God’s Opinion and God’s Church

A recent reply to a discussion sparked by one of my posts goes this way:

<blockquote>My opinion is not important and neither is anyone else’s. God’s opinion is all that matters. That is my entire view on all matters of religion. I appreciate much of what you had to say and I wish there was a way that I could agree with you, but I can’t. I don’t dare doubt God and His word in any way. To me that is denying God to suggest things are other than He has simply spelled out in His word. I should probably apologize for asking what bible someone is reading from, but I get frustrated at times when I see the simple message of God’s word ignored so much of the time.</blockquote>

This reply assumes:
(1) you know God’s opinion perfectly (because it is so simple and so simply laid out), and
(2) that God’s opinion is obvious, and
(3) you (and your sect) are the only ones who have discovered God’s opinion, and
(4) only willfully ignorant people would ignore what you (and your sect) have discovered.

When I was in the hard line Churches of Christ we were taught to say these things. Hard line Church of Christ people launch into the same diatribe when they are asked what their sect believes on a specific topic: “It’s not MY church, it’s GOD’s church. I don’t own the church.” To the which people should reply: “Everybody knows that, Mr. Rude Church of Christ Person, but I’m still not convinced you are even IN God’s church. So what does YOUR church, that may or may not be part of GOD’s church, believe on this topic?”

Respectful people assume that we are all intelligent seekers of God’s will. Respectful people already understand that most people think they are right on most topics and in alignment with God’s opinion, otherwise they would have changed their opinions already. This is an example of how the Churches of Christ take every opportunity to keep outsiders out.

191707-barbie-dolls-barbie-and-kenBut why would anyone be attracted to this kind of rudeness and arrogance? Why would anyone convert to the hard line Churches of Christ when approached in this astoundingly insulting way? I believe the reason is fairly simple: Because those potential converts are familiar with being treated that way. The only people attracted to this kind of religion are those who find the rudeness and abuse normal. As children they were probably spoken to in shaming double binds, and they have not examined those shaming double binds enough to recognize them and be aware of how manipulative they are. Instead they find shaming double binds mysteriously exciting and challenging, a tantalizing reminder of childhood attention. Those who are converted to the hard line Churches of Christ are those who are still looking for more scraps of love and attention from someone who reminds them of their shaming parents.

An example of a shaming double bind occurs whenever an outsider asks a religious question of someone from the hard line Church of Christ. The hard line Church of Christ person responds with a superiority jab (no matter how respectfully the outsider has asked the question): “It’s not our church. It’s God’s church. ” “It’s not my opinion that counts. It’s the Lord’s opinion that matters.” “Why do  you ask me what my opinion is? It’s what the Bible says that counts.”

I grew up in a church plant. My father was a missionary and established a church in a big city. The converts for the first seven years were all adult children of alcoholic parents. When I started reading about alcoholic families, I realized those converts were used to the shaming and threats of the hard line Church of Christ. And it dawned on me that my family I grew up in was eerily similar to an alcoholic family–the only difference was we had hard line Church of Christ as our addiction instead of alcohol.

So the traits of the adult child of an alcoholic:

dog with bag on head1. Low self-esteem

2. Shame

3. Anger

4. Dependence on others for decisions

5. Fear of rejection

6. Hide the real self and real emotions

7. Play the role of a competent person

8. Lonely

9. Loyal to people and organizations that are not worthy of loyalty

10. Authoritarian

are also the traits of members of the hard line Church of Christ.


About Mark

I was raised in the conservative non-institutional churches of Christ and attended Florida College in Tampa, Florida. I served as a minister for 8 years in the non-institutional churches of Christ, and 4 years at a mainline church of Christ in Vermont.
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3 Responses to God’s Opinion and God’s Church

  1. Gary Cummings says:

    I am glad I was not born COC. After I became a member of the COC in 1965, I found out that most of my dad’s mother’s family was COC in Leakey, and elsewhere in Southwest Texas. I thought then it was a miracle of God. Later, after I left the COC, I came to realize that it was one of the reasons my dad was so hostile to religion. He would go with mom at the begging of my mom, to the local United Methodist Church. I went one time to Leakey to visit relatives in 1971, and one of them found out I was a member and a minister of the COC. They were very proud of me, and told me the COC was the only True Church. It was shortly after that when I walked away from the COC. Shortly after that my wife, who grew up in the COC, left me because I was no longer a member of the Lord’s Church. I was doing Alternative Service at this time, and got fired from a state hospital for reporting abuse to the governor’s office. I moved home to live with my family till I found a new Alternative service job and a place to live. I found the job, and one morning I came home after a night shift at a boy’s home. I found my mother and sister at the kitchen table, but Daddy was not there. They said he went to the hospital during the night, and had been diagnosed with Leukemia. As I got to the hospital, he was being put on an air ambulance to fly him to Lackland AFB Hospital to be treated. Long story short: he lived about a month. In a short space of time, I had left the church, my wife left me, I changed alternative service jobs, and my dad died in the space of a month.
    This broke me, and it took years of working through shame and doubt and fear to get to the other side where Jesus and the Kingdom of God were waiting for me. Thank God. But it still took another 20 years to get the COC poison out of my system. Much trauma, but better faith.

  2. Interesting blog on God’s Opinion and God’s Church. Rarely do we examine what type of person we draw into our fellowship, as we fool ourselves into thinking we can appeal to everyone. For this reason, many hard-lined members often behave and think the same way and attract those with similar personalities.

    • garycummings says:

      Abusive churches attract abusive people. The COC does not have what it takes to appeal to everyone. It was a white racist cult for 100 years, and guess what? It raised people who were racist and appealed to racists. That is the first thing I noticed when I joined up with the COC in 1965, it was a racist church. They did not transform the culture with the Gospel, rather the culture perverted the Gospel they claimed to preach. It was a gospel of racism and war and being exclusive.

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