My beautiful daughter, Jessica, and I share many common traits, most of which are “common” among American Christians. Our fondness for Hitler documentaries might be the exception. My son, Trey, and I are also alike in many ways, but a few of our commonalities are not so accepted by some.
Mainly movies (we’re huge Tarantino fans, but also enjoy thrillers, action movies and the occasional horror flick) and music. Regarding the latter, we’re both lovers of hard rock and heavy metal in an eclectic variety of genres.
I think I shared this before in one blog or another, but when I was 16, my best friend, Tommy, and I found ourselves in a real “us against them” scenario. It was a Wednesday night church service, and the Pastor was teaching on “avoiding the appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22). One thing led to another, and before we knew it he was preaching against the “evils” of Christian rock music. Tommy and I finally began to speak up, and the whole church turned on us.
In other words, they were mistaking their own personal taste and convictions for God’s “final word” on the subject.
See, the thing is, many thoughts and actions are blatantly sinful, as laid out in the Bible. Many OTHER things, however, are worked out between each individual and God Himself. The second chapter of Philippians tells us to “Be energetic in (our) life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God (The Message).”
I’ve been a Christian since I was five years old, and while not claiming to know it all, there are certain things I feel comfortable with doing, and certain things I don’t. As long as I’m being reverent and sensitive before God, He will give me a personal answer on the subjects, hobbies and entertainment styles which would prove to be harmful for me.
I might watch a certain TV show you don’t feel comfortable watching. You might read books by an author I just don’t feel like I should be reading. While we are supposed to point out to Christian family members if they are blatantly sinning (Matthew 18:15), this does NOT give us the right to preach our personal convictions and tastes.
If you don’t feel comfortable watching “Silence of the Lambs.” I’ll respect that, and not put the movie on when you and I are hangin’ out. This doesn’t give you the right to preach at me about how “wrong” and “evil” the movie is.
I’m not trying to be hateful here; I’m merely addressing a topic which is a bit of a sore spot for some.
Before I go any further, no friends or family members have done this to me lately. Today’s blog is not in response to a social media rant. Uncle Billy didn’t rag on me about my music or movies. This is not geared toward anyone in particular, I merely felt like the Holy Spirit wanted me to write about this today.
In 2019, the Christian heavy metal band Stryper released an album called “God Damn Evil.” In case you don’t travel in the same circles Trey and I do, the album title stirred up a lot of controversy. Stryper said they were merely referring to the day when the Lord will permanently triumph over evil. While we also look forward to that day with great anticipation, neither of us were comfortable with the actual title.
I LOVE the music. I feel it’s one of their best recordings to date, but just can’t quite get past the name.
We never said Stryper were wrong for going this route, or that others were equally wrong listening to the album. Furthermore, I didn’t want to influence Trey’s thinking on it, and waited for him to formulate his own opinion and come talk to me about it, instead of the other way around.
It’s a personal conviction. It’s our opinion. We don’t like putting the words “God” and “damn” together. That’s it.
To read comments online when we stated these opinions, however, you’d think we’d referred to Jesus Himself as “Lucifer High Commander” or something.
“Don’t you WANT God to damn evil?” one guy snarkily asked.
“Stop being so sensitive!” others cried.
“You’re obviously ignorant of the meaning,” some articulated, “so let us clue you in on what the band is trying to say.”
Good grief, man, I attended one Bible college, and have worked at another for nearly 15 years. I KNOW what Stryper was trying to say. We GET the meaning, all we’re saying is that we don’t feel comfortable with the title. Period.
This is an example of others trying to push their personal convictions on us. Yeah, I don’t like that.
One of my good friends, Matt, LOVES the movie “Tombstone.” Actually, it’s one of my faves as well. When I planned to visit him and his family in Pennsylvania, he couldn’t wait to watch it with me. I’m sure some people don’t watch this classic because of the language and/or violence, but it’s not a problem for many of us. We quote lines from the movie to each other. We love it, but if you don’t, that’s perfectly cool.
I have an aunt who doesn’t feel comfortable wearing red lipstick, but she doesn’t yell at every woman who DOES wear it. I have another aunt who prefers skirts over pants, but you’ll NEVER hear her preaching about the wickedness of blue jeans.
If you think I’m wrong, but can’t prove it with Scripture, it’s probably a personal taste, opinion or conviction, and should be kept to yourself.
There’s enough division among Christians without me trying to make YOU more like me. Let’s keep our eyes on Christ and all try to be more like Him.
I’m not trying to get on a bandwagon here, I’m just attempting to tackle a subject which has the potential of pushing someone away from you, and worse, away from God and/or the church. I’ll crawl out on this limb even further and say this HAS pushed people away. Sorry, but it’s my opinion we have no claims to God’s mind on personal convictions.
If you think I’m wrong, go to the Lord about it prayer, and IF I’m wrong, He’ll deal with me on it.
Please take this in the spirit it was intended, which is “harmony.” I’ve seen too many walk away from the light because others couldn’t keep their opinions to themselves.
God made all of us different, and that’s a beautiful thing.
Thanks for reading. Blessings.
4 comments on “I’m Not Like You (so don’t expect me to be)”
I’m with you on this – what others do, believe, think, whatever is none of my business. It’s between them and God until or unless that person does something that causes harm to others. Yes, I do believe in live and let live. I have studied scripture, took university courses for lay ministry, and have been very involved in my church. I like your blog because it doesn’t preach at me or make me feel “less than”. I do not personally enjoy those movie genre or heavy metal music – so what? I respect your right to enjoy books, movies, or music of your own choosing.
I believe God is mystery. How can a mere human being ever know the mind of the Creator? That is beyond arrogant. And I believe the mystery we call God can and does use said books, movies, and/or music to reach us and can and does reach us in ways that constantly surprises and thrills me. Thanks for this – well said.
Thanks, as always, for the encouragement, Carol. What bothers me is when people try to put God in a box. That’s trying to figure out the mind of God is like a single grain of sand trying to contemplate the entire California coastline. It just cannot be done. All we can do is stay close to the Lord and let Him guide us.
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Yes, Amen to that. And, you are most welcome. 🙂
Sorry for the odd verbiage in the middle sentence. Writing on my phone isn’t very user-friendly sometimes!