Last Sunday I visited an Atlanta area church (that I will not name) because they have great music, and people get really into the singing--so I go maybe a few times a year. Worship songs are one way I really connect with God, and I felt the need to go last week. But the rest of the service is usually really terrible, and I typically leave right after the singing. But last week I stayed for the whole service, since my friend Frank moved back to town and came with me. And I heard the worst sermon I've ever heard in my life. I can't really remember all of the points of it--I went to try to access it online, but the link isn't working for that week. Argh. So I'll just include a few of the points I remember best, but I really hope that the link is up soon so you guys can hear it and see another reason why we all need to be praying for the Church as a whole.
1) The title of the sermon was "Welcome to the State of Childhood" and the topic was something like "A guide to parenting." And I don't necessarily think all sermons have to apply to all people, but I do think that if it's for only one specific segment of the church, I want the pastor to openly acknowledge that and say why it should matter to me anyway.
2) He opened with like 5-10 minutes of one/two liner jokes. Okay, so this is just my own pet peeve, when the pastor seems to be more of a stand-up comedian than a preacher. It just makes me feel like I'm being entertained at the theatre or something. But that's just a personal preference.
Now to the actual content of the sermon that was horrific:
3) Everyone should get married. AND everyone should get married young. This is so that you can have many children, and because everyone in the Bible got married young. (he partially got this from the statement "be fruitful and multiply"--he said that doesn't just mean to have one or two, it means to have a lot...he himself has 8.)
4) The world is not overpopulated. (Part of his reasoning on this was that he went on a flight over the Amazon and after 4 hours he was still flying over the Amazon. According to him, it has rich soil with much plant life, and thus, it is a myth that our world is overpopulated.)
5) Everyone else in the world is having babies except Americans. (huh?)
6) The reason people aren't getting married is because they are overly focused on their careers and so-called education. (I don't know many unmarried people who wouldn't prefer to find a loving companion and then get married.)
7) Another reason people are so against love is that we call it "falling in love"; it makes it sound like a bad thing, like you're falling down. (again, huh?)
8) You should definitely spank your kids for discipline. Hospitals give out worthless pamphlets about using "time-outs" instead of hitting your kids. And don't do any kind of soft spanking either, you want it to sting and for them to get the immediate response of pain so they will learn. He then also made some jokes about having a special room in his house where he can spank his kids so the neighbors won't hear them scream, and then call the police. (This whole corporal punishment section was very strange and somewhat scary. I mean, are you a sociologist or a preacher? Well, neither really.)
9) Parents should not say to their kids "don't do that or I'll kill you" unless you're willing to follow through. Because then your kids won't trust your word. (Um, what? Are you listening to yourself? I don't think dead kids have a high capacity for trust. I mean, I get the point--don't say you're going to kill your kids...but I think it's probably better not to follow through in the event that you do say it.)
Well, I can't remember any more right now. I will check when the link gets put up. It was really more of a misguided child development lecture than a sermon or biblical reflection. It made me sad. It also made me laugh hysterically. I almost bit my tongue off trying to keep from laughing (My friend Frank brings out the giggliness in me anyway). And I desperately wanted to leave when the pastor started talking about other countries and how they have it so much better because they have more children than America (um, hello? ever heard of famine?) partly because I was deeply offended, but also because I couldn't contain my laughter of disbelief. I wanted to walk out and be rude.