Monday, April 30, 2012

Free to Be...

I see a woman in a head covering, and, suddenly....
I'm hyperventilating.
She has a head covering. He must be a command man.
If he is a command man, he must be a hyper-patriarch.
If he is a hyper-patriarch, he is a mysogynist.
If he is a mysogynist, she must be in a lot of pain.
Yes, in one nanosecond, my eyes see headcovering, and my brain thinks 'tyranny.'

I find myself praying silently with Tevye of Fiddler on the Roof:
"God bless the family-with-head-coverings and keep them FAAAAAAAAR away from us!"

Then I remember my own time off in the weeds, and I do my best to back the condemnation truck up.

But I admit I'm still inching my way to the opposite corner of the room.

At the other end of the standards spectrum, I recall sitting in the back of a class of 'homeschoolers' where I got waaaay too much of an eyeful from a young woman's choice of jeans. This wasn't a church gathering in the sense that God's Word would be preached, and there would be worship and prayer. was a church gathering in the sense that most of the folks congregated there would make some claim to Jesus as Lord. And, frankly, that young lady's style was unbecoming for a Christian.

We need standards. The case of the young lady above makes that obvious.
We need standards in the home because our children are too young to know prudence.
We need standards so that when we remove the scaffolding from these children we are building, they will understand what prudence looks like and how to set standards of their own.

Standards are tricky business.
Some believers have a tendency towards rules.
Some believers have a tendency towards no rules.
Standards are family business, too.
We can't hold other people to our standards. House rules, after all, are just that, and not God's Law.
But that does not mean we are free to have no standards.

"I will set no unclean thing before my eyes."
The implication is that there are unclean things, that I can choose to look at them, and that the godly man will choose not to. The application, though, is for the Holy Spirit to make.
So maybe I can watch Pirates of the Caribbean. And you can't.
Maybe you can read Harry Potter. And I can't.
But we should both agree that anything that strikes us as unclean should not be entertaining to us.

"Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence or anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things."
The implication is that the man of God must make a conscious decision to take out the garbage.
The application is that we must define within our own households that what qualifies as true/honorable/right/pure/lovely and what qualifies as false/dishonorable/unrighteous/impure/ugly.

Having no standard is a standard. Don't fall for the idea that no standard is freedom. It is not. With every book, every movie, every song, every thought, we have to weigh its worth.
And we have to remind ourselves that the standard is not:
"Whatever is a classic, whatever is new, whatever is popular, whatever is a box-office smash, whatever has a cool soundtrack, whatever is cinematic genius..."
We're not called to be relevant; we're called to be holy.

We are a free people. Christ died to set us free. And Christian liberty is a wonderful thing.
My family is a free family. It isn't often that people toss the label 'legalist' at us. I am in no way advocating that we start searching for lines to draw.
No way. I am of the firm belief that we should start by assuming all things are permissible and have a reason--a very good reason--for determining something is not permissible.
But perhaps it would be more helpful to ask ourselves, "Where would I draw the line?"
"What would a movie look like that I would not watch?"
"At what point would I decide a book is not worthy of my time?"

A few years back, we had a hair crisis in our household.
The men all liked women's hair to be long, the longer the better.
The women liked our hair to be short and chic.
And suddenly, we had a need for a standard.
Brett wanted a standard that would be glorifying to God without writing a new law. After days of weighing our appeals and his tastes with God's Word, he came up with this: Be feminine. If you look like a female and like you appreciate being a female, wear it. If you look masculine or like you wish you were masculine, it's off-limits.

And with that one standard, the winds of freedom were blowing once again.
I think that's what good standards do.
They set a boundary that makes us at once achieve love and liberty.

Sometimes, standards can be too dogmatic.

There are scriptural principles that tell us that...
iron sharpens iron...
and don't let anyone despise your youth...
and spur one another on to love and good deeds.
our concerns regarding the youth group movement (and they are valid concerns) can cause us to reject these scripture and set an extra-scriptural, overly-dogmatic standard.
So we let our kids discuss everything...but Truth.
That's just weird.
Not only that, but for this mama who prays that her children will have a hunger for spiritual things and that their friends will have a hunger for spiritual things...
it's puzzling.
We end up forfeiting koinonia in favor of dogmatism.

When we elevate our standard so that it is equal to a biblical principle,
we harm the parties involved and breed disillusionment.
Surely, we sola scriptura types are aiming for a more excellent way than that!

Or sometimes, in our quest to have Godly standards, we let others set the standards for us. Then one day we wake up and realize we've been too rigid, too wooden. I was visiting a few weeks ago with some friends in another town. I was sharing what we were learning about having adult daughters, contrary to the more popular family-integrated standards in this area. Our friend smiled lightly and remarked, "Yeah, we can get a little dogmatic about that, can't we? We've been talking about that, too." It was nice to know we weren't the only ones re-evaluating.

So, setting standards is delicate.
The road to setting them has ditches of legalism on one side and lawlessness on the other.
The road is pock-marked with needless wounding and pointed fingers.

But, as with everything else in the Christian life, we aren't off the hook just because it's difficult.
We are a chosen nation, a holy people, a royal priesthood.
We must aim to have standards that reflect the Lord we serve and our identity with Him.


  1. Bravo. I just love reading your blog, Mrs. Adams.

  2. M'kay, we need to sit down and talk more about this whole "adult daughter" thing when I come home. ;) Seriously, though, I am interested. Thanks for sharing your heart! Yet another excellent blog post (even if I am a bit biased). :D

  3. Thanks, ladies, for your encouragement!
    Alex, you are doing what you're doing as a result of our re-evaluating, baby girl. :)

  4. Excellent and thought provoking (as usual). I LOVE your blog!