James 1:26-27 – “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
What kind of religion should any and every Christian want? More than likely it should be a religion that God the Father in heaven sees as pure and undefiled. These two adjectives seem imply that there can in fact be impure and defiled religion in God’s eyes. Thank God that James informs us what the pure and undefiled religion is. For one, he simply says that is a religion that shows itself through visibly love and concern for orphans and widows when they are afflicted. We have to imagine the plight of young children in the Bible days. They had no orphanage or foster care. They were left to fend for themselves until or unless a person with a pure and undefiled religion came to see about them and their needs. Imagine also the plight of widows. These were women who were unlikely to remarry due to the fact that they were not virgins. Some of them were probably older women who could not rely on looks and charms to get another suitor and husband. These women and children, without men to help them as fathers and husbands, were unlikely to know for sure where their next meal was coming from. Their parents or husbands might have left them debts that would have left them in slavery. So how pleasant it was for this new sect of believers in Jesus Christ to visit them in their hunger, homelessness, grief, and loneliness to make sure they felt God’s love or to make sure they had someone to talk to or to make sure they knew someone had them on their mind. How pleasant to know that someone was always praying for them or had their wives to bring them something to eat! THAT is pure religion to God.
But James goes further.
Pure and undefiled religion also involves keeping oneself unstained from the world. Remember how Jesus said elsewhere in the New Testament that He did not pray that God would take us out of the world, but rather that He would keep us in His care IN the world. Well, while we are in the world, God wants us not to be stained by the world. The world is teeming with sin(s). Jesus expects to keep ourselves unstained from the world. Of course, the Holy Spirit will help us, but we have to be willing to keep ourselves from things that would taint us. Those “things” would involve keeping our thoughts, intentions, motives, feelings, choices, words, and of course our actions and responses. Oftentimes, our thoughts evolve into actions. That is why it important to guard our thoughts and to keep them unstained from worldly influences.
We don’t see much pure and unstained religion in the world today. It is not uncommon to hear of a pastor “fleecing” the sheep of his congregation including the “widows” (who I would also include as being single mothers) and “orphans” who might just be being taken advantage of sexually by the pastor. This in fact would be considered impure and defiled religion before God. The very two groups of people the church is meant to protect is often the two groups of people who are most taken advantage of by leaders in the church. I have often seen churches filled with single women who are being nothing short of harassed by preachers to give their last. These women do not have a husband who can provide for and protect them. So they rely on their pastors to do so as shepherds are to do for their sheep. Yet, these pastors see these sheep as weaklings who are just ripe for the picking. A sexually perverted pastor might be married, but his eyes might be set on the poor, fatherless young boys at his church that so desperately want a father figure. These pastors will pretend that will offer this to them, only they are actually grooming the young men for sexually perverted relationships. And their single mothers don’t expect a thing because they are so desperate for a “Christian” father figure in their sons lives. Yet, these pastors leave the widows and orphans in much worse shape than they came in. This doubtless happens more to unmarried women who have no husband as their head to catch on to the sneaky behavior of a pastor. This doubtless happens to young men with uninvolved or overworked mothers who are too busy working two jobs to be totally aware of what the pastor intends to do with her son. Just like any other predator, they seek the weaker vessel (the female) and the young. They seldom attempt to take advantage of men or married women or children from solid home structures.
Nonetheless, it also not unheard of to hear of pastor after pastor and youth pastor after youth pastor and bishop after bishop being caught in unspeakable scandals. Extramarital affairs, homosexual relationships, drug dealing from the church, stealing and embezzling, insurance fraud, pedophilia, and every other ungodly acts are not uncommon among many pastors. There is actually a website dedicated to exposing these acts committed by church leaders in just one denomination – cogicabusewatch.org. And what’s sadder is that many of these ungodly acts one confronted by the victims are swept under the rug for one reason or the other. And the victims are made to feel ashamed due to the misused and misquoted bible verse, “Touch not mine anointed and do my prophet no harm.” The misuse of this scripture only sickens the church and strengthens the wicked resolve of those who would hurt widows and orphans. This is impure and defiled religion before God the Father.
Pastors, ministers, bishops, youth leaders and those who are in spiritual leadership positions at your church, please review this bible verse and stop misusing the “touch not mine anointed” verse. Most certainly, the same God who inspired James 1:26-27 did not intend for you to discard it in order to misuse “touch not mine anointed” in order to justify doing the opposite of James 1:26-27. Most certainly, God intends for you to love and take care of widows and orphans. Do not touch them sexually. Do not take all of the little money they do have. If you have enough in your checking account to eat prime rib steaks and they barely have enough to put gas in their car and to feed their family before their next paycheck, stop begging them for their last and give them some of your plenty. Do not take advantage of the needy. God is not pleased.