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Raven

I Don't _____ Because I'm A Christian.

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I've been in touch lately with a fundy friend of mine. She's good people, but very, very conservative. In fact, her conservative nature (politically, socially, religiously) is one of the big reasons we drifted apart.

 

Often, she'll say things like, "I don't drink, because I'm a Christian." Or, "I don't believe in premarital sex, because I'm a Christian." I understand that her fundy background directs a lot of her day-to-day life, but I'm not always sure how much of it is Biblical and how much of it is just fundy socialization.

 

Sometimes I've felt heavily judged by her to be less of a Christian because of the way I live my life. It's frustrating, but I don't even want to ask her about it - it would just lead to more awkwardness. We are getting back in touch after a long period of quiet between us, but I'm still wary.

 

I guess what I'm wondering about is everyone's take on the "Christian don'ts." Some things I've heard (from Fundy Friend and others)

 

- women shouldn't wear pants or too much make-up

- no dating without a chaperone

- no premarital sex

- no drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes

- no socializing with people who aren't (your type of) Christian, except to dialogue/convert

- no dating/marrying outside your (type of) religion (I think this one relates to the verse in the Bible about not being unequally yoked)

 

Any thoughts?

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Often, she'll say things like, "I don't drink, because I'm a Christian." Or, "I don't believe in premarital sex, because I'm a Christian." I understand that her fundy background directs a lot of her day-to-day life, but I'm not always sure how much of it is Biblical and how much of it is just fundy socialization.

 

There is no general prohibition of which I am aware against drinking alcohol in the Bible. And, Jesus was himself a wine maker.

 

George

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When I went to Mexico with our youth group we were given a dress and behavior code so that we would not violate any local norms and reflect badly on our enterprise.

 

It is worthwhile to think about our behavior and its effects on ourselves and our community. I don't think it can be a black and white list like the one you have listed. It is simpler but not required or sufficient. Guidelines must be more flexible to give better outcomes.

 

Dutch

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Raven,

 

Friends that continually say things to make themselves appear better than oneself in my view are not friends at all. Some people seem to me to chose to live under their own self made laws whether taken from the Bible or taught or made up. It is my experience that there is no Life in living by those laws. He/she that lives by the law shall surely die by the law. It is, in my experience, self judgement and only serves to end up bringing the one judging into self condemnation because it is impossible to live by the letter of any law made by mankind because of the nature of the flesh. The way i see it,..... To the one who esteems something to be sin, to that one it is sin.

 

Joseph

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Raven,

 

I also have a friend that I used to be really close to that, now that I am changing, makes our relationship strained. About once a year, she contacts me and tells me how much she misses "fellowshipping" with me. But after we've caught up on how our respective families are doing, she'll ask, "So, Bill, have you come to accept the King James Bible as your only standard for faith and practice?"

 

*sigh*

 

I still love her dearly and wish we could have a close relationship, but the first hurdle that I have to jump over with her is which translation of the Bible is really God's inerrant and infallible Word, a subject that Jesus himself never once addressed. And I know that if I ever told her that I did agree with her, then whatever is in the KJV becomes the long list of "don't's." :(

 

I think if she contacts me this year, I'll simply ask her, "What did Jesus have to say about this? How did he say that his followers would recognize one another?" If she agrees that the primary mark/fruit of a Christian is love, then maybe we could find some common ground and freedom to discuss other things. Maybe.

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To answer your real question.... What is my take on Christian don'ts?

 

I agree with Dutch... no black and white lists.

It is enough to walk in the light one has been given and do ones best not to judge or measure others or oneself. In my view, Love has no need of don't lists. . It acts from the view of the limitless whole and cannot be limited to a black and whites set of don't's

 

Joseph

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You all make some excellent points. Thanks for the insight. I treasure the relationship with my friend, but I get tired of being judged all the time. I guess I was/am curious if I was the only one who felt the same kind of frustration. I'm tired of feeling "less Christian" because ... well because I'm me instead of her.

 

When faced with these kinds of situations, or confrontations, what can one say without being horrible? Is there a polite way to say "Stop pointing your finger at me!!"? I'm not interested in (or capable of, really) getting into a theological/Biblical discussion with her.

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I think Bill and George have a viable suggestion, Go to the Authority: Where in the Bible? or What did Jesus say about this?

 

The other idea to consider is to understand her motives because they are not because she is a Christian. That reasoning almost always comes after the reaction. John Haidt suggests 5-6 moral foundations that we all respond to before we start reasoning. The three that liberals ignore, according to Haidt are:

  • Loyalty to your group, family, nation. (He also referred to this dimension as Ingroup.)
  • Respect for tradition and legitimate authority. (He also referred to this dimension as Authority.)
  • Purity or Sanctity, avoiding disgusting things, foods, actions.

I think your friend is responding to these gut feelings and adding Christian reasoning. In your list I see concerns that come out of the "disgust reaction" (Purity), tribal loyalty, authority, wanting to feel safe, etc. Maybe you could have a conversation about who "us" is and stretch the boundaries of Loyalty, Purity and Authority. Peter had a vision about what is permissible to eat. Paul fought the requirement of circumcision. Both were stretching the boundaries of what is acceptable and who could be Christian.

 

I think these comments also can be understood as coming from an Interdependent Self Worldview (Hazel Markus Independent Self (generally college graduates) vs. Interdependent Self (not college educated))

 

The Interdependents

  • perceive a world that is not welcoming,
  • they want to be part of a group and not stand out (for safety?),
  • want to fit in, rooted, geographically and in their world views, and
  • live in a ranked world where everyone has their place.
  • They will follow the lead of people they perceive to be in authority and who have a conservative (in the traditional sense) worldview

It may not help the relationship but it is something to think about.

 

 

Dutch

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If those "don't's" are what make someone a Christian, I'm in big trouble. Of course, I'm in big trouble with my more traditional family & friends anyway.

 

When niece starts giving me the "don't's", I like to give her the "do's". You know - show compassion & empathy, love your neighbor as yourself, social justice, etc,

 

Growing up Catholic, I raised on the "Corporal Acts of Mercy". I like a slightly altered version of the official church version, but they are: to visit the sick, give drink to the thirsty, feed the hungry, clothe the poor (naked), give shelter to the homeless, visit prisoners (ransome captives,) (and the church adds bury the dead.) It seems to me these are far more important than whether someone has a glass of wine or wears a bit too much makeup.

 

IMO Christianity should be about how one loves, not about what one doesn't do. I can't help but think about the many times in the gospels that the "chief priests and elders" gave Jesus and his disciples a hard time, Many times Jesus replied with a parable about someone acting compassionately. I do not recall ever reading anything in the gospels that Jesus tells someone not to drink wine.

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A modern take on morals and ethics might be that there is no right and wrong as such, simply a spectrum of conscious actions or inactions, from which there may be flow on consequences. As Christians you would hope that we aspire to be as much like Jesus as each of us is capable of being at any given time in our lives. As such I would hope that our actions are taken through this lens, with others in mind. We are all human, susceptible to our emotions and make mistakes, but as long as we do our best, then that is all we can do.

 

Paul

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Raven said....

When faced with these kinds of situations, or confrontations, what can one say without being horrible? Is there a polite way to say "Stop pointing your finger at me!!"? I'm not interested in (or capable of, really) getting into a theological/Biblical discussion with her.

 

i think IF you want to remain in her presence, it might be best to show compassion and love her in her ignorance. This is done by allowing your awareness to 'feel' any hurt and see it for what it is. (your ego response choice and her ignorance). You can only do something about yourself. IF you would rather not be around her when she is like that tell her politely why and depart. Live in wisdom and let others be them-self. In my experience, we cannot fix the problems of others, only ourselves. And sometimes in so doing, the other changes..

 

Your ears need not be garbage cans for others.

 

Just my thoughts for consideration on the question,

Joseph

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When faced with these kinds of situations, or confrontations, what can one say without being horrible? Is there a polite way to say "Stop pointing your finger at me!!"? I'm not interested in (or capable of, really) getting into a theological/Biblical discussion with her.

 

Raven, I really think there is little value in debating the Bible or religion with your friend. She will not convince you and you are not very likely to convince her. IMO, the best way to maintain the friendship is to explain to her that you have different views from her on religion and that any discussion of that topic is likely to lead to discord.

 

George

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Raven,

 

I notice something about myself that I suspect is true of a lot of people. When there is an issue with which I am struggling, I tend to reveal that struggle publicly in some way. Example: I have made several attempts in my life to become vegetarian, and failed at all of them. Although I believe it is the moral choice, I struggle with the fact that I like the taste of meat. So, what do I do? I go around announcing to everyone that "I am vegetarian", and that "I don't eat meat anymore," etc... What have I just done? Announce to the world that this is an issue with which I struggle. I am not really a vegetarian, but I want to be.

 

I suspect that other people do the same thing. When they announce publicly their beliefs and strongly held opinions, they are revealing issues that have touched them in some way, issues with which they struggle. Often they are revealing an ideal that they would like to achieve, but have not yet. When I notice the tricks that I myself use, it helps me accept what other people are going through.

 

I think, or at least hope for myself, that being Christian means being given my freedom, being given a release from the chains of my past. It's not that I "don't do something because I'm a Christian," but rather, "why would I ever want to do that again, now that I have tasted freedom?"

 

Hope this helps,

 

Derek.

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Raven,

 

Joseph and George have, imo, given some good, practical advice about this situation and I'm going to paraphrase it just a bit:

 

1. Be secure in your own relationship with God. Rest in that. Know what you know, in your heart. That way, you know that guilt and judgment is not something you have to receive.

 

2. Then allow others to be where they are. I believe we are all in God's hands, though not all at the same place in our journey. And oftentimes the best response (advice which I should follow myself) is simply, "Okay." This acknowledges that they feel as they do, but it doesn't mean that you accept their view.

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2. Then allow others to be where they are.

 

Yes. We all have different experiences, personalities and needs. And, these naturally manifest in our religious beliefs. As long as one's beliefs are benign, I argue for tolerance and understanding (although this is really, really hard sometimes).

 

George

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Thank you all for your input. There are a lot of great ideas here!

 

Joseph, "Your ears need not be garbage cans for others" is maybe the smartest thing I've heard in quite a while. What an excellent way to put it. I need to remind myself that I'm not under any obligation to respond emotionally/intellectually to what she (and other people) may say.

 

George, that's what happened before. I walked away from her, and from our university church group, because of a lot of this stuff. I wish I could say I had directly told her the truth, but I didn't. Because I was leaving town anyway, it was easier to just allow the space to develop. Whether she knows the truth or not, I can't say. But you're right - I should assert myself in the future, and not allow myself to feel bullied or judged.

 

Yvonne - thanks for sharing. The Corporal Acts of Mercy sound familiar as a "list" though the name does not - maybe I learned them as something else growing up. In any case, you make a great point. The "do's" matter, or should matter, more than people's ideas of the "don'ts." If faith is action-based, what do my actions say about my faith?

 

Derek, your point reminds me of Lady MacBeth, protesting too much. This is important to think about. I guess in some cases, it's easier to point out what other people are doing "wrong" (in our opinions) instead of focusing on ourselves and what's going on in our lives. A person's journey ought to be personal, and not under the scrutiny of other people. Imagine what we could all accomplish if we took that energy and applied it elsewhere, instead of other people's business!

 

Wayseeker, thanks for simplifying it that way. That is a great way to put it, and a timely reminder. If I want her to respect my space, my journey, and my relationship with God, then I need to allow her that same space. I will admit that I've been feeling judgmental myself, toward her, on and off through the years. I find myself stewing about her narrow interpretations and the restrictions she tries to put on others - I suppose I'm doing the same thing back to her, by allowing it to bother me.

 

It's difficult because in a lot of ways she's a great friend - it's just this aspect that causes issues. On another thread, I mentioned this issue of raising kids in a fundamentalist bubble, where they don't have to think for themselves - pure indoctrination from birth. This is what happened to her, and mostly I feel bad for her. I don't (really) want to change her; I just want her to stop measuring my Christianity against her ruler, you know? I believe you can support gay marriage, a woman's right to choose, be a feminist, (etc) and still call yourself a Christian.

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I haven’t read all the posts here, so I may be repeating some things others have said.

 

The Bible seems pretty clear (at least to me) that we are no longer under Mosaic Law through faith in Jesus. Paul even says that all things are lawful, but not all things are wise to do (1 Corinthians 6:12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any). So that tells me we have a lot of freedom, but still there are some things we shouldn’t do. For example, pre-marital sex may not be a sin anymore, but potentially there are consequences that can come from it. It’s certainly possible to have unwanted pregnancies, catch venereal diseases, hurt emotions if one person believes a tryst is part of a deeper relationship while the other believes it’s more casual in nature, etc. Drinking alcohol may not be a sin, but in excess it takes a toll on a person’s health. So there is a lot to consider about certain actions, and it’s up to the individual to make a decision. However, the Christian liberty we have been given is why I don’t have list of what to do and what not to do as a Christian, with the exception of the 10 Commandments along with the new commandment Jesus gave us that we love one another. From what I understand, the 10 Commandments are separate from Mosaic Law, so I think we are still bound by them, even though all of us continue to break some of those (I’m very good at taking the Lord’s name in vain). So basically, my definition of Christianity is: 1) faith in Jesus and 2) following His two greatest commands of loving God and your neighbor, which really covers the 10 Commandments. That keeps it very simple.

Edited by rayodeluz

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Rayodeluz,

 

You make a good point. Like my auntie J always says, "Everything in moderation (including moderation)." Things do often exist in shades of gray. A glass of wine is not a problem (to me), but for someone who cannot control themselves, it would be a problem for them. It's important to think things through, and to understand why you're doing what you're doing.

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I think this question is indicative of the problems todays faith practitioners faces.

 

The question should read " I do __________ because I am a Christian".

 

Progressive Faith is a faith of addition not subtraction. I think Jesus was a man of addition.

 

steve

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There is no general prohibition of which I am aware against drinking alcohol in the Bible. And, Jesus was himself a wine maker.

 

George

Paul says something about staying sober at all times I think.

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Actually Rhino, Paul is recorded saying in 1 Tim 3:8 "Deacons in like manner chaste, not double tongued, not given to much wine" Wine was not at all forbidden anywhere i am aware of in the NT.

 

Joseph

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I had a conversation of this nature concerning the pastor of the church I attended in college. Basically my friends did not understand why I went to the church that I did considering what they knew of me. My response to them was basically that I did not always agree with everything the pastor said, but I couldn't help but to respect the man for his heart. He LOVED his congregation.

 

Now I did not agree with all the things he deemed necessary to demonstrate love to others / god, but I never doubted that he cared.

 

I have friends who are much like your friend. Some I know ask such questions because they care for me. I answer them honestly. Some of those friends drift away because they do not know how to continue (yet?!?) the friendship. Other friends are using judgement to elevate themselves. I answer them the same way. They may feel momentarily 'more faithful,' but such feelings are fleeting when I feel no guilt concerning my response. Those friends rarely continue to engage in such conversation.

 

In short, answer honestly and try to consider your friend's heart (what is their motivation).

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