April 7, 2008

Monday Morning Message - PURE

Ketchup was not always what it is today. In fact it's production history is a horror story waiting for a script. Before the Pure Food & Drug Act of 1906 ketchup producers were known to use coal tar to enhance the red coloring. Yummy, huh? Others utilized leftover concentrated tomato pulp stored in less than ideal circumstances to make the popular condiment in the off-season. Thankfully, you can now put ketchup on your eggs (everybody does this, right?) with confidence that it is really ketchup! Following is the current governmental standard for ketchup.

B.11.014. [S]. Tomato Catsup, Catsup or products whose common names are variants of the word Catsup (Ketchup) shall be the heat processed product made from the juice of red-ripe tomatoes or sound tomato trimmings from which skins and seeds have been removed; shall contain vinegar, salt, seasoning, and a sweetening ingredient; and may contain a Class II preservative, and food color.

Standards like this ensure we are getting what we desire and not some cheap imitation or, worse, perversion of what we were pursuing. In similar fashion God has put standards in place to ensure we get the very best out of life and not some unsatisfying imitation. Jesus stated in John 10:10, "I have come that they might have life and have it abundantly!"

The notion that God desires for us to fully enjoy life comes as a surprise to many. Many believe that God is the "Fun Police" and if anybody is having any fun anywhere, God is sure to show up and put a stop to it. Nothing could be further from the truth. God desires the very best for us. Our problem is we like to disagree with God about such things. So, who's right? A brief rumination on this matter should give a fairly clear answer.

When it comes to the issue of sexuality the Bible is full of stories that address this most fundamental fact of human existence. The Bible talks A LOT about sex and, for the record, God's opinion about sex is that it is "very good." (I offer a hearty, AMEN!) Here are a few stories you might enjoy re-visiting....
  • Genesis 3 & 4 - Adam and Eve - naked, no shame, "Now Adam knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain." (Of course he "knew" her! - Bible language is so fun!)
  • Genesis 17, 18 & 21 - Abraham and Sarah - Abraham is quickly becoming one of my personal heroes in this area! 86 when he has his fist child! 99 when he's circumcised (ouch!) and 100 when he father's Isaac! My favorite scripture line in this story is attributed to Sarah in Gen. 18:12, "So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, 'After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?'" (Apparently yes!)
  • 2 Samuel 11, 12 and Psalm 51 - David and Bathsheba - This is a movie waiting for a script. Lust, adultery, political intrigue, murder, and power all in one story.
  • Song of Solomon - Can I just say, "WOW!"? To say this gets a little "steamy" is a serious understatement! My favorite is chapter 7 where the husband describes the wife from her toes to her head. Just thinking about this makes me want to head to the house!
  • Matthew 5-7 - Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount - If you can't see the "Bridge Out Ahead" signs, don't blame the sign maker for your car winding up in the river.
  • 10 out of 13 of the Apostle Paul's letters to the New Testament churches directly address the issue of sexuality. Only Philippians, 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon eschew this topic.
This is only a small sample but I place it here as many are surprised by how much sex is in the Bible. Society has an amazing preoccupation with sex and sexuality. It's evident society is looking for the best sex available but is finding a lot of unsatisfying imitations. In fact, I would propose that society is entirely missing the 'Love Boat' when it comes to sexuality. I present for your consideration the following.

  • Cohabitation rates are at an all-time high. (Interesting new moniker, it used to be called "Living in Sin") The 2007 edition of the New Oxford Review, published a report titled, Cohabitation is bad for men, worse for women, and horrible for children, by Dr. A. Patrick Schneider II. Here are a few of his conclusions.
    • Relationships are unstable in cohabitation. One-sixth of cohabiting couples stay together for only three years; one in ten survives five or more years.
    • Cohabitation brings a greater risk of sexually transmitted diseases, because cohabiting men are four times more likely to be unfaithful that husbands.
    • Those who suffer most from cohabitation are the children. The poverty rate among children of cohabiting couples is fivefold greater than the rate among children in married couple households.
  • STD's are on the increase. See this 2007 CDC report for a full view and check this recent news report stating that 1 in 4 teen aged girls have a sexually transmitted disease. Many of these are incurable (Congratulations! You now have a new lifelong friend!) and some are deadly.
  • Pornography is one of the leading causes of family breakdown. Two-thirds of the divorce lawyers attending a 2002 meeting of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers said excessive interest in online porn contributed to more than half of the divorces they handled that year. They also said pornography had an almost non-existent role in divorce just seven or eight years earlier. (“Is the Internet Bad for Your Marriage? Online Affairs, Pornographic Sites Playing Greater Role in Divorces,” PR Newswire, 14 November 2002.)
  • And for one that will nicely turn your stomach, this recent story raises the question of how a 9 year old even knows about such things.
Is it possible that some standards in the arena of human sexuality are needed? Is it possible that maybe God, the inventor of sex, knows what He's talking about? The popular perception is that God is out to kill the fun but it's evident that society's spin on sexuality may be fun for a while but I'm pretty certain waking up with AIDS or herpes or dealing with your 7 year old who's been sexually assaulted isn't much fun.

Purity guarantees that we are getting the real thing. Perhaps a return to purity is in order for our society. Here are a few suggestions for today.
  1. Recognize the damaging effects of impurity.
  2. Repent (turn away) from impure activity.
  3. Recommit to a pure lifestyle.
  4. Rejoice in God's good plan for purity in your life!
"He who loves purity of heart, and whose speech is gracious, will have the king as his friend." (Prov. 22:11) And just who is this king? "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." (Mt. 5:8) Here's to purity!

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