Thursday, October 20, 2011

On Conviction

For the past month or so, I've been thinking a great deal about conviction. It started because--the second the swimming hole closed--my mind turned toward halloween, and Pastor David reminded me, gently: he doesn't care for halloween. I know he won't mind my writing it in this place because he's written it, here, before.

For the record, I don't think Pastor David's wrong. I refer jokingly to him as a halloween hater, sometimes, but I also recognize him as a great sport: our church just held an amazing fall festival, last weekend. Granted, it excluded all ghosties and witches, but it included many of my favorite things about this time of year: apples, pumpkins, chili, hayrides, and even a trunk-or-treat!

I love and respect my pastor and trust his convictions and judgments. And--at the end of the day--I'd rather my pastor's standards be higher than mine...his line straighter than mine...than otherwise.

But it bothers me, a little, to feel differently on the issue of halloween than my pastor. I want to be a good sheep. I want him, and others, to perceive me as someone whose moral compass works properly. I'm not saying Pastor David doesn't perceive me this way. I'm just saying, period. Do you understand what I'm saying?

Yesterday, I called my husband and asked him to bring home a bottle of wine. I was feeling achy and uncomfortable, and I thought a glass of wine might be just the ticket. Late last night, after choir practice, prayer meeting, and the children's bedtime, I drank a glass of wine. One glass. It had been a long time since I'd had one (Hello! I've been pregnant and/or breastfeeding for about 3.5 years!), so it relaxed me more than sufficiently.

I put something on facebook about my husband's being my hero, and--when someone asked me what he'd done to deserve such praise--I responded that he'd stopped to pick up some unneccessary items from the grocery store. (The other item was chocolate.)

I hesitated to admit that my husband had brought me a bottle of wine because I know I have teetotaler facebook friends, also some facebook friends outside the church. I thought either group might judge me (as someone who talks, a lot, about my faith) for drinking wine, and I feared that, in my admission, I might become a "stumbling block" for someone.

Thus, more thoughts on conviction.

Sin is sin. Or is it? Is it possible for something to be a sin for one person but not for another? I'm not sure, but I recognize that something might be more unadvisable for one person than another. We all have weak areas, areas in which a little dabbling can lead to falling headlong and drowning.

I've gone into a casino with a twenty-dollar bill, lost it to slots, and walked away in peace. I've gone into a public pool; held a conversation with a man in swimming trunks; and gazed upon his perfect abs with indifference. I've gone into a church wearing slacks (also purple hair and a nosering) and felt comfortable among God's people, in God's house.

The bottle of wine on my counter isn't calling me right now, but the bag of Reese's Cups in the freezer? Have mercy, and everyone knows: I ain't no Skinny Minnie.

I don't mean to drag this out. I'm not looking for commentary on which of my beliefs and actions are ok, and which are not. I'm just wondering: is sin, sin? Is it possible for something to be sinful not because of what it is but because of its effect on others? For example, if I don't drink to get drunk...if I'm not convicted that my drinking (in and of itself) is my drinking still a sin if I'm a member of a church that doesn't support drinking? What about if I feel convicted not for the drinking itself, but for doing something my church doesn't support; does that make my drinking a sin? What about if I know and/or feel convicted that others' faith walk might be hindered if they know I drink; does that make my drinking a sin?

How deeply does my responsibility lie? People, say, sometimes: "This is between God and me," but I'm not convinced. Othertimes, they say: "Nothing matters beyond what God and my spouse think," but I'm not convinced about that, either.

I want to be authentic and open. I want to be real. I don't want to be a hypocrite. I want my moral compass to work properly. I want to be perceived as having a properly-working, moral compass. I want to light my jack-o-lanterns; take my kids trick-or-treating; and drink a glass of wine, but I feel uncomfortable, sometimes, in saying so. I feel even more uncomfortable in hiding these things about myself. I don't want to be judged. I also don't want to be perceived as being better, or more righteous, than I am.

Is that too much to ask? ;)

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