Don’t Ask; Don’t Tell

Some people probably think that the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy applies only in the military. In reality it applies in several places in our lives. One of those is our local church. That is if you are a member of one of the churches that demand a high level of compliance to their beliefs. I was up until recently a member of one of those churches. They dictated what I was allowed to believe. Any variation of those allowed beliefs sometimes had consequences.

That gets us to the title of this post. Most everyone is familiar with the term “Cafeteria Catholics”. This term is used to describe Roman Catholics who pick and choose which Catholic doctrine they want to believe. Most Cafeteria Catholics are pretty safe in this practice as long as they don’t actually admit that they are picking and choosing among church doctrine . If they don’t directly tell others of this fact then the church authorities usually don’t ask them about it.

Is this practice limited to Roman Catholics? I think it takes place in many of the other Christian denominations. As long as you appear to go along with all the doctrine you are safe. I believe many in a congregation either are ignorant of the purity rules or choose to just ignore them;  many more than their leadership could imagine.  But, if you publicly admit that you don’t believe something then your might be “asked” to leave or at least stripped of your membership status. I know this personally happened to me. I suffered the consequences of publicly stating that I believe the earth to be more than 6,000 years old and therefore the Bible is not totally inerrant.

Being expelled from membership in a local Christian church, or any other club type organization for that matter, has its consequences. I am pretty much like other Christians in that the vast majority of my social life was based on my church membership. When that membership ends the social fabric of my life suffered a severe tear. I regret that consequence more for my wife than I do for myself. She is collateral damage in this holy war. I deeply regret that. That tear in the fabric is mendable but it will take some time to do that. Since we are older it will be even harder to repair.

If I had it to do over again would I be a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” person? When it comes to Jesus Christ I believe I must follow where my heart and soul lead me no matter the consequences. But I do regret the collateral damage. That saddens my greatly. The morale of this story might be “Be careful what you say; your church authorities might be listening” 🙂

9 thoughts on “Don’t Ask; Don’t Tell

  1. People are leaving the organized church in this day and age because of the varying levels of a “police state” in their church homes. Many churches are looking closer at the scriptures and seeing that Jesus asked his disciples not to “lord it over one another”. We are to listen, pray, and study the scriptures together as the Bereans did to see whether what is being taught is truly scriptural.

    Don’t despair my fellow Christian blogger friend. The Holy Spirit will lead and guide you. It is sad when a long time fellowship is broken. But there are many other Christians waiting with open arms to welcome you into what may be a more Christian fellowship than the former.

    If your former fellowship did not display the fruits of the spirit in their actions toward you than you know they are not one of His.

  2. Peppy thanks for your words. But I must say I have very little animosity towards the church I am leaving. They are just caught up in the misguided concept of “institutional purity”. I will be spending the next few posts on that topic so come back and see my comments. But thanks for the kind words

  3. RJ, I’m sad to learn of this. I have another close friend that has just been stripped of his teaching responsibilities because he dared to bring a discussion of the Open View of God into a sunday school class he was leading. This led to a doctrinal inquisition that concluded (without ever addressing his biblical and hermaneutical questions directly) that this man did not hold doctrines in harmony with the church and he could not teach.

    He, too, has felt he must move on in that a church where one is not permitted to contribute is no fellowship.

    This is wrong and unbiblical. In fact the church leadership blatantly violated the procedure Jesus laid out in Matt. 18 while dealing with this friend’s situation. They never acknowledged that problem, either.

    The wind of God is moving among the dry bones of the church. Unfortunately, some are so afraid of the rattling of the bones, that they can’t receive the breath of new life.

    “Can these bones live? Lord, thou knowest.”

  4. Were you teaching, RJ?

    Personally, I would not want to force my doctrinal views on others. I can’t imagine wanting to stay in a church where my religious views were not in harmony. You said you were there for your wife I believe. Attending quietly with her would not be a problem would it? Many couples do this. My sister’s husband attends with her and she attends his Catholic mass with him and they’re happy with their situation. They have made terrific Christian friends in both groups.

    The Holy Spirit will lead you.

  5. Dan, I must tell you that in reality I short circuited the process and volunteered to leave upon notification of the proposed action. So technically I was not “officially” sanctioned. I think they had intended to comply with Matthew 18 but I chose not to go through that painful and inevitable process.

    As I have already said I feel much more saddened by this than angry. Why do we let such things come between us Christians? I truly love my pastor of the last five years and I realize that he was just initiating this action as a result of denominational edicts. He is following the institutional line that was laid out for him. So I really put it on myself as maybe forcing this issue. But I could no longer pretend that I believe the earth is 6,000 years old and ignore all the scientific info that the Lord has given us. I was just tired of turning my back on this issue. It was time to take a stand. But I am really sorry that I have brought this situation upon my wife. She was very painfully collatoral damage as a result of my public actions.

  6. There is nothing Biblical saying the earth is six thousand years old. That is interpretive. Some monk long ago came up with that idea due to one or two scriptures taken out of context.

    There is just no doubt that God is not confine by time and space. It doesn’t mean the same to him as it does to us poor earth bound souls. And, as you commented, the science is so advanced now with new discoveries. There is no argument left. Age of the creation should never have been tied to scripture. Just nothing there to give a clue.

    Enjoy another congregation with your wife and maybe she will enjoy a congregation of your choice with you. Double blessings!

  7. I’ve been thinking of ordering this book which gives the three major views of the creation account. I think it might be worth reading.


  8. Steve, thanks for the reference. This looks like a pretty good read. However since it is a debate between three teams who are all advocates of the inerrancy and infallibility school it is short of a full blown debate. It would have been more interesting to see some who take a different view to be included in the book.

    But I did like this comment for one of the reviews:

    Norman Geisler gives a very wise forward to the book. He states that “the creation-day debate is not over the inspiration of the Bible, but over it’s interpretation…no one holding any of the views should be charged with unorthodoxy for the position he espouses in this volume…the Church needs to shift its focus to the real enemy – evolutionism – not to other forms of creationism that remain true to the historicity of the events recorded in Genesis”. I think all believers involved in these discussions would be wise to heed Dr. Geislers advice and lower the intensity and frequency of their attacking of one another.

    I couldn’t agree more with this statement.

    P.S. I did some more research on Hugh Ross who is one of the debaters in the book you recommended and found that he is not what I expected. He is a scientist and a Christian. That is the perspective I was looking for. He has another small book entitled “Genesis One – A Scientific Perspective” that I just ordered. His basic argument I believe is that God is not limited to just 24 hour days and he believes the days in the creation story are actually differing ages. It will be an interesting read. Thanks again for the reference.

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