More on Sustainable Yoga Practices vs. Jesus

happycamperWell, since this morning’s post generated some questions, let me try to take a scatter shot approach to answering at least a few of them.

First, as I noted in the post, there is a huge (like the size of the universe) range of freedom in the dominion mandate given to Adam and Eve, and re-given in Jesus to explore the world, study it, experiment with it, and find piles of glorious treasures there. When this is happening by faith in the Son of God, it is true, God-glorifying science and technology and even economics. But there’s an enormous difference between the humble explorer who does it all with a twinkle in his eyes, with deep joy in his heart, and a healthy cynicism of his own understanding and abilities. He laughs when he finds cool stuff, He laughs when he’s wrong, he makes hypotheses with a slightly devilish grin on his face because he knows he’s just playing in a gigantic world that His Good Father made and runs — there’s a huge difference between that happy camper and the straight-faced, censorious, and altogether conclusive opinion sharing that passes for polite these days. But for the happy campers whose sins are forgiven by the blood of Jesus, this leaves piles (or shall we say acres) of room for people who want to try new stuff out. Do your chickens, do your gardens, do something new with the soil. Be my guest! Seriously. And let us know how it goes. Try a new diet. Try a new exercise routine. Run your next marathon backwards. I bet you’d make it into one of those viral youtube videos.

But second: keep your priorities straight. The Bible says that loving God is more important than what you eat. The Bible says that telling other people about Jesus is more important than telling other people about the wonders of cloth diapers. The Bible says loving your neighbor is more important than where you got your milk. Yes, I agree that serving month-old rotten milk is not loving your neighbor. Point taken. But within the realm of reasonable (as debatable as that my seem) put people ahead of your preferences. Consider others better than yourself. Do not think more highly of yourself (and your opinions, and your health) than you ought.

Let me give you some examples of getting your priorities upside down. Scan over your Facebook posts for the last six months. How often did you post, like, share, comment enthusiastically on posts that are related to nutritional, dietary, or farming methods? Next compare that to the number of times you posted, liked, shared, commented enthusiastically on things the Bible states clearly without question, things like: Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead. The Spirit has been poured out in our hearts to assure us that we are His children. Children are a blessing from the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is His reward. Wives, let’s remember to respect and obey our husbands today. Husbands, let’s remember to love our wives like Jesus loves the Church and sacrifice for them today. Let’s pray for our unbelieving neighbors and ask God to give us opportunities to share the gospel with them in word and deed. If you look back over your posts, likes, etc., and think you’ve presented a good, balanced picture of the Christian life, then great. I’m not talking about you or your hobbies or your dietary preferences or your kid’s teething necklace. God bless you and carry on. But if your home page reads like a chick tract for sustainable yoga practices, I don’t think you can honestly say you’re being a faithful witness of Jesus.

Third, my point wasn’t that you couldn’t *like* organic farming, yoga, free range chickens, essential oils, or want to try a gluten-free vegan diet. I have friends that do all of the above. And maybe you and I can be friends too. (I may as well note that I’ve also received a goodish bit of feedback from folks who are also into all these things who nevertheless understood and appreciated my point.) And my point was that we ought to hold our loves with the level of confidence that their reliability requires. That Jesus rose from the dead to destroy the works of the devil and make me God’s child forever is more reliable than what gluten does to my digestive system. That the Spirit fills our hearts teaching us to cry out to the God of the whole universe, “Abba Father!” — that is more certain than what essential oils can do for what ails me. That doesn’t mean that you can’t try stuff out. It just means, you need to keep your priorities straight. The gospel comes first. Jesus comes first. If Jesus is clearly first in your life, in your home, and verified by the time and money you spend seeking Him and His Kingdom first, then again, I’m not talking about you.

But related: don’t underestimate the power of the herd. The spirit of the age doesn’t usually come packaged with health warnings. It’s all FDA approved and seems as normal as the air we breathe. It comes with Bible verses about taking care of the poor and taking care of creation and taking care of our bodies. Of course we should care for the poor. Of course we should care for creation. Of course we should take care of our bodies. But turns out people are gullible, and the same folks selling $100 ripped jeans to pimple-faced teenagers are also selling organic watermelons to insecure foodies.

Lastly, my primary targets for my post are those who post and like stuff on Facebook that is just straight up weird. And this is why I don’t think it was a stretch to connect this with sodomy at all. Within the world God made there is a glorious, bracing freedom to explore, to mine, to invent, to discover, and because of Jesus, even a freedom to fail. But that isn’t to say that there are no distinctions or that there are no limits. God built norms into the world. Anal sex is one of those things that God explicitly explains, “just because you *can* doesn’t mean you should” — and in fact God says repeatedly: Don’t. But there’s a certain kind of bent soul, the sort that pushes every limit, the sort that must be edgy, must find the line and dangle three toes over it — the sort that says, fine, I won’t put a penis in there but how about baby poop? How about drinking your own urine? How about whipping up a batch of chocolate chip cookies with a cup of mom’s breast milk? Now someone will say: but what if one of these bizarro things really is a cancer cure? Or, didn’t you hear about that guy who survived on a desert island for three days, drinking his own urine? Well, three things: First, exceptional cases hardly make good rules. Sure, weird stuff happens some times. Second, there’s a huge difference between using physiological research to help sick people and cramming stuff up your own bum. And last, what I’m even more concerned about is the freewheeling, gullible mindset that just gobbles this stuff up. There’s a reason why God gives us a gag reflex. There’s a reason why people have to be talked in to certain things. It takes a twisted thought process or incredible gullibility to try some of these things at home. But there’s a certain kind of spirit that’s driving 80 in a school zone, and when their kids are grown, I’m seriously wondering how they won’t be messed up. And they’ll be able to legitimately point at their mom and say, but you taught me this. But the Bible calls us to grow up into wisdom, into discernment, into the mind of Christ, and to teach our children to do the same.

So to summarize: my primary concerns are wrongheaded priorities (keep Jesus first) and crazy confidence in the Google gods (hold it really loosely, people). I know we live in a crazy, brilliant world run by an amazingly brilliant God who is Father, Son, and Spirit. I know that there are mind-blowing things yet to be discovered and harnessed for our good and enjoyment and God’s glory. And I’m not claiming any kind of blanket exoneration of any current practices or theories. I’m just saying that we should stay humble and happy. We get this insane free gift called life because of Jesus. Enjoy it. Spend it. Love it. And we got an awesome owners manual that came with the package. It’s called the Bible. Stick close to that. Everything else is tea leaves.

  1. Kenneth Van Dyken December 17

    Toby,

    Nailed it.

    Ken

  2. Amanda December 18

    Today’s post is better than yesterdays! Thank you.

  3. Matthew N. Petersen December 18

    One thing worth mentioning: A facebook “like” is pretty superficial. I feel uncomfortable with facebook articles about “posted, liked, shared, commented enthusiastically on things the Bible states clearly without question, things like: Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead. The Spirit has been poured out in our hearts to assure us that we are His children. Children are a blessing from the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is His reward. Wives, let’s remember to respect and obey our husbands today. Husbands, let’s remember to love our wives like Jesus loves the Church and sacrifice for them today. Let’s pray for our unbelieving neighbors and ask God to give us opportunities to share the gospel with them in word and deed.” because they are too deep for facebook.

  4. Valerie December 18

    We must love the Triune God more than anyone or anything else, but that Gospel admonition got a little lost among the complaints in your previous post.

    As much as Christ is first in our lives, we must not embrace a legalistic narrowness that sneers at the passions of other Christians. A person can be an artistic photographer, a serious birder, a hobby gunsmith, or a gourmet cook–collecting the books, watching the videos, and urging friends to see the glory of God in art, animals, engineering, and complex flavors.

    And he can blog about his passion, make a status for it, or tweet about it. Twice a day, every day, without being brought up for public censure.

    It is not immoral for another Christian to have a passion that you don’t share. Your original post painted with very broad brush, wherein you said, “[People who are] really concerned about nutritional issues, organic farming, or are just really into healthy eating [can be pictured as] kissing little icons of Charles Darwin and Sigmund Freud.” But now that a negative response has been elicite you say, “Oh, I wasn’t actually talking about the people that I explicitly mentioned. I was talking about God’s really weird weirdos.”

    When it comes to discussing the relative godliness of people who choose different ways of eating and different ways of thinking about food, Romans 14 applies. It is “for today”, at least as much as for any other day.

  5. Valerie December 18

    I hate to do this, lest I lump myself (as a stranger) in with all the people in the world who just don’t understand real science, but I’m curious if you have seen this going around Facebook? Is this what you are so upset about?

    http://www.mayoclinic.org/medical-professionals/clinical-updates/digestive-diseases/quick-inexpensive-90-percent-cure-rate

    I ask because this procedure is relatively new, it’s been in the news lately, and I’ve seen it on several walls, probably because of the gross factor.

    But my background. Before I had children I was a registered nurse (BSN, MS) and I worked in ICU/CCU, caring for more than a few people with life-threatening Clostridium infections. It is impossible to overstate the suffering that would often with a condition that has been exceedingly difficult, and often impossible to cure. (It has been killing about 15,000 people annually.)

    Not only is this cure for real, and well-supported by the evidence, but current research in major medical institutions is showing great promise for other severely debilitating and sometimes deadly medical conditions.

    Doubtless, with all the vampire stories ever written, the first blood transfusions were received with thoughts of disgust. That doesn’t mean that God hated them.

    This is as far from the death pursuit of homosexuality as you can get.

  6. Matt December 21

    The ‘foodie’ or ‘organic’ crowd can be a bit nutty, but I’m not sure any more nutty than those who love fantasy football, medieval chamber music, ham radio, or whatever else has their heart. So yes, there is potential idolatry going on. And people are always more important than things.

    But things affect people, too. The modern food production system (to some us) is pretty wacky and about as warped as one could imagine. The impression one gets (sometimes) from the posts like this (admittedly quite few in number) is that food production, eating habits, etc. are all adiaphora for the Christian (and the community). Strange for those committed to recognizing the Bible’s comprehensive authority for all of life.

    Now, I’ll grant you that what governs us in this arena is sanctified/biblical wisdom, teasing out the implications of Scripture rather than Scriptural injunctions directly. You could put 10.000 Junior High School students together in one building for purposes of ‘efficiency’ (as many statist educators are wont to do), but it would be a fiasco from a human perspective. Likewise, putting 3000 cows into the same space that, historically 10 cows would’ve grazed (because they’re herbivores, remember, who graze), isn’t ‘dominion’ it’s just silly. And we’re reaping the consequences of it now.

    It appears (to me) at least that there’s something of a blind spot in the critique of the ‘modern’ in Moscow when it comes to food issues. Everything else is superb… carry on!

    Cheers,
    Matt

  7. Jasmine December 22

    I get your point. Very simple. Thank you.

  8. Chase December 24

    I, too, get your point, but I think it is overstated and tends to shove all the organic chickens into the same coop. You say in your previous post ,”You want to put your *what* where? People need to see the connections. It’s the same logic (or lack thereof) that suggests you consider using magic beads on your teething toddlers.” Understood. But it is also the same logic (or lack thereof) that suggests you stuff your mouth with laboratory creations. Science gave us oreos and twinkies, after all. They didn’t sprout up from the earth. And I love oreos and twinkies.

    blessings and merry Christmas

  9. Daniel December 27

    So If I do not like/share as many things about God as I do about eating healthily I am in sin? That is what I am getting from this. How is maintaining the temple that we were given sinful? I do not get it. Seems like your panties are in a bunch about a relatively mall issue.

    Another note. God gave is science to learn about his creation. To throw it out the window is wrong.

  10. Rachael Starke December 27

    I am fascinated that certain circles of Christianity think it’s downright mandated to laud the wonders of science in affirming creationism, but poo poo it (ahem, pun absolutely intended) when it doesn’t suit their cause.

    Valerie, you are one hundred percent right. The influence of the tiniest of God’s creatures (microbes) on everything from the elements of communion to the wellbeing of our alimentary canal isn’t quackery. Microbiologists and nutrition scientists alike (one of which, I hope one day, will be me) know it to be the future of medicine.

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