Posts Tagged With: legalism

Lines and Labels

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABreaking news: I’ve discovered yet another line in Christian culture, and now (of course) I must decide which side I am on! Because obviously we can’t all be on the same side, and (of course) whichever side I pick will be Jesus’ side, because, y’know, He always sides with me, and speaks plainly to me about what is His good and perfect will. In addition, He always cares about every facet of Christian culture, because our varying opinions on baptism are totally a significant reason that we cannot possibly work together to feed the destitute. Yada, yada, yada. You get the point.

Sarcasm aside, I did find it slightly ironic when both this and various articles from this website came into my facebook feed on the same day. Disregarding that specific topic (No, this is not another persuasive essay about 50 Shades. You can breath a sigh of relief now.), I feel that that incident points to a bigger disagreement that has been forming in my practices over the last few years. Allow me to clarify. I grew up on Moody radio, rather conservative sermons, Brio magazine, and the purity culture whose effects are being dissected and debated quite a bit of late. But as I’ve grown older, I’ve also come under the influence of another, somewhat more liberal branch of Christian thought. I’ve been a fairly faithful reader of Deeper Story  for several years, I followed Prodigal Magazine back when it was a thing, and, I can’t fail to mention Jamie the very worst missionary. Who knew that actual missionaries could swear? I thought that was, like, pretty much impossible. Granted, I don’t agree with everything I’ve come across on any of those websites, but neither do I agree with everything I’ve heard on Moody, or in sermons, or in purity culture. Yet, I also can’t say that I know exactly where I stand in between these two extremes.

I don’t have a set, writ opinion on feminism, or even necessarily on the gender of God. I refer to Him as masculine because the Bible does, but really I think Johnny Cash captured it best when he coined the title “Father Hen” without attempting explanation. I have friends who’ve courted and dated specifically for marriage, and I have friends who’ve lost their v card, some of whom don’t regret it. I have friends who basically abhor swearing, and never associate with people who curse; I have friends who swear like soldiers. And you know what? They aren’t terrible people any more than we all are. I love both groups just the same. I know folks who’ve marched in the march for life, and I know those who vehemently believe that in many circumstances abortion is the most humane option. I socialize with Christians who drink or smoke and also those from the polar opposite camp. I could go on…

But essentially, I guess this boils down to that I don’t know which side I’m on, and as much as I dislike labels, they are a part of being human. I gain security, and self worth from knowing who I am. Also, I think a crux of all of these issues is how I choose to view grace. The first of the extremes I’m caught between easily morphs into old testament legalism, and the second into a grace happy, sin and you’ll be forgiven existence. Legalism repels me, so often I lean towards the second, but the first somehow comes with me, and I’m seen as quite conservative by my “living in the freedom of New Testament grace” friends. Bottom line? I don’t fit. Which is nothing new. I should be used to this by now. I just wish I could pinpoint where I stand…

*footnote: Camp conservative is having a hard time stomaching the idea of me in dreadlocks (which I plan to get this June). For now my appearance allows me to group hop. Maybe then I’ll be stuck in the one extreme.




Categories: My Life, Ponderings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou want to know something? I’m not a good Christian. I strongly dislike study books, and even when I’ve tried to  get over my distaste and just do them anyways (because sometimes in Sunday School they give you homework)  I’ve rarely, if ever, finished. Not only do I dislike study books, but I’ve never read the Bible in a year, or even in two. I’m fairly sure that I’ve probably read every word in there in bits and pieces but never systematically or all at once. It’s hard enough for me to read straight through a book. More often than not you’ll find me doing Bible roulette. Y’know: open, read, digest, repeat again the next day. That kind of formula. Though if I open to Leviticus or Kings I’ve been known to shut, open, and retry. I did read through Isaiah once. C’mon people, Isaiah! But I don’t know that I really got much out of it. Nope, not really.

It really bugs me when people try to reduce everything down to a formula or to legalism. To sermon points. Most of the time life is random and not very sense making, and I like that the Bible is un-linear too. I mean, honestly, I don’t really get why randomness like the rape of Tamar or the exact dimensions of the tabernacle has to be in there. But it is. The Bible isn’t as straightforward as all of our little help books make it out to be. It isn’t as charismatic. (“Those who fight against the Lord will be broken.”) It isn’t as safe. But it is real. It shows life in all of it’s beauty and ugliness. It shows the unfairness of it all.

So when my mind is in a chaotic state, like now, I can still appreciate the Bible and the church depicted there, which, I may point out, is not the tradition stricken, systematic, boxable thing we often see today. I can still live free from the worry of “Is this grey area thing I did a sin? I don’t fell guilty. Should I repent?”  Christianity isn’t about legalism.  I can go outside and appreciate the beauty of creation. I can listen to atypical music by non-Christians that captures truth without fear of condemnation. I can pray to the Heavens and not feel a thing and know that it is normal. It’s ok. It happened to Job and Daniel both for a long time before they got answers. I could go on…

But it boils down to this: I just wanted you to know that I’m not a “good” Christian. I don’t have it all together. Not even close. Sometimes I fear that I simplify things too much for these blog posts. In truth, the conclusions I reach for them are not always the things I live. I disagree with much of what most of the “good” Christian people that I work with believe. I admire deep tattoos. I read a Kyle Idleman book once and wasn’t much affected. Actually, I prefer the work of the ex-porn addict Max Andrew Dubinsky.

Sometimes I talk to good Christians and feel that they speak a different language. Often I think that they feel that I am one of them. And honestly, I’m not. Though I will say that I am not here to judge them. I’m glad that their structured belief works for them. I still love them even though we are so different. The basic, grounding principles of our beliefs are the same. Maybe I’m wrong for being so flippant, and different, and anti-tradition. Maybe someday God will tell me he was displeased with me. But really, from what I can derive, Jesus didn’t fit the good Christian mold either, so I kind of doubt that will be the case. But if so, so be it. He’ll have to let me know if He wants me to change.

Categories: Journey Prologues., My Life | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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