Wednesday, April 9, 2014

What A Fascinating Verse

The Minor Prophets Speak to Today

What A Fascinating Verse
Hosea 8:11 NLT


“Israel has built many altars to take away sin,
    but these very altars became places for sinning!"
 During college my wife and I took in a young boy who had dropped out of classes. He was a pastor's son, adopted, and going through emotional turmoil. But one thing reminded me of this verse.

He and his high school age girlfriend, back home in Ohio, had been sexually active for a couple of years. I believe he was eighteen and she was sixteen when he lived with us. Their primary place for making love was in the church basement on a settee outside his father's office door. He kept his porn hidden above the ceiling tiles in the office.

When we drove him home, he stopped first at the church where he showed me the couch where they made love then began to put his sexually oriented material back into the ceiling. Some was up and others pieces had fallen on his father's desk when he suddenly got agitated and decided to just leave them.

I've often wondered if he did that as a cry for help.

I thought and had been taught that Israel's altars and shrines were about sexual pleasure and rituals of fertility. I never thought of these practices as seeking to take away sin.

According to Hosea, their male prostitutes and female prostitutes (men and women were expected to dedicate a certain portion of their lives to these services in the temples) attempts to have their sins taken away were indeed practices of sin.

Some women bore sacred babies, usually conceived during their temple service, who became human sacrifices for sin. Others were required to give their first born, especially sons, as a blood sacrifice or for passing through the fire. The temple sins were not just sexual they included murder.

Are there ways our churches or religious practices have become places, practices, of sin? What a sobering thought.

Photo credit:
Altar by Chris Williams @

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