Recently, I came across a good example of legalism in its purest form. Let me share it with you.
When I talk about legalism, I usually talk about things within the realm of Christianity. There are, however, legalistic people in all walks of life, and even in other religions. Just Google “legalism” and you will find out. But from a Christian perspective, legalism is the judgmental attitude that determines another’s spirituality (level of maturity in the faith) by how he is complying with a man-made list, whether the compliance be actual, or perceived. Legalism judges the heart based on an individual’s performance, even when the performance has nothing to do with grace.
Also, since legalism doesn’t focus on the heart, little room is left for error. Legalistic people are rarely compassionate or merciful to others who see things even a little differently. And when it comes to those who are non-compliant on the inside of the camp, they are brutal and unforgiving.
Legalists and chickens are cousins - they pick their wounded to death.
I am not a big fan of Hollywood or the Nashville music scene. I have seen and experienced just enough to know that it is a world of cut-throats and back-stabbers only looking to make a buck. Rarely, in that world, is anything real. It’s mostly fabricated “PR” meant to manipulate the consumer. It is a racket that doesn’t care if it destroys what it uses, as long as somebody gets rich. That is where you can find the Cyrus family.
GQ tells all.
Well, not long ago an article was published in GQ magazine that detailed Billy Ray Cyrus’ loss of hope – Destiny Hope, that is (Destiny = Miley Cyrus = Disney’s Hanna Montana). At the time of the article, Billy (Miley’s real-life dad) was going through a painful divorce and a fallout with his famous daughter. It seemed that Billy had had enough of being the fall-guy and his daughter’s friend. He was beginning to see that moving to L.A. might have been a big mistake, and that being a better father and husband should have been his top priority. The GQ piece (click for link) was full of apparent pain and regret – totally sad, albeit half-expected.
Since then, it seems that the Cyrus family is getting back together and everything is getting worked out. However, the reality is that we really don’t know what the reality is. When one reads the article in GQ, then looks at the quick turn-around of events, including a hand-in-hand stroll while shopping caught on film (Miley, her mother, and grandmother out shopping in the open – yeah, right), it’s hard to not think that people with a lot to lose are on defcon-level damage control.
Whatever…the point is this…
Daniel, an intelligent blogger who publishes ReflectionsandMeditations.com, wrote a sympathetic piece (“The D@*# show destroyed my family”) referring to the above article. It was not a mushy apology for Billy Ray Cyrus’ actions or poor parenting choices, but a call to try to understand and learn from what happened. In response, a self-proclaimed “liberal” woman assailed Daniel for showing any pity for Cyrus.
No offense to you, but I think it is a crock of poop that you feel some sort of sorry for him or that your heart goes out to him…I ultimately hold her father mainly responsible. He could have stopped it and not allowed this to happen. But he didn’t. He continued to allow his underage daughter, for the majority of the show she was underage, to act on the show and to her detriment not to her advantage!
Tsk tsk tsk. [emphasis added]
Now, ironically, after looking at her own blog, Miss “Tsk-Tsk” does not seem to be a mirror image of Dana Carvey’s “Church Lady.” On the other hand, she does exhibit a classic example of legalistic thought. Here you have a man who has messed up, but is now sorrowful and repentant, and all some want to say is “Tsk tsk tsk” for showing sympathy. All I can say is “sad sad sad.”
Pray, don’t kick.
Don’t kick a man when he’s down, people! Pray for him! Intercede for Billy Ray and his family. Who is to say how he or she would have handled the winds of temptation while in the midst of the hurricane? He’s aware who the enemy really is:
Just before moving out to Los Angeles, the whole family had been baptized together by their pastor at the People’s Church in Franklin, Tennessee. “It was Tish’s idea,” he remembers. “She said, ‘We’re going to be under attack, and we have to be strong in our faith and we’re all going to be baptized…'” And there, driving to work each day in the City of Angels, was this sign. “A physical sign. It could have easily said ‘You will now be attacked by Satan.’ ‘Entering this industry, you are now on the highway to darkness…'”
Do you really see it in such clearly spiritual terms—that your family was under attack by Satan?
“I think we are right now. No doubt. There’s no doubt about it.” – from the GQ article
Billy Ray’s story reminds me of the following verses in which God was speaking of Israel. Their example should be a lesson to us:
“Because My people have forgotten Me, They have burned incense to worthless idols. And they have caused themselves to stumble in their ways, From the ancient paths, To walk in pathways and not on a highway, To make their land desolate and a perpetual hissing; Everyone who passes by it will be astonished And shake his head. – Jeremiah 18:15-16 NKJV
But Billy Ray’s story also reminds me of another verse – the words are from the Holy Spirit to all of us:
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. – Galatians 6:1 KJV