Thursday, June 30, 2011
Do you ever read something or repeatedly hear something that makes no sense and just drives you crazy? An idea? A point of view? An opinion? There's been talk in Christian circles lately that’s been driving me up a wall. No, I'm not talking about youth groups or hard rock; I'm talking about judgmental attitudes.
Now, before you start pulling your hair out, please hear me. I'm actually coming from a different side of the picture than most. Usually, when I hear people talking about "legalists" and "judgers," I'm hearing it from “liberal” Christians who are calling more "conservative" Christians "legalists". Why? Now that is the question.
I recently participated in a discussion on Google Buzz about "hyper-conservatives". First of all, let me say that I really, really hate that term. I mean, it's so relative! Who is to say what “hyper- conservative” even means? Or even "conservative?” I know people I would definitely consider liberal who call themselves conservative, but, I also know strict Mennonites who call themselves conservative! They look and act like they’re from different planets, but they both own the term. In fact, some non-Christians use the term “conservative” to describe their political position. There is no clear line. It's all relative.
Anyway, I noticed that one of the people in the conversation pointed out that a certain secular pop star (Katy Perry) "used to be" a Christian, but ran from the faith of her childhood (into a completely anti-Christian behavior and lifestyle) because of her parent's alleged "hyper- conservative" lifestyle. He added that he wasn’t surprised and the she obviously, “ran from the prison of religion as soon as she could.”
This is a total sore spot with me. First, I really, really, really hate it when people blame their "hyper-conservative" families for their own rebellion—“running from Christianity.” What caused Katy Perry to run from "the prison of religion" – a term I think is just an excuse to do whatever we want, as if "free in Christ" means free to do whatever—was her own sinful heart. It was not her parents fault, or her family's fault, or her church's fault. We get so caught up in blame shifting that it gets ridiculous. We are responsible for our own sin - we can't blame it on those around us.
I don’t think a conservative (or even a hyper conservative) lifestyle is what causes young people to run from Christianity (and even if it is, it is still not the family's “fault”). I think what causes a young person to run (outside of his/her lack of faith in Christ) is perhaps not knowing why they believe what they believe.
Some young people haven't embraced a true faith, or their own convictions; instead, they have simply been going through the motions, adopting the convictions of others who, in their opinion, have it all together. They don't know why they do what they do.
When they're child says "Why do we __?" or “Why don’t we ___?” the parent doesn't have an answer—or doesn’t take the time to give one. This is a problem! We have to know why we do what we do - otherwise we are living a works-based religion. But a family who has convictions from the Bible (perhaps they are considered "ultra-conservative", but they're still based on a thoughtful interpretation of Scripture) is doing nothing wrong. If your parents decide (from their reading of Scripture.) that head-coverings are to be worn constantly in their household, that does not mean that the child has an excuse to abandon their faith and blame their rebellion on their hatred for head coverings, complaining, "Oh, they were just sooo (hyper) conservative."
Being “ultra-conservative" (whatever that really means) is not a bad thing if the Holy Spirit has convicted the family and this is how they choose to work out their understanding of Scripture.
And what does it say about the child who rejects Christianity for such superficial things? It's a love for the things of the world that causes a child to run from Christianity (or authority.), not whether or not the parents are "ultra-conservative". And what does "ultra” or “hyper” conservative" mean anyway? Can we be "too godly"? True, if our heart is in the wrong place then it is sin - but anything that isn't done in faith is sin.
Remember, Jesus came to fulfill the law, not to destroy it (Matt. 5:17). He said that if we love Him, we will keep His commandments (John 14:15, 21). Love isn't a warm fuzzy - it's more than simple human affection. Like my mom said today, “Loving God means we honor and obey Him with abandon because of who He is and what He’s done for us.” Loving our neighbor is treating others the way we want to be treated, sacrificing for them, and putting them first (John 15:13). Isn’t it interesting that these things happen when we keep his commandments?
Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37–39)
In other words, all the commandments of God have to do with these two commands. If we can obey these, we will have obeyed the others. Think about it. Be careful of judging others as “ultra-conservative” or “legalistic.” Be careful of being a legalistic anti-legalist.
For more on this subject, read Sally “Used to be” a Legalist by my wonderful Mother. :)