Everywhere I go with my dogs, Delilah gets attention. Tall, sleek, looking like she is shy. She becomes the center of attention. Roxy on the other hand is common – brown, short, scarred from her street fights, looking with longing for attention. Uncommon to see a Great Dane. Common to see the Puerto Rican sato.
In a discussion with some young people recently, I was asked why “Religious People” want to place limitations on their members. For example, some churches include not attending movies as a requirement for church membership. Other BIG issues are alcohol, drug use, promiscuity, and some churches still pursue women in pants as an issue.
When these things are preached from a pulpit, they can drive people away from the grace and mercy that God has for them. I appreciate the approach of the churches I have been affiliated with… remembering one pastor saying CLEARLY on a Wednesday evening in prayer time that he appreciated the way the women were dressed in skirts and dresses. He never mentioned from the pulpit on a Sunday morning that I heard anything about dress code for the church. He simply taught God’s love and forgiveness. But that Wednesday evening, he said words that need to be repeated. “I don’t like women wearing pants and jeans but it’s my personal bias. I don’t like seeing women in pants and jeans in church but I like seeing women in church and my preferences should not prevent them from coming.”
Oh yea! We as Christians should be mature enough to set aside our preferences and open our arms to whomever we meet. He of course followed up with “I pray for the people in church and teach God’s Word and when someone begins to attend regularly, I usually see them raise their standard of dress…” Let the Holy Spirit bring about the change. Not some rule.
This should be the standard line for any church. If I drink wine with my meal, should I kicked out of church? If I have tattoos, should I be asked to leave the church? or prevented from entering? You get the idea.
BUT we must are aware of the difference between what is COMMON and what is HOLY. (Ezekiel 44:23)
For example, I have the kids program on Wednesday evenings at my church and I will often take along my phone or tablet and a speaker and we’ll listen to music. The other week, one of the girls wanted some song and we looked it up on youtube and having heard it for 30 seconds, I decided NO. She asked why. I said, “Well, my mind and heart can easily sing that song but it doesn’t help me to think about God and good things. It talks about sex and things that I should not think about. I want my music to help my mind to think about good things and God.” She said OK and we moved onto the next song that someone suggested. We could listen to the common music from the streets but why not choose to listen to something different. This little girl had not thought about this. Maybe my words will have an impact on her choices later in life because I shared my preference with he gently and non-judgmentally.
I don’t need to teach COMMON to my students. They get that in their daily life. In McDonald’s. On the streets. In the stores. At the beach.
I want to teach the BETTER, the higher standard, to them. As I learned to speak a more proper English in school, I want my students to learn a more proper way of doing things.
- I do not accept nose wiping on a shirt sleeve. We have kleenex in the classroom. Use them.
- I do not accept fingers in the nose and then on my pencils. Go wash your hands and keep your fingers out of your nose.
- I do not accept licking. Your tongue is full of germs. Go wash what you just licked while I do the same.
- I do not accept slouching. Sit up and stand up and your respiration and blood flow will increase your brain power.
- I do not accept their writing LOL in their essays. They need to know how to write, “I laughed out loud when I saw that.”
- I do not accept “I don’t care. I’m bored.” We need to know what we care about and we need to pursue those things.
I want my students to become interested and interesting young adults capable of navigating the adult world we live in. Some of them want to become professionals. I caution them to consider NOT getting a tattoo or piercing simply because some businesses will not want to hire them. Don’t limit your future by doing something as a young person that could bar you from your dream. We talk regularly about what we dream for ourselves as adults in my classroom – because school and learning is preparation for “Adulthood” (seriously, “adulting?” someone made that a term?) Too many young people think that school is just about being a young person and acting ridiculous. That is NOT the purpose of middle and high schools.
As a teacher, I love that I live in a country with uniform rules. I don’t have to deal with too many dress code issues. Uniform is expected and it is what is worn. When a uniform is not available for some reason, we agree that jeans or pants that cover butt cracks and underwear are acceptable and that the shirt should be a plain color or patterned without logos, pictures, words. (No bikini surfers or beer logos ok?) We try to teach a professional dress code because that is what will be required by their future job – check out the work places, most have a uniform.
All of these could be seen by my young friend (in the discussion I mentioned earlier) as Religious Rules but in reality, they are simply rules of health, safety and politeness. When we talk about movies we would like to watch as a class or related to a subject in school, I show them how I learn about movies I may (or may not) want to see. Two options are:
If these sites caution me about some thing, I may choose to not watch that movie at a theater but instead wait to see it on DVD or netflix when I can skip or fast forward parts. AND my students run into the Administrative Controls on their wifi enabled tablets when they go on a search for some things we have filtered on our internet. I got blocked the other day looking up some things for biology class. But then I asked me to open that part of the filter. And I did.
That’s my ramble on this subject. There are some things we NEED to teach. Respect for ourselves and others is right up there. The best way to teach that, is to teach that God made us in His image (Genesis 1-27) and He loves us dearly (John 3:16) and He wants the best for us (Jeremiah 29:11). The best in His mind is a life in which we allow Him to lead in our relationships and decisions (Psalm 23:2) so that we don’t run into heartbreak and trials and trauma by our own stubbornness (Proverbs 18:6-7).
Thanks for listening today. Thanks for praying for the coming school year as it begin August 14. God is answering so many prayers and concerns I had about Week 1 – our summer starter team is NOT coming so I am ON IT! Ready with some Galactic Stargazer plans and astronomers prepping for August 21’s eclipse. Woohoo!