Swimming in Public?

Should a Christian be at a public swimming pool or water theme park?

what do the scriptures say about swimming

What do the scriptures say about swimming?

The scriptures do not directly answer this particular question and so we must understand some principles that are set down within the scriptures in order to get to an appropriate answer. The Bible says that God has given us all things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17). Water, whether to drink or to bathe in or to play in, is a thing that God has given us to enjoy. So there is nothing wrong with enjoying a swimming pool or water theme park in and of itself. But I believe that the questioner has a little more in mind concerning this question than what is specifically stated and I am quite sure that this has to do with the attire with which both men and women clothe themselves when at such places. The very definition of a public swimming pool or water theme park means that there will be all kinds of individual’s participating in the activities that are offered at these places and there will certainly be some who are not Christians visiting these areas.

In today’s society in general, water and immodesty go hand in hand. Those who seek to recreate themselves around water activities such as swimming, water theme parks, or water skiing often display an inappropriate amount of flesh while they are participating in such things. There are two things that are wrong with this situation. First, the Bible commands that Christians be modest in the way that we dress. Paul wrote to Timothy the following words, “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” The principle that is involved in modest dress is basically that we should not with our apparel draw undue attention to ourselves that would distract from what our real purpose in life is. Whether we overdress in the style of Cindi Lauper, or whether we under dress in the same fashion as the latest Sports Illustrated swimsuit models, we will draw undue attention to ourselves and the focus of our life will become worldliness instead of godliness. Those who are Christians should not dress in such a way. If you dress in such a way while going to a public water recreation area then you have failed in keeping yourself modest and that is a sin.

The other problem that one runs into when attending public places of swimming or water recreation is the problem of lust. The Bible tells us that we should abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul (1 Peter 2:11). Jesus said in Matthew 5:28 “But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Those who look upon others with a lustful heart sin against God. Whether it is men or women who are doing the looking, when one sees a person of the opposite sex and that person entices lust in one’s heart to the degree that you wish to engage in sexual activity with them, then you have sinned in so looking. Public swimming places, water parks, and other public recreational activities where water is involved will lead you into this temptation. Jesus told us that we should pray not to be lead into temptation (Matthew 6:13). Why would we want to put ourselves into a situation where we would be tempted? No doubt it is within the realm of possibility for a Christian to go to a public swimming place dressed modestly and without any thought of lust in one’s heart for those around them, but it is highly unlikely. So to answer the question, “Should a Christian be at one of these places?” I ask the following questions. Should a Christian dress immodestly? Should a Christian lust after another man or woman? Should a Christian deliberately expose him or herself to lusts which war against the soul? If you have answered “no” to any of these questions, then you have your answer in regard to whether a Christian should go to a public pool or water park where such behavior, as is typical of the world, is occurring. Let us as Christians seek to promote chaste behavior in our life and participate in activities that do not lend themselves to inappropriate activity.

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Give Me Peace!

Give Me Peace

Everyone wants peace!

Everyone wants peace!

Peace. Who wouldn’t want more of it amongst the membership of the congregation in which they work and worship? Certainly our Lord and Savior, the “Prince of Peace” does. And as that great ‘opinions’ chapter, Romans 14, so thoroughly exhorts as it explores the prideful personal opinions, perspectives, pettiness and preferences which we so often give such a high and prized priority – even to the point of destroying one another for whom Christ died as well as the rest of the work of God in any given congregation – the Lord’s kingdom/church isn’t supposed to be about those things at all, but instead, about “righteousness, PEACE, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (See Romans 14; emphasis added on vs. 17 here – DED).

The Lord’s faithful congregations both should, and must, be a place of ultimate and unending peace within and amongst their ranks as they work and worship together to His glory. So why on earth are they so often not? While the reasons are surely many and varied, certainly the Apostle Paul’s divinely-inspired admonitions to the Thessalonians provide us with some priceless insight into one of the most common problems which continually prevents congregational peace, as well as providentially providing us with the perfect prescription for promoting, providing, and producing a more complete peace amongst us, wherever and whenever that particular problem exists.

As to the problem itself; the apostle Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12, “For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.” The Greek word translated “busybodies” in verse 11 is “periergazomai,” and means, “to busy one’s self about trifling, needless, useless matters; used apparently of a person officiously inquisitive about other’s affairs.”

But this problem was far from being either new, exclusive, or limited only to these first century children of God. Solomon in all of his shining wisdom many centuries earlier had sternly warned in Proverbs 26:17 and 21: “One who passes by and meddles in a quarrel not his own, is like one who takes a dog by the ears… As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife.And as the Apostle Peter also warned in his first, first-century epistle, this practice of presumptuously inserting one’s self into, and/or continually seeking to control someone else’s business when one has no real right or legitimate responsibility to do so, has absolutely no place in and amongst the saints of God, actually being akin to committing murder, being a thief, or being an evildoer according to almighty God! Really. “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters” (1 Peter 4:15). I would additionally herein remind us of Miriam, the elder sister of both Aaron and Moses, who, over an approximately 90+ year span, served so well and saw so many miracles performed by her brother Moses whom God had chosen, but who, in the end, even after all that: presumptuously meddled in the affairs of God’s chosen leader; potentially disturbed and disrupted the peace of God’s congregation in so doing; and summarily suffered the God-caused consequences for her prideful and presumptuous sin, shortly before succumbing to her own death (Numbers 12:1-16; 20:1).

And so we see that this problem was far from new to these first-century Thessalonian saints. And in fact, Paul had actually also addressed it in his earlier epistle to them as well. But yet this pride-driven, peace-shattering problem still persisted! This, despite the extremely simple, scriptural, and straightforward solution which he had, by divine inspiration, previously provided and prescribed to them. Although they already loved one another deeply and it was obvious (1 Thess. 4:9), the fact was that they still needed to increase and mature even more in their love for both their brethren (vs. 10) as well as outsiders (vss. 11-12). And as an integral and essential part of that maturation and peace-providing process, Paul’s prescription, which was both priceless as well as timeless for all such saints in the Lord’s church, was simply and powerfully stated – yea commanded – in 1st Thessalonians, chapter 4, vs. 11:

…That you also aspire (“make it your ambition, or goal”) to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you.

How much more peaceful, joyful, and profitable, every saint obeying this command of the Lord would not only make life in our congregations overall, but also, how much more peaceful, joyful, and profitable, every saint obeying this command of the Lord would additionally make it on any and all of the loving, hard-working, soul-shepherding, and God-honoring leaders of our congregations as well – as well it should be (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; Hebrews 13:17)!

Now of course this doesn’t mean that we stop serving the Lord or being involved with loving, serving, and even correcting – when necessary – one another (1 Thessalonians 5:14-22). God forbid! (Truth be told, once one stops wasting their time and energy getting involved with what they ought and need not to anyway, it might even give them more time and opportunity to take up the righteous, more appropriate, and personal God-given responsibilities they should be more involved in to boot.) But what it does mean, is that we need to obey this commandment of the Lord not to be a “busybody,” “meddler,” or “one who needlessly and presumptuously seeks to insert themselves into some other saint’s business where they don’t belong or need to be in the first place,” just like any other. And when we do, the God of peace will be with us (1 Thessalonians 5:23), and the peace of God will preserve us (2 Thessalonians 3:16)!

And, after all… Who wouldn’t want more peace amongst the membership of the congregation in which they work and worship anyway? “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which we may edify one another” (Romans 14:17-19).

 

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Sin of Lust

Heart of the Matter: Lust

In a hyper-sexualized nation we have almost become desensitized to it: lust. Scantily clad billboards are the norm. Restaurants featuring immodestly dressed women are not just doing well—they are thriving and new chains, also featuring immodest waitresses, are sprouting up in cities all across the nation. Television has become a parade of indecently dressed actors and actresses. Even many commercials use sex to sell products and feature immodest actresses.

lust simplifies man down to an object

Lust simplifies man down to an object.

Many people are dressing not just to just attract attention, but to also accentuate their bodies. Our society feels very comfortable wearing very little or very tight clothes. A Christian would be hard pressed to go to a local mall and not feel visually assaulted. Add to this the epidemic of Internet pornography and you can easily see the recipe for disaster. Infidelity has become the norm in television sitcoms, and marriages are falling apart all across the nation. And if we are honest with ourselves, lust does not stop at the doorway of a church building.

Here’s what I intend to teach my children regarding lust.

God created our bodies—and He created them “good.” The human body is an amazing thing. Unfortunately, many people have taken the human body and turned it into an ungodly object. A simple definition of lust is longing for someone to whom you are not married. Lust is not something that Christians should be doing. Jesus said, “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).

I believe part of the reason Christ said this was because the act of lusting removes the “human” element that was created in the image and likeness of God, and reduces that person down to an object. It also causes your mind to turn away from good things and to focus on fleshly things. In that moment you are walking away from a holy God.

Your mom and I have tried hard to shelter you from much of this filth during your short lifetimes—and we encourage you to do the same in your homes. We know you are exposed to many sexual images when we go out in public, but we do everything we can to limit that exposure and to protect your hearts and minds. Many people would argue that children should not be sheltered because they claim that protective “bubble” is not what the real world is like. However, God does not (and does not need to) immerse His children in vile and graphic details so that you can “learn” and recognize sin. You do not need to experience sin to know what it is (e.g., Jesus did not need to experience sin to know what was sinful). We have reared you in such a way that hopefully you will not even open your minds to the sin of lust.

Many people lust because they view it to be a “secret sin” that no one else is aware of. However, God is aware of everything—and please remember that what you are doing is bringing your mind into darkness instead of the light. The writer of Proverbs instructed his son to keep his father’s command, “To keep you from the evil woman, from the flattering tongue of a seductress. Do not lust after her beauty in your heart” (Proverbs 6:24-25). Later in that same book we read, “The righteousness of the upright will deliver them, but the unfaithful will be caught by their lust” (Proverbs 11:6).

Lust is a battle of the mind. What you must do is constantly discipline your mind against going there. Paul in writing to the church at Galatia admonished, “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish” (Galatians 5:16-17). Every time you find yourself in that battle, consider that it was our wretched sin that put Jesus Christ on the cross. Force yourself to consider the real cost of making someone into an object for your pleasure. The cost of sin is death—it’s not worth a few minutes of mental pleasure.

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