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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Jesus and germs

Jesus was no "Monk." For those who haven't seen this TV show, Adrian Monk is an obsessive-compulsive crime solver. One of his obsessions concerns germs. He is constantly wiping his hands with disinfectant wipes. He's not the only one. Our local grocery furnishes wipes, so that you can wipe the handle of the grocery cart. Disinfectant wipes and liquids are big business.

Jesus wasn't that compulsive about cleanliness:
Luke 11:37 While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. 38 The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. 39 And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? (ESV)

Jesus was making a point, of course, about the inner unrighteousness of the Pharisees, and how it canceled all their outer cleanliness. I need to be careful that I'm not a Pharisee on this point. However, some of us are probably way too particular about germs. How did the Israelites, Sacajawea, Julius Caesar, Gandhi, Winston Churchill, Booker T. Washington and Joan of Arc get along without disinfectant wipes? They seem to have made it all right without them. North American society, no doubt encouraged by the makers of disinfectant products, seems to have gone overboard on this matter. Some scientists even claim that keeping our little kids from germs contributes to their susceptibility to allergies. I'm not sure about that claim, but I am sure that increased exposure to disinfectants is selecting germs for resistance to those very products.

I noticed this passage as a consequence of following the ESV on-line Bible reading for a day in April.

Thanks for reading.

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