It has been too long since I have compiled a collection of Letters to the Editor–letters from people who have read articles and are eager to respond. Here are some of the best from the past few weeks.
Letters on Is Your Church Messy Enough?
I wanted to comment on your use (and criticism) of the word “safe” in this article. I think I can guess why you used it the way you did – it’s a buzz-word these days to demand comfort more than safety. It’s quite often used to support a childish and petulant demand for a pleasing and stress-free environmental accommodation to personal preference and used this way it is ugly and anything but Christ-like.
But you didn’t say that, so I don’t really know for sure that this is what you meant. It’s because of this ambiguity that I am writing.
You see, I find myself in a situation where I have had to run to my church for literal safety. My loving, kind, and Good Shepherd-like pastor (and his fellow elders) are helping me extricate myself and my children from an abusive man whose behaviors have escalated to the point that they are concerned for not just our spiritual well-being (though that’s certainly very important), but our emotional and physical safety as well.
To be honest, this is the first time in my life that anyone has intervened on my behalf. They have stepped in to defend me, support me, and encourage me. I’m not even sure what all to make of it, but I know this – they have provided, and continue to seek to do so, safety. And in doing so, they have shown us the love of Christ.
Perhaps this is what you meant when you were talking about “messy” churches. But I might argue that sometimes a messy church is the safest church around for messed up people. I’m incredibly thankful for the leaders who have, at great cost to themselves, made my church safe.
Letters on God Didn’t Write a Book
I enjoyed the article, but I’d like to add one more thought. The Bible, in its digital form, is too easily censored. One specious judgement and the Bible can be removed from stores, devices, etc., or have offensive passages removed. A paper copy will (hopefully) always be a good option. And, how can you pass on a family electronic edition to your kids?
—Tim B, Raleigh, NC
Tim: I agree that it can be easily censored in some cases; but it’s also easier to protect it from censorship since it’s not a physical object. A border guard may be able to stop a physical Bible from entering his country, but he can’t stop wireless signals. Like any medium, electronic Bibles have both strengths and weaknesses.
Letters on The Beauty of a Defiant Church
It’s sad to hear the news of Beti’s departure. But it is wonderful to see the evidence of God’s grace and triumph in her and in your church through the blog post you’ve written. A couple of years ago, I returned to visit the church as a former member. Pastor Paul cheerfully greeted me. I told him what I missed the most about GFC was the singing. There is nothing like a singing church. And the beautiful, gracious and triumphant songs I have sung with your church still often come to mind. Please know that your church and worship leaders have deeply impacted me and even the church where I serve.
I can only imagine how glad your songs in memory of Beti would have gladdened the heart of our Father. In my experience, there are few other things that speak as powerfully of unity and hope and triumph in the gospel of Jesus as a gathering singing church!
—Phil T, Stoney Creek, ON
The cultural climate needs your article about illegitimate reasons for divorce, but the church cultural climate tends to discourage divorce for virtually any and every reason. Your article makes it clear that you believe there are “a limited set of circumstances in which a marriage can legitimately be severed.” What do these “limited set of circumstances” look like to you?
Churches may add to abuse by counseling members to stay together while not encouraging both members of the marriage to change. While your article maybe helpful to people who are prone to looking for escape hatches any time they appear, I would suggest a companion article to help men and women who are prone to look for any reason to stay in an abusive situation rather than change their situation.
—Nathan S, Pittsburgh, PA
Letters on How To Grieve Like a Christian
That article was simple, truthful and profound. It punched me in the gut and made me grateful that you wrote it so I could read it this morning. I own and manage two successful companies that average 15 employees. I have three children. A 24-year-old daughter and two boys, 11 and 14. I have been in church leadership. I have struggled with my failures at these duties, yet try to focus and acknowledge the successes. There’s always the nagging feeling that I’m supposed to or need to do things differently. Yet what that looks like sometimes eludes me or if I’m honest, I just don’t want to make the effort. I had a lightning bolt kind of Jesus moment when I was saved only 11 years ago. A moment that lasted years, couldn’t be denied and am continuing to learn to walk in.
My beautiful daughter was horrendously murdered recently. She was my first love and total dedication before getting married to my second wife and having my two boys. A little over year later you could probably guess these inner struggled described above have been drastically exacerbated. However I’m slowly getting back into the drivers seat. Joy and confidence in our Lord are creeping back into our lives. Thank you for acknowledging the struggles many of us go through. I see the body of Christ working right here in a short article.
—Jamie S, Bend, OR
I wanted to thank you for addressing the topic of child-bearing in your recent post. As a thirty-one year old husband and dad of six children, I thank you. As a Christian who gets a fair share of incredulous reactions from people (even from fellow Christians) when they visibly do a head count of our family, I thank you.
Although my wife and I obviously don’t need to be convinced that bearing and raising children is biblical, I have to say that it’s refreshing to just read an article from this perspective. What I would give to hear sincerely joyful reactions from more people who shared your stance at church!
—Matt V, Spring Creek, NV
Letters on Let the Wife See She Respects Her Husband
In general, I agreed with and appreciated your article “Let the Wife See She Respects Her Husband,” with one exception: can we as the Church please stop quoting 2 Timothy 5:8 out of context? More often than not it’s used as it’s used in your article: to imply that the man should be the primary breadwinner. In reality, it’s stating that families should be the primary caretakers of their needy relatives and not leave widows or orphans or unmarried great aunts to the church’s care.
Of course, I don’t mean that men can’t or shouldn’t be the primary income earners for their homes. It’s true that, in many cases, they will be. But by saying that 2 Timothy 5:8 implies that the man must be is to put an undue burden on many men: say, those called to ministry in rural areas, or hard-working but underpaid artists, or even those who have agreed to serve as the primary caregivers for their children to allow the wife to work. Given that the pattern we see in Proverbs 31 has the wife working, it’s unfair to many hardworking, creative, and underpaid men to imply they are failing according to an out-of-context verse.
—Lisa Eldred, Lansing, MI
Tim: I don’t see 2 Timothy 5:8 saying that the man should be the primary breadwinner as much as I see it saying that he bears the primary responsibility to ensure the bread is won! Ultimately, God holds him responsible to ensure his family is financially provided for.
I wanted to point out that the H.E.B. grocery chain in Texas was started 110 years ago by a Christian family. The family has been a strong Christian witness in Southeast Texas for all these years. There’s Christian music playing in the stores; there are Christian books for sale. They operate a Christian retreat camp in Leakey, Texas, and some of the retreat facilities are free for small churches. More importantly, they treat their employees like family. To celebrate their 110th anniversary, they donated 110 million dollars of stock to the employees. They donate 5% of their pre-tax profits to charity. They are a beautiful example of Christian integrity.
—Cheryl S, Austin, TX