Showing posts from 2009

The Church of Christ and Marriage

The COC is obsessed with heterosexual marriage. In all my years in the COC, I lost count of all the sermons and classes we had on "the family." Typically, such classes and sermons were just a rehashing and reinforcement of the strict gender roles described by Paul's letters: the husband is the head of the wife, and she's supposed to be obedient to him, and the kids in turn are supposed to obey the parents. If it was a ladies only class, you can bet we studied the "godly woman" described in Proverbs chapter 31, ad nauseum.

The COC's doctrine about the family isn't complicated, but we had to go over it again and again and again. I wondered why at the time, but now I realize that the church and its patriarchal structure were threatened by the rise of feminism in the 1970s. Thus, they felt compelled to harp on this one subject endlessly, to prop up their gender hierarchy.

This emphasis on strict gender roles means that the ideal in the COC is that every…

The Church of Christ and Rules of Biblical Interpretation

Someone posted this on the ex-Church of Christ board:

I don't have much to add except to comment that it's absolutely the truth. This is exactly how every COC I ever attended approached the scriptures. None of those congregations ever wrote it down, however. I'm amazed that this group would put this out here on the Internet for anyone to read, since these rules are usually part of the unspoken creed of the COC and are used to fluster and bamboozle anyone who dares to argue with the COC's interpretation of the Bible.

OK, I do have two comments. Rule #4, "Do Not Do "Proof Text" Study. Study to find what to believe; do not study to prove what you already believe," makes me laugh, because proof-texting is all the COC does! And rule #22, "Be willing to learn from others, but do not accept their explanations uncritically," sounds great in theory, but in practice, you'd better accept what the…

Blog Neglect and Other Junk

I feel badly that I've neglected this poor little blog for so long. Life threw me some curve balls recently, and I've had to deal with a lot of unexpected crises. But things are a bit calmer now, so I thought I'd pop in for an update.

I have to confess, however, that I don't feel the need to blog as often as I used to. This has been good therapy for me, to help me work out some of the residual emotional issues of growing up in a controlling, cultish environment. But I feel that I've moved past some of those issues and no longer need to vent my spleen about them. I'm sure that other issues will come up in the future, but for the moment, I'm content with my life and my choice to leave the COC.

It's Hard to Know What to Believe

A fellow ex-COC-er and I have had this same conversation over and over again: we don't know what to believe any more, all we know is that we don't believe in the COC. We don't believe that the COC is the one true church. We don't believe that the COC has all the answers. And most important, we don't believe that the COC has any authority over our lives and has no authority to condemn us for our lack of belief.

The problem is that, after ridding ourselves of the negativity of the COC, it's hard to find something to replace it with. After all those years of fear- and guilt-based indoctrination in a literalist interpretation of the Bible, it's hard to think rationally about doctrine, to decide what you truly can and can't accept, because you're afraid that, if you make the wrong decision, you're condemning yourself.

One big question we both wrestle with is whether there's an afterlife and if so, is there a good place and a bad place and who is go…

My People Perish for a Lack of Knowledge (Hosea 4:6)

A point of pride for the church of Christ is that, unlike people in the denominations, its members "know" their Bibles. Reading the Bible, both as a group during worship service and individually at home, is stressed a great deal. Since the Bible is the key to salvation, it behooves us to know it inside and out, forward and backward. And we're always supposed to be able to give "a ready answer" (i.e., quote Scripture) to anyone who questions our faith. So most COCers will read their Bibles diligently, if for no other reason than to fill in the blanks in the Bible class workbooks and not get blindsided when the teacher calls on them to answer a question during class.

Unfortunately, it has been my observation that the average person in the COC doesn't really know the Bible that well in the first place. Most people only read what the preacher tells them to read and have never read the entire book. They ignore the difficult or uncomfortable passages and stick to …