Joe and the Magazine Ad
One day a fellow named Joe was paging through a magazine. As he was turned a page, he came upon an advertisement that featured a beautiful woman with a short skirt and conspicuous cleavage. “How sad,” he thought, “How pitiful that men should be taught to link buying a product with ogling a beautiful woman.” And he turned to the next page.
Now that Joe turned the page is a bigger deal than you think. You see, Joe used to struggle with pornography. In days past he would have lingered long on that page and if the image had been particularly alluring, he would have torn out the page and saved it. Such was his addiction. And since much advertising features semi-clad women, Joe found ample food for his lust and his fantasy life and his collection at home.
But Joe got “saved” a few years ago. And among the sins he was under conviction to repent from was pornography. So in a fit of moral indignation, he went home and threw out all those pictures he had saved over the years and put a ‘porn blocker’ on his computer and went to work praying and reading his Bible. He even joined a pornography support group. Such was his commitment to forsake this sin.
And God be praised, as time passed, so did the temptation to view pornographic images. Indeed even sexually defrauding images, like the one we just mentioned at the beginning of the story, were now condemned and rejected. And Joe was glad that things had turned out so. And he thanked God that his prayers for deliverance had been answered.
But God knew that Joe was still far from his moral destination, so He decided to let His Holy Spirit give Joe a glimpse of real purity. Not too much of course lest Joe go crazy. Just 5 minutes worth.
So as Joe continued to turn a few more pages of the magazine, he came across another ad similar to the one he had just previously rejected. And suddenly he was overwhelmed with rage.
“Who put this here? Don’t they care about the messages they send to children? Don’t they care about the messages they send to men? Don’t they care about how women feel? Don’t they care about society’s moral integrity or God’s judgment or just plain decency? What woman exposed herself for this picture? What photographer encouraged her to dress and poise so? What advertising director selected this picture to promote their product with? What magazine cares so little about all of the above that it should allow this ad to run for all to see?” And Joe tore the picture out of the magazine lest anyone else should see it.
And Joe was in tears. “How is it that I have come so far but still have so far to go? Please forgive me Lord that I have allowed compromise with the world’s standards to set my standards and have not truly understood Your call to holiness. Thank you for showing me how truly defied and dirty this world has become and for showing me a glimpse of what You think of our seemingly innocuous advertisings and distractions.”
Now the story of Joe and the magazine ad was given to illustrate something about how silly we sometimes can be when we take what we think is the ‘moral high ground’ in condemning some injustice or indecency or greed. You name it... human trafficking, the environment, big oil, military intervention, GMO’s, gay rights... we believe that we have all the insurmountable arguments and evidence needed to sweep away our opponents. Friends, we haven’t even scratched the surface.
One only needs to read the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5 thru 7) to find out how pitifully short we have come of God’s love. My heart aches when I survey how little I have embraced my Lords’ compassion and purity and forgiveness and this after being a Christian for many years. Pray be it that he will allow us a few more ‘glimpses’ of eternity lest he returns to find us asleep at the wheel, that is, living aimless, compromised lives.