No Pigs in theTemple

As Simple as it Gets

A sacred space. So very different from the way 99% of our culture views the physical relationship between a husband and wife, a man and a woman in covenant, but I awoke literally to that understanding. When I spoke my covenant promise 45 years ago, I meant it and intended to keep it, “For richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, for better or for worse, forsaking all others keep myself only unto him so long as we both shall live.” Many churches in the Christian community consider marriage a sacrament, right alongside communion and, for some, baptism.

Full Definition of SACRAMENT according to Merriam-Webster:

1a :  a Christian rite (as baptism or the Eucharist) that is believed to have been ordained by Christ and that is held to be a means of divine grace or to be a sign or symbol of a spiritual reality

directly from Latin sacramentum “a consecrating”; from sacred directly from Latin sacrare “to make sacred, consecrate; hold sacred; immortalize; set apart, dedicate,”

This I know is true from Scripture: when I received Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior, God’s Spirit then lives in me.

But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. Romans 8: 10-11 NIV

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-10.

In its whole context, this passage reads:

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:15-20

I’d been Christian a long time before I recognized the truth that, when we are joined with Jesus, our body becomes the dwelling place of God’s Holy Spirit. In truth, our heart becomes a type of the Holy of Holies, the place in the physical Temple where God’s Spirit dwelt, the place where only a consecrated priest could enter at specified times to meet with God.

This lives, alive in spirit and I think in real, tangible truth, in marriage between two Christians. Even for two human beings who aren’t Christian, physical union creates a spiritual reality:

The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24 NIV

Married to my husband, when we came together in the physical bond of intimacy, we created a spiritual bond as well, and a oneness in spirit even truer than the physical union. If our bodies were the Temple of the Holy Spirit who lives in us, then that union creates a sacred space where the Holy Spirit in him joined the Holy Spirit in me – a consecration, held dedicated, set apart, a means of divine grace – expressing a spiritual reality in physicality. That was God’s intent for marriage from the beginning of creation.

God’s Temple was meant to be and remain undefiled, a holy space set apart for man to meet with God. Nothing unclean was allowed in the Temple, particularly in the Holy of Holies. But enter the Greek Antiochus IV, the 8th ruler of the Seleucid empire centered in Babylonia and covering the eastern p[art of Alexander the Great’s former empire. He gave himself the surname “Epiphanes” which means “the visible god” (that he and Jupiter were identical). He acted as though he really were Jupiter and the people called him “Epimanes” meaning “the madman”. He was violently bitter against the Jews, and was determined to exterminate them and their religion. He devastated Jerusalem in 168 BC, defiled the Temple, offered a pig on its altar, erected an altar to Jupiter, prohibited Temple worship, forbade circumcision on pain of death, sold thousands of Jewish families into slavery, destroyed all copies of Scripture that could be found, and slaughtered everyone discovered in possession of such copies, and resorted to every conceivable torture to force Jews to renounce their religion. This led to the Maccabaean revolt, one of the most heroic feats in history.

What in the world does Hellenistic history have to do with marital intimacy? Simply put: no pigs on the altar. We bring pigs into the sacred space of our covenental union when we bring in corruption and loose standards from popular culture, when thoughts of being with anyone other than our marriage partner enter our minds, when we set any “unclean thing” before our eyes other than our spouse and the sacredness of that person’s body and spirit.

I always wanted to write, and decades ago I began composing a romance novel in my mind. I set out the slot, the setting, and the characters … until I saw the trap I could easily have fallen into. I could have created a male character, a hero so perfect in my eyes that the value, worth, and person of my own husband might have begun to diminish in my thoughts and eventually my heart. A pig on the altar. Immediately I dropped the idea. No one and nothing was going to take the place of my husband in my thoughts, affections, or body, period. He was God’s gift to me, God’s Spirit lived in him, and bringing anything else into our relationship was, to me, tantamount to bringing a pig into the Holy of Holies.

My husband regarded our bedroom as a space off-limits to our children. Even more off-limits were both of our bodies, reserved for each other alone, held apart, sacred, meant to be consecrated to each other alone.

Yes, sexual intimacy is meant to be pleasurable, enjoyable, even fun, but above all and surrounding all, sexual intimacy creates a sacred space between two people. I’ve found few in the world of online dating who believe this is true, but I know in the core of my being that it is meant to be so – a sacred space – by the One who created our sexuality to begin with. All you have to do is read the Song of Songs in the Bible to know that god didn’t create sexual intimacy to be something stuffy and ethereal; he meant it to be physical and spiritual at the same time.

Pigs in the Temple? Pornography: A pig in the Holy of Holies. Thoughts straying to anyone else: a pig in the Holy of Holies. Selfishness, or bitterness toward your spouse: a pig in the Holy of Holies. Sleeping around casually because that’s the way to know if you’re “truly compatible” with someone else: a pig AND a statue of Zeus in the Holy of Holies, your own and the other person’s heart and spirit as well as body. Adultery, or “just” an emotional relationship with someone of the opposite ex when you belong to someone in covenant: a herd of pigs, the swine that should be run over the cliff carrying the demons of ” okay if it isn’t touching and feeling” with them.

I need to learn to regard everyone I see as a repository for the image of God, every heart as a holy place, but I must reserve the Holy of Holies in my heart and body for the Holy of Holies in only one other vessel, exclusively. One sacred space, one place of consecration, held apart, honoring the God who created this place for two to meet with Him as one, out of honor for the Spirit in us each and both. together

Are you bringing pigs into your temple? Confess it as sin, cleanse the altar, dedicate yourself to God, keep your space sacred, and hold it as consecrated until you enter the sacred space of lifelong covenant.

A “…BUT…” to pray: Oh, Holy and righteous God, you created my body, my heart, my mind and spirit to be a vessel for your Spirit, sanctified, holy and set apart for you through Jesus first of all. Show me where I may have brought pigs into my temple by _____________________________. Show me where I may have desecrated my husband/wife by bringing ____________________________ into our union. Help me/us to consecrate this part of our lives again to you, give us joy in the holiness, and help us to ___________________________ to honor you, Holy Spirit, in the center of our union. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!No Pigs in the Temple.

I Think; Therefore I …Dance!

left_verse_right_brainI’m   not throwing stones – I am perplexed by something I cannot fathom. Granted, every one of us has two sides, two halves, two hemispheres that constitute our brain. And granted, we tend to operate more easily or more usually out of one hemisphere, depending on the need of the moment. Oversimplified, the left side dominates in analytical and objective information, while the right tends to dominate in recognizing faces, intuition, subjectivity, art and music. The two sides are separated by a groove, the medial longitudinal fissure (aren’t you impressed?) and connected by a band of nerve fibers called the corpus callosum. Granted, all of this is neuroscience, but I’ve observed (both from my left analytical side and my right experiential side) what seems to be a medial longitudinal fissure within the Body of Christ that, for the life of me, I can’t make sense of!

I’ve attended some wonderful Bible-based, God’s Word honoring and teaching churches where the pastor and Adult Sunday School teachers are seminary-trained, steeped in cultural and historical context for the Scriptures, delivering, proclaiming and applying God’s truth to other Believers. But I’ve seen very little passion or spiritual/emotional enthusiasm in worship in these churches. Conversely, I’ve attended churches where joy and unbridled enthusiastic worship open every service, but there is no intentional, serious discipleship training. To quote the book of James out of context, “My brothers and sisters, this should not be.”

I’ve discovered in myself that the more I learn, the more wonder I see in the world. I take clouds for granted until I stop to think they are collections of water molecules in gaseous state suspended on and driven by air, a collection of invisible gasses trapped by earth’s gravitation that amazingly enough have mass and volume! As I think deeper, I realize that water vapor is nothing more than a bonding of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom held together by a force I can’t begin to comprehend. It is at this point that the very existence of water absolutely astounds me, and my spirit falls down in awe that the Being we call God Almighty, Yahweh Adonai, not only THOUGHT of hydrogen and oxygen but CREATED hydrogen and oxygen. My next question: Why? Whatever for? What kind of mind intentionally creates the infinitesimally small building blocks necessary for life as we know it? And I fall on my face in wonder that He created collections of water, amino acids, minerals, fats, proteins, and biochemists only know what else who have the ability to possess AWARENESS of themselves, others, the world around them, HIM, and who carry deep within themselves a yearning desire for relationship!

The more I know on the left side of my brain, the more my right-hemisphere awe and wonder wants to leap and dance.

If water vapor can generate that kind of active, alive,, passionate amazement in me, why can’t the Word of God? Why must reading, hearing, and learning God’s Word be free of emotion, passion, joy, living fire and longing to experience Him? And why can’t passionate experience and enthusiasm drive us to KNOW and desire to know more about the Word of the One who fuels our hunger and longing to relate to Him out of love? And that moves me to ask why we can’t relate to each other out of that amazement.

Bringing this back down from the clouds to the ground, our cataloging, categorizing, assessing, differentiating, and looking askance at might benefit greatly from a connection across our spiritual corpus callosum to generosity, appreciation, gratitude, empathy, compassion, wonder, amazement, and brotherly love. Polarization has no place in the brain or in the Body of Christ. “Right Brain” Pentecostals need the understanding, knowledge, and biblical scholarship of more cerebral “Left Brain” traditions, and highly liturgical and cerebral traditions need the passion and alive, emotionally connected experiential relationship of charismatics and lively worship churches. How refreshed I’d feel to find a fellowship where Believers do – I could do –  both!

I know God still works miracles of healing, deliverance, provision, and creation. The Holy Spirit is moving undeniably in other parts of the world in things unexplainable by human intellect. I can’t deny the miracle healing I had in my own body in 1980, being saved from a plane crash in 1987, moving me across the country in 1997 to meet a woman who’d be part of a miracle I’d need nine years later. Yes, those encounters with God make me want to shout and dance! Considering the clouds drops my jaw in wonder. And the more I know and experience God intellectually, the more I want to know and understand about Him, about the Bible, about the world, about others and my relationship to them, about the purposes God created me for – the more I want to experience the passion of experiencing and encountering Him more in my life every day. Oh, for that “bundle of nerves” we need to connect us both mind and heart to Jesus!

And oh, the more I should be taking both right and left, my knowledge and my compassion and passion outside my personal quiet time and corporate worship to the dying, the hurting, the hungry, the needy, the “have it all” but empty, the lonely, the lost.

I think; therefore I dance. I dance; therefore, I think!

I am known; therefore I want to know Him MORE! Therefore I want to make Him known in both fact and experience to people who don’t know Him! Amazing – to truly love with ALL my HEART, all my WILL, ALL my MIND, all my strength, and truly live.

 Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40 NIV

A “…BUT…” to move: Lord, Beautiful Savior, I want to know you fully. I sometimes have trouble with _________________________________ in my relationship with you. I can get too _____________________________. Help me, Loving God, to both know you and experience you. Deepen my understanding and heighten my joy in You. Holy Spirit, come into my life and do what I can’t do for myself. If I could ask you for one thing in my relationship with You, if you were sitting right here beside me, I’d ask you to/for __________________________. Thank you that you WANT me to know and experience more of you.

Can you see the “angel” blowing a trumpet on the left side of the cloud? Let’s dance! IMG_0264