We need to be more discriminating! Hear me out, before you get up in arms.
The definition of discriminate, applicable to this blog, is to distinguish, differentiate, separate, or tell apart.
Several conversations with young people (teens to twenty-somethings) over the past few weeks, prompted this writing. Their situations are likely common to many young, and possibly young-at-heart folks.
One of the darlings I spoke with asked why sexual purity was “such a big deal”. Specially, this person said that sex outside of marriage was an “old fashioned” notion. They said that, as a follower of Jesus Christ, if someone committed the sin of pre-martial, extra-marital, or same-gender sex, then God would forgive them. This young person went on to express that everyone sins, makes mistakes, and makes bad choices; and that according to the Bible, to break one law is to break the entire law – which is why Christ died for our sins. We are under the dispensation of grace.
I listened, and even understood, what that young person was saying to me. I shared that I was, believe it or not, a young person, once-upon-a-time, and my virginity was given away as a teen.
The conversation I had with another young person centered around their college education – or lack thereof. This person was expressing consternation over having to find someone to take their winter semester college courses for them. I asked why this person didn’t take their own classes, especially since the degree would be issued in their name. The young person told me that a lot of jobs just required “a piece of sheepskin”, and it didn’t matter if the degree was in basket-weaving, or organic chemistry. They asked how what they were doing was any worse than the person who lied on a tax return, or took supplies from work? Their point was that “everyone” takes “short-cuts” and compromises their values and morals; that everyone has behaved unethically at some point in their lives.
Again I listened. I then let them know that they might actually benefit from taking their own classes – they might actually … gulp … learn something. They might develop life-long friendships.
Okay Dee, what does any of this have to do with discrimination? I’m so glad you asked.
I shared with each person in the above conversations, that wisdom is oftentimes the by-product of experience. In my teens and twenties (dare I admit – in my thirties too), I also had that same type of but-at-least-I’m-not-as-bad-as-them, way of thinking. That was a nice, comfortable way of justifying my choices! Now, in my forties, I wish I’d been a bit more discriminating. I told both of the young people, that since I couldn’t change my past, and I refused to be burdened by regret, I could speak into their lives, and the lives of others.
If we look at our bodies as if they are houses, then we can certainly agree that we are intentional about who we invite or allow in. We discriminate, so that we are not robbed, hurt, or otherwise taken advantage of. Even more, we have to be careful about what a “visitor” may leave behind. Although invisible, every time someone enters a room – literally or figuratively, they leave a piece of themselves behind. Indiscriminately allowing people into your “house”, can leave you with a lot of unwanted debris – long after they leave.
Let’s look at our minds, and choices as if they were a garden. If you’ve ever had a garden, you are particular about what you plant; and you take care to cultivate that which you’ve planted. Nobody allows weeds to grow alongside their flowers, fruits, and vegetables. Sometimes, you have to set traps for vermin that try to abscond with the goodies in your garden. We are wise to be discriminating about what we “plant” in our gardens: the thoughts, practices, behaviors, and choices we cultivate. We have to be careful to not allow the “weeds” – compromised ethical behavior – to overtake and choke out the flowers, fruits, and veggies.
I’m no preacher, and am certainly not in a position to every judge anyone else. Yes, I know that all have sinned, and have fallen short of God’s glory. For myself, I’ve come to realize that sin should not abound more, simply because grace abounds. We can all find worse things we could be doing, but our time would be better spent being selective – being discriminate, about how we spend and share our time, money, attention, bodies, values, and ethics.
The next time you are faced with a choice, or in a situation where your values, morals, or ethics are compromised, PLEASE DISCRIMINATE!