It’s time to bust some assumptions.
I started writing this post a number of years ago after a good friend and I started to unpack some of the assumptions that were continually made about my family, based solely on some of our outward decisions and appearances. In light of what is in the news about the Duggars as yet another conservative, Christian family that has been knocked from the media pedestal of perceived perfection because of admission of past sin, I need to take this time to finish this post and dispel what may be false assumptions about my family’s beliefs.
I am fully aware that writing this may cause me to lose readers, as you see my own words of who I am and who I am not. However, I am convicted that I must share what the Lord has placed on my heart, please bear with me.
I am a Christian.
I believe that I am a sinner, and that Christ’s death on the cross was necessary to redeem my life and offer eternal hope. I do not believe that Christ was a good moral teacher, I believe that He is God (the Son, in the triune God). I believe His life, death, and resurrection are literal and it’s testimony recorded by multiple witnesses, in the bible.
I am not sinless.
I became a Christian upon the realization that I could never live a perfect life, but that Christ could and did… all for me (and for you). Even since professing my faith in Him, I still struggle with sin. My sin may look completely different than my neighbor, but it is still sin. All of our sins are forgiven, but forgiveness NEVER excuses us from sin’s earthly consequences. By God’s grace, we go on. I believe that the sins I’ve uniquely struggled with became the basis of my ministry to others. I believe that God gave me my testimony of redemption to help show others His sufficiency over my weaknesses.
I do not hide behind a sinless facade. I never claim to have it all worked out, instead I readily admit that I am a perpetual work in God’s gracious hands. My family is far from perfect, and I try my best to share those struggles honestly with you.
I do not believe that as Christ-followers we need to follow Mosaic Law.
There is a culture of Christians who assert that believers in Christ as Messiah must not only accept Christ as the sin sacrifice, but also fulfill all of the Old Testament law. This would cover diet and dress, among MANY other things. I do not agree. I believe that the Law was given to prove to man that we could not achieve God’s perfection. I believe that Christ’s sacrificial death fulfilled the Law and that while our love for God urges us on towards His glory and will, we are not under the penalty of Mosaic Law, Christ redeemed us from it.
That and, well… BACON. Thank you, Lord, for liberty!
I often wear skirts.
My girls and I dress femininely. Often that means we’re wearing skirts or dresses, and for us that means they fall at or below the knee because we do our best to dress modestly. (I’ll unpack my view of modesty in a bit, hang with me.) I find wearing skirts to be flattering for my figure and I do not believe that I am supposed to hide all of my feminine features behind shapeless garments. I’ll admit, in my far-from-fit days, a skirt was much easier to ‘pretty up’ in than a pair of slacks with a tight waistband, so sometimes a skirt is really about comfort and ease.
I sometimes wear pants, even jeans!
It is not my conviction that all pants equate to dressing in a masculine manner. There are pants and slacks that are specifically cut and tailored for the female body, and I appreciate that difference. I do not believe that pants are always an immodest choice for a female. I do not think there was an era that ‘had it right’ that we should emulate. At some point in history, that too was considered trendy or provocative.
I don’t believe we have a black and white prescription for proper dress. The bible gives us a framework for basic standards, but we cannot apply those void of our culture, or consideration of the culture at the time of that recording.
There are plenty of activities where, for me, wearing pants is far more modest than trying to maneuver in a skirt without flashing something I don’t want to share with the world.
I strive for modesty.
To me, modesty is a heart choice, not just a clothing choice. It is a decision to draw attention away from ‘what’ we are and draw it to the ‘why’ and ‘who’ we are. For our family, striving for modesty should draw you to our alignment to Christ, not communicate our judgement of your appearance.
Modesty isn’t defined by the length of our skirts, the size of our family, or how we wear our hair. I do not wish to teach my children (especially my girls) that modesty is required of them because of men’s shortcomings. Modesty is for their hearts to be turned towards God, not an effort to fill the gap where someone else’s self-control is lacking.
We have a larger-than-most family.
I have given birth to seven beautiful children. I consider every single one of them a unique blessing. I am also the oldest of seven children and we have many friends with large families. Children are a blessing.
We are not of the ‘Quiverfull’ mindset.
Fertility is a biological function. I refuse to ascribe to the belief that the mere ability to become pregnant denotes God’s favor, or that the inability to conceive life automatically denotes His curse. I do not believe that all family planning is sin. I believe that He offers us guidance and wisdom when we discern truth through reading scripture and the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
How many children we have is not the measure of our faithfulness or spiritual maturity.
Full disclosure: I was pregnant with our first child before we were married. I do not believe that conception was God granting me favor. I was not living within His will, nor was I actively seeking His face (yes, I was already a believer). However, I thank Him eternally for blessing our family in spite of our sinful choices. He has grown us in ways that most cannot comprehend. I am so grateful for His unending mercy and redemption.
We homeschool our children.
In 2009 we brought our children home for schooling. It was a decision made for the benefit of our children in that season. When we made the choice to bring them home, we agreed that we would not make long-term decisions without reevaluating for each child, each season. We did not bring them home because we believe it is the only correct way to disciple and educate our children. We do not believe homeschooling is right for every child in every family.
Next fall, one of our children will return to public school.
Because we agreed that our choice to homeschool was not a ‘one and done’ decision and that it is not a one-size fits all lifestyle, we have come to clarity and peace that it is a season for our oldest son to resume academics outside of our home. Our decision is for our family and does not speak for other families’ choices. We are moving towards the direction we feel God leading us. This isn’t failure or surrender, it is yielding to where God is leading us for our son.
You may have noticed that the ‘Homeschooling’ section of my blog recently became ‘Heart-schooling.’ In the past few years and especially in the recent months, God is drawing me to greater importance of growing my children’s hearts and character, primary to academics.
I also realize that not all of you are lead towards the homeschooling lifestyle, but I DO think that parents are always the primary teachers of their children, having an even greater overall impact than any hired educator. Whether or not you ever endeavor to bring them home for their academic training, I want you to know about resources that are good for building strong families. I am passionate about empowering growing families!
We teach our children to preserve intimacy for marriage.
We do not want our children to buy the lie that their bodies are solely physical and that they are mere slaves to their urges. We want to empower them with information about how intricately they were made and how their whole body works for pleasure in intimacy. We will not teach them that sex is shameful. We will frame it as reserved for its fullness in the security of marriage. We will not shy away from talking candidly about our sexuality.
We do not expect our children to save their first kiss for their wedding.
We do not want our children to enter into their marriages with arms full of baggage and regret, but cannot assign shame to their failing of perfection. I do not see a kiss as sin. The repression of all sexual expression cannot end well. We hope that with the wisdom and truth we impart to our children, they will make wise choices for how they choose to share and display intimacy with their intended spouses. Whether they hug, hold hands, kiss, or more is their decision to make, and as their parents we intend to communicate honestly and with transparency about the possible rewards and consequences of those choices.
It is our responsibility as parents to equip them to be successful in life, and believe that includes their sex life. Ignorance in that aspect may seem desirable while they are very young, but in my opinion, is harmful as they grow.
We watch TV and listen to the radio.
We censor our family’s entertainment, but not in the way you probably think. Christian movies are not allowed by default. We’ve found that sometimes sifting through their muddy theology is harder to explain to our younger children than it is to discuss a secular movie through a scriptural lens. It is much easier to compare black against white than it is to categorize countless shades of gray.
In the past couple of years, as my children are reaching adolescence, I have been intentionally tuning to some secular radio stations on our drives so that I have opportunity to discuss lyrics and messages with them as they build their discerning abilities. We do not aim to raise them in a bubble and then release them at 18 years old into an unfamiliar world. We want to walk by their side as they find their footing of faith in an often dark world, so that they enter the world as prepared adults who defend their faith choices, not cower under the choices Vince and I have made.
I would have baked a cake for a ‘gay wedding’.
I’m not a bakery owner, nor have I baked for-hire. My most recent business was selling handspun and hand-dyed yarn. I didn’t ask my customers what they would use the yarn for. I do not know what each skein of yarn or knitted garment was used for. It’s likely that some was used in ways I would not choose to use it, ways that do not line up with my faith convictions. It was not my place to decide for others how they would use the yarn. I provided a service of dyeing, spinning, and knitting. It ended there. Why do we make the assertion that providing a service equates celebrating someone else’s occasion? Why do we hold the world accountable to our religious convictions?
I think we fight this from the wrong angle.
As a business owner, I do not want the government telling me how I must run every aspect of my business, but I recognize there are some expectations of being part of a consumer society. That compromise needs to be considered before entering into business.
I do believe that homosexual acts are sin.
I do consider physical acts of homosexuality to be sin, but I consider them the same as any other sexual sin. I do not think that homosexual sin is on a value scale different than other sin. Sin is sin, and we ALL have it. Christ’s sacrificial death being the ONLY sufficient payment for them all. I do not understand how some can single this one aspect of our sinful natures and view it so differently than the other sins so publicly on display in our pews. I see so many comments made by those within the church, regarding homosexual sin, that are so lacking in compassion and understanding that I wonder how Christ’s grace and mercy will ever be seen and understood by those that need His love and salvation.
Here are some of the things I ponder and pray about while I watch the debates: Will a baker refuse to bake a cake for a morbidly obese person (for any occasion)? After all, gluttony is a sin and is likely causing this person health concerns. What about a real-estate agent, can they refuse to sell a house to a Muslim family because it is in a historically Christian neighborhood? Where does appropriate discernment cross into dangerous discrimination? How can I show Jesus to the ‘least of these’ in all I do?
I don’t know these answers, but they lead me to prayer for how God seeks me to honor Him in how I treat His people.
I hope to live a life that draws people to the grace and mercy I so thankfully cling to.
I don’t have God and Christianity figured out. Isn’t that the amazing thing about God? He’s much greater than what we can perceive or fully understand. If He were anything less, He wouldn’t be God! I learn more about His nature each time I read His Word. I pray I never fall into the belief that I’ve figured it all out here on earth… that’s why I have the hope for Heaven.
Am I who you thought I was?
I find myself both sad and annoyed because I feel like I am, more and more often, needing to distance myself from mainstream Christian circles. The more I read the bible and turn my heart towards God, the more I see His people behaving in ways that contradict what I read about Him, His nature, and the example His Son lived.
I pray for eyes to see, feet that go, and hands that help heal.
Truly, this is barely scratching the surface for any of these things. But I’ve already written far more than is ever smart for the readability of one blog post. Is this a discussion you’d like to see continued? I see benefit in it, but I don’t want to be ‘talking’ to myself. I desire healthy, iron sharpening iron, discussions. I do NOT want heated, hate-filled debates.
I want to see Christ glorified, not grieved, by my witness.
Do you wrestle with any of these topics?