As we move on to the sixth part of the series, we must give some background. Several years ago during a few of the week long seminars held in the spring or summer; Jane Whaley determined that the members wanted further instruction on certain household tasks. She approved of certain of the ministry staff to get up before the congregation and explain techniques for activities like ironing, towel folding, underwear and t-shirt folding as well as sock folding and how to arrange these in the drawer.
A certain minister got up and demonstrated the technique for ironing a collared shirt. If I remember right, he also demostrated ironing pants. (I missed the meeting but, was given a recap in the evening.)
Another minister had a chest of drawers brought in and placed on the stage. He proceeded to fold socks, roll t-shirts and fold briefs. Then they were placed as prescribed in the drawer. Afterwards, members could come up and inspect the drawers to help them see the example. At this point, I am not sure which minister demonstrated the towel folding, but someone did. If my memory serves me right, at some point members were shown the correct way to fold the corners of bedsheets.
The reaction of the children over these demonstrations was of particular interest. The excitement level was high as many were joyous over the new techniques shared. In and of themselves, I found nothing wrong with the techniques. However, in the overall environment of WOFF, the “do’s” had/have a way of becoming fuel for “don’ts” as you may surmise. The believers at WOFF were/are eager to learn the next thing to do or not do in order to “fulfill their call”, “grow in Jesus” or “be the minister Jesus has called them to be…”. If you have read certain previous posts like “The Toilet Paper Revelation” or “Why No Note Taking During the Service!”, then what happened afterwards would be no surprise. The pressures to make sure your personal space measured up to the approved standard was great. It was used as another way to exert a “We don’t do it that way” when you slipped from the demonstrated standard.
In order to demonstrate the point, I relate the following incident to which I was a personal witness. In the first quarter of 2005, I traveled with a large group to Brazil on a “missions” trip. This was my first trip with folks from WOFF. We were sitting at the airport in Charlotte, NC. We were to the far right sitting in chairs waiting to pass through to the secured area. The main church secretary was standing among the group waiting for us to move to the next part. She was not taking the trip. However, while we were there waiting she looked at the young man sitting next to me in the row of chairs. She asked him a couple of questions and then said, “Do you realize you have double creases in your pants?” She said, “We don’t do that. You do know how to make that right?” She then went on the explain how to take out the double and put back a single crease. Of course, I listened!
At the time, I did not think much of the “correction”. However, later I realized how that news of double creases affected the young man. He already was self-conscious and did not need another weight to carry. The church secretary had a way of pushing a point deeper when she supposed she was “helping” a person. Some folks have that gift.
So, what was intended as a “do” becomes a “We don’t do it that way”. So, at WOFF, there was a specified way to keep your drawers, fold your towels and iron your clothes. If you slipped, then you could be reminded- “We don’t do it that way. Where were you when God showed us how to do that?”
As a reminder; it is not the specific list of “don’ts” that is the vital issue at hand when discussing life at WOFF. Certainly in this country, many folks can and do abstain from many things in the name of keeping their religious preferences. The point is the great number of very minute conduct rules and how they are used to control members who seek Jane’s approval. That is the purpose of this series of posts.
A scripture that seems to fit here… (emphasis added)
Colossians 2:20-22 (Amplified Bible)
20If then you have died with Christ to material ways of looking at things and have escaped from the world’s crude and elemental notions and teachings of externalism, why do you live as if you still belong to the world? [Why do you submit to rules and regulations?–such as]
21Do not handle [this], Do not taste [that], Do not even touch [them],
22Referring to things all of which perish with being used. To do this is to follow human precepts and doctrines.(A)
A definition of externalism…from Answers.com n.
Excessive concern with outer circumstances or appearances.
The “don’ts” and rules that have been recited in the these posts serve as a strong means of control over members of WOFF. These conduct rules help “keep you in your place”. Well, that is for sure. So, how is that “freedom in Christ” working out for you as a member of WOFF?
Galatians 5:1 (Amplified Bible)
1IN [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off].
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