Credo #64: The Church is not the military

Posted: April 2, 2010 in Credo, For brothers

Closely related to #65, but different.

It has so happened in my travels as a single Christian man that I encountered a church elder who tried to reason with me thusly: “It’s like you being in the military …that’s why.” The context was my being brought up before a pair of elders because I had done something that warranted such; I had had coffee with a single Christian woman in her townhouse kitchen; not only that, her room-mate, also a believer, was present for said coffee. It was a “bad witness.” That particular fellowship has since dissolved and its members scattered, some of them to other control-freak organizations. The roomie is still in such a fellowship not six miles from where I type this. I think she’s the one who ratted me out.

Now, I’m not trying to get in a cheap shot against so-called “biblical dating” exponents who get a little or a lot carried away; when I do this the way I want to it will be with a hidden camera in a jurisdiction that allows this. I’m trying to talk to you about a certain kind of mind-set.

At the time of my encounter with said lady – we are still friends, after all these years – I was in fact in the military*. Had Uncle Sam said “go” then I would have “gone.” For what it’s worth, I believe I had heard the Holy Spirit say “go” when I contemplated joining the service, and also when I left; that is an aside; though. It had happened in the course of my service a time or two when I had an ethical dilemma wherein my course of action was dictated by my (hopefully) biblically informed understanding of the situation rather than the dictates of my Command.

The problem here was that this guy really did think that the team of elders there could act in God’s stead and pair people up based upon their understanding of what their colons…er, their internal sense of what the Holy Spirit was telling them was. A number of roughly parallel experiences were had throughout the Charismatic world during this time by those in the shadow of what was called the “Discipleship Movement.” ..My being brought before them on the bogus sin charge had more to do with what their plans and schemes were than any real or imagined sin on my part. Need I say that there were a number of divorces that came out of that mess?

It further so happened that a few years ago, something like 25 years after all this, I ran into one of these elders when we were both serving jury duty — Uncle Sam said “come” and so we “came.” He was no longer of the mindset that he had been those many years ago.

Yet, even today, there are fellowships about that continue to cling to these mind-sets that they have no biblical warrant to. Read this essay here, at for some food for thought. It may help you frame the question properly in your mind when or if you have the need to say to someone: No, Sir.

This is sort of on topic, as well: I once read a traveling speaker’s account of being put up in some believer’s home as he went about. He marveled at how “Godly” his hosts were; for he had seen (I am not making this up) how all the towels in the closet were precisely lined up and properly folded. It seemed to him to be a marker for what was, in his mind, “discipline.” Really. He would not want to see my towel box, I don’t think. I even have the colors mixed.

Remember that biblical instruction to submit to those in authority over you happens within a doctrinal context. It is not absolute in its scope and depth. And, it is absolutely better for you to leave your fellowship rather than stay if you are getting metaphorical “towel inspections” designed to keep you intimidated and in-line rather than disciple you such that you are enabled to walk in the freedoms you have as a believer.
*First time around single.

As an obiter, if you are a history fan, you might like to read this work for a better understanding of the Medieval period.


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