This week will be the final one wherein I give advice for how to make a healthy transition away from the Oneness Pentecostal movement. In my next post I will say something about protecting one’s heart from bitterness (a very, very difficult task). After that I will wrap up the series with some final words on the matter. Today I want to address what I see as the most dangerous pendulum swing one can engage once they leave.
I have seen several female friends realize that Deut. 22.5 is tucked into a passage that if read in context doesn’t seem very applicable to women in the New Covenant (i.e. this was a specific commandment to Israel for reasons oft debated). Likewise, they notice that 1 Cor. 11.1-16 seems to be addressing an underlying subject related to healthy respect between males and females while the outward expression (head coverings) seems to be very culturally specific. They move from these ery correct observations to some very misguided one’s concerning other biblical imperatives. After years of reading Scripture as very two dimensional it becomes apparent that they have lost confidence in how to interpret the moral imperatives of Scripture.
If I can cut my hair, wear jeans, and drink a beer, why can’t I get drunk once in a while, sleep with a few people, and so forth and so on. For those who have never left such an environment this may seem absurd, but it is a reality for many. Scripture has been read as (A) a guide to good Christian living and (B) a guide to the associated morality. No one has ever taught them to read critically to ask what underlying motives do we find for particular biblical imperatives. What is the character of God? Why are some things only applicable for Israel under the Old Covenant but not for Christians under the New Covenant?
We cannot dive into a hermeneutics lesson here. All I can say is be careful not to throw away everything once you find that some things are wrong. You will learn that while your mother may not speak to you because you cut your hair or watched a movie in a theater that this is a totally different consequence to sleeping around with several sexual partners or trying new and exciting drugs.
You do have common sense and the Spirit is still with you. There are some things you have been taught that once abandoned will be freeing (like Paul when he realized under the New Covenant that Christ was his Sabbath or that the foods of the Gentiles could now be consumed); other things will be devastating (which is why Paul continues to speak against sexual immorality, abusing one’s body, cheating, stealing, lying, and a list of other sins against God).
One area to begin is this: Jesus said that the Law of God boils down to loving God first and my neighbor as myself. Does cutting your hair (if you are a girl) in our culture show that you do not love God or neighbor? No. Does wearing jeans do this? No. Does going to the movie theater do this? Probably not. Does having a beer with a friend? No.
What about sleeping around? Yes, check the emotional after effect on your “neighbor” as well as against God who created us to be monogamous. What about drunkenness? Have you ever seen how drunks impact their neighbor? What about drug use and abusing your body? Yes. What about lying, cheating, stealing, and those types of sins. Yes!
While this does not mean you will never find yourself in a moral quagmire. It does mean you will have a principle that Jesus taught us that will assist you in forming new, balanced, healthy moral convictions.
Being a Christian is about being a disciple of Christ. Being a disciple of Christ is not something you can learn in a “Being a Disciple for Dummies” book. It takes a life time.
You will make more mistakes. You will hold to some convictions that later you will realize were no big deal. You will abandon some you wish you had maintained. It’s a journey, a long one, so be ready.
But it is a journey you must take. Following Christ is never easy. Sometimes, like Abraham, to follow the voice of God, we must leave our comfort zone and just begin walking. It won’t always be easy, but it is better than staying put when you know you should have gone.