This blog records my transition from the Churches of Christ to Eastern Orthodoxy.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Appearance, Culture, Diversity, Unity, etc.

It drives me batty when i hear of church elderships establishing polity where those who serve up front have a minimum dress code (which typically can hardly be termed "minimum" at all). Everyone has to fit into the some bizarre standing cookie cutter appearance mold. Why? At preaching school, some people there wanted us to feel that facial hair was nearly evil. Why? Rewind a hundred years or more and many of their precious restorationists as well as the average respectable man in society wore a ton of facial hair on their face. Some people wanted us to think that long hair was nearly evil. Why? Rewind a couple hundred years and most of the "refined" men of society had long hair. Why is one set of cultural norms allowed to dominate? It seems to come from different places--WWII defined what a "real man" was supposed to look like for so many. The 50's and the "nuclear family" idea contributed to an image as well, i suspect. And now, for some reason, no other cultural norms are acceptable to many religious people.

Yet in the New Testament, the church was a melting pot of cultures. Did Corinthians have to start dressing like Jews? Did the Romans need to start dressing like the Jews? When Paul headed off to Spain, was he going to tell them to start looking like Jews? For all i know, the Jews didn't even all look alike since they had spent several generations spread vastly over Europe, Africa, and Asia.

America is a melting pot as well. Not just of world cultures, but of cultures and subcultures. There are regional differences in appearance. There are age differences in culture and appearance. Why are people blamed for this and expected to become WWII-generationized as though such is synonymous with becoming Christianized? i just don't see that the Bible teaches any such thing. i don't see why the man of the WWII generation needs to give up his tie and slacks anymore than the college student from the Northwest needs to give up his scruffy beard and t-shirt anymore than the rural poor farmer needs to give up his overalls anymore than the surburban high school kid needs to give up his black hair and baggy clothes anymore than the middle eastern man needs to give up his gown and sandals.

i think some people are just going to have to get over the fact that the adolescent Christian who would love to serve up front by leading a prayer or passing the communion trays--they're just going to have to get over that he's got jet black hair, or a piercing in his eyebrow, or that the urban youth has baggy pants and an afro, or than the hispanic wears a cowboy hat. So what? If you get any of them to change their appearance just because you don't like it, then either you teach them that practicing Christianity is about a facade and a costume and then they'll practice Christianity that way in that congregation the rest of their lives, or else you just won't ever win them and they'll leave because they know they're not really accepted. I mean, do you really expect any of those three people to look like you when they aren't a member of the same culture or generation as you?

Does it burn you that any of those people look different than you? Well who made your cultural norms any more acceptable to God than those people's? Eventually people will just have to get over that even on the issue of appearance, "you don't have to be my twin brother, to be my brother."


MrsHonea said...

A M E N.

Matthew said...

I congregation that I know of says the men must have ties. But they are not adding to the gospel, no way. Just joking. It is sad when stuff like that happens.

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