Dance, Drink, Smoke and Chew

I was raised in what most people would consider a very strict family. I was banned from many "worldly" activities that my friends enjoyed. My motto became, "I don't dance, drink, smoke or chew or ever go out with girls that do." Whenever I pressed my parents about going to school dances, I was reminded what Mamie (my grandmother) would often say when asked to dance, "When I dance so, I sweat so, and when I sweat so, I stink so--so no thank you, I don't think so!"

A lot of my friends growing up, however, (and many of my friends now) fit very comfortably in the dance, drink, smoke and chew category, including my wife (JK--I just angered Heather, my wife, and gave my mom a heart attack!). Often people ask me about these "worldly" activities--if I think they are sinful or if people who do them are going to hell.

Randy Newman, in Bringing the Gospel Home: Witnessing to Family Members, Close Friends, and Others Who Know You Well, gives a great answer to someone raising these questions:
“Well, I think we all like rules because they make it easy to know who’s in and who’s out. We like rules because they can make us feel superior to those people who don’t keep them. In fact, I think I make all sorts of rules that I generally keep because they make me feel good about me and bad about others.” I could see I had grabbed his attention.

“But the stuff I need forgiveness for is a whole lot worse than just smoking or dancing or drinking. I need to be forgiven for anger, bitterness, hatred, self-righteousness …” I stopped. His face looked shocked.

“No. Really.” I continued. “If I’m going to have any kind of connection with God, I need forgiveness for some really ugly attitudes and actions. That’s why I really like Christianity. It offers that kind of forgiveness.” (74)
As for these "worldly" activities. Heather and I don't drink (often). Heather won't let me smoke or chew (or go out with girls who do!). But we both love to dance and when we do we sweat. I stink (in more ways than one). Heather does not.

I don't despise my heritage. I treasure it. I value the character and integrity that was instilled in me by my parents and grandparents. Their love for Christ was the motivating factor in their lives. What they did for Him was more important (in the end) than what they didn't do. And I know now that Mamie did love to dance. Now, in heaven, she does so without sweating.


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