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Posts Tagged ‘Christian living’

I went to a small Christian school from the sixth grade until I finished high school—and I loved it! Someday I’ll tell you all the reasons it was such a good experience for me, but today I want to tell you about what I learned about SIN.

The summer before my seventh grade year, the new choral director moved next door to us, along with his wife and two small boys. They quickly became friends with my parents, and by the time I got to high school and could be in chorus, he became a special mentor to me.

He was probably the most popular teacher at our school; he worked tirelessly on behalf of the Christian school doing fund raising events with the chorus, the band, and small ensembles—and he even served a short stint as principal of the school.  He was the regular song leader at one of the local congregations.

I graded papers for him, babysat their kids, learned to drive a standard shift on his little Renault and listened to his advice on everything with great admiration.

One night in early October of my senior year, his wife came running over to our house in tears. When she came in, Mom and Dad sent us out of the room so she could talk to them—but I knew immediately what had happened.  My chorus director had just admitted having an affair with one of my classmates.

I was aware that the girls in chorus—always more savvy than the guys at this age—talked about how my mentor always picked a girl Friday—wondering who would it be this year?  I knew that he was just a little flirty, sometimes putting his arm around some random girl, but I always thought it was not much different than many older men that I saw at church who were a little flirty and a little huggy!  In a fairly naïve way, I thought he probably shouldn’t do it, but it was always in public and nobody seemed to take offense, so it really didn’t tarnish my admiration or respect at all.

From the first day of school in September of my senior year, I knew something was different. He not only was flirty, but now he was giving this one girl in my class solos to sing—and her voice was just not that good. He was giving her special responsibilities—and she wasn’t that responsible. She was always the last one off the chorus bus after a program. And one day I walked into the chorus room at an hour when no class was scheduled, and he and she were there by themselves—which I thought was awkward—so awkward that the next time I walked into that room when it should have been empty, I made sure to make lots of noise turning the doorknob and coming in—just in case.

Don’t forget, this is 1964—when we still believed in heroes and before the sexual revolution captured every billboard, every television, every magazine, and every movie. I was 16 years old and not oblivious to sexual improprieties, but I had never seen adultery and didn’t really expect to.  Whether I was just youthfully ignorant or willingly ignorant, I was not really allowing myself to go there –just didn’t want to believe it might be what it was!

Yes, the truth came out. He broke down and told his wife when he thought the girl was pregnant. He was immediately fired. My classmate was dismissed from the school. I never saw her again. He moved away, but came to visit my parents some years later and seemed to have begun his life over again. I really don’t know.

My friend/mentor’s adultery affected me deeply. Mostly, I felt a deep sense of betrayal by someone I had trusted to be a good person, to be a model Christian man.  But I also learned some lessons about life and sin that have helped me in my own walk. Maybe they will help you too!

  • Nobody is so good that they can’t be tempted! As a young person, I felt like even the temptation to sin was a sin! So you not only avoided temptation, but you tried to believe that you were somehow above or immune to temptation.  Admitting to being tempted freed me up to “flee the devil” and to ask the Father to “lead me not into temptation.”  I was nearer to the truth that sets us free by knowing that I too could be—would be–tempted just like my teacher.
  • Heroes not only stumble, they fall! And so I learned people almost always disappoint us. This sounds really bitter, but, in fact, again the truth sets us free to put our confidence in the One who never fails us. Only Jesus never fails us. If our confidence is in the righteousness of our parents, our elders, our preacher, our spouse—even our children—it is misplaced because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Only God never lies; only God is steadfast. Only God will never fail you!
  • Not only did that experience begin to direct my trust and confidence to the right place, but it has helped me manage self-righteousness when others sin. Only by grace will I be saved;only by His power can I avoid sinning. My self-righteousness is pathetic! We all have just one hope: Jesus!

Since this first experience, I have seen too many people I know end up in adulterous and/or immoral relationships. You too?  I’m sorry for my mentor and my classmate, but I learned a lot from them.

Next time, I want to explore with you what we should be teaching our children so that they can avoid sexual sin. Then we’ll talk about what adult Christians can do to remain holy!

 

 

 

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No, not the president—not either one of them—nor their good wives! I’m talking about Reggie Bush, who won the Heisman Trophy in 2005, the award given to the best player in college football.  For those who don’t follow college football, don’t worry. I want to talk about cheating, not football.

In June of this year, the NCAA (which regulates large college sports) found the University of Southern California—where Reggie Bush played football—guilty of major violations, so guilty that they banned their football team from participating in any bowl games for two years, put them on probation for four years, and stripped them of thirty scholarships—AND, USC had to forfeit all of their games for 2004, which was their national championship year.

The reason for these very severe penalties was that the institution knowingly allowed Reggie Bush to receive “improper benefits” from USC supporters, but continued to report him eligible to play.  Interestingly, both the NCAA and USC—and Bush–everyone agrees that Reggie Bush took money from supporters, which is a violation of his amateur status and would make him immediately ineligible.  Now the Heisman Trophy Trust appears to be on the verge of stripping Bush of his Heisman trophy—which he won in a year when he was playing illegally.  That makes sense, doesn’t it?

It’s the outcry about how wrong this action against Bush is that is so disturbing to me. The main arguments seem to sound like this:

  • He was a college kid playing college football, so what’s wrong with that? (Just pretend there is no rule—and there won’t be !)
  • “Improper benefits” are everywhere! He just got caught because he is so good!(Everybody is doing it! OR, they are just after him!)
  • Bad rule. We should make all college players professionals, then you don’t have to worry about it. (Take away the parking meter and you have no more parking violations! True, but do you then have parking problems—or city financial problems?)

Here’s what I think I hear in all of these responses though: cheating is just really not so bad.

When I was teaching college English at a Christian university where over 80% of the students were from Christian homes, integrity questions appeared every semester—with multiple students. I’m talking about

  • Students who purchased term papers and submitted them as their own.
  • Students who paid or cajoled other students to write their papers for them.
  • Students whose parents wrote their papers for them.
  • Students who stole journals and submitted them as their own.

And I have not even hinted at the infamous bane of all students plagiarism yet!  Plagiarism is using words or ideas that aren’t uniquely yours but claiming them as uniquely yours.  I don’t want to get into the gray areas that you might want to get into.  Let’s just stay with copying an entire chapter out of a reference book, or copying whole paragraphs out of research articles, stringing them together, adding an introduction and conclusion and turning it in as your own research paper.  These are blatant examples of plagiarism and were extraordinarily common among students.

If you cheat in English class, then it must be OK to cheat on the football field. If you cheat on the field, then it must be OK to cheat on your taxes—or vice versa. If you cheat on your taxes, what about  . . . ?  Where does it end?

The virtue of integrity borders on being indefinable in today’s culture. I’ve tried to think when respect for the idea of integrity started to fade.  It may have been Nixon’s lies about Watergate that suggested that nobody in power is really honest, so why should anyone else be?  What’s your theory?

All I know is that honesty and integrity should be not only respected, but expected! I know we live in an age of all kinds of cheating that we are half-truths, marketing, spin, business, and politics, ad nauseum.

What if you and I agree to always tell the truth and to never cheat? And what if you and I agree not to make excuses for those who do?  What if we Christians really become the people who love the truth?

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