New perspectives on the Phil Robertson suspension

With the recent incident with Phil Robertson essentially getting kicked off the show Duck Dynasty, a lot of blame has been thoughtlessly thrown around. For those who don’t know, Phil Robertson made some comments in an interview basically saying that homosexuality is a sin. Previously, he had said that black people were happier before and didn’t ask for the civil rights movement. These comments made A+E come to the conclusion to indefinitely suspend Robertson. (Click here to read the Huffington Post article.)

Some people are siding with the TV network, A+E, while others side with Phil Robertson. Others disagree with Robertson’s comments, but also disagree with the suspension.

I know many people are voicing their opinions on this “issue” right now, so I’m going to try to avoid simply stating my opinions but turn the situation on its head and hopefully share some new perspectives.

First of all, Phil Robertson said that homosexuality is a sin. This is a true statement, as validated by scripture:

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

However, it is important to notice that homosexuality is not the only sin labeled as unrighteous in the above verse. Idolaters, adulterers, and thieves are also included. I think that perhaps Phil Robertson singling out the homosexuals like he did was maybe not the most edifying thing to say. His comments about the black people who were “happier” before the civil rights movement was also perhaps not the most tasteful thing to say in light of the readiness of our culture to label such comments and mentalities as racist, narrow-minded, and old-fashioned.

Don’t get me wrong here. I think it’s wonderful when people stand up for what they believe. I applaud those who do. At the same time, I hope Phil Robertson truly believes in what the Bible says, as he claims to, and recognizes that he too is a sinner and just as guilty as those who practice homosexuality. For example, the “off-color” (as Huffington post puts it) language that Phil used to express his opinions were probably not God-honoring, just as the practice of homosexuality is not God-honoring.

I’ve seen some people express their concern that by suspending Robertson, A+E violated his 1st amendment rights. This is incorrect. A company has the right (legally) to fire an employee. The government is not the one standed up against Phil, a private company is. First amendment rights still intact. In addition, he was free to speak, and he spoke. No one prevented him. Now he is just having consequences for his actions, not a loss of liberty. Was it the nicest thing A+E could’ve done? No, probably not. It also was probably not the smartest thing to do, considering that Duck Dynasty is their most widely watched show.

Perhaps if Phil Robertson didn’t agree with A+E policies, he wouldn’t have agreed to be in their show. We need to remember that Robertson is a contracted employee, and the face of A+E. The company wants, and rightly so, their face to represent what they believe. I don’t agree with their policies, and don’t necessarily want to sign a contract with them because of that. But the Robertson family agreed to be on their TV show, and that’s just fine, but they need to be prepared for any consequences that may come with that.

All in all, I don’t think there’s really an controversy to discuss. A+E essentially fired one of its employees because it didn’t like what the employee said. This happens all the time and is fine. Maybe not the most courteous thing to do, but still, fine. Phil Robertson expressed his views on a particular sin and an event in history that are controversial and lots of people didn’t like it. I don’t see how this is any different from any other recent “news story.” Everyone has their sin issues, and I don’t think Christians should become disunified because of people on TV either sinning or pointing out the sins of others. If anything, our constant struggle with sin and our common Savior should unify us, not the opposite.

What are your perspectives on the whole situation?

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Friend.

I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship lately. There’s so many different forms and so many complications, it’s a wonder any of us have friends. For instance, I absolutely consider my family friends of mine, but not in the same way that my peers and I are friends. And I have friends that are girls, and friends that are boys. Same word, but it’s not quite the same. Ah, the curse of the English language as stupefied by the Americans. Too many meanings, not enough words.

Succumbing to my curiosity, I looked up the word “friend” on dictionary.com. They have this neat little section that explains the origin of the word and how it evolved over time. (The first time I saw that section on the website, I got pretty excited. It’s just so cool to find out how each individual word has changed and morphed as society has!) So, let me summarize the evolution of the word “friend.” The word first appeared in Old High German as friunt, but quickly morphed into the Gothic word frijōnds. This word for friend is a cognate of the present participle of frijōn, which means “to love.” I thought that was interesting. The origin of the word “friend” meant “to love.” How many people do we call “friends,” but yet we do not truly love them? The Old English language then adopted the word from the Saxons (who had been going around Europe invading and bringing bits and pieces of language along with them. Apparently they borrowed the German’s frijōn and then brought it to England.) In Old English, the word was frēond, and meant “friend, lover, relative.” The English embraced a much wider interpretation of the word and applied it to people they were close to, romantic attachments, and family. The word still held true to the root of love, however. It was still used in situations where the “frēond” was someone you did love. The Middle English changed the spelling slightly, but the meaning remained the same. The next major occurrence of the word came when Quakers took the name as the Religious Society of Friends. The love remained, though. Quakers have been known to show love to everyone they’ve met through providing shelter, help, and encouragement to others. Eventually the word came to mean “patron,” as in a person who funds someone or some organization. I suppose you could say these patrons did it out of love, but I have a feeling that’s when the word “friend” lost it’s sense of love. People began to associate “friends” as loosely, the opposite of an enemy. So, even if I don’t like you, if you’re not my enemy, then you’re my friend. Not much love incorporated at all. With the rise of social media, the word has taken even more deterioration. Facebook specifically uses the word “friends” to describe the people you have agreed to let join your site and view things thereof. I have Facebook friends I’ve never physically met before. (i.e. “Hey friend me on Facebook so I can see your constant flow of selfies!”)

So, with all that said, what should the word “friend” mean nowadays? Because we lack better terms, we call almost everyone our “friends.” From what I’ve seen, if you try to be more specific and say that someone is an “acquaintance,” you seem stand-offish and relate a level of dislike towards that person. What are we supposed to do? How are we going to categorize all the people we’ve ever met if we have roughly two words to describe them: “friend” and “not my friend.”

But at the same time, do we really need to categorize people like that? Maybe we’re on to something. Maybe our liberal application of the word “friend” is a good thing.

We are called by God to love everyone, including our enemies, (Matthew 5:44) so if we call nearly everyone we know our “friends,” whose root meant “to love,” aren’t we just fulfilling what we’ve been called to do? That had a lot of commas. Let me rephrase: The root of “friend” meant “to love,” and God calls us to love everyone. So, shouldn’t we call everyone our friends?

Of course, it’s all in the heart. We can throw the term out as many times as we’d like, but are we truly being loving towards all the people we call friends? That is the hope. -convicted shiver- Pardon me while I go through my Facebook friends list and delete anyone I don’t love. Ha, just kidding. However, there are people on that list I need to actively work to love. Perhaps my Facebook list is a blessing in disguise! It gives me a good list to prayerfully consider how I am loving those people.

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Life lately

English: Pumpkins

English: Pumpkins (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hi guys.

I cannot believe it has been a month since I was SUPPOSED to write my last post about television.  It was one of the craziest, most exciting months I’ve had in a long time. Allow me to expand.

So, the TV post was scheduled for October 17th. That was the day after my grandparents left our house after a week-long stay. I’m blessed with amazing grandparents who strengthen me in my faith and encourage me in what I love to do, so it’s always a pleasure seeing them. I had also taken the PSAT the day before at a local high school. I can’t describe how much fun it is, and how hysterical it is to see fellow high-schoolers’ reactions, and especially the teachers, when I tell them I’m homeschooled. To die for.

The following week, I was sick for a bit and then had a few parties over the weekend to kick in the autumn season. Halloween came around the corner quickly enough as well, which was an absolute blast. I went with my youth group to the local pumpkin patch/harvest festival place for a costume party, for which I dressed up as a person struck by lightning. By then, it was November already! Sickness took me down a couple of times and just all-around craziness has kept me out of the blogging sphere. Sometimes it’s nice to take a break, though.

My broken foot has healed quite nicely, thank God, and I should be back into ballet rehearsals in January. It was tough getting around for the two months I was on crutches, but it was also a great time to get back into school and get a teenage club started in my community with the goal to positively impact the political processes around us. We’ve had an information meeting and one regular meeting so far, and I think it’s going well. I was voted president and I have a great cabinet to aid me in spreading the club.

My family officially joined a church that is about five minutes away from our house. I love the church, and I’m proud to say I had a big say in persuading my family to visit there. I’ve made several wonderful friends and gotten to know the pastors a bit. Before regularly attending this church, I didn’t fully comprehend the meaning and function of a church. I knew that extra programs like AWANA and youth group weren’t the most important things, and I actually disliked that fact. I wanted kid programs to be front and center, important, and top-knotch. I realize now that it is far more important to search deeply into the Scriptures, gain long-lasting relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ, and serve alongside others with a common goal: to glorify God. The Psalmist’s comparison of the church to a bride makes so much more sense to me now, because when a church functions as it is called to, it is beautiful, beaming, and a pristine white picture of our relationship to Christ.

Other than that, normal life has proceeded like usual. Hopefully I can jump back into regular posts here at Dance to Life.

Thanks for stopping by for a glimpse into my craziness.

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It’s okay to be outrageous

Dictionary.com defines “outrageous” as such:

Outrageous: highly unusual or unconventional; extravagant; remarkable

After years of trying to “fit in,” be “politically correct,” and thus being shy and afraid to be myself, I finally gave up. I realized that I didn’t want to be normal.  (how boring is that?) This realization was freeing in two ways.

FIRST, I found that God does not call me to be normal, to fit in, or to blend in with the world.

Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (ESV)

Not only that, but God calls me to be different! I am a new creation since I put my trust in the Lord.

Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (ESV)

God created me to be unique, special, and different. He knew from the beginning what I would look like, what my personality would be like, who I would become, and what my passions and gifts would be.

Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (ESV)

SECOND, I discovered how this newfound knowledge impacted my life.

God made me who I am for a reason. I know I have flaws, and I know I am a sinful creature, but I should not be afraid to fully embrace my personality and passions. God made me REMARKABLE. There is no reason to cower at myself.

So many young teens struggle with this. They don’t know who they are, and if they catch a glimpse, they are afraid to embrace it. I was imprisoned by this for years, imprisoned by fictitious expectations and unrealistic images of who I should be.

I have been set free, unafraid to be who I am: a child of the King, a reborn daughter of Christ, and an outrageous teenager ecstatic to be courageous for my Savior.

I hope that each of you know how important and special you are. Christ died for you, he loves you, and he made you to be who you are.

Psalm 139:1-24 says,

“O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.

Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
O men of blood, depart from me!
They speak against you with malicious intent;
your enemies take your name in vain.
Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
I hate them with complete hatred;
I count them my enemies.

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!”

 

God has made you extravagant. God has made you remarkable. Surely that is testimony of his love for you. No matter how much you mess up, God will still love you in a great and indescribable way.

 

Guest Post: A Furnace, Not a Candle

This post is by the beautiful and gifted blogger, Camilla, from her blog Clothed in Dignity. I encourage you to go check her blog out; I have been inspired and I’m sure you will as well!

Hi, readers of ‘Dance to Life’! It’s a privilege to be able to share this guest post with you today. When Hannah asked for a volunteer to write on the topic of salt and light, I felt it was something that has been very relevant to me recently. In the past few months I’ve been challenged on what it means to live out my faith every day, everywhere.

It’s easy to feel pumped up about serving Jesus on a Sunday morning, but I don’t always carry that into my Mondays. When the rubber hits the road, I can quickly lose my focus. There have been times when I wondered if people around me even knew I was a Christian, let alone saw any difference in the way I spoke and behaved.

Clearly this isn’t what God intended for us. Jesus never took a day off from loving. Everywhere He went, people crowded around Him. They were desperate for Him. In John 8:12, He says the oft-quoted words: ‘I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life.’

The people of Israel saw this light in Jesus and they wanted it.

Matthew 5: 13-15 says this: You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. ‘

Jesus instructed us to do exactly as He did- to be salt and light in a world that desperately needs it. It’s our calling to represent Jesus to whoever we interact with, so that they can meet Him through us. In our own strength this would be completely daunting and frankly impossible, but that’s why we have the Holy Spirit- the same Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead!

A month ago I was working in an office job to help support me through university. I was the filing girl, the one who carried piles of paperwork around and sorted the post. Through this job the Lord taught me so much about what it means to be His light, when in the world’s eyes you’re far from being in the spotlight. I learned that even filing can be done for the glory of God when done with a cheerful heart, willing to go the extra mile to help somebody else.

For me, living this way is only possible through intimacy with God. It’s all very well to know what Jesus did and how He behaved, but knowing Him is the only way that I can be anything like Him- the only way to be salt and light. There is no shortcut to this. There is only spending time in His presence and pursuing a lifestyle of holiness.

I love this verse in Philippians: ‘Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.’ (Philippians 2: 14-16). Paul illustrates here how righteousness stands out in the crowd- people might not say anything, but I am sure they sit up and take note.

Knowing what we know about stars today, I think this verse carries even greater significance. From where we are, stars may look pretty, but in reality they are enormous balls of burning fire. The closer you get to them, the brighter and hotter we realise they are. 

Shouldn’t that be us?  As people get to know us better, will they see more and more of Jesus in us? Will we still shine bright in dark situations? The way I respond to trials in my everyday life is what will set me apart, far more than how I act when all is well. I think this is what it truly means to be salt and light; to be so contradictory to the world’s way of doing things that people are befuddled and very curious.

I for one know that I want to blaze, not twinkle. I want to be a furnace, not a candle.

May people be attracted to that light in us and draw closer as they hunger to know the source. May we never lose our salt; our effectiveness in bringing meaning and life to this world through Jesus.

Thanks for reading!

Much love,

Camilla.

Thoughts, apologies, and thank you’s

Hello everyone!

I am so sorry I have not been around much. I have been blessed everywhere I turn with incredible opportunities and friendships and learning experiences. I’m going to take a quick moment to overview some things I’ve learned recently that I’ll be expounding later in future blog posts:

  1. It’s okay to be outrageous. (Blog post will be out on October 14)
  2. TV show addictions are not healthy. (October 17)
  3. Friendships are of ultimate value and should not be squandered or downgraded in priority. (October 21)
  4. Homeschooling is not perfect. (October 23)
  5. My take on Halloween, haunted houses, and such (October 26)
  6. My take on magic as used in literature and movies. (October 29)

I hope you guys are as excited about I am about these upcoming topics, and I hope you’ll check back soon!

I also want to thank you all so much for taking the time to read and follow my blog. It means so much to me that I hit the official 50 followers last week. I hope God blesses you through my experiences and I’m sure you’ve seen how abundantly he has blessed me.

As a final announcement, I am happy to share that Camilla from her lovely blog, Clothed in Dignity, has sent me the guest post I requested and I will be publishing it on Saturday, October 12. She wrote about being salt in light in our world, and what that means to her in a wonderfully inspiring post entitled A Furnace, Not a Candle. I hope you all check back on Saturday to be inspired for God.

God bless!

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The Heart

“The heart in the scripture is variously used; sometimes for the mind and understanding, sometimes for the will, sometimes for the affections, sometimes for the conscience, sometimes for the whole soul. Generally, it denotes the whole soul of man and all the faculties of it, not absolutely, but as they are all one principle of moral operations, as they concur in our doing good or evil…the seat and subject of the law of sin is the heart of man.” ~John Owen
 
Our actions reveal that which is in the heart. If we have evil in our hearts, how do we expect to be close to God and to follow his Word?