Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Critical Christianity

In my area of the country, it's not too uncommon to see Mennonites from time to time. A short drive north, and you will find many more Mennonites, and not much further, you will find yourself in Amish country. Sure they dress different than you and I, and lead different lives. But there is
something I've noticed. Some people are quick to make fun of, or question why they live like they do. And more often than not, these questioners are Christian.

They may mock the wearing of bonnets by the women. Wonder why they seem so meek and reserved. Question why the dress so plainly or always have long hair. And the answer to those questions is that they follow the bible more closely than most Christians.

They wear no jewelry because the Bible says that jewelry is a no-no. Why the long hair? Biblical rules on how to hair should be cut. Heck, it even says that braided hair is off-limits. Why the bonnets? The Bible says that woman need to wear a hat when at worship... and they believe they should always be at worship, thus the ever present bonnet. It is also a nod to the Biblical call for female modesty. Why are the women so quite and reserved? Because the Bible says that the female is to be subservient to her husband and/or father. In the Bible, women are considered second-class citizens in comparison to men. So these groups tend to hold to that Biblical tradition. Oh, and the women all wear dresses, because the Bible forbids women to wear men's clothing, and they interpret that mean that pants of any form are disallowed.

And for some reason, the majority of the mentions I hear locally, is about the Mennonite women for some reason. Perhaps that's because when you see them at the store, it always seems like a whole pack of the women tend to go out together (usually with a male 'sitter'). Plenty of locals mistake them for Amish, and are left confused when they see them pile into a car rather than a horse and buggy. The Amish and Mennonites are different groups, people!

They may be similar in ways, but they are also different in others. Also, Mennonites seem to cast a wider net than the Amish do. While there are more traditional Mennonites (like the ones being discussed here), there are also more liberal ones that look, dress, and act pretty much the same as anyone else you come across.

The oddest critique I've heard from more common Christians and Mennonites is that they force their kids into that system. They don't give them a choice and just teach them that 'this is the way it is'. Um... How is that any different that most other Christian parents. Most Christian parents I know don't give their child a choice either. If it's a Catholic family, they are taught that Catholicism is 100%
truth. If the family is Methodist, they teach that the UMC is the true church of God. So when a Mennonite family 'passes on' their beliefs to their children, they are doing nothing different than the one taking issue probably did.

I am not a parent, but if I was, I wouldn't force my atheism on them. I would wait until they were of an age that the can understand the theological question. Then when they had questions, I would tell them that some people believe this, other people believe this, you mom believes this, and this is what I believe and why. Arm them with information and choices, and let them wear whichever label they find to fit them best.

It's not my place to force my beliefs on another, so I shake my head when I see believers doing it, or even taking issue with other believers for doing the same. It is rather funny though. To see Christians mock a different Christian group for being 'better' Christians by actually following the bits of the Bible they choose to ignore.

-Brain Hulk

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