Examining Worldliness

By Karl Diestelkamp

It is inevitable that those who take looser and looser positions on biblical authority and who adopt the “no pattern” concept regarding the body of Christ will also take loose positions, or no position, on moral issues and worldliness. Such looseness is evident in The Examiner.

Who Is “Morally” Responsible?

By his own admission, Holt’s paper is an instrument for teaching that which he sometimes believes to be “quite wrong.” Hear him: “I must admit that on occasion some views or positions are published with which I disagree; that I believe are quite wrong. Within limits I believe in allowing honest, capable brothers and sisters to freely express their views and I feel no obligation to specifically express my disagreement to try to refute such” (The Examiner, 3-89, p. 224). By his silence he “bids God speed” to “capable” teachers of that which is “quite wrong.” Who is responsible for this “wrong” that is published? Another writes, . . . Many of the things I say under the name of Epaphroditus are merely the musings of my mind, and not my settled conclusions” (The Examiner, 3-90, p. 15). But this writer writes like it is “settled.” Is he teaching his doubts? How can we know the “few” things he is certain about from his “many” unsettled conclusions? No wonder he writes anonymously! Whatever happened to not giving place to false teachers “no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you” (Gal. 2:4,5)?

Defending Worldliness

Under the heading “The Legislating-Morals Creed,” Steven Clark Goad wrote: “Included in this mind set are visceral matters including length of hair, length of skirts . . . dancing, smoking, drinking and the ever popular yet dreaded, ‘mixed bathing’ . . . In Indiana we called it ‘swimming’ . . . My first official ‘invited to’ church party was a pool party. Even open minded Goad and spouse were a little uncomfortable . . . I still remember a dearly beloved deacon whose wife, even while pregnant, wore super short mini skirts. That’s right. Goad decided to moralize. Sweet brother forgive me. The next Sunday this precious mate had her hem let out almost completely on her maternity dress. Point? 1, nor you, have the right to tell another Christian how long his wife’s dresses or his son’s hair should be . . . Nor do we have the mandate to prohibit beer and dancing in a man’s own house . . . And just for the record, I don’t drink and I don’t chew and I don’t swim wif’ ‘dem ‘dat do!” (The Examiner, 5-89, pp. 13,14)

Putting aside the sarcasm and attempt at humor, Goad treats us to an unhealthy dose of “The Bible doesn’t prohibit: super short mini skirts, mixed swimming, dancing, drinking, smoking and long hair on men.” The real question is, does the New Testament authorize them? Conveniently, Goad never got around to 1 Timothy 2:9 and the issue of modesty or Genesis 3:7-10,21 and God’s remedy for “nakedness.” Nor does he deal with the related issues of “adultery in the heart” (Matt. 5:28) and “stumbling blocks” (Rom. 14:13). On “long hair” on men he did not consider 1 Corinthians 11:14 and seemingly could find no passage to relate to “beer and dancing in a man’s own house.” What principle of truth allows these things inside the house and prohibits them outside? Shall we teach about “lasciviousness, drunkenness and such like” (Gal. 5:19-21) and the things that lead to these sins (1 Thess. 5:22) or not? Goad’s teaching will not turn anyone from worldliness it opens the door for further error and throws aside restraint.

Unfortunately, in a lot of places where brethren meet the battle for modesty has been lost because it was not fought. Many brethren have caved in on “masculine modesty” for the sake of “sports” and to be consistent no longer teach “feminine modesty.” Some defend swimsuits as being modest for mixed swimming, but immodest elsewhere in the same mixed company. Long hair on any man is a shame. Even the world recognizes “long hair” on a man when it sees it, but some brethren (including not a few mothers, wives and girl friends) seemingly cannot! An increasing number seem to be trying to get as close to “shame” as possible, and few say anything about it. “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 Jn. 2:15). “Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (Jas. 4:4).

Endorsing Adultery

Holt recommends a book by Olan Hicks, saying, “There is an answer to the ‘law’ of men that if a man divorces his wife without adultery as the cause, and marries another, that both will be ‘living in adultery’ as long as they continue that marriage” (The Examiner, 5-88, p. 22). In The Examiner (9-89, p. 25), Cecil Hook writes, “Paul grants to all the unmarried women (which includes maidens, widows, and divorced persons) the privilege of marriage . . . he did not impose a cruel single life on anyone. So, divorce her instead of just separating, and let her remarry.”

Consider the plain teaching of Jesus before you swallow The Examiner’s advice: “. . . and whosoever married her which is put away doth commit adultery” (Matt. 19:9). “. . . Whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery” (Matt. 5:32).

By their teaching/endorsement, Holt, Hicks and Hook are teaching the servants of the Lord “to commit fornication” (Rev. 2:20). There is Do scriptural authority for the “put away” spouse to remarry and no amount of human reasoning will explain away the words of the Lord.

Brethren who tolerate and condone more and more worldliness provide a fertile seed-bed for further doctrinal departures, which in turn, pave the way for more worldliness until identity as the sanctified people of God is lost. Be alert to the subtle defense of worldliness in the pages of The Examiner, and from where ever else it may come. Stand up and be counted! Speak out against sin of every kind! Wobbliness and weakness encourages worldliness. “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (2 Cor. 6:16).

Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 19, pp. 598-599
October 20, 1990