"I’m a Christian too," he said, "and in our church we believe in salvation by grace."
"We believe in salvation by grace too," I said, just a bit hotly, "but we also believe in doing what the Bible says out of love and gratitude."
I tell my teenagers sometimes that, just so they know, the "world" will be the biggest threat to their basic doctrinal beliefs (Jesus as the only way, heaven and hell, creation, etc) but the pressure to drop their Mennonite practices (nonresistance, head covering, modest clothes, not drinking alcohol, no divorce) is going to come primarily from other Christians and not from unbelievers.
I have never understood this phenomenon. In general, when it comes to our outward, visible religious practices non-Christians are accepting, other Christians are condescending, and ex-Mennonites are insufferably patronizing.
Non-Christians ask me why we do something, and it doesn’t matter if it’s because of tradition or a particular Scripture, they say, "Ah, I see. Interesting. And I wanted to talk to you about your work in Africa. Can you tell me more about it?"
Christians ask why we do something and imply that if we were a bit more enlightened we would realize we don’t HAVE to do this stuff. Salvation by grace alone, you know.
And ex-Mennonites know good and well why we do what we do so they rattle on about the freedom they’ve found in the church they’re in and what a joy it is to not have rules. Some have been known to back their Mennonite friends up against the wall and go on for half an hour about how they MUST get out of this dead, lifeless church and go to another one, preferably theirs, as though it never occurred to them that their friends might actually be called to love and serve in this admittedly imperfect setting.
Ironically, for all these other Protestant churches’ insistence that they don’t have rules, they have plenty of unwritten ones. I have found this when speaking to women’s groups when I get the sudden sense that I have crossed an invisible theological line and it is confirmed when Mrs. Emcee gets up afterwards and does some quick damage control in her closing statements. One time at a Baptist church I talked about Mary and Martha and had been too heavy on faith and too weak on works. Rather amusing.
(Incidentally, these attitudes splash over into my writing life as well. Left-wing liberal-media types take me almost too seriously as a writer, and ex-conservative-Mennonites smile sweetly and say, "Oh, you write those little stories for, what is it, the Harrisburg newspaper? How nice.")
Is this just a quirk of my life and the west coast or for other people and places as well?
Damage-control Disclaimer from Mrs. Emcee—I’m generalizing here. I have met Christians who don’t follow this pattern and bless you if you are one of them.
And a confession: A while back I made an "amusing" comment about cape dresses and then realized a cape-dress wearer was in the room. So I am not without my own issues as an ex-Beachy.
Quote of the Day:
"Mom, tomorrow’s your birthday and you’re going to be 43 and in 7 years you’ll qualify for the senior citizen’s discount at Meier and Frank."