In an earlier post I wrote about attending Legacy Church that is down the street from my parent’s house in Georgia. While I found the people there to be welcoming, helpful, open to my questions, not minding my Catholic faith, the general awkwardness of attending a new church for the first, experiencing a so called “first century Christian worship experience” (I don’t think they had Christian bands in the first century church), how ever I was uncomfortable with the sermon.
Before I continue I should explain a few things about Legacy. Legacy calls itself a New Testament or Restoration church. This means that Legacy worships according to how early Christians worshiped in the first century with the form for worship based off of the Book of Acts. Passed off of what I have read in Acts, early Christian worship was fairly simple with prayer, communion and teaching. Legacy if faithful to this but add a Christian band. Legacy also believes that the Bible should be taken literally and that every thing that takes place in the Bible historically happened. This naturally causes problems when trying to preach on a tricky topic.
Legacy doesn’t do Biblical readings based off of a lectionary like many churches do, but instead, uses sermon series with series dedicated to a Biblical topic. The current series at Legacy is the “Perfect Ten Sermon Series” with this past Sunday’s sermon on “Thou shall honor your parents.” I though this was a promising topic to preach and was quite intrigued. The sermon started off well, focusing it’s message on both parents and children. The message was that if you cannot respect and honor your parents, then how can you respect and honor God? A valid point. This part of the sermon went for thirty minutes. Yes, thirty minutes (listening to a sermon for this long was a God given struggle for me). Then sermon turned to politics and respecting and honoring authority. The sermon took a turn that I was not expecting.
Before I continue further I should explain that I am deeply uncomfortable with current politics being brought into sermons or homilies (as they are called in the Catholic Church). I am also of the belief that politics should not be preached from the pulpit. I have experienced too much of this in the South to be a fan of it. So, you see, this was why I was uncomfortable with the last half of the sermon.
As I said the first half of the sermon was wonderful and very insightful even if it was full of parenting advice. I became uncomfortable with the sermon during the second half when the message was that people should respect and not question authority and even accept social norms if public authority is not speaking out against it. I see this as a double edged sword. I can either work in your favor or it doesn’t. But with current social and political problems in the U.S. I thought the message was potentially damaging. Just when I thought the sermon couldn’t get any worse it did. The South’s historical use of slavery was brought in (not to mention the many other parts of the world where slavery still exists). So, when Ephesians 6:5-7 was brought into the sermon I dreaded it. For historical reference Ephesians was a letter written by St. Paul to the Christian community in the Hellenistic city of Ephesus in the Roman Empire’s provence of Asia Minor, now modern day Turkey. This same passage, among others (Ephesians, Colossians, Titus and 1 Peter) was also historically used by Southern slave owners to support slavery. This was precisely why I was uncomfortable with Ephesians 6:5-7 being brought into the sermon to support the teaching that all should obey authority. Even slaves are expected to obey their masters without question.
So, the overall message I received from this sermon was that no matter what Christians shouldn’t argue, go against or question authority. Authority is there and it should be respected. While in some parts of the world obeying social superiors is a sign of respect, it can also be a detriment. While in other societies blindly following authority can be a way of avoiding social responsibility. This has, unfortunately, been done by many churches in the U.S. As I said before it is a double edged sword but, regardless, people should be able to question authority. It is part of independent thinking, forming your own ideas and growing in faith.