If it was wrong in 1850

If it was wrong in 1850

The Bible is very clear in naming the evil and sin that transcends generations and cultures, however, every generation defines evil and sin in their own terms.  Generational and cultural sins usually have to do with new or changing ideas, expression or technology.  We make laws with specific definition and police the vice until the next generation matures and embraces their own designated evils.

In the 1850’s photography was the newest phenomenon with the invention of the camera.  It became fodder for many sermons and decency laws were passed in many communities to protect citizens from the evil of photography. It was reported that one shopkeeper placed a daguerreotype of people eating in a restaurant, in his window. So many people gathered to view the photograph that a major traffic jam ensued. The shopkeeper was prosecuted for obscenity!

Another critic stated: The wish to capture evanescent reflections is not only impossible, as has been shown by thorough German investigation, but the mere desire alone, the will to do so, is blasphemy. God created man in His own image, and no man-made machine may fix the image of God. Is it possible that God should have abandoned His eternal principles, and allowed a Frenchman in Paris to give to the world an invention of the Devil?  (Author unknown)

The following letter was sent by a Minister to a local paper, voicing his concerns; Sir, – I beg to bring to your notice the serious harm likely to come from the increasing popularity of photography. Since Mr. Talbot and M. Daguerre perfected their processes for fixing a living image on paper a few years ago, there has been an alarming increase in the popularity of this unnatural pastime. The stage has now been reached when permanent damage is likely to be inflicted not only on painting, engraving, and the arts in general, but upon industry, manners, and the home itself.

Already, I am informed, the fascinations of the photograph album have had their effect on the thousands of children who would be better employed in pit or mill; already the reputations of Landseer, Turner, and even Martin and Westall are believed to be suffering; and I can myself vouch unhappily from my own family circle that idleness and vanity are encouraged by the constant posing for portraits, and the subsequent poring over them in unhealthy crouching attitudes. This day, alas, I have been obliged to call five of my daughters before me for reproof… (Appeared in an unnamed newspaper Jan 9, 1851)  I find it amusing that he felt children would be better off employed in a “pit or mill” than constantly posing for immoral photographers.

It is interesting to look back over the years and remember the things the things our parents were certain would cause us irreparable damage have been set aside for the newest evil that has reared its ugly head.  I wonder what our children will look back at and laugh as they attempt to legislate against the latest music, media offerings or idea?

King Solomon declared in Ecclesiastes 1:9-11, “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. 10 Is there anything whereof it may be said, See, this is new? It hath been already of old time, which was before us. 11 There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.”   The wisest man that every lived understood that human nature has not changed, since creation. We convince ourselves that we are smarter and more innovative than any other time in history, that we have more clarity, a greater revelation and were created for such a time as this.  We will make the world a better place for future generations and our children will set up shrines to worship at the altar of our success. In reality we are destined to repeat mistakes, which will be repeated by our children and grandchildren.  Every generation must make their own mistakes, learn their own lessons and find their own relationship with God.

The Word of God has left us a blueprint that crosses generations and cultures.  It doesn’t address photography, rock music, or the color of your shoes but it does tell us of a loving God.  A God who was not willing that any should perish, and came that we might be reconciled back to Him.  A God who is so holy and by His grace clothes us in His righteousness that we may come before His throne with boldness. A God who has conquered evil and equips us to live a victorious life. .  A God that went to prepare a place for us and is returning soon to take us to live with Him for eternity.  A God who gives us the Holy Spirit to live in us and says, “It’s for you and your children and those who are far off;” this generation and those yet to come.


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