Christian Liberty: What Would
Jesus Rebecca Do?
Note: Although their queries involve different topics, the underlying issues for this questioner and the next are most similar: What must a Christian do and what may a Christian do?
Q: My boyfriend and I, both in our early 20s, sometimes find it hard to be Christians in today’s world. We love dancing but according to Rebecca Brown, going to a night club means going into Satan’s territory and in doing so we bring a curse on ourselves. Actually, it seems to us that Christians cannot do a lot of things. We have no intention of giving up our faith but what can we do to have fun? It seems that most movies involve swearing, sex, or violence — even among many “children’s” films. Secular music is Satan’s, meaning that we should avoid any place playing this music, including roller rinks or ice skating arenas. Our Sony Play Station is out since we like the martial arts games and we all know that martial arts are from the Devil.
How do young Christian couples have fun? How are we supposed to date? How do young married couples go out to enjoy themselves together? The food is better at home then a restaurant so please don’t suggest that option. Here in Australia, we don’t have a lot of Christian musicians, etc. that we can go and see. So my question again is this: Where can we go to have fun? Can anyone help us?
A: When did God change His holy name to Rebecca Brown? This woman finds Satan in every closet and under every bed. She replaces the freedom of living in the Gospel with the bondage of adhering to law — often not God’s holy Law but Rebecca Brown’s strange interpetations and outright perversions of it. She usually sounds worried that we Christians might possibly enjoy some part of life. Yes, there are things believers do best to avoid, but Rebecca often sounds like she’s trying to change the Scriptural attitude of being “in the world, not of it” to being “in a coma and completely out of it” — which is nonsense.
Living as forgiven children of God frees us from the shackles of the Law. Of course, we concern ourselves with what is good and bad, with the impression we make upon others, and with what we take in. I won’t recommend going to clubs to get drunk or to the movies to watch grossly immoral films. I don’t think that you should play the most vile, deviant, or satanic music imaginable on your radio. Nor will I suggest that violent video games are in any way uplifting or pleasing to God.
Saint Paul reminds us in Galatians that when we walk in the light of the Gospel, we don’t misuse our Christian freedom. He wrote, “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (5:16)” Paul continued in verses 19-21, “The works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.”
Quite frankly, much (most?) of what you see in the world could possibly tempt someone to abandon faith and decency. However, the Christian is free to produce “the fruit of the Spirit,” which is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (5:22-23)” even among this world’s strongest temptations.
Obviously, if doing something leads either you or your boyfriend to sin, don’t do it. Similarly, if your conscience isn’t bothered by a specific activity while others think the action sinful, to commit the act in their presence means that you are “sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak. (1 Corinthians 8:12)” However, if you derive pleasure from the things of this world without turning your back on the Lord or damaging the faith of the “weak person, (v. 11)” then enjoy! God is not a frowning monster, waiting to strike you dead for experiencing pleasure.
Scripture and the Holy Spirit have firmly convinced me that there is no intrinsic evil in “drinking, dancing, and playing cards” (the bugaboos of many legalistic churches of days gone by), nor, per se, in video games or motion pictures. They can lead us into sinfulness, encourage lust and fornication, drunkenness, or other sins — but they just as likely won’t. Our relationship with Christ, our values, and our thoughts and attitudes that we bring to our various vocational or recreational activities will normally influence our actions more than will the activities themselves.
Let’s face it — limiting yourself only to “godly” pursuits isn’t totally without risk. We must be spiritually discerning and focused on Scripture, not our own or someone else’s faulty interpretation of what God wants for us and what is truly godly. After all, not every “Christian” song is particularly Christ-centered. Many of these ditties are moralistic claptrap holding not a speck of genuine grace and forgiveness. The “God” they reference may be the “frowning monster” I already mentioned or He may be portrayed as an insipid do-gooder, a moralist, or some powerful yet vaguely defined entity who wants us to shower praise upon Him to earn His love and favor. Meanwhile, if you feel uplifted by classical music written by a pagan composer, does this mean that you have sinned and should swear off listening to such works forevermore?
Live in God’s love, with love for each other. Worry less that you might do something wrong and concentrate on the many avenues the Lord grants for doing right. Let the Scriptures be your guide, not your prison as you discover what true Gospel freedom means and how it can be expressed in your own lives. And if you do accidentally stray into sin, know that “ we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (1 John 2:1)” And remember that this same Jesus Christ tells us, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36)”
Finally, if you would like something specific from me about Christian dating, please see How Far Is Too Far and linked material.
Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.
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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.
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