One very distinct trait of fundamentalists is the penchant for reading evil into a situation where no evil is really present. It's, in my estimation, a side effect of the tendency among fundamentalists to dwell on the old, sin nature, rather than embrace the nature of Christ - the tendency to live life as if the veil is still in place. So much emphasis on ceremony, on superficiality, and on appearance, while failing to see the enormously wide birth given to evil to spring up in those things themselves. In fundamentalist movements like patriarchy, quiverfull, et cetera, the ideas of the movement, which are usually based on next to nothing of scriptural substance, are paramount, so any collateral damage suffered in it's defense, including the labeling of good things as evil, is a price they're willing to pay. Anything which gives it a leg up in the cultural war, such as labeling that which is good as evil, is worth it.
The first thing the adversary ever did to thwart man's relationship with God was to call that which was truly evil good. A lie - which man believed. The fruit of this lie, and man's belief of it, is that man shifts the paradigm and begins to call that which is truly good evil - another lie, which man promotes. It's the foundation of legalism, making everybody a miserable meddler just like Jesus intended, right? Having as miserable a time as possible in Jesus name, right?
Far too many measure their Christianity by the exclusion of things with superficial, arbitrary attachments to what certain segments consider to be "evil", but not by the inclusion of Christ. The reality is, you can live a squeaky clean life, devoid of even "the appearance of evil", follow the rules and laws and formulas to the letter, but if you don't have a relationship with Christ...Ouch.
In the last couple of years, I've heard a lot about the appearance of evil. Usually, it's been applied to completely innocent things. That's disheartening. It's also something I don't accept. I'm not interested in the manipulative guilt someone else would cast upon me, particularly when I've nothing to feel guilty about. In my relationship with my ex, I heard "the appearance of evil" applied to us being alone together, to ANY display of affection, to us being out from under her father's "protection", among many other things. All madness. The happiest times of my natural life were the moments where she and I were alone together, enjoying each other, embracing, kissing, being sweet and stupid and goofy like people in love are prone to do; complete innocence, completely beautiful, completely wholesome, completely something only God could author - and someone would tell me it was evil or appeared evil? No thanks. I'll pass on the guilt.
I always refer to "The Appearance of Evil" as the juke-joint next to the Wal-Mart between Samaria and Jerusalem that Christ used to drop into and hang out with hookers and tax collectors and all sorts of scoundrels. He may have even knocked back a cold one or two with them *gasp!* *blasphemy!* It's almost as if He actually preferred these people as His closest friends. Why wouldn't He? They accepted Him. The fundamentalists of His day didn't. They were too busy with their takanots, correcting the Law where God had screwed up and such. They were fighting a culture war, looking for a political and militant Messiah who would come and prove them right and holy in their cultural war. Christ didn't care about any of that. He cared about the souls of men. He cared about those whom distorted religious practices had wounded...those who sought refuge at "The Appearance of Evil."
These truly evil men even sought to find "the appearance of evil" in Him...
13 They brought him who formerly was blind to the Pharisees. 14 Now it was a Sabbath when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. 15 Then the Pharisees also asked him again how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 16 Therefore some of the Pharisees said, “This Man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.”
Others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them. 17 They said to the blind man again, “What do you say about Him because He opened your eyes?”
He said, “He is a prophet.” 18 But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind and received his sight, until they called the parents of him who had received his sight. 19 And they asked them, saying, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20 His parents answered them and said, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21 but by what means he now sees we do not know, or who opened his eyes we do not know. He is of age; ask him. He will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed that He was Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue. 23Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” 24 So they again called the man who was blind, and said to him, “Give God the glory! We know that this Man is a sinner.” 25 He answered and said, “Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.” 26 Then they said to him again, “What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?” 27 He answered them, “I told you already, and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become His disciples?” 28 Then they reviled him and said, “You are His disciple, but we are Moses’ disciples. 29 We know that God spoke to Moses; as for this fellow, we do not know where He is from.” 30 The man answered and said to them, “Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes! 31 Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him. 32 Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind. 33 If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.” 34 They answered and said to him, “You were completely born in sins, and are you teaching us?” And they cast him out.
And He was and is the absolute standard of purity, in heart and life.
Satan lies to man, convinces him that evil is good, and man perverts the message even more by turning it completely around to call that which is good evil...and in doing so, carries out the greatest evil ever perpetrated on the body of Christ, placing shackles of iron and fear on the hearts and minds of men.
Whereas Christ offers a simple truth - if we abide in Him, His truth will make us free. Define your Christianity by His inclusion. Any "evil" that was or is a part of your life was nailed to the cross 2000 years ago. Leave it there, and trust the Holy Spirit to lead you into all truth. If not, men will try to corral you into a legalistic bubble by resurrecting those evils, giving them CPR, with each breath and compression building their own base of power and influence over you, and in the process suck the joy and spirit right out of your life.
"This man is not from God...We know that he is a sinner...as for this fellow, we don't know where he is from."
I can't help but wonder how many fundamentalists are saying these words with their lives, regardless of what their mouths are saying.