April 25, 2012

Beyond the Pale

Proverbs 22:28
"Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set."

In the olden days, "Beyond the pale" was an expression (albeit archaic by today's standards, which are ironically beyond the pale) used to describe a certain action that denoted disapproval. I never understood the connection between the described action and the word pale. I reasoned that it had to do something with the blood draining from a person's face out of shock of another person's negative behavior or speech.

Not so.

I've come to learn that the word pale has nothing to do with a deficiency in blood or absence of color. Instead it comes from the Latin word palus, which means, a stake (also the name of the wooden post that Roman soldiers used to represent an opponent during fighting practice).

Pale is an old name for a pointed piece of wood driven into the ground that demarcates a barrier when it is made of such stakes. Pole is from the same root source. Impale is pretty self explanatory, right?

So, the figurative meaning as it applies to the expression Beyond the pale indicates going beyond an area of defense, a safeguard, a barrier. Thus, the ultimate meaning is for a person to to go beyond the acceptable or reasonable. In other words, a person going beyond the normal custom.

I want to point out that there's a BIG difference between going beyond the markers of acceptable behavior, conduct, speech, etc. and moving the markers altogether.

And herein is our problem.

The Bible clearly points out that boundaries are set by our fathers; in this case, men of wisdom who held knowlege, reverence and fear of God. There are fewer and fewer of these men. When men become godless, the family follows. And, whichever way the family goes, so goes society.

If you take the time to read the entire Bible, you will see clearly that God set boundaries from the get go. Let's read Gen. 2:17 for further demonstration of setting limits:

"But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."

Boundaries are placed there for our protection. There's wisdom in the landmarks. Yet, people question them, thinking it a noble cause to question the markers placed by God.

For example, consider these moved landmarks:

There was a time when murdering babies was morally and legally reprehensible and indefensible. Not so any longer. The U.S. Supreme Court (courtesy of the Warren Burger Court) moved the landmark. In fact, it was a "landmark" ruling.

There was a time when marriage was between one man and one woman for life. Not so any longer thanks to divorce, cohabitation, sodomy, fornication and so forth.

There was a time when every department store was closed on Sunday out of observance of the Lord's Day. Not so any longer thanks to an impatient life-style which demands modern day "conveniences" to be readily available at a whim's notice.

There was a time when blood-borne diseases were limited & isolated. Not so with AIDS and HIV, which is a man made disease that resulted from moving the landmark.

There was a time when television and Hollywood censored themselves. Nowadays, there is no blur between the boob tube and the carnal world at large.

There was a time when children respected their parents, especially their father. But, now there is a prejudice against all that is paternal.

I could go on and on, but you get the point. Everything, it seems, is beyond the pale. Even Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal lamented America's predictament in her op-ed piece, "America's Crisis of Character".

In other words, this Nation is beyond the pale.

I am not advocating for a return to simpler days, Reader. I'm advocating and seeking your prayers for a return to Jesus Christ. This great Nation needs to humble itself before its God.

Don't you see that the greatest landmark - yes, it's a beacon, too - is the Cross? Death ends there and life begins. But, only for those who surrender to Jesus (Rom 10:9-10).

The world at large doesn't blink any longer when it comes to going beyond the pale. And that's because the world keeps moving the landmark ever so farther from God that people don't notice that they're marching slowly toward the cliff. Death awaits those who travel this wide, wide path (Matt. 7:13-14).

Don't be one of them. Don't stay on the ungodly path of the world. Choose the straight and narrow way. As it says in Jeremiah 6:16, "Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls."

Choose Jesus Christ, the Son of God, for He is the way, the truth and the life. I Choose Christ!

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus;
There's just something about that name!
Master, Saviour, Jesus,
Like the fragrance after the rain;

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
Let all heaven and earth proclaim;
Kings and kingdoms will all pass away,
But there's something about that name!

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