So, a little rodeo round-up before I move on to a recipe and feign total ignorance of this whole topic! I’d like to drive by a few random bits and pieces from various comments and address them in no particular order.
First of all I would like to point out a few things about the debate in itself. In a healthy Christian community there will always be differences between the people in them. But the differences were there before anyone talked about it. Talking about our differences, working through them, and not being afraid to say out loud what side of the line you land on is not uniquely Christian, but staying in fellowship while you do it is. It is a hallmark of a functioning family. When something is rubbing us the wrong way, we stay together and talk it out at the dinner table. We do not (or ought not) to huff off to our respective bedrooms to eat in front of our own tv’s and resent the other people. So think about if there are any issues in your life about which you are not willing to receive Christian input. Is there a topic (far afield of nose rings perhaps) that would drive you to your room with a t.v. dinner and a whole lot of resentment? Well then, that is a great indicator that you need to work through it honestly with yourself.
If there is something you are doing that you certainly don’t want anyone to talk about, you need some better reasons for doing it. Are you using a form of birth control that would not stand up to Christian discussion? Are you watching movies that you shouldn’t be? Or are you just buying into some worldy propaganda without holding it up in the light of Scripture? These are the sort of things that break fellowship.
Sometimes hard conversations are the way back in. Hannah has had some great comments about the real-life, hands-on application of this kind of thing. And in thinking about it how to answer them, I have decided that it really comes down to the fact that shopping is a Christian art form. There are not easy answers. God wants us to have to think.
Sometimes in the middle of shopping for jeans you are making worldview decisions. Does that sound extreme to you? Let me give you an example from my own shopping history. Many years ago we were visiting family in Colorado and went out shopping. I found a new store “Abercrombie and Fitch.” I had never seen it before (this was right as they were making a comeback), and I went in and loved it! I bought a few things, but mostly just really enjoyed the atmosphere. The floors, the huge pictures (back then I think it was a sailboat!). Anyway, I had bought a hat that had the name on it and a sweatshirt with “AF” on it.
So a few months later I got the catalog in the mail and was pleased to see it. Then I read the first line of an article (lifestyle shopping don’t you know) that began with the tender words, “Let’s face it. We are all just looking for someone to sleep with over spring break.” Well then. So, rather than comparing fashion to a train, we should perhaps compare it to a complex network of trains, with unpredictable turns. The story of fashion is a story of rebellion from rebellion from rebellion, all the way back to the garden of Eden and the very first clothes. As Christians we have some set boundaries about where we may not go. So what do we do? At what point should we jump off a train?
I would venture to say that when I got that catalog in the mail, that was my cue, “Jump now.” I got rid of the hat and sweatshirt then, because I had just seen where that particular train was going. While I would not say that Abercrombie clothes are evil in themselves (of course not), I think that a discerning Christian ought not to knowingly get on board a train that is barging down the sexual propaganda railroad. And since it is bound to at least come up in someone’s mind as an objection, shopping at Abercrombie is not right on par with plundering the Egyptians. When the Israelites left Egypt, they did not first walk through the Egyptian homes for decorating ideas. They walked away with the decorations. Purchasing things from unbelievers is not plundering them. Essential to plundering is the principal that the person you took it from is no longer in control, and they should also probably realize that you are not an avid supporter. In other words, if they were plundered, they would feel the loss!
So I think what it comes down to is that God does not want us to let our guard down. He wants us to grow in wisdom, not grow lazy over time. So as we are raising our children to be discerning, secure, and unintimidated by the world, the funny thing is that we have to grow too. It is one thing to just follow your instincts when you are out shopping, and quite another to train your child to have the same ones (or discover your instincts were wrong). They might want to push the envelope somewhere you never did. You are going to need to figure out what you think about a lot of issues that do not seem to be important.
As an aside (but wait… hasn’t this whole thing been an aside?!) this is how the older women go into training to be equipped to teach the younger women. They have been continually growing themselves, thinking through issues as they come up, as their daughters bring them up. I know that for a lot of young girls the concept of talking to the older women about how to dress just doesn’t sound great, does it? Are you picturing some very sweet saintly woman taking you out to an old lady store to shop for culottes with a nine inch zipper (or maybe just elastic for comfort)? But if a woman has been shopping for herself with discernment and beauty and modesty, and then shopping with daughters with the same goals – she should really know what’s up by the time you get around to asking. She would not be shocked by an immodest trend, she would laugh at it. She would not be gullible, and her input would be invaluable. You would want to hear what she had to say! She would simply be an expert in the field.
Imagine that there is a tv show that you do not want your kids to watch. (I know, stretches the imagination doesn’t it?)Â But say you are having a hard time really putting into words what you don’t like about it. Say they are pushing you for reasons, and everything you say out loud is sounding really stupid. Does an hour-long conversation about the moral situations presented to us by say Hannah Montana sound like a colossal waste of time? Does it seem like immense overkill to record an episode and watch it with your daughter, pausing it to point out every little thing that you don’t like and talk about why?Does that sound embarrassing, or needlessly petty? Or just too hard? Then you need some practice.
My dad used to watch VH1 with us, picking apart the videos to discuss what was going on. And while we were still allowed to listen to the music, we were not allowed to listen to it and ignore it at the same time. So, I’d hear something on the radio, and think, Yeah, that’s nihilism or hedonism, or what have you.
The trouble with this is that it is hard. What if you don’t know off the top of your head what is wrong with it? Figure it out. Ask someone who does know. Work through it. Because if you don’t, and just decide that it is probably not a big deal, and that you are probably over-reacting, then what you are doing is going with the flow. And you are teaching your children to do the same thing.