Well, this is just ridiculous.
My preaching minister wrote the column below for our church bulletin, and I printed and mailed that bulletin to our 325 out-of-county readers and e-mailed it to most of the rest of our members who live in-county Wednesday.
There were some who were upset at the candor of it. – In spite of the fact that the same column was used very effectively, I hear, as as the jumping-off point for a discussion in the Singles Class that Wednesday night.
Church With Benefits
We don’t live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other. And I tell you that the time will soon come when, if men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish. ~ J.B. Priestley
Too many Christians have the mindset of religious consumers instead of committed disciples. They attend when they want to, and demand that the church be all they expect it to be on a Sunday morning. Yet they are not committed to it.
A blogger named Marc Backes has noticed this rising trend. Under the blog titled “The Jonah Syndrome” he penned the following thoughts on Dec. 6, 2007:
After yesterday’s interaction with an article about friends with benefits (FWB), I wanted to take a moment today to show how our culture’s attitudes towards sex also manifest themselves in our attitudes about church.
In the same way that someone seeks the “booty call” with a FWB, I believe there are millions of people attending church today who are using a local church of their choosing for their “spiritual booty call.”
Let me explain.
Essentially, the one-night stand with the FWB is intended to produce a maximum amount of immediate pleasure with little to none ongoing commitment towards the other party. In the same vein, as I experience emotional or isolational lows, I can immediately begin looking through my iPhone for my next hookup to relieve me of my crisis and the great thing about the “booty call” is that it is on demand, when I want it, and there’s no expectation that I have to respond to anyone else’s expectations of me. It is 100% on my terms.
And millions are doing the same thing with church. I attend when I want to, and only for my benefit. I am there because I am experiencing a personal, spiritual, relational, or emotional crisis, and I want God to give me my “spiritual booty call” to make me feel better. But don’t ask me to make any ongoing investment in the church. Don’t have any expectations of me as someone who came to that church. Just allow me to come in, use your church as I would a prostitute (I might even pay you for your services), and then I can move on, go back to my life and I’ll get back to you if I need you again.
The book of Hosea pretty clearly describes us as playing the role of the prostitute. It pretty clearly draws the analogy that how we tend to act sexually with one another, is also the way we tend to interact with God. And if you’ll look closely enough, you’ll see that it’s absolutely true. We’ve all seen those people who attend church every few months or so. We’ve all seen those people who want the church to be everything they want on a Sunday morning but have no intention in making an investment into the life of the church community.
We’ve seen people who want a pastor or God for that matter to be a genie of spiritual fix-all, but want to do nothing to discipline themselves to keep “stupid” to a minimum in their life. We’ve seen people who show up, want the spiritual “orgasm” so to speak, and then retreat to their life with no change until the next time they want their ecstasy.
So here’s the question to consider: Are you using your local church for a “booty call,” or are you gonna quit dating the church and marry it?
That is a question all of us need to answer.
What’s ridiculous about this, to me, is that the people who were offended by this are the very people who should not be offended by it. They’ve made their commitment to Christ and are carrying it out – to an extreme, complaining about the worldliness and explicit subject matter of the metaphor. The people who should be offended by it are the ones who refuse to commit to Christ – the ones about whom the column is written, and to whom it is written.
So, reluctantly, my preaching minister and I agreed to replace this column with one that will hopefully be less offensive to the wrong people in the printed bulletin distributed at church tomorrow morning.
Just for the record, I was the one who shared Marc Backe’s blog post with him, feeling that it had a powerful message expressed in a powerful and scriptural way. It doesn’t offend me.
It convicts me.
Folks, there’s a lot of scripture – several prophets – which speak far more explicitly than this blog post or the quotes from it in the preacher’s-column-in-the-bulletin-that-kinda-wasn’t.