Spiritual Discipline, Beth Moore, and Wineskins
February 12, 2013 § 3 Comments
So I’m trying to incorporate this whole “spiritual discipline” thing into my life—“discipline” being one of the most anxiety-triggering words that I can think of—by getting involved in a Bible study for women in my church.
One night, on the video, Beth Moore told us that if one of us was flirting with sin, God will “kick your butt.” And that if you don’t learn how to nip sin in the bud right from the point of initial temptation, the Bible says that God will let your sin be known to a wider and wider circle of people, as you continue to keep sinning. Umm, hello shame, nice to have you here to keep us all in line.
And this really bummed me out, because I had found most of Moore’s exegesis of James to be surprisingly un-exasperating. She works hard to make things relevant to her audience of women. But on this point, I thought she was pulling more from the text than what was there—the text in James chapter 4 said, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you,” and the rest she might have pulled from Matthew 18.
So I spoke up. I said to the group, “Was anyone else bothered by the way she characterized God here? It makes it seem like the only reason we should avoid sin is because we don’t want God to bring the hammer of wrath down on us.”
I instantly regretted saying anything, as my comment was met with a table full of faces twisted in concern. “The Bible says, your sin will find you out,” someone said. My ears and neck burned as the conversation turned to, “Have you ever hid a purchase from your husband?”
And I started to wonder, God, am I really so much more of a bad person than everyone else, that I am the only one who is terrorized by the thought that you would pull the weak out into the public square, to be punished for their sins?
And I stewed, and stewed, and tried hard not to roll my eyes at what I found to be trivial conversation because it wasn’t about MY THING. And then I took a more careful look around the room. These women, a generation or two ahead of my time, were—to use some very Christiany language—not of my “wineskin.” My feelings on the teaching might have been valid, but not for them, or at least, not for most of them.
It’s maddening and heartbreaking, to look out into my church body and know that the hearts of the parents and the children are not yet turned towards each other; it is astonishing and bordering on the unbelievable that one day, they will be.
This post is part of a series called “Charity Goes To Church.”