Involvement in a legalistic church

Today, all people have become a big slum and the movement of people from one country to another is unprecedented. When they arrive to other countries, people coming from the same country and language form new churches or join existing churches. A Christian who came to live in another city has discovered the rules and ordinances in a new church, they raised many questions, and he does not know how to proceed:

I want to explain to you a situation that my home and I are going through now. I moved from one city to another, from one country to another. And now here, at the church I go to, I encountered some things, which for me are a real problem. In the excuse of “church ordinances”, I have the following, if I want to be a member and serve (I serve from the Word of God through sermons and exhortations):

  • Stop wearing wedding rings
  • My wife should wear a headkerchief all the time (not just to the church) on her head (bands or cordel are unacceptable, it must be a headscarf)
  • My wife is not allowed to wear pants, just skirts or dresses
  • I can not preach from the pulpit things that they (the pastor and the committee) do not support. So I was told to speak only about what they know and agree with.

All these burdens have created tension, quarrels and disorder in my family. I did not quarrel with the brothers, nor did I have any hot dispute. There are things I have never faced in a church before. I understand the rules in church regarding the order of the church program, that is, when we are all gathered in one place. But I have never met rules like these, including my private life. All this comes with the argument that “here is the ordinance, you have to obey, the Bible writes so, let us obey the ordinance and the higher ones placed over us, etc.”

I have been here for over a year and have not become a member yet. I do not know what would be right: to obey all these rules, though I do not see they are biblical – but at least they make me a member and I can serve – or remain faithful to the way in which I and my house understand the Bible and live our faith. Thank you and may the Lord reward you.

Obviously, you have to deal with a legalistic church, and I understand that the church in town where you lived so far has not been this way. That is why your shock is so great.

It would be an option to stay in this church, but I’m afraid you do not have enough authority and power to bring about a change in the way of thinking and understanding of the Scriptures among the leadership of this church and its members. I think you need to look for another church in the village that follows a sound doctrine. And if there is not such a church in the locality, then I think you will have to contact the pastor of the church from which you left and look for the possibilities to plant a new church and start this ministry because you do not want the legality to remain the only option for the people in that locality.

I am now studying the Epistle to the Galatians and preparing to lead a seminar on this book in Bible on September 22-24. It will be at the camp “Prietenia” in Coşniţa, Dubăsari district, Republic of Moldova. If you have the opportunity, I invite you to come.

Legalism is not as innocent as it may seem, for it is a different Gospel, different from the one that was preached by Jesus Christ and the apostles. It was not accidental that the Apostle Paul was so upset about those who came to the churches in Galatia and troubled the saints with their evil doctrine. They wanted the saints to return to the Law of Moses. Today’s legalists will either turn people back to the Law of Moses or invent a law of theirs, and it is extremely dangerous, because after this human law, the people will no longer see Christ and the Gospel.

You should study the course “Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians” well, and if you do not have a manual, please contact [email protected] to be sent to you by mail. After studying the course, it would be good to have a discussion with the pastor of that church and to present the Bible teachings. It is unlikely that he will receive what you will show him, but may the Lord open his eyes and see grace.

I do not want, however, that through this article someone would understand that there must be no rules or ordinances in the church. Certainly not! All Scripture teaches that the church must be ordained, and that you must obey the ordinance of the church, and this ordinance must be biblical and bring spiritual building and growth of God’s ministry.