God Wants Us Clean
This is the third installment of the series, the Inevitable Messiness of Being Human.
Yesterday we asked “Why would God make us messy, broken, and disgusting, and then consider us unclean and unacceptable?”
For example, women are unclean after giving birth, even though this is not at all sinful, and in fact called a blessing and reward by God. It’s like when my mom used to ask my brother and I to work in the garden. We’d get our shirtless selves all sweaty and muddy pulling weeds for hours. Then, as a reward we would be called in for a lavish lunch spread and ice cold lemonade. But before we were allowed to partake, we had to go take a shower and put on a shirt. Why? It wasn’t that Mom was angry or upset with us. In fact she was pleased and offering us a reward. But she still had standards of cleanliness. No one is allowed at table without cleaning up and putting on a shirt.
It’s the same with ceremonial uncleanness in the Mosaic Law. Being unclean means that you are not allowed in the corporate gathering to worship God. God was not angry with the unclean person who had inadvertently touched a corpse, for example. But God has standards. You need to go get “cleaned up” ceremonially before being allowed into the gathering of God’s people.
So, being considered unclean for a perfectly natural emission of bodily fluid, seems at first harsh; but it’s not. It has to do with God’s standards of holiness.
The polemic role this legislation played is significant. Pagan religions used sexual acts in their corporate worship service, making what should be private into something grotesquely public (what pornography does today). But in Leviticus 15 sexual activity would place a person in the category of being unclean and unacceptable, and was not allowed near the corporate worship service.
But there is more to it than that. The reason, I believe, God made us messy and then calls us unclean, is because He wants us to long for being fixed. He wants us to desire to be perfect. He wants us to constantly be aware that our bodies are broken, malfunctioning, marred by the Fall, even when they are in perfect health.
What we call “perfect health” is actually nowhere near perfect. Perfect health simply means the bodily fluids are not escaping our bodies at an unusual rate. When nothing wet is darting out of our noses, skin, or other orifices without our sayso…that’s a good day for us.
But friends, that’s still not perfect. It’s natural, but natural is not perfect.
What’s the solution? Tune in on Monday for the answer!