The Apple Of God's Eye

December 7, 2009

Does God Condone Public Nudity?

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The account of Genesis is very brief and merely summarizes conversations and events. But filling in omitted gaps and details becomes somewhat more clear from what we learn from later passages, and from history.

In the creation chapter of Genesis 1, it is written that God instituted the very first marriage in history:

“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Gen. 2:24).

Notice that marriage came from the mind of God and naturally, as Creator, God instructed Adam and Eve in the right purpose and use of sex. It was He who made the male and female sex organs (verse 27), pronouncing them “very good” (verse 31) and there was no sense of shame between Adam and Eve in regard to their nakedness (Gen. 2:25).

Where did the concept of shame regarding nakedness come from? Notice that in the very next verse, Satan begins to discredit revelation (God’s teaching) as the fountain source of knowledge. And as soon Satan was done with the every first lie in history and Adam and Eve sinned by eating the forbidden fruit, their eyes were opened and they knew that they were naked, sewing fig leaves together to make themselves aprons (Gen. 2:7).

Something now had changed. A sense of shame came about them in regard to their nakedness. And when they heard the voice of God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, both hid themselves from His presence.

Now God already knew what they had done, but their very words “I was naked and I hid myself” confirmed their sense of shame in the presence of God who asked:

“Who told you you were naked?” (verse 11)

This was a new attitude and God rightly asked who put this thought in their mind. Of course it was Satan, and not God! Remember, while God instructed them in the true and right knowledge of sex and marriage, they were naked. But nothing in all in what God taught them gave them any sense of shame towards sex. Satan had implanted this evil idea in the effort of making what God designed appear to be contaminated and degrading.

God clothed Adam and Eve

Now under what circumstances and why did God clothe Adam and Eve? During His first instructions to both after their creation, it was a situation of husband and wife. They were married by God and as long as they were the only two humans on earth – alone by themselves – God gave them no instructions to cover their bodies. It was not necessary because God is present everywhere – omnipresent – anyways. When a husband and wife today are alone in the privacy of their bedroom, God is invisibly present. But when other people (mankind) are introduced, then we read that God Himself clothed Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:20-21).

Yes, God made them coats of skins Himself. The word “clothed” here is inspired as “labash,” which means the donning of apparal or raiment. It implies the idea of adorning or decorating, rather than concealing or covering (hiding) a thing.

Shamefulness in hiding nakedness is implied in the word “kasah.” In the incident of Noah’s drunkenness, he apparently had been violated by Canaan, son of Ham. hem and Japheth, also sons of Noah, backed up with a garment on their shoulders, “and covered the nakedness”of their father (Gen. 9:23). Here, they were hiding, or concealing the result of a sinful act. Here also is the word “kasah” used for the act of covering.

Both labash and kasah imply the covering of nakedness, but the difference is that labash is of purpose and intent, adding attractiveness rather than adding shamefulness, while kasah implies concealing due to shame.

Public nudity though is not approved by God, who intended to keep men and women from exposing their pubic regions, except in the privacy of marriage. God designed sex for use only between a husband and wife whom God has joined in holy wedlock. He designed sex for righteous uses—and one of them is to bind husband and wife together in a loving relationship unshared with any other. The very privacy of this marriage relationship makes it sacred, makes husband and wife dear to each other in a special way never shared with another in adultery. This entire sacred relationship is greatly impaired, or destroyed, when shared with any other. That is why fornication and adultery are so harmful to their participants, and therefore capital sins.

The private, sexual act between a man and wife in marriage prevents temptation by others that could lead to sinful, wrong use in the carnal mind. Of course, mankind has long forgotten these instructions, and the filth and vulgarity in this age is something to behold. With the Internet today, you can view all kinds of nudity and perversion. But what’s wrong with that? Undue exposure of the female body is automatically lust-arousing to the carnal male mind.Young people can wreck their lives before even learning how to live. They’ll grow up and become addicted to lustful sex and never be able to understand the real beauty of a family. Solomon was told by his mother, “It’s not for kings to get into such slop as that.”  Perversion is all around us, and if we focus on it, we’ll give in to it, because it’s such a strong pull.
God does not condone public nudity, sex outside of marriage, homosexuality or other perversions because he wants us to focus on family. He wants sex between a loving husband and wife to hold that family together—to strengthen that union. It is a type of the family of God!

August 29, 2009

America’s Decline—From Sinatra to Michael Jackson

Editors Comment: Thought I would post this article, from TheTrumpet.com in its entirety. It effectively shows how America has lost its moral compass, and how it has glamorized the cult of celebrity worship to the point of dragging most of the free world along with it. A good read indeed!
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Media coverage of the funeral for Michael Jackson was massive and global. Such was the almost universal appeal of the Jackson entertainment machine. Yet, just a single lifetime ago, the style of “entertainment” embraced by generations of Jackson worshippers would have been relegated to the world of the weird and the perverse, if not the downright demonic.

How did the sense of taste and the social values of society descend to such a morally destructive level?

Reading David Gates’s article on Michael Jackson, the cover story for the July 13 newsstand edition of Newsweek, brought back memories of the timeless piece written by Herbert W. Armstrong about society’s reaction to Beatle John Lennon’s murder.

Gates placed Jackson in order of descent in a line of pop idols that have emanated from postwar Anglo-American “culture.” “True, for a while he was the king of pop,” he wrote, “and he’s the last we’re ever likely to have. Before Michael Jackson came Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and the Beatles ….”

Thirty years ago, Herbert Armstrong nominated the same entertainment icons of the postwar era as being part of a trend that indicated “[t]his world is fast losing all sense—if it ever had any—of true social values. The lower the standard of social values, the more popular they become in a misguided and deceived humanity” (Worldwide News, Dec. 22, 1980).

Ever one to seek the cause of a phenomenon, rather than just highlight its effect, Herbert Armstrong traced the history of the postwar trend to idolize the human icons of entertainment:

In a way, the Beatles started this modern trend in a new Satan-influenced lifestyle of a degenerating culture and sense of social values. But John Lennon was their band-leader in this.

It picked up what had been started by Frank Sinatra, when teenage girls ran screaming half out of their minds for his autograph. It was revived and intensified by Elvis Presley. Then the Beatles delivered Satan’s knockout blow to any public sense of social values in the world.

It is interesting that journalist David Gates would choose exactly the same trend, employing exactly the same examples, as Herbert Armstrong to describe this postwar phenomenon. But Mr. Armstrong highlighted the result, in his lifetime, of 35 years of pop idol worship—each one of those “idols” becoming more degenerate than the rest.

Commenting upon the powerful influence of the Beatles on society, Herbert Armstrong observed:

The hippie fad followed. Down went morality, rising triumphantly was promiscuous sex, “pot,” drugs, divorce, broken homes.

The world will deify and worship one who can start humanity on such a downward plunge. Lennon left a fortune, managed by his Japanese wife, of some $230 million—but that’s OK with the public as long as he was in “show-biz” and leading a misguided humanity further into Satan’s way of life.

Lennon even made the statement at one time that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus Christ. He had millions—untold millions—of worshippers.

Clearly, the spirit that uses the entertainment industry as a tool to aid in the destruction of the moral fiber of whole nations was not finished when John Lennon met his demise. There would be one more “idol,” and his influence on generations of children would mold their minds into a state where no longer could they differentiate between that which was clearly manly and upright on the one hand and soundly feminine on the other. A whole confusion of spirit as to the intended orientation of God-created humanity would result.

“As the prepubescent frontboy of the Jackson 5, he sang in a cherubic mezzo-soprano of sexual longing he could not have fully felt. As a young man … he seemed to never fully inhabit himself—whoever that self was. In middle age, he consciously took on the role of Peter Pan … with what he seemed to believe was an ageless, androgynous physical appearance … thanks to straightened hair and plastic surgery. … He did his best to construct an alternative reality on top of what must have been an initially miserable life …” (Newsweek, op. cit.).

In essence, Jackson ultimately embodied elements of the two pop idols who preceded him, by marrying Elvis’s daughter and buying the Beatles’ catalog of songs. But as David Gates points out, Jackson was to descend even further down the slippery slope of decadence than Elvis and Lennon, becoming “the most sinister of superstars” (emphasis mine throughout). He was to eventually morph into what looked “like both a vampire and a mummy—Peter Pan’s undead evil twins.”

In its eulogy for Jackson, the Economist noted that “He told his biographer, Randy Taraborrelli, that he had ‘deep, dark secrets.’ They were encased in a voice as soft as a whisper, a handshake that felt like a cloud, a face as pale and delicate as plastic surgery and Porcelana skin-bleach could make it. Dark glasses and surgical masks kept the world away from him. … He shared his meals with a chimpanzee and his bed with young boys …” (July 2).

To a pre-baby boomer, that’s just plain weird!

Then again, I hail from a generation when men were, overwhelmingly, really men, and women really women, and very happy to be so! To appear as anything else, to in any way have the slightest doubt of one’s gender—or very humanness for that matter—would have then rendered one ostracized from society … for the good of society!

As to dining with a monkey? The great problem with presenting such a confusing image to the world, wrapped in the trappings of huge success as an entertainer, is the effect on the minds of the young. The Economist noted, “But he had sold 750 million albums and, from Riga to Rio, children danced like him.”

Yes, children all over the world danced like Michael Jackson—their idol. What effect does having such a confused individual as their “idol” have on young minds?

Believe it or not, it has a deep effect on the molding of a child’s mind, particularly influencing what it ultimately accepts as normal. It creates an impression in the mind that the perverse—going far beyond the bounds of acceptable norms—is acceptable behavior. It places the stamp of approval on social behavior that is way beyond the bounds set by generations of the past when a nation was great, a nation founded upon clear guidelines as to what is truly male and truly female behavior—true social standards.

The all-too-ready acceptance by parents of the “appeal” that outlandish behavior has on impressionable, immature minds clouds the judgment of adults when faced with a choice between permitting their children exposure to entertainment which is educational, uplifting and morally sound and that which is clearly perverse. In short, it creates confusion—and that points right to its source (1 Corinthians 14:33).

The upshot is we now have a generation in their 30s and 40s who, having grown up exposed to Jackson idolatry, their social standards shaped by such weirdness as portrayed in his top-selling Thriller album, make decisions at government and corporate level that affect multiple millions. The White House currently has in residence a president who has stated he grew up with Michael Jackson’s music and is happy he’s “being remembered primarily for the great joy that he brought to a lot of people ….” “Still have all his stuff on my iPod,” the president said.

Herbert Armstrong was right: “This world is fast losing all sense—if it ever had any—of true social values. The lower the standard of social values, the more popular they become in a misguided and deceived humanity.”

It’s that loss of true social values, once reflected in Anglo-American society during the heights of its greatness, that now results in the leading lights of the gender-bending movements being entertained at the White House and at Number 10 Downing Street. It’s such a degenerative influence in society that leads the oldest political party in the world, the British Tories, to strongly endorse perverse lifestyles and even predict that one day they shall place one who embraces confusion of gender at the helm of the nation.

Most worrying of all to those who embrace the fundamental virtues upon which successful societies are built is the inference by a world leader that he will work to endorse historically anti-social behavior, “step by step, law by law, mind by changing mind.”

Trouble is, these days it takes a really enlightened mind to see such an insidious process for what it is and to deduce where it is ultimately leading.

Then when one does see it, comes the question, as asked by Herbert Armstrong in the article previously quoted, “What hope is there in such a world?”

It truly takes a mind enlightened by the Creator of mankind to provide the answer to that burning question. Herbert Armstrong gave the only patently true answer 30 years ago, upon the death of an earlier pop icon, in words that are even more appropriate today in the wake of Michael Jackson’s death.

Of that hope, Herbert Armstrong declared, there is just one. It’s time we all pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” And put our hearts and energies in our prayers, as disciples, like this now dead “hero” put his into the raucous loud squawk and scream with the fast beat. The world can put real energy into the things of Satan. Can we put some real energy into our prayers?

How seriously do we really want God’s Kingdom to come? Let’s put some energy into our prayers for it!

August 22, 2009

Christian Conduct: Good – But Good Enough?

Nobody’s perfect — but compared to the world around you, you must rate pretty high.

You don’t curse, you don’t smoke and you don’t drink too much. You are faithful to your mate and you are honest. You go to church regularly, you pray, you study the Bible and you try to put it into action. That has got to make you better than the average person. After all, many people today aren’t even trying to be good.

That shouldn’t be a surprise. The apostle Paul warned that the end-time society would be a place of falling standards and collapsing values. “Know this,” he wrote, “that in the last days perilous times will come” (II Timothy 3:1-5). Paul warned that people would become more greedy and selfish. He predicted the brutality and mindless violence of our age, when people would love pleasure more than God, and when even those who were “religious” would not understand God’s truth. “From such people turn away!” he thundered.

If you are serious about serving God today, you must indeed turn away from this world before it collapses. But that is hard, and it is all too easy to relax and slip back into your old ways. And so the Bible tells those who are real Christians to examine themselves from time to time (and particularly during the Passover season) to see if they are indeed “in the faith” (II Corinthians 13:5).

When you measure something, you compare it with an accepted standard — a weight, a ruler or perhaps a thermometer. Then you can know how heavy, how long or how hot it is. But how do you measure how good you are?

How good are you?

If you compare yourself with the standards of the world around you, you would probably pass with flying colors. But is that good enough? There is a serious flaw in such reasoning. Obviously this world’s standard of what is “good enough” is not reliable, but do you know why? It is not just because it is wrong. It is also variable — or, to be more specific, it is declining.

“Evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived,” Paul warned in II Timothy 3:13. He realized that the end-time world was not just going to be bad — it was going to get steadily worse.

Today crime is increasing, and violence and perversion are becoming commonplace. Young people are becoming ever more disillusioned and older people more frustrated. The world has its ways of hiding the truth from itself. Everyone wants to believe that things are getting better, and so more and more evil is tolerated. The unacceptable is made acceptable and the illegal becomes legal. What was once wrong is now accepted as “OK.”

But legislating away sin and squelching the penalty never solves problems. All it does is ensure that more people are going to be harmed.

Declining movie standards

The entertainment industry gives us a good example of how this society gradually tolerates more and more evil. Back in 1939, when Clark Gable used a rather mild (by today’s standards) expletive in the movie Gone With the Wind, audiences gasped. But that was only the beginning.

In 1968 the Motion Picture Association of America decided to regulate itself, adopting a set of standards by which new films could be rated. “G” meant the film was suitable for general audiences. “M” indicated that some of the material might not be suitable for children and that mature guidance was required. Then there was the “R” rating, signifying that children were restricted from seeing the movie unless accompanied by parents, while an “X” determined that no minors would be allowed to see the movie under any circumstances.

But did that action lead to more good films and less obscene rubbish? No — today half the films produced in the United States get an “R” rating, and many that now get a “PG” (which replaced “M”) would have been rated “R” back in 1968. A “PG-13” rating has now been added to indicate that a film is more violent or sexual in content than a “PG” movie, but not enough to earn an “R.”

Standards have dropped. What was unacceptable is now considered acceptable. Today you are probably allowing yourself to be entertained by movies with themes and language that would have appalled “good Christian folk” as little as 15 years ago. Explicit four-letter words and blasphemies glibly roll off the tongues of actors, even in “PG” movies. We barely notice them, and it takes a lot to make us gasp now.

So if you measure yourself by the rating standards of the world around you, you are kidding yourself. Even if your standard of righteousness is always better than the average, it doesn’t take a genius to see that soon “good people” are actually worse than the average had been only a little time before. Those who consider themselves “righteous” by society’s standards are kidding themselves.

A lesson from the Pharisees

That was exactly the situation into which Jesus Christ came nearly 2,000 years ago. The standards of “good behavior” in that society were set by the Pharisees, a sect of self-righteous religious leaders. By their standards, the Pharisees looked good. They prayed. They studied the Scriptures. They gave tithes and alms, and they fasted often. The average man in the street, seeing a Pharisee in action (and the Pharisees made sure they were seen) would have thought that they were indeed righteous people.

But Jesus saw right through them. He gave a parable that showed what He thought about these hypocrites:

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men — extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:10-14).

Jesus showed that the goodness of the Pharisees, although seemingly better than average, was just not good enough. “Unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven,” He explained (Matthew 5:20).

Measuring accurately

Is there, then, a standard by which Christians can measure themselves? There is indeed. God’s law is a standard you can trust, a standard that never varies. With God there is right and there is wrong, and He commands us to do what is right.

Sin is the transgression of God’s law (I John 3:4), and God doesn’t grade sin. There are no “X,” “R” or “PG” transgressions. The penalty of sin always has been and always will be the same — death (Romans 6:23).

Now that is too strong for some, and there have been many attempts to liberalize or even do away with God’s law across the centuries. But God does not move His standards up and down to conform with changing times, or to agree with what some liberal theologian chooses to define as sin. He doesn’t alter His values to accommodate “progress” in a “more enlightened” world. He never condones sin. (He does, of course, forgive it, if we repent.)

Jesus summed up God’s standard in Matthew 5:48: “You shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

In that case, perhaps we should just give up. Who can become perfect like the great God? But God is reasonable and understanding and does not hold out an impossible standard to thwart and frustrate us. He sets this standard to prevent His people, who are trying to stop sinning, from falling into the insidious trap of self-righteousness.

We must always remember that just reaching a better than average standard isn’t good enough.

By all means be encouraged if in your Christian life you are showing some progress. That progress should spur you on to keep going. But remember, you have not passed the test yet. God has a high standard.” He has promised to help you grow toward it — but not if you bog down into smug self-satisfaction. Don’t be fooled by the collapsing standards of a world that has lost sight of reality. You aren’t “good enough” yet.

The Good News, April 1986

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