Collateral Damage

by E.L. Anglin

~Scenario 1:

Invited by a friend to "Come as you are," she did. But now, during the service, she sat with that friend, uncomfortable in her own skin. The difference between her appearance and that of every other woman in the congregation was glaring.

She had never seen her friend in pants, so earlier in the week she had made a special trip to her favorite clothier. Pleased to find a nice dress at a decent price, she now realized that despite her best efforts, she stuck out like a sore thumb.

She was the only female in the room in a sleeveless dress. The only female wearing earrings and make-up. Though everyone was kind and welcoming, she was embarrassed that her friend hadn't better prepared her. Humiliated, she couldn't concentrate on anything that the preacher said. After the service ended, the pastor made a special effort to make her feel welcome. She said she "would try to visit again" and exited as soon as politely possible.

~Scenario 2:

Invited by a friend to "Come as you are," she did. But now, during the service, she sat with that friend, uncomfortable in her own skin. The difference between her appearance, and that of every other woman in the congregation, was glaring.

She had never seen her friend in pants, so earlier in the week she had made a special trip to her favorite clothier. Pleased to find a nice dress at a decent price, she now realized that despite her best efforts, she stuck out like a sore thumb.

She was the only female in the room in a sleeveless dress. The only female wearing earrings and make-up.

Other than her friend, no one welcomed her. She felt cold and judgmental stares and was torn between a "flight or fight" impulse. She chose to fight, though silently. Seething in anger, she decided to never again place herself in this sort of situation. At dismissal, head down, she quickly exited.

~Scenario 3:

Invited by a friend to "Come as you are," she did. But now, during the service, she sat with that friend, uncomfortable in her own skin. The difference between her appearance, and that of every other woman in the congregation, was glaring.

She had never seen her friend in pants, so earlier in the week she had made a special trip to her favorite clothier. Pleased to find a nice dress at a decent price, she now realized that despite her best efforts, she stuck out like a sore thumb.

She was the only female in the room in a sleeveless dress. The only female wearing earrings and make-up.

Other than her friend, no one welcomed her. She felt cold and judgmental stares and was torn between a "flight or fight" impulse.

During the sermon the preacher quoted a Bible verse about jewelry. He said, "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array..." He ranted against jewelry, make-up, cut hair, and sleeveless dresses for five minutes.

She knew his words were directed her way. She had never dreamed that she could feel this embarrassed, disrespected and angry IN CHURCH. She felt violated.

Seething in anger, she decided to never again place herself in this sort of situation. Mentally severing her friendship with the person who had invited her, she waited for dismissal and, head held high, quickly exited.

~Scenario 4

Invited by a friend to "Come as you are," she did.

She had never seen her friend in pants, so earlier in the week she had made a special trip to her favorite clothier. Pleased to find a sleeveless dress at a decent price, she sat with that friend, thoroughly enjoying the worship service in make-up and jewelry. There were several others dressed the same way.

She liked the vibe and decided this could be her new church home. After weeks of a personal Bible study, she submitted to baptism. Then one evening during an altar service while praying, she spoke in tongues. It was an amazing experience. Life-changing, really.

Months passed and with the passage of time came a desire to do something more, to give back. She approached the pastor and expressed her heart. She had singing talent and the church had a choir. As a public school teacher, she wanted to give her teaching ability to a Sunday School class.

She had heard him ask for volunteers.
She was sure he would be thrilled.

Instead he seemed concerned.

He reached in his desk drawer, pulled out a piece of paper, and slid it her way.

It was a leadership covenant, replete with enough rules to fill front and back. No jewelry, no pants, no make-up, no television, no cut hair, no theaters, no pro sporting events...her head spun with the knowledge that she didn't, and wouldn't, meet those expectations.

She politely listened to his explanation and exited as quickly as possible, torn between the sense of belonging she had felt previously and the shame which surrounded her now.

__________________

These are not fictional scenarios. I've personally witnessed all four play out. With absolutely no Bible basis these standards needlessly offend.


This writing is the copyright of E.L. Anglin and is reprinted on this site by permission. View all of his available articles here.


Page added March 8, 2015

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