Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
Our Epistle for this week, from Ephesians 5:1-9, is a passage which promises contention in today’s Western culture. From the outset, I’ll point out that the biblical norm for morality has hardly ever matched that of the broader culture. In articulating his stance, God’s stance, against sexual immorality, crudity, foolish talking, and covetousness (greedy desires), the apostle is going against the currents of culture. He says that Christians should be clearly, identifiably counter-cultural. They keep their sexual relationships within the bounds of one an and one woman, exclusively faithful for life, as was appointed for the first parents in the Garden. They speak words and engage in activities which bring good, not evil. They are content with what God provides, thogh they may work very hard for gain so as to benefit themselves, their families, and ultimately their society.
Why do Christians live this kind of life? it is not t o earn any favor before God. It is from gratitude that He has cared for us. The faithful marital relationship is a sign of God in Christ loving and giving himself for the good of one who is different from him in a particular way. It is a way of showing consistent care for another ,even if that care ends in death, which every lifelong relationship does. It is a sign of stability in a world where everything else seems to be changing. It is the one way we have found in all of human history to reliably bring forth a stable next generation.
What of the speech issues Paul brings up? Words can hurt. They can hurt very deeply. Along with the crudity and foolish talk, children and adults alike receive a message that they are not valued, that their dignity doesn’t matter, that they can serve as a punching bag. Do we really want to confess that all humans somehow bear God’s image so they can be mistreated? No. How has God in Christ treated His people? They are loved, comforted, forgiven by the one who lays his life down for them. Christians, go ahead. Swim against the culture’s current.
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