We Are NOT God’s Hall Monitor

hall monitor 1

Why was the shoe stopped by the hall monitor? Because it was being knotty. : )

What is the church’s voice in the marriage equality issue, and how helpful is it? As I consider this question from Glad Alliance Church, I look at the church’s role overall.

The church has produced immeasurable good in the culture, as Christians have followed Jesus’ call to protect the unprotected, feed the needy, stand up for the marginalized—the very things Jesus told us are important, and the church individually and collectively have done.

But the church has inflicted untold damage when it’s done the opposite. Individually, but especially empowered as a collective, it has trampled over the very needy it was told to serve. It has kept people in abusive marriages. It has allowed sex offenders to flourish in power.

That’s where the church has run aground, not just with marriage equality but any issue. When the church is the hands and voice of Christ’s love, it’s a beautiful thing. When it is the law enforcement, it is disastrous. That’s the conversation we need to have.

The church has essentially appointed itself God’s Hall Monitor. Schools used to have hall monitors—a student who would tell kids to stop running in the hall or help a lost student find a classroom. Seriously. It worked only because it was elementary school, it carried street cred… and it was a long time ago. Today, I’m pretty sure (as Jay says to Manny on “Modern Family”), “you’d find yourself hanging from the flagpole by your tidy whiteys.” Yes. Kids aren’t happy to submit to peer authority, and really, neither are adults.

And that’s what’s happening in the non-affirming church, which is necessarily rules-based. They focus on following rules instead of following Jesus. Jesus always focuses on the spirit of the law, not the letter. Always. Rules-focus obliterates the spirit of the law. As Jesus and Paul both taught, the letter of the law leads to death.

The Hall Monitor Church pushes others to follow rules and to “tough love” them if they don’t, which basically means to bully them into submission and reject them if they don’t comply. It has nothing to do with following Christ. Nothing. No wonder the church is hanging from the flagpole by its tidy whiteys. The Hall Monitor Church has become increasingly irrelevant.

No wonder.

We were never meant to have this kind of authority over each other. I’ve read everything in the Bible that Jesus said, and it’s not there. In fact, he expressly tells us not to direct each other.

If you do try to enforce rules for others, what do you do with those don’t comply?

Bully them?

Threaten them?

Shame them?

Hall Monitor Nut(click to watch)

At what point do you say, “Hey, this is between you and God. I’m out of it.” (Honestly, the sooner you say that the better.) Otherwise, you end up yelling, shaming or crying because you can’t really make another person do something. Watch this short video of a young man, a hall monitor whose fellow students don’t take him seriously. He has a virtual meltdown, yelling and degrading other students who won’t comply.  This happens in schools, in churches, in families, when we feel responsible for others’ behavior.

Of course civilized society includes authorities to help maintain order, but not to impose “God’s standards” on others. That premise is wrong. Note that Jesus never made anyone do anything. Jesus has that right if anyone does, but instead he always invites into relationship. The shift in behavior follows in the fullness of time. If it doesn’t, it’s still between that person and Jesus; we are still not the hall monitor.

Of course, power is terribly appealing, and dare I say it’s usually self-serving. In this clip, Bart Simpson’s stint as hall monitor is about being cool, wielding authority, and wearing a sash. As always, Bart is totally about WIFM (What’s In It For Me?).

Hall Monitor Bart

Acting as hall monitor—or “managing people’s sin”—was never the church’s job. It’s what we’re expressly told NOT to do, yet it’s the main focus of far too many churches.

What do we do if not manage people’s behavior? That’s easy! Just take a look at Jesus. Jesus has literally all the authority in the world, yet he is never a bully. He interacts with individuals always with relationship first. He deeply connects.

Jesus influences culture as a bubbling brook refreshes weary travelers as it slowly alters the landscape. Some churches look more like Niagara Falls, crashing its dissenters to the rocks below. The more the church crashes people instead of refreshing them, the less influence it has. The ones that remain relevant are those that focus not on rules but on the bubbling water of Christ.

Marriage-equality supporters have gained so much approval despite the non-affirming church, they might say, “Forget you—this post-church culture doesn’t have to listen to you.” Given the enormous hurt from much of the church, I don’t blame anyone for that; I often feel the same way.

But perhaps something more is available than turning our backs on the church.

For one thing, the church is not going away. Though it actively pushes people out, the church continues to influence—especially families of LGBTQ kids who are steeped in it. Those trapped families need help.

Many of them have been so indoctrinated against homosexuality, much less marriage equality, that they have lost all reason. They are like sheep without a shepherd.

Those people need to understand why things are going so badly for them, and those of us who get it may be the ones who will bring vision.

Jesus was always countercultural. He did not come to change laws, to make people obey, to straighten everyone out. He simply said, “Follow me,” and he sent the Holy Spirit to lead us in all truth.

It doesn’t get any simpler. Really.

 

12 thoughts on “We Are NOT God’s Hall Monitor

  1. “Jesus always focuses on the spirit of the law, not the letter. Always. Rules-focus obliterates the spirit of the law. As Jesus and Paul both taught, the letter of the law leads to death.” So good. So true.

  2. I was so disheartened to hear of the man whose Catholic church wouldn’t even let him in the sanctuary on Sunday because he had a commitment ceremony the day before with his partner of forever. WHY? WHY does the church feel the need to cause such harm!

    Makes me so sad…

    • I had not heard that. I thought more of the catholic churches were a little more open minded about this topic? Some churches think to let LGBT folks in to the church, the church itself is “condoning” the “so called sin”, whether the people are married, went to a commitment ceremony, or are living celibate.
      ( marriage issue and it is a choice).They are concerned of how it would appear to the entire church and the community. I go back to the simple question that needs to just be asked of the clergy, church leaders, what would Jesus do, or want them to do? Whose church is it?? To me, it is not God’s church when you keep people out. Some churches I have found out will let any one, LGBT couples, attend church, but they cannot be a member of the church, nor can they hold leadership positions etc. etc. They also hold those standards to heterosexuals who have pre-marital sex, are married and have had affairs, etc. ( not sure how they 100% know the truth on that)
      As far as divorced couples? I think most churches have moved in to the current times and divorced people are forgiven. I knew of two couples who cheated with each other, divorced, and remarried, they were asked to leave the church they were members of. The couples went to another church, same religion, and became members. Does that make sense? I don’t understand why the original church did not use that as a “they repented and asked for forgiveness example” and let them stay? They, the couples, should have been forgiven by the church. To me the church leaders doing this would set a better example, Jesus’s teachings, of what we, as Christians, are asked to do, taught to do for ourselves, and told to do to others. Yet, the church leaders do not do as they tell us to do when running their churches?? 🙂 🙂 Aren’t we all sinners and slip at times? The conclusion I keep coming to time and time again is that some churches flat out still think it is a choice and just want people to stop making those choices. Some churches do believe that people are born that way, and at least have the conversations as to how to help those live LGBT and be a Christian. They do discuss all the issues involved in this debate, in a loving way. 🙂 🙂 Some churches and their leaders also want people who are members to appear to have a good Christian walk, they want their church to “appear perfect” to the community. Don’t we all know perfect Christians? 🙂 🙂 Sigh Do you think all the people who have sinned are telling clergy/church leaders of their sins?
      Some churches have LGBT clergy, church leaders, allow them to marry etc. etc. One really has to research churches in their area and may even have to change churches and/or their religion. 🙂 😉 Eventually, if people would do that, some churches will no longer exist. 🙂 🙂
      Just remember, one cannot hide from God.
      I keep praying, reading the word, and keep living in truth and I know God is working and he will handle this. 🙂 We can keep asking him how we can help him and those who are hurting, for they need God the most. 🙂
      Live abandon in him.

      • You see how dicey it gets when people are trying to decide who’s in and who’s out? They’re eating off the wrong tree! (knowledge instead if life!) When people use the Bible as a rulebook, it becomes as unwieldy as a giant tax code. The slightest transgression can land you in jail. That was not the intent! It is more like a love letter, with all its context and nuance. Thanks for demonstrating that with your comment, Samantha!

        • You are welcome. I really get it now, and over the last year I really have realized I have understood my faith for a long time. I have been in several churches myself, and in several of them, I never felt like I belonged there!!!
          I guess it really comes down to the relationship and the understanding of one’s own salvation. 🙂 🙂
          We really have to ignore a lot of people, Haha. 🙂 🙂

  3. Max Lucado

    “Let God give you what your family doesn’t. If your earthly father doesn’t affirm you, let your heavenly Father take his place.”

    I just read this too….:) 🙂

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