Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Real Deal

I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me.

-- Philippians 4:13

Want a Rolex watch or Gucci handbag...but don't want to pay full retail? 

Time was that you'd go to a downtown street vendor or flea market to snare one of those too-good-to-be-true bargains. But nowadays with websites like eBay and Craig's List, you can buy just about anything--from computer software to auto parts--for far below sticker price.

Unfortunately, too good to be true is usually just that. The vast majority of these so-called bargains are really cheap counterfeits of the real thing. Worldwide, counterfeiting accounts for more than $500 billion in trade each year, with footwear accounting for nearly 25 percent of all counterfeit or pirated goods seized in government crackdowns.

Is buying a cheap knock-off just another type of victimless crime? It turns out that in 2010, the U.S. Navy purchased 59,000 counterfeit computer chips for missiles and other military equipment from China--an issue with enormous national security implications. Closer to home, it's easy to find websites selling supposedly name brand prescription drugs (made who knows where) at bargain basement prices. And tests conducted by Microsoft revealed that nearly 40 percent of the software purchased on eBay was counterfeit, with another 12 percent either counterfeit or altered. Who knows what damage it could do to your expensive computer and irreplaceable files?

The lesson here is buyer beware. But it goes much deeper than that. Counterfeiting cheapens the value of the authentic merchandise and the ingenuity behind it...and all while robbing the customer through nearly worthless--and sometimes even lethal--products that can end up costing dearly in the end.

Those so-called real deals on the Internet or the street corner are too often cheaply-made junk that can never compare with the real thing available through legitimate establishments. And the same goes when comparing the world's message about sexuality against the true, much richer meaning from the One who created men and well as sex itself. The world markets a gaudy product that's essentially an emotionless, physical act without strings or consequences. If it feels good, do it! But it's a shoddy imitation of God's craftsmanship. Our Father designed sexual intimacy between men and women to involve not only the physical, but also the emotional and spiritual. And rather than being the selfish "me-first" act peddled by the world, real sexual intimacy involves husbands and wives putting each other's needs before their own.

The choice is clear. We can buy into the world's cheap and corrosive product of selfish, physical acts and soulless emotions. Or, we can choose God's brand name masterpiece of sexual intimacy: a mingling of souls.

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