the covenant meal to remember the Christ and share in communion with each other (1 Cor. 10:16-17) hence this is not a party or a bar to find yourself a mate or worst. Our dress does reflect our heart and how serious our encounter with God truly is. With that said, I’m still of the mindset that we are not under the law and hence since the bible doesn’t explicitly define “modest apparel” then we should be careful to place too strict boundaries on these issues.
This individual however has taken this dress criteria and made it the foundation of a church. He has refused to attend ANY church because no church in the Greater Moncton Area truly fits his standard. While there are churches that at least come close to this standard, he always seems to find a reason to avoid attending these churches. Now, he is so focused upon this issue that he ignores the command in the book of Hebrews where we are told to make sure we are not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some (Hebrews 10:25). When I have confronted this person with this text, he is adamant that the Lord would never want him to attend a church that does not follow the strict rule of dress for the woman. You have the case of a person ignoring a big piece of wood in his eye while trying to get a little speck out of the eye of an entire city’s church community. He even went as far as saying that other problems such as gossip, divisions or doctrinal errors were not as fundamental to him as this item. Obviously there is a real imbalance in his thinking. It’s a case of making the major things minor and the minor things major. Again, I’m not minimizing the importance of these doctrines but I’m attempting to show that these things are not more important than attending a local church and fundamental doctrines of the faith.
I still question the motive behind these people. What causes them to become so obsessive with their pet doctrine? Is it that they feel a sense of importance by it or perhaps they are trying to get away from being under the church’s authority? Most of these people only talk about this doctrine and generally exclude themselves from any church. I’m convinced that we must stand firm against this type of abuse and exhort the person to be balanced in their thinking! I guess the tune on the one string banjo might be the Lone Ranger theme.