I am coming to believe that I am in a legalistic church and don't know how to graciously get out. Maybe it can't be gracious exit in a legalistic setting? ... [explains situation] ... anyway, I guess I'm looking for advice on how to proceed and that I'm not wrong with how I am feeling and seeing things. I'm feeling used and manipulated and also I'm feeling very guilty that I feel this way about a pastor. I was told that you should never talk about or criticize a pastor. anonymous
Don't you find it rather convenient for a man to be set up in a position in which he is not to be questioned or challenged? And just who is it who tells you of God's mind on this issue? The same one who is not to be criticized! The fact is that this man wants you to feel guilty so that he can hold divine authority over you. This is nothing more than abuse fashioned after the world justifying itself in the name of God. It is the desire to control others and bend them to your will. People have done it to each other for as long as there have been people - under myriads of disguises. The fact that many have difficulty imagining how someone could do such a thing in the name of Christ - gullibility - is the very reason so many so-called pastors can so easily do such a thing.
Though your pastor wants you to believe the matter of giving revolves around scriptural justification it has nothing to do with it. The Bible is his legal whipping tool by which he controls those under him which makes his challenges nothing more than opportunities to intimidate. Just remember that the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus' day did the exact same thing, and when they could not control Jesus they had to get rid of him.
The man you refer to as pastor and his wife are spiritual bullies who have made you and everyone else in their group feel guilty for recognizing the abuse they have intimidated you by. There is little chance you will make a gracious exit ... at least in THEIR eyes (and the eyes of those still swayed by their control). Do not stoop to their fleshly level and feel the need to play by their game. You do not need to justify yourselves to them for only Christ is your true justification ... and he is fully that! :)
Hope to hear back from you.