I wrote about the “Jesus First” theme prevalent in my brother’s wedding at his Grace Bible Church (whatever that is) and now I want to get into some specifics where that authority was used to promote the church leadership as the master over their lives and thoughts. This is another reason that even if there was an intelligent creator then I definitely wouldn’t believe in the structure and authority of select individuals as the speakers of that god to tell me what god thinks I should do and think. If there is a god interested in me and my actions then it can tell me itself. I haven’t heard any actual words from god so far.
The simple examples of “Pastor Knows Best” was during the reception being held in a recreation building on church property. They weren’t allowed a champagne toast because alcohol wasn’t allowed even though I’ve heard a story about Jesus turning water into wine. They had to get a special exception to have their first dance there because dancing wasn’t allowed since apparently Jesus wasn’t much of a dancer back in the day. All of the music played for the entire reception had to be approved by the pastor for style and lyrical content. They actually approved a song from Harry Potter because it lacked lyrics. Apparently Jesus is big on censorship and the pastor knows his taste in music.
These were the things I heard of in my few days in town and I’m sure during the premarital counseling and wedding planning there were many more examples of the pastor dictating what my brother could and couldn’t do for his wedding before their god. The irony I see in all of this is that my brother has been a long time member of the congregation, taught youth groups there, and has done many things for the church since joining them. However, he’s not trusted to do the right thing at his own wedding and the pastor felt the need to run the entire show all the way down to the reception outside of the religious ceremony.
The issue I made reference to in my previous post was a practical thing my brother and his bride-to-be did a few weeks before the wedding that could have destroyed the wedding itself. She just started a job very close to my brother’s apartment so she moved in with him early to drastically shorten her commute. They’re religious and I don’t know or care about their business but for all I know they slept apart at night even though they were under the same roof. I wouldn’t be surprised either way. Regardless, the best man found out about this and told my brother he needed to inform the pastor of this living arrangement to get right with Jesus or he was going to tell the pastor himself. Apparently my brother was just going to keep it quiet to avoid a potential disruption to the church wedding they had been planning. My mother was one of the people telling the best man that the wedding was about the bride and groom and he should leave it alone. That is when he said “No, this day is about Jesus and doing everything right for Jesus is more important than the bride and groom.” He would have tried to derail the wedding because he thought something wasn’t being done right for Jesus.
In the end, my brother was forced to tell the pastor and they had some extra counseling or prayers or something that made it all better. This was another moment where I would have had enough of “their” nonsense and just done what I felt was right. If my brother and the rest of my family want to worship a god then I wish they’d just do it without any of the meddling middle men I saw that weekend. All those other people did was cause problems, confusion, distress, and worry for brother, his wife, and the rest of the family by constantly telling them they’re not doing it “right”. It was all completely unnecessary and didn’t make them better or worse members of that church and in the end I believe it had no impact on what they’re becoming as a couple. If they had done everything the way they had wanted with a champagne toast, dancing, and whatever music the bride wanted it wouldn’t have made them less Christian. If they had openly moved in together earlier then they would still be the same people they are today. They’re a man and woman that have vowed to go through life as partners and they even vow to follow their god while doing it. They are together now despite the church and their nonsense.
I’m glad my wife and I didn’t have any of that nonsense and we don’t have anyone that can tell us we’re not doing it right. That is the freedom you get with thinking for yourself and not blindly following a religion. The religious and their churches can try to tell us we’re not doing it right but we’re not listening. In the end we’d just be who we are and they’d still just be nosy neighbors more focused on my household because they probably don’t want to face their own problems. When it comes to how I should live and love my wife and children… I know best. 🙂
We were raised Catholic with a Methodist dad and as that dropped off for our mom we all found our own paths for belief. I chose critical thought and higher standards for truth that led me to acknowledge all that I do not know. I see an obvious truth that humanity is clueless and making it all up in every fiction we call religion. My brother was pulled in by a friend at a young age to a local Grace Bible Church. All I can figure out about these churches is they say they are non-denominational followers of the “true” words of the Bible. I can’t figure out where these churches came from or how they might be affiliated but I see a lot of them on the web. Is this what the evangelical movement looks like? Grace Bible churches look like independent local churches but they share the Grace name and have common themes on their websites. If there’s an organization behind it all it appears to be hidden from the casual observer, which in my mind makes it seem a little sinister in purpose.
I had 2 days exposure to this place for the wedding rehearsal and actual wedding. I hadn’t been to a church in probably a decade and it was nice to see what I’m missing because it scares me to know people expose themselves to this indoctrination once a week. Unfortunately my parents have joined this church as well and my mom volunteers many times a week in support of it. I shouldn’t be so critical since they did leave me alone and never noticed I only bow my head out of respect to my family and never offered a single prayer. On the face of it all it seems all very innocent with good intentions. However, I see that their focus is building out their flock and controlling them for good or bad. I have no problem with good intentions but overall I think flocks of sheep are a very bad concept.
The pastor is a good looking younger man with a wife and young children. He’s charismatic and always in a calm control over everything around him. He’s the leader I’d pick to serve as my example and spread the message I was trying to sell, particularly if the message needed to be sold to be accepted. I’ll save some of the other details of the wedding for other posts but I want to focus on one particular message or theme that permeated the weekend. That message was that we have no meaning, purpose, or value without Jesus.
The central point of the wedding was a speech by the pastor saying the wife was there to serve the leadership of the couple, which is the man. She is there to help him as he serves Jesus. They will be divorced and have nothing but misery and continued sin without their marriage being about and for Jesus. Everyone is sinners and they will produce little sinners and the only way for us to overcome our evil ways is to follow Jesus. I still don’t understand how my mom follows this church since there’s a riggid structure of Jesus first, men second, and women are at the bottom in importance. They definitely don’t preach equality.
I’ll dig into this deeper in another post to keep this short but this structure was highlighted by a comment made by the best man. He’s one of the sheep in this church along with my brother. There was an “issue” and he was told by a few people that this day was about the bride and groom so why couldn’t he just leave it alone since it was their day. He followed the party line and said “No, this day is about Jesus and doing everything right for Jesus is more important than the bride and groom.” He would have tried to derail the wedding because he thought something wasn’t being done right for Jesus.
This is what I see as being very dangerous. Jesus rules and commands. The pastor speaks for Jesus. Members of the congregation parrot this and then the pastor is now in full control of everyone to blindly follow the rules and commands of the pastor as being unquestionable because they are synonymous with a unquestionable god. This all had a big impact on my brother’s wedding even though he is one of their faithful. In the end, he and his new wife aren’t living a life of love and happiness for each other because of religion. If they do, they are doing it despite the religious structure around them that is obviously trying to control their actions down to their very thoughts. They are not trusted to love each other naturally and I see the pastor and the church will always put their noses in their business as long as they let them.
I don’t need anyone else to tell us how my wife and I should love each other and our children. We can look for examples, guidance, and even use non-religious mentors or counselors to help us be a better couple but I’m very grateful that we’re in full control of our marriage. I can’t imagine putting myself into a setting where my neighbor gets to tell us that our living right isn’t right enough and I need to do it differently because they know Jesus better than I do when NONE of them know any of these things. All they are doing is imposing their own opinions on others using the authority of an imagined god.