October 24, 2017

A Millennial Christian Perspective on Nightlife.

     So here's an interesting preface to why I'm writing today's blog post! 😊 I still have a few Charlotte related recommendations posts that I wanted to share here on the blog, and I thought it made the most sense for me to do those all within six months post-move. One Charlotte post that I think would be a lot of fun to write is a guide to Charlotte nightlife. From senior year of college-on, I did go out on weekends quite a bit with my friends, and definitely got to know the nightlife scene fairly well. I think Charlotte has some really fantastic nightlife options (as well as some terrible ones which I want to tell y'all to avoid!), so hence why I want to write this blog post!


Should Christians go to Nightclubs?



      HOWEVER - before sharing something like this on my blog, and being seen as "promoting" things like nightlife, drinking, and that type of scene, I wanted to first write a faith/personal related blog post kind of sharing where my personal convictions as a Christian young woman lie with things like alcohol, nightlife culture, hookups, etc. One of my biggest pet peeves/turn-offs in life is people who are blatant hypocrites, and I would never want any of you to think that about me and my beliefs. I am far from perfect, and will be the first to admit that (and have certainly made mistakes in my life, including in some of the areas talked about in today's post), but overall I do try and strive to live a morally sound life. I think this post might be helpful too especially for any younger SBIT readers. When I was growing up in middle and high school and interested in faith/trying to surround myself with Christian resources, there are a lot of viewpoints in the Christian world that are extremely anti alcohol, modern dating, and any type of nightlife. After my own college experience and a year of post-grad living in a big city, I've formed my own thoughts and views on all of this. Views which I believe still honor God and my body, and my Christian lifestyle, but also still allow me to enjoy time with friends in different social settings, and expose myself to different types of scenarios. 


      I asked one of my closest friends from college and senior year suitemate, Caroline, to help me write this blog post. I'm sure many fellow bloggers feel the same way, but my blog is something I am so proud of and that's extremely personal to me, so I almost never accept guest posts here. I can count on one hand the number of times that I've asked someone to help me write a post or guest post for me in the five years that I've been blogging. But as soon as the idea for this post came to mind, I knew Caroline had to be apart! Not only is she a dear friend (and also helped with blog photos during college!), but she is one of the wisest souls and most talented writers that I know, and I believe she has much more wisdom than I do on this subject. I hope that you will enjoy her contributions to this post. 😊





   

     I'm going to start off all of my thoughts on all of this by saying that I heard a fantastic church sermon about the topic of Christians and alcohol a couple of years ago at Forest Hill Church, which is where I attended during the years I lived in Charlotte. Head Pastor David Chadwick delivered so much truth on this subject, and I just loved it. (You can listen to the sermon online here!) It is a 40 minute sermon, so obviously I am going to paraphrase a lot out of it for the sheer length of this blog post, but I will say the thing that David emphasized so much and that really stuck with me is that alcohol itself isn't a bad thing when it's being utilized in moderation, and in retrospect in a life of faith. (I mean.... wine is in the bible many a time after all! Haha.) It is not designed to become an obsession, or an addiction. He stressed that when alcohol began to be used in a person's life for selfish reasons and to distract away from keeping their eyes on God and living a Christ-filled life, that is a big problem! I was in college when I first heard this sermon, and I immediately made many connections. How many times had I witnessed classmates of mine drinking too much, and then making terribly selfish decisions that they probably weren't even aware that they were making? (Not to mention all of the horrible crimes that can occur due to drinking too much alcohol... that's an entirely different story!) He also said in the sermon that God will give different people different convictions about alcohol. Some adults will be able to have alcohol be apart of their lives in responsible, social contexts. Others cannot have that, either for addiction reasons, health reasons, or maybe just personal convictions in their faith. What is important though is that neither group should judge each other. Alcohol is an area where Christians can get very judgmental of each other, and that absolutely is not right. (True story and example of this: a Christian guy {who did not drink at all due to personal convictions} that I really liked at one point in time, told mutual friends of ours that he ultimately decided not to pursue a relationship with me due to the fact that I "drank alcohol." That really did not sit well with me, especially since I am solely a social drinker!!)


 
      Here is a little bit of my own personal history with alcohol and why I am a Christian young woman who does drink and enjoy nightlife (in moderation!):


     In high school- I was about 110% anti-alcohol for minors. I always joke that since I had such a bad experience in high school socially, I ended up eventually making my friends solely based on the fact that they also didn't drink and do drugs (and then once I was in college, I realized how little else I had in common with most of my high school friends- lol!). I spent my freshman year of college at Christian university with a dry campus, and didn't have any friends who drank at the time, which was great. Alcohol just wasn't apart of the first year of my college experience. However, that honestly did not prepare me well for transferring to a more traditional campus in the city the following year! The college that I ended up graduating from had a bit of a partying problem... but then again, I'm sure most public and private universities that aren't religiously affiliated probably do! 
   

    At the school that I transferred to, it was very different than my former university, and campus culture-wise I had a bit of a rough first year settling into the differences, namely the fact that partying was so prevalent with my new classmates. True story: I actually lost some friendships (and almost lost, yet later resolved others) that I made initially at my new college due to me being judgmental about underage drinking and partying. I totally own that now and see how that was really wrong, but it was really hard for me to adjust to the new environment after being in a school and having friends where alcohol just wasn't apart of life. I was in the minority at my new school as I never had a fake ID, something that I'm still very proud of!


    By my senior year of college, I was 21 and had started to adopt different views on alcohol, mostly due to the nature of the university that I was in and the friends that I was surrounding myself with at the time. After turning 21, I started going out on the weekends, a lot. It became rare for the first semester of senior year to have a weekend where I wasn't going to a nightclub with college friends. Although I had started drinking and stepping out of my comfort zone a bit, I will say I am thankful that to this day I can say I have never been blackout drunk. There were many nights during that semester when I drank more than I would now, or might have after having a few drinks said things, worn things, or danced in a way that I'm not proud of or doesn't reflect my faith, however, I am so thankful that in college, I never drank to a point of complete intoxication, or being not in control of my body or my surroundings. That happens to too many people in college- and that should NEVER be a goal! Hungover as I might have been sometimes on weekend mornings of senior year, I always woke up the next morning remembering what happened the night before. I never accepted drinks from strangers. I always tried to look out for my friends that I went out with. I always made it back home in MY bed at the end of the night... never someone else's.


      Due to some serious circumstances that happened in my life around the time I graduated college (which I talk more about in this blog post), I realized I needed to slow down and re-think some of my weekend behaviors, especially as I was leaving college and heading into adulthood. I call myself a Christian woman... were my behaviors on weekend nights reflecting that? One of my biggest pet peeves in the world is people who are blatant hypocrites... something that I never want to be. I knew I needed to think about a lot.


     There are some aspects to nightlife (and I suppose drinking in general) that I do like, and I don't feel compromise my faith or morals. Having a drink or two while out for a nice dinner? I don't see anything wrong with that. Having a little more than I normally drink while enjoying an evening with my best girlfriends, and guaranteeing that Uber will be my ride that night? I also don't see anything wrong with that. If there's one thing you should know about me, it's that I love to dance to my favorite songs. I'm not the best dancer by any means, but my favorite part of nightlife isn't the drinks or meeting guys, it's dancing! Such a good workout and so much fun to do so with your friends. If I want to go to a nightclub or bar so I can dance and have fun with friends who I know and trust, I also don't think there's anything wrong with that! All of my best nights of memories from going out are the nights when the focus is on friendship and dancing, not a focus on trying to meet guys or get overly tipsy.


    (To lighten up this post for a second... if you're curious by what I mean when I say I "love dancing".... see the photos below from when I was a bridesmaid in a wedding this spring!! This is the same way that I dance when I go out! {I think my interesting dancing actually thankfully scares away a lot of creepy club guys- lol!})







   
      There were a lot of nights my senior year of college when I went out looking to dance with guys I didn't know, seeking the feeling of attention that I wasn't getting in other aspects of my life, since I was single and really unhappy about it at the time. Sure- I wasn't going home with these guys and sleeping with them, but even dancing with them in the manner that I was in public, around many of my peers from school... probably wasn't the best reflection of me. And I see that now. And now when I go out, it's not with the goal in mind of grinding up on some stranger! (In blunt terms. 😉)



     So to wrap all of this up.... if these ramblings have made any sense at all.... I am a fan of nightlife, and moderate social drinking, when both are being done appropriately, and with the right intentions. I thank God all the time for the lessons that I learned during my senior year of college. Now in Vermont- I'm kind of in a place where I would like to be going out more, however I still haven't met a ton of people up here yet... and another one of my main tips would be DO NOT go to a nightclub alone (Probably a given, but true!).... so my weekend social life has been pretty quiet since the big move.  And you know what? That's okay! There is more to life than drinking and nightclubs. Things like developing your faith, hobbies, investing in relationships... it all comes back to that sermon I talked about in the beginning of this blog post. When nightlife and/or drinking begins to become an idol in someone's life, something is wrong.



     And now that I have written something along the lines of an essay that's probably longer than most papers I wrote in college... let me turn this over to Caroline!






    First off, I want to thank Annaliese for the friendship she has shared with me. Some of my sweetest memories of college are from our morning talks in our suite bathroom. She would sit on the counter and I on the floor. Here, we shared our hearts, our dreams and our fears, and in these moments of vulnerability, we grew and forged a committed friendship. Thank you for asking me to be a part of this blog post. It’s one of the highest compliments you could have given.




     In the Christian community, there seem to be the three great sins: drugs, sex, and alcohol. Whether you or not you have grown up in the Christian community, I believe many individuals view these three the problems, however, their abuse often come from a heart condition. Maybe the condition is disappointment, maybe rebellion. The point is that there is usually more to the story than meets our eye, and often, nightlife or “partying” is the setting we have been told (or maybe have personally experienced) all three co-exist. Bur for many of us, there is a draw toward this setting. There seems to be a kind of zeal to it that may be missing in our day-to-day lives.

     So how is a Christian supposed to feel about nightlife? Is it a moral sin? Does it glorify God?

     Why do we even feel this torn up about the subject?

     Restlessness.

     I want to look at Jesus’ story of the Prodigal Son for some insight. The parable begins: “A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.”

     Many of us have heard this story before, and we hear this beginning with the notion that it was wrong of the youngest son to ask for his share of his father’s estate. I want to challenge this notion. What if the younger son wasn’t acting rebelliously or with disrespect? What if he had this desire for more, a restlessness for a life of

     Like the youngest son, I think many of us have this gut deep feeling that there has to be more. More life. More hope. More strength. More something. Just more.

     We were meant to live. I mean, isn’t that what Jesus’ entire message and purpose was for? He preached life. Eternal life. A present life forgiven by grace and surrounded in a community of his spirit, his angels, and those here on Earth who know and revere his name. We were designed to celebrate, to dance and sing, to dare, to hope. We are even commanded to: “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” Hebrews 10:23.

     I’m not going to tell you what you should or shouldn’t believe specifically about nightlife. But I will tell you this: You are loved. And your actions will show whether or not you believe in the value the Lord has placed over you and your life. You were designed for abundance of spirit. You were not intended to be alone or forgotten. The restlessness you feel means you are still alive—and you are still hoping. Live life in the fullness we as Christians are called to live, in the humility to sit at his feet and love him openly, and don’t you dare let fear keep you from experiencing freedom before the Lord. But most importantly, follow peace. His peace guards our hearts (Colossians 3:15). His will is found in His peace.

      I want to end with one of my favorite quotes of all time by author Francine Rivers. It is from her book Redeeming Love. I believe that at the end of the day, this charge is something we should all desire and strive to live our lives according to.“Love the Lord your God, and love one another. Love one another as He loves. Love with strength and purpose and passion and no matter what comes against you. Don't weaken. Stand against the darkness, and love. That's the way back into Eden. That's the way back to life.” 



     Thank you so much for reading today's post! It's been on my heart to share a post on this subject for a long time here on the blog (Really- this has been over a year in the works in my head!), and I'm so glad one of my dearest friends was able to share her heart on the subject as well. Caroline and I would love to hear your comments and thoughts on the subject!



     And my best nightlife of Charlotte post will be coming soon... 😊




     God Bless,




     xoxo Annaliese

2 comments:

  1. Such a great post, Annaliese! I grew up in the Christian culture where alcohol was NOT okay, but in college I heard a sermon about how you shouldn't get blackout drunk, but drinking in moderation is okay IF you don't get a feeling from God that it's wrong... if you do get that feeling from God, then don't ignore the Holy Spirit. For me, I don't mind drinking a glass of wine now and then at home or going on a bourbon tour with my husband. As far as going out to bars, I'm not okay with that... mostly because I'm married, haha! This week at the blogging conference I'm at I'm not drinking alcohol since I'm in mixed company and my husband is not here this week with me. If it were females only, I would probably have one drink but limit myself to one. I certainly don't want to get to a point where someone else has to drag me into my bed!

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