Sunday, June 25, 2006


Sometimes we grow out of things…

Sometimes we grow apart from things…

Sometimes we grow into a new light for viewing things…

There are many reasons why someone might choose to change a way they have been in the past. One might choose to change a behavior, or a habit, or a value, or a belief. Sometimes these changes will go by without much attention made, but other times the change catches the eye of everyone around.

This past week I had yet another of my friends express to me their “falling away from the church.” Now while this might not be an all-to-common conversation for me, the reasoning behind why the “falling” took place is becoming more and more common for me to hear…

“I can’t stand to be around church people for the main reasons of them being judgmental and way too vocal on their…views...”

…just to quote one person…

…but that quote resembles too closely the words I have heard more and more from people.

Please understand, the “people” do not always drive these individuals away from their Lord, but more that they have been the reasoning these individuals state for what drove them away from their church assembly. Many times I’ve found when individuals have come to me and expressed this status, they still believe in their God, they just struggle with being able to attend church services to worship Him along side people that they strongly disagree with based on “judgments.”

Now, I think it is important that I clarify some terminology here. I will not speak directly for the individual that I quoted earlier; however, I will say that generally the basis of the concept of people being “judgmental” when referenced is pertaining to these church people being individuals who are quick to point out others as being “wrong” or “sinful.” I like to make this clarification because I personally view the actual term of judging differently.

To me, judging is a part of every one of our everyday lives—something crucial to our daily functioning. Frequently we are placed in situations during the day where we much judge the situation or the circumstance. Through our judging, which might include weighing options or evaluating potential consequences, we typically draw conclusions. I see judging as a natural mean for making decisions. I think we must use our own up-bringing, value system, beliefs, knowledge, experience, etc. to “judge” in our life in order to make everyday decisions. We must “judge” what would be in OUR MIND the appropriate or inappropriate thing for US to do. Because of this, I do not necessarily see “judging” as a bad thing.

I think when “judging” becomes troublesome is when we try to “judge” what would be in OUR MIND the appropriate or inappropriate thing for SOMEONE ELSE to do. Or even more troublesome, when we make these judgments in OUR MIND that something SOMEONE ELSE did was inappropriate. This leads us into judging someone ELSE’S actions. Unfortunately, I believe often times this comes from our desires to better ourselves—too try to make us look better by putting others down based on “judging” their actions as inappropriate.

This is what I see my friends running up against when they have come to me and expressed their discontentment with the “church people.” Through these conversations with my friends I have seen “church people” expressed as people who often times are quick to “judge” others’ behaviors/beliefs/lifestyles, arriving at conclusions of inappropriateness. Typically the “church people” term would be “sin,” as in “sinful” behaviors/beliefs/lifestyles.

Now, as I am one who is typically always trying to remind myself and others that we can still live in harmony with individuals that we disagree with; I am also reminded that sometimes this is more difficult than other times.

Disagreement does not have to be the basis for splitting ways with a people. We can have disagreements with our family, our best friends, or our spouses, but this does not mean the end of the friendship, or a divorce is necessary. It simply means that there is a disagreement. Still, it is when the disagreements become extreme that troubles arise.

Extremists are rare, as in my class studies I have been taught that most countries are unwilling to put up with radicals. Being extreme to the point that one becomes a radical often times will lead to the end of their radical behaviors in a matter of time. It was only a matter of time that Hitler was put to an end. Our society does not tolerate radical behaviors deviating from the norm at such extremes.

So what can make disagreements extreme enough to be troublesome, yet not to the point of radicalism?

In keeping with the “church people” topic I want to bring up the idea of holy rollers. Now if you are unsure of what types of behaviors in an individual might elicit my use of describing someone as a “holy roller” let me try to describe it. These are individuals who are often viewed as extremely religious, in the sense that their religion takes over most of their everyday life. Their religious references in their daily routine are frequent. Their form of worship might stand out as different in the sense that they take their worship behaviors to the extreme. Typically these individuals are the pack-leaders in conversion missions.

Now, before I get individuals condemning me in my comment section of this blog for my description of “holy rollers” and pairing it with the phrase of “extreme enough to be troublesome,” let me explain…

The more obvious view of holy rollers’ extreme levels being “troublesome” comes from the outside looking in. To someone who is “outside” of the church, or simply put, someone who has different “religious” beliefs from the holy roller, the behaviors of the holy roller can become aggressive and irritating. For example, when a holy roller is determined to convert someone who is a non-believer, that “non-believer” can view the holy roller’s conversion efforts as aggressive. This is because holy roller’s typically are persistent in their conversion efforts. Now, in a similar situation, the behaviors of the holy roller can be seen from those “inside” the church as troublesome too. If the holy roller becomes too persistent in trying to bring others to his/her beliefs, and they end up pushing people further and further away, the people within the church can see the holy roller’s behaviors as discouraging.

Besides conversion efforts, the extreme levels of religious views from a holy roller can discourage others. Sometimes the extreme levels cause the holy roller to become close-minded in the sense that they see their way as the right way and the only right way. It is then that the “judging” others behaviors and lifestyles as inappropriate or “sinful” can cause an up-roar.

Yes, other individuals besides holy rollers will view other individuals as “sinful,” but it is when the views are pushed to the extreme that they become more troublesome.

It is here that the movie “Saved!” comes to my mind. I just watched this movie today, for what was my second time, and I had forgotten how much I love this movie! It isn’t a movie with great acting or a movie with an academy award-winning storyline; however, it is a shorter film that brings some religious views and stances into the spotlight to be evaluated. It might not be a movie for everyone, as I can see it causing some dissatisfaction amidst an audience of holy rollers, because it does poke-fun through its attempt to make some points; however, I would recommend it as a movie to try once and draw your own conclusions. What the movie does is it takes religious views to the extreme to make its points, and I love it!

It reminds me of another of my favorite movies; one that more people might be more familiar with—“Crash” (this year’s academy award winner for “Best Picture”).

Each time I watch “Crash” I often find myself thinking how much I want to say to Chris “Ludacris” Bridges’ character in the film to “give it up already!” So many times throughout the movie his character seems to be trying to turn EVERYTHING into a racist scenario—trying to make EACH and EVERY action/comment/look into a form of discriminating. Maybe it WAS a behavior with intent of discriminating, but maybe it wasn’t. Whatever the case, the movie takes each and every situation to the extreme to get the point across to the viewing audience the ways discrimination CAN slip into our daily interactions.

I think both “Crash” and “Saved!” use the extremes perfectly to get their points across.

In “Saved!” it is the holy rollers who are quick to “judge” the behaviors of others as “sinful.” They are very “judgmental” in the idea that homosexuality is “wrong.” Being a “non-believer” is purpose enough for a crusade to “save” you. Sex or pregnancy outside of wed-lock is a disgrace in God’s eyes. These are the views and “judgments” that extremists will preach over and over to the point of labeling each and every individual as “right” or “wrong.”

I love how the storyline in the movie is setup where those who do not meet the “appropriateness” of the religious views (i.e. those who are homosexual and those who are pregnant teens) are sent to leave the “religious” school and sent into a different school to “make them better.” So yes, this is another of the “taking it to the extreme” points in the movie, but how close is that to what occurs in churches everyday? No, maybe at church they might not “kick you out of the church” if they FIND OUT you are gay, but they will for sure make it their mission to try to “make you better,” since that is “inappropriate.”

So is it the “judging” of those within the church that is causing individuals to leave? Is it the “judging” that is causing some WITHIN the church to hide who they really are, out of fear of being “judged” as inappropriate or sinful?

I suppose we might never know. But I guess I just leave you with this…

To what extent do you seeing “judging” reaching a point of being troublesome? Or as I would put it, at what point does it become troublesome when we are viewing in OUR MIND that something SOMEONE ELSE did was inappropriate?


Holly said...

Good post. I like how you were sure to point out that we all judge. Amen, we do. Anyway, this isn't really the answer to the question you asked (as far as when it becomes troublesome when we, in our minds, judge) but oh well... I think, maybe, judging can become troublesome when one person surrounds themselves with only one "type" of social group. Because of the ways groups often work, one might be putting themselves at high risk. It's like gambling at the casino. A person is on a winning streak, feeling high, nothing can go wrong... rolling the di... and then losing your entire life savings all because you just got too comfy in the moment. But maybe not.

I guess some of the things kids are taught growing up, that seem so simple, are so incredibly useful. Sometimes, perhaps people just have to say to themselves, "it doesn't matter what they think," or, as my dad would say, "to hell with them" (but that's just not nice). It isn't easy to do. I can't do it a lot myself.

Whatever the case, as far as overly judmental extremeist church-goers, I am just reminded of this: "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."

FeedingYourMind said...

Holly: Nice points. Thanks for the comment!

I must say, you are right. In summing it all up...

"Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."

Agent B said...

Yeah. Judging, like gluttony and a handful of others, seem to be one of those sins that the church glosses over. Or, they don't hammer down on it culturally like say, homosexuality.

In the end...Jesus didn't come to judge, but to save. If we are to be like him...I guess we should do likewise.

Good post.

Jennifer said...

Of course it isn't our place to judge. Yet, people do. Sad, isn't it?

Perhaps instead of worrying about the people around us, we should focus on what the church is intended for, and then maybe look for a different church.

FeedingYourMind said...

Agent B: Gluttony--What? Is that a sin?!?! ;) How can something so good be so bad for your!?" ;)

And yes--"Jesus didn't come to judge, but to save". I needed someone to bring the Jesus comparison into this for me. Sometimes I feel a little "out of place" making those types of points...HA! [Note: that makes sense if you know my "religious" stance...HA!]

Thanks for the comment!

Jennifer: is a sad thing. But yes, we do all judge.

However, I would make these comments to your second point. [Please understand I might be misinterpreting what you meant by the second point, so let me know if that is the case].

You are right in the sense that one should not be worrying about the people around them when they are WORSHIPING; however, I would then ask if being in church is solely for the purpose of worship? I say this because this is the argument I've run into...

I know several people who choose to worship their God outside of the church setting because they do not agree with a lot of the stuff that takes place within the church settings, etc. They view their worship to their God just as satisfactory when they do it alone on their own, without having to attend a church.

The idea I see behind the church assembly, from what I remember from my upbringing is it is a time for fellowship TOGETHER. A place to worship in a gathering based on the idea of fellowshiping together to the Lord. If this is the case, I think attention would have to be paid to "people around us."

Having said that, if you are someone that finds so many people being vocal about a sinful nature that you do not agree with (i.e. condemning homosexuals, swearing off pregnant teens, etc.) then how the harmony for fellowshiping together is quite a difficult task.

Please understand that I believe that small disagreements can be dealt with; however, the impression I get from my friends, it is the extreme-vocal nature of these "judgmental" individuals that becomes the problem.

I would agree with you in saying that they should look for another church, but the difficulty comes when it isn't just the people sitting around you in the pews, but it is the ones standing before you preaching this condemnation.

And once again, I am not saying they are all like this, but my understanding from the people who have spoke to me, they have run into this issue not just in one church, but more and more churches. It sometimes seems like it is more the doctrine behind the religious denomination rather than the people who make up the church assembly. So, of course, if it is the doctrine, then those in a place to teach the doctrine will teach it like that, then those in the place to listening and learn from the teaching will take it that way, and then they in-turn will echo it to the crowd...and so on and so forth.

I say all that to say I am not placing the blame on anyone or any group of people so to say, but rather maybe the doctrine...or better yet, how one denomination has chosen to interpret the doctrine. Hmmm....I kinda like that better! ;)

Maybe when saying "look for a different church," it could include, looking for a church in a denomination that shares similar interpretations and views of the Bible as you.

Okay, I'll shut up now. I have NO idea who I turned that into such a long comment, but since it is my blog, I am not going to worry about it. HA!

Thanks for the comment, Jennifer! It made me reevaluate some thoughts on the matter!