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The Autobiography of Russell
Life from a different perspective
"Brother" and "Sister" religious titles
This thought has been crossing my mind several times over the last few days so I want to throw it out there and see if other people have considered it and what anyone thinks.

Why do Christians call each other "Brother" and "Sister"? It seems, to me, like saying "Gay Rob" or "Lesbian Julie" or "Bisexual Stephanie". I know there is a biblical history for it, but it seems to just serve to separate the [so-called] saved from the unsaved, and thus rub in their status. When you do anything that is 'Separate but equal' (black and white race bathrooms, or half the bus for blacks and half for whites, etc) that is a very likely outcome. A church is an obvious and acceptable distinguished group, because that's what they're for, like gay clubs. But when you leave the realm of specialized for specific reasons, then it encroaches on "better than you" type thinking.

My sister nearly had a heart attack when I first stopped calling our friend, and her god-mother, "Sister Senedra" and would instead simply say "Is that Senedra?"

Current Mood: contemplative contemplative
Current Music: "That's What (It's All About)" by A-Teens

11 comments or Leave a comment
foucaultonacid From: foucaultonacid Date: February 27th, 2007 06:12 am (UTC) (Link)
it's origin would seem to call for it too in that I suspect it originates from the break that Jesus makes with his own family in order to embrace those who follow him/god...

catholic church of course hierachised it, so there were brothers and sisters above the flock, and fathers and mother superiors aove them and then it was all ring kissing and robe pulling.

but the notion of (nuclear, condensed) family being important to christinaity is only a recent one. lords and ladies were much more important...
romeohotel From: romeohotel Date: February 27th, 2007 07:16 am (UTC) (Link)
It's supposed to be the opposite - a levelling term, not a dividing term. Much like the Citoyen/Citoyenne crap during the Terror, it's supposed to show everyone's equality - in this case, all are equal before God. It also shows how everyone is a "child of God" and therefore brothers/sisters.

It's something that, frankly, I'd thought had died and been buried for everyone but those in Holy Orders - monks and nuns living in monastic community, again with de jure equality among the Religious.

But I was raised Episcopal, we called our clergy by their first names and I ran at the first sign of the modern non-denominational feel-good Church as Entertainment crap, so what do I know :-P
neo_prodigy From: neo_prodigy Date: February 27th, 2007 09:40 am (UTC) (Link)
it's supposed to show everyone's equality - in this case, all are equal before God. It also shows how everyone is a "child of God" and therefore brothers/sisters.

zimzat From: zimzat Date: February 27th, 2007 10:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Except it's only used amongst church-goers to each other, and not to non-goers. If it were used amongst everyone then it would be entirely redundant to say it in the first place. My point of church-goers having 'equal but separate' titles, at least as far as church-goers vs non-goers, holds.

Even if all church-goers are equal thanks to the title of brother and sister, they still hold seniority to a level of difference and 'due respect'. Not that that always protects the elders of a church from a young up-start taking over the pulpit when something keeps the elder from fully fulfilling their duties. (There's a story behind that)
zimzat From: zimzat Date: February 27th, 2007 10:30 am (UTC) (Link)
All of the churches I went to used the brother and sister titles very seriously. If you weren't saved then you didn't get the title, and if you were then you did. It was considered a mortal offense if you didn't use the title "Brother" or "Sister" and they weren't at least your immediate family (sibling, parent, or child).
raist_ From: raist_ Date: February 27th, 2007 02:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's fucked up.

My understanding has always been that "Brother" is a title, usually for monks. And "Sister" is a title, usually for a nun. Just like "Father" or "Reverend", etc. for a priest.

Although I can see the "we're all children of God" thing. Sort of like saying "we're brothers in arms"
zimzat From: zimzat Date: February 27th, 2007 08:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sort of like saying "we're brothers in arms"

... Thanks, I needed that picture. I'm reminded of all the times I've been told "soldiers for Christ" and think of how the lives of the soldiers in Iraq are being wasted so casually. Umm, no thanks.
ellixis From: ellixis Date: February 27th, 2007 07:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Huh. What denomination? I didn't know it was still in use at all.
zimzat From: zimzat Date: February 27th, 2007 08:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
I am told they are non-denominational. All of the churches my parents went to were called, if I recall correctly, simply "Church of God". The church my sister is currently going to here is called "First Church of the Nazarene" but I don't know how similar their beliefs are to our parents'.
lakeguy From: lakeguy Date: November 24th, 2008 10:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
that's messed up.. I've heard the terms and seen them said but never saw as considered a mortal offense
zimzat From: zimzat Date: November 25th, 2008 01:48 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, when not used the people I've been around acted like I offended them and/or I'm going to hell simply for not using the title. Thus the label I gave the response. Yeah.
11 comments or Leave a comment