“I don’t drink, cuss, smoke or chew, and I don’t go with girls who do.” – an old, Baptist adage
My wife and I were members of an independent fundamental Baptist church in the 1980s. There was a definite culture at that church, which came down VERY hard on some sins and behaviors but winked at others.
Our pastor often railed against the following:
- Drinking alcoholic beverages
- Smoking (cigarettes were much more popular in the 1980s compared to today)
- Playing cards and gambling
- Listening to any rock and roll music, whether secular or Christian contemporary (see my earlier post here)
- Premarital sex and homosexuality (see my earlier post here)
- Voting for a Democrat
Those “don’ts” were mentioned often from the pulpit. The preaching was very heavy on God’s judgment against sin, but very light on God’s grace. It felt like God was beating me up four times a week (Sunday AM Sunday school, Sunday AM service, Sunday PM service, and Wednesday PM service) for my failings. There’s a real danger in churches like that to make it ALL about rules and guilt rather than about a relationship with the Lord. The pastor at the non-denominational church we now attend also preaches about sin, but he also emphasizes the grace, forgiveness, and the loving shepherding of our Lord. If you’re in a church where you’re being brow beaten every service, ask the Lord to find you a new fellowship.
I’m all for preaching against sin. It’s not done enough in evangelical churches today (see America’s favorite “preacher,” Joel Osteen). But it was out of hand at our old IFB church. However, the congregation was VERY cliquey and gossip was rampant but there were no sermons about those things. Many of the congregants were obese, including the pastor, but there were no sermons on gluttony.
I’ll revisit a few more of the pastor’s “pet” sins in the future.
Unlike some of the other IFB churches in the area, our pastor was okay with the following, which made him somewhat of a moderate IFBer:
- Women wearing pants and modest shorts
- Men with hair over their ears (the pastor had a puffy Billy Crystal perm to camouflage his thining locks)
- Women with short hair
- Going to movie theaters or renting VHS movies as long as the film was edifying (the pastor was a karate enthusiast so action movies with lots of violence were fine)
- Interracial dating and marriage (remember, this was the 1980s when such relationships were much less commonplace)
- Public schools (the pastor’s three children attended public school)
- Non-abortive contraceptives
There’s still many fundamentalists who are firmly against the items on the above list. The former cable television reality series, “19 Kids and Counting,” followed just such a hard-nosed IFB family, the Duggars (see photo).