I’ve been thinking, and well, let’s be upfront right away: we probably won’t like this. I’m going to use the words “we” and you” and “me” often – not trying to offend anyone personally, just maybe trying to drive home the point that we have all probably contributed to the good and we have all probably been guilty of contributing to the bad. Maybe just demonstrating that we can all easily become part of the same hypocrisy.
I’ve been thinking about being a “straight stick“. I’ve been thinking about how rare it is, really.
I’ve been thinking about Thomas Moore, Irish poet from the 1800s. Thomas Moore wrote, “For if you suffer your people to be ill-educated, and their manners to be corrupted from their infancy, and then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them, what else is to be concluded from this, but that you first make thieves and then punish them.” 200 years later, it’s still as true as ever. (Thomas Moore, you nailed it). Basically, Moore is making the point that our society first created a criminal, and then punished the criminal for being true to his/her upbringing. Seems unfair, doesn’t it? Yeah, it does. Let’s bring it home:
I’ve been thinking about “popular” movies, tv shows, music, things we allow to fill our minds and homes and time. Thinking about the foul language or obscene behaviors. It might have been on our television or in a book we read or a joke we laughed at. Some of the jokes were related to sexual perversion or immoral behavior, but it probably went over the kid’s head, so we let it pass. Some of the storylines were inappropriate, but we glossed over it because the movie was funny. Some of the language was foul and offensive, but we ignored it because the action and special effects were unbelievable.
I’ve been thinking about all these accusations surrounding public officials and celebrities, accusations of sexual harassment and improprieties…. It’s constant, isn’t it? Every day on the news, we are re-hashing yesterday’s accusations and introducing new ones. I’m not defending it, and we feel the same way: it’s outrageous, it’s offensive, it’s wrong, shocking, sinful. (You can fill-in-the-blank here, right? This is specific enough).
I’ve been thinking about other people in the news, people whose choices we did not celebrate. Tim Tebow – there was an article some time ago about how a romantic relationship came to an end because of his commitment to virginity and sexual purity (here). I don’t know if it’s true, but I do know that this point wasn’t presented as anything positive or valuable. We laughed at him because he made a stance on sex outside of marriage. Vice President Mike Pence – there was talk about how he honors his wife by refusing to be alone with another woman (here again). Again, I don’t know if its true, but I do know that it was presented as a form of sexism, and there was even the suggestion that he made this choice because he can’t be trusted around women. (What?) We attacked his character because he has made a commitment to a faithful marriage.
I’ve been thinking about how our society mocks morality and then is shocked by immorality. We laughed when the character on our favorite sitcom said it, we were horrified when one of our elected officials said it. We ignored it in the movie and we were outraged when it happened in “real life”. We spend so much time on “that which does not profit”(Jeremiah 2:11 KJV). Why are we surprised when the lines between entertainment and “real life” became blurry?
I’ve been thinking about James and how he says the Word of God is like a mirror. Let’s read it together: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was” (James 1:23-24 NKJV). Maybe we have forgotten who we are? Of course, when the Word presents a problem, it also present the solution: “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:25 NKJV).
I’ve been thinking that maybe we should make a new commitment to purity and raise our standards in every area. Hey, I know the point is extreme – and watching that inappropriate movie didn’t give anyone permission to behave the way they did. But – when the same behavior is celebrated in one arena and condemned in another, it does seem as if we created the criminal and then punished the criminal act. Maybe we should avoid the appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22). Maybe we should try to be better than we have to be. Maybe we should keep our noses clean, even if it takes both sleeves.
I’ve been thinking about something Paul wrote to the Phillippians, “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into His most excellent harmonies” (Phil. 4:8-9 MSG).
Filling our minds with what is true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, the beautiful, things to praise…. Following this action with accepting the strength and grace we need from God to walk it out – that’s a treasure.
Holiness isn’t easy. Today, I’m praying that we’ll walk it out and that God will work each of us into His most excellent harmonies –
Jennifer 🙂 (p.s. next blog will be something easy, like my puppy 🙂 )