2.14.2015

Christians & Fifty Shades of Grey: Let's Get Our Facts Straight.

FIRST THINGS FIRST:
Whether or not we'd like to admit it, we ALL have a problem.
And believe it or not, it's the same problem for everyone from the highest-paid CEO living in the lap of luxury to the homeless gentleman opening doors for shoppers in downtown Chicago, just hoping to earn some compassion. It is one thing that, in spite of our earthly experiences or superficial differences, we are guaranteed to have in common with each other. We all have a huge problem that we can't solve by ourselves.

A SIN PROBLEM.

And it is how we choose to handle this problem that defines our eternity.

If we try to handle it ourselves, we'll fail every time. There is no way to “be good enough” or “do enough” to earn God's favor in a vain effort to offset the bad things we've done. There is ONE SOLUTION. THE CROSS. And that is why the saying goes, “The ground is level at the foot of the cross.” Regardless of what “bad things” you've done in your life, NOTHING can separate you from the love of your Savior when you trust in Jesus. NOTHING can snatch you out of the Father's hand when you recognize your sin problem and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior. NOTHING. NOT A SINGLE THING.

So here is the question I've seen posed:
CAN A CHRISTIAN GO SEE FIFTY SHADES OF GREY?

And actually, if we're being honest here, the question hasn't been posed at all. Rather, it has been beaten like a dead horse that (I'm paraphrasing here) “Anyone who sees this movie is a heathen.”

But here's the thing: A sinner saved by grace could go see Fifty Shades of Grey and he or she would still be saved. That doesn't mean they should. I think this is an important distinction to make. This individual could also choose to steal a car and still be saved. He or she could also murder, lust, cheat, lie, hate, covet... do you see where I'm going with this?

Adding anything to the Gospel (the “Good News” that Christ died for our sins) subtracts from our understanding of the absolute fullness and necessity of the crosswork of Christ. DOING anything will not make you any less of a Christian positionally – that is to say that as a believer, you still stand on Christ's righteousness instead of your own when you are judged, regardless of how you live your life. 

However, Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, warns us again and again in Scripture to take care that we do not take advantage of our freedom in Christ. 

“...take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak” (1 Cor 8:9)

“For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Gal 5:13)

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” (Rom 6:1-2)


 WHILE "DOING THINGS" (aka "works")
CANNOT AFFECT OUR ETERNITY, IT CAN
HAVE ASTRONOMICAL IMPACTS 
ON OUR EARTHLY WALK.  
That's what my whole “Superheroes” post was about. 
That's an enormous theme in the Epistles. 
And THAT'S the angle we need to explore. 
Not “Can we?”, but “Should we?”

CAN WE? 
Yep.

SHOULD WE? 
NOOOOPE.

On-screen immorality or not, there is nothing inherently sinful about going to the movies. If I felt so called, I could watch this movie for the purpose of research; that is, in an effort to get more information about the film so as to reach out to people who WILL be seeing it. Watching the movie isn't in itself the sin, even if the things on-screen are sinful. Because if that were the case, we really shouldn't be watching anything on television or the big screen that glorifies violence. Or stealing. Or lying. Or lusting...

What makes watching a movie – any movie - a sin is your heart in the matter.

So, if you're going to Fifty Shades of Grey purely for research, you are, in fact, not sinning. But the moment you begin to enjoy watching two people do something that is created for a man and a woman in the intimacy of their marriage and privacy of their...wherever...then it is indeed a sin. Just like watching pornography is a sin. Just like cheering on ANY immorality – no matter how fictional – is missing the mark of God's desire for our time and hearts. And while this has no affect on our eternity, it WILL AFFECT OUR EARTHLY WALKS. It WILL drive a wedge between you and the Father. It WILL hurt your marriage...maybe not right away (Satan is tricky like that), but it will. 

I expounded on Romans 1:29-32 in the Superheroes post, and I feel it is applicable to do so here as well. In Romans 1:29-32, Paul composes a list of some of the world's sinful practices, then finishes by saying this: “and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.” What Paul is saying here is that, though we may not be actually participating in something that runs counter to God's word, if we approve of it, defend it, take pleasure in it, and do not speak out against it, then in our hearts, we are the same as those actually committing (or in this case portraying) those sins!

Romans 1:32 in action means this: 
It makes no difference that these sins are “make-believe,” the effect is the same: 
Desensitizing the mind of the viewer to the things that God hates.


SO, LET'S REVISIT OUR QUESTION:

CAN WE? 
Yep. We are New Testament Christians, not under the Law. Bear in mind, however, that doing so for enjoyment would be sinning and deeply grieve our Father.

SHOULD WE? 
NOOOOPE.

I could list for days the number of awesome articles outlining the reasons why Christian men and women shouldn't just “avoid seeing” Fifty Shades of Grey, but should literally RUN IN THE OTHER DIRECTION. I think that point has been well made. (See also: 1 Cor 6:18, Col 3:5, 2 Tim 2:22)

What we're missing the mark on, though, is two-fold:
  1. We aren't satisfactorily articulating the fullness of God's grace.
     
    The overall rhetoric I've seen filling up my Facebook news feed is that if someone who claims to be a Christian goes to see this movie, he or she obviously isn't a true Christian. But, as I said previously, this is ignoring the crosswork of Christ. As New Testament Christians, we are not under the law:

    Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:24)

    So likely, it isn't that the Christian moviegoers are “not Christian,” but rather that they are...
    a) not listening to their consciences (i.e. the Holy Spirit's leading) 
    AND/OR
    b) not trained to discern and be convicted by what is and isn't God-honoring. Which leads me to my second point...

  2. We are failing to raise up sound discerners.
     
    Why are we so ready to call out Fifty Shades of Grey, but fall silent when it comes to other areas of sin? And why are we as a church at large just generally ignorant of blatant heresies against the Gospel (see: that awful “Noah” movie)? 


    I submit that it is because, while we are getting people in the pews, we aren't feeding them the information they need to be discerners of the times. We are allowing them to stay on a steady diet of "milk" instead of giving them "solid food" as they mature in their faith, as the Biblical illustration goes.

    Romans 10:17 tells us that “...
    faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of God”, and Hebrews 5:14 reads “But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”

    Discernment doesn't come by some man-made understanding of good and evil, but rather, it comes from the Holy Spirit through God's word. It is something that needs to be trained by the Holy Spirit, and for which we need “constant practice!” Why? Because we are leaky vessels; if we aren't constantly being filled by the Holy Spirit through GOD'S WORD, we cannot be protected from the influence of the world. 


    Faith in Christ is what saves us, but it is how we choose to live our lives after that moment of faith that will determine our impact for Christ while we're here on earth, as well as our heavenly rewards in the Kingdom come. If we are not being trained by the Holy Spirit through the Holy Scriptures constantly, our senses weaken, our barricades crack, and we start to look less like Christ and more like the world...because we start believing the lies the world feeds us. It's just our sinful nature. I posit that if every Bible-believing Christian committed to discernment, not only would our lives look different, but we would have a drastically different culture.

SO WHAT DO WE DO? 

1. Don't just avoid the movie, FLEE FROM IT.
RUN IN THE OTHER DIRECTION. MAYDAY, MAYDAY. DO NOT GO. Why? Here's an awesome summary. And another. And another. And one more for good measure. If you're feeling led to see it for research purposes like I theoretically mentioned earlier, take A LOT of time to pray about it and make sure that's really God's intention for you. Because even if you're not going to enjoy the things you'd be seeing on the screen, you'll still be ingesting the sights, sounds, and experiences offered up by the movie.


2. Meet moviegoers (or book-readers, as it were) with grace, not shame.
We are sinners, too, and ALL fall short in the eyes of God. We like to compare ourselves to people. “Well, I may lie about my lunch breaks on my time sheet, but at least I don't go see some filthy porno on the big screen!” But guess what? Sin is sin is sin and the penalty for sin is eternal separation from God in a literal place of torment called hell. Praise God that Jesus Christ was sent to pay our debt, and FAITH in the Messiah, Jesus Christ, is all it takes to stand on Christ's righteousness instead of our own when we are called home! 


Meet your brothers and sisters in Christ with a spirit of gentleness and lead them Biblically through the reasons they should abstain from such entertainment (good resources here, here, here, and here). Meet unbelievers with patience and grace, not shame. Tell them the practical reasons to avoid the movie, and above all, share Good News that Christ died for them and loves them, regardless of their past or present state!


"For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, 
nor angels nor principalities nor powers, 
nor things present nor things to come, 
nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing,
shall be able to separate us from the love 
of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8: 38-39


“Test all things; hold fast what is good. 
Abstain from every form of evil.”
1 Thessalonians 5:21-22


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2.01.2015

Alone Time with Littles

I can vividly recall the first time that I was left alone at home with Little Mouse.

I was terrified. No, I was BEYOND terrified. I'm reluctant to believe that words can accurately paint a picture of the way I felt in that moment in time. 

Up until that point, Lucas had been with us 24/7, a wonderful perk of a teacher husband and a Summer due date. Even though there were times that there seemed to be nothing we could do to calm our new, screaming bundle of joy, just having my husband there by my side gave me a sense of calm and the confidence I needed to mother our son.

Little Mouse was a very colicky baby (due mostly to his milk protein intolerance, which we didn't discover until later, when he got better - happier - after I cut all dairy out of my diet). If he wasn't sleeping, he was usually crying. Those early days - months, even - were so, so difficult. Add to that the surge of postpartum hormones and outright exhaustion, and you have a recipe for unbridled self-doubt.
 

I knew that us being alone would happen eventually, but like all things new and scary, I wanted to put it off for as long as possible.

The morning of my first day alone with Little Mouse, Lucas decided he wanted to take his little sister to the library. With two new additions to the family - Little Mouse on July 6th and his cousin Bitty Bear a mere four days later - Luke wanted to make sure she wasn't feeling ignored. With much trepidation, I agreed. And so, at 11am, they left for the library in town, only about a mile or so away from home. 

I held this tiny, 6-day-old human in my arms and smiled as they walked out the door while inside I was shaking and begging him, "DON'T GOOOOOO! PLEEEEASE DON'T GO!". Something was going to go wrong. I just knew it.

I walked into the living room, holding this sweet sleeping bundle in my arms, and sat down in our cozy rocking chair. His eyes popped open. My heart leaped. I said a silent prayer. And miraculously, he did not cry. He just lay there contentedly in my arms, looking around. I turned on some music, sang to him, and videotaped this amazing moment to show Lucas when he got home (I must note that he was equally as shocked!).

Fast-forward to almost 19 months later, and I LOVE my alone time with Little Mouse. He amazes me every day and I am infinitely blessed by being able to stay home with him.

We sign and learn the names of toys and objects around the house.

 

We play. And play. AND PLAY! 



We take pictures. LOTS of pictures!


He also helps me with laundry...by making me fold it three or four times. Hey, practice makes perfect, right?

And on nicer days (see: not sub-zero temperature) when Daddy gets home from work, we always take a walk to the park as a family. 


So take heart, Mommas. Those early days are rough, and you may likely doubt your abilities, but you CAN do it! Give yourself a little grace and a lot of credit - you are a rock star! 

No...better than a rock star. You are MOM!

And before you know it, your little ones will be toddlers and (believe it or not) you'll be looking back on those early days with fondness. The kind of fondness only rose-colored Mommy glasses can offer.

Until Little Mouse lets me write again...