Author: Tabitha Driver

Dating is Worship.

We know that everything should be done for the glory of God, but sometimes it's easy to subconsciously leave some activities off the list.Such as dating.In  dating, it's easy to get our focus off God and on ourselves and our wants.I've heard peopl...

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Should I Always Show Respect?

It's easy to complain about the increasing disintegration of respect in our society.I spot the lack all the time:At the “family-friendly” Harlem Globetrotters basketball game I attended, the referee was the object of every joke.When an ambulance blares...

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The Outsider

“Thank you for talking to me.” She repeated.Taken aback by her obvious gratitude, I nodded. I didn’t view it as a favor. Our college intramural group had walked to the beach across from campus, and I'd merely started a conversation with her along the w...

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White Guilt FAQS

“I'm ashamed to be white,” a student told me several years ago.
Frequently, however, I’ve heard the opposite: “Don’t feel guilty for others’ sins.” “If we play the blame game, we never get anywhere.” “Focusing on white privilege has kept the African American community in the victim mentality.”
It’s not surprising that in a culture that hates personal guilt and preaches self-esteem, collective guilt feels wrong.
Having struggled with guilt and bitterness, I’d like to propose two principles that I believe are applicable for both personal and collective guilt.
  1. Sin must be acknowledged.
Despite the simplicity, this truth has dramatically impacted me. Frequently, my bitterness was compounded when I failed to recognize that I'd been sinned against and needed to forgive. I generally made excuses for the person (e.g. “They were just having a bad day.” “They had this or that reason for doing it.” “It’s not good for me to get angry.”), yet inwardly I wasn’t over it.
Amazingly, when I acknowledged another's sin, I was able to move on and forgive him. But when I tried to bypass that step and skip straight to forgiveness, I struggled. Forgiveness, by its very nature, requires a sin to forgive (Exclusion & Embrace 122).
When I’m the person on the other side of the problem (the sinner), I too need the sin acknowledged. Repentance and change cannot happen if I pretend I never sinned. The redeeming, freeing power of grace cannot enter my heart if I don’t ask for it. And as counter-intuitive as it is, nothing else has given me the “I want to shout from a skyscraper and dance through Walmart” joy that confessing my sin and receiving God’s cleansing forgiveness has (The end of college exam week doesn't come close.)
  1. Sin should make us angry and desperate for justice.
Guilt is not bad. Sin is.
Guilt is simply the pain which jerks our hand away from the fire.
Similarly, anger and pain are appropriate responses to sin. God doesn’t hide his disgust and hatred of sin, frequently punishing nations harshly with famine, violence and plague. Jesus cursed hypocritical church leaders (Matthew 23) and rioted about selfish temple merchants (Matthew 21).
The painful effects of sin hurt all of us deeply. A friend told me once that the biggest motivation to fight a specific sin in her life was seeing the effect of her sin on her spouse. Obviously, American slavery has deep and lasting consequences that are still impacting American economics, justice system, education and politics today. When my students are uncomfortable with the historical context of the Martin Luther King, Jr. biography we read in my class, I let them know that's okay. Literature isn’t designed to give us “warm fuzzies”. Instead, our anger and frustration should ignite our thoughts and propel us to action.
It frequently takes shame or painful consequences to motivate me to rid my life of sin. I would never experience transformation and freedom if I didn’t first cry out, “Search me, O God, and know my heart...See if there is any offensive way in me” (Psalm 139:23-24).
Question #1: That's personal sin. Should I take responsibility for collective sin?
From Old Testament priests offering sacrifices for the whole people, God punishing all of Israel to Achan’s sin (Joshua 7), to Ezekiel standing in the gap (Ezekiel 22) and Daniel praying “Forgive us” (Daniel 9), the Bible models collective responsibility for sin (Psalm 106:6). Eve’s sin was our sin, and thus “in Adam all die” (1 Corinthians 15:22).
While the argument can be made that personal responsibility came with the New Covenant (Ezekiel 18), Christians are called to intercede and mediate for the world. An innocent Jesus became sin itself to reconcile us to God, and Paul uses this example as an argument for us to be ambassadors of reconciliation between God and man (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).
Question #2: Does publicly recognizing white privilege and sin really affect today’s issues? We all know it happened. Let’s move on.
As complex emotional beings, we cannot have productive conversations about change unless we recognize our history and the associated baggage. Trust can't be rebuilt without confrontation. Passion for justice and an awareness of our capacity for evil is lost if we continue to gloss over our failures.
Miroslav Volf, who struggled with the tension in his homeland between Croatians and Serbs, said, “Full reconciliation cannot take place until the truth has been said and justice done” (Exclusion & Embrace 29).
Question #3: Doesn’t focusing on the problem encourage “victimitis” and keep the focus off the solution?
We cannot take the “speck” out of another's’ eye until we have first removed the “log” in our own (Matthew 7:3-5). And messy complications are not a reason for us to avoid honesty (a.k.a. “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”). In fact, just accept that the road to restoration will be long, messy and complicated. There are no easy fixes to sin's consequences.
Miroslav Volf echoes the turn-the-other-cheek attitude of Jesus in Matthew 5 when he says, “I open my arms, make a movement of the self toward the other, the enemy, and do not know whether I will be misunderstood, despised, even violated or whether my action will be appreciated, supported and reciprocated” (Exclusion & Embrace 147). The response does not change what we need to do.
Works Cited:
Holy Bible: Holman Christian Standard Bible, 5th ed., Nashville, Tennessee: Holman Bible Publishers, 2004. Print.
Volf, Miroslav. Exclusion & Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1996. Print.

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Femininity (Part 3)

I blame the paint.
Cleaning has never been my strength. Growing up, I quickly learned that if I waited long enough the mess would annoy my sister so that she’d eventually go on a cleaning rampage, and I wouldn’t have to bother. Yet, I always pictured myself as one of “those women” when I grew up. You know, the women whose houses are always perfect; their decorations are tasteful; their cupboards are always full of snacks and their doors are always open. Then, I became an adult and moved to my first apartment. When I made my apartment choice, I cried (which my brothers would say really isn’t that surprising since I cry about everything), Out of my two main options, I'd chosen the shabby option. Although it was the logical choice (location, lawn care, cost, etc…), I had already imagined myself decorating and having friends over in the nicer, bigger house. The very night I moved into my apartment, I found out that despite my landlord’s no pet rule, crickets came with it (Thankfully, most of them left when I moved in). The first couple weeks I scrubbed and scrubbed the kitchen floor before eventually realizing that the scratches would make it look forever dirty. I have an unopenable cabinet door, water damage under every sink, bare walls since I can’t nail pictures up when and where I want, and then there is the paint. The paint.
Cleaning has never been my strength. Growing up, I quickly learned that if I waited long enough the mess would annoy my sister so that she’d eventually go on a cleaning rampage, and I wouldn’t have to bother.
Yet, I always pictured myself as one of “those women” when I grew up. You know, the women whose houses are always perfect; their decorations are tasteful; their cupboards are always full of snacks and their doors are always open.
Then, I became an adult and moved to my first apartment. When I made my apartment choice, I cried (which my brothers would say really isn’t that surprising since I cry about everything), Out of my two main options, I'd chosen the shabby option. Although it was the logical choice (location, lawn care, cost, etc…), I had already imagined myself decorating and having friends over in the nicer, bigger house.
The very night I moved into my apartment, I found out that despite my landlord’s no pet rule, crickets came with it (Thankfully, most of them left when I moved in). The first couple weeks I scrubbed and scrubbed the kitchen floor before eventually realizing that the scratches would make it look forever dirty. I have an unopenable cabinet door, water damage under every sink, bare walls since I can’t nail pictures up when and where I want, and then there is the paint.
The paint.
Cheap paint that displays every grease splatter, every furniture bump, and every sticky tack mark (limited nailing, remember!).
I hosted some --but the flops stood out in my mind more than the successes. The time I served freezer burnt buns with sloppy joes. The family of five crowded around my tiny kitchen table, and then the kids who were bored afterwards. The time my guests noticed the plants growing in my rotting window sills (no, there are no window boxes), and I realized that I had never washed my windows since moving in (not that I washed them after that realization).
I melted a mouse trap on my stove and couldn’t get the remains off which was embarrassing because 1) I had mice. 2) I had mice in the kitchen. 3) I used the inhumane glue traps. 4) I was stupid enough to leave a trap on my stove and then turn it on.
Gradually, it became easier to visit others (something us singles often can get by with) instead of inviting others over. I compared myself to my friends (many of whom had been housekeeping for a lot longer than I had) and gave up. I cleaned less because, well, why clean when the first thing everyone is going to notice is the atrocious cheaply painted, scuff-marked and grease-splattered walls?
It’s a domino effect. The cheaply painted walls led to unclean windows which led to dusty corners which led to….well, I won't share all my dirty secrets.
A statement I read several years ago has nagged at the back of my mind ever since. Margaret Clarkson, a single teacher, wrote the following: “Having a home has given me greater credibility….I have had to face the same situations that householders everywhere must face---appliances that break down, carpenter ants in the basement, a broken water main causing the front lawn to sink, a roof that leaks, gutters to be repaired or renewed, a house that must be painted” (66).
She also wrote, “Although for the Christian single, chastity must supersede any sexual activity, the enjoyment of sexuality, in ourselves and in others, is God’s rich gift to us all….I enjoy being a woman….I enjoy doing the things that women do….I find great pleasure in caring for my home and garden, in handwork, sewing and other feminine pursuits...I have innumerable ways of expressing my own sexuality and enjoying that of others” (86).
While reading her book So You’re Single!, I realized that I had been waiting to host, waiting to decorate and waiting to express my femininity in certain ways until I married or until I got a nicer place --which obviously might never happen.
I enjoy a clean home. I enjoy hosting. And I enjoy decorating.
So why wait?
And so I started. One summer,  I painted a waterfall hanging for my living room. The next summer, I painted furniture. The following summer, I bought pillows and a rug.  And you know what I discovered?
When I paint a wall hanging, then I dust the bookshelves which leads to inviting a friend over. It’s the domino effect again.
Perhaps, I’ll eventually figure out this whole homemaking thing.
Work Cited:
Clarkson, Margaret. So You’re Single! Wheaton: Harold Shaw, 1978. Print.
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