Today is Valentine's Day, a holiday focused on romantic love. I've heard many a friend say they hate the lovey-dovey holiday in recent years, but, it still remains a annual calendar fixture. For people like me, there's not much to celebrate; while most of you reading this are probably spending time with your significant other, I would say: What significant other? It's always been that way; I've never even been on a date...but, honestly, I say that's a good thing. A female Christian friend once had a quotation on her Facebook page that said, "Guys' rejection is God's protection," and that's still true when you reverse the genders. Honestly, in retrospect, I'm thankful I didn't end up with any of the female friends I asked out years ago, most of which I'm still in contact with thanks to Facebook. While they're still my friends--well, except for one, anyway--each of them have proven over the years that they weren't the one for me, sometimes even before I asked them out...though I didn't realize it at first.
Even though I haven't asked a girl out since 2008, I have made many new female friends since then, at church and elsewhere. Some of them have been married the whole time I've known them; others were single, but eventually ended up saying, "I do," to someone; still others have dated but never even gotten engaged, if they've even been romantically involved with anyone during our friendship. However, I can't think of a single woman I know who I would be willing to date; in fact, though I often hang out with the ladies at church, most of whom are married, I wouldn't go out with them even if they were completely single.
Why is that? Well, I've set a standard that nobody seems to be able to measure up to, especially people around my age. Let me explain: When you were single--or even if you are now--you probably encountered people of the opposite gender whom you refused to date because of something about them that was a major turn-off. I remember a single Christian lady who was on a Christian dating site, and came across a guy who said in his profile that he didn't believe in allowing animals--including pets--into the house; as a longtime animal lover, she refused to contact him because of that alone. If you're ardently enthused about your pets, you probably agree with her feelings; if you're not, you probably have something else in your life that is very important to you, such as sports. Well, as most of you know, my big thing has always been entertainment. If you look at a list of my prior obsessions--which I won't put on here--you'll see that most of them fall into that category: video games, computer games, comic strips, musical acts, and especially television shows. You just don't get between me and my entertainment; those who have reprimanded or attacked me because of what I watch on television or what game console I owned quickly became my enemies.
So, then, what's the turn-off? Well, the reason I watch, listen to, read, play, etc., what I do is not just because I'm a kid at heart, though I kind of am. It's because I believe that's what God wants; from my reading of the Bible, especially the New Testament, the Word makes it clear that Christians are to have nothing to do with moral filth. There are many verses I could list, but, here are just a few:
- But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (Ephesians 5:3-5, NIV)
- Brothers and sisters, do not think like children. In evil things be like babies, but in your thinking you should be like adults. (1 Corinthians 14:20, NCV)
- Avoid every kind of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:22, NIV)
I've been told my faith and walk were weak for all kinds of reasons, both by folks at my own church and folks at other churches. These reasons have included not wanting children, liking Rob Bell's writing, not voting Republican, listening to Eminem songs, not interpreting specific Bible passages literally, not going to church every week. And even when it's not spoken out loud, I know that sometimes it's being thought -- and I'm not just being paranoid, I know it's being thought because I was, in a sense, taught to think and feel that way when I was part of the "in" crowd, growing up in the church.That speaks of my experience to a degree; in my case, it's the lack of a wife that kind of makes me an outcast among the "young adults" at church. However, for quite a while, it's actually been my conservative beliefs that have driven a wedge between me and my fellow church members. I'm not talking about voting Republican; I'm talking about beliefs about media discernment, modest dress, profanity, extramarital affairs, and other such matters that have been debated countless times, especially in recent years. My beliefs on such things are taken right from the Bible and the morals on which I was raised, but too many people, even ones who were raised in the church, use a secular measuring stick to define their lifestyle, not realizing that God calls us to an even higher standard.
A common complaint against Christianity or religion in general is that it doesn't allow people to have any fun; a college classmate said that she was raised going to church, but left as a adult because she didn't like being told that everything she liked to do was wrong. Sure, sin may be fun while you're involved in it...but it has terrible consequences. Let me use an analogy: Let's say that, as a kid, you really want to attend a movie showing with your best friend...but your mom really needs your help cleaning up the house, because she isn't feeling well. You insist on doing what you want, and keep pressing her, so, she makes you a deal: If you go to the movies with your friend like you've been asking, for the next year, you won't be able to do any of your favorite things: hang out with friends, watch television or movies, play video games, chat online, read books, whatever; all you'll do is eat, do hard work, and sleep for the next twelve months. Would you still want to go to that movie showing? Of course not! Two hours worth of fun isn't worth a year of punishment! Well, that's how it is with sin: You may think it's fun at the moment, but, one day, you'll be held accountable for it, and may even pay the price. I know that I've messed up quite often in my Christian life, so, I want to make sure that I refrain from testing the bounds of God's grace any more than I already have; I echo the statement that Paul made in 1 Timothy 1:15: "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst." (NIV)
That right there is why I take sin very seriously; if it affects my eternal salvation, it's no joke! Unfortunately, our "anything goes" culture has turned sinful behaviors into a joke and a pastime, which is why many people, including Christians, engage in such activities without another thought. I know from experience that turning bad behavior into a joke is one of the worst things you can do. My mom once had a friend whose older son, who was disabled, had to be taken to the hospital because her younger son had grabbed a chair, hit his brother in the head with it, and ended up cracking his skull. When my mom heard about that incident, she told her friend, "When he does things like this, and you think it's cute, you're just encouraging him to keep doing it." I don't know what happened with that family afterwards, but, I do know that the culture does exactly what my mom warned her friend about: making sinful behavior seem cute or innocent.
That mentality has even spread into the church, including my church; seriously, most of the Christians I know lack any rules about what they watch, listen to, read, or play. Maybe they don't bother with pornography, but, that's about it. I, for one, am beyond sick and tired of the garbage in the media; in most cases, it seems like, if it isn't made for kids (Disney Channel, Power Rangers, etc.) or old-school (I Love Lucy), it ends up being trashy. There are some exceptions; for example, the makers of Supergirl have kept things remarkably clean for a show on the major networks, where profanity, sex, and violence seem to be the name of the game. Nowadays, you get movies and shows that you can tell are obviously morally offensive just from the title, such as I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell. It's a blatant sign how far gone our culture and our planet is.
While I can be friends with people who don't agree with my entertainment rules, because few people outside of my household do, I wouldn't want to be in a close relationship--i.e., dating, marriage, etc.--with someone who didn't share the same convictions I do, because that would mean sitting through utter garbage. That may sound admirable, but, there's one problem: Nobody seems to agree with my rules on that topic, not even my best friends at church. They may understand why I do what I do, but they don't do it themselves. Frankly, if I had to choose between being married to a worldly Christian lady and being single, I'd choose the latter; I'm better off that way, because the last thing I need is someone corrupting my mind with sinful media, which could happen in a relationship despite my significant other's intentions. If you know me, you know that my entertainment is very important to me; so, why wouldn't it affect my love life or lack thereof as well?