Preference or Conviction?

by Lynn B Hocraffer, BS
copyright Jan 27, 2000


I am a little concerned by a few words I keep hearing in Christian Women's circles. The words are always something like "I have a conviction about..." and she continues with hair or dress or homeschool. What worries me is that she doesn't know what she means. Her children will be changed from public to private to homeschools, and back again. Her closet of jeans will be pitched out and exchanged for a supply of dresses, but next year she will be back in jeans.

Some years ago I attended a seminar by David Gibbs, of the Christian Law Association. The topic was "Preference or Conviction?". This is a legal point! It matters. A preference is a strongly-held belief; but a conviction is a belief that you will go to jail for.

Let me try to apply the thought:
You and your 16 daughters all wear dresses and have floor-length hair. Tomorrow you wake up and find your town is surrounded by the National Guard. The Health Department has declared an emergency. The Governor sent the Guard to prevent the spread of a new form of lice. Everyone is infected. Everyone in town is to have their head shaved and wear paper pantsuits while the Guard fumigates all the buildings. Anyone who doesn't will be quarantined on an island. These lice carry rabies, so you will die.

Are you going to try to slip your daughters down the alley and out through the woods? At what point in that carefully-worded horror story did you decide to get in line? Lice? Shaved? Paper pantsuits? Quarantine (jail)? Or death?

The Supreme Court does not require you to die for a conviction (though some other countries do). They do require you to be willing to go to jail for it! They also require that you be consistent. If you decide child #17 may go to public school for art lessons, you do not have a conviction to homeschool.

Will you go to jail for wearing skirts? Will you go to jail for your long hair (by any definition?) Please don't tell me it's a conviction unless you will. I have met men and women who did go to jail for the right to homeschool. I have met Levi Whisner of Ohio, who went to jail and lost his home because he refused to accept an Ohio school license. That's a conviction - one that won in court and removed the Ohio law requiring private schools to be licensed. I stood with him in the Illinois Capital while he testified when the same law was proposed in Illinois (it did not pass).

Anything short of that level of commitment is a Preference. If you submit to your husband's desire that you cut your hair, or not, you have a preference.

It is my opinion (note the qualification which applies to everything I say in this paragraph) that most men simply don't care a whole lot about our hair or clothing, as long as we are clean and neat and modest AND don't make any sudden changes! Most men hate change! They've seen us do this before - "oh no, wife has another nutty idea". We have enthusiasms, we jump into and out of whatever is going around. If we have a preference for skirts but go about the change in a quiet way, he won't mind. For example, if you have always worn jeans add denim skirts first, and then a few dressier ones for church, then pretty dresses - and a year from now you can quietly give all your old pants to your SIL for quilt squares. Experiment gently with your hair - don't go suddenly from Twiggy to the standard "holiness' hairdo. If you have beautiful floor-length covering, but he likes it short, wear it pinned up.

As for the cold legs, buy tights instead of nylons. Tights are made with cotton, they really are warm. They last much longer than nylons, which helps when you realize they cost more.

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