Monday, January 20, 2014

Yoga: Harmless?

            Okay, I know that I’m not going to make any friends with this post (reprinted from my other blog), but I want to share with you something that I think is concerning.  Yoga!  It’s everywhere.  Even Christians do this without thinking much of it.  But did you know that yoga is actually a form of Hindu worship?  Those poses are meant to join you with the gods and the “universe,” where “all are one”.  (Look it up on the internet and see what you think.)

            Now, I know that there are Christians who would call yoga “morally-neutral, harmless, and even beneficial”.  But I would have to respectfully disagree.  (I said respectfully.  So, please don’t send angry emails defending it.  You can practice yoga if you want to.  I will tolerate it because I have to; but I will still disagree with it and take a stand against it.) 
            I don’t think that yoga can be considered God-glorifying in any sense, considering the whole “spiritual” purpose behind the practice of yoga.  And I don’t think you can just go, “Oh, I don’t think about the ‘spiritual’ side of it.  It’s just good exercise,” and change the very nature of what it is.  It is a form of Hindu prayer.  That’s just what it is.  And if this is the case, wouldn’t it be erring on the side of spiritual caution to avoid it entirely, when its very essence is Hindu spiritualism?  Aren’t there other good, non-controversial forms of exercise out there?     
            Now, for those who think I’m being an old fuddy-duddy to suggest that Christians make a break from a questionable practice like yoga, read the Old Testament and see how thoroughly God instructed the Israelites to make a break from the religious practices of the people around them.  Deuteronomy 12, for example.  Where is our zeal for living God-glorifying lives nowadays?  For taking a stand for Him?  You just don’t see it that often anymore.
            I think it’s actually quite alarming to see how commonplace yoga is.  There are studios all over the place.  There are videos on shelves at every store.  It’s portrayed in many, many commercials, movies, magazines, etc.  And it’s always associated with peace and health and inner light and goodness.  What a subtle, sneaky, insidious infiltration.  And it’s not just yoga, of course, but any idolatry.   
            Look at the extent to which the Israelites were to go to rid their land of idol worship.  Deuteronomy 7:5-6:  “This is what you are to do to them: Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire.  For you are a people holy to the Lord your God.  The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.”  And here we are, imitating Hindu worship in the name of health and physical fitness.        
            You know, I used to wonder How in the world can the people of the Bible go from being wholly devoted to God to following false gods and their own desires . . . in one generation?  But when I look at the world around us today, I think I can understand.  It’s not that the older generation didn’t teach the new generation God’s truth.  And it’s not that the new generation flat-out rejected God and His truth. 
            It’s probably that the new generation slowly nibbled their way lost by tinkering with things that do not glorify God, by allowing bits and pieces of the world to enter their lives without really batting an eye.  Like a slow dripping poison that you can’t feel at first.  A little bit here, a little bit there.  Question God in this thing.  Get indignant about that restriction.  “Morality is not really black and white, is it?  This isn’t really that bad?  Could it really be wrong?  When no one’s getting hurt?  Did God really say in His Word, ‘You must not . . .?’”
            Meanwhile, there’s the older generation.  They don’t like what they are seeing, but, “Those crazy kids.  I guess that’s just how they do things nowadays.”  Or maybe they are grieved by what they are seeing, but, “It’s really not my place to say anything.  I don’t want to make anyone feel bad.  I don’t want to look holier-than-thou or like an old fuddy-duddy.  And I don’t want to offend anyone.  So I can’t really take a stand against anything . . . because it might upset someone.”  And they basically condone and encourage society’s slow drift from God by their passivity, by refusing to speak the truth in love or to stand by their convictions that there is “right” and there is “wrong.”  And Satan laughs and slips farther in! 
            Yes, I am guilty of not taking a stand for so long, for fear of making others feel bad or of standing out as different.  And I am guilty of allowing things into my life and home and mind that are not God-glorifying.  But God is working on me.  And I am getting more and more sensitive to what doesn’t bring God glory (there is so little out there - especially when it comes to entertainment - that is neutral middle-ground).  And I have become convicted about and more uncomfortable with the ways that I encourage those things: buying the movies, watching the program, listening to the music, saying the wrong things, ruminating on the thoughts, winking at sin, shying away when I should be speaking up, etc.
            But God is working on me.  And my desire has become to call people up to a higher level of righteousness.  And to strive for it myself.  And this is why, as a believer, I feel a responsibility to point out the questionability of yoga and to encourage other believers to reconsider the “harmlessness” of it (and other things like it).  But don’t just listen to me.  Research it for yourselves and see if you can practice it with a clean conscience anymore.  Or if you can watch certain movies anymore or listen to certain music.  Are the angels celebrating as you do the things you do?  Is God honored?      
            I would love to challenge a generation of believers to NOT compromise God’s truth.  To seek Him and follow Him whole-heartedly.  We have a responsibility to reflect the light of God’s love and God’s truth to those around us, living it as well as speaking it.  Let’s see what He can accomplish through a generation of people who are wholly devoted to Him.