Hi, there. A conversation with Mrs. Eager has once again brought my thoughts here to my husband’s blog, combined with an incident on Sunday in which a guy shot up a Unitarian-Universalist church in Knoxville, Tennessee, killing two people and injuring seven last I heard.
First, Mrs. Eager. We’re talking on the phone and I’m even more convinced that we have virtually nothing in common except both being born again. And she reveals to me that her and Mr. Eager are, well…eager…to move them and their two girls out of the Northeastern U.S and into the Bible Belt. They have their eyes in particular on Tennessee (yeah, you can connect my mental dots already, I’m sure) because they want to be in a place where “traditional values” are held more dearly.
Mrs. Eager expressed her concern that things are too “liberal” out here in many of the churches. Now, there are many liberally minded churches in our part of the world. I agree. But having done some church-hopping with darling hubby as we tried to find a church home, I have been to a great many places where not only was the doctrine quite conservative but people looked at my black ass quite strangely. Many a church out here has been nixed for our family based on people not receiving our mixed race family warmly and, in some cases, with a distinct “why are you here and could you please leave” mentality.
So, I don’t really get why you would pick up and move hundreds and hundreds of miles simply for religious reasons, with the end goal being to be around a lot of other people just like you. There is no job or better career options waiting out in the Bible Belt. Mr. Eager is a plumber, and pretty much anywhere in this country, that’s a job that will keep you busy and money coming in at a comfortable level. They have family out here. Yet they are seriously considering moving simply so that it will be easier for them to find plenty of conservative Christian churches to choose from.
That scares me a little. It seems like the decision of someone who’s caught up in religion, but not very caught up in being Christ-like.
And when you add the Tennessee shooting to spice this up, I think: A man went and tried to murder a bunch of people in a U.U. church because he hated the liberal movement in general (especially inclusiveness of gays) and, I suppose, hating even more so those pesky liberal Christians or liberal semi-Christians (since U.U. churches seem more like spiritual social clubs to me than actual churches, since they are religiously inclusive as well, trying to be one-stop spiritual shopping it seems). So, doesn’t that show that the Bible Belt also produces very unsavory people, despite all those traditional values?
I know this is just one person. I know that Mrs. Eager and Mr. Eager are not seeking to hook up with people who kill other people over liberal vs. conservative views.
But why do they want to surround themselves with people they assume will be like-thinking? Jesus didn’t do that. So many churches, particularly those with a more conservative slant, want to go out all over the world and convert people; lead them to Christ. Yet how many of them put that same effort closer to home? Instead, people hole up in churches where everyone is like them and they hear what makes them feel comfortable. They socialize with those people. They avoid those who would say things they don’t want to hear.
Yet Jesus socialized with the active sinners. He hung out with—and preached to—gamblers, prostitutes, thieves, adulterers and more. He went where people needed to hear the good news of God’s grace and coming kingdom on Earth.
If Mrs. Eager and her family head out to the Bible Belt, I wonder: Will they be reaching anyone? Will they be effective Christians? I doubt it. They will be comfortably ensconced in a warm cocoon of “Churchianity.”
If things are too liberal here—if people are getting away from the Word of God because they are trying to make it fit the world or edit it to be more palatable—doesn’t it make more sense to stay and let people see the light of Christ shining through you when you hold to the Word?
She would say, I am sure, that this is a move for the children’s sakes. But we cannot protect our children from the world; we can only teach them how to overcome it. And leaving for the Bible Belt? Well, that feels to me like they are just running away.
(If you want to read any of Mrs. Blue’s other infrequent posts around these parts, go here)