Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Perfection Is [Not] My Enemy

Francesca Battistelli's, Free To Be Me has always bothered me a bit-- particularly the oft-repeated "Perfection is my enemy" phrase. Of course that notion isn't specific to her. You've probably also heard sayings like, "Perfection is the enemy of good" or "You don't need to be perfect".

Granted, in a lot of scenarios, perfection may be difficult, impossible, or unnecessary. If you're learning a new skill, you don't strive for impeccability, you strive for improvement. That's fine. Perfection in many areas isn't a priority. 



On the other hand, Christians should be at least concerned about moral perfection(perfectly keeping God's law). Not only is this how we can glorify God; it was through Christ's perfect obedience that we now have salvation.

Philippians 3:12-14 reads,

"Not that I...am already perfect, but I press on to make it[knowing Christ and attaining resurrection from the dead] my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

 As fallen humans, moral perfection isn't attainable yet, but God is sanctifying us so that one day we can perfectly keep his commandments. Therefore, moral perfection is God's goal for me. I have an incredibly far way to go, but it's not my enemy.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

What Ed Sheeran Taught Me About Objectification

Shape of You tells me a woman's shape is her most attractive attribute,

that a woman's body is the most exciting component in a relationship,


that apparently bars are preferable over clubs for meeting lovers,

that repeating "I'm in love with your body" fifteen times in the course of a five minute song somehow isn't objectifying,

that it's okay if talking with and getting to know a romantic interest comes after sex,

and that, by inference, the intellect and personality of a person aren't as interesting as her physical appearance.



And that's why Shape of You bothers me a lot. Don't get me wrong: I don't dislike Ed Sheeran! Between his heart-wrenching Supermarket Flowers and his beautiful I See Fire and Thinking Out Loud, he has a lot of music to appreciate.

I'm not saying this is the worst out there either. The lyrics aren't super explicit and there isn't a dirty word to be seen. What bothers me is how well it's accepted and how little it's challenged.

People point to the sexism and objectification of our world in Hollywood and wage gaps and health care. I say to look no further than this song's one billion Spotify plays.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Real Reasons You Should Dress Modestly

I've heard a lot of opinions on how and why people should dress modestly. They're usually all good, but not always prioritized in the way they should be. So here are the most important reasons and in the proper order.



1. To Glorify God(/ Because the Bible Says To)

 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. -I Corinthians 6:19-20

Not only should everything we do be to the glory of God, but our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and one way we can demonstrate this is through obeying 1 Timothy 2:8-9,

"I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire..."

When you're dressing first and foremost for the opposite sex rather than to "glorify God in your body", it easily becomes a chore or a scapegoat for someone else's sin.

2. To Demonstrate Consideration For Others

It offends many that we should dress 'for other people'. But I see it less as a slavish obligation to the opposite sex and more the result of a genuine concern for others. While lust is ultimately the fault of the lust-er, we need to be willing to put some thought into what in our wardrobe is and isn't appropriate.

3. To Serve Yourself

Yeah, this is actually a legitimate reason. Modest clothes are more professional and demonstrate more self dignity. They deter unwanted attention. As long as this stays third in priority, it's good to consider. Even beyond serving God and others, I dress modestly for the same reason I refrain from wearing my Darth Vader shirt to work.

~~~

What do you think? 

Monday, August 7, 2017

4 Things I Wish Fellow Christian Conservatives Would Stop Doing

I am a Christian. And though, being a minor, I've never voted, I land somewhere on the conservative side of the political spectrum.




But there are a number of habits common to my demographic that I really wish we'd stop practicing: not because I dislike the Christian, conservative cause, but because I want to see more unity and effectiveness therein.

So, three things I wish fellow Christian conservatives would stop doing:

1. Making Moral Issues Overly Political

As Christians, if we're going to discuss homosexuality or abortion or transgenderism I believe it should be less in the context of government legislation and more in the context of God's commands and our duty in the church. For example, transgenderism is a political topic because of the laws surrounding transgender procedures and activity, but I think we should spend just as much time considering and studying how to minister to transgenders or what the Bible says about gender identity as we do trying to get the government behind our views.

2. Sharing an Excess of Political Memes

Correction: Everyone of every political viewpoint should stop flooding everyone else's newsfeeds with political content.

I'm not saying it's wrong to share the occasional meme and it's certainly not wrong to sometimes(or often) promote important, well-written articles, but when the content for which your social media followers follow you is drowned in a flow of anti-Obamacare memes, you're just asking people to hide/unfollow you. Plus, these memes often come across as smug and disrespectful which is a fast way to turn someone off to your arguments.


3. Blindly Defending/Praising President Trump

Please, please don't do this. A lot of the liberal party views Donald Trump as the incarnation of all things racist, sexist, and vile. They may not always be fair in such assessment, but we need to acknowledge that we don't stand behind everything he says or does.

And above all, please do not call Trump "appointed by God" or set him up as the face of the Christian cause. I don't believe God elected Trump in a very different sense than He elected President Obama. Such claims only transfer the un-Christian conotations many associate with Trump to the Christian faith.

4. Generalizing

I hesitate to mention this because it happens a lot on both sides of the political drama. But wherever it occurs it can be offensive and simply untrue-- for example, in the subject of welfare. While I haven't studied the statistics, I can tell you that not everyone financially supported by the government is lazy or cheating. Not that anyone has necessarily said such in so many words but I've heard comments along the lines of, "If everyone on welfare would actually get up and find a job, we wouldn't have to support them."

Of course this also applies to those of alternate sexual orientation. There are a number of Christians for whom same-sex attraction is a genuine struggle and stumbling block-- not something embraced, celebrated, or practiced. It's not enough to highlight Bible verses concerning homosexuality and "bravely" broadcast to the world and our social media followers that God condemns it. That is true but in a way it's inadvertently generalizing those people.

There can be a fine line between generalizing and making reasonable arguments based on the vast majority of a given group, however it should be something we at least approach cautiously.

~~~

Those are a few of the problematic trends I've noticed in the Christian Conservative group. What do you think? Agree/disagree?


Note: This is my first politically oriented post and while I don't intend for this to become regular, please try to respect my opinions. If you'd rather avoid the politics, check out my other blog, On Stories and Words...or just disregard this post.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Introversion vs. Selfishness

"I can't people today."

"A group of people is called a 'no thanks'."

"Netflix and avoid people."

"I can't talk to you today. I talked to two people yesterday."

If you spend a fair amount of time browsing introvert-related memes on the internet, you'll encounter some like these. As an introvert myself, I appreciate the recent research and effort directed to understanding introversion. Some of my favorite people are introverts. But the attitude behind these memes saddens and frustrates me.


There's absolutely nothing immoral about deriving energy from being alone, but there is something immoral about selfishness. Just because selfishness sometimes masquerades as introversion doesn't make it okay. 

I want to acknowledge that being an introvert can be really, really hard. For me, "the worst" is being with a large group of strangers. I often avoid sports events, big-group barbecues, wedding receptions, parties, and basically anywhere with a lot of people and a lot of noise. I'd almost always enjoy watching Star Wars at home over meeting new people over a meal.

But while such activities may not be fun, that doesn't mean I can skip them. Sometimes it's necessary to attend a wedding reception to show love to a friend, or the friend of your family. It's reasonable to not enjoy it, but that doesn't always excuse not doing it.

As introverts, I think it's easy to present our preferences as needs or inabilities. "I can't do big groups." "I have to stay home from church in order to recharge."

Yes, sometimes you need to recharge. Do that Downton Abbey marathon or set aside an evening without social commitments. But sometimes you need to step out of yourself and into your brothers and sisters in Christ, or the unbelievers to whom we are called to evangelize.

The Bible emphasizes fellowship and community and the benefits of friendship. In fact, the New Testament is saturated with commandments concerning our interactions with each other in the body of Christ.

As much as I recognize and can personally attest to the difficulty and discomfort introverts experience to make and sustain friendships, I believe it's a grave mistake to overlook opportunities to cultivate God-honoring relationships with fellow humans.

I mentioned earlier that some of my favorite people are introverts. Without their willingness to push the comfort zones of their personality, I couldn't say that. Without introverts ready to expend the necessary energy friendships require, I'd be out a lot of friends.

If extroverts are fairly asked to refrain from pushing the energy levels of their introvert friends, introverts can be fairly asked to sometimes sacrifice their inclinations to encourage extroverts. This may include opening your home to others, sitting next to the new kid at school, or engaging your talkative friend.

Don't neglect church attendance, pass by cultivating God-honoring friendships, or blow off ministry in the name of introversion.

 We live in a world of personality diversity. People who fear public speaking and people who avoid phone calls. People who hate social interaction and people who desperately want friends.  People who listen to country music and people who listen to opera. And all sinners, by the way.

Extroverts can be just as selfish as introverts and vice versa.

Until Jesus comes, we're not going to find a state of perfect coexistence. There will always be misunderstanding and drama and damaged friendships. But if we-- introverts, extroverts, and ambiverts alike-- daily battle our own selfishness, I think we'll be a lot closer.

Friday, March 3, 2017

About Laziness

We love laziness

In fact, we embrace laziness. Why try to cover up your embarrassing tendencies when you could laugh over them? 

The mentality is summed well in t-shirts that say, 

Shortest horror story: school tomorrow.

Work less. Sleep more.

I work out. Just kidding, I'm lazy

Because ehhh, effort and responsibility? What are they for? 

Sure, most Christians don't do "serious" sins, like drugs, but many don't have a problem reveling in procrastination, screen-addiction, or slothfulness. 

We throw around our sins flippantly, even boastfully. If there's an excuse for our laziness, we'll take it.

But the Bible addresses laziness,  

Like vinegar to the teeth, or smoke to the eyes,
So is the lazy to those who send him. -Proverbs 10:26(NASB)

Or Proverbs 15:19(NASB)

The way of the lazy is as a hedge of thorns,
But the path of the upright is a level highway.

I'm not saying it's a sin to feel unmotivated sometimes or even to veg out a little on the weekends, but ultimately the Bible defines the hatred of work as sin.



Sure, laziness can be funny. Sure, joking about yours can be honest and humble, but it's spiraled into a mindset. According to this mindset, your failures aren't character-building or "opportunities for improvement". Instead, they make you a beautiful mess.

Unfortunately for this comfortable way of thinking, God holds higher standards for those in his image. In James 4:8-9, we read, 

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.

The amazing reality that our despicable sins are covered through faith in Christ has been traded for the freedom to love them as part of your identity. Thanks be to God, your sins do not define you. Christ defines you. 

Laziness isn't cute. Ditching effort isn't freeing. But that's what memes and so many conversations will tell you.

Maybe the first step to conquering laziness is shunning and hating it. A t-shirt isn't going to help. Nor are boasts like, "I'm going to watch Netflix all weekend, 'cuz I'm lazy!" 

Do be open about your laziness or weaknesses. My weaknesses are discontentment, self-control, pride, and, yes, laziness

But don't laugh them off. Don't romanticize them.  

Pray to God. Talk to your friends or family about your struggles. 

Remember that God will sanctify you and He has a plan for your flaws. But sin is ugly. Don't let it identify you. 

Your essence is in Christ.