THE QUESTION of human relations is of prime concern to all thinking Christians. On this subject peripheral matters often obscure the central problem. All too frequently men listen to their fears more readily than to their consciences. And, too, we repeat our rationalizations until we believe them. For instance, "Love cannot be legislated." True, but behavior can be regulated. This is the function of law. It creates an atmosphere where men of good will fellowship with the sanction of authority. Law is an instructive agency, an instrument of learning. Recent scientific studies indicate that compliance with law conditions the mind for acceptance, and inhibitions tend to lessen with the establishment of new habit patterns. Men reform as they are taught. As a teacher, there is no substitute for a just law.
Recently in our history the news media recorded the sorry spectacle of well-dressed, orderly worshipers, being turned away from the church door because of their race. Others were confined to certain seats—when admitted—and for the same reasons. Those who do this cite community consensus in justification. The church is not a chameleon, adapting itself to the sins of the community. The church of the living God is a community molder. While it cannot lead a crusade on all of man's social ills, it can be no less than Christian to all who seek its shelter. If its spirit is ever to prevail, the second table of the law cannot await the evolutionary process.
E. E. C.
MEDITATION AND WORSHIP
"IN QUIETNESS and confidence shall be your strength," declared the ancient prophet. How true! Noise and confusion are the distinguishing marks of our generation. There seems little time for quiet meditation. Even our worship services appear at times to reflect the spirit of the age, the main objective being to "keep things going" or to "get through within the hour." We notice with appreciation, however, that many of our churches both large and small arrange their order of worship so as to give opportunity for quiet reflection. It is self-evident that the more appropriate time for this period of silent meditation is just before the spoken message. To have the organ or piano or even amplified records play softly some well-known hymn such as "We Would See Jesus," while the congregation remains in the spirit of silent prayer does much to prepare all hearts, including that of the preacher himself, for the impressions of the Spirit of God. Thirty to sixty seconds is ample time and if every feature of the service has been progressing toward this brief period then it will not come as a surprise, particularly if it is noted in the bulletin. Opportunity to be quiet before the Lord will be welcomed by all, for true worship is communion with God. Without communion there is no real worship. When an innovation like this is planned, be sure to acquaint the congregation with what is going to happen. It might also be mentioned briefly with the announcements. It will be all the more effective if the organist or pianist leads into this brief period unobtrusively. We must never forget that quietness and confidence are vital to spiritual growth.
R. A. A.
"RELIGION BY THE INCH"
FASHIONS in dress are getting more deliberate in violation of simple rules of modesty. Plunging necklines, bare shoulders, and rising hemlines are the order of the day. The bikini and the "strapless" lend their "excitement" to the worship of the creature. The workaday world has not become a nudist colony—but if the trend continues, who knows?
This brazen flaunting of the laws of modesty is symptomatic of the collapse of discipline that is well-nigh universal. It is the spirit of our times that man is restive under restriction, divine and human. This revolt against convention is reflected in the apparent intention of man to "undress" publicly. It is a sign of our times. No Bible teaching is more explicit than that on modesty of dress. Shamefacedness, sobriety, and modesty are words that need no explanation.
I do not believe that religion can be measured "by the inch" but it is equally true that "bare knees" may reveal poverty of spirit. There are fashions that Christians cannot imitate and remain Christians. We reject the street-corner philosopher's quote, "Too high—too low—too tight—just right." A church member should not need a fan to cover what her dress should, when she sits.
My fellow minister, what is the trend in your church? Can the world see the difference in the dress habits of your congregation and its own? Have you preached a sermon on this lately? How else can we stem the tide of rising hemlines?
E. E. C.