by JW Olson
(original text authored in June 1974)
I suppose when I first started asking this question back in the sixties (1961 actually), I had no more idea than you what I was asking. It just seemed a question that surfaced one day while I was laying on a North Dakota hillside studying the clouds. As I have pondered its meaning for the past too few years it seems that the meaning changed only slightly as I have progressed through life. Sadly as I have observed life it seems like since almost day one someone or other attacks the image of God until they finally succeed in having you attack it all by yourself!
One of the first things they look at doing is veiling the image from view. This gets more pronounced as one gets older till finally you are punished if you don't do it yourself. Verbal abuse and coercion go into training a child into doing something a child would never willingly do on its own. We ruin a child's normal self esteem and then we wonder why we have so many problems with our youth. We made the original problem by impressing on them that they were somehow filth and unless they cover all that filth with some textile, they can't be accepted in "polite" society.`
The next thing is to damage or vandalize it in someway. Poking holes in it is one way and some parents inflict this mutilation on infants by circumcision of boys and by piercing baby girls ears. I suppose you might also gather from this statement that I don't find body piercing pretty at all! How valuable would you think the "Mona Lisa" would be if it were full of holes?
Get a little older still and self mutilation begins to occur. Tattooing or covering with graffiti the image occurs. Marking up and destroying the beauty of the image. If tattooing is forbidden for some reason, scarification, BAD haircuts, hair dying, and horrible veiling by using the most obnoxious textiles available occur. Some people say this is a normal rebellion against parents, but look at it more closely. Whose image are they altering? And who is it that has to live with the results for the rest of their lives? This damage comes from having poor self esteem, and is justified as "only affecting myself" but it was the image of God that is being made into something ugly and hideous for others to be revolted by. Who is pleased by this action?
Foods also play a part in damaging the image. Overeating or undereating can permanently alter the image. There is little attractive about an image that is roll upon roll of fat! Or on the other hand one that the skin hardly stretches far enough to cover a skeleton. Or how about the disease factors? Meats carry huge numbers of dormant and not so dormant diseases with pork being one of the worse. Interestingly, the USDA even considers pork too dirty to even grade yet it is allowed to be sold! Lately shell fish are following in a close second probably because of all the pollution we have been dumping in our streams and oceans. These meats are biblically rated as unclean but even meats biblically considered clean like beef have been responsible lately for carrying an ecoli virus which has killed people. Have you ever heard the term, "You are what you eat"? Well, it is very true!
Drugs also alter kill or degrade the image. Tobacco has been proven to lead to an earlier than normal and often painful death. Alcohol's effects are seen daily on the "skid rows" of every city. How about those other ones then? Well again ask, We were ALL born with an image of God; what have you been doing with yours? Is what you are doing enhancing the image or degrading it? Different drugs have been used to enslave young ladies into a life of selling the image off (or renting it out if you prefer) just for the next fix. Are there any good recreational drugs? Ask the question again and I think you'll have your answer.
Anything to degrade the image is OK by the one who really wants this done. Have you identified him yet? Have you ever noticed that it is almost a universal pagan trait to deface somehow the body? That they can never accept it's beauty for what it is. They sometimes even claim to accept nudity but watch how they work hard at defiling the body as much as possible, whether with orgies, tattoos, body painting, piercing, drinking, or drug taking..., I guess they have to show their following of their professed leader by doing all they can to damage the image. It is said Lucifer was the most beautiful of the angels created and yet he wanted to be like the Most High. See, even though a beautiful creation, he did not possess nor was he created in the image of God. When he could not have it, he determined to destroy it is all and he has found helpers in this world everywhere. Some even claim to be Christian...
Have you read the Garden of Eden story in the Bible? (see Gen Chap 2 and 3) Did you ever notice God didn't ever rebuke Adam for being nude? NO! It was for trying to cover himself! It was for trying to insert a layer between himself and GOD and keep a sin from being found out. It was actually a second and third sin! God made the statement here that nothing was hidden from his eyes no matter what man-made device might be placed in the way. Some make mention here that God killed some animals and provided clothing for Adam and Eve before he kicked them out of Eden so God must insist on clothing. Look at it again. Something Adam once loved and named was slaughtered and hung around his neck. Until this time Adam had no idea of death or what it even was and now here it was hanging on his neck. Also, without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. (Heb 9:22) This was given as a symbol for Adam to look all the way forward to the sacrifice Jesus would make on the cross. Adam learned of the plan of salvation BEFORE he ever left Eden. God prepared Adam and Eve for their life on earth before they left the garden. Eve even knew the promise of a coming Messiah and the pains she would endure from childbirth. As an example story here, I remember when I was about five years old, we had a dog on the farm that developed a taste for chickens. He started chasing and killing chickens. No matter what Dad tried to teach the dog to leave the chickens alone, it just continued in it's way. Finally Dad had had enough. The dog had killed too many chickens and Dad said he was going to shoot the dog. Man, that was my dog and I didn't want him shot. I cried asking for yet another chance. I'd keep him tied up. I'd make sure he didn't do it again. Dad looked at my teary face and said, "OK". He had one more thing we could try. He took that last chicken Rusty killed and wired its legs around Rusty's neck. The dog wore that dead chicken for weeks (well it sure seemed a long time for me) until it rotted off. Terrible smell and no-one could be around the dog. The dog never killed another chicken or would even get close to the chicken yard after that and ended up living to a ripe old age. I'd think this is more the lesson of those dead animals hanging on Adam and Eve than the 'need' to wear clothing. Besides, read through your Bible sometime and see who is "punished" for the nudity mentioned. It is never the nude person!! David's wife made fun of David's dancing nude in the streets for example, and she was made barren for it!
Ever asking this question has since guided my daily travel through this life. Now, I never said here I was PERFECT. I said it guided me and by that I mean I have been led to avoid most of the bad pitfalls. People slip and fall but the Lord remains constant. I as a matter of course tend to try and avoid all actions that degrade or vandalize the image. You were entrusted with your own copy of the image to care for and may do it differently than I. You may take that up with your Maker when you meet him, I am not looking for argument. I am just telling you a little bit about how I became me. During the Hippy era, although I agreed with love for the fellow man, I didn't think orgies enhanced the image I was caring for. The drugs taking away my control over myself didn't impress me much either. I'd rather know what I was doing, especially when it came to something as important as caring for the image of God! I try to keep it in good physical condition by walking daily and riding my bike. I try to feed it regularly and wholesomely. I play guitar for personal meditation. I still enjoy laying on a hillside studying the clouds on a warm summer's day. Plus, as a Christian, I spend some time each day with the Word of God just to see how I can better care for His image. All in all, not too large a job to handle, is it?
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