Saturday, August 13, 2011

Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor's Ass

Leave it to God to put a verse like that in the Bible ;) Throw some ellipses in there and that's literally what you get when you read Exodus 20:17 in the King James. Go ahead, Google it. I'll wait...

If you're shocked to learn that Jesus has a sense of humour, you clearly need to get your nose back in the Bible. Sometimes when I'm reading scripture, I can't help but crack a smile as I re-discover God's clever wit. Why I'm surprised by it, I don't exactly know. He is, after all, the inventor of the tongue in cheek.

While the cheeky streak is my personal pick when it comes to humour, the Lord is, of course, well versed in other types of comedy as well. In Judges 3:22, He gets real with the bathroom jokes. Matthew 18:9's advice plays out like an Itchy and Scratchy cartoon. Even the traumatic Psalm 56:1 elicits a laugh every time, as the Psalmist verbalizes my personal plight perfectly: "Be merciful to me, O God, for men hotly pursue me..." (I totally get it, David. Story of my life...)

While Exodus 20:17 might actually be referring to a donkey (a general metaphor encompassing all materialistic stuff), the butt of Miss Jones three houses down might actually be a better 21st-century analogy. Preceding the use of ass in this scripture is the less taboo, but equally significant, wife (the first in a list of no-no's for coveting). While some could translate this verse is a gender neutral way and simply say "Don't lust after someone else's spouse or stuff," I happen to love this very specific wording. At first glance, it looks like it's directed to men. But look again, ladies! While it is certainly a conceivable temptation to covet our neighbor's hot husbands, we've gotta admit that we're far more likely to covet our neighbor's wives. And more specifically, their bodies.

I once heard a Christian speaker comment that women look at women's bodies more than men look at women's bodies. And while a male friend tells me that simply cannot be true, I actually believe it is (if not more than, at least equal to...). Here's a real-life scenario to prove my point (p.s. This is not original example, as much as I'd like to take credit for it. I heard it at a conference, but I can't for the life of me think of who said it. If you know who I can give credit to for this, let me know!). Driving down the highway, guy and gal spot a billboard of a girl in a bikini striking a seductive pose (to sell a product, which, incidentally, by its very inanimate nature is devoid of sex appeal). Taking in the brief image, the (not so pure) guy and gal conjure the exact same thought: "I want her body."

Like I said, same thought, but emphasized differently for each. Perhaps the variance in each one's interpretation can be punctuated like this: Guy version: "I want (to embrace) her body." Gal version: "I want (to have) her body."

Ever skim over the passages in scripture that talk about the "lust of the eyes" thinking they don't apply to you because you're not reading romance novels or looking at porn? I'd suggest that when it comes to thinking about struggling with lust, we women stop focusing solely on the way that we look at men, but consider the way that we look at women. Whether it's the latest Hollywood actress gracing the cover of Vanity Fair, or the girl on the treadmill next to us at the gym, to lust can be to look with green-eyes upon other female figures and say with a sigh: "Ugh, why can't I look like that?" (You can't tell me that's not familiar...).

Nearly every woman I know would tell you that a little everyday comparison is harmless. But in a society whose economy is under girded by the low self-esteem and striving on women (think about what we spend most of our money on...clothes, beauty products and a yo-yo combo of junk/diet food), female lust isn't just an innocent habit; I would go so far as to suggest it is the very basis of an unredeemed female worldview. If we're honest, I think most of us gals would have no trouble describing what our friend's legs/arms/bum/boobs look like and how (we think) ours measure up in comparison. It's been years since the junior high locker room, but I'd be lying if I said that I didn't occasionally use my multi-tasking ability to chat with a friend over coffee while simultaneously pondering how many crunches I would have to do to get abs like the girl I saw at the beach yesterday. Sad, but true. And it's something the Lord has been dealing with me about recently.

Here's His take on the matter...

Jesus gave me my body and you, yours. That was His plan and His plan is always good. And while we can certainly get in shape as needed, it is vital for us to look in the mirror and praise God for that...not pray for something else. Not only is it a sin to compare and covet (even if the world doesn't think so, we need it call it what it is), but we all know it creates more heartbreak than its worth.

So, next time you consider the Commandments, start by thanking the Lord for whatchugot. Then, ditch that wishful thinking...or ass-coveting, as it were.

Whatever you want to call it, just know that the Bible called you out on it first... ;)

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