Saturday, August 6, 2011

Fatal Attraction

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing,
but the flesh is weak.”

-- Matthew 26:41

One of God's most remarkable creations is the Venus flytrap. Native to the swamplands of North and South Carolina, it's one of the world's few carnivorous plants. Rather than water and a little Miracle Gro, Venus flytraps get their nourishment from the flies and other unsuspecting insects that land on their hinged, claw-like leaves. When a fly lands and the plant senses movement, their leaves snap shut and eventually dissolve the helpless prey with strong digestive juices. The victim's empty skeleton is the only remaining evidence of the flytrap's savagery.

Another meat-loving swampland terror, the pitcher plant, catches insects in a similar manner. Bugs are attracted by the scent of sweet nectar and crawl into the plant's deep, gel-filled cavity. The sides of the pitcher are also slippery, which helps prevent the prey's escape. With no way out, the insect eventually drowns and provides the ravenous plant with yet another tasty meal.

We should all learn a lesson from the Venus flytrap and pitcher plant...or rather their victim, the hapless fly. How often do we read the headlines and watch the news covering the shameful escapades of politicians, sports stars and entertainers? We discuss their exploits at home, in the office and on Facebook, and wonder aloud how they could be so foolish and cause so much hurt among their friends and family. But maybe many of us should be looking in the mirror instead of People Magazine. Destructive elicit behavior isn't confined to Hollywood. Sin flourishes everywhere.

And it's no wonder. God created us for intimacy, which should be expressed through marriage between men and women. But His plan for us has grown warped through the lens of our unrealistic, sex-filled society. The media--particularly movies, television and the Internet--are packed with images and messages promoting a destructive feels-good-do-it mentality. Adultery and various sexual perversions are not only marketed as natural and fulfilling, they're also deemed worthy of equality with healthy monogamous male-female relationships. Anything else, the world tells us, is no more than a bigoted hate crime.

Can anyone be surprised by our nation's high rates of divorce and one-parent households?

Like those hapless flies contemplating the temptations of the flytraps and pitcher plants, every one of us is surrounded by seemingly innocent attractions that aim to destroy. It could be an attractive co-worker, a website, a magazine or maybe a so-called gentlemen's club. Also dangerous is society's assurance that even if we don't touch the goods, it's OK to window shop. But even that's an opening to potentially deadly spiritual behaviors. Jesus didn't mince words when he called it adultery.

God's answer to these fatal attractions is wonderfully simple: turn around and RUN! In other words, we need to avoid those people, places and situations that tempt us into doing the unimaginable. It's one time that being a so-called coward (at least in the world's eyes) is not only brave, it's the smart, life-sustaining thing to do.

"No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear," the Apostle Paul assures us in 1 Corinthians. "But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it." 

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