But this time I realized something. Page after page was all about satisfying the flesh. Making everything nice for guests. Impressing people. Making everything look good: our homes, yards, selves and meals.
Pleasing our families with good meals is fabulous. Warm hospitality is Biblical. My house smells cozy and delish right now because I’ve got some BBQ ribs crockin’ away in the crock pot for my family's dinner tonight. But we ladies can let flashy articles and pictures get us so wrapped up in pleasing the flesh that we go way overboard and before we know it, that’s all there is. Pinterest, hellew? We can neglect the spiritual entirely. And I’m not talking about yah-yah spiritual meditation or man’s wisdom. I’m talking about the only real spirituality that will satisfy and that is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I got a pang of sadness that day, grief truly, when I looked at page after page of elaborate decorating and impressive home refurbishing. The question that sank deep into my heart was, “Why did they go with lime green for that curtain fabric rather than soft gray?” That and, “What were those children doing, while the ladies were busy with all of that?”
Families need their mommies. “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal,” says 2 Corinthians 4:18. Let’s get a little radical shall we, and maybe suggest that the home and garden magazines are not that different from the smarmy Hollywood ones after all, in one important way: both kinds are all about the outward man rather than the inner man. Or in our case, the inner chick. The home ones just do it in a more tasteful, wholesome, socially acceptable way. Neither kind though is pointing us toward the eternal things of God. Kind of distracting us from Him actually.
“Well,” someone might say, “we have to leave religion out of it. It’s not practical. It’s just lampshades and tomato plants and we can’t expect mainstream publications to muddle everything up by dragging religion into it.” And I would say: too late. It’s already in there. There is no such thing as religious neutrality. The belief system presented to us in the home and garden magazines, whether they realize it or not, would go something like this: if you pursue our projects then your life will be fulfilling and joyful. Second to that is the implication that if you want to add church to your life on Sunday, then that is fine too. It keeps Christianity compartmentalized for us, just as neat and tidy as a shiny new granite kitchen island. But Christ said you’re either for me or against me and St. Paul said he couldn’t help but talk about the things of God, because he was sincerely living it. So we can’t go half-sies with our faith. It’s all or nothing. It’s flesh or Spirit.
I understand that these magazine folks have to deal with the authority of parent companies and oversight by media conglomerates. That’s the stuffy way of saying, “money” and “peer pressure.” And so the magazines understandably shy away from taking a stand on Christianity. This means they are reduced to a lifetime of setting elaborately gorgeous scenery and gasping happily over beautiful costumes. But there’s never a performance for fear of saying the wrong thing.
Galatians 6:8 tells us that, “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” Solomon's temple was spectacular and God was all over that. We're talking gold floors and magnificent pillars. But planning it and building it had an end. And it had a purpose. A warning, even. God actually said to Solomon, "Concerning this house you are building..." 1 Kings 6:12 and then goes on to say to him that if you will walk in God's ways then God will "dwell among the children of Israel," and He said He wouldn't forsake them. God says it again after Solomon had finished building his own house and the temple: "I have hallowed this house," but you have to "walk before me, as David thy father walked." 1 Kings 9:3.
God tells Solomon that if he turns from following Him, it's going to bring evil upon the nation of Israel and what ended up happening was exactly that. "And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the Lord God." 1 Kings 11:9. Eventually that temple was completely destroyed by the Babylonians a few hundred years later. But of course we know it wasn't really the Babylonians: it was God. He said that for David's sake He would wait to destroy the temple but for now, He sent Solomon an adversary, this extremely pesky and mischievous guy named Jeroboam.
Isn't that what we all get out of flipping through a home and garden magazine? Maybe not. The magazines are fine. Pinterest is fun. There is nothing wrong with a home project here or there. I love making my house pretty. My daughters and I chatter and talk while we clean together on Saturdays. Cooking says love.
But the Bible says to know well the condition of our flock. The Bible says we are to be about the things of God, for us and for our children. Our purpose is to glorify God, not ourselves and our stuff. If we buy into a lifestyle where cabinets are constantly being re-stained, if we allow ourselves to be persuaded that improving rooms is a way of life that never stops, if we are busy preparing for guests and fretting over the “outside of the cup” to the point where that’s all there is: then, the outer man sure is pretty. But there’s no lasting satisfaction in any of that for the mother and, meanwhile, the family has been left to its own devices.