Copied from a response to Wade Burleson’s “Grace and Truth to You” blog, under the blog post entitled “Patriarchy and the Family Integrated Church Emphasis in SBC Seminaries:  A Potential Embarassment for the SBC“:

Blogger thatmom said…
Pastor Wade,

I appreciate your willingness to discuss this topic on your blog.

I wanted to clarify something. The pastor who used the phrase “death, disease, and divorce” to pressure our family into staying in his church was NOT a FIC pastor. In fact, part of the reason he was so angry with us is that we had expressed concern over the anti-family direction his church had taken on some issues.

We have had some experience with 3 FIC churches, two of them extensively, the other only long-distance. I can fully understand why a homeschooling family might want to be in a FIC church. We have homeschooled for 23 years and have struggled with some pretty weird things at the hands of church members and youth leaders who thought they needed to “fix” our children. Our kids weren’t all that interested in participating in youth groups but were relentlessly pursued and by youth leaders whose own children didn’t even attend church. We also grew weary of the anti-homeschooling talk we heard in the above pastor’s church so FIC churches seemed very appealing to us.

FIC churches encourage family worship or Bible reading and Scripture memory, which we have practiced for decades in our own home. They also not only allow children in worship services but encourage it, which is something else we like. That isn’t to say that we have an issue with church nurseries. But most of our life experience in church has been being on the receiving end of people who really wanted to pressure us into programs that we weren’t interested in.

But there are several down sides to FIC churches. In our experience, there are few if any families who are not homeschoolers, which means they fall into a narrow age group. There are no elderly people and anyone who is not a believer or who is struggling with serious problems would not feel welcome. In one church we attended, the pastor repeatedly used the phrase “boys and girls” during sermons and everything during the service was dummied down to accommodate early elementary age children; sometimes worship service was more like an end-of-the-week Bible school program. There was no solid Bible teaching for the parents or older children and for a mom who is spending her whole week ministering to kids, this is discouraging. We rarely heard the phrase “patriarchy” at this church but the message that women were only to have opinions about the potluck meals and decorating was definitely being sent.

The other FIC church we attended was a totally patriarchy-minded church. It was also very clear that this group embraced the Civil War as a theological war doctrine. Not a Sunday went by that we didn’t hear how evil Abraham Lincoln was or that had the south only won the war, we would be able to live in a truly Christian nation. Once at a Bible study, my husband, son, and son-in-law heard one of the elders say “the Klan has done some good things.” We were really stunned at that. Of course, now that same church has a member who is one of the founders of the Kinist Movement, which is unknown to most people in this area. I also found out later that one of the women in that church had had children dress in “black face” for a homeschooling co-op and I was also stunned at that. We always felt uneasy about the church and it wasn’t until after we left that we began to really piece together those things and to understand what was going on.

One thing that has troubled me in FIC churches is that many of them do not hold to basic doctrines because they are’t associated with denominations or they make up their own denominations. This results in a couple problems. One is that the core beliefs can fluctuate according to whomever is in leadership at the time, since what draws someone to an FIC church isn’t doctrine but a non-essential lifestyle taught as if it is essential. The other problem is that often these groups form their own denominations, which further dilutes the doctrines and further dilutes the importance of the core issues that have met the test of time of the orthodox church for centuries.

I think that one of the biggest criticisms of FIC churches that I have is the fact that there is an isolationism of families going on. While I fully understand the need to protect our children, I also want my children to have compassion on others and to not be so naïve as they grow into adulthood, especially if they are going to seek to minister to others. Sadly, what I have seen in some groups is that the isolationism for protection is really an excuse for teaching a hierarchical view to your children, training them that they are better than others outside of their group and especially teaching them “roles” for men and women that are not biblical whatsoever.

So much more to say, so little space. I am going to write about this on my own blog in the next few days if you are interested.

Tue Sep 09, 08:55:00 AM 2008