This past weekend, the husband, his best man from the Air Force, and I were supposed to go away on a mini-vacation to a beach house. Our plan to avert the beach was just to hang out at the house, play some putt putt, and maybe knock out some ugly zombies at the arcade. The beach house, as we all know, is by the beach, and as a couple, Rob and I have long ago decided to avoid the place like the plague. We both humbly admit that we are not strong enough to effortlessly expose ourselves to constant skin parading without actual, tangible horse blinders.
The beach and the mall are two very different but also somewhat similar places. Both the beach and the mall have people dressed to entice sexually, but the beach allows for people to be stripped to the least clothing a person can legally wear in public. I don’t need for anyone to tell me in which of these places it is harder to keep from rubbernecking.
We’ve been ridiculed for it, yes, but we really didn’t expect that other Christian friends would think that this was “too much” and make us feel really bad about our personal decision to try our hardest to do something that’s good for us. It helps to know that people like Joshua Harris and his wife, Shannon, avoid beaches, too. See, it’s one thing to be strong and able to resist all temptation just like Christ, but it’s another thing to admit your weakness and avoid instances of what tends to trap you more than others. Like an ex-alcoholic avoids even a sip of beer, we’ve avoided witnessing explicit expressions of sexuality, including immodesty at the beach and in media. Rob has been “clean” from pornography for more than two and a half years, and I have been “clean” from immodesty since we were engaged. As fresh as we are, we’ve never been so sure and so strongly against anything that will cause us to stumble again, and that is why the beach is a no-zone for both of us. It’s not that we are religiously trying to make everybody else feel bad for going to the beach while making us seem “holier-than-thou” for abstaining (which a couple of people have complained to us about) from public bathing. Nor is it that we came up with a high and mighty rule for the sake of rules and hope to live by it as if we keep tallies or scoreboards. We decided this because we admit to our weakness, and with God’s help, we’re able to live by enjoying our life together in the other million things we can do with it. There are probably close to, if not actually, that many activities, places, and movies we can indulge ourselves in that do not have blatant sexuality involved with them. If not for holiness and being right with God, why else would we not want to keep our marriage at its strongest by avoiding anything that may keep us apart even in our heads?
I chose the ex-alcoholic/beer example instead of the ex-drug addict or the ex-smoker examples because beer in itself, unlike nicotine or drugs, is not sinful or harmful in moderation, just like skin in itself isn’t sinful. We all know that smoking and drugs are addictive and harmful to the body; whereas alcohol was drunk in moderation at a wedding party by Jesus without being a drunkard. Showing some skin is okay (face, neck, feet, forearms, etc.), but just baring it all with breasts here and thighs there transforms any public place into an instant meat market.
I used to love summer and associate it with how I liked going to the beach. I enjoyed the beach because it meant sunbathing for me, and it seemed to be the perfect place to get a natural, bronzed tan without spending money on vanity tanning salons with UV killer lasers that eat away your cells over time, producing nasty, premature wrinkles while making you think you are looking healthier and younger at the moment. That’s another lie a lot of people buy themselves into—the effects of instant gratification of the uninformed or stubborn mind. I think tanning is just like consuming alcohol. A little is okay, but a lot will consume you. Porn, illegal drugs, and nicotine however are destructive and addictive in their most minute presence. We really need to eradicate all of these things.
Thankfully, two new bits of information helped stop our beach trip—a hurricane that never really got to our area and news that our Air Force buddy had to fly a mission that weekend. We are pretty sure that in the near future (well, maybe not until next summer), something like another beach trip invitation will come up again. So what are we going to do about it? We cannot avoid everything that comes our way, especially those things involving best friends and families. It would be a perfect world, at least for us, if everybody we cared about had the same convictions so we wouldn’t have to put up with compromising situations—but alas, it isn’t. We are still in the world but not of it (John 7:14-15). I can only pray for our mind’s protection and let the Holy Spirit make us stronger.
Well the beach be one of the best things we got, cause it’s not what you have on but what you have not. – Jonathan Richman (sardonically)