Muhammad Ali’s daughter made the mistake one day of visiting her father in an outfit that was more revealing than her upbringing allowed. This is how the champ responded. Parents, especially, take note:
“Everything that God made valuable in the world is covered and hard to get to. Where do you find diamonds? Deep down in the ground, covered and protected. Where do you find pearls? Deep down at the bottom of the ocean, covered up and protected in a beautiful shell. Where do you find gold? Way down in the mine, covered over with layers and layers of rock. You’ve got to work hard to get to them.
“Your body is sacred. You’re far more precious than diamonds and pearls, and you should be covered too.”
As the father of two girls, I stand up and applaud.
Read Song of Solomon 8:8-10. Consider how the woman in the poem used her sexuality to defend herself against the advances of men rather than to encourage them. By withholding her femininity, she made it that much more desirable to the one who was worthy of her. And consider how the members of the chorus commit themselves to protecting the chastity of their prepubescent sister, to the point of walling her inside her house if necessary.
By making yourself available, young lady, you make yourself cheap. Leaving yourself covered draws men to your character (1 Timothy 2:10). If, on the other hand, the main thing you want from men is sex, go ahead and uncover. But don’t complain about not being able to find a good man. You’re fishing in the wrong river with the wrong bait.
Listen closely. Saying, “I don’t want to complain,” before complaining does not keep you from being a complainer. Plus, now you’re running the risk of being a liar and a hypocrite besides. If you think I’m talking about you, then I probably am. Tough love. Sorry.
Being a complainer isn’t necessarily bad, mind you. David unapologetically wrote in Psalm 55:17, “Evening and morning and at noon, I will complain and murmur, and He will hear my voice.” God doesn’t seem to have minded. But David had something legitimate to complain about. And he complained to get his problems fixed, not just to hear himself talk.
The sad fact is, a considerable portion of the complaining in this world is done for the express, undisguised purpose of getting other people to feel sorry for the complainer. Like the itch that must be scratched, so the complainer sends out the verbal equivalent of blank sympathy cards and waits for the hearers to fill them out and mail them back in.
The fact that they add the “I don’t want to complain” part shows they know how obnoxious complainers can be. Yet they complain anyway. Such ones should remember God’s own complaint about whiny Israel of old (Numbers 14:26-27), and His eventual response to them.
Here’s an exercise to help you keep from being the kind of complainer that starts dropping off invitation lists: find at least five positive things to say about something — anything — before saying something negative about your own situation. If you’re not careful, you may get so distracted by the blessings of life that you forget how miserable you are.
Beware: TIME Magazine is weighing in on religion. Turns out, some clinicians believe “excessive” religiosity can be seen as a sign of mental illness. Obsessive commitment to memorizing Scripture or uttering prayers is compared to “fanatical hand washing or dreading to walk on cracks.”
Parents of such children are encouraged to be tolerant of their views, but to encourage them to balance religion and life. No word on whether, say, becoming more religious yourself or attending worship services with your children is a good idea.
Don’t think I missed the not-so-subtle suggestions that religion should be relegated to the placebo room along with the blanket and teddy bear. I didn’t. But instead of pointing out the obvious (news flash: the world is opposed to God), I would like admit the uncomfortable truth: religiosity can become a goal unto itself — piety for the sake of being pious.
The well-meaning child of God, regardless of age, can be so wracked with guilt and shame as to give himself to excesses of devotion (Micah 6:7), even “self-abasement and severe treatment of the body” (Colossians 2:23). He seems to think he does not deserve to be happy, that misery and ritualism are the keys to fellowship with God.
Not so, says Jesus. Grace is not offered to the believer because he is good enough but because he is not. I may believe in my heart I am not worthy, but “God is greater than our heart” (1 John 3:20). If I trust Him enough to die with Him (Romans 6:4), I should trust Him enough to live with Him — not in misery, but in hope and thanksgiving.
GOD’S PLAN of SALVATION
Hear the Gospel— Romans 10:17
Believe— Mark 16:16
Repent— Acts 17:30
Confess— Romans 10:9-10
Baptism— Mark 16:16
Live Faithful— Revelations 2:10