In the past few weeks, there have been a few things that have been floating around mainstream media and also, within the Christian circle. And on top of that, everywhere I turn – devotionals, podcasts, and even sermons at my own young adult ministry night, have been about the lifestyle of our generation. The way we are growing up (or lack thereof), and what is the right and wrong way to live. In my personal life it seems so loud to me – maybe because it is. But also because I believe God’s trying to teach me something, and maybe our generation and world as a whole, how very powerful and foundational to the core of who we are is how we live our life. I’ve gone back and forth whether or not to write this blog, because blatantly: 1) my opinions don’t matter and 2) I was under fear of man. I don’t want to hurt you, “call you out,” or even make you “feel bad.” But then I realized, someone might need to hear what I’ve learned. In that, maybe God will be able to use my lessons to speak to them and possibly prevent hurt that I have had to endure because I didn’t know these things ahead of time – or even, in the middle of them. As I’ve been praying through, discussing with mentors and close friends, and observing the controversy from a distance over a few things – I believe God might want to say a few things. I feel some of us may be scared, confused, toeing the line of sin, and even more so – possible on the verge of compromising our true core values as men and women of God. As I cover these things, if you disagree – you have that right; but please understand that my heart in this blog is in no way to judge – for that is not my job. (Matthew 7:1) But I am here to speak life and truth, and do so boldly and unapologetically.
Fifty Shades of Grey
I have never read the book and have zero desire to see the movie. But I have read many articles and unfortunately haven’t been able to push “Skip Ad” quick enough on YouTube before music videos to hear parts of the movie trailer. I just want to speak first my opinion of the subject before I even move forward: I don’t agree with any Christian woman or man reading the book or seeing the movie. The key word in that sentence is “Christian.” We are called to a higher standard. The world has no obligation of righteousness or the pursuit of it. At the hands of a merciful God, He gives us the right to CHOOSE Him. Though He chose us first, and therefore, we all are already chosen by Him whether we acknowledge it or not – but to fully become His, we must choose Him. Therefore, we make the choice to abide by the principles and standards of Christianity. It’s not legalism, it’s the gift of grace to be able to live free to choose Him over the world. “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those have died to sin; how can we live it any longer?” Romans 6:1-2 This book and movie – with the demeaning feminine nature and almost abusive patterns aside – is a book about lust and sexual obsessions. That in and of itself is enough for me to say no. “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God” 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4 All this to say – there are times I have been in a movie where I should have walked out and, honestly, I did not. It got to a point where the language, sexual innuendos, and demeaning situations are too, against what I believe – and you know what, my butt stayed in the seat and even my mouth opened in laughter. And for that – it’s my sin to ask for forgiveness. And can I be frank with you? I am personally praying about what is “the line” in these situations and where to say no. So, I am in no way saying I am “free from sin” in this area. But as I began praying about this, I realized that the excuse list for myself and my peers and our generation that are floating around concerning media in general (movies, music, etc.) that is “okay” to watch because of ______ really has opened my eyes. I believe that we all might be “toeing the line” as a recent Pastor of mine metaphorical compared concerning Lot, and that in some cases, how some of our Christian culture is slowly compromising who we’ve been called to be, by slowly but surely, engaging with these “toe-lining” outlets. It’s a warning for myself and causes a question to come from the Lord more and more during my quiet time; “How are you living your life ‘set apart?’ Do you look like the world does – or do you look like my Son?”
As I’ve prayed even more about this – God has shown me that each person has their own struggle and set of convictions. What might convict you or I, will not convict another. I mean this in reference to alcohol (legally aged), dating, and other miscellaneous items. But then there are things that are not personal convictions – but blatantly against what God’s word says, and that my friends is what I believe FSOG is.
“When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to sin.” James 1:13-15
Dating Apps & Online Dating
It’s the newest thing, and it has been for the last couple years – but even more so now. I think already in 2015, I’ve heard of about 3 new applications that people are using. I work in an office and at a local Starbucks and single people are everywhere. And what I’ve noticed, people (of both genders) in AND out of the church are asking if this is “okay.” And let me just go ahead and say that I have had a profile on a dating application and have gone on dates in the past from it. I want that out there so that you know my opinions and heart behind this section are not from the outside looking in – they are very much from experience and my own personal convictions, repenting prayers, and hopeful expectations for my future. What was always interesting to me when I was on this application, was the profile sections. The section where you try to be clever and persuasive – and one of the most common statements mentioned was: “If we date, we won’t tell anyone we met on ___.” It was kind of ironic to me, because once I read that I realized, that the need to hide the fact you are on these wasn’t just me – it was everyone, people in AND outside of the church. For some it’s the embarrassing factor that you need an application to meet someone. I am 26 and I will agree with anyone that out of college, it is very hard to meet someone. For others, it’s the fact that what they are using the application for isn’t to find “the one for life,” but more so, “the one for the night.” Which I believe can be an accurate statement for some – but not all. The fact is, every person has their own demons and their own struggle. I personally had to get off the application because I was using it to run FROM something when I should have been running TO the Lord instead. I was using the guys for attention and affirmation to try and cover up hurts and wounds that were going on in my present. It was a need for immediate gratification and acceptance – and not necessarily help in finding “my one true love.” So that is the question I pose to you (and had to pose to myself), have you asked yourself why? If you are a Christian man or woman, why do you feel the need to recruit an application to do the one thing God has promised you He will do? I promise eHarmony and Tinder can do as much research as they want – but nobody will ever be able to pair you with the “perfect fit” better than the One who created you. Maybe you are tired of waiting? I feel you brother or sister, there are times when what I wouldn’t give to just have someone to call or watch a movie with. But, as I’ve learned, those immediate desires are usually triggered by something like comparison of others (the infinite scroll of social media news feeds), running from something else the Lord is trying to show me, or even, an attack of the enemy trying to make me feel like God is not for me and doesn’t actually have a plan for my life. Again, this is only what I have learned and everyday have to be on guard to remind myself. And most of it (for me) all comes down to a couple key foundational truths: Do I trust in God? In His timing? In His ways? Do I believe God is for my good? Do I believe He has a plan for my life? Once you ask yourself these questions and truly identify the root of the answer, and after you still have a peace in your spirit to swipe left or right or send a ❤ message – you go for it. But if you don’t, choose to delete the application and unsubscribe from the website until you truly rest in peace knowing God has a plan and it is a good one.
Men & Women as Friends (In the church)
This will forever be a situation-by-situation and person-by-person discussion for me. There are so many different scenarios where this could be ruled healthy/unhealthy. But what I know for me the fruit of when it is healthy is by far one of the greatest gifts of my life. I have real, raw, honest – but yet, healthy, boundary-honoring friendships with a few men in my community. We are there for each other to affirm and uplift, give gender specific advice, and then walk this journey together. They tell me like it is when I need it, and then in other ways, they affirm me when I need that too. It’s a relationship that I believe God intended for healthy community. But. Oh the “but.” There are times where it has not been for me. And you know what? Most of the time it had to do with the immaturity of both parties. Where one was looking for identity in one and security in the other. Where the relationship was on a “what can I get from you” foundation, and not a “how can I serve you.” And honestly, sometimes you really don’t know which one it will be at the beginning. You have to be committed to making sure that the boundaries and hard conversations happen when they need to, otherwise you will wind up in an unhealthy, emotional soul-tying relationship that eventually will have to be cut off, instead of shaped. So, as I have had to do in the past, ask yourself these questions:
- Why is this guy/girl my friend?
- Does our relationship have boundaries?
- Do I turn to this person more than I do my girlfriends or guy friends – or even deeper, more than God?
- Does my mood change whether this person does or doesn’t talk to me?
- If this person were to start dating someone, would our relationship be able to stay the same?
These are hard questions and most times (honest talk) if you are feeling convicted, you will immediately start to make excuses on how your relationship is “different” and doesn’t necessarily need to abide by these. And my friends, listen to my heart, that person will in fact eventually be taken out of your life – and let me speak from experience, it hurts way more when they are taken instead of surrendered. Corrie ten Boom said it best, “Hold everything in your hand lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open.” God meant for men and women to live in community together, not scared of each other. But at the same time, God also intended for our identities, securities, and needs be purely directed towards Him and Him alone. There is a way to have healthy friendships with our brothers and sisters in Christ, it just takes a soul check every once in a while to make sure we are honoring ourselves, them, our future spouses, and most importantly, God. As I said in the beginning and now, I will conclude with saying – your relationship and security in God is between you and Him alone, as is your walk and pursuit of righteousness. But my friends, accountability is crucial not only to our own personal walks – but to the reputation of the amazing and merciful God we serve. “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God we remaking his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:20-21 Through all of this my heart has been given a new desire to examine my heart, renew my mind, and thoroughly take a second look into my daily choices and present them to God. And instead of looking to the world for their approval, status check, or “moral” advice – ask the Lord Himself, “Is ____ Okay?” I pray you are encouraged to do the same. xoxo jess