My Bachelor’s degree is in Biology. I enjoyed the molecular level of study and took most of my courses focusing on DNA and life at its most intricate levels. In my first Molecular Biology class, the professor made a statement that has stuck with me over the years. Sexual reproduction requires two gametes (reproductive cells – a sperm and an egg) from a male and female that both are haploid (having only half the number of chromosomes of a normal cell). During fertilization (when these two cells pair up) they form a zygote (a new cell with the full number of chromosomes). Each chromosome is composed of a coiled up strand of DNA. So when two people make a baby, the baby is receiving half of its DNA from its mother and half from its father. The DNA is what holds all of our genetic makeup, dictating our appearance, our allergies, our disabilities and our strengths. Mutations and disorders are carried in our DNA and the more similar our DNA with our mate, the higher the likelihood of deformities. That is one foundational reason that incest is discouraged, and while marriage to a cousin is legal in some states, it heightens the potentiality of birth defects in offspring.
My professor stated that every time DNA replicates itself (be it through mitosis or meiosis: within an individual or in sexual reproduction), mutations [can] occur. DNA is getting less pure and more mutated with every generation.
This, of course, made me realize that Adam and Eve were created with the purest of DNA and this is one reason incest was not forbidden until the time of Moses and the Law (approximately 2300 years after creation, or roughly 1450 BC) and also one reason people lived so long in the Old Testament.
This physical example of the natural break down of our genetic makeup led me to ponder the spiritual break down that we experience generationally. Sometimes we give the Hebrew people a hard time for forgetting God’s provision as they left Egypt, roamed in the wilderness and settled in Canaan. I wonder, though, if we are not all falling victim to shortsightedness.
What parents allow in moderation,
Children will excuse in excess.
When God led the Hebrews into the promised land, He instructed them to kill or kick out every inhabitant of the land so that they would not be tempted to worship their gods or turn to their lifestyles. In some situations they were obedient, but in others they did not fully remove the inhabitants. The parents took the people of the land as slaves. The children married them. The grandchildren adopted their lifestyles, gods and culture. Two generations and they no longer remembered the things God had done. Sometimes it did not take even two generations!
Now let’s get personal. My grandmother will not go to a movie. Her church will not condone playing with cards because they are used in gambling and can give the appearance of evil. I cannot fathom a curse word coming out of her mouth. And turning 90 this year, I am confident that she upholds these standards for her life to glorify God, not for legalism’s sake. She has a rich testimony of caring for abandoned women, witnessing to her neighbors and family and loving God.
My dad went to a movie when he went off to college (and he went to a Christian college!). Can you imagine the nerve? He also ate a restaurants that served alcohol. Growing up our standards of movies were high: we did not want strong language, and my dad held the remote control to function as the “TV Police” if inappropriate scenes came on. We could enjoy the movie without the bad parts.
When I think about movies to see, language is rarely a deterrent. I want to know if the story-line is good, and I can cover my boyfriend’s eyes if something too provocative comes on. We did have to walk out of a movie recently, however, because it was just too debased. But if I have children, where will their line be? If their music and movies use profanity, will they?
The question of movie watching is rarely a topic of conversation within our churches. But the trend is the same for alcohol, binge spending, materialism, education, entertainment, etc. What we tolerate, our children will accept. What we excuse our children will justify. What our parents excused, we justify. Movies are not evil in and of themselves. I like movies. Don’t tell me I can’t go see movies. You might say the same about alcohol. “Jesus drank alcohol”, right? Or materialism. God gave me the smarts to make a lot of money. Or God blessed me, He wants me to be happy, and this house or that car will make me happy. This is God’s blessing, and I’m going to enjoy it!
The very moment we get defensive and want to call the prohibition of what we want legalism, our hearts are in a dangerous position.
Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
– 1 Cor 10.31
Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
– Col 3.17
Everything that we do should be done in the name of Jesus. In the name of Jesus! Am I going to watch that movie in the name of Jesus? Are you drinking your alcohol in the name of Jesus? Are we working, buying houses and toys in the name of Jesus? In the name of Jesus does not mean that you are claiming your religious freedom. It does not mean, “Jesus gives us grace, we do not live under the Law, I am not a legalist and therefore I can do ___________.” It means, I am walking with Jesus, and I believe that it would honor Him and empower my testimony and cause me to fall more in love with Him if I _____________. If you can do those morally undefinable things that fill that blank to God’s glory, then it is not my place to judge you. And if I can do things that are in that line to God’s glory, it is between me and God.
However, Paul is extremely clear that it is best to live in such a way that if by doing those things I cause you to stumble, then I am sinning. And vise versa.
It is good practice and habit to set up boundaries for ourselves. If we know our sin of temptation, let us set up the boundary miles away from it so that it never becomes an option. But let us also know our friends, family, neighbors and church. If we know their struggles, let us set up boundaries for ourselves to protect them. This is most glorifying to God. But those boundaries cannot become our method of earning favor with God. We set those boundaries because we love Him and because He loves us. Our hearts should be, “God, I love you so much that I do not want to watch a movie that dishonors you, and I only want to go see a movie in the name of Christ – to His glory, and if it does not or cannot honor you, I will not go see movies.”
Our standard is Christ and His glory. Not our freedom, not our laws. If you set out to love God in everything you do, our children will learn the same. We will pass on a heritage of faith, not excuses. Our children will exemplify our DNA. Do you want to pass along mutations that develop into birth defects? Or do you want to pass along healthy genes that honor God?