The Hard Image of Holiness

“Even the word holiness has become tarnished, both inside and outside the church. It suggests something negative, restrictive, prudish, uncool, and undesirable. When I was a little kid, my sister and I used to watch Little House on the Prairie. The character we loved to hate was Mrs. Oleson— arrogant, exacting, overly proper, and legalistic, and that’s the image I had of holiness. Hypocrisy. Hardness. Very unattractive. Many of us today hold that same image, so much so that the word holy is almost always used pejoratively, as in “holier than thou” or “holy roller.” The call to be holy is often viewed as a big no to anything pleasurable or fun. It may retain the sense of being set apart, but not in a good way.” -Rankin Wilbourne



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