Monday, February 16, 2009

We had a valentine's party for multiple churches on Saturday. It was a great time and we had more come than we really expected. The next time we will need a bigger space so that is pretty awesome. Don't tell anyone but we had dancing. We brought in dance instructors and taught swing dance. The teens seemed to really get into it. The only downside to the evening is just as we were getting ready to shut it down some kid pulled the fire alarm. We know who did it but we couldn't stop the alarm and the firemen came and kicked us out even though we explained it.

This brings up two very important and related things. Why are so many Christians against dancing? I had to keep the dancing side totally top secret from the adults at the church. It was crazy. The couple of times that I accidentally said the word around an adult you would have thought I said we would be pairing the kids up with porn stars or something. I think they are still stuck on the idea that dancing leads to sex or something. I am assuming this is generally based on ignorance and legalism. What if life really looked like this?

I was an sweet, innocent girl until one day I attended a chaperoned church dance. I don't know what came over me. Most of the night I stood against the wall like any good Christian girl refusing to get into that evil moving my body in rhythm with the music stuff but then a guy asked me to dance. I looked at my friends and they seemed to be having fun and not running off to have sex. How little did I know. We danced for one song but the next morning I woke up pregnant and addicted to crack. I don't even know how it happened. Don't let this happen to you. Friends don't let friends dance.

I might be wrong but I think that was the essence of what the adults in my church were taught as children. They probably wouldn't approve of my wife and I dancing so please don't tell them we are taking dancing lessons because we thought the swing dancing looked fun. We arranged it with the dance instructors and some of the other YPs and their wives that night. It will be a great way for us to build our friendships as we build our relationships with our spouses.

The other related issue, thought I forgot about that, is the mentality that the rules must be followed in all circumstances. The rules say that if there is a fire alarm that the responding fire unit must clear the building until they verify that there is no fire. This is perfectly reasonable under most circumstances. At some point, though, it becomes a complete waste of time. We tried calling them to explain that we caught a kid pulling the alarm. One of the other YPs actually saw the kid as he was pulling it so this is not just a theory. The alarm panel said it was from the pull so it backs up our story. We explained that when they pulled up and they still made us all go out into the cold for an hour while they went through the entire building checking for a fire that we knew didn't exist. Rules are great, but at some point we are expected to use our brains when interpreting the rules.

If the rule says that the building needs to be checked for fire and there is a witness that can say a kid pulled the alarm as a prank, then I would say the building has been checked. I'm not saying lie. The building really is fire free and any measure of common sense validates that. They don't just randomly go into buildings looking for fire. They came to this one because of an alarm but the origin of the alarm was explained and it had nothing to do with fire so no need to actually inspect the building to verify that it isn't on fire. The problem is when we let the rule replace common sense. Let's try and use our brains for once.

What kinds of pointless legalism and blind adherence to rules have you had to deal with?

7 comments:

katdish said...

Have we learned nothing from "Footloose"?

I thought the no dancing rule was more of a old school Baptist thing. As far as I know, the non-denoms don't have a problem with it.

P.S. - Thank you for "V-Day Follow-up" as opposed to the more abbreviated title.

Nick the Geek said...

I'm not 100% sure that the adults in the church have seen Footloose. Well the older ones at least. A lot of them were raised to believe movies were evil also.

Pentecostals are much more restrictive than Baptists ever were just so you know.

P.S. - You know that would almost be an appropriate title given my dancing quote.

Steph at The Red Clay Diaries said...

Okay, I'm gonna have to play devil's advocate on this.

First, you've never mentioned what denom you're a part of. If there's nothing in the denominational bylaws about dancing... Then stop reading. None of the following applies.

BUT if you're a part of a denomination that prohibits dancing, I have some thoughts.

Here's what I've taken from my experience in these situations:

At my Nazarene college, we had to sign a covenant that said we wouldn't dance/drink/smoke. I thought the dancing part was absurd, and I've mocked it in my comments on SCL. But it was a promise, and I decided I could live with that for four years.

At the Wesleyan church where I got married, they couldn't hold any events (like a wedding reception) that had dancing. (There was no prohibition of it off-site.) So we still had dancing at our reception -- off-site.

Slight variation, but the concept applies: My current church is Wesleyan. Our pastor hates their rules that aren't biblical, and he chafed against them for years. But he decided that God had called him to stay connected to the accountability of a denomination. As part of that, he submitted to this rule: Covenant members of the Wesleyan church can't DRINK. And leaders have to be covenant members.

My husband is on the board. Have I mentioned my hubby's a chef? Who has a hard time imagining a good meal without a nice glass of wine? In spite of that, he's submitted to that rule for our entire marriage (15 yrs). He figures for as long as he's called to 12Stone, he just won't drink. We joke about retiring and moving to Europe when he feels released. ;)

Here's the thing (and maybe here I'm being a party pooper): IF your denom prohibits dancing, and you ran a church-sponsored event that included dancing, you've put your pastor in a tough situation. He may have to choose between battling the denomination on your behalf ... and firing you.

If I'm right, you might want to consider telling the pastor before he finds out from someone else.

I'm not trying to be mean, and I think this is something you have to wrestle thru on your own. I'm not gonna stop reading you if you disagree.

But I figured I should speak from the side of the "establishment." The leaders in your church may not like the rule any more than you do. But they've committed to submit to it. And they have to insist that the people below them do too.

Sorry to be Debbie Downer.

Loveyoubye. ;)

WV: diciza
Diciza really mean comment that I really wish I didn't need to write.

Nick the Geek said...

Steph,

The denom doesn't expressly prohibit dancing, the older people tend to have problems with it because that is how they were raised. When I started at my Bible college we were prohibited from going to the movies. The president and some of the profs would patrol the parking lots of the movie theaters for cars with school parking stickers. Very legalistic but I signed a piece of paper saying I would abide by the rules and so I did. A couple of years later they lifted that rule and there was much rejoicing.

When I left they still had a rule against dancing and so I never went out dancing even with my wife while I was attending or working there.

I did tell my pastor about it and there was concern based on reactions they were concerned with from the older people in the church having. I said we would call it a party to alleviate that problem.

Additionally this event was put on by out Unite ministry and so I can honestly say the church did not sponsor a dance.

Personally I think this legalism and if pressed I would push against it because I feel that legalism is a big problem.

I too do not drink because this is a problem in the denomination, but my rules for Adult Youth Leaders is that they don't drink in excess or drink liquor. I also require that they do not speak of drinking in front of the youth or drink around the youth. I feel this represents a much more Biblical stance on drinking. I also have my pastor and board's approval on this rule (among others).

Steph at The Red Clay Diaries said...

Nick,

It sounds like you and I are on the same page. You seem to have prepared for every objection. I think it's great that you and the sr pastor are united in your plans.

If you're not breaking a rule that'll get you fired, then all I wrote didn't really apply to you.

And I'm all for messing with legalism whenever possible. Kinda that "you choose who you lose" thing.

Annie K said...

I would have to say that legalism is why we left the church I grew up in..don't drink/smoke/chew..dance. Yada Yada. (Steph, you know what I'm talking about.) I couldn't do a legalistic denom anymore. I'm not hashing on them, just not for me. I'm a little more into just getting back to the basics of the bible - and not worrying about being condemed because I can't live up to rules put forth by man. (Hey, David danced....)

Nick, I think your rules with the youth leaders are responsible. It's an accountability thing - and we should hold ourselves accountable - or rely on the help of others. (I agree you have to be careful around our youth. They are very impressionable and need all the help they can get.)

My husband is Mennonite. No paper to sign, they just don't dance. Although he's from a pretty 'mellow' Menno family. (NO, I don't have to wear the 'doily' on my head.) We don't go to the Menno church, we're Foursquare. I can wear jeans...heck, shorts to church if I so choose. Most laid back church I went to was the Calvary Chapel. Gotta love Chuck Smith reaching out to the hippies. Let em' dance if it helps lead them to Christ.

Oh, and Steph, when your husband retires give me a call. I can recommend some lovely reds.

Nick the Geek said...

Annie K,
I think a lot of people leave the church because of legalism. The problem with adding rules to what God has required is that people eventually read the Bible and don't find that rule. Then they begin to wonder what else isn't in the bible but instead of build a real relationship with Christ they just walk away.

PS, my denom is pretty much the same as Four Square. Four Square came out of my denomination because of a single rule which the denomination rescinded just a few years ago. Aimee Semple McPherson kept all the basic elements but not that rule. Funny how it is gone now.

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