Oh Really?

Keep Your Fingers Crossed When our daughter was studying for her radiography qualifications, she also had to do a course which was aimed at making students aware of the importance of body language. The lecturer claimed, and went on to demonstrate, how about eighty percent of people’s communication is actually unspoken, i.e. conveyed by virtue of body language. The course was interesting and kept students on the edge of their seats as it was impressed on them how important it would be to read patients’ body language when they came to radiography under varying degrees of stress and pain. After she and I talked about this, I pondered this concept of body language some more as regards its importance and implications. In our household we already were fairly keenly attuned (at least, that is the opinion of my wife and me) to our children’s body language and addressed negative body language (rolling of the eyes, shrugging of shoulders, and such like) in clear terms as to what was acceptable and what was not acceptable. It became quite evident to us that much silent rebellion in households is expressed - and regrettably unaddressed - in that manner. Body language has been, and still is, Satan’s tool of choice in cheapening and destruction of human relationships. Scripture warns against this very clearly. When the nation of Israel falls into sin, she is more often than not compared to a wanton woman. Thus we may read in Isaiah 3:6, “Moreover the LORD saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet…” The Lord – as does the devil – attributes much importance to body language, as shown in this and other texts (cf. Proverbs 7; 2 Samuel 11:2; Judges 14:3; Ezekiel 16). The general tenet implied is female seduction being the downfall of kingdoms and great men. Just so today plastic surgeons make a mint out of surgery which emphasises the alluring physical attributes of a woman. And so, we see a big industry involved in Botox lips, enhanced busts, Botox derrieres (to have the allurement of Jennifer Lopez), alluring hair colours and compositions, and eye lashes that drop down to the cheek bones. (Please note that I am not against plastic surgery per sé, as corrective surgery and surgery on burn victims and such like is a wonderful blessing.) Fashion designers bluntly declare that their creations are not to clothe, but to allure. Their clothing aims at gilding the parcel to the utmost. The body beautiful is also the great advertising centre piece for much of the fitness industry and for the selling of home fitness contraptions. What God made holistically beautiful and attractive (cf. 1 Timothy 2:9-10) for the noble purpose of God-centred relationships, notably in marriage (Genesis 2:20-25), has been powerfully perverted, reduced and demeaned to good looks aimed at body worship and seduction. However, the way the body speaks still makes a powerful statement about man’s relationship with his Creator as well, regardless whether that person is a Christian or not. Keeping one’s fingers crossed is a common expression by which most people do not even associate this with God or religion. Yet, it is an expression which finds its root in Christianity. It’s literally making the sign of the cross to ask for God's help. Crossing your fingers behind your back aims at covering up a lie, while at the same time asking God’s forgiveness (supposedly originating in the time of persecution when people would deny being Christians when threatened, yet still desiring to stay on God’s good side).

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As you drive along the road, you come past accident sites from time to time. You can recognize those sites because relatives of the deceased person have marked the place in one form or another, but one thing that always features prominently is a cross. Perhaps the relatives were Christians and chose the symbol consciously; however, given the universal usage, it is unlikely that such is always true. This choice of expression once more makes you wonder about man’s psyche and the words of Romans 1:19a, “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them.” As I am an avid sports hobbyist, both actively and passively, I started also a conscious observation of sports people and their body language at moments of emotional highs and lows. It is (to me) quite telling that a sports person at a moment of high elation will raise the arms skyward in celebration. Conversely, when the goal is not scored in a penalty shootout, the failure will result in a shrinking of the body, a bending of the head in shame or dismay. Looking at the supporters and fellow team mates, many of those one can observe folded hands, prayer-like posture. This body language is not only common in the sports arena; it can also be observed in other areas of life, wherever there are emotional moments which demand expressing. A child (and many an adult) will try to go small and often place an arm in front of the face as if to ward off the words of correction firmly addressed. A face will light up and look open in a moment of praise. When dismay or serious tiredness is in play while the need to push on is still present, a weary head will be lifted skyward and eyes will look to the heavens. It makes me wonder, just like the fact that many people, especially non-believers, use the Names of God in emotional moments to express positive or negative sentiments fervently, why man while having so many potential ways of expressing emotions chooses to express them by virtue of turning towards or away from the heavens. I mean, logically speaking, if man were totally self-absorbed, he would hug himself passionately in a moment of victory rather than reaching upward and beyond himself. If man were dismayed with himself he logically would self-mutilate habitually rather than follow the example of Adam and Eve as they tried to make themselves invisible by diving in the bushes. Scripture makes it clear that man does not lose his connection with God altogether, but rather that he is in active denial of this link (Romans 1:18ff). This shows inadvertedly as far as the unbeliever is concerned in his emotionally charged spoken language and in his emotionally charged body language. In terms of spoken and body language well utilized, i.e. to God’s glory, Jonathan Swift sums the issue up in his well-wishing statement. “May you live all the days of your life,” Jonathan Swift, Irish writer, 1667-1745

Dr Herm Zandman 28/11/2012

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