Stupid Cupid (6)
So the man seized his concubine and made her go out to them. And they knew and abused her all night until the morning. And as the dawn began to break, they let her go. And as morning appeared, the woman came and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her master was, until it was light.
- Judges 19:25, 26
The book of Judges depicts a time when people rejected any idea of absolute morality and everyone simply did what seemed right in his own eyes. These were times of relativism and pragmatism, when all the old reliable conventions no longer seemed to matter. Faith didn’t matter. Patriotism didn’t matter. Law and order didn’t matter. Even marriage didn’t seem to matter much. About the only thing that mattered was that the people in power find a way to retain their power, even if it meant the destruction of others – in the case of our passage, a woman, and almost a complete tribe of people.
The cupiditas-driven men who assailed the old man’s door had one goal in mind: They wanted to rape and abuse two out-of-town visitors whom they knew to be lodging within the man’s home. The old man refused to give them up to the lust-filled mob. This seemed like a noble act, until, to save his own skin, he offered his virgin daughter and the concubine of one of the visitors for the men to do with as they pleased. The daughter, it seems, was spared. But the lust-blinded mob abused the concubine all night and finally left for dead.
But the story gets worse. The woman’s master took her to his home, cut her dead body in twelve parts, and sent them around to all the tribal territories in Israel. What followed was a bloody war of revenge against the people of Benjamin that very nearly destroyed an entire tribe of the people of God.
This story, which ends the book of Judges, offers a solemn warning about where a society is headed which turns its back on God and His standards for a decent moral order. The alternative lifestyle of relativism and pragmatism can only lead to a dead-end, where real people get really hurt. When people are allowed to do whatever seems right to them, and whatever they can get away with in order to gratify their cupiditas, the end of humanity and the end of social order cannot be far away. When all that matters is my desires, my wants, my passions, and the gratification of my fleshly and material needs, everybody else is expendable. Everybody simply becomes a tool for me to use and discard as I please. People are no longer people. They are mere animals, pursuing fleshly gratification above all else, and mere tools and playthings for others to use and abuse.
That cute little arrow in Cupid’s bow is poisoned with lust. We like to think that the result of Cupid landing a dart in our hearts is the romantic and fulfilling relationship of love we’ve been waiting for all our lives. But in fact, the opposite is the case. When sex and love are reduced to cupiditas, as they are in the minds and experience of many people today, we do not become fulfilled as human beings, we become debased, until that which makes us truly human – the dignity of having been made in the image of God – is hardly in evidence.
The beginning of cupiditas is lust; the end of cupiditas is self-destruction. The remedy for cupiditas is charitas, love as God intended it: pure, selfless, mutually edifying, and honoring to God. The way to charitas is through grace, grace proclaimed in the Person of One Who so loved the world that He gave His only Son for our sins, and opened through His death and resurrection the prospect of new life, new purpose, and new hope.
In what ways can you see that our society is in the grip of relativism and pragmatism? Talk with some Christian friends about this question. What is our role, as witnesses and ambassadors for Jesus Christ, in helping our neighbors to avoid the dreadful end toward which relativism and pragmatism tend?
This week’s series, Stupid Cupid, is available in a free downloadable format, suitable for group study. Email this devotional to a friend and make sure to sign-up to receive these daily devotionals.
For more insight to this topic, order the book, Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power and the Only Hope that Matters, by Timothy Keller, from our online store. You might also benefit from reading the article, “Why Wait Till Marriage?” by Jimmy Williams.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture references are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.