Urban Legends (IBTR #46)

It dawned on me that we sometimes have some serious urban legends in Christianity. My familiarity with Independent Baptist has made me aware of several in our ranks. When I looked the definition up to make sure my terminology was accurate, I laughed. Wikipedia defines urban legends as “a form of modern folklore consisting of stories that may or may not have been believed by their tellers to be true, and often possess horror implications that are believable to their audience.” The story is often “the Bible teaches …”, when of course it does not!

My thinking went this direction from a letter a fine Christian lady wrote me. She had been lambasted for an opinion that she could not believe that 1 Corinthians 7:1 (“Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.”) meant that a male could not hug a female who was merely a friend goodby.

This lady, obviously one who has become a Bible student, said that verse meant ” ‘to touch a woman’ is a euphemism for sexual intercourse”. It is very good to not fornicate, the verse is saying. Her exegesis was quite good as she shared her conclusions about the first seven verses.

The strange thing was how it came to mean that touching the opposite sex would always lead to instant fornication. That urban legend is so strongly believed by some and thundered out as if disaster was certain. Of course there is a touching that could lead to danger, but that does not mean every innocent touch is the same thing.

Urban legends can be easily fixed. Just check out the facts. It is amazing how simple it is.

In Bible matters, just check out what the Bible really says. Look at the appropriate passages in context and define the words carefully. Bible urban legends die a quick death in the hands of one careful with his or her Bible.

You feel pretty silly for believing an urban legend after you find out what it really was. For sure, don’t let that happen in God’s Word.

Find all articles in the series here.

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20 thoughts on “Urban Legends (IBTR #46)

  1. 1. If you go to movie theaters, you will end up in a rated R movie.
    2. If you buy sparkling grape juice at the grocery store, you will lose your testimony.
    3. If you listen to CCM, you will end up being an adulterer, at least in the heart, because rock is all about sex regardless of the words.
    3.5. CCM is also a slippery slope into ecumenicalism at best and universalism at worst.
    4. God does not necessarily bless you if you tithe (because it’s just obeying, and we don’t want to be health and wealth people) but if you don’t tithe He will surely curse you.
    5. Calvinism turns you into a mindless, evangelism-less, robot.

    • 5. Obviously not mindless, because Calvinism requires much thought on the part of anyone who would ever come to the conclusion a loving God would condemn a segment of mankind to hell in light of a plethora of scriptures that support making a choice. ” That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

      As far as evangelism…what would be the point for a Calvinist to do so it everything was predestinate?

      Thanks be to God for an invitation and every opportunity to dispense with Urban Legends, Opinions, Theories, Speculations, Puffed Up Prophecies, Numerical Nonsense and Problematic Teaching.

      May we all be delivered from camps, cults and clubs (Good Ole Boys Dontcha Know).

      Let’s just be Christians and conform to the example set by the Master.

      • There are plenty of reasons that several authors have written extensively on for evangelism for the Calvinist. I’ll just name a couple and leave it at that.
        1. that is our commission as the church, given directly from the mouth of Christ.
        2. We love the Gospel. When you love something, you share it.
        3. We are the mouth of Christ. That is how it works! Sinners come to Christ when there is a preacher of the Gospel whether predestination is true or not.
        4. We aren’t machines. We are personal, relational individuals. In order to not evangelize, we would have to keep Christ out of our personal, relational lives and keep our Christian walk to a Sunday-in-church-only thing. It’s not like the typical Calvinist approaches an unbeliever saying to himself “woops, better not talk about Jesus with this guy. Not sure if he’s predestined or not.” Nope. We talk Jesus no matter who we’re with. If a person needs Jesus, we’ll confront them with the Gospel. Whether they are saved or unsaved 🙂
        The list could go on, but these are just a few to think on.

    • Uh, all but #5. It definitely does not turn you into a mindless robot; maybe just a blind follower. I mean when you follow after a theology named after a person and that person kept the sacraments; indicating he did not grasp Eph 2:8,9. Salvation by grace through faith was meaningless to him. In his skewed theology it would be unimportant because he purported that salvation was determined before we ever have the opportunity to believe.

      • That is very over-simplified. Not to be a jerk, but this is another reason I can’t stand traditional baptist mindsets – they think that a single verse can discount everything that John Calvin (or any person) ever said. I personally don’t care about “following John Calvin,” but I do know his work would put any of us to shame, especially when our arsenal consists of a single verse, especially when we use that single verse to describe a person in a way that would be obviously not true if we actually knew anything about that person. “Salvation by grace through faith was meaningless to him.” – this is downright hilarious because the entire foundation of Calvin’s teaching is precisely that – salvation by grace through faith. The dilemma, on the contrary to Brother Dave’s suggestion, is rather some would say his views take grace “too far” in that it’s all about His grace and has nothing to do with man’s choice. I would not call myself a staunch Calvinist. I do not believe that God chooses who goes to hell. No, we chose that when we sinned. To say “God chooses who goes to hell” would be to say that people naturally deserve to be chosen for heaven, but God deliberately pushes them out of that camp. But I do believe that salvation does have something to do with predestination. You can’t bypass it when you read Scripture. It’s all over the place, and you downright have to redefine Scripture or just rip those pages out in order to get around it.
        But I’ll leave that there.

  2. Independent fundamental baptist say they are not a religion, but Christian. I graduated from one of their Bible College and have been raised this way my whole life.I have always questioned some of the things that are taught as truth, but are in fact traditions and “legends”.I long for a church that would just teach Jesus.

  3. Bro Reagan,

    I agree that in this context, the word touch (literally cling to; and has the meaning to set fire to) is obviously talking about fornication. I also agree that there are many urban legends that make their rounds in churches, and every Pastor tells these stories as if they have personally happened to them or to someone they know.

    While it is true that not every touch leads to fornication, fornication always starts with a touch. So, my first question is, why would it be appropriate for a man to hug a woman who is not his wife – even if they are good friends? A hug, especially a frontal hug, is an intimate form of physical touch.

    My second question stems from your forth paragraph where you wrote: “Of course there is a touching that could lead to danger, but that does not mean every innocent touch is the same thing.” What exactly constitutes an innocent touch? The only thing I could think of is a handshake is innocent touch. Also, who determines what touch is innocent – the person doing the touching or the person getting touched? Not so long ago, it was considered proper etiquette for a man to restrain himself from offering his hand to a woman. If she wanted to shake his hand, she would be required to offer her hand first.

    There are also facts about touch that have been discovered in studies of how our bodies react to touch. One article that discusses this is linked below. That article is an interesting read, and it also provides two points I’d like to draw out here:

    1. Laura Guerrero coauthored a book entitled, Close Encounters: Communication in Relationships, and she makes this statement about touch: “We feel more connected to someone if they touch us.”

    2. That article also points out the following: “Perhaps because touch affects both the person being touched and the one doing the touching, it is one of the most fundamental ways of fostering and communicating intimacy in a romantic relationship.”

    This says intimacy in a romantic relationship; however, the article gives many examples of how touch brings people closer. Some of those examples are sports teams others are bonding with babies and children. The fact remains that intimacy between people is strengthened through touch. So, this would limit, I think severely, the amount of touch that two people of opposite sexes who are not married should do.

    PS > It is , however, still an urban legend that any type of touch will lead immediately to fornication.

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201302/the-power-touch

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comments for others to weigh here. I do believe that everyone should seek the Lord about what is acceptable, and if married your spouse’s thought must be considered. I do believe there is a hug that could be acceptable and those that are not. For an added precaution, since I am a pastor, I never initiate a hug. I do, in a careful way, hug those who start one. There is no Scripture that states exactly the regulation there and so what I do may not be right for another, and vice versa. The information you share is wonderful to consider as we seek the Lord, but we cannot make the Bible say what we feel is best. An urban legend will not help anyone exercise the right caution because misused Scripture can never accomplish good. Again, thanks for your thoughtful comments.

    • I think one of the issues with the fundamentalist mindset is that they try to universalize everything. They try to turn every standard and hedge into a science that would apply in every situation. Granted, everyone wants guidance. However I think we run into issues when we, in our desire for guidance, stop walking in the Spirit and allowing Him to guide us, but rather turn to definable standards for guidance.
      Don’t get me wrong, I’m not making accusations. I still think it is wise to think through these things and I think there is room for disagreement. However, I do believe that the fundamentalist culture has done much wrong to the idea of relationship, so much so that even a hug is looked down upon. For instance, there is nothing wrong with the fact that “We feel more connected to someone if they touch us.” But we have become so afraid of “connection” and we’ve tried to make things easy by just associating all personal touch with romance, so as to define clear, visible lines. Also, I do agree that “it is one of the most fundamental ways of fostering and communicating intimacy,” however I do not believe that it is only a way of doing so romantically. It certainly is a way to do so romantically but it does not need to be done as such.
      In the end, it’s fine for some to have a “no-touch” policy. But for others, it’s also fine to be a person who hugs. Those people are needed too. People feel really cared for when they are hugged. Not because they want to have sex with you. But because they understand that you really care. And that’s something that is in short supply these days, especially in the fundamentalist circles, but that’s just my opinion.

      • It would be interesting to read your first paragraph and then go read a Bible Encyclopedia article on the Pharisees.
        I like your term “universalize”. That is it. I would also ask if this no touch policy has made any statistical difference in the rate if fornication. I would guess it has not solved anything.

      • I am a hugger, but I have been careful, especially in church settings with an ‘unofficial’ no-touching-the-opposite-sex policy. Don’t brothers and sisters hug each other? And aren’t we supposed to treat one another as brothers and sisters? It has been my experience that such policies tend to make girls and women feel ‘dirty’ rather than loved… like potential sex objects rather than sisters and mothers. As Pastor Jimmy asked, too, has the no-touch policy made any statistical difference in the rate of fornication? I would guess, also, that it has not, since such things are a matter of the heart. I am grateful for the men and women in my life that are free to hug without any impropriety or shame.

        Another urban legend that runs rampant in IBF churches is the idea that abstaining from all appearance of evil encompasses such things that are not actual forms of evil, but things that are subjective, e.g. women wearing pants, men with beards, riding a motorcycle, going to the movie theater, eating at a restaurant that serves alcohol, and the list goes on. There is no doubt that we should be careful from doing things that might cause a weaker brother or sister to sin, but subjecting our standards on others is a form of Pharisaism.

  4. For the anti-touching crowd, I would find it interesting to know how you would interpret Romans 16:16 and 2 Corinthians 13:12. It would be awful hard to greet one another with a holy kiss if you weren’t even allowed to physically contact one another. 🙂

    I think we tend to swing the pendulum a bit too far sometimes. Obviously we should avoid the appearance of sin and wouldn’t want to lead anyone into sin. However, we are brothers and sisters in Christ and I would find it very odd to never touch one of my siblings. HOW we touch a sibling is far different than how we touch a spouse and we all know that.

    In general though, you are right – a thorough knowledge of God’s Word is what will keep us from being tossed about by every new teaching or wave of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14). We need to all be Bereans and search out the Scriptures (Acts 17:11)!!

    • Kissing is cultural and has nothing to do with say a man and women locking lips. I would imagine that Paul would probably not have given a woman a holy kiss.

      In the Middle East you will see still men kiss on the cheek, but they would NEVER kiss a woman in the same way.

  5. Since John Calvin taught that the sacraments were necessary for salvation, he may not even be saved. Paul said those who teach any other gospel were accursed (Galatians 1:8-9).

    Furthermore, Christians who divide up behind men are carnal (I Corinthians 3).

  6. I could list a myriad of verses that would nullify the theology of Calvin, but what’s the point? The basics are good enough. He kept the sacraments. And those who would buy into his theology are following a man. Wisdom would immediately suggest that we never follow a man or a movement. Consider those who followed after Mohammed, Buddha, Lenin, Marx and the plethora of other “isms”. Calvinism is an elitist view. Its doctrines frequently create a spirit of division, elitism and theological snobbery. The system erects walls between believers. It creates a class of Christians within the church general who are supposedly part of a worthy “inner circle.” Calvinism is one more illustration of the futility of systematic theology.

    In general, Calvinists tend to read nothing but Reformed titles. In doing so, they are continually reaffirming their own “theological correctness.” Such authors such as A. W. Pink, the Puritans, John Murray and such publishing companies as Banner of Truth become the sole staple for many. Without intending offense, such exclusiveness differs little from that of Jehovah’s Witnesses or other authoritarian groups. With an open Bible and mind, may they take a second look at the so-called “doctrines of grace” to see if they truly are the doctrines of Christ. To say that Calvinism is all about grace is a half-truth, because its doctrine of Efficacious Grace came as a necessity to support its doctrine of Total Inability. Systematic and logical, but deriving their basis from texts outside of the context, intent and general tenor of Scripture.

    Traditional Baptist mindset? Apparently you have not read my other posts. I am a Christian; nothing more, nothing less. I am in complete agreement with Baptist doctrine; it is in their Faith and Practices that I find grievous errors and traditions of men. I find no denominations in the scriptures; no offering plates, no tote boards, no pulpit in the N.T. and only one mention of such in the O.T., no church building programs, no altar calls, no mandatory meeting times, no Wednesday meetings, etc…..If a group of believers feels the necessity of such things that is their business, but to say that they are found in the scriptures is incorrect.

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