FIRST-PERSON: Fighting for Eden
On this particular afternoon we were discussing a recent box office hit that was all the rage among the young girls in our ministries. We shared how we both found it disheartening that the Christian community has become seemingly more and more desensitized to the things that they set before their eyes and let filter into their hearts and minds. We knew of mothers watching "The Bachelor" with their daughters and dubbing it "bonding time" and Christian friends who habitually entertained themselves with movies that contained unfiltered language and unabashedly uncovered what should be kept mysterious -- and it broke our hearts.
It quickly became apparent to both of us that we were living in a culture where allurement to sin was everywhere and in a culture that tries to pull us away from living the set-apart life. We have to be intentional to avoid adopting a careless attitude towards what God has forbidden for our good.
And while we might not be able to change the culture's addiction to being entertained by sin, we can certainly covenant together in cultivating havens of purity -- homes that reflected God's command to lead pure lives.
THE BIBLE AND THE HOME
Proverbs 14:1 says, "The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down." By divine design, women are to be the caretakers of the home (Titus 2:5; 1 Timothy 5:14; Proverbs 31). Whether you are a single woman, young mother or widow, the call to make your home a priority and your primary place of ministry is God's design for your life. While our culture snubs its nose at the high and noble calling of homemaking, God has so beautifully gifted our feminine hearts, minds and hands to create an Eden for our families that glorifies the Lord.
Why is the home so sacred? The home is a sacred haven designed by God to display the beauty of a Christ-centered marriage, the discipling and training up of children in the ways of the Lord, the warm welcoming of guests through hospitality, the making of joyful memories and the daily modeling of biblical instruction. It is a privilege to be keepers of the home. So what does being the caretaker of the home have to do with the culture's addiction, not necessarily to entertainment, but to entertaining sin?
In the ever-raging battle of living in the world and not of it, we are called to cultivate a place of purity -- a home that reflects the purity of the Gospel -- in order to cultivate a lifestyle according to the things of the Spirit as well as to nurture the heart and character of the next generation (Colossians 3; Titus 2).
A WORD ON TEMPTATION
In her book "Authentic Beauty," Leslie Ludy says, "Despite how suddenly it seems to happen, the truth is that 'falling into sin' does not come suddenly at all. Sin does not sneak up behind us unexpectedly; it is allowed into our lives each and every time we choose not to flee from temptation." Why do the movies we rent from Netflix, the video games that are habitually played by our children, the websites in our recent history, the television shows that become a weekly family ritual, the books on our nightstands, and the magazines that decorate our coffee tables really matter? The truth is that everything in our homes that does not reflect who Jesus is hinders us from setting our eyes, ears, hearts, and minds on things above (Rom 8:5-8). While temptation is not a sin, the moment we allow it to take root within our own hearts is the moment it flourishes and grows.
Temptation that is allowed to remain becomes a controlling sin that in turn, becomes a careless attitude -- a desensitized heart -- towards God's call to a pure and holy lifestyle.
Scripture says that the heart of the home is built by prayerfully seeking God's divine wisdom (Proverbs 14:1; 24:3) and through a commitment to righteous living (Proverbs 15:6). So, practically speaking, how do we as women create such a place?
CULTIVATING A PLACE OF PURITY
The following questions are not meant to find judgment or bring condemnation; rather they are meant to be a heart-check between you and the Lord. I pray that as you prayerfully walk through these questions that you would ask God to reveal how you can build up your home as a wise woman seeking a life of purity.
1. Am I seeking entertainment or am I entertaining sin? (Philippians 2:12-16).
2. Have I become desensitized to curse words and scenes that uncover what should be kept mysterious in the movies and television shows I watch? (Philippians 4:8).
3. Have I intentionally or unintentionally welcomed temptation into my home? (Romans 12:1; Psalms 51:10).
4. Do I desire to fit in with my peers to the point that I sacrifice the desires of the Spirit for the desires of my flesh? (Galatians 5).
5. What measures do I need to take in my home to create a place of purity that reflects a lifestyle of my new identity in Christ? (Colossians 3:1-2, 17).
We must guard our homes and hearts by removing anything that is not a reflection of Christ. As I drove away from my friend's home, I made a covenant with the Lord that my home would be a pure place. In her book, "Radical Womanhood," Carolyn McCulley writes, "If we are wise, we will consider whether the choices we are making are either actively building up or tearing down our homes (Proverbs 14:1) -- for Scripture gives us no middle ground here." While we might not be able to change the culture, we can create pure Edens -- homes of purity unto the Lord.
WHAT OTHER WOMEN ARE DOING
I've asked some godly women in different seasons of life who have made a commitment to set-apart living to share how they cultivate a home that is a place of purity.
Girls' ministry leader: "To lower my standards as a tactic for 'bonding' with my youth girls in order to get 'in' with them only jeopardizes my desire of portraying a set-apart woman. Likewise, part of my duty as a wife is to yield my desires of entertaining my fancy for a chick flick if it will put my husband at risk of temptation and set him up for failure."
Wife and mother of seven: "In our family we have used Philippians 4:8 as a filter for television shows, movies, books, music and magazines. While we strictly monitor everything the younger children are exposed to, we also began the process of teaching discernment as our kids grew into their teen and adult years. That begins with a model lived out by Mom."
Engaged 20-something: "In my life, I have discovered that above everything I must love God. If He (God) is first, then purity along with other characteristics of Christ will follow. A more practical or everyday rule is to decide before I am in a situation how I will respond to it ... then, when a point of decision came, it had already been decided and there was less risk of a compromise. Maintaining purity is a constant battle."
Mother of young adult daughters: "In lieu of Seventeen magazine, my husband and I bought a subscription to Brio, Focus on the Family's magazine for teen girls, for our two daughters."
Mother of two young girls: "We have established family values that are biblically based ... and those become our compass, or reference when faced with decisions like what to watch, read or listen to. Also, the family values we have established are printed and framed on the wall."
Melissa Meredith is master of divinity student in women's studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. This column first appeared at BiblicalWoman.org, a blog of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).