Where is Perry Mason when you need him? The woman who killed her preacher husband MAY be a victim of The Toxic Church. Now, your gentle Aardvark is also a communicant of the Church of Christ persuasion, and knows whereof he speaks.
The congregation where we fellowship is a very unusual one, where we strive to maintain unity where some significant differences of understanding exist; a very neat arrangement. I'm not talking doctrine-breaking selfism, just an understanding that we are all at different places on the continuum of faith to faith, and glory to glory. But the recent history of the Lord's church in general is marred with legalism, and haughty elitism, and thus establishes my thesis.
One of the earmarks of the Restoration Movement is the plea "to speak where the Bible speaks, and to be silent where the Bible is silent"; in other words, to insist upon a "thus saith the Lord" in all matters of faith and practise. Where this ideal is earnestly sought and apprehended, liberty and personal growth is assured. However, where mens' opinions are put forth, or their personal preferences or "druthers" hold sway, then oppression and legalism of the worst sort arise, the sort of church-splitting importances like whether to use one cup or many for communion, or the relative evils of Women in Pants. (Please don't laugh. Think of Trekkies, only arguing church polity rather than the Rules of Acquisition.)
One preacher put it thusly:
"We don't act like everybody else...we don't dress like everybody else...and that's just the way it is."
Ummm, overall, this is OK, except for the "and that's just the way it is."
It isn't. Things in the church are to be "just the way God says it is". He is the First Cause. Not "Just". Just results in Opinion and Legalism, 'cuz "that's just the way it is". Just becomes the Final Arbiter. The Scripture teaches against Drunkenness.
"But if you don't take that first sip, you'll never have to worry about getting drunk."Spoken from the pulpit, this carries the imprimatur of the Oracles of God, whereas it is merely an opinion, and (perhaps) good advice. Legalistic opinions box one in, and effectively shield against the freshets of the Spirit of God.
In a legalistic system, one can easily feel trapped.
If you cannot assuage your angst with a bit of the "wine which maketh glad the heart of man", or self-medicate with tobacco or even an OD of comfort food...ooooooh, gluttony....your choices diminish. The stigma of "the preacher's wife" going for therapy or taking anti-depressants, say, is one not easily borne. The Ministerial Family must be shiny and happy.
Now, I know NOTHING about this family, or the dynamics of its violent breaking.
I know that the husband was "popular", and that the police report that infidelity was not a motive, so I suspect that there is something "bent" in the wife's mind. Given the possibilities, I am deeply concerned that she was hemmed in by Opinion and "Justs". Not giving a pass for murder...just seeking a Reason for the unreasonable.
Tomorrow's headlines may blow the application to this sad family away, but the thesis remains. Perhaps even a Cruel Angel's Thesis. The freedom from sin and legalism which Jesus brings is precious. The Cruel Angel seeks to bring the Free back into Bondage. I hate him for it.