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Legalistic Church

I was raised in the Church of Christ. I was grateful for being a part of a church as my parents were abusive and that restrained them some. But the CoC is sooo legalistic. One little sin and you are labeled for life. They even teach you must be perfect. It left me with a complex. It left me very judgmental with others and even myself.
fruitcake fruitcake 56-60 17 Responses Feb 8, 2008

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I'm sorry you had to go through that as a child and I'm sorry you have been labeled. But don't judge all Churches of Christ because of the one you attended. I grew up in the denominational world and finally after 30 years I found the church. The Church of Christ is the only group I have been a part of that actually teaches directly out of the bible. Most religions/denominations add to or leave some thing out. My congregation is very loving and accepting and we do not label others when they sin. We all sin everyday. We are human but we do have to come to repentance and ask for forgiveness.

I've grown up with the Church of Christ all my life, i never once doubted that it was wrong. But always somewhere back in my mind I questioned everything about it. Are we seriously the only ones going to heaven? Why are these people getting kicked out of the church? My parents divorced when i was younger because they were completely different people. I still went to church every Sunday and Wednesday even thought things werent going so well in my family. I noticed after a while that my mom wasnt going to church anymore. I just automatically assumed that she just didnt find a church she liked yet. By this time, im 12, and i had no idea what was really going on. About 2 years later, i figured out that due to my mom and dads divorce, the church had thrown her out and sentenced her to hell. After she told me this, I had lost all respect for them. Around my freshman year, i entered in the High School bible class in church. I suddenly realized that everything they were saying was ridiculous. I challenged them, and tried to get down to the very bottom of what they really believed. The closer i got to it i realized how confused and unaware some of the people are. My cousin, is a strong believer in the COC's belief's, tells everyone to become one, and she doesn't even understand the word herself. Total hypocrite. The most she can do is post bible verses on facebook. She tells me all the time about how much I need to mature when she has no idea herself what is going on in the church. She talks to people behind their backs at church. AT CHURCH. Church should be the one place people can go to, to not be criticised. The reason i'm telling you this is because, this is the kind of people the Church of Christ raises. Hypocritical people who spoonfeed you information and don't tell you to put your own opinions into anything. They don't make you think. A question they never influence is, "Why do I believe, what I believe?" With my mothers help and down-to-earth attitude, i have visited other churches. Catholic churches, Pentecostal churches, and a few others. And I have found my answer to the question.


I am now currently a member at a community church, where they believe that there is hope for everyone to go to heaven. I still attend church of Christ services, due to the fact that my father still goes there and I am forced to go because i am still under 18. I take it as an opportunity to try an help my fellow classmates understand the word (sometimes even the teachers) and try and guide them in the right directions. I am usually the only person to speak up in class and try to put my own input into things. The usual time when anybody speaks is when the teacher asks a one answer question that comes from the bible text. Most of my classmates dislike me to the point where I am made fun of for tring to reach out to people. One time in class i asked a question that was so far away from the church's beliefs that the teacher didn't even know what the question meant.

One of my "youth leaders" knew what I was asking. His father used to be an elder at our church but was kicked out because he had a different opinion than everyone else. Why the youth leader stays at our church is a question i dont know the answer too. But I like to believe that it is the same reason and only reason i like to go there, to change peoples minds, to throw a curveball, or a thought-provoking question that should never be asked in a Church of Christ church.


-Skylar
Kentucky

17

I'm sorry for your past abuse and current opinion about the Church of Christ. I'm seventeen and have been raised in the Church of Christ all of my life. I have never experienced being labeled for any of my sins, I have only received prayers and support, even though I have not yet been baptized and become a member of my church. As one of my Sunday school teachers likes to say "People disappoint, but God never does". Church of Christ members know that you are not going to be perfect, that's why God gave His son for the forgiveness of our sins. If you pray and really try to stop sinning, then God will forgive you, all you have to do is ask, He doesn't expect you to be perfect, just to try to be a good christian. As for feeling judgmental of yourself and others, pray for help (I'll pray for you too!) and remember that judging isn't good, but trying to help and support others and yourself is.

Ok here goes. This is from a different perspective. My wife went back to the COC 10 years into our marriage. It was the church she was raised in and our twin daughters were 5 yrs old. She had been out of the church since before we met and our marriage was happy during those years.



I was raised Catholic but had left the church when I was 17. I come from a big family of Catholics.



She wanted a church to raise our daughters in, and she knew that in order for it to be acceptable to her parents, it would have to be the COC. I objected strongly while this was going on. Even though I had left the Catholic Church, I still had many loved ones who were good Catholics. I'm sure most of you know how the COC feels about Catholics. Needless to say, this was a crisis in our marriage.



She chose a church that believes her own husband, and his entire family, is damned forever. I know. Wow. I told her I could not attend, but she and our daughters did. It was really the end of our marriage, but we continued living together. I remained because I would not have been able to bear living without my daughters and leaving their spiritual guidance to such a church.



It gets much worse.



About 10 years after this, as part of a medical mission to a Haitian orphanage, my family decided to adopt two orphans, a girl who was 9 and a boy who was 11. The orphanage was run by the COC. My wife and I both had to fill out a questionnaire from the church. The first question was: Describe the events surrounding your baptism and how you came to Jesus.



Well, I was one month old when I was baptized so my memory fails me. I knew I was dead meat and that this adoption process was over before it began.



But even though it was crushing to me, I struggled to make the adoption happen because I had fallen in love with these children. I appealed to every person in authority I could think of with letters and phone calls. At first I met with rejection, some of it strong. I was told my one COC preacher that to support me would be sacrilegious! I finally found a preacher who had the guts to stand up for me and help. He appealed directly to the orphanage and the adoption was ok'd. Our Haitian children came to us 11 years ago now and are doing very well. We had to cure them both of TB when they arrived, because medical tests there were done before they had contracted it. They would not have been cured of it had they remained in Haiti.



Please think for a minute about this. This church says that it would have been better for these children to remain in Haiti, then to have me as their father. Members of the COC: PLEASE...THINK...ABOUT....THAT.



This is what happens when you connect the dots in this kind of strict theology. In most people's lifetimes an event like this does not occur, so they can go on going to church and believing this stuff with no real damage done to anyone. It's because the dots in what they believe are never connected in the real world.



Well, they connected in two very horrible ways for me.



Tony

poor thing...legalism may be following what God says in the Bible because you have faith and want to do as HE says...what if Noah had said I don't want to follow him exactly on building this ark! I am a member and have faith, and am not perfect but the love of my fellow members and God does help me..not accuse me...not all feel your way.

This is the church that dis credited your family, friends, co-workers. etc.. If you had a phone conservation with a friend out side of the ICOC, then you were falling through the cracks. If you missed devo on mid week, or Sunday, or BT (bible talk), date night, or an ICOC event you were in sin. At first I thought it was fun, something active to do, young and was great that I was having a lot of friends. Not only till I turned 21 I became a little more "Sharp as a whip", but Shrewd as a snake", so to speak. To actually start sitting back and thinking about what's really going on here and where my heart was. They controlled you more than you realize, from your personal time, to your pocket book. The "friends", i had were not really my friends. We were told to be friends. The dates i went on, was told to go on. With who, what, when, where, how long, and when to be back.

This took a toll on my life.

I took me many years after leaving the Church to be ok with who i am. And I still having issues from time to time myself. Like running into ppl at the grocery store that's still affiliated with the icoc and they either turn their back on you or they ask you a million question you want to just doge. One time in my own experience i had to leave the store because i was in fear of dealing with them.

The constant phone calls that i received when i "fell away", was just enough evidence to push me over the edge.

I left the house of the girl i lived with eventually. I moved in with my boyfriend, which now is my husband of 11 years and counting. So if you have any comments pleas make sure they are positive and beneficial, or a question of genuine concern or support please.

Thanks for sharing your story.

I was born into the CoC and I'm 26 yrs. old now. I stopped going to church regularly around 5 years ago. Anyway, I ve been visiting this other church that compells me for the first time to have a personal relationship with God. I've developed "true faith" and a true spiritual nature. The CoC is so caught up on dotting every "i" and crossing every "t" ( like the Pharisees) that they forget to truly minister to one another and the lost. I have never met a CoC member they spoke of God as if they ha d a personal relationship. It was always the "Great Power" that would condmen you to hell if you didn't get things perfectly. WELL WHAT ABOUT GRACE? WHY DID JESUS DIE FOR OUR SINCE AS PAYMENT, IF HE EXPECTED THAT WE COULD ACHIEVE HIS PERFECTION? The CoC reminds me of the story where Jesus healed the blind man and the Pharisees called the miracle evil and kicked the healed man out of the church. Jesus told the healed man, not to worry about them, that he was the way to salvation. The CoC constantly preaches on the one true church and never focuses on ministering to the congregation so that they develop relationships with God and desire to serve him because of his love and grace. Everything is Hell, Fire, and Damnation with them. I know all too well, the self-righteous attitudes of the Pharisees, I mean the CoC. I been taught from birth to fear joining another churc, but I have been praying constantly, and NOTHING has led me back there. I sincerely prayed, to be guided regardless of my own desires or fears, and EVERYTHING is pushing me toward another place of worship.

I was a member of the coc for 35 years. Have been out of it for 5 years and I still struggle daily with baggage I carry around with me from those coc years. Is it real?? You better believe it. I am a 60 year old woman who is so dis-allusioned with organized religion that I don't know if I will ever be able to go to church again.

Walkhisway, how dare you, in your clear mind, come here and actually mention that you have to wonder if these experiences are real?! Seriously? Are you people this much in denial? If you've been this church/churches for a long time, you can definitely count a number of people who have left the church for the same reasons mentioned here! If you have friends who have "fallen away", I'm sure they expressed some of the same issues expressed here! How dare you question someone else' pain and hurt! This is where you miss it! Just like a Pharisee!

Yada, yada, yada! Why did you come here to comment if you didn't feel like understanding what the writer wrote! I went to the COC for many years, finally left, and I am still trying to recover from the emotional rape I experienced in that church.



I find it hard to control myself when it comes to opening up with strangers. I feel this compulsive push to spill my "secret" to people I barely know, all because we were "trained" to be "open" with every Tom, **** and Harry in the COC. I was one of those who whole heartedly obeyed and did everything I was told to do in the name of God. Now I can barely make my own decisions without seeking people's approval.



Tell me this does not sound familiar to you!



You come here and post your prideful comments like you are better than the person who is sharing their story. How heartless can some of you be, to get to the point of telling someone to go back to the same organization (they just finished telling you) they were abused by? ARE YOU THAT HARD HEARTED? Or JUST BLIND?

Only God will judge your WICKEDNESS!

I agree with those that say that the CoC do strive for perfection, but having lived all over the country and attended many different churches of Christ, I have only come across a few that defined themselves by what they didn't do and were judgemental of anyone or any church who didn't fit their own translation. Now all churches should lovingly point out error, when they see it. Just letting a fellow Christian sin continuously is like conforming to the world's "It is what it is." or "You must accept everyone." Satan wants the world to feel like you must accept everyone the way they are, with an ultimate goal of making Christ's followers feel bad and like they are wrong for not being like the world. We have to be careful! Tolerance and acceptance are two different concepts.



*BTW - The "churches of Christ" are different than the "United Churches of Christ" and also the "International Churches of Christ" so don't toss the them all into the same category on all counts.

they are wonderfully supportive of other CoC members,

but if you are a Christian of another denomination (and, yes, Mr. Scholar - the CoC fits the desciption of a "denomination") you better watch out! If you do not stand completely within their way of it all, you will be nudged out (and prayed for, of course). Not exactly the example I believe Christ called us to be......

I have to wonder if the experiences I read here are real. I have been a member of the church for many years and am a Bible scholar as well. I find the CofC to be extremely forgiving and encouraging toward others. Sure, they do place high value on Jesus' teachings and do advocate following Him to the best of one's ability. Not demanding perfection. Far from it. Offering God our respect, obedience and awe as we honor Him by the way we live. A VERY N.T. concept. May He bless you (and me!) as we strive to know Him and to honor Him.

You are so right about your statement of the C of C being legalistic and judgmental. After having attended various C of C's for almost 40 years- a group of friends and myself try to recognize all of the spontaneous judgments we make on people all of them time. I have come to see (after years of study) that the C of C has such an imbalance of teaching they miss the entire point of the Bible. Instead of it being about God and Love and Mercy (which Jesus says are the most important things to learn about) they focus on obeying leaders, working for leaders and protecting sinful leaders.



Thanks for posting- and thanks for starting the group if indeed you are the one you first started it.

I was the minister's daughter and wouldn't go back to any church after what I experienced growing up in the COC. You could put a gun to my head and threaten me with death if I didn't go back. I will tell you to go ahead and blow my brains out.

It is so sad to feel that way. I used to believe that of someone felt that way, they were the probldm, not the church OR it was one bad church that tainted them all. I could wave a magic wand and all of the hurt and misunderstanding would vanish, but I can't. Just one thing, don't give up on the Lord to see you through. Study his Word.

Dude- they are legalistic, but not too legalistic! They want everything to be as perfect as can be because Christ was perfect, and we should all try our best to be like him! If you want to get into Heaven, you should try going again. And this time, try to listen to the preacher, and tell him about all the legalism crap you've come up with. He'll explain everything to you. As a proud member of the Church, I am offended that you think so of the Church, and hope and wish and believe that you will come to find a better decision- going back to the Church of Christ and starting over.











By the way, they do not label you. If you have committed a sin that everybody knows about, you need to repent and ask people to pray for you. If you have committed a private sin, you can ask people to pray for you AND pray for yourself. It is repenting either way. People may remember your sin for the rest of your life, but it's not about the people that go to church. It's about YOU getting into HEAVEN. NOT THE PEOPLE.