Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Are You A Prude?

Dear Friends,

The stereotype of the old prude makes us laugh and our first thought might be there but for the grace of God go I... But as I look around at the moral problems in our current culture, I wonder if perhaps we might want to rethink our own prudishness. In fact, I wonder if becoming a prude is the answer...

A few years ago, someone called me a prude. I thanked them for the compliment. One definition of a prude is: “a person who is concerned with decorum or propriety, significantly in excess of normal prevailing community standards.” A prude is concerned with decorum which is simply defined as proper and polite behavior. Displaying decorum is engaging in appropriate behavior for the time and place. For example: wearing provocative clothing in church is not proper decorum. A prude is also concerned with propriety which is defined as conforming to what current culture considers to be proper. Take a moment to think about what is normal in today’s culture. A “prude” is a person who thinks that the things we say and do should be more proper and polite than what is considered to be normal today. Yeah. I confess. I’m a prude.

For awhile, San Francisco allowed public nudity. “Proper decorum” in San Francisco society was to bring a towel to sit on when dining naked at a restaurant. Call me a prude but deviant behavior shouldn’t become an accepted cultural standard.  

Years ago, I was watching a movie with my then wife. SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE had won the Academy Award for Best Picture. But when the Oscar-winning lead actress had a long and detailed sex scene showing her fully naked, I left the room and didn’t return. Okay. I’m a prude. Jesus says not to lust with our eyes and I’m thinking that staring at a beautiful, naked actress may have been what He was talking about. “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matt 5:28

A couple of years ago, I was having a conversation with a pastor in a church sanctuary. She used the “S” word to describe someone she didn’t like. She saw me wince but later on, in another conversation, again in the sanctuary, she purposely used that obscenity again. A sanctuary in a church is a sacred and holy place. Maybe I’m just being a prude, but using that word only moments after ending a service with a priestly blessing just didn’t seem proper. “And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!” James 3:10 NLT So call me a conservative, Evangelical prude for saying this, but I think that we Christians need to watch our mouth. Eph 5:3-4; Col 3:8.

Within our prevailing community standards today, many have no problem with hearing and using the “F” word. It’s especially disturbing that children freely use this word at school. A “prude” thinks that  children should be taught a higher standard of behavior than what prevails in today’s culture.

The Christian characteristics and values taught in the Bible have always been in excess of prevailing community standards. What was rampant two thousand years ago was sexual immorality, adultery, homosexuality, filthiness, greed, coarse (dirty) jokes, lewdness, idolatry, angry outbursts, sorcery, hatred, jealousies, selfishness, envy, drunkenness. Eph 5:3-4; Gal 5:19-21; 1 Cor 6:9-10. Those same sins are still rampant today. In fact, every one of those have become the popular thematic elements in current films oriented toward teenagers and young adults. The Apostle Paul says “Such sins have no place among God’s people” and if you do these things “ will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” If you find yourself agreeing with Paul that those sinful behaviors are wrong, then in today’s worldview, you are a prude. Welcome to the club.

Being a prude doesn’t imply a “Goody Two-Shoes” perfection on our part. Romans 3:23 says, “..for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and that means both you and me, Bubba. Our prudishness comes not from pride but from humility because when it comes to sin, we’ve been there. Done that. Still do. We have all wallowed in sinful behavior and God lifted us by grace from that pit of darkness. During a time in my life, I was happily swimming in the sewer of cultural crassness and it was the Holy Spirit who showed me a better way and made me the prude I am today. In fact we can redefine a “prude” as being a sinner who has been changed and called by God to model biblical values and Christian behavior to a fallen world.

My prayer for you is that you will be even more of a prude than me. That the Holy Spirit will bring you to a place in your journey where you hate sin, model godly behavior in what you say and do, and that your own decorum and conduct is well above what general society considers to be “normal.” And if someone calls you a prude, consider that as evidence of the Holy Spirit transforming you into the likeness of Christ. Take that as the ultimate compliment and say, “Thank You!” Amen?

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