What Is the “Bible Belt” Holding Up?


For as long as I can remember, I have been using a belt to hold up my pants. I live in what is called the “Bible belt”. Someone I know recently made a comment on social media about this, so I asked myself the question “What is the Bible Belt holding up?” What is it supporting or containing? 

Before I answer this question, I want to make it clear that I do not believe this to be the Bible Belt anymore. My answers will tell you why. In 8 years of living in this part of South Carolina, I have seen a major transformation in the religious climate. What I observed as a refreshing area where a move of God was taking place has become an oppressed area where people have settled for defeat and have given up on the faith. Why is this? Here are my observations on what the “Bible Belt” is holding up in 2017.

  1. Holding up tradition over what the Bible truly says. People will argue over Bible versions, worship styles, church building designs and furniture, committee structure, and how money is held before they would ever speak up against false teaching.
  2. Holding up emotionalism over truth. People will flock to what feels good before they will run to what they need. 
  3. Holding up bad doctrine because they never searched the Scriptures for themselves. I often tell those who hear me preach to not take my word to the bank. Dig in the Bible for yourself. Just because your great-grandpappy cried while he told you that cleanliness is next to godliness is in the Bible doesn’t make him right. It’s not in the Bible although it’s good hygiene.
  4. Holding up the cult of personality above the Lord Jesus Christ. We have so many today who will go to the ends of the earth for a popular preacher and wouldn’t walk two steps for Jesus. Maybe that’s why the “Bible Belt” has more church splits than intentional new church starts/plants.
  5. Holding up conformity rather than transformation. I believe the #1 reason people walk away from the church is they get tired of faking who they are for fear of judgment. I’ve seen people pretend to be against alcohol “at church” and go buy a case of beer on their way home. Don’t lie in a fancy building about your stance on alcohol when you really believe it’s okay to drink. Conformity is really hypocrisy. We need to let God change us. If you and I really want to be like Jesus, God will transform us through His Word and by His Spirit.

I am not an advocate of going to church because it’s the good Southern thing to do, good for political reasons, looks good in an obituary, or is just what you’ve always done. It’s about a relationship with Jesus Christ that is rooted in the Bible! So let’s stop being Bible-Beltish and start being Bible-based.

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11 thoughts on “What Is the “Bible Belt” Holding Up?

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  1. Well said. #5 is fabulous. Conformity often reads as hypocrisy and than people don’t trust anymore. They also can’t turn to the church for help anymore, because everyone is wearing a mask which means obviously everyone is now perfect. Sarcasm there.

    Ha! The whole time I was reading I was thinking of my husband’s red suspenders. It’s his thing and usually quite charming, except for baseball, weddings, anytime red suspenders will stick out like a sore thumb and make you wonder what he’s thinking.

  2. This made me laugh. Other than a really brief stint in a Methodist church when I was just a very young teenager, I have never been a church goer until 10 years ago. I was saved in the very same church which has basically been my only real church home. We Missionary Baptists tend to be very conservative and somewhat bound by tradition and are often guilty of these very things you mentioned. I love em anyway. I was at first, and still am somewhat of a loose cannon on deck around our place, because even though i love many of our grand traditions, and support our doctrinal positions fully, I have never been one to accept them just because they are, “Just what we do.” I accept almost nothing just because somebody told me, or because it’s just how things have always been. I’ve never gotten in “trouble” so to speak, and I think many have come to value some of the challenges to the status quo.

    1. I was 10 when I started faithfully attending. I was hit and miss before that. I grew up in the Methodist Church and knew nothing of the things of which I wrote. It was not until I moved a little further South that I experienced this. I have learned many lessons and continue to test what I read and hear. God gave us a brain to be thinking Christians. I think you and I are among those who use our head for more than a hat rack. Blessings, my friend!

  3. Congratulations! That’s the first time I’ve ever heard (read) somebody talk about what the belt holds up. Good stuff, too. Chattanooga has often been called the “buckle of the Bible belt,” but I’ve often wondered what type of buckle it’s supposed to be. Maybe that could be a post for me to write 😉

    1. I think you should definitely address the issue. How is the buckle doing now that Tennessee Temple is closed? It appears that all the institutions and churches that made the “Bible Belt” what it is are closed or on life support. I’ll be looking for you to address this.

  4. Proof is in the pudding. In my past I have seen many folks who loved the Lord enough to spend 6-8 hours a week in church (that place that is now derided) – and three week revivals were exciting with folks repenting and participating while their toes were being tromped on. Church was established by the Lord; it is very much a part of New Testament living but now those who can make themselves set aside one hour a week are the ones who will be responsible for the church in twenty years. I still hold to a salvation that brings change in one’s life; change that indicates his stance as a person who loves the Lord. I would never have believed that my song leaders would stand on the stage and lead worship then go to the coffee/social area of the complex. If you want to find good parking at the churches now go just after song “worship” is over. There are parking places close by for the ones who have status in the first part of the service. As I said, the proof is in the pudding. Hopefully you can turn the “church” around. T;hanks for leaving a like on my “Review…” Hope I’m not too Political Incorrect – that is too PI for the “church” world. I’m against the grain here I see. All the good to you and others who are God’s army of today.

  5. Thanks for accepting my comment so graciously. I just know my folks and church did a lot better job keeping their young people than I have seen in the last thirty years. I can pull out pictures of church life in the fifties and sixties and almost all the people in those pictures are in church someplace and yet the PC today is to talk about the jugemental, sour people who just griped when someone came in and sat in their seats. Simply wasn’t true. Well, my generation and most of our sons and daughters are out now – I desperately hope somebody teaches and inspires my grandchildren and great-grandchildren to love Jesus; if they love him, they will keep his commandments and it will show inside and outside the church doors..As I said, thanks for letting my state an opposing view with such graciousness.

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