Personal Note to the Young Adults and Conclusion
I know some of the young adults from my former church are reading this blog. First off, I want to say that I care deeply for you and this message is sent from my heart. You are part of the reason I keep this blog. When my Hannah left, I became very concerned for all the young adults there. You will not get guilt and shame from me. I just want to personally tell you that if you got involved or are involved in sexual immorality or any other area of sin, I get the “whys”. You don’t have to tell me. There was never a way to measure up to those perfect standards. It was an impossibility. What we went through was not normal.
Still speaking to those young adults: I hope you will seek out people who show grace and unconditional love – not the false love that says: I will only love you if you wear a certain kind of clothes or if you behave a certain way. That is not true love. A true friend will stick by someone, even when they sin. They won’t ignore the sin, but they won’t hammer it in, either. They will model grace and offer opportunities to make things right.
Secondly, some of you may have shut God out of your life based on your experiences at the church. That part makes me very sad and angry. What you were taught was an impossibility to live day in and day out. While you were supposed to have a shepherd guide you in your walk toward God, you may have been left wanting nothing to do with Him. Please do not let your bad experience shape the path of your spiritual walk. What you heard and saw was works and law, not grace. It was nothing short of false teaching. There are good churches out there and there are good pastors who make it their goal to help guide, not lord over you. When you feel ready, please try again.
Thirdly, I’ve been in touch with a number of parents who have since left. Your parents love you deeply. And if your parents are no longer at the church, keep in mind they are probably in the process of coming to terms with what they went through. They are certainly doing some soul searching as all parents do: how did this happen, why did I go to this church, why did I stay there, how were my children affected by staying there, etc. If it helps, please feel free to use this blog post as a conversation starter in your family. Keep talking. Keep extending grace to each other.
I have been so thankful for the talks I’ve had with my adult kids. They need to know that we were not in a healthy church environment, that we missed the signs. Showing our kids this kind of humility and giving them grace will be so helpful in the healing process for them and for us.
In conclusion, I want to once again go back to the modesty issue. Sure, there are appropriate ways to remain modest, but not go overboard into the trap of legalism. Modesty is a matter of the heart.
But I say, walk by the Spirit,
and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
We don’t need modesty rules. The Bible gives us guidelines on modesty and we also have the Holy Spirit to guide us. God has given us common sense and he’s also given us grace. We do not need to act as Modesty Police to others as was done in our former church, pointing out each error in judgment if we wore something that didn’t pass their test. Living by example works far better. Women mentoring younger women gently and privately works much better than rules from the pulpit by a man telling us details on how to dress. I remember feeling so awkward hearing a man talking how a female body should be dressed. What was that all about?
I remember the modesty issue became so much of a distraction that it was difficult to relax and enjoy time at the beach, or at a swimming pool or lake, or even walking through the grocery store during the summer! I have five boys at home now. We don’t turn the channel when we see a lady in a bikini. We don’t cover eyes. They know we are in the world and the world does not have have the same beliefs/standards we have for ourselves. We live in an area where we swim a lot in the summer and we see a lot more skin than clothes. It’s been 3-1/2 yrs since leaving and we left all of those modesty rules behind. It’s interesting. I don’t see my boys looking at females (and their body parts) nearly as much as I did when we were back at the former church. I’m sure they notice female bodies – what guy doesn’t? They know about lusting. But they are not under modesty rules or policing anymore – they are enjoying the sun, the water, their friends – you know, the things that really do count: people and relationships.
Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.
1 Thessolonians 4:1-8
I love how this verse focuses on what to do: we should walk and please God through sanctification and we each have our own vessel in sanctification and honor. When we focus on sanctification, holiness, we won’t easily fall into the trap of sin as easily. It seems that when we focus on pleasing God, the list of “don’ts” becomes obsolete because we already know how we should behave, how we should dress, how we should treat one another. It really is simple. Focus on God and things seem to fall into place beautifully.
I just got an e-mail that our neighborhood pool will be opening this weekend. Time to pull out the swimsuits and have some fun in the sun! Have a great weekend, everyone.