What do you see in this picture: a lion or a lioness?
Ah, looks can be deceiving. If you thought this was a lion (meaning a male), you were wrong. This is a picture of a lioness! She and some other lionesses in the Mombo of Botswana’s Okavango Delta in Southern Africa have a rare birth defect. They are all still treated like lionesses in the pride, but they look like lions to other on-looking lions.
When my family learned of this oddity while watching the latest episode of the PBS Nature program this week, it sure jumped out in relation to what the Lion of Judah preached to us about hair and beards through Leviticus 19:27 last Lord’s Day morning!
You can watch the clip of this Nature episode entitled “Natural Born Hustlers” (showing how some animals survive by behaving or appearing like something they actually aren’t) here:
You can read about this hairy situation at National Geographic here: http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2012/10/09/weird-wild-rare-maned-lionesses-explained/.
This manly mutation was called “evolution” in the video, but of course genetic mutation is a loss of information and thus only devolution—and naturally, confusion. It seems other male lions on the outside looking in are less likely to attack this unnatural pride because it looks like it is protected by more male lions than is actually the case: because some of the lionesses have beards, that is, manes, which are normally a natural attribute of masculinity in lions.
Is it not shocking to look at this lioness and learn it is not a male lion? Why did you think this was a male (I trust if I hadn’t asked about gender you never for a moment would have wondered if it could be female)? Because she has a mane (a beard, if you will, which naturally grows on male lions but corrupt mutations of creation due to the Fall can sometimes confuse the situation). A mane on a lion normally communicates, “male”; the lack of a mane naturally communicates, “female”. If male lions some how could remove their manes, would they not likely be mistaken for lionesses?
This illustration of naturally created gender distinctions if left to themselves to grow unaffected by sin’s mutations (or sinful motivations) makes me think of one of the quotes by the early church father, Clement of Alexandria (150-215 AD), that I accidentally skipped over in last week’s sermon on Leviticus 19:27. He also said, “The hairs of the beard have been numbered … To seek beauty in hairlessness is sheer effeminacy, if done by men.” What does effeminacy mean? It means men baring the physical traits of women (and often, their more natural behaviors).
Like Bruce Jenner parading as “Caitlyn” before the press. Though he preserves (at least for now) his manhood, yet he pretends to be a she. And how does he do this? By growing long hair, keeping a naked face, adding makeup, and wearing a dress. Because though the world more and more insists on androgyny as the new state of normal, everyone knows that women actually naturally have a look, and so do men.
This identity crisis in state (and church) continues to grow. Recently, the YMCA in Seattle Washington created a policy to allow transgender men who personally (although not biologically) identify themselves as women to shower with 15-year old girls, although backlash has slightly amended the policy. You can read about it here.
We need to recognize that these terrible sins are actually symptoms manifesting a more basic problem: Christians fighting what should be basic instinct, the naturally separate identification of men and women based upon a sacred identity with their Redeeming Creator and what He has to say about it. Identification with God is to not identify with the world and its statements through style and fashion (deliberately or naively).
Tomorrow, another text will further challenge us about how we must corporately identify conspicuously with Christ in counter-cultural behavior. Leviticus 19:28 will teach us that tattoos are taboo for the pure in heart.
Remember, Jesus says that Christians will be alienated from this world for they are obviously not of this world because neither is He nor His Kingdom (John 15:19; 17:14, 16; 18:26). Beloved, how we dress our heads, faces, bodies, and skin must communicate, “I am a Christian: I am not of this world.”
Though not speaking on the issue of hair, beards, nor tattoos, a running comment lately on RefNet.fm by RC Sproul is apropos here: “To be with it with the world is to be out of it with God.”