As as child, I grew up in the baptist church. Back then, there were certain rules that Southern Baptist Church Goers and True Fearers of God were expected to obey.
Ladies were expected to wear their slips and girdles. Girls were expect to keep their legs crossed and dress down at all times. This meant no shedding your undershirt, tights and or shiny black patent knock-off leather shoes – and no showing folks your ruffled bloomers, which never made sense to me. What’s the pointing in festooning your fanny if no one can see it?
Other standards of attire were hair trimmed and tidy, ties straight, ribbons centered, fingernails clean, and girls DID NOT wear pants, mini skirts or skorts to services. Any violation of these rules would result in an evil poltergeist invading your television and sucking you down to Hell through the HBO Channel – at least that’s what we suspected might happen.
Children were not permitted to talk, whisper, giggle, make noises, make faces, fake cough, breath too loudly, sigh excessively, sleep, snore, yawn, slobber, sigh pick their nose or roll their eyes during the sermon. All of these actions would earn them pursed lips and big eyes from the church matrons.
True Fearers of God also did not sing My Sharona, Let’s Get Physical or Tequila Sunrise in church, around the church, outside of the church, including but not limited to the general area of the outhouse lest they be struck down by a bolt of lightening… or Grandma.
Hymns and only hymns were meant to be sung in church. If you attended regularly, you should know the lyrics to “Jesus wants me for a Sunbeam,” “Just a Little Talk with Jesus,” and “Abide with Me.” If you did not know the words, you could hum or fake it – because you were not permitted, at any time, to touch the hymnals. In fact, you could not look at the hymnals, play with the hymnals, mark in the hymnals, build houses with the hymnals, fan yourself, throw or hit your pew neighbor with the hymnals. These hymnals were very expensive. Therefore, any hint of misuse would get you knocked in the back of the head with a hymnal. By the way, I’m almost certain using the hymnals for head knocking is ultimately what weakened the binding.
Finally, under no circumstances were you permitted to tell anyone anything about what you might’ve heard or seen over the weekend because, if your Daddy was in a Southern Rock Band, you occasionally might see one of the deacons passed out on the back porch. Of course, the adults claimed these people had gotten a touch of the food poison and were too sick to make it home. To check for signs of life, we poked them with sticks. We also filled their boots with rotten crab apples and rolie-polie bugs – but that was mostly for fun.
But that was then. This is now. And Christianity has gotten way cooler than it used to be. Nowadays, there’s christian rock music, hog-hugging ministries, pool parties, cool retreats and new rules regarding disclosure of misdeeds. Sermons aren’t as yawn-inspiring as they once were since people can actually testify about their life experiences. I’ve even noticed folks wearing blue jeans, leather vests and mini-skirts to services. Yesterday, I even read about people who are worshiping nekkid.
So what does God think of this laxity in religion? Is he upset over modern society’s rejection of old-fashioned Baptist rules of etiquette. The trend does seem to promote acceptance, diversity and fellowship. Could it be that God does love girdle-less women, biker dudes and nekkid people too? Could it be that all who seek a righteous path may find salvation?
Probably… but I don’t think I’d watch HBO with any of them or accompany them down the righteous path during a thunderstorm – you know, just in case.