Thursday, May 26, 2011

In Defense of Prom Alternative

In April I went to my youth group’s prom alternative, and I had a blast.

On the one hand, maybe you go to school with me. Maybe you’re really confused about the “alternative” part of that last statement. No, I do not participate in prom, and I’m fairly ashamed to admit that I tend to be ambiguous as to why. I’ll clear all that up in a minute. On the other hand, you may be a member of the Lord’s church on the complete opposite end of the issue. Yes, I did go to a function that essentially has its roots in prom, and I have no reason to believe that God disapproves of that action. Whether you just think I’m weird or you think I’ve compromised my purity, I’d like the chance to defend my choice in going to prom alternative.


I don’t want to lust or cause others to do so.
The problem of lust stems from a couple of issues. I believe the first is prevalent immodesty. Let’s face it: modesty isn’t a part of the world’s culture anymore. Non-Christian girls are no longer concerned with covering up, and prom fashions reflect it. Do you know the agony I went through to find a dress for prom alternative? It was terrible. Between the heinously low-cut gowns and the barely-a-yard-of-fabric dresses, pickings were slim to none for the Christ-conscious teenager.
The other issue, is, of course, dancing. It always cracks me up when Christians condemn “dancing.” I dance around my room all the time with a hairbrush in my hand pretending I’m a rock star, and I’m pretty confident that God has no problem with that. However, if I were to go to prom and basically rub my body up against that of a boy with my hormones raging, that would be a definite problem. Moving your body to music is not a sin. Doing so in a way that can cause others to lust is a sin. Take a look at Matthew 18:7—“Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!” I don’t want to be a stumbling block to anyone, whether through the way I move my body or simply through what I’m wearing.

I don’t want to be surrounded by bad influences.
2 Timothy 2:22 says “Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” The word “lust” here doesn’t refer only to sexual lust, but a desire for anything sinful. I can guarantee you that some (not ALL, SOME) teenagers only go to the prom so they can get drunk and/or have sex afterwards. Would I participate in that? Of course not. Do I want to be around that? Of course not. I don’t even want to put myself in a place that could potentially lead to something sinful.

I don’t want to give the illusion of approval.
I could go to the prom in a completely modest dress. I could go only to hang out with friends, not to dance. I could go without actually participating in any sinful activity. However, participating in prom would be tantamount to giving my approval to the sinful actions of others, and that’s just as bad. In Acts 8, after Stephen is stoned, Luke tells us that “Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death.” Did Saul (later Paul) actually kill Stephen? No. Was he just as guilty of his death? Yes. Sin goes beyond the physical act straight into our mindset. I don’t want anyone to believe that I approve of his or her sinful activities.

Alright, now for the flip-side…


Immodesty, lust, and worldliness were absent. I want to make one thing very clear: I do not believe in any way, shape, or form that a “special occasion” is an excuse to dress immodestly, whether the event is a prom, a prom alternative, or anything else. At my alternative, there was a dress code. If we wouldn’t be comfortable wearing it to a worship service (or if others would be uncomfortable with us wearing it to a worship service), we weren’t allowed to wear it to prom alternative. My own dress came to my knees when sitting and didn’t even show any skin below the collarbone. With a shrug to cover my back it was a perfectly modest (and dare I say, beautiful) dress. Non-Christian dates were also a no-go. We were chaperoned at all times. There was no dancing. Nobody lost their virginity, their innocence, or even their hearts. We all just had fun together. I didn’t have to worry about seeing, hearing, or “accidentally” approving of something sinful. I was in a God-honoring environment.

It was an opportunity for fellowship. The plan for the evening was lovely. A couple from my congregation graciously invited us into their BEAUTIFUL mountain home for a delicious, fancy dinner. Next we changed into normal clothes to go bowling at the local Brunswick. Finally, we trekked across town to another family’s house, where we made s’mores and roasted hot dogs over a backyard campfire. The girls spent the night there, while the guys drove to the church building to sleep. We all got together again for breakfast the next day.
How fun is that? I had a blast. The early church often got together just to “break bread” and “take meals together” (Acts 2:42)—they enjoyed simply spending time with one another. That’s what we enjoy too!

When all’s said and done, I had a wonderful evening. I grew closer to brothers and sisters in Christ, and I had a fantastic time doing so. I’m so thankful that someone had the idea to give us a special evening free of temptation or worldliness!


Thursday, May 19, 2011

True Reliance

Whoa. I leave for a month and I come back to 22 followers. Hey guys! Thanks so much for reading! Now for an article...

The last time I went to a youth rally, the speaker’s lesson could be summed up in one sentence: “Rely on God, and you’ll be fine.”

Really? No way! I had no clue that’s what I was supposed to be doing all this time I’ve been a Christian! Thanks for clearing that up for me! The thing about the lesson I heard at the youth rally is that’s where the application ended—at almost zero. He told me to rely on God, but he didn’t bother to tell me HOW.

I don’t think this is exclusively a youth problem. In the church in general it seems like we often love to pull out these elusive “feel good” statements. Rely on God. Be an example. Love one another. Take the sin out of your life. These are all very simple statements, but the concepts they describe are much bigger than the words representing them. You can tell someone to bake a cake all day long, but if she doesn’t know how, it’s not going to happen until you tell her how. Good thing we have a pretty extensive instruction book. I don’t know about you, but I want to rely on God. So how do I do it?

Check out Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” I would think trust goes along with reliance, wouldn’t you? Note the contrast here—it’s important. God tells us NOT to rely on ourselves, but rather TO rely on Him. The New Testament weighs in too—take a look at 1 Peter 5:6-7: “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” Casting your anxiety on Someone who cares for you… that’s reliance, isn’t it? But if you look at the verse directly before, it’s clearly talking about humility. Let’s talk about that for a minute.

To quote the marvelous C.S. Lewis, “thousands of humans have been brought to think that humility means pretty women trying to believe they are ugly and clever men trying to believe they are fools.” However, this isn’t how God sees humility. If you have the time, go ahead and read the whole book of Philippians. In case you don’t have the time, I’ll sum it up real quick. The main problem with the church at Philippi was selfishness—it was causing disunity, complaining, quarrels, all kinds of issues. So in Philippians 2:3, Paul writes, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.” Did you catch that? Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself in regard to some kind of gold standard, it’s thinking less of yourself in regard to others.

So let’s bring this tangent back around. If humility in general is putting others first, then humbling yourself to God would have to be putting Him first in your life. Our basic human tendency is to put ourselves in that position, but humility involves a switch. It involves taking ourselves out of the position of trust and putting God there instead. Wait a second, trust? We said before that was reliance, right? I told you the contrast in Proverbs was important.

Here’s the bottom line: relying on God isn’t just some kind of emotional dependency when things get tough. It’s not a warm fuzzy feeling. It’s the deliberate action of taking yourself out of the position of control in your life and putting God there instead. What better Pilot could we possibly have? There’s no way God’s going to steer us wrong if we let Him take the wheel.

So I’m going to end where I started: Rely on God, and you’ll be fine.