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Did You Have Any Weird Rules As An Xian?


Wings
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As I browse through these forums and learn more as an ex-c, I realize that not all churches are created equally (gasp!)

 

Was thinking today about some of the weird (unwritten) rules that our church had and wondered if you have any others to share about yours. In my case:

 

-not allowed to go shopping or spend any money on anything on a Sunday

-not allowed to go to the movies (having the internet or watching them at home was okay, though?)

-not allowed to work on Sunday

-church twice a Sunday

-had to dress up for church; women weren't allowed to wear pants to church (though this has sort of changed in the last few years)

-no playing 'official' sports of any kind on Sunday

 

Those are mostly related to lifestyle, though there were some weirdities about actual church stuff. Anyway, wondering if other people have any interesting stories to share and sorry if this is a repeat topic!

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I personally didn't have any weird rules, but I've been to many denominations in my life. In some women always cover their heads. Some dance in the aisles. Some kneel before the alter as they walk across the room. Some play rock music. Others only sing hymns. People rocking back and forth in their seats. People slain in the spirit. People being cursed and then being freed.

 

Nothing strikes me as particularly odd about church behaviors. The church I just left was the most mild, but one thing disturbed me a lot. The quest to procreate. There was a family with 9 kids. Each one within a year or two of the next. The mother looked so miserable. And a new young couple ... they got married 3 years ago... working on their third child. And all the church children are so sheltered. They discuss great religious books and works, but know so little about the real world...

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Only men could serve communion in one church I was a member of.

I always ignored attire rules because I am essentially a hippy who loves Pippi Longstocking.

I still can't play any card games, due to my mother banning evil card games on days ending in "y".

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We had alot of stupid "morality rules" such as considering the word "crap" and "suck" to have been naughty words. My family still practices this and i look back at it now and realize how much of a dumb ass i must of been.

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the church I was most familiar with was big on grace and "Now that we have received such a great gift, how then shall we live?" in other words legalism was frowned upon but at the same time certain standards of moral behaviour were expected. Dress codes and so on were frowned upon because it was basically a street ministry, anti-established church and a wee bit hippyish. We viewed biblical admonitions to dress a certain way or cut hair as "culturally specific" for the most part. On Sunday mornings the place looked sometimes like a refugee centre for Haight Ashbury rejects ;-)

Most of the directives you noted above would have been seen as legalistic and not in the Christian spirit of freedom from the law. That being said, the idea of not making your brother stumble by your behaviour was also emphasized, especially with regard to alcohol consumption (one man is free to imbibe but for another it is a sin, don't use your freedom to cause a stumbling block to fall in your brothers path etc etc...) this is especially relevant at a street church with many attendees suffering with substance abuse issues.

I must say, looking back, the old street church was fairly level headed about a lot of things in comparison with a lot of the fundy groups described on these forums. Still a load of old bollocks but waaaaaay more open and tolerant than most I've seen, some churches would make my skin crawl with all the social climbing, judgement, hypocrisy and false faced plastic smiles. At the Seed, we were in the gutter, singing with the prostitutes with needles in our arms (metaphorically speaking) , there wasn't a lot of pretentiousness going on. The mainstream churches in our area viewed us with no small amount of alarm, I'm sure they had the place fumigated after our choir came to sing as guests a few times. we were like the embarrassing relation, "doing great things down there on the street but they do smell funny... and that long hair! my word. Did you see the one with the tiedye, beads and sandals? in The Lawds house too... we must prey for them"

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we held funerals for heroin addicts, weddings for ex prostitutes and baptisms for bastards. "reaching the unreachable" was the mottoe, a church for those who would never darken the door of a mainstream church. The pastor was an ex gang member (1950s NYC) and a pretty good egg really, NOT fundamentalist. We held a fairly literal interpretation but people were relatively free to bring their own understanding to the table. In the church attendees you might find some fairly literalistic fundamentalists but also Charismatics, Pentecostals and also a few liberals. The basic message was help the poor and lift up the downtrodden. I cannot say my experience there was the source of my exit from Christianity. The bible and the behaviour of the church at large was my impetus. The Seed I had little problem with.

Judge Not was a huge thing, because of our membership. How can you judge anyone in a church full of recovering druggies, ex whores, schizophrenics, people with bizarre multiple personality disorders, people living under bridges and guys who showed up to sing gospel songs on Sundays with a gin bottle in their coat pocket?

yeah, a wee bit unusual but that's where I grew as a christian for my first few years. I could never fully immerse myself in any other church after that experience, the "authenticity" of it (for want of a better word) was not to be met again in mainstream assemblies. I tried to find another place to be comfortable in like I had been at the Seed, but it was not to be and my church attending days ended shortly after I ceased going down the Seed. My travelling and inquisitiveness into other religions and philosophies make further church attendance very problematic. I went to a reunion of old Seeders a few years ago. It was weird, I felt out of place for I had moved on a lot since I used to sing "I'll fly away Oh glory I'll fly away" so long before. Nice to see a lot of old faces (some had become ex Christians as well), sad to see that so many had died.... The street is like that. It isn't the "normal" world....

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Guest wester

Rule #1 Women and girls are second class christians and can and should never hope to lead anything except choir much less be ordained

Rule #2 Grape juice is fine for communion

Rule #3 If you can't go to church, watching Robert Schuler's hour of power will do just fine

Rule #4 God hates loud music from african-american blues musicians

 

Rules 1-3 were weird enough, but when it came to #4 and an outright ban on Hound Dog Taylor, Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters, i knew that christianity's days were numbered

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Dancing wasn't allowed. One foot was supposed to remain on the floor at all times. That way, it's not really dancing.

Wendywhatever.gif

Also, we weren't allowed to read Harry Potter. My mom, though religious, didn't follow this rule. Wendymagic.gif

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thank your mother for such liberty.

I had Christian acquaintances in the past who claimed the both CS Lewis AND JRR Tolkien were "of the devil" because they dared to include magical things in their books... Harry Potter would have given them a coronary.

Personally I loved them all. Even from the beginning of my faith walk nearly thirty years ago I knew deep down inside that censorship of fiction was a load of cobblers. I had people warn me to beware of fantasy novels, but since fantasy novels were the bulk of what I was reading (other than the ultimate fantasy novel of course ;-) I completely disregarded these admonitions... but then I was a bit of a rebel...

I read Harry Potter as an adult and thoroughly enjoyed them all.

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Dancing wasn't allowed. One foot was supposed to remain on the floor at all times. That way, it's not really dancing.

Wendywhatever.gif

Also, we weren't allowed to read Harry Potter. My mom, though religious, didn't follow this rule. Wendymagic.gif

So no running either, just speed walking.

 

I couldn't wouldn't say "Goddamn" which made my singing of Where Eagles Dare by The Misfits rather lacking. I was cool with saying every profane word in the book but "Goddamn" so when I sang that song I'd replace "Goddamn" with "Fucking."

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thank your mother for such liberty.

She was never really into the whole Christianity thing until recently. She actually shocked me the first couple of times she mentioned god's name outside of church, cause we had gone to church for years for apperances mostly. Actually, I think it changed when we started going to the baptist church. That makes a lot of sense...

 

So no running either, just speed walking.

No, like most rules in Xianity, it is not all-encompassing. GONZ9729CustomImage1539775.gif

 

I guess dancing needed to be restricted because it incites lust orsomethinglikethat. I don't know if it's a baptist wide rule, or if the church founders/copastors made it up.

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Also, we weren't allowed to read Harry Potter. My mom, though religious, didn't follow this rule. Wendymagic.gif

 

Yeah, my step father believed J.K. Rowling actually was a witch and that Harry Potter was meant to make kids satanists (he obviously didn't read it himself)

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no fishing on Sundays

 

no mowing the lawn on Sunday

 

no revelling. (this was at the Church of Christ. Revelling was anything from tapping your foot to clapping your hands and moving one's body in a seductive way.)

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No alcohol, including at communion when grape juice was used instead of wine.

 

No dancing.

 

No mixed swimming (meaning, men and woman, boys and girls, could not swim together).

 

No membership in secret organizations (like the Masons).

 

These are but a few.

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No dancing....Im a super extrovert party animal so this made my wedding reception CRAP. (where is this biblical?)

No working on sunday (of course it was limited to inside your house where you couldn't be seen cleaning). CAUSE DAS THE LAWDS DAY! Funny thing is the sabbath was originally Saturday. (See Exodus...but this was controversial because it wasnt repeated in the new testament).

No shorts in church (of course you can wear them but everyone will look at you) (Again, where is that in the bible?)

Women can only instruct other women and can't be deacons or pastors (See Timothy)

 

Surprisingly I always found that the "RULES" were not grounded in scripture but mostly tradition.

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I was pretty lucky in that my family was pretty focused on not being 'legalistic.' That doesn't mean I didn't have heaps of guilt hoisted on me over the basics, but I was allowed to go to dances, movies weren't taboo, etc... My mom was raised Ass of God (love writing that) and all the does and don'ts she endured left her pretty much determined not to raise my brother and I under the same strict rules she was.

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This is what is hard about all this for me. The church I attended, for the most part, was nice and kind and I am still friends with them all today. I had absolutely no reason to leave besides my not believing in Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. If I still believed, I would be talking with friends after the service about gardening and the weather, my husband talking to his friends about hunting and farming. It was simple, but we liked it.

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This is what is hard about all this for me. The church I attended, for the most part, was nice and kind and I am still friends with them all today. I had absolutely no reason to leave besides my not believing in Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. If I still believed, I would be talking with friends after the service about gardening and the weather, my husband talking to his friends about hunting and farming. It was simple, but we liked it.

 

I wish I could have had some normal conversations after church. Even the most mundane subjects were always directed back to Jesus or the Bible. If I talked about exercising or losing weight, someone would say, "That's great! You're treating your body like a temple as the Bible says to do!" No matter what the conversation was about, they would shove Jesus in there somewhere.

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There's a bible verse that says always be ready to give an answer. I always felt I had to give a response to people questions, even if it was embarrassing or personal. Nowadays it feels good to refuse an answer. Maybe it's personal, maybe i'm not in the mood to discuss something, doesn't matter.

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It's really interesting to read about peoples' experiences- since I was born into my church, I didn't even realize other denominations/sects didn't focus on rules. Guess mine was one of those 'legalistic' ones.... although, they were all unwritten and clearly based largely on family traditions (some could play cards, some not etc.)

We also weren't allowed to have dances at weddings- again, that's changing although 'old' people will protest.

 

We used to have one cup for communion (ew!) and when that changed to individual cups, a lot of the elderly members freaked out... so they gave you a choice to have the one cup OR individual.

A couple other things that people freaked out about and/or were enforced traditions:

- can't sing more hymns than psalms during a service (wouldn't want you to be too happy)

- morning sermon based on bible text, afternoon service based on catechism (don't mess up the order or structure, people will protest)

- no flowers or decorations in the sanctuary at all (they could be 'distracting'... people in an uproar when flowers were left after a wedding the previous day)

- only the organ allowed to be used during the service (people freaked when the piano was used)

- obviously no other instruments (gasp!)

- psalter hymnal- no modern songs!

- a family in our church adopted a boy. They wanted to have him baptized but some of the old people flipped their lid because he wasn't 'born into the kingdom' and stopped taking communion in protest. Wiser heads prevailed and he was baptized- but wow, really Christian

- encouraged only to date & marry people within the church denomination (you were asked to breakup if you dated people outside church and/or they were expected to join); I secretly hope they will inbreed themselves out of existence

 

.... few more from me. Thanks for sharing your stories! :)

The Seed sounds nice, Norton.... it's really interesting to read different experiences.

I think part of my deconversion was clearly a reaction to the authoritarianism I experienced in my church...

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The most recent church I went to used one cup. If you didn't want to drink from it directly the minister would dip your wafer in it.

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It took a while but was allowed to read Harry Potter at first (so back in 1999 when it became big at first but 2 years later that changed) but my friends dad who works at the church as subs as pastor sometimes recommended them to my parents. Sometimes I let slip my non Christian ways, because everyone likes Harry Potter in my house now for the last 11 years, and I say how stupid that was back then (on accident).

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The most recent church I went to used one cup. If you didn't want to drink from it directly the minister would dip your wafer in it.

 

ewwww. that sounds like a cult. some of those old hags probably backwashed all into the blood of christ

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