Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants.
Twenty Five years ago, the nuclear reactors in Chernobyl Russia melted down, killing fifty-five people and exposing over 800,000 people to radiation poisoning, requiring the evacuation of over 330,000 people. The land around Chernobyl has been quarenteed. Scientist estimate that the land immediately around the reactor may not be inhabitable for nearly one thousand years.
Its interesting that when we look at Biblical language that describes the defiling of land, we see a predominant theme. Although the Old testament law is careful to speak to healthy and sustainable agricultural practices (giving the land rest, not over harvesting, not destroying trees, etc), these were not most signficant way of defiling the land.
In the Bible, the greatest way of defiling the land was to devalue the sacredness of sexual intimacy. In Leviticus 19:29, prostitution is identified as defiling the land. In Leviticus 18, the writer of the law points out a number of sexual relationships that may have been common in that era that were outside of God's desire for His people. All of these behaviors, collectively defile the land, or make it a spiritual Chernobyl. It becomes inhabitable.
Some may be tempted to say that God is being anti-sex in these ancient codes. However, to read them in the context of all of scripture, we see the exact opposite. God, as Pastor Rob Bell puts it, is a Sex God. He created sex and indeed made it an incredibly sacred act. It is so sacred that God places significant parameters around sex so that it can remain sacred. It is to be practiced only within the context of two people who have made the ultimate commitment towards one another: Marriage. In ancient times, that entailed more than a piece of paper, but the melding of entire families, and the transfer of resources. Marriage was the be the core in which the entire society was to be built around. Within that core, was to be this beautiful, sacred means to a unique and exclusive intimacy that mysteriously made the two, become one, united on a level that is only possible when two people are bonding on a spiritual, physical, mental and emotional level. God, created sex to be incredibly sacred, but never casual.
Today, we have a Spiritual Chernobyl in America. Every week in my medical practice, I see the devastation and defilement played out in casual understanding of sex. Our children have been bombarded with hypersexuality since they have been born. Their very identities have been marked by the ability to demonstrate sexual proficiency at a young age. Shows targeting young adults rarely show married people who are sexually healthy. The music targeting young adults paints a physically focused, self-gratifying act rather than a life changing spiritual act that is so incredibly special that it is reserved for only one.
I dare not write this and think that I have been above the sexual fallout from the meltdown. I grew up exposed to pornographic images that distorts and exploits women. The damage from that caused interpersonal, familial, and spiritual dysfunction that took years for healing. I am not judging others as much as confessing reality.
The Bible speaks not only of the land being defiled, but that the land can be healed. Specifically, healing begins when the people of God will prayerfully and humbly admit that we have defiled our land with our careless use of sexuality. We must repent and renounce our self-focused sexuality, and seek the way of God. Not a puritanical approach to sexuality, but a much higher, significantly more beautiful, and incredibly more sacred expression of sexuality. According to God's word (II Chronciles 7:14), when we do this, He will begin to heal our land.
Take time today to rethink how you approach sexuality. How do you receive and process the images of casual and cheap sexuality that is marketed to you in a thousand different ways each and every day. How about your relationships? Is sex within a covenantal relationship or is it sex without the spiritual bonds that God desires for you to experience.
May God bless you and may the healing of our land begin with us,
Pastor M Traylor