I”m trying to make a list of the ten most ignominious professions.
10. Dog catcher
9. Trash man
8. Chimney sweep
7. Honey dipper (one who cleans out septic tanks)
6. Repo man
5. Sheriff’s deputy
4. Tax man
2. Corporate executive
1. Holdeman minister
Wait! you’re saying. Haven’t you gone a little bit too far? Aren’t you being a little bit harsh? No, I am in a bad mood today. Some days when Hiram writes he is in a good mood. He’s enjoying debunking the lineage, poking a little fun at Bennie, and encouraging rebellion. Most of this is somewhat tongue in cheek, done to make people think, but some of it is dead serious. Today I am dead serious. How can anyone bear to be a Holdeman minister?
I am angry. I see these men disrupting lives, and doing it with such soft gentle voices and unthreatening body language. I see them going about disrupting lives and homes, scaring people into thinking that they’re going to hell, making them starve for the blessing of communion, wasting the offering money flying all over the world enforcing the Holdeman law, and I am angry.
These men have been entrusted with a tremendous responsibility. Their responsibility is to lead people to Christ and to be an example. People trust them. They expect the truth from them. Instead, what we see all too often is men who go about with a big stick beating the sheep. There are people who believe they will go to hell for wearing certain articles of clothing, or failing to read their bibles on a daily basis. That might be stretching it a bit, but there are people who believe they will go to hell if they are not part of this church. So ultimately, they can go to hell because of the clothing they wear or a possession that they have, because they can be put out of the church for infractions of these rules and if they are out of the church, then they belive that they are damned. Quite often they are not a member because some minister took it upon himself to charge them with pride, self righteousness, a bad spirit or some such foolishness. No matter how hard the supplicant tries, he/she is unable to satisfy the demands set forth by these ministers. If this unlucky person is a parent, a mother, or a father, and they are agonizing over how to satisfy the demands that have been placed on them, and at the same time they are worrying that they are going to hell, what does this do to a family? What if the wife is under the spell of the ministry and she shuns the husband. What if the ministers encourage her in her rebellion against her own husband? They really have no right to intrude on a marriage relationship, but they will do it gladly and brutally. They do it of course by gently encouraging the wife that if she is faithful she will win her husband. Threaded throughout this encouragement is the subtle suggestion that he does not know how to lead her, and she must look to them. They will even visit with her privately, when her husband is not present, and ever so slyly subvert her affection and loyalty from her husband to them.
This is quite horrifying. Let’s continue with our assumption that the victim is a man. Let us further assume that there are children in the home, perhaps teenage children. What example are they seeing? They are seeing a father who has been stripped of his manliness, who is treated as a bit of an imbecile by his wife, who is shunned and set apart, and none of them really know why. Now, would you not agree that children at any stage of life need stability and security and parents who are united in their effort at parenting? The damage that is done by this type of situation is incalculable. The rebellion and mistrust that is instilled in children is very difficult to comprehend. Well, you might be saying, what if the father is a drunk and a womanizer and the mother is a godly woman who is doing her best? Even in that situation, there are issues that the Holdeman ministers need to remove themselves from, but the main situation I am speaking of here is the man or woman who falls into the hands of the church for some sort of discipline that stems from the need of the ministers to exercise power and control. Don’t tell me it doesn’t happen. It happens all the time. It can be that the parents are simply being visited over and over, and the fear of what might come if terms and conditions are not met brings about an unrest in the parents that is transmitted to the children.
What should a minister do? He should follow the example of Jesus. He should bind up wounds, bring people together, minister in love and kindness and tenderness. He should lay himself down for his sheep. He should receive correction if it is needed. He should never be arrogant and high handed. If there is a family that is in a vulnerable situation, he should do everything he can to stabilize the situation, be a friend, a godly influence, and to bring peace and encouragement to the family. He should never call the parents for visits that leave them nervous and frightened. All too often these visits lead to church discipline instead of greater stability. Children are damaged, and yet the mind control that insists that the church is right tears at the child from one side, while the suspicion that a beloved parent is being abused tears at them from the other side. All of this is happening under cover, it is not talked about, and the child never has a chance to process it logically. It all becomes a part of his emotional personality, and he will one day act out in an unfavorable way. He may become an ultra conservative legalistic church member who will one day perpetrate the same kind of abuse on others, or he may become involved with drugs and alcohol while he tries to bury his rage and his fear that he is going to hell.
God help us all. What about the youngster who is baptized at an early age and is expelled as a youth for things that are simply part of the process of maturing? Shame and humiliation mark this individual and instead of having a counselor to whom they can pour out their hearts, the find themselves in the hands of the gestapo. I will say it again, these processes are creating a breed of church member that has a mentality that falls far outside the norm of ordinary mainstream humanity. I cannot say it enough times, those who beat the sheep, those who take power over the people so that they can continue in their high powered office are committing a very grave sin. It seems that one by one they themselves fall under this sword of discipline, and the ones who are wielding this sword change with the seasons. Those who whack the others now will soon be whacked themselves. This is madness. Forgive me if I have been too accusing here, but I am angry. This is a shame and a disgrace.
On this rather fractious note I am signing off until after the holiday season. If you are a Holdeman minister and you are reading this, look deep into your heart. If you are a church member who has been hurt in this manner, you have my sympathy and prayers. If you come from a home where this disruption took place or is taking place, take courage. Read the Bible. Pray to God to lead you. Do not ever bow to a man just because you think you will go to hell if he says so.
Truth justice mercy and love, and may the love of Christ dwell in you.