Monday, October 19, 2009

Christian Manners; Part 1 - Introduction and Celular Phones

Note to Reader: this is all based on a Biblical, or Christian worldview, and is written to those who share such a world view. I do not mean to, nor do I have any intention of conveying that those who have a Biblical Worldview are any better than those who do not. This is simply the mind-set I know, and the people with whom I see the need to better themselves (in some cases more so than those who do not have a Biblical Worldview.)
This week my nose has been buried in a book lent to me, titled "Twentieth Century Etiquette; A Read Manuel for All Occasions."
As I was reading this more than captivating, and comical, book, my thoughts turned to our culture, my generations social skills, and what a stranger would think, were they to walk into our church and take a good look around in the middle of a service.
Teens openly text on their cell phones, during service, as do some adults. Cell phones don't ring, but a strange vibrating, or buzzing, can be heard omitting from some people's pockets. Gum is chewed, generally with care, hats are worn, and when you get a very ill-manned group of young people, seats are turned into foot rests. It's all quite... appalling! At least, compared to the well mannered, or in that culture, "well bred" circle of human beings.
Etiquette and protocol was not only expected, but turned into an art form. Humans were distinguished by their social circles, who were defined by "good breeding" or "codes of observances."
As is written in Twentieth Century Etiquette:
"Rules of etiquette have their allotted place among the forces of life, and must be acknowledged as moral agents in refining and making more agreeable our daily intercourse with each other. They are agents for good. They teach us to be more lenient with the various elements which compose society, as life is a sort of partnership in which each human being has an interest; so the laws of etiquette, well enforced, oblige us to make concessions to the many tastes, prejudices and habits of those we meet in the social circle, at public entertainments, in business relations or when traveling."
(Page 24)
And so, as I read this interesting, mind reeling, and cross-cultural book, my own thoughts of basic, yet proper, etiquette squirm to be freed from my mind and onto paper.
Here is the beginnings of, perhaps, many parts of proper etiquette in our technological society.
Cellular Phones are beyond common in our society. So much so, in fact, that it is considered unusual when a family does not own as many cell phones as family members.
Since cell phones hit the market, so quickly and even more quickly became the biggest rage, and most popular fad, no on, no adult, no teacher, no student nor child, has apparently come up with some basic principles that one should follow, while using their cellular device, in order to not appear to be a rude or disrespectful person.
I have not seen, or heard of any such book, or any such person who has come up with such basic principles to follow while using a cell phone. I'm continually shocked and continuously hear of parents who are shocked at their children's rude and disrespectful attitude because there are no "laws laid" for them to follow, concerning their technical device.
So, I write this with the great concern for my generation, that you would at least read and come up with some fundamental laws of your own, to follow, which put others before yourself, and human - meaning face-to-face- interaction at a higher priority than a mechanical one.
General Cell-Phone Usage
Cell phones are used as regular, land-line phones, but are generally used more often, and it's becoming more popular to replace a land-line with cell phones. There are also many more gadgets and nifty add-ons to a regular conversing device, on a cell phone.
So I've organized this section into smaller areas of possible interest, based on the use of a cell phone (texting, talking, etc.)
There is an introduction to each section which defines the terms used for those who may not be well acquainted with the cell-phone world.
Texting, more or less, is instant message over cell phone. However, there is not yet any rule as to when it is appropriate to text back - this is left up to the cell phone holders good, or bad, judgement. I have found the cell-phone user to have quite bad judgement when it comes to texting, which not only causes frustration when attempting at a conversation, but I have also felt rather blown off by those who choose to text while conversing.
Appropriate timing for Texting
"To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the Heavens." Unfortunately, cell phone usage and texting is not included in the list of "timeliness" in the third chapter of Ecclesiastes. So we'll just have to form our own ideas on timely use, based on the attitude of putting others before yourself.
It's definitely appropriate to text when your alone- in solitude, no one else is around you, there is no chance at all that you might happen to bump into someone you know, which could possibly start up a conversation. Another general, basic, basic, basic, rule is to text only when you don't have some other responsibility which may be demanding your time. This rule also makes it easier to avoid putting things off.
Responsibilities more important than texting could be:
  • During a speech - it's important to actively listen
  • During a sermon - when one texts during a sermon this not only shows disrespect but disinterest and an extraordinary amount of rudeness to the pastor, those around, and most importantly, disrespect to The House of God
  • Chores your parents give
  • Work that must be completed - home work, business work, church work, etc.
  • During work - if you're a barista, please don't text on the job. This is very rude, and alienates business. Baby-sitters and child care workers, you're hired to care for and watch the child, not let 'em loose and if they get hurt put a band-aid on it. Do the job you were hired to do!
  • While Driving - Please, do yourself and all those around you a favor and do NOT text while driving. Not only is this unsafe because your eyes are not on the road, but also because your mind is not focused on driving, but on text messaging, making your driving unpredictable and confusing other drivers. This is especially important when others are in the car with you. Please do not text while driving!
  • At school. Scientia Potentia - knowledge is power. If you must text someone, and it is vitally important, like if it's to a teach, parent, adult or work, wait until after your class is over, and you are in a somewhat solitary place. God gave you a mind to steward. You are not stewarding that which God has placed in your hands and blessed you with if you are texting during a class.
  • It's always, always, rude to text when talking with, greeting, saying goodbye, listening or have any sort of conversation with any other human being. This conveys an extraordinary lack of curiosity for another creation of God, rudeness, indifference and an incredible lack of caring or concern for a brother or sister in Christ. If you are interacting with a non-Christian while you are texting, what are you conveying to that person about your relationship with Christ? Are you being a good witness? Are you treating them they way God longs for you to treat them? What would Christ think if he walked up in that moment?

If you must text while driving, or during a class, or during work, please wait until after you have completed what must be done at school (like, after class), or at work, this means you need to communicate well with your boss or the other person on duty, or pull over off the road into a safe parking place, and text away. But wait until its safe, and you have stewarded well what God's given you (your mind, your job, your relationships, etc., etc.)

If you're a host, or a guest: RESTRAIN FROM TEXTING! If this means turning off the phone and hiding it or locking it away: DO SO! I have been to people's homes, as a guest, where the hosts teenagers were texting. I use the term "teenager" as a descriptive term, meaning they were self-absorbed, unsocialized when it came appropriate adult interaction (such as that with my parents), and rather immature. Those who text while hosting a guest are immediately placed in the "teenager" category in my mind - adult children, teenage-men/women, etc. Even if you see the guests are your parents guests, you still owe your parents the respect and honor they deserve by being, at the very least, polite to their guests, and greeting them at the door, waving them goodbye, and helping your mom clear the table, serving the food, passing the food around the table, etc. YOU OWE YOUR PARENTS! They worked to pay for your education, which more than half the world cannot afford, they fed you every day, watered you, gave you a bed, and at the very least put a roof over your head. You owe your parents.

"Children honor your father and mother..."

- Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16; Matthew 15:4;

Matthew 19:19; Mark 7:10; Mark 10:19;

Luke 18:20; Ephesians 6:2.

Based on these eight scriptures throughout the Bible, I would say this is pretty important.

When to "Pull the Plug"

There have been numerous times when I have been sitting in a church service and some one's cell phone goes off, or there is a group of teenagers, even adults, texting during a service.

If you are in a church, then there is no reason why you should have your cell phone ringing, or be texting, unless some emergency has happened in your family and you are needed ASAP. Sorry, this sounds harsh, but give me a good reason why you should be texting when you are in a church to learn about and grow deeper in the Word of God, and learn to be better in your part as The Body of Christ.

In fact, it would bring the pastor great delight, and show an amazing amount of respect that few people are capable of showing if you simply turned of your cellular device.

If you absolutely must use your cell phone during a church service, if there is a family emergency or you are on call at work, please find a secluded place to take or make your call. Such as the church office, if you're granted permission, outside, or some other place where there are few people and you will not be disrupting anyone.


If you're a committed Christian, than you know the rule to this: Don't do it. Period. The end. End of discussion. Go read your Bible!

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