Can you make gravy? Of course! You boil water, open the packet of gravy mix, dump and stir. White peppered gravy in an instant that tastes pretty good on instant mashed potatoes and pre-cooked chicken fried steaks. Good, but it does not rise to the level of homemade; not just made at home, but from scratch. What is next, claiming that fried bologna is as good as perfectly smoked and seasoned wet or dry baby back ribs?
Do you know what the Sabbath rest commanded in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 is? If you answered blue laws (closed business’) and no movies or sporting events on Sunday you should hear the loud buzzer for a wrong answer deafening your hearing. As Jesus made clear in Mark 2 “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” We are born with a built in need to have at least one day to rest from the labor of work, family, and play. Life needs a bit of margin to absorb the overflow and stress from the other six days in our bodies, minds, emotions, and souls. That is why the Hebrews who originally received this command from God did not complain or resist it. For generations they had worked as slaves every day from sun up to sun down for the prize of living one more day and spending the hours of darkness with family and friends before a few hours of sleep.
Are the good things we have known and enjoyed, some of the best parts of real living, diminishing, dwindling, and decreasing? Is gravy from a powdered mix really the same as that made from scratch containing little bits of bacon? Does a Sunday filled with activity, though different from school or job, refresh our whole being? Worship with others and a day of resting in Jesus is how to recover focus, return to center, and be refreshed.
Are relationships initiated with and built on sex as enduring and satisfying as those that begin as friends, the willingness to sacrifice for a friend, and the mutual encouragement those relationships engender? Research by respected professionals confirm that sex before marriage, self-centered, low commitment and easily dissolved commitment built on the frequent breakups experienced in today’s dating scene makes the goal we seek of a deep lasting satisfying and trustworthy relationship much harder, though not impossible, to achieve.
Substitutions for convenience are sometimes necessary, even required. Practicing them on a long-term basis, however, we begin to re-define them as the new normal. We forget how good the original really is and settle for second or even third best.
Why substitutes are tolerated and even advocated as the best choice is mystifying. Nevertheless, there is no denying that many diminish the previous moral norms, time usage, spiritual authority, and acceptable recreational pursuits by their rhetoric. They lessen them by using descriptors referring to them as having less value or importance. Note how they express their low opinion with scorn and diminish their rival, their accomplishments, and their values through descriptors that denigrate, belittle, bad-mouth, discount, disparage, trash, or run them down.
Qualities long admired and encouraged in society such as modesty, commitment, honesty, and selflessness are degenerating, what Johns Hopkins Magazine describes as a gradual change or evolution, “where order devolves into chaos”. It is past time to recognize and label substitutes for what they are. They are sometimes enjoyable but never a satisfactory long-term replacement. The original, properly planned for and used, is the best.