So here is the story the elders and older folks told us so we wouldn’t live our lives in a panic: your parents were baptized, so you were “born holy.” Now all you must do is earn your way into Heaven. Avoid fornication by getting married in your teens. Avoid divorce, no matter how bad things are in your marriage. The rules in the bible do not release you from marriage if your husband abuses you or molests your children or other people’s children.
The only way out of marriage, for a woman, is the death of her husband. If her husband sleeps with other women, tsk tsk, she must not be putting out.
But for a man, it’s not so difficult to throw out a wife you don’t want. Just make her life miserable. She’ll leave. You can tell your children that their mother is going to hell (this has happened before – poor children). Now that you have been abandoned by a “non-believing” wife, choose a new victim – er wife.To be free, to start over, you have to convince the church of your innocence. Make the woman the villain. It was all her fault. She is guilty; you are innocent.
I understand the unforgivable sin to be blaspheming the Holy Spirit. But I always believed that divorce was the real unforgivable sin – for women. A man can go on with his life if his wife cheats, she is cast out. He is still in. Just one of hundreds of double standards and biblical misinterpretations.
There was a young lady who committed a different “unforgivable sin.” Please forgive me for not having perfect recall about this incident. If I get something wrong, I am not lying, I am writing about something the way I remember it. If I get some details wrong, please be gracious in correcting me. I will change them. So this young woman, she was a few years older than me. Glenford was still alive, so our church had a form of leadership, but no real hope. No one to “save” us through baptism.
This girl was maybe fourteen (maybe?) and she had grown up like me, being told that salvation comes through a human who can bestow sanctification through full immersion baptism. Her father was a controversial man – a friend to Tom Nichols – and someone who had his own ideas – gasp! Her father had been entertaining a man who claimed to be a “called apostle.” The church didn’t accept the man – he wasn’t from Oregon City, so how could his claim be authentic?
Well this young lady listened to the man who was spending time with her family. She asked him to baptize her. And he did. When the church discovered that she had been baptized by this “false prophet” she was done for. Going to Hell for sure. Her fate was sealed.
She continued attending the church services, but the girls her age were told by their parents to shun her. Better not speak to a damned child, it might rub off. What was she to do? She was part of our church. This was her life. This was all she knew. Except that she had done the unthinkable.
After hearing all her life that she needed baptism for salvation, she had done it. She had done was she was told she needed to do. And in doing so, she had committed an unforgivable sin. She would be damned if she did, and damned if she didn’t. Only by doing so, she was to endure hell within the church. Shunned.
She wasn’t my age, but she started sitting by the girls my age because she couldn’t endure the shunning her former friends were enacting against her. I asked my mom what to do and she told me that I could say hello to her at church. I was glad for that. I always said hello. But I didn’t say anything else. “Hello” was all that was authorized. I wasn’t much of a conversationalist anyway.
Of course, the young lady didn’t last too long. I don’t remember when or how she left. Maybe she just sat with her parents at church after a while. Of course she left. She had been condemned. There is no living through that. There would be no period of shunning followed by reincorporation. She had committed the unforgivable.
There is no such thing as being “born holy” unless you’re Jesus. And even Jesus was baptized. But don’t fool yourself into thinking baptism is what saves you. We all deserve hell. Every mortal person deserves it. That is why Jesus died.
This analogy is not my own. I have heard it from others. I’m sorry I do not know where it originated, but it has helped me to comprehend the good news of Jesus Christ. Imagine that you are standing before a judge (God). You are being accused by the district attorney (Satan) for your crimes / sins. Jesus is your attorney. For every sin that Satan accuses you of, Jesus responds by saying, “I have paid.”
We all deserve to die. We cannot save ourselves. Only the blood of Jesus can pay for our sins. Without Jesus, we are damned. What will you choose? To try and defend yourself for crimes you are guilty of or accept the free gift of Jesus? I have made my choice. I deserve Hell, I have deserved it since I was in second grade or so, but I’m not going. Thank you, Jesus, for paying the price.
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God