Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. 1 Thess 5:14-22 (NKJV)
Near the end of 1 Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul used a shot-gun approach by giving the Church several random short commandments. I want to focus on the last burst which states: "Abstain from every form of evil." This happens to be one of those verses that lost some of its spiritual impact, because of the translation. A more literal translation carries the following thought: "Avoid the very appearance of evil." What does this mean? That Believers should make an effort to refrain from any activity that would call into question their commitment to Christ.
A couple of years ago Polish tennis star Agnieszka Radwanska was dropped as spokesperson by a Catholic group in her home country. At the time, Agnieszka was the fourth ranked women's tennis player in the world and had been appearing in a commercial for the Youth Crusade, which runs a campaign with the slogan “I’m not ashamed of Jesus.” Why was she dropped? She still claims to be a Believer, but she also appeared in ESPN's "Body Issue" sans clothing. While the nude picture is not explicit a spokesperson for the Catholic Youth Crusade explained their decision: "Personally I am very sorry that someone declaring herself to be on the side of Jesus has at the same time played up to the mentality of those who treat people as just a thing to be looked at."
Let me translate: While not evil--this has the appearance of evil. In a world fascinated by the the exploitation of women and the plague of internet pornography, Believers are not well-served by having a 24 year old tennis star posing naked while telling people,"I'm not ashamed of Jesus." I do not know if Agnieszka understands what is at stake, or if she regrets her decision to pose for ESPN--but, all around the world, young girls looked to her as a role model, at the very least, her testimony is now tarnished.
Author's note: Without creating a new legalism, let me state that Agnieszka did not fall into sin as far as I know; however, she is coming from a part of the world where pornography is being generated and sexual slavery of young women is a real problem. Beyond that, our purpose as a Believer is to bring glory to God. Whatever we do, we need to do it as a part of our spiritual worship to God. Posing nude for ESPN probably doesn't fit the bill...at least in my opinion.
RJ Dugone's Blog
This is a blog of devotional thoughts and my "Christian" perspective on a pop culture gone mad. RJ