I’ve been to church more this weekend than I have in the last 10 years. I attended a mate’s funeral on Friday in a Catholic church and today I attended a Christening in a C of E Church. As it was a ‘young persons’ funeral on Friday the place was full of young people.
However, when I attended the Christening today and it was a normal mass, I noticed that the majority (over 70%) of the parishioners were well into their 80s. It made me wonder about the longevity of the Church.
It was a very progressive Church with a female Priest, a children’s club and we received a very warm welcome, but I couldn’t help feeling that it was not with the times. I couldn’t sing along with the hymns if I tried, not because I’m tone deaf but I couldn’t work out the tune. It was far too long; I was physically in pain by the end of it and the reading from Matthew 5:27-30, made my jaw hit the floor.
28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to desire her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away! It is better to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into hell. 30 If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away! It is better to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into hell.
And this was the corker???
32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.
The Priest did address that God’s word is written in black and white and was not written in modern times. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to explain how this would fit into life today, however, she did emphasize that we should focus on repenting.
So, with one in two marriages in the UK ending in divorce have they not just turned their back on a large percentage of the population? People divorce for many reasons, and this does not mean that they’re bad people. My mother is a divorcee but she strongly believes in the 10 commandments.
I think the Church has a lot to offer people, but if it is unable to evolve and reflect modern times I can’t help thinking that it will disappear.
So what do you think?
25 thoughts on “This is not Bible Bashing!”
Just a rubbish church, and I don’t think the church will die out but vicars like that will. Our vicar is on his second marriage (shock horror) and totally gets modern life, and young people and the church in our town is absolutely thriving. It’s a proper heart of the community, very open, very accepting and very welcoming.
Wonderful to hear. I think we are all a bit lost and if the church could offer more, more of us would attend.
I don’t know whether I should weigh-in on this one as I have some fairly strong views, and I wouldn’t want to offend anybody…!
Jayne, the comment above was for you! :-)
The fact that a lot of people do something doesn’t make it right. The human cost of divorce is terrible, particularly to children. We haven’t got this right in our society – we should be giving far more social support to couples (married or not) to reduce the breakdown rate. However, speaking as a divorcee, I do think that churchgoers are often very critical of those who for whatever reason have failed at this most important of human relationships. Marital breakdown is emotionally similar to bereavement – but the church, and its members, too often fails to offer the support that it would offer to widows and widowers. So the church hasn’t got it right either, because it drives away the human beings who come to it seeking comfort in desperate situations. Jesus’ comments are graphic, but I think he was intending to shock his very complacent audience. Maybe both the church and our society also need to be shocked out of complacency.
Very well put. This is the kind of discussion I was hoping to start. Thank you.
You are more than welcome to join into the discussion. I want to know people’s thoughts…this is why I asked. :-)
You’re right. Very often the church has treated the marginalised with contempt and as the child of a single parent I have left churches in the middle of the service due to the way single parents were talked about. On the other hand the church is the place where I learned to be a socialist. It is the place where I learned that the poor are not to be ignored. It is the place where I learned to believe that people can be good and that the point of religion is meant to be about freedom. I know you don’t have to be religious to find that stuff, it’s just where I found it.
So to sum up, the church, like the bible, is full of contradictions. This is because it is full of people and because the Bible was written by people. There’s no way around this. If we want to talk about progression, yes, the church is changing, even in Northern Ireland (where I am) it is changing, but it’s slow, always slow, slower than the society that surrounds and infiltrates and makes it and sometimes that’s a good thing, and sometimes it’s a bad thing. I am a Christian and I’m very liberal in my beliefs. I attend a church that probably isn’t as liberal as I am in thinking. The reason I do that is because of the people that go there, that is what matters to me, the community that I can access and be a part of, we are not all alike in our thinking but as long as they will accept me I will accept them. I don’t think I could attend a church that wouldn’t accept me as I am or one which wouldn’t allow me to ask questions like the ones you asked here. But as I said, even in Northern Ireland it’s possible to find the places that celebrate our differences even as they nurture our souls. This is what I find myself in perpetual hope of. It means a lot to me and I wouldn’t expect anyone for whom religion means nothing to go to church and find meaning.
As for old people, I wish there were more at the church I attend. My elderly relatives are all gone now and I cherish the relatives-by-choice that I find in church.
Thanks- it’s really nice to be asked my opinion on this stuff.
Shirley, I really appreciate the time you took to answer my questions. Must admit though that now I have even more questions! :-)
Honestly, I think if the church isn’t asking questions and doesn’t cause people to ask questions then we have lost something precious. That’s the point. ‘Ask and the door shall be opened…’ but I think that there are always more questions beyond the door ;-)
I love that! I’m always full of questions!
This interested me. I am an active member of a Welsh Chapel. We have 78 members – average Sunday service – 12 of us. I am the youngest active member- average age on a Sunday 70! The reasons for falling numbers – apart from frail or unwell elderly members, the younger members, this includes my sister (mum of 3 boys under 8), is “no time”. Sunday mornings are now filled with supermarket shopping, golf-lessons etc. When we were children, we had a thriving Sunday school with about 40 children, there were no supermarkets open.. as for golf lessons. Some of our hymns are more modern, our visiting ministers (our regular one retired 3 years ago) vary in age from 32 to 87. They dont all say things that I find relevant, infact its some of the older ministers that I find do explain the Bible in “modern terms”.
I have lots of friends who say “ooh I hate chapels” yet have never sat in one except for funerals, weddings, christenings. I go as I love the 1 hour of peace, I admit sometimes my mind wanders during the sermon. I know that in a few years we wont have our chapel, numbers will dwindle so much that it will close.
So what can be done to change it?? Think it has so much to offer but just doesn’t reflect or address modern needs???
I think that they shouldn’t change the bible.
I am going to get shot down in flames for this, and I am not ragingly religious but, I really dislike how they chop and change the bible these days. It makes all pointless, like take from it what you want, that’s including priests. It’s just daft. You either believe in it all and follow it or your don’t!
But isn’t it healthy to question things? I think a good priest could of answered this question well.
I think the most important lesson I ever learnt at (non-faith) school was to question everything. Because it’s the victors who write the final history.
My minister often says that his role is not oneof having all the answers. Grouse hopes he has better questions.
My minister often says that his role is not oneof having all the answers. Grouse hopes he has better questions.
The church has chopped and changed the bible since it was first written. The Devil went from a fallen angel who spread lies but now is evil incarnate which stems from medieval times. Only now is the Catholic church relaxing this view. But the bible isn’t the only scripture to have multiple versions or interpretations of the text. Religious extremism is proof of that.
Personally I don’t believe in any organised religion, historically they’ve caused so much damage to the world although this is currently being overshadowed by the greed for oil. Although interesting how the worlds leaders need the support of religion to be electable.
But as others have said, although religion is in turmoil, faith schools will force families to attend.
Oh now. Can I be cynical and say that the churches that will survive are the ones that you have to attend to get your child into the best primary schools or secondary schools? Dare I say that? Cos that’s how it works around here. The congregation is younger cos they are jumping through the admissions criteria hoop.
this is true. My boy goes to a church funded primary school. He goes there because it’s the best school in the locality – we arent “church” people but they have to take kids from outside the church sphere as well. The church however is only ever full on the times when the kids are doing a service, be it easter, christmas etc. That has alot to do with the vicar I think who is out of touch with the congregation. He’s also very unwelcoming to both parents and children from the school who arent perceived as part of the “church” group. So I dont know what he’s like to any other stranger who might come into his domain!
Without wishing to offend anyone, I think what you get out of attending a religious service of any denomination depends on what you put into it , and perhaps what your expectations are. I was brought up as a not particulary strict Roman Catholic, but as I have got older and life has “happened”, I take great comfort from attending mass, mainly because everything changes but everything stays the same. I like to hear the same readings, sing the same hymns, and most of all to feel that I am part of a larger community ( not necessarily the one, in that particular church building). I know that its said that in some faiths church attendance is decreasing, but others have a thriving and growing community . Maybe this is for the reason that Kate C gave , in that its the way in to perceived better schools , although hopefully some of the people that attend for this reason, are made to feel that they are welcome and belong, and carry on attending after their children have( or havent ) secured their school place.
I’m catholic (Mr is an aethist) and I do take the girls to church. Its not as spritually fullfilling as going on my own (imagine midget wrestling for 45 minutes… with the added fun of the serious bit happening just as they get ratty…) but I think its important to go and to try and be part of the community. Yes our congregation is largely made of older people and yes, the church is going to have to work to retain its place in society and to be honest priest’s with that kind of attitude aren’t doing the cause any good
Our parish priest is fairly understanding of my attempts to keep the girls in check, my inability to attend every week and does not ask too many questions about paperwork – end result we go and we feel welcome
We went to a terrible christening a few weeks back – hour and a half service, terrible sermon which seemed largely directed at the (non religious) father of the children and my husband called sponsor not god parent because he is not baptised – came away feeling cross that they couldn’t make an effort to be welcoming on a occasion when they had a chance to draw people in
Am now wibbling but hopefully you get the drift!
I think it all depends on the church. We went to a Christening the other week and the Vicar did a fab job using the metaphor of that programme about a Vampire a Ghost and a Werewolf in his sermon and the message of Christ. I was astonished. I think it was lost on most of the congregation.
Loads of stuff in the bible is frankly weird, though it shouldn’t be taken literally and it needs to be properly interpreted.
Our church has quite a lot of young people in it and are quite welcoming. I feel guilty for not going!
Come along to my Elim Pentecostal Church in St Albans or visit the Vineyard and you’ll see where all the young people in St Albans are Chrissie. The music there is more like a rock concert than anytign else. I love Church.