Saturday, May 09, 2009

To Prom or not to Prom?

According to a wtol.com report, a Christian school student has been suspended for attending a public high school prom with his girlfriend. The parents expressed their disappointment that their son was suspended despite their knowledge of the school's policy against rock music, kissing, and dancing. During the short news clip, the step father says that school rules should only be enforced when at the school.

You can imagine the raised eyebrows when people in the community heard the story. Just read a few of the comments at the link above and you'll understand what many are thinking. For instance, one former student was surprised at the school's decision.

I think this is the most ridiculous thing I have heard. ... My uncle is a Baptist minister and he said he has never heard of telling a kid they can't listen to certain music or go dancing. This principal should be encouraging this kid to go enjoy himself and to go socialize with others, not suspending him.

Another also expresses amazement.

I am a Christian and grew up in a Baptist Church and I have never heard of such a thing. To my knowledge, nowhere in the Bible does it say you can't dance. Are those kids not allowed to go to the beach, you see less there than at Prom.

These comments bring up a good question. Why would the school not allow rock music, dancing, and kissing? Does the Bible say anything about these things? This really is the crux of the matter. The problem most people have with this situation is that they don't understand why the school would even have these rules.

When I first heard about this situation, a biblical phrase came to mind. It comes from James 1:27 where the early apostle is describing pure religion. The whole verse says, "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world." The point is that Christians should make it their goal to keep themselves from the bad influences in the world. Heritage Christian School in Findlay, Ohio, chose to be specific. Along with attitude problems such as griping, lying, and gossiping, the school chose to outlaw kissing, dancing, and rock music. Most people can understand the problems associated with bad attitudes, but why the latter three? Does God have a problem with such things? Consider what the Scriptures say.

But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. —Ephesians 5:3-5

Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. — 1 Corinthians 6:18-20

A Christian doesn't withhold himself from these activities to gain some merit with God. He simply lives this way because he loves God. Doesn't it make sense that those who have been forgiven and changed by God should desire to keep themselves from any activities that would displease him? And because the Bible clearly forbids immorality, every Christian should abstain from sexual activity outside of the marriage relationship.

This is one of the reasons schools, such as Heritage, do not permit their students to be involved in the above mentioned activities. The goal of the rules is to help students keep themselves pure for their future mate as God intended. With that in mind, consider the effect that rock music, dancing, and kissing at a prom would have on a Christian trying to keep himself pure. Would you agree that sexual desire is a major theme of rock music? If the music played at my place of employment is representative of the genre, I would have to agree. Add to that the revealing outfits worn by most young ladies who attend the prom and you can see why Christian parents and leaders would be concerned about students attending such an event.

7 comments:

attract wealth said...

Religion can be a very positive force in life but the flip side is that it can be very damaging as well. Being a good person is about the value you contribute to the world and living the golden rule. All these arbitrary things about music, etc.. serve no purpose in living a spiritual life and just serve to try and control people

Rodmaster said...

I am on the fence with this one, but purely on a symantics level.

Heritage has the option, administratively, to enforce these rules. Parents sign the "avoid sin and any appearances" contract and should be expected to follow them. The school seems to have been open about all of this and are not telling him he can't go...but are telling him that there are consequences to disobedience. Rules are good and needed, but here is where my agreement stops.

If Heritage thinks that this strict Fundamentalist approach to teaching their children is the right philosophy, then I am leery. It can be fine, if the end result is to teach the children to serve out of love, not out of duty and fear. My generation of "read your Bible and pray...and everything will be okay" have found that the legalism that we were taught is not sustainable in life.

It can be an outward reflection of inward "piety"...however, the reverse is never true. Now, I know you don't believe in true legalism and I would support a school who put forth such a standard...but my kids are in public school, so the evolutionists have them brainwashed already...and I own shotguns, so there will be no prom!

Andy Rupert said...

Kelli,

There are a lot of religions out there and it is easy to see how you could view this school (or my own views) as odd and controlling. Religion often leads people to think that doing certain actions will make them acceptable to God.

Thankfully, the Bible tells us that earning God's acceptance through good works isn't what God wants (see Eph. 2:8-10). Instead, we can be accepted by God because of what Jesus did for us. The result of that should be that we willingly submit to what he commands in the Bible—not out of compulsion but out of thankful hearts.

Andy Rupert said...

Jay,

Let me get this straight. You want obedience based on love ... and shot guns?

Rodmaster said...

Well, yes and no.

I want my girls to obey God and me in love. The shotgun is for any disobedient boys that come sniffing around the house...they get straight Fundamentalist love!

EggsnGrits said...

As one that actually attended a school something akin to Heritage, let me say this: these rules are there for a reason. 99% of the time they are enforced in lax fashion. They are usually used to discipline repeat offenders or to expell students whose parents simply want their children in a private school and are disinterested in their children's moral and spiritual development. That is, the rules like this virtually always apply to the "bad kids" who are already on some probationary status, etc. I would really like to know whether this specific student is in good standing with Heritage or not. I'm betting not. They say he's the valedictorian, etc. but that doesn't mean that he's been a good example or a good Christian in the process.

On the moral grounds, I'm inclined to agree with Andy in general. Whether we like it or not, most pop music and most social dancing is at least titilating if not overly sexual. Most kids can handle the teenage years with this external stimulus, but there is a subset that can't. The rules protect both groups, but are generally, I think, more restrictive to account for the lowest common denominator. And, I also agree with Andy that these "rules" should in theory be nothing for those who truly want to obey -- they'll never consider taking that path anyway.

I'll throw I Th. 4 onto the fire, too. Just for good measure.

Do I agree with the rules and the ensuing punishment? I don't know, I'm not there, I don't know why the school has the rules (could have had a real issue with it recently, unwanted sexual activity, etc.) in the first place. I cannot judge from here. However, I can say that all have known about these policies months in advance -- why go there without considering the consequences?

DISCLAIMER: I, myself, have been known to enjoy a wee bit o' rock and roll from time to time. OK, so I have a three-CD-a-month habit! However, I am very careful to avoid the raunchy stuff, most of which I find simple and repetitive, anyway.

Andy Rupert said...

1 Thessalonians 4, indeed.