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Day 16: I taught a very nasty word today

August 29, 2018


Norm, a sophomore, has been stopping by my desk on frequent occasions during the past weeks.  He is polite and even somewhat shy, and always respectful.

“I need to remind you,” he said early last week,” that I will be leaving your class early.”

“Why, Norm? ” I ask, although I knew the reason.

“Well,” he said, bobbing his head a bit, “I’m on the golf team, and we have competition today.”

This was too good for me to pass up.  I kept a straight face, and I gave him a narrow stare.

“Norm,” I said, trying to be as serious as possible, “our school does not have a golf team.  We don’t have the money for a golf team; our school sports budget isn’t that big.”

He looked up, shocked.  “No,” he said quickly.  “We really do. Seriously.”

“Norm,” I said quietly, while the guys behind him are stifling laughs. “I know you’re up to something.  GCA has never had a golf team.  What are you trying to pull?”

He looked clearly confused.  We all burst out laughing.

Now it’s been the running joke about Norm and his “fictional golf team.”  Whenever he is called to go to a match or tournament, we all call out that his fictional “golf” is an excuse to skip my class.  He now enjoys the “ruse” and goes along with it, even “admitting” that he’s made the whole thing up and he just wants to leave.  This has caused a confusion on the part of a new student, Caleb.  He actually thinks we are condoning a student skipping my class.  We quickly had to explain the joke.

I may be pretty intense in class, but I do like to have fun.  In fact, today was Cheez-It Day in my classroom, and the first 50 students who came got free Cheez-Its.  I can be generous to a fault, you see.

But not very often.

However, the rest of today was intense.  We were talking about the doctrine of sin and we looked at the book of Jude.

I talked with them about the danger of allowing others – in sin or in false teaching – to influence their life.   Although in today’s society there might be an opinion that Christians should compromise their beliefs for the sake of friendships, the Scripture clearly warns against shortchanging the message of the Gospel.  In fact, the writer Jude gets downright blunt in calling for action against cult teaching or the chance that the Scripture would be watered down. He called for Christians to pull away – and pull others away – from sin.  I explained the need to reach and help those that might be falling away and I then displayed this phrase in verse 23 on the PowerPoint:

…save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.”

I used the laser pointer to circle the last phrase:  “…hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.”

The hatred for the idea that false teachers would try to pervert the message of Jesus Christ, or that sin should invade the Believer,  is made quite graphic by Jude. I told them that the word “garment” (chitōn) literally meant “underwear”.

The room grew quiet. They looked at me in a puzzled way.

“And,”  I added, “the Greek word spiloō means soiled, stained… as if someone had literally lost their bowel control in their own underwear.”

Anna grimaced.  Bobby raised his eyebrows.  Jill was in plain shock.  Could the Bible have really said that? 

It certainly does.

In the Precept Austin website, the writer Bruce Hurt quoted Bible scholar Kistemaker:

“What is Jude trying to communicate? The picture is of undergarments that are soiled by discharges of the body. Jude wants the readers to feel intense aversion, even to the point of hatred, especially when they think about clothes that belong to someone else. Jude is saying to the readers, ‘Avoid all contact with sin so that it does not contaminate you. In fact, hate sin as you would loathe filthy undergarments stained by human excretions.’”

“Would you have any contact with someone else’s filthy underwear?” I asked.  Heads were shaking all over.  “Of course not – you’re disgusted by the thought.  The same disgust should be in thought of when it comes to sin.  We don’t tolerate it.  We don’t get near it.  We abhor it.”

Matthew looked at the Powerpoint and then looked at me.  He nodded.  He got the point.

I think we all got Jude’s point today.

Coarse, but clear.

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