Through the Bible, You Learn Distinctive Living
- Monday, May 17, 2004
The Bible presents a comprehensive plan of morality – most notably, the Ten Commandments, the Levitical laws, and the teachings of Jesus. Still, in the current cultural wars, the Ten Commandments are often dismissed as a religious code unsuitable as an influence on contemporary moral choices.8 The Levitical laws are scorned (for example, “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable,” Leviticus 18:22) or are mangled by improper interpretation.9 And the teachings of Jesus are selectively applied (for example, “I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart,” Matthew 5:28, NKJV).10
So while living a life of morality is a cut above living a life of character, something more than even morality is necessary if we are to live distinctive lives.
A Distinctively Biblical Life Will Affect Your Purity
The Bible indicates that if you want to connect with God, purity is a prerequisite. David asked, “Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place?” Who is prepared to enter the intimate presence of a Holy God? Who has the only chance of connecting with God? The king answered, “He who has clean hands and a pure heart” (Psalm 24:3–4).
But purity as a personal value is even rarer than morality these days.
Mr. Holland's Opus, which came out a few years ago, is a movie about a young, frustrated composer in Portland, Oregon, who takes a job as a high school band teacher in the 1960s. Although this diverts him from his lifelong goal of becoming a classical musician, Glenn Holland (played by Richard Dreyfuss) believes his school job will be temporary and will provide for his family.
At first he maintains his determination to write an opus, composing at his piano after putting in a full day teaching. But as life’s demands increase, Mr. Holland knows that his dream of leaving a lasting musical legacy is dissipating.
Throughout the movie, Holland’s relationship with his wife is strained, due in part to raising a deaf son. While directing the school musical, the middle-aged teacher becomes intrigued by the musical skill and physical beauty of a senior named Rowena. When he affirms her abilities, Rowena becomes attracted to him, telling him that she has decided to move to New York City to pursue her own dreams and that she wants him to go with her. It would be Holland’s chance to feel young again and his ticket out of the humdrum life of a high school music teacher. Maybe he would even write his magnum opus.
After the final performance of the school musical, Mr. Holland rendezvous with Rowena at the local drug store, where the bus picks up passengers. Her eyes light up as she sees him approach, but she quickly notices that he has no luggage.
“You pack light,” she jests.
Mr. Holland hands Rowena a piece of paper with the names of some people he knows in New York where she could stay.
“This isn’t the way I imagined it,” Rowena sighs.
“But it’s the best way,” Holland says, as he finds the inner strength to resist temptation and remain pure.
That evening, Glenn Holland enters his bedroom, where his wife appears to be sleeping. He looks at her tenderly and says, “I love you.” To his surprise, his wife looks up at him and responds, “I know.” Mr. Holland takes his wife in his arms and holds her tightly. This scene lasts approximately four and a half minutes (which in Hollywood time is an eternity).11
Do you know what caught everyone by surprise about this movie? It was Mr. Holland’s choice for purity, for loyalty to his marriage vows – and that this choice was presented as a worthy life “opus.” That choice was quite a shock in a world where purity is all but passé.
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