Seeking purity in some contexts has got a bad name. Cast your mind back to the 1930s and 40s. OK before I was born but still within the living memory of some.
There was something called eugenics, a way of thinking that wanted to clean up the gene pools of various nations. In some countries like the USA it led to the enforced sterilisation of some people. In other words, someone in authority decided that someone else met certain criteria so made it impossible for them to have children.
It was one of those fashionable movements that took hold worldwide. One of the most devastating impacts it had was within the Nazi ideology. We look back at the Nazi ideology in horror. In German where it had its strongest hold the 1930s and 40s was not a good time to be a member of certain groups in society.
Disabled people were not just hospitalised but given euthanasia, yes killed off. The treatment of black people at the 1936 Olympics made even places where race discrimination was rife sit up and take notice because it was so extreme. Gypsies are another minority that have long been looked down upon and many of them ended up in death camps. Homosexuality was punishable by death. All that in addition to the rampant anti-Semitism which saw the gradual demonisation of the Jews. A process that desensitised people to the “final solution” of sending them to camps were many hundreds of thousands were gassed them in the showers when they arrived. Remember though that was not the only cause of death for the six million Jews who died in this period of European history. Some died in ghettos, others on the way to camps then others lived in the camps for a while and died where there.
We look at this push towards purity i.e. the ideal Arian race with horror. It led to soem being put on a pedestal just becasue of their appearance. Whereas others were rejected, trated worse than animals and eventually killed off.
The scary thing about this ideological push for purity was that it was based on things that people could not change. None of us have any choice who are parents are or grnadparents were yet this was one of the criteria for treating some people differently.
Why this is so different to what I mean by purity?
There is one major difference the purity I am talking about is something that we can do something about. In fact there are two ways we can do something about it.
- We can chose to live according to God’s standards.
- When we find out that we have fallen short of the standards expected of us we can ask for forgiveness and make a fresh start.
That is a major major difference. Purity in that context is something we can do something about. We can decide to live in the right way or we can decide to live in the wrong way. It is our choice. No one else decides for us.
Yes it can be difficult to know right from wrong when you live in a place where wrong things are more common. There are people who were brought up in homes where they were not treated well who struggle to treat others well. They simply never learnt as children how to treat other people. For them doing things that are wrong is normal because it was what their parents did.
There are other reasons why we don’t find it easy to do the right thing. There could be a family weakness. There could be a number of people in the family who are addicted to one thing or another. There are other things that make it harder to do what is right. The thing is that they don’t make it impossible to make the right choice. Harder yes, impossible no.
It is help that is on offer to overcome the issues we have achieving purity that makes Christianity different. For many persecuted by the Nazis there was little they could do to change the reasons why they were seen as unacceptable. Well can anyone change who their grandparents were or parents were. OK some Jewish children did survive because they were taken in by Christian families so changed their parents temporarily.
The restoration package that is on offer includes ways and means of reducing the impact of the things that make it hard for us to go the right way. Even reducing them so much that they no longer have any effect on us. It even includes dealing with what some people call “the sins of the fathers and the resulting curses” and others call “cleansing the bloodline”. Take those away and it is so much easier to avoid going the wrong way.
In other words Christianity sets standards but then offers help to reach those standards. Purity is not as hard to reach as people expect. OK it is not always an instant result. It can take time but there is help available. How do I know this? Well I have found some of this kind of help myself.
It is not just restoration in terms of making a new life possible it is wiping away the impact of the old life as well. Ask for forgiveness then truly turn your life around and the impacts of your wrong doing no longer stops you being seen as impure in God’s eyes. OK you may still have to live with the consequences of that wrong doing such as the child you had as a result. Or in my case the gall bladder surgery that was done because of my sin. Those are practical issues rather than things that leave you impure in God’s eyes.
The bee I have in my bonnet is that there are ways and means of helping to restore people that are based on biblical teaching that some in the church don’t know much about. Of course as they don’t know about them they cannot use them. If the tools designed to help restore people are not used then restoration is so much harder. What I would love to see are more churches with extension colleges that train people to use these tools.