BISMARCK, ND - With so many churches giving up on the bible either partially or completely, at least one pastor has decided to take a stand. Rev. Harold Geeves, of Nazareth Bible Church, is determined to take the bible literally.
According to Geeves, "We want to live by the whole counsel of God's Word, and we interpret it literally. Because of this, we believe in the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. We also believe that only men should be elders and teach within the church. As a church, we have decided that only believers should be baptized. Our women all wear head coverings."
Geeves continued, "We have taken some criticism for these beliefs. Several other local pastors have challenged us on our consistency. They kept asking us if we greeted one another with a "holy kiss," as Paul commanded in Romans 16:16, I Corinthians 16:20, II Corinthians 13:12, and I Thessalonians 5:26. They told us that if Paul commanded it four times, then we should be consistent and do it."
After several months of this, Rev. Geeves called a special meeting with the church deacons. TBNN has learned that the two-hour deacon meeting was animated as men on all sides of the issue spoke passionately about the ramifications of instituting the "holy kiss" at Nazareth.
Deacon Melvin Simmons said, "It got pretty heated in there. As the leaders of the church, we wanted to be united with what we presented to the church body. So after quite a bit of arguing, we decided that consistency was too important to not take a stand on this issue. We voted to begin the Holy Kiss Program at our church."
This simple program was designed to work like this: on Sunday mornings, when members first met other members, they were to greet one another with a small peck on the cheek. That was it. It was certainly not to go any farther than that.
For two weeks everything seemed to be going smoothly. There were a few embarrassing moments when men kissed other men for the first time. Also, the ladies were having to return repeatedly to the restroom to re-apply lipstick. The youth took to the program a little too enthusiastically. However, all-in-all, the Holy Kiss Program was a success.
Then it happened.
Deacon Simmons forgot that the program is for members only. On the first Sunday in August of this year, John and Shelly Winters, first-time visitors to Nazareth, walked in the front door of the church building. According to eye witnesses, Deacon Simmons strolled up to the couple, introduced himself, and then kissed Mr. Winters on the cheek. As Mr. Winters stood there shocked, Deacon Simmons leaned over and pecked the cheek of Mrs. Winters. That's when it got ugly.
Mr. Winters, thinking that Nazareth was some sort of weird cult, dropped Deacon Simmons to the floor with one punch. With Mrs. Winters visibly crying, the couple ran to their car. About 30 minutes later, during the middle of the morning service, the police arrived at the church. They reportedly handcuffed Deacon Simmons, who is now being charged with sexual assault, and escorted him out of the church.
What now for Nazareth? A few days after the arrest, Rev. Geeves told TBNN, "We realize that we have to do something about this program. We want to be as biblical as possible, but we also want to make sure this doesn't ever happen again. We are determined to be literal when we read the bible. Next week, maybe the members can all wear color-coded name tags to show who is willing to be kissed and who is not. I think we'll have red tags for the holy-kissers, and blue tags for the non-kissers."