Separation? How far?

God’s Word says believers are to separate themselves from sin and from worldliness.

15 “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. – 1 John 2:15-17. See also 2 Corinthians 6:14-18.

But that doesn’t mean we should become like hermit monks and withdraw from the world.

15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. – John 17:15-19

We need to be ambassadors for the Lord and the Gospel in this world, but not get enmeshed in worldly sinfulness. Christians interpret separation from worldliness differently. The independent fundamental Baptist church that I attended back in the 80s and 90s had a very long list of verboten activities and at the top of the list were drinking, smoking, dancing, cardplaying, watching Hollywood movies, and listening to rock music. But the pastor was a karate blackbelt and conveniently bent the rules when it came to watching martial arts action movies.

One believer may think some thing or some activity is okay while another may not.

Let’s take a look at General Mills’ “Lucky Charms” cereal. The mythical leprechaun character on the box cover touts the “magically delicious” cereal inside, which includes some dehydrated marshmallowy thingys in the shapes of pagan good luck charms such as stars, horseshoes, clovers, and blue moons.

Some believers would be absolutely appalled at the idea of a box of Lucky Charms in their cupboard. Other believers would say, “Meh. It’s just a box of cereal. No need to get bent out of shape about it.”

We need to find a discerning balance in these matters. At one extreme are Christians who expound great energy on these separation issues and who develop a pharisaical “circle-the-wagons,” straining-at-gnats, bunker mentality. Being the “separation police” is the overriding theme of their Christian walk. At the other extreme are Christians who are totally enmeshed in worldly thinking and behavior. Each Christian needs to follow the Lord’s leading in these matters as they understand them and accept that not everyone will have the exact same understanding.

Question: What are YOUR thoughts on buying “Lucky Charms” and serving that cereal to your children? Me? I wouldn’t buy “Lucky Charms,” but I wouldn’t refuse to eat them if I was a guest at someone’s house and that’s what they served for breakfast (Yech!). It would be a good opportunity to share the Gospel!

Bonus question: The movie, “The Wizard of Oz,” premiered at movie theaters way back in 1939 and was first broadcast on television in 1956. The film features a wizard, a “bad” witch, a “good” witch, spells, and magical ruby slippers. Should Christian parents not allow their children to watch this movie or can they use it as a tool to teach discernment?

41 thoughts on “Separation? How far?

  1. “ But that doesn’t mean we should become like hermit monks and withdraw from the world.” oooh! Yes! I actually believed that for awhile until I realized I’m not giving glory and honor to God by being holed hope away from the sinful world. The one thing I will not do is go to a bar-it had caused a lot of problems for me and I definitely did not glorify and honor God by being in there.
    Lucky Charms LOL! My kids use to love that stuff-I use to just like the marshmallows! I don’t but it now but not because I ever though about the pagan “good luck charms”! As I’ve gotten older I’m a lil more health conscious that cereal is disgusting to me now and I wish it had been when my grown children were younger 😞

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Beth! In many of these separation questions there’s no right or wrong answer but it’s a matter of personal conviction.

      I never liked Lucky Charms as a kid because I always ate quickly and I never gave the marshmallow thingys a chance to hydrate.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oops about the *The Wizard of Oz movie- it is a great to use a discernment tool-nowadays it’s Harry Potter and his wizardry that’s a modern day “Wizard of Oz” in my opinion!

    None of my kids or grand children like it-a couple actually find it scary.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks again, Beth! I think it’s a better long-term strategy for parents to teach children discernment rather than try to totally isolate them from opposing worldviews.

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  3. We were discussing this topic recently. It’s all a matter of conscience. (1 Corinthians 10:29), I don’t like it when the brethren judge others according to their conscience. I personally wouldn’t buy the lucky charms cereal but like you said if I was at someone’s house and they offered it I would eat it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have to confess when I first read the title of your post I assumed you were writing on believers and secondary separation!

    Anyway, I am also tired of people using their personal convictions to judge others and to browbeat people for doing or not doing things they are personally convicted. 1 Corinthians is such a great letter! It’s amazing how often people miss “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31 ESV).

    Hope you can manage time to rest in the midst of sister duties. Love and blessings to you and Corinne!!!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Mandy! Yup, some believers get entirely wrapped around these personal conviction issues.

      Thanks! I’m starting the day at the car dealership (Argh!) because of an “idiot light” that came on yesterday. Will cut the front lawn and then work on sister stuff. Tomorrow she flies to Florida. Hope you had a good weekend! Love and blessings to you and Nathan!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m with you on the lucky charms Tom. I have some personal separation issues but they are between God and I and not to influence others to make it their issue. I too easily would be a Pharisee. It’s my bent so a close walk with God really helps my daily perspective on what’s important to God in my life.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Great post today, Tom. All great comments, too. Don’t judge on matters that aren’t doctrinal. Check. Many activities, movies, etc, can be used as teaching tools, learning tools, for children. Check. Parents decide the lines to draw for their own children based upon their own Spirit-led conscience. Check. Activities Christians participate are between themselves and their Spirit-led conscience. Check.

    L-RD Bless, Keep, Shine upon y’all this day and every day. . .

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Wil. Teaching discernment takes work so parents may opt to shut the world out at one extreme or allow the boob tube and internet to run roughshod at the other extreme.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Lucky charms… your post brings back memories as they’ve been taken off the market here – for years, as far as I know. Probably a good thing! I remember getting them (on the rare occasion as they were expensive) when I had 3 children under 5 because they liked them. At the time I can honestly say that it never crossed my mind to take a closer look at the nature of the contents re. the Pagan aspect. However, thanks for pointing that out. I became more aware of the high sugar content which was probably why they were taken off the market here. These days as “oldies” we buy organic oatmeal, which I love. Re. smoking, drinking to excess etc. – I think that the Lord has given us a conscience and we instinctively know that certain things are just plain wrong, because they’re bad for the bodies He has given us. As regards other issues – there are many and again we should know, if we are Christians, what is right and wrong. “Hast thou faith? Have it to thyself before God…” Romans 14v20-23 totally deals with these questions. On the other hand, some denominations have descended to “cult level” because they have become so legalistic, to the point of telling people where they should live. The “Exclusive Brethren” church have an extreme separation viewpoint, while the Lord Jesus Christ loved publicans and sinners and sat down to eat and talk with them. Galatians 3v3 springs to mind… “Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” We walk by faith each day and “whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” (Romans 14v24)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comments, Elizabeth. The independent fundamental Baptist church we attended for eight years made it a point to tell congregants what to do regarding these personal judgement issues. It was motivation by guilt and brow-beating. Yes, I’ve heard of some fundamentalist congregations that are extremely controlling.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I think maturity has a lot to do with this, and also how impressionable/susceptible we are.

    Did I read Harry Potter? Yes. Am I now enamored with witchcraft? Absolutely not 😆
    Do I listen to K-pop? Absolutely! Am I now obsessing over each guy’s birthday, favorite food, and hobbies (like some younger girls do)? Uh… no.
    Do I watch MMA? Every. Single. Weekend 🙂 Does it make me want to punch someone in the face? No.

    I think it all depends on what it’s doing to one’s character. If someone is tempted by Harry Potter magic or driven to lust by K-pop, then they should analyze whether this is something they should be doing or not. But that’s just my own way of living, and if someone would rather not partake regardless of temptations, then I admire that too 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Yari! Yes, we have freedom in the Lord, but of course not to sin, and in many “gray” areas that’s an issue between the individual and the Lord. People can even make Bible reading a sin by being prideful about the number of chapters they read each day, etc.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Interesting discussion. Without going into details, I have learned something over the last few days regarding voicing an opinion about an area of concern, that conflicts with some who do not see it as an area of concern. When someone enjoys or gets a benefit from something and someone else calls it into question, because of an area of concern, to the person who does not see it as an area of concern, your noting a doctrinal issue, as an example, as an area of concern, is an indication to those who enjoy it, THAT THEIR DISCERNMENT IS BEING PERCEIVED AS INFERIOR and they voice their disagreement and displeasure by inferring that the one who noted the area of concern is being over critical or has a tendency to see the negatives and overlooks the positives. I am sure that you run into this Tom, quite frequently, because of the doctrinal differences between orthodox Protestant Christianity and Roman Catholicism. In other words, they feel slighted, because you see the possibility or potential for harm and they do not. The humanistic response to being slighted is to defend their perspective by evaluating your critical perspective as being short sighted, which could easily be the same reason for you noting the area of concern in the first place. This perception of being slighted can be minimized somewhat by using careful wording leading into the area of concern but ultimately, especially when it comes to contrasting doctrines, it either leads to truth or a deception of the truth and that reality is difficult to avoid. What I did note was the quick response to disregard the doctrinal area of concern issue and go personal in their defence, to validate their voiced discernment (opinion). It definitely changes the whole process of stating the case to be made. Your thoughts?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Bruce. I appreciate your thoughts on this. Yes, I run into the kinds of “conflicts” you mention regularly. The issues I bring up regarding the RCC are contrary to the popular ecumenical paradigm. People don’t even care about the doctrinal evidence I present, including that from RC sources. Their bottom line is I’m “negative” and ecumenism is “loving” and “positive.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Tom, I figured you would have first hand experience, now a days anyone who shows any opposition to the popular trend, regardless as to whether there are valid doctrinal concerns or not, is viewed as someone who wants to destroy versus build up. And in my estimation, they would be wrong. Doctrines do matter. Blessings!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Re: ecumenism is loving and positive

        LOL! I wonder if these folks have read Titus 1:7-16, Gal 5:12 and Matt 23?

        Oh the negativity of Jesus and Paul condemning the pharisees and Judaizers, Jesus saying that they were children of hell (Matt 23:15), Paul saying that the Judaizers should castrate themselves (Gal 5:12), and that they were detestable (Titus 1:16)! I guess Jesus and Paul should be sent for sensitivity training and anger management classes. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Excellent post, Tom. I think the key to all such issues is communication. Parents should be having frequent conversations with their children, depending on their age, about all issues that can negatively affect them. I was always conversing with my son about numerous issues. As he got older, we would discuss movies that had scenes which were unbiblical (I guess that would be just about every movie). I think it’s all about communication and explaining things through a biblical perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nope, I didn’t mean that Lucky Charms was hidden agenda brainwashing, but only that General Mills is using “fun” pagan superstition to market the product to children. Some Christian parents would have a problem with buying LCs for their children because of the magic/good luck theme while others wouldn’t.

      Of course, children’s books and TV shows are heavy on this type of magic/sorcery themed fiction.

      I don’t recall our IFB pastor ever specifically singling out Lucky Charms, but he devoted a lot of attention to that sort of criticism.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh gotcha! Sorry you can probably notice here I’m a Millennial since I can’t see what’s wrong and only note the way Woke corporations forces things on people these days with the L*BT agenda

        Liked by 1 person

      2. RE: too hyper

        Yup, I’ve seen a few Christians here at WordPress become so hyper-passionate about a particular separation issue that they insist that it’s a salvation issue.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. An interesting analogy to use Lucky Charms cereal for Christians and Separatism. We are in the world but not of it.
    My thoughts, early in my Christian walk I had to end a lot of toxic friendships with non-believers because they would cause me to stumble. Also I stopped watching television in 2011 because it morally offended me. When it comes to today’s pop-culture I am a hermit.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Remember “devil dogs”. Are they still on the market I wonder. I used to like them when I wasn’t into eating healthy. Anyway, I think there is a fine line. May we not drift into the extreme of being legalistic, or or into the extreme of having the “anything goes” mindset 🙂. And above all, by God’s grace, to walk in love through all of our differences.

    Liked by 1 person

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