Family, food, fireworks, fun in the sun… I particularly enjoyed this year’s 4th of July celebration, as it was the first time in a few years that I was actually in the country to celebrate!
In the midst of my hotdog eating and succulent watermelon indulgences, I began to wonder about the lives of our country’s so-called ‘founding fathers.’ What were the conversations that went on around the table as they signed their names to the document on that fateful summer day that would forever change the world?
To quench the thirst of my curiosity, I did a bit of digging around on the internet and discovered some words written by John Adams in a letter to his wife Abigail, a day before the Declaration of Independence was approved by Congress in 1776:
I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more…
Prophetic words indeed eh? Over two hundred years later and Independence Day looks (almost) identical to his prediction:
- Celebrated as a great anniversary festival? Check.
- Solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations? Check, check, check. (My family actually managed to squeeze in all of the above over this past weekend. Yes, even guns. And throw in a hoola-hoop contest!)
- Commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion? If you mean deliverance from work by solemn acts of devotion to hotdogs and cold beverages, then maybe.
All kidding aside, the third point–devotion to God Almighty–hardly characterizes the All-American holiday celebration in most homes. It was so clearly a core value of our founding fathers and the culmination of the signing of the Declaration. Check out the original documents of the universities where the majority of our forefathers studied…
Harvard for example, which churned out a number of our founding fathers–including John Quincy Adams, John Hancock, John Adams, Samuel Adams–had this statement of purpose for incoming students:
“To be plainly instructed and consider well that the main end of your life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ….” and that “Everyone shall so exercise himself in reading the Scriptures twice a day that he shall be able to give an account of his proficiency therein.”
Yale, which produced founding fathers such as Noah Webster, William Samuel Johnson, and Abraham Baldwin, had these requirements for its students:
“Seeing that God is the giver of all wisdom, every student, besides his private and secret prayer, will be present morning and evening for public prayer.”
Princeton produced people like James Madison, Benjamin Rush and John Witherspoon and had this founding statement:
“Cursed is all learning that is contrary to the cross of Christ.”
These faith-based statements played a pivotal role in shaping the hearts, minds and values of our founding fathers and the foundation on which our country was built, and yet our celebrations and commemorations of this country are null and void of any mention of God?
This is not a political rant, but a mere observation. Our country is clearly headed in a certain direction and I just wonder if it was the direction our forefathers had in mind. At the end of the day though, it is not up to our forefathers, as they were mere humans just like us. Rather, it is up to the sovereign will of our Father in Heaven, whether or not we agree with the moral, political, economic and/or spiritual state of this country. All we can do it trust that God knew exactly how America would take shape as a nation and He knows every moment of its future from here on out, for as the Scriptures say:
“From one man, he made all of the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.” -Acts 17:26
He has marked out the appointed times in history for each and every nation. He has marked each and every boundary, each and every dividing line and it is all for one, very specific purpose:
“…so they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him…” -Acts 17:27
God created different nations so that we would draw closer to Him. How cool is that? No matter how far our country has come, or how far in whichever direction it has gone, may we always keep the big, eternal picture in view, choosing to seek Him and reach out for Him in the midst of a chaotic world that is impossible to fully understand. And may we also seek to honor our founding fathers by recognizing our nation as one grounded and founded by ‘solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.’
*Challenge Question: What is your favorite way to celebrate July 4th? How can we better carry on our forefathers’ legacy of devotion to God?
In last week’s post, I referred to the movie No Strings Attached. Rather than addressing the content of the movie, I related the ‘No Strings Attached’ concept to our relationship with God. As the week went on, my heart was stirring and I couldn’t figure out why.
Then I remembered how I felt when I watched No Strings Attached. Something happened inside me. It was as if the eyes of my heart were shedding tears of sadness and despair–a response to how casually the movie had portrayed the subject of sex. It was nothing more that a skin on skin romp session between people who hardly knew each other. No love. No commitment. No connection. Just… sex.
Oh Father, I thought cringing as I watched, what has happened to our morals?
The heaviness hung like a dark cloud on my Spirit. I went to bed that night feeling God’s heart for the very foundations of our society, which seem to be crumbling beneath us as we speak. How have things gone so far in the opposite direction of the way God intended things to be?
I don’t have the answer to that question, but I feel compelled to at least address it in this weeks’ blog post.
First of all, I am not coming at this topic as a person with a squeaky clean past. God has done His redemptive work in my life and now that I know and have accepted the Truth of His Word, I am absolutely convinced that what it says is the standard by which I must live my life when it comes to sex and sexuality.
Take a look at what Paul says on the topic in the Message version of 1 Corinthians 6:16-20,
“There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, “The two become one.” Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never “become one.” There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for “becoming one” with another. Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body. (Message)
Sex is more that skin on skin. Sex. Is. More. So often in the Church we focus on ‘sex is bad…wrong…sinful…’ rather than MORE. So much more than we make it out to be in movies like No Strings Attached, among others.
So what exactly is the ‘more’? We can glean some insight from the verse above:
- We value the sacredness of our own bodies
- We honor sex as an act made for God-given and God-modeled love, for “becoming one” with another
- We realize our physical being as a place where the Holy Spirit dwells
- We acknowledge our bodies as a gift for which God paid a high price
- We sign off ownership of our bodies to God
- We desire God to be reflected in our lifestyle and how we conduct our bodies
Wow. Sex is SO MUCH MORE than the movies and society at large make it out to be. How sad that we expect and settle for so much less!
The question now is how do we let this message get across in the No Strings Attached world in which we live? Sadly, spouting off Bible verses is no longer a compelling enough reason for the younger generation.
The answer is you and me. Now that we know the Truth, we need to walk in complete obedience to it–not in a rule following or legalistic way–but in a way that makes people want God’s way. In a way that shines the light, love, goodness and glory of God through our bodies and our sexuality. In a way that focuses less on the sinfulness and wrong-doing of sex before marriage and MORE on the holiness, wholeness, beauty and doing right of saving it for marriage.
I want more. Don’t you?
We don’t need people who give God lip service, but when it comes to living it out so easily compromise. It doesn’t mean we have to be perfect, but God is looking for people who are earnestly seeking to walk the talk. Who believe in Him and live what they profess, not because they want to be holier-than-thou religious fanatics, but because they genuinely love Him and want to live a life that gives honor to His name. And because they see the value in doing things His way, by the strength of His grace and power of His Holy Spirit.
It’s the SO MUCH MORE way! Don’t miss out.
Action Plan: Take a moment to assess your own thoughts, attitudes and behaviors towards sex. Does your life repel or attract people to the things of God? Be honest and get real–with yourself and with God. Ask Him to show you His perspective on the matter. Get some people around you to help you and hold you accountable to living in a way that honors God in your body and sexuality. We need to lean on each other if we are going to overcome the temptations of this No Strings Attached world. We never have to go at it alone!
Question for Dialogue and Discussion: What are some creative and innovative ways to appeal to (not repel) the younger generation with a Biblical view of sex and sexuality?