People have strong feelings about whether it is appropriate to crochet in church.
It’s a question that pops up fairly often in crochet groups on Facebook. The conversation always gets heated and eventually deleted.
Seriously, don’t ask whether it’s ok to crochet in church on Facebook unless you want to get thunked on the head with a stack of Bibles.
It’s not a new question, though. This has been a subject of debate at least as far back as World War I:
The problem of Sabbath observance has come up in various forms in England, where it was decided by certain bishops that no harm could come from working in the fields on the Lord’s day. With us the extreme stage of the question has not been reached; but Scranton, Pa., has asked aloud if it is right for women to knit on Sunday for the soldiers, and also whether knitting during church service is proper. An answer is attempted by the Baltimore Sun, speaking ethically, and assurance is given that “so far as knitting garments for our soldiers on Sunday is concerned, even the strictest Sabbatarian might safely include it among permissible works of mercy and necessity.” The Sun argues the point with seriousness, even if it does permit itself a stroke of humor at the end of its homily.
“With all the numberless knitting-needles that are enlisted in the cause there will not be enough woolen articles to keep every soldier warm this winter. Even with spare hours on Sunday utilized, there is no time to be lost if the individual knitting factories are to come anywhere near meeting the demand upon them.
“The question of knitting in church is, we concede, more debatable. If it is right to fight battles on Sunday, why should it not be right to do helpful and comforting things during church services? It is not inconceivable that a warm stocking would be regarded as far more religious up above than a cold prayer, and that a woolen vest for a soldier of the Lord might be considered in the heavenly court of last resort as more eloquent than many sermons. Nor do we think it could be urged that knitting in church would divert the minds of the congregation from exhortations to piety. Knitting, when fully mastered, becomes largely mechanical, and even beginners could still sing the hymns and listen devoutly to the minister.
“We acknowledge that knitting is not per se a pious exercise, and that it does not necessarily involve a peaceful frame of mind. The French furies who surrounded the guillotine during the Reign of Terror frequently carried their knitting with them, and rarely missed a stitch even during the most exciting scenes. It would unquestionably be better to knit in church than like Madame Lafarg at such a revolutionary shrine as that at which she and others of her kind worshipped during those memorable days of blood.
“However this may be decided, we enter a protest right here against one thing: no young woman should be permitted to take her young man along and make him hold the yarn for her in church while she winds it up into a ball. That would certainly be demoralizing to the preacher, and it would surely inspire jealous and irreligious thoughts in the minds of girls who had no young men to hold their yarn. We make this point now both in the interest of religious decorum and of feminine friendship and good feeling.”
Because I don’t know how to stay out of trouble, I’m gonna take this question on. I have a thing or three to say about how horribly my fellow Christians treat folks who muster the gumption to ask whether it’s ok crochet in church.
Short answer: Of course it’s fine, crochet with confidence.
God won’t judge you if you crochet in church. People might, but the big guy upstairs won’t.
A word of caution
Before your raging fingers hit the “publish comment” button, remember this: The God you think looks down on people who crochet in church also looks down on people who leave hateful, judgmental comments on blogs. My God doesn’t keep score like that, but if yours is bothered by crochet in church, he’s probably bothered by nasty blog comments, too.
Remember: God is everywhere, not just in that building you go to once a week to renew your Christian Card.
Why am I writing this post because obviously crocheting in church is super rude?
I dislike hypocrisy and people using the Bible or their “Christianity” as a bludgeon.
When you go all judgypants on people who crochet in church, you’re doing a few things that run afoul of scripture:
- Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31 (NIV)
- Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Matthew 7:1-2 (NIV)
- Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:3-5 (NIV)
- We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you. We are not going too far in our boasting, as would be the case if we had not come to you, for we did get as far as you with the gospel of Christ. Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others. Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our sphere of activity among you will greatly expand, so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in someone else’s territory. But, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends. 2 Corinthians 10:12-18 (NIV)
Most people who attend church are very familiar with these four verses and consider them core beliefs.
If you think crocheting in church is so rude that your first instinct is to grab your Bible and find some verses that contradict the ones listed above, what you’re doing is weaponizing scripture.
You’re trying to use the Bible to support your feelings about crocheting in church rather than being led by scripture.
Think on that for a minute.
Christians should know that a sentence from scripture has little value (beyond making a cute hand-painted wooden sign) when read outside the context of the larger story. That’s why we go to church and Bible study, right? We go there to learn how to interpret passages in the Bible and apply their meaning to our lives.
For what it’s worth, I did ask people to point me to scripture which supported their opinion that it was rude to crochet in church. The responses ranged from “because there are rules in church” to “I just think it’s rude.”
So keeping all of this in mind, I think we can agree that there is nothing in the Bible that specifically addresses crocheting or other forms of handwork in church.
So where do these “rules” about crochet in church come from?
These rules come from humans, not God.
People offer a lot of reasons why crochet in church is rude:
- It might distract other people.
- It’s disrespectful to the pastor, who has spent a week preparing a sermon and expects the congregation’s full attention.
- We need to give that hour to the Lord alone.
- Church is for worshiping our Father in Heaven and remembering the sacrifice that our Savior, his son, made for us. It is one place where secular items, such as crochet, should not be. Surely given the sacrifice made for you, you can give up crochet for that short time.
- “It’s one hour that should be spent present in the Lord. One hour to stop the addiction.”
- “I feel that it’s disrespectful to God. We are there to worship him, I can’t worship if I’m distracted. Yet I do pray while I crochet and I can worship while sitting in my chair in my living room, but church is different at least for me.”
- “I am not religious but still feel it is disrespectful to the church and the rest of the congregation.” (Thank goodness non-religious people feel a need to weigh in on a discussion about crocheting in church.)
- “It’s ok [to crochet in church] if you don’t respect your God and church.” (Note to self: look up what the Bible says about being sarcastic when someone asks for help.)
- Church time belongs to God only.
- It might make the minister angry.
- Instead of crocheting in church, you should go sit in the cry room or the nursery where the service is piped in.
- If you must crochet you should skip church and watch the service online.
What do all these things have in common?
They’re based on feelings. They’re based on opinion. They’re based on human expectations, societal norms, and judgment – none of which have anything to do with Christianity, God, Jesus, or the Bible.
There’s nothing in the Bible that requires us to give our full attention to the pastor for an hour on Sunday. In fact, scripture directs us to give our full attention to God. Not the pastor. God.
DEAR MISS MANNERS:
Over the years I have noticed people knitting in public and have had no particular problem with it. However, I am a bit put off by those who knit in church or at an event such as a recital or concert.
Is it acceptable to knit at a church, synagogue or other religious service? And what about a concert or recital? I recently attended a piano and violin recital in a small venue where someone was knitting in the third row. Surely it was evident to the performers. And if such knitting is not appropriate, how should the knitters be approached, or prevented?
Please do not — repeat, not — make a hostile approach to knitters. Have you not noticed that they are armed with long, pointy sticks?
Of all the multitaskers who could annoy you, Miss Manners would not have guessed that knitters would top the list. There is a centuries-long history of ladies quietly doing needlework while remaining alert to what was going on around them.
But perhaps your complaint is that they are not quiet. If the clicking of needles is what bothers you, you could appeal to the authorities at church or concert hall that as they ban texting, it is only fair to ban activities that create similar noise. And if they don’t already ban texting, you might start by asking that they do before going after those comparatively unobtrusive knitters.
Why some people crochet in church
Some people can sit through a church service being still and attentive and absorb every word.
Others, like me, can’t. I get distracted by every paper shuffle and cough. The time period before the children leave for Sunday school is especially distracting for me.
I’m also a kinesthetic learner, so I absorb information better when my hands are moving. People who have anxiety and ADHD are often able to attend church only if they do something with their hands like crocheting, knitting, or doodling.
Even if someone doesn’t need to crochet in church, it’s a quiet, unobtrusive activity. Most people I know who crochet in church select a simple project that doesn’t require colorwork or charts. They crochet as quietly as possible because they don’t want to distract others. They usually tuck themselves away in the back of the congregation. Often, they reserve church time for working on prayer shawls or charity projects.
Like you, they want to pay attention to the sermon.
Anyone who has ever crocheted while watching television or listening to music or hanging out with their kids knows that it’s possible to crochet and pay full attention to something else at the same time.
Why do you care so much about what other people are doing?
The surety with which some Christians pronounce crochet in church as a Very Rude Thing is pretty amazing when you think about it. They hit the “this is not Christian” trifecta in one statement – it’s judgmental, lacks compassion and empathy, and is hypocritical.
You may not feel that it’s appropriate for people to crochet in church, and that’s fine. But you’re not in charge of someone else’s relationship with God. You don’t get to dictate how someone else engages in worship.
If someone near you is crocheting and it distracts you, you can move. If you think you’re so right that their behavior is rude and they should be the one to move, not you, well…you’re a different sort of Christian than I am.
If crocheting in church bothers your pastor, it’s time to find a new church because your pastor is filtering God’s teachings through an oversized ego.
As Christians, we should be looking for opportunities to welcome people into our church community and make them comfortable. Banishing them from services because they crochet in church is pretty much the opposite of everything the Bible teaches us.
(God is watching the comments section. 😉 )