Written By Jasmine Koh, Singapore
Growing up in a Christian family, I was the typical good girl. I was obedient and submissive. When I was younger, I made all my choices and decisions based on the nodding (or shaking) of my parents’ heads. So, as you would imagine, even my fashion choices were wholly based on my mother’s style.
But there came a point when puberty hit me and I wanted—maybe, needed—to make my own decisions. When I entered my teenage years, the desire to fit in and be accepted among friends gradually shaped my decisions.
It was at this stage that worldly and godly thoughts started to clash constantly in my mind. I was sandwiched between pleasing God and my peers, such as when it came to the issue of clubbing.
In my post-junior college days, clubbing was regarded as the cool, popular, almost mandatory social experience to try. Friends around me reveled in it. There was something about the dancing, drinking, and meeting new people that piqued my curiosity.
A part of me wanted to see what the hype was all about, and whether I would enjoy the dancing under dim lights, chatting at twice the normal decibels, and the drowning of one’s sorrows in alcohol. But another part of me held back, concerned that it might lead me down a path of no return.
So, I gave excuses every time my friends invited me to join them clubbing.
But the day eventually came when I had to make my stand clear.
I had just entered university and had just joined a hall. As part of the hall’s orientation activities, a “beauty” pageant for guys and girls was held. Every group had to nominate a girl and a guy to take part, and for one and a half months, these nominees would undergo “training” for various performances, including a dance, skit, and catwalk. The competition would culminate in a dinner and dance at an external entertainment venue, where each pair had to perform in front of all the hall residents and the winners were decided based on popular vote. Following the dinner, everyone would proceed to a club for a post-competition party.
I was faced with a dilemma: Should I attend the dinner? As much as I wanted to support my friends, I knew I would be placing myself in a sticky situation because it would be hard to skip the post-pageant party. My seniors had shared with me that previous parties had involved drunkenness and inappropriate behavior.
But while I’m aware that the Bible does not have any explicit rules on clubbing and there are differing views even within the Christian community, I wasn’t sure if it was a Christ-like thing to do. I thought of the peer pressure, the temptation to sin, and I imagined Jesus standing beside me at the entrance of the club. Would I have gone in then?
Of course, I could attend the pageant dinner and find an excuse to skip the clubbing part. But knowing my submissive nature, I would likely end up following the majority and succumb to peer pressure if I didn’t make a clear stand beforehand.
That was when I decided not to attend the pageant entirely. But at the same time, I wasn’t quite sure how to explain my decision to my friends. What if it made me look too religious?
I finally decided to bite the bullet the day before the dinner and dance. Through text messages and in person, I told several of my non-believing friends that I was not going to attend the dinner due to the need to be “accountable to my Christian friends.” Most of my friends, thankfully, accepted my explanation graciously. Some gave light-hearted replies, like “Wah, haha, okay.”
Looking back, I felt that this episode helped shaped my friends’ understanding of my boundaries. But more importantly for myself, it was a good reminder of the need to guard my convictions. I haven’t stepped foot into a club till today, and don’t think I ever will.
I’m not saying that clubbing is a sin. But more importantly, I hope that we can all learn to center our everyday choices on pleasing God, and not men, no matter how uncomfortable they may be. Being uncomfortable on this earth makes sense in light of the comfort we will eventually receive.