Tag Archives: Christian

The constant chase of a meaningful life

So, there’s this fallacy of thought common amongst Christians of a Certain Age (generally under 35 or so) that if our everyday life is not filled to the brim with Deep Meaning and Dangerous Acts of Bravery then it automatically doesn’t count as a life. I’m sure we’ve all bought into it in some way or another, or at the very least, had the idea shoved down our throats half a million times over the years. This is, at the very least, a horrific misunderstanding of the truth.

We live with our parents past the age of nineteen-and-a-half and we consider ourselves Losers Who Live With Their Parents. We don’t have a job filled with Selfless Acts or that Makes a Difference. We may or may not finish Higher Education and may or may not know what to do with our Very Important Diploma once all is said and done. Everyday looks mostly the same as the last, and we’re told at every possible moment that our boring, unfulfilling lives can change in an instant if only we take a chance! learn something new! let go! jump into the abyss with Kierkegaardian abandon!

The problem I have with this line of thinking, particularly among Christians, is that it 1. exhibits an inherent distrust of the sovereignty of God and 2. is, quite frankly, usually selfish. I’m sure there are those out there who want to be World Shakers and live Exciting Lives purely for the Lord…but, if we’re honest, most of us want that sort of excitement because it will make us feel like we’re worth something, like we matter. Instead of taking the Lord at His word (that He loves His children, that we are called according to His purpose, that He has chosen us not on our own merit but because of His steadfast love), we want the comfort of knowing that we matter on our own terms. And that attitude is selfish.

The fact of the matter is that you and I are not mistakes. The Lord created each and every cell in your body. He has you in the place that most glorifies Him and His purposes. That place may be boring; it may be unpleasant; but it is purposeful. When we long for something else, something that was assume ascribes meaning to our short existence here on Earth, we also assume that the Lord’s purposes aren’t meaning enough. We assume that only out idea of Meaning Something counts. That is prideful beyond belief.

The Lord may have you in your parents’ house or in that dead-end job or in that state you hate because He plans for you to connect with those around you. He may have you there for some other reason. But one thing is for certain: He has you in the place that brings Him the most glory and that will sanctify you as His child.

He loves His children. And that alone makes our lives worth something.


Clothing, Lust and Christianity

Okay, I’ve written about Christian ladies and modesty before, but I’d like to touch on something again.  What sparked this was this blog post from A Quill and an Inkwell.  I was particularly troubled by this section:

#1 Myth of Modesty: ‘It’s His Job Not to Look’

It’s true, lust is a sin, and men shouldn’t entertain it.

But if we give them nothing to look at, how often do you think they would be tempted to lust after us?

The article I mentioned earlier said women have been unfairly singled out concerning modesty. While men are responsible to honor us with their eyes and minds, when we dishonor ourselves by what we wear, the real unfairness is to the men. Do we really expect to wear whatever we want and then tell them not to look at us? Do we really expect to fit in with the latest (often sexually promiscuous) trends and NOT be viewed as an object of sexual desire?

It is not just his job not to look: it is our responsibility to provide nothing provocative to look at. We cannot blame men for what we instigate, and it is time for women of God to start acknowledging our responsibility in this matter, taking up our cross, and honoring God with our dress.

Now, I would just like to clarify before I go into this that I do believe it is a Christian woman’s duty to dress modestly.  If we love our brothers in Christ, then we certainly don’t want to make their struggles with lust any harder.  If one of the simple ways we can make things easier for them is to dress modestly, then we need to do it for their sakes.  It’s a matter of laying aside our desires to dress a certain way in order to help our brothers out much in the way we might refrain from throwing a wine-tasting party for a former alcoholic’s birthday.

However, if a man lusts, it is 100% his responsibility.

The fact of the matter is, even if given nothing sexually enticing to look at, men and women will still lust.  Why? Because we’re sinful. We are born into sin.  Through the power of Christ’s work on the cross and his continual sanctification, we can certainly see victory over issues on an individual level.  But even if every woman in the world dressed in a burka, there would still be men who had lustful thoughts.

I know this because, otherwise, children would never be sexually abused.

I know this because, otherwise, sexual harassment in the workplace would be incredibly rare considering most business’ dress codes.

I know this because sin is a part of our very nature and, without Christ, we love it.

The aforementioned blog post crosses a dangerous line.  It’s the same line that is often crossed in courtrooms when rape victims have to justify the clothing they were wearing when they were attacked.  It’s the same line that allows and even encourages men to be passive in their fight against lust because, dang it, if only she hadn’t worn that halter top, lust wouldn’t be an issue.

This is like a reformed kleptomaniac blaming the shopkeeper for putting items on display.  He can’t possibly not steal them when they’re sitting out. Absurd, right?

Let me make something really clear:

Men: You are responsible for your sin.  I do not care if a woman is prancing down the street in lingerie, it is your responsibility to run to the Lord with your temptation.  If you lust, that is on you.

Women: With lust being such a common problem, we should dress modestly out of love for our brothers. But, once again, you are responsible for your own sin, they are responsible for theirs.

I’d like to wrap this up with the words of Jesus regarding the issue of lust.

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.  And if your right handcauses you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

Matthew 5:27-30 (ESV)

Jesus clearly holds the individual responsible for his own sin here.  He doesn’t say that it’s okay to lust if a woman is dressed in a certain way, nor does he blame shift.  The one who lusts is the one at fault and is the one who needs to resist temptation. Period.


FYI (if you’re a Christian human being): a response to the response to Mrs. Hall’s blog entry on modesty

So, there was this blog post I saw going around on Facebook.  And then I noticed that there was a large amount of backlash, frontlash, and sidelash surrounding it.  So, I thought I’d add to the noise.  This is sort of a response to the response to the blog entry with a few sidenotes based on my own observation of the way the Church at large handles the issue of modesty.

Christian ladies: You don’t dress modestly because that’s what Pastor Bob says, because it’s what your mother told you to do, because not doing so makes Aunt Marge cringe, because that’s what Good Girls do, or even to Respect Yourself.  You dress modestly out of love for your Christian brothers.  Just like you, most guys struggle with maintaining pure thoughts.  And just like you, they don’t want to have more issues in this area than already naturally occur.  You wouldn’t wave a mimosa in front of a recovering alcoholic at brunch and then tell them not to think about it, so don’t prance about in clothing that you know will give guys trouble and expect them to have an easy time of it.

Christian gentlemen: That being said, we ladies are not responsible for your sin.  We cannot know everything that causes issues for each individual guy.  I’ve had several married friends tell me things like, “I was always taught not to wear __________, but my husband says it’s not a big deal.” And I have other married friends who express the exact opposite.  Everyone is different and there is no possible way to cater to the triggering factors of others.

I am in the long process of recovering from disordered eating (this relates; I promise), an issue I’ve had off and on for at least five years.  Recovery from something like this is slow and arduous: first I look for good days, then good weeks, then good months.  Thankfully, I’m in the good months area of recovery at the moment.

There are a lot of things in the good days and good weeks stages that can trigger disordered eating thoughts for me.  Some of those things are easily avoidable; some are not.  One of the most ridiculous triggers for me (on a bad day) is someone I am close to just mentioning changing their own diet to lose weight.  If, upon hearing this information, my brain jumps to thoughts of starving myself or of how much weight I need to lose, it is not the other person’s problem.  Many times, this sort of conversation doesn’t phase me, but it occasionally does and is something I have to learn to deal with.  I can’t ask the entire world to stop talking about weight and food and exercise; I can take my thoughts captive, as the Bible commands, and ask God for help in this area.

My point is, we can’t know every issue you have.  Even my friends who are very familiar with the ups and downs of my eating problems can not possibly guess what may cause issues for me on any given day; sometimes, I don’t even know.  It is my responsibility to be prepared to shut down those thoughts as they come.  It’s the same for anyone dealing with any ubiquitous, unbiblical thoughts.

Christian parents: Okay, this is probably a tad presumptuous of me as I’m not a parent myself.  But there are kids in my life who I want to protect, and I do want to have kids and often think about how I will approach difficult issues with them.

First off, yes, it is your right and your duty to protect your kids.  Insulate them in whatever way you feel is necessary. But you also need to train them.  Train your daughters to dress modestly for the sake of the men in their lives.  Train your sons to treat women with respect and to consider them something other than sexual objects.  They need to be able to react to the world around them with biblical understanding.

Years ago, when I was knee-deep in disordered eating, I remember reading a blog post concerning eating disorders.  One thing to note for the uninitiated is that most ED support sites will have ***TRIGGER WARNING** plastered all over various posts in order to let those who are easily triggered know what they’re getting into.  However, the woman writing this post was somewhat against labeling everything with the warning — not because she didn’t care about how her writing affected others, but because she recognized the deeper want held by many recoverers of complete isolation from all triggers.  She essentially said, “I can put trigger warnings at the top of each post and you can avoid them and avoid the pro-ana sites and the fashion magazines.  But do know that there will come a day on which you are walking down the street and you will look up and there will be a giant billboard with a stick-thin model on it.  And you have to be able to deal with that.”

I can insulate my (hypothetical, future) children from every evil I have control over.  But there will come a day when my sons see a less-than-modest photo or even just have a friend who starts dressing less modestly.  And they need to have the tools and understanding to address any unbiblical thoughts that arise out of those issues.  They will only learn how to deal with such temptations if my (hypothetical, future) husband and I teach them to understand their human weaknesses and run to the Lord and take their thoughts captive.  They won’t learn that just from being isolated from instances of immodest, immoral, or unethical behavior.

Finally, (a slight deviation from the topic at hand) to every Christian out there: the issue of sexual purity isn’t just a man’s game.  I have run into far too many women recently who have told me something to the effect of, “Growing up, I didn’t think other women struggled with lust.  I thought I was the only one.”  Just as you men are responsible for your thoughts, we women are responsible for ours.  But don’t think that none of us understand the struggle you face and don’t think that we are beyond temptation in that area.  And please, please don’t neglect to teach your daughters how to handle that temptation.

Well, those are my thoughts.  I would love to hear the opinions of others on both the blog post I linked to and what I’ve expressed here.  Thanks for reading!


Reflections on the difficulties of making friends of the opposite sex

Over the years I have, quite frankly, had very few healthy friendships with men. I’ve realized that this is a problem recently and have been attempting to fix that as best as I can.  I know it’s important to have friends of both genders, and I quite enjoy the company of my Christian brothers, so it is something I’m actively working on.

I’ve run into some road bumps though, and I think I can explain why.

In some groups at my age, there seems to be this unspoken awkwardness surrounding guy/girl friendships.  People like to question whether they’re a couple, which is reasonable, I suppose, but it tends to make everyone involved mildly self-conscious about the entire friendship.  The main problems I see, however, aren’t with outsiders questioning the motives of the friends, but with the attitudes about duel-gender friendships themselves.

First off, a lot of women seem to have trouble with thinking that an afternoon coffee with a guy means he’s interested in some sort of romantic relationship.  This, quite frankly, is stupid.  I feel I can say it because I’ve been that woman in the past.  It’s also a tad insulting to both the woman and the man involved because the assumption is then, “He could not possibly be interested in a friendship with me; he must only be interested in what I can give him.” I think it’s best to assume friendship unless intentions are stated as something other than friendship.

Now, on that note, guys: one of the reasons women have issues with this mindset is because of a horrid practice I like to call Sneak-Attack Dating.  For the love of your integrity, if you want to take a woman out on a date, take her out on a date. If you are interested in a friendship, communicate that.  But do not under any circumstances try to trick a woman into dating you using the guise of friendship. It’s completely dishonest and puts us in an incredibly awkward position.  Just don’t do it.  I understand it’s hard and scary and the possibility of rejection is a tough thing to handle.  But, I feel pretty safe in saying that, even if the Lady of Your Dreams returns the sentiment, starting off the relationship with deception is never, ever the way to go.

I really think that these two factors cause awkwardness when it comes to making friends with the opposite sex…at least at my age.  In my speculation, the guys who would rather stay friends are somewhat skittish when it comes to interacting with women because they’re afraid the women will think they’re interested in them romantically, which is probably somewhat true, but partially because of some other guy who Sneak Attacked them…it’s kind of a muddled mess, and I don’t really have much of a solution.

My conclusion may be totally wrong, but this is what I’ve observed thus far.  If you have any other input, I’d like to hear it and discuss it. I’m trying to integrate friendships with people of both genders into my daily life because I do enjoy the company of and want the input of my brothers in Christ.  I’m not totally sure of the least-awkward way of doing this, but I am trying.

Have you ever had issues with forming friendships with the opposite sex?


An all-too typical response to personal tragedy

I’ve noticed through my 25 long years on this earth that, when faced with the tragic happenings in my own or a loved one’s life, many people respond with some variant of “Well, someone out there has is worse off.”  I haven’t experienced this terribly recently, but I do know that this sort of remark is not helpful in the least.  I’d like to explain why for those who still tend to use this response.

1. It does not point to Christ.  First and foremost, this response encourages the comparison of one life to another.  It doesn’t look to God for comfort but rather explores how the wounded person’s life is somehow better than another person’s.  This is like some sort of convoluted, reverse envy and it doesn’t encourage one to look to Christ in the midst of pain.  It only encourages a glance around at others to compare and contrast woes.

2. It completely invalidates real emotions.  This removes the opportunity to point to Christ as well.  Emotions, from my understanding of them, aren’t inherently good or bad, but looking to the truth in spite of what they may say is imperative.  Just responding with, “________ has is way worse off because they lost __________.” makes it sound as if the wounded person’s emotions are invalid because there exists someone else with bad things happening to them.  The fact of the matter is that their emotions are real, they are in pain, and they need to look to the truth of Christ in the midst of that pain.

3. It’s passive.  This response removes the responsibility of the comforting party to actually address any sort of over reaction being expressed by the wounded person.  If someone is making a mountain out of a molehill, they should be confronted with this information.  But, having them think about everyone else’s problems doesn’t actually fix anything.  Rather than explaining that their problems, while real, may not be as large as they are perceiving them to be (and also then giving the wounded person a chance to explain why this particular situation seems so large to them), this response just says that their problems don’t exist because there are larger problems elsewhere; it is not confronting with loving truth.

4. It’s extremely insensitive.  Can you imagine being the person to whom everyone else’s life was being compared? Being the person whose suffering is so horrific that others compare their own issues to it in order to feel better sounds awful.  This response acts as if personal tragedies can just be tallied up, counted and compared without sympathy. It also completely ignores the fact that God is in control and has seen fit to have some people experience one brand of tragedy while others may experience a different kind.

5. It doesn’t actually encourage anyone to appreciate what God has given them.  This response is often given (at least in my experience) to put things in perspective and emphasize what God has blessed the wounded person with.  This is something that can and should be done without comparing to what other people do and do not have.  Everyone’s life is different and the Lord has blessed each of us differently.  It should be enough to simply recognize the blessings that we have been given in spite of our wicked selves.  Comparison isn’t necessary and it places focus on people rather than on Christ.

Those are just my thoughts on the issue.  Have you ever had someone say this to you? What do you think about this particular response to tragedy?


Dear American Christians Who Are Upset About This Year’s Election Results

Dear American Christians Who Are Upset About This Year’s Election Results,

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

(Romans 13:1-7, ESV)

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 Forto this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

(1 Peter 2:13-25, ESV)

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

(1 Timothy 2:1-2, ESV)

Sincerely,

Chelsea


Dear Christians Who Are Planning on Eating Chick-fil-A Tomorrow in an Effort to Accomplish Something Spectacular

Dear Christians Who Are Planning on Eating Chick-fil-A Tomorrow in an Effort to Accomplish Something Spectacular,

I will not be joining you.

This is not because I don’t hold to a biblical definition of marriage.  This is not because I think that homosexuality exempt from being classified as sinful.  This is not because of the month I spent wiping down tables at Chick-fil-A when I was eighteen and someone left their purple acrylic nails all over one of the tables and it scarred me for life a little.

No, this is very, very different.

It seems that most people who are participating in this anti-boycott-whatever-it-is are those who feel very strongly that the United States should enforce Christian values and beliefs among its citizens.  While I am in full support of Christian values and beliefs (as I, being a Christian, hold them myself), I do not think that the U.S. should be the prime enforcer of them.

Why?

Because the Bible is pretty explicit with its own teachings, and I don’t think the Lord needs help from the government.

No, really.

The conservative branch of American politics seems to have it in their heads that the government needs to get back to upholding and enforcing biblical principles.  This is kind of ridiculous for two reasons:

1. People who haven’t been transformed by the working of God on their hearts are not going to act in accordance with biblical teachings.  It is absurd to assume that people who are not Christian will accept the standards of the Lord with open arms. And, an attempt to enforce them doesn’t make the nation Christian; it only spreads about shallow moralism that saves no one and misleads many.

2. The last time I checked, the Lord is the one who enforces His standards, He is the one Who defines sin, and I’m pretty sure He doesn’t need us to eat chicken to accomplish this.

This goes beyond American politics.  The fact of the matter is, the American government doesn’t define a godly marriage; God defines a godly marriage.  Politicians don’t get to decide what’s morally right or wrong; the Lord does.  And while I don’t think we should applaud or support things that we know are wrong biblically, looking to the government to create biblical laws is frustrating and pointless.  God can and will enforce His own standards, whether the President of the U.S. or the president of a fast-food chain agrees with Him or not.

Oh, and this support-showing anti-boycott-thing doesn’t accomplish what should be our true goal as Christians, which is preaching the Gospel.

This is a disgusting distraction from what Christians should be doing.  Even if every activist stride you take is rewarded with biblical principles being set into place in our laws and across our country, even if every homosexual person gives up their lifestyle because they suddenly find it to be wrong, even if every person that’s ever lied or stolen or cheated on their spouse or let their anger get out of control or been lazy reforms their ways and becomes a productive, moral member of society, they will still all be productive, moral members of society on their way to eternal damnation if Christ has not transformed their hearts.

This whole thing has gotten out of control, and it’s blurring the already hazy lines between genuine Christian behavior stemming from a heart changed by God and putrid, meaningless moralism enforced by a national government.  What good is it if people know that you hate the idea of homosexual marriage if they never hear the Gospel?

So, though I will undoubtedly crave Chick-fil-A tomorrow (it is Wednesday, after all…I always want Chick-fil-A on Wednesdays), I will not be joining any of you there.  I cannot support the propagation of Cross-less moralism.

Sincerely,

Chelsea