Leprosy

November 21, 2003 | no comments
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I am teaching Seminary this year, and we are covering the Old Testament. We are currently working our way through the Book of Leviticus (at least the highlights), which is great fun for a lawyer. (I can hardly wait to get to Deuteronomy!) The students seem to be enjoying it, too. Today we covered the cleansing ritual for lepers. We in the United States sometimes forget that leprosy is still a problem in some parts of the world, though significant steps have been taken toward eradication. (Sorry … small tangent.)

As we discussed the leprosy cleansing ritual, I marvelled again at how Ancient Israel drew from mundane experiences to reinforce teachings about their relationship to God. The leprosy ritual was incredibly rich with symbolic value. Leprosy was viewed (at least figuratively, if not literally) as an external manifestation of internal corruption. The afflicted person was segregated from the main body of the community (cast out). Once the leprosy was cured, the former leper went through the cleansing ritual, which involved both blood and water (signifying birth, or rebirth in this case). There is a lot more, but I don’t want to get too far removed from the main point, which is the elevation of mundane situations to teach the Gospel.

Do we do this? For example, my oldest daughter just obtained her driver’s permit. This is a rite of passage that almost all of us undertake. If you heard that our family held a special ceremony (we don’t; this is just a hypothetical) to teach our children that getting a driver’s license was like — oh, I don’t know — say, leaving the pre-mortal existence, would you think, “That’s really neat how you teach your children the Gospel from mundane experiences”? Absolutely not! You would think that my family was nuts!

What I am wondering is whether we have become too “sophisticated,” too educated, too disinclined to perceive the eternal lessons that we encounter everyday. We tend to discount people who “read too much” into their common experiences. We view them as simplistic or overly zealous, and in the process, we may deprive ourselves of the opportunity to be uplifted.

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