Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Unity & Uniformity

  • I stay confused on the issue of uniformity.
Among plain Anabaptists, unity is key. The individual church decides the type of dress worn for both men and women. Some churches allow jeans on men, but most have broadfalls. For women, the criteria is about collars or not, length of sleeve (short, long or 3/4), in addition; veils verses kapps, and prints verses solids. All this is decided by church leaders. But if uniformity is essential, why aren't they ALL uniform? Honestly, only the individual church/district is uniform. Not the denomination.

  • My confusion isn't about why uniformity is beneficial.... I understand that dying to ones self and not one brother or sister in Christ being better or above the other is true humility in action. Got it.
    But why is it that there are SO many different church standards?

Why is it that the Hutterites (like the girls in the picture) can have such vivid colors, and louder prints, and function just fine, but Mennonite Churches are big on very muted colors and small prints? The Amish wear no prints? Is this all mostly tradition and culture, or is any of this biblical?

I try to wrap my mind around the need for this. Other than UNITY, I don't see a need for uniformity.

But don't think for one minute that I don't recognize the blessing of Unity amongst the Anabaptists. I do. As someone who is not a member of any plain church, I stay confused. I am sure if I had chose a church and committed my earthly efforts to the individual church, I would no longer be confused, but instead focused on being a part of that unity.

I believe this is just part of not being a member of a specific plain church. It's like being on the outside looking in. The church we were previously members of was not *plain*, although I did adhere to dressing appropriately and modestly, adhered to 1 Corinthians 11 (headcovering) and embraced Non-Resistance to the best of my ability. Additionally, I stopped swearing oaths, even for jury duty. But non of that made me feel anything other than obedient. The uniformity was lacking, but instead we strived for uniformity in spirit, and viewed ourselves as the body of Christ.

Now, where in the Bible does it say to dress uniformly? (Nowhere) But that doesn't make it wrong. It also doesn't make it a mandate. It's just hard for someone who wasn't raised in the faith to grasp, and difficult for anyone converting to a plain church to grasp WHY??? Culture and traditional are the biggest answers, and if you want to join a plain church, don't plan on changing 500 years of history and tradition. When in Rome, ya know???

So what should you do if you are not able to join a plain church but are led to dress plain? Well, understand there will be no uniformity. You will be the odd man out in whatever church you attend. But you will be blessed, if done with a genuinely humble and obedient spirit by God to as you serve him. Unity will have to be in a spiritual sense.

But back to my confusion; It's not the unity or uniformity (per church) that throws me for a loop. It's when RULES are implemented into the church that have nothing to do with anything biblical. Example: Someone joins the church... they are good members and serve well for years. Then one day the church leader decide that the children of the members will not be allowed to play musical instruments in their own homes. Ok., where in the Bible does it say this is a sin??? (Nowhere)
Is this any different than the leaders of Pentecostal churches deciding HOW a woman may style her hair??? (Nope) How can man implement man-made rules that pertain to peoples individual lives with no biblical backing?

I guess your left with 3 options: 1) Stay and roll with it. 2) Leave and either be churchless or go to another denomination, or 3) SPLIT and start another church with more preferable rules.

Where is the sense in this? There probably isn't any really...Not that anyone who wasn't raised within the faith could grasp.
And I am not against any church or denomination. I am not against the plain, quite the contrary.... I am struggling just as hard as they are between tradition, and realistic application of principle.

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