Tag Archive | society

Separation from GOD

This morning, I started my day by reading the biblical book of Habakkuk.  It’s a short book with an odd-sounding name by today’s standards, and it’s message is absolutely poignant.  I highly encourage you to read it; as I said, it’s short and to the point.

habakkuk

The message of Habakkuk got me thinking about the world we live in today.  I found myself pondering Romans 1:28: “Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done” (New Living Translation).  This one statement summarizes the condition of modern humanity.  People have chosen their way over God’s way, and many have chosen to reject the very existence of God.  Don’t think so?  Let’s read on:

Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip.  They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful.  They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy.  They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.  (Romans 1:29-32, NLT)

Sound familiar?  This type of behavior has been displayed for decades, and it doesn’t take a biblical scholar to see that the choices people are making are, indeed, getting worse.  This begs the question, “Why?”  Why have our sinful choices caused God to abandon us to our own demise?  Actions breed consequences.  Too simple, you say?  I disagree, and here is why:

  1. God exists and the Bible is true; therefore, the biblical description of God is also true.
  2. We have free will (a.k.a. freedom of choice) and have chosen against God, rather than for God.
  3. These choices have separated us from God; hence, God has allowed us to live with the consequences of our actions.

God exists and the Bible is true.  Romans 1:20 reads, “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God” (NLT).  (For further in-depth research, do an internet search for Lee Strobel.)  I believe God exists, that he created the world, and that one day those he calls his children will reside with him in heaven for eternity (Genesis 1, John 3:16, Romans 10:9-10).   Additionally, I believe that the bible is true: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right” (2 Timothy 3:16, NLT).

We have free will and have chosen against God, rather than for God.  When we continually choose to live according to our own desires instead of permitting God to guide our lives, he allows us to be consumed by our own appetites.  This condition of humanity is described not only in the book of Habakkuk and in Romans 1:29-32, but throughout Scripture.  Here are just a few examples:

So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen” (Romans 1:24-25, NLT).

“So I let them follow their own stubborn desires, living according to their own ideas” (Psalm 81:12, NLT).

“Let the one who is doing harm continue to do harm; let the one who is vile continue to be vile; let the one who is righteous continue to live righteously; let the one who is holy continue to be holy” (Revelation 22:11, NLT).

These choices have separated us from God.  Sin creates a chasm between us and God.  “It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore” (Isaiah 59:2, NLT).  Adam and Eve committed sin when they ate the “forbidden fruit” in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3).  Prior to that moment, they walked and talked with God in perfect, serene fellowship.  Because of their choice, they suffered the consequences; the main one was the breaking of that intimacy with their Creator (Genesis 3:23).  The chasm that began in the garden is growing larger today.

God has allowed us to live with the consequences of our actions.  Going back to “God exists,” many would argue that there is no God.  I’ve heard it said that because of the pain and suffering in this world, there can not be a God.  Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel said, “It seemed as impossible to conceive of Auschwitz with God as to conceive of Auschwitz without God. Therefore, everything had to be reassessed because everything had changed” (The Nobel Peace Prize speech, 1986).  We cannot address the atrocities in this world without bringing God into the conversation, yet I would challenge you to leave him out of it.  In fact, as those who oppose the authenticity of God do, let’s say there is no God.  If there is no God:

  • Mankind lives for its own pleasure, sometimes ethically, sometimes not
  • People behave as though there are no consequences for their actions
  • Humans abuse the very earth they live upon until it negatively affects them
  • Innocent people are harmed due to a blatant disregard for human life
  • Diseases run rampant due to everything from pollution to food additives
  • People admit they have nobody to blame but themselves for these consequences

On the other side, if God is real and the Bible is true, then he created a perfect world – a world that was GOOD (Genesis 1:31) – without disease or destruction.  If people choose to reject God, their sins have cut them off from God (Isaiah 59:2).  Therefore, we are living in a world filled with individuals who are separated from God and relishing in their own choices.  So what does this world look like?

  • Mankind lives for its own pleasure, sometimes ethically, sometimes not
  • People behave as though there are no consequences for their actions
  • Humans abuse the very earth they live upon until it negatively affects them
  • Innocent people are harmed due to a blatant disregard for human life
  • Diseases run rampant due to everything from pollution to food additives
  • People blame God for evil in this world

My friends, if we are going to live as if there is no God, then we must accept the responsibility and the consequences of our actions.  God is not going to take away our free will.  He did not create a species of robots; he wants us to choose a relationship, fellowship, and life with him.  Without this relationship made possible through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection, there might as well be no God for those who do not know God.  Yet the day will come when this choice serves its greatest consequence: eternal separation from God.

And God will provide rest for you who are being persecuted and also for us when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven. He will come with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, bringing judgment on those who don’t know God and on those who refuse to obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus.  They will be punished with eternal destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from his glorious power. (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9, NLT)

There will be a day when the choice will be made for us: everyone will know without a doubt that Jesus Christ is Lord!

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.  Though he was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.  Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, He humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.  Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11, NLT, emphasis mine)  

If we have accepted Jesus as our Savior – the free gift from God for salvation from eternal damnation/separation from him – then we must “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19, NLT).  In this world of turmoil, our only hope is found in Jesus.  He can and He will restore our relationship with God, our heavenly Father.

hugging Jesus

“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14, NLT).

 

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2016 Reflections

As I sit here on NYE awaiting the arrival of the new year, I realize that much like this year’s presidential election, I may not be exactly “for” 2017 so much as I’m “anti” 2016.  My word, it’s been a rough one in just about every way, shape and form.  The media has focused upon the numerous deaths of celebrities; I admit, it’s been easy as a child of the 80’s to get caught up in the “what the heck?!” feeling that for some reason, 2016 set out to attack my teenage memories.

Celebrities weren’t the only ones who met tragedy over the past year.  2016 was bathed in conflict, controversy, and sadness: racial tension, police officers and criminals, natural disasters, religious doctrines, sex-trafficking, ISIS, battles over human rights.  I couldn’t listen to the radio or check out social media without discovering another tug-of-war within humanity.  Often times, it was too much to stomach.  (We won’t even go into the hatred spewed during this year’s election.)  What was happening to this world?!  Is this how God created people to be?!

Toss into mix my own family trials that knocked the wind right out of us in 2016.  My mother suffered a stroke in late August and is still in rehabilitation.  This prompted an unexpected trip to visit her in September, during which my husband underwent an emergency appendectomy while my daughter and I were traveling back to GA from PA.  (He arrived home with the help from a friend about the time I walked through our kitchen door.)  My husband had other bouts in the ER throughout the year.  My sister-in-law had a cancer scare and thyroid surgery.  And me?  Well, I received the gift of the beginnings of menopause in January and was recently diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.  In March, I had a traumatic flashback from childhood that caused my depression to spiral.  (I am not ready to journey down that blogger’s road by sharing the deep darkness of my past, although I am sure that day is coming.)  As my depression worsened, my physician decided medication was the best route.  It would be easy to bitterly, with tongue in cheek, exclaim a sarcastic, “Thank YOU, 2016!” and insert a few Fred Flintstone grumbles in place of cussing out the whole year.

Yet it will do me no good to yell and scream obscenities as Auld Lang Syne plays somewhere in the distance.  The more I struggled personally, the louder God’s voice became as He guided me to one particular verse: “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and He will stand upon the earth at last” (Job 19:25, New Living Translation).  I had to hold on to His promise in the midst of this tumultuous year.  I’ve learned in my counseling courses that although a complete dichotomy stands between the evil in this world and the goodness that is God, making it impossible at times to believe that there can be one AND the other … both do indeed exist.  God is good, He has always been good, He will always be good.  Satan may have his sway on this earth now, but eternity sees him bound in hell while my God reigns forevermore.  I am reminded that while suffering takes place, it – and all of this life for that matter – is temporary.  My husband and I were discussing getting older and losing loved ones, and he brought up a good point.  When we were very young, we thought that 40 was old.  Now we are in our 40s, and we realize a lifetime has passed in the blink of an eye.  Soon, Lord willing, we will be in our 60s and eventually 80s, and it, too, will fly by just as quickly as this half of our lives.  Thank GOD for eternity, or what would be the point of this short little life?

So goodbye to 2016, a year of painful lessons – some visible, others, not so much.  I have to hold on to my faith in God and His promise that no tears are wasted.  He has a purpose for each and every one, and I praise Him for the day when “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain.  All these things are gone forever” (Revelation 21:4, NLT).

Welcome, 2017.  And come, Lord Jesus, come.

happy-new-year-2017-images-for-whatsapp-2

The Negative Effects of Sensual Advertisements

In today’s society, advertisements are seen on TV, on the Internet, on billboards, in catalogs, and outside retail stores. Advertisers are trying to grab our attention, and one method they use is sensuality. Because teenagers are a target market for certain companies, such as clothing stores, some ads are designed to reach the teenage desire to be good-looking and popular. Images used in advertisements for companies such as Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister Co. are specifically targeting the sexual side of adolescents, creating the idea that in order to be attractive, one must be thin, beautiful, and sexy. The American Psychological Association created a task force to study the effects of sexualization, specifically of girls, in the media and advertising. This task force discovered that sexualization is rampant in the media, that it has increased over the past 40 years, and that there are a variety of negative consequences that can result from exposure to this sexualization. In addition, the Bible warns humanity against sexual immorality. It is unlikely that companies will change their methods of advertising; it is up to parents and other responsible adults to guide teenagers toward healthy standards and godly morals.

Cute, but fun!

Teenage fashion should be fun, yet modest.

Walk through a typical shopping mall, and you will see droves of them: teenagers. The mall is the teenager’s place to socialize, eat, and, of course, shop. Teens spend the biggest part of their budget, approximately 21 percent, on clothing (Reagan, 2013). It stands to reason that clothing retailers use their advertisements to grab the attention of our youth. Unfortunately, the message that some popular companies are sending is a negative one, promoting “sexualization,” in particular, of girls (Zurbriggen et al., 2007). The notion is that in order to be considered beautiful, one must be sexy; in order to be considered sexy, one must be sexual. When this idea is embraced by adolescents, it lays the foundation for harmful consequences.

Two clothing stores that top the teenage shopping list are Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister Co. Ironically, both companies promote advertisements that feature minimal clothing and maximum sexuality, as seen in this Abercrombie & Fitch ad (Levinson, 2013).

abercrombieAbercrombie & Fitch is not only known for displaying images of scantily clad young adults in sensual poses, but they embrace the fact that their models are the epitome of what society considers good-looking. In a 2006 interview, the company’s CEO Michael Jeffries confirmed that his main marketing tactic is to focus on “hot people” (Levinson, 2013). Jeffries was quoted as saying, “A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.” (Levinson, 2013). Abercrombie & Fitch does not carry extra-large sizes in female apparel in order to limit their clientele to only thin individuals (Levinson, 2013). There is a specific image Jeffries wants displayed in his advertisements and in his stores. He made the statement that, “In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. Candidly, we go after the cool kids.” (Levinson, 2013).

Hollister Co., a subsidiary of Abercrombie & Fitch that features “SoCal” styles imprinted with the Hollister logo, is also popular with the youth of today (Abercrombie, n.d.). It is no surprise that the same advertising method is utilized by both companies. While the models in this Hollister image are wearing a bit more clothing than the Abercrombie & Fitch photo referenced above, the theme still runs true: thin, beautiful, sexy people displaying sensuality (Mulkeen, 2010). Even if this were an advertisement for swimwear, there is barely any swimsuit to be seen.

hollisterHow do advertisements such as these affect the youth of today? “Journalists, child advocacy organizations, parents and psychologists have argued that the sexualization of girls is a broad and increasing problem and is harmful to girls” (Zurbriggen et al., 2007). Although the American Psychological Association (APA) has studied the impact media and advertising have on children for years, these studies were focused on violence and not on sexualization. Because of this, the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls was formed (Zurbriggen et al., 2007).

Sexualization occurs when a person’s value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or
behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics; a person is held to a standard that equates
physical attractiveness (narrowly defined) with being sexy; a person is sexually objectified –
that is, made into a thing for others’ sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the capacity
for independent action and decision making; and/or sexuality is inappropriately imposed upon
a person. (Zurbriggen et al., 2007)

The task force discovered that sexualization of women was found in practically all media forms, “including television, music videos, music lyrics, movies, magazines, sports media, video games, the Internet and advertising” (Zurbriggen et al., 2007). Examples of advertisements sexualizing females were not hard to find; sexualization was seen in ads for tennis shoes, dolls, and even thongs specifically sized for pre-teen girls (Zurbriggen et al., 2007). Sexualization is not limited to only females; however, men are less likely overall to be displayed in a sexual light. As witnessed in the Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister Co. advertisements, there is a “narrow and unrealistic standard of physical beauty heavily emphasized” (Zurbriggen et al., 2007). In addition, research has shown that over a 40-year period, the number of ads promoting sexualization has increased (Zurbriggen et al., 2007). As a result, society sexualizes females. Not only do girls have a narrow view of beauty to emulate, but males may have decreased interest in ladies who do not meet the unrealistic standards set by the media (Zurbriggen et al., 2007).

There are other negative effects of sexualization and objectification of women in advertising. Cognitive consequences can occur, such as the inability to focus on anything other than physical appearance. Emotional results include low self-esteem and anxiety. Mental and physical health problems may arise in the forms of depression and eating disorders (Zurbriggen et al., 2007).

From a Biblical perspective, there is nothing positive about sex in advertising. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5a reads, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion” (NASB). Advertisers using sex in an attempt to sell a product are not adhering to the commandments of God, but rather, are seeking the almighty dollar. Matthew 18:7 warns, “Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes” (NASB).

In a society full of visual imagery, it is difficult to turn a blind eye to every negative influence. Advertisers want our business, and they are willing to use powerful displays to get our attention. Teenagers form a target market; unfortunately, companies prey upon their heightened hormones and sexual curiosity to lure them into buying their merchandise. The sensual images and objectification of females and males can lead to negative consequences in the emotional, physical, social, and spiritual lives of adolescents submerged in today’s media. We may not be able to control the advertisers, but we can reinforce healthy, positive standards and Biblical morals to fight against the sexualization that surrounds us through advertising.


References

Abercrombie & Fitch. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.abercrombie.com.

Levinson, S. (2013, May 3). Abercrombie & fitch ceo explains why he hates fat chicks. Retrieved from http://elitedaily.com/news/world/abercrombie-fitch-ceo-explains-why-he- hates-fat-chicks/.

Mulkeen, M. (2010, September 2). Hollister’s immersive retail experience. Retrieved from http://www.postadvertising.com/2010/09/hollisters-immersive-retail-experience/.

New American Standard Bible. Ultrathin Reference Edition. The Lockman Foundation. La Habra, CA: Foundation Publications, Inc., 1998. Print.

Reagan, C. (2013, May 30). Teen angst: Retailers fight for relevance. Retrieved from http://www.cnbc.com/id/100774191.

Zurbriggen, E.L., Collins, R.L., Lamb, S., Roberts, T., Tolman, D.L., Ward, L.M., & Blake, J. (2007). Report of the apa task force on the sexualization of girls. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/girls/report.aspx.