Friday, November 22, 2013

The Rippling Effects of Dressing Down

Source: Google
As painful as it is to say, America the beautiful has become a nation of sloppy slobs. Nothing merits fancy attire these days. Weddings. Graduations. Funerals. You name it.

I attended a wedding a while back and was stunned to see some guests looking like they were going to a backyard BBQ. Uh, hello. Didn't you know that formal gowns and tuxedos are part of this event? What makes you think your tee-shirt and rumpled jeans are appropriate on any level?

My niece's graduation from college a few years ago was no different. A crowd of slobs for the most part.

And who could forget the images of American citizens filing past President Reagan's casket under the Capitol Dome in their Hawaiian shirts, flip-flops and baseball caps? I kept asking: Who raised these people? It was a moment of national embarrassment for me.

But I think what troubles me most about America's cavalier way of dressing is that it has infected the Christian community as a whole. Not only do people show up for worship in slapdash form, common-sense modesty among Christians (especially females) has gone completely out the proverbial window. And not just in church, but everywhere.

Some tell me they've been "set free" from all things that bind, and I agree with them 100 percent. They are free, indeed.

Others say that God doesn't care. Wear whatever floats your boat. Daisy Duke shorts. Skin-tight jeans. Low-cut dresses. It's all good, girl. God's easy, and he only sees my heart. I might dress differently for an audience with the Queen of England, but hey, Jesus is merely the King of Kings. If I want to approach his throne in my underwear, no disrespect. God's cool with it. Understand?

Actually, no. I don't understand. Certainly I agree that sinners can come to God however they are. But God has always cared about the details of anyone who proclaims righteousness. Always.

When Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for "appearing righteous" in Matthew 23, he wasn't rebuking them because they appeared righteous. He was rebuking them because they weren't righteous.

He said they were like "cups and platters" that had been washed on the outside but contained dirty things within. His words of admonishment were: "Cleanse 'first' that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also." He didn't say, "Cleanse the inside, but the outside can be dirty if you want it to be, because I really don't care." His only point was that their outward appearance (which he referred to as "beautiful," by the way) was not an accurate reflection of their inward condition.

What that scripture has always said to me is this: It's possible to look righteous and not be righteous, but it isn't possible to be righteous and not look it. That doesn't mean that, when you're righteous, you'll be inclined to wear a long robe and carry a cross when you go to the mall. It just means you won't be inclined to look like a hooker, when you're a true child of the King. 

"Enter through the 'narrow' gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."Matthew 7:13-14

I'm linking to Spiritual Sundays.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Sexual Lust - A Devious and Deadly Thing

A few years ago, I saw a couple that I hadn't seen in a while. They were all smiles as they chatted with everyone in the room, but I found it hard to smile along. I knew that lust had brought them together, and that their actions had destroyed two families, leaving injured spouses and innocent children staggering through the wreckage like abandoned refugees. No matter how happy the couple might have been, I wasn't happy for them.

Sexual lust is a devious and deadly thing, and it has, undoubtedly, destroyed more homes in this country than all the tornadoes combined.

It starts silently, tiptoeing through the mind, looking for a place to weave its luring and wicked webs. It can't hang around without permission, of course, but if it's given one square inch of space, it mushrooms into this raging, almost unstoppable force, turning sensible people into senseless slaves, willing to do anything in order to dine at the table of forbidden fruit.

In some cases, that forbidden fruit is pornography. In other cases, it's someone else's spouse. In either case, the intoxicating grip of sexual lust knows no bounds.

While attending a seminar recently, I met a man who had been completely imprisoned by pornography.  It consumed everything he did, ultimately destroying his marriage and his career. I've also read numerous accounts of lust-filled spouses, gunning down anyone standing in their way—husbands, wives, children, parents, bosses, friends. Nothing is sacred once lust moves in.

And sadly, anywhere human beings are gathered, sexual lust is just a thought away...a wink extended gaze away.

It might seem extreme to some, but after my divorce in 2002, I made a deliberate choice not to pal around with married couples, no matter how close the wives and I might have been. It was a decision I made out of respect for their marriages. It had nothing to do with trust. Everyone trusts themselves, I suppose, but none of us wear halos.

In his New Testament epistle, James writes: "Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death."

Without question, sexual temptation is a beast of a battle to fight, and it often strikes without warning. However, Scripture tells us that God is faithful, and whenever lustful thoughts come sneaking through our heads, hoping to find room and board, a way of escape will be provided for those who seek one. ♦

“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14

I'm sharing my thoughts at Spiritual Sundays, where people of faith can be found.