Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 31, 1960

"My Church Doesn't Approve"

Richard R. Poplin, Shelbyville, Tennessee

Very often we read of some young person who has received local, state or national honor or recognition being interviewed for a newspaper, radio or television. Usually in such an interview a question is asked about dancing or some other such activity and many times the answer is something like this: "No, I don't dance because my church doesn't approve of dancing."

First of all, the church belongs to Christ. If we are Christians we are members of His church. But on that point we will make allowance for reportorial inaccuracy. It may be the person should have been quoted as saying, "the church of which I am a member doesn't approve." But in the second place, it seems to me, such a statement, consciously or unconsciously, is made to avoid the odium of "narrow mindedness" and place the blame for opposition on the church rather than the individual. It is like saying, "Personally, I am not opposed but I do not engage in such activities because the church of which I am a member doesn't approve."

It is a lot easier to say that than to say simply, "I do not do that because I believe it is wrong." Those who think it is narrow minded to oppose drinking, dancing, mixed bathing and such things will have a certain respect for one who does not do such things out of loyalty to the church although they think the church is terribly narrow. It is hard to go against the opinion of the majority. It is not easy to say a thing is wrong when most people do it. It is so much easier to let it appear that the "church" opposes it but the individual doesn't necessarily do so.

Most people are inclined to think such disapproval is because of the attitude of the church toward such things anyway, and not because of personal convictions. A few years ago some of us in our town opposed the efforts of some members of the PTA to sponsor a bi-weekly recreation night for seventh and eighth graders, a part of which would have been dancing and learning to dance. One friend of mine wanted to know if I was against it because "my church" didn't approve. I explained it was because of personal convictions based on the teaching of the New Testament.

It is hard for many people to understand that we believe and do, or refrain from doing, certain things because of what the Bible teaches and not because it is the teaching of "our church." When we say "my church doesn't approve" we are promoting that very idea.

I have always admired Mordecai's stand when Ahasuerus commanded all his servants to bow and reverence Haman. "But Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence. Then the king's servants, which were in the king's gate, said unto Mordecai, Why transgresseth thou the king's commandment?

"Now it came to pass, when they spake daily unto him, and he hearkened not unto them, that they told Haman, to see whether Mordecai's matters would stand: for he had told them that he was a Jew." (Esther 3:3, 4)

As a Jew, a worshipper of the one true God, Mordecai could not bow down before and reverence a man. "I am a Jew," was sufficient answer to their question of why he did not do as the king commanded. "I am a Christian, I am a follower of Christ," should be sufficient answer to those who ask why we do not engage in worldly practices.

I believe there is another place where many of us fail. It is so much easier to invite people to go to the services of the church than it is to talk to them about the things that pertain to salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord. It is expected that the preacher and the teachers of the classes will talk about such things but it takes more courage to talk privately with individuals on the subject of salvation. Jesus and his apostles taught both publicly and privately. We should do the same. We should speak about what the Bible teaches and not what "my church" believes.