Isolationism, Explosions, and Love

His name was Fred, her name was Dee. They had two kids, one my brother’s age, one a few years younger than him. They were a cute family. Year’s later they would have another kid or two, I never really knew them. Fred was a cool guy; he encouraged me in different things. He was smart. He knew how to fix almost anything and he has patents on some pretty important stuff. But it was annoying as all get out when they came over to the house. You see, Fred and Dee were “Isolationists” not in the sense that they thought America shouldn’t be involved with the UN (although for all I know they did believe that), but they were isolationists in that they had a very strict moral code for how we were to keep oneself pure from the sin of the world. The women only wore skirts, dresses or coo lots. The boys didn’t wear shorts. That part wasn’t annoying (well, it was a for a little while when my dad agreed to sign on to the no shorts rule—but a friend, Bill H’s wife put me back in shorts by 6th grade), what was annoying was when they came over, they took over our house. T.V. was inherently evil… well the commercials were. When they came over we could watch sporting events and even some T.V. shows, but we couldn’t watch commercials. At first, they just asked to black out the T.V. during the commercial. Then they asked us to mute it too. Mind you this was before you had a “mute” button on your T.V. and we certainly didn’t have a remote. They could come over to the house and eat on Sunday’s but they couldn’t play outside.

That was kind of like another family we knew; his name was Peter, I honestly don’t remember her name. They had three kids, two boys and a girl. The boys were some of the slickest liars I’ve ever known. I don’t remember much about the girl. They called each other weird names and talked a lot about God’s anger at the world. They couldn’t play outside on Sunday’s either. They were really strict on things like clothes and music, and T.V. but not so much on what was said when Peter was angry. He could yell, and even hit his kids with his fists or open palms because God put him in charge of the family. It’s not that I think Fred or Peter were bad people, they were probably sincere people. They wanted to keep their families protected from the evils of this world. They had their flaws, I’m sure.

The biggest flaw was they missed the point of the gospel. They failed to realize that it wasn’t the skirt, or the commercial, or playing on Sunday. They failed to realize that keeping the O out of G-D doesn’t make them any more spiritual. They failed to realize that “building buffers” so that they could stay extra far away from the polluting sin of the world. Legalism never works. Isolation works even less often. Those being isolated either rebel and go nuts or slowly die a painful soul killing death that robs them of what God created for them.

Fred’s family imploded. Literally exploded, came apart at the seams. Wife, kids, the whole 9 yards. Divorced now, maybe remarried, I don’t know. Funny though, the standards are different. I don’t know what happened with Peter’s family. They left our little town of heavenly abode spreading a swath of destruction and devastation in their wake.They blew up lives, just like the Pharisees before them.

In the end, the question becomes do you focus on what you’re not going to do, or what you are going to do? I find it interesting when Jesus gives an entire summation of the law he talks about what we’re supposed to do. Love God with everything, and love our neighbor. He gives us pro-active verbs. He doesn’t tell us to dress our women up in coo lots, and a list of don’t do this or that. He doesn’t even get into the Calvinism/Free will debate. He just says, “LOVE GOD, and LOVE OTHERS.” Maybe Jesus believes that love wins.

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About Joe

I am a simple guy. I live in West Michigan and have a counseling business. I also do public speaking. I'd love to hear your story.

5 thoughts on “Isolationism, Explosions, and Love

  1. I have often wondered what it is in a person to say they believe the Gospel but refuse to walk in its Grace.
    We had a family like that in our church years ago. Their children were friends with my oldest daughter. Weird pilgrim clothing that mom made herself. Homeschooled, isolated from everyone, strict rules like the families you talked about.They imploded as well. Kids ran away and when they were found they spilled the beans- Both son and daughter were being sexually abused. Dad went to jail. Nutty mom went off with the kids somewhere isolated. I remember a dear friend, my pastor’s wife cried for the children. She said that it was terrible that the only Jesus those two kids knew was the distorted Jesus of their parents and she feared that they would never know the true Jesus who died to set them free.

    Dad is out of prison now and living a decent, somewhat normal life. I wonder how the kids are.

    Grace….unmerited favor….loving God and neighbor…being supplied with the very love to do it as well….I am very suspicious of anyone who calls themselves followers of Christ who chooses the law over His Grace for us.

    But it has been the pitfall from the beginning. We really do have a hard time accepting what Jesus has done and we fall into thinking we have to earn His acceptance.

    When I think of that family and as I was reading about the families you knew I too get so sad for the children, fearing they will never understand grace and mercy and the freedom to serve a good and trustworthy God.

    Thanks for your story…

  2. Have you heard the stories about the Christians who, in their efforts to be relevant and hip, completely lowered all the barriers in their homes, preferring rather to let their kids “experience” life for themselves? The son dabbled in drugs, the daughter got pregnant…

    The above accounts you give are indeed warped realities of what can happen when no understanding is imparted, but for every case on this extreme side of the spectrum you’ll find 2 on the lenient side that are just as bad. You are subtely insinuating that the best route is “no walls” (I know you won’t directly say this) which is complete folly.

    I am not an advocate of rules for the sake of rules, but having standards of holiness is absolutely important, otherwise every man does that which is right in his own eyes. In fact, this is largely why our society is in the state that it is (flipped on its head and going in the wrong direction), and this is precisely what you seem to be catering/pandering to.

  3. Paul,
    With respect I understand what you are saying. I think you missed the point of my post. I am not against no rules. I am against isolationism. I found your argument to have a few logical fallacies however. The biggest being your statement that for every case on the extreme side you (I assume you meant you, not me) will find 2 on the lenient side.
    Can you back that up. These are just two examples. I can give you almost 50 more without working hard at it. I’ll make you a deal; I’ll tell my 50 when you have your 100.
    Of course, we want standards for holiness, but I want the standards that God set up, not the one’s you or me or for that matter that my mom set up. That’s the point of this post. Rules don’t lead to holiness. The pharisees learned that.

  4. Don’t think I missed the point at all – you clarify exactly what I understood in your last sentence. The point of my post is that opening the flood gates also don’t lead to holiness… it leads just as far, if not farther, away from Christ. That’s the whole point of the epistle of Jude, who was warring against false teachers who taught loose-living as the way to salvation.

    In terms of your request for my 100, just start with the list of blogs recommended on this site: Naked Pastor, Movie Pastor… a few others as well, plus hundreds of others in the blogosphere. In their efforts to be shocking and hip they cast off restraint, sobriety and common sense.

    So, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying rules are the way to go (who is promoting that concept?). What I’m saying is that it is complete folly to go to the other end of the spectrum (which is what I see happening today).

    When the Lord Jesus outlined His standards for holiness in John 6, it says “many of disciples went back and walked no more with him.” He then asked the 12 remaining if they wanted to leave also. Don’t kid yourself – many people who claim that they love Jesus today (a Jesus of their own making in many respects) would not have followed Him acorss the street had they been around 2,000 years ago – except for the fish and bread perhaps.

    The Bible represents the standard very clearly.

  5. I don’t have a T.V., don’t celebrate Christmas, won’t show cleavage, and don’t go to a church building to name a few. But it’s not because I’m trying to live up to some standard to be better than others, but because I honestly believe these thing dishonor God. Isn’t it about honoring God with our lives also? Is that being an isolationist or a Pharisee?

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