Genesis 9:22-25 (NET Bible)
22 “Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father’s nakedness and told his two brothers who were outside. 23 Shem and Japheth took the garment and placed it on their shoulders. Then they walked in backwards and covered up their father’s nakedness. Their faces were turned the other way so they did not see their father’s nakedness. 24 When Noah awoke from his drunken stupor he learned what his youngest son had done to him. 25 So he said, “Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves he will be to his brothers.””
Job 31:1 (NIV)
“I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman.”
“But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
“But Lot’s wife looked back longingly and was turned into a pillar of salt.”
“Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.”
We live in a visually heightened society. Eye candy is everywhere and it can become overwhelming. The perception is that the images flaunted on the covers of magazines are perfection and should be our aim. I confess – I am one of those who flips all of the magazines around when standing in line. I want to protect my eyes as well as my children’s. Of course sometimes the back of the magazine is just as bad, if not worse, then the front. Sigh. I also have taught my children from an early age to look the other way when walking in the mall and passing an ungodly store. It has become instinct now to do so. Why take such precautions? Conviction. Fear of God. Obedience. Awareness of the need to make no provision for the flesh even if it is not currently a temptation. In humility, I know it could be apart from God’s grace. Vigilance offers sweet reward and protects us from calamity.
Even with protective measures in place, we can all stumble across something we wish we hadn’t. It is what we do in those moments that can set the course for moral victory or failure. Ham must have felt that the discipline was a bit extreme for his child and future generations to be cursed from one peek. There are many commentaries on this, but a parent knows his child’s heart. The foolish, wicked response Ham demonstrated revealed what was in his heart. Perhaps this was already evident in his son, Canaan, as well. The curse did indeed extend through Ham’s son Canaan, whose descendants eventually populated Sodom.
Even if we are not involved in an impure lifestyle, do we condone it? Lot’s wife also looked longingly with her eyes at what she was leaving when God was burning up Sodom and Gomorrah. Scripture does not say that she was participating with the moral filth all around her, but her eyes were also the source of her demise. I would have wanted out of there in a big way. The flames from the sky would not have been the only reason, but the flame of lust all around. The company we keep can also greatly impact whether or not we walk in purity. I think the moral decay was probably already apparent before Lot’s neighbors were banging his door down to sexually violate his house guest – and he offered his pure daughters instead.
The sins of the father do not have to be duplicated in future generations. Noah’s discipline could have been a turnaround and produced repentance and righteousness. Revelation of the action being sinful is actually grace. It is ignorance and a culture of impurity unnoticed that breeds moral depravity extending down the family line. If only we could see what the momentary indulgence of the eyes does. The effect is profound – a wife unloved while her husband gazes on images which have no life, just to satiate his lust. What a waste. Families falling apart because parents do not teach their children to guard the eye gate, which our very life’s direction can be altered by.
There is nothing new underneath the sun. The same sins which threaten to undo our society were the same vices thousands of years ago – the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the boastful pride of life. Compromise can slip in almost unnoticed. It might be an item of clothing – fashion that maybe is a little revealing, but we can rationalize it away and accept it as appropriate. It might be allowing certain media or programming in your home, which fosters ungodliness and worldliness. God help us to not just abstain from impurity, but to cultivate purity. No matter what our past, today can be a new benchmark of holiness and chasing after God’s heart instead of the world’s cheap substitute. Past mistakes do not have to be a harbinger of the future. They can instead serve as a guide of what to avoid and an impetus to walk faithfully with God.
Lord, help us to keep our eyes open to Your ways and to recognize sin in our lives. Help us to devote our eyes only to worthy things which bring You glory. Amen.