Posts Tagged ‘Legalism’

I Don’t Drink, Don’t Smoke…but Not Why You Think

I’m not a big drinker and I’ve never tried so much as a puff of a cigarette. I haven’t said much about all this because what I have come to see is that my Position on drinking and smoking is less about Principle and more about Propensities.

To put it another way, I don’t drink much or smoke at all because I think if I did more of the one and even tried the other, well, I think I’d like it. Too much.

What I share here as to my reasons is very personal and not meant to point a finger at anyone else. For all I know, I’m the only person who’s had such little experience with substances yet craves them something fierce.

Somehow though, I keep feeling like it is something I need (want?) to share. And, you know, I’m on the internet now and my life is an open book anyway.

Over time I have had Good Reasons not to Do Substances. When I was underage, both were, of course, Illegal. As I dabbled in fundamentalist Christian thought, it was rather convenient to forego these substances because I was taught they were Sinful. And regardless of one’s age there are certainly Risks involved.

But those Reasons have faded over time. I’m old enough now that they are Legal, I no longer universally see their use as a Sin Issue, and I know plenty of people who are relatively Responsible about occasional enjoyment of these substances from time to time.

What remains for me personally a Stumbling Block about drinking and smoking though is the Addictive Nature of alcohol and tobacco because I sense in my body the very real and present possibility of Getting Hooked.

I have just enough sorrows that are just enough exacerbated by my stupid depression that I want to Drown Them All. Alcohol especially would be soooo easy…so easy.

My husband picked up a case of beer the other day and he put a few bottles in the fridge.

High Life?

Every time I so much as see the bottles there when I open the fridge, I feel a rush, a craving, a longing…a desire to Drown All The Everything. I want to grab a bottle and feel it course through me.

But I know me…and I know that times I’ve given into that a little, I’ve wanted to keep giving into it.

In this one area of my life, my tendency to Think Too Much has been a benefit to me. My self-awareness of how much I want to indulge has always nagged me enough to stop drinking before I’ve had too many and not even try smoking.

This part is delicate, so I want to tread lightly here, but I also have family history that stands as a warning sign to me. I know that these Propensities can run in families, so I have been especially Vigilant in my own life.

I don’t claim some moral high ground for my choices in these matters. If anything, I feel somehow weaker than others that I can’t just have one drink without Overthinking Every Sip.

But knowledge is power, and I do indeed know myself on this matter which is why I don’t drink and I don’t smoke.

When “Christ vs. Culture” Met My Music Collection

When I was in high school I smashed all my “secular” music to bits with a sledge hammer on the floor of the garage.

This is probably pretty shocking to a lot of people I know. Indeed, it was an extreme act.

I’ve mentioned before that I essentially had two churches in High School: on Sundays I faithfully attended the Lutheran church where I was baptized at age 9 and on many Wednesdays I went to a charismatic Methodist youth group where my faith took on new dimensions.

To be clear, noone in leadership at either of my churches told me to smash my tapes and CDs.

Rather, there was an undercurrent among some of my peers that suggested we ought to do such things. Fellow Christian students would boast, “I got rid of all my secular music!” I even heard of a friend of a friend who apparently burned up secular tapes and CDs in a bonfire.

Why did we do these things? First of all, we had to rid our lives of those “evil” influences (Garbage in, garbage out!). But also it was to somehow prove how “on fire” we were for God.

I’ve written before about the law–the 10 commandments–and how I have spent some time in my life trying to skirt around the letter of the law to justify doing whatever I pleased.

I’ve also gone to extremes of legalism–using the commandments to really clamp down on myself and others. Purging secular music from my life was part of that clamping down.

If I was going to love Jesus with all my heart, then I should only have music about Jesus in my ears!

You might think, why not just give away or sell the music I didn’t want anymore to someone else who wanted it? But the thing is, the mentality of the time was that this stuff was corrupting people’s minds! So, if I just passed it on to someone else, I was responsible for corrupting them!

So then, why not just throw it away? But again, there was still the risk, if it remained intact, that someone else might pick it up and listen! Only the finality of complete destruction would do.

I considered burning the tapes and CDs I wanted to purge from my life. But living in a suburban neighborhood with pretty tight deed restrictions, I didn’t think a fire would go over too well. Plus, smashing with a sledge-hammer sounded fun.

And it was fun.

And it was a little funny too because CDs are pretty resilient and the hammer often bounced when it hit them. And once the tapes were broken open, the tape inside unraveled across the garage floor like streamers.

But it was sad too because I really liked a lot of that stuff. And most of it was pretty tame stuff. I mean, Wilson Phillips! I still miss that tape.

I want so much to distance myself from those days–from that legalism.

And the more my life-situation has me around fellow Lutherans–who are perfectly happy holding Christ and culture in creative tension–the more I puzzle over what I was thinking!

But lately, thanks to the magic of the Internet, I’ve become acquainted with others who were also dragged into this undercurrent.

In fact, I had been looking for the right time to share about this when a Christian blogger named Addie Zierman announced an opportunity to link up such stories. Her upcoming memoir, “When We Were On Fire,” is about how some of this same kind of stuff affected her.

When We Were On Fire Synchroblog

I haven’t read the book yet (it will be available on October 15), but I do follow her blog, How To Talk Evangelical, and in reading it have felt a lot less crazy for things I said and did back in High School because I wasn’t the only one then.

And I’m not the only one who is looking back on it and trying to reconcile where I am am now with where I was then.

Nowadays, most of the music I listen to is still Christian music. I listen to the Christian music because I want to, not because I feel like I should. And I listen to a few “secular” artists that I enjoy too.

And I hear Wilson Phillips has a new album out…

You can read more stories of others’ “on fire” days over at Addie’s blog.