Human Dung and the Holiness of God

February 20, 2017

Scripture surprisingly speaks about dung in more than two dozen verses. As far as we can tell from Scripture, God created human bodies to excrete solid waste as a natural process, and we know that process is essential for maintaining life.

A close examination of the following passage concerning human dung, however, teaches us some truths about God that we might not otherwise think would be true.

Deu 23:13 And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee:

 14 For the LORD thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.

Through this divine revelation given to Israel, God commanded them to cover their excrement when they would go to relieve themselves (Deut. 23:13). The explanation of this command in the following verse makes clear that the reason for this directive was not concerning potential health ramifications of leaving human excrement strewn about uncovered in the field.

Rather, God revealed that they were to do this because He walked in the midst of their camp and therefore their camp had to be holy, including that there would not be seen in the midst of the camp any unclean thing that God would see and therefore turn away from them. Even though God created the bodies of the Israelites to function as they did, nonetheless, the excrement that their bodies expelled was an unclean thing in the sight of God and something that was unfitting to be seen openly because of His holiness.

Furthermore, Scripture says that God sees everything and nothing is hid from His eyes, which therefore would include dung whether it is in a human body or on the ground or covered under something. Yet, God informs us in Deuteronomy 23:13-14 that human dung uncovered on the ground is something that is unclean in His sight and something that He does not want to see among His people.

Beyond the obvious relevance of this passage for what should be done when humans defecate, this revelation has other important ramifications.

God’s Holiness and His Separateness from Something that is Not Sinful

First, many conceive of God’s holiness as His separateness from sin and sinful things. This passage, however, shows us that God’s holiness also includes His separateness from something that is not sinful and yet it is something that is indecent in His sight. Our understanding of God’s holiness must include this important truth that He has revealed to us.

Talking Unnecessarily about or Joking about Human Excrement

Second, this passage applies to what believers talk about and joke about. Because God indwells us, we are to be holy as He is holy. Because God considers uncovered human excrement to be something that is unclean and unfitting to be seen openly, we rightly infer that God also does not want us to talk unnecessarily about human dung.

Although some people try to support joking about human excrement by saying that it is just the product of a natural process that God made to take place in our bodies, Deuteronomy 23:13-14 shows us that such reasoning is invalid. Yes, it is the product of a natural process, but no, that reality does not change the fact that God views seeing it uncovered as an indecent thing.

Because uncovered human excrement is something that God says is indecent in His sight, we can be confident that talking unnecessarily about or joking about human excrement has no place in the life of a consecrated believer who desires to please God with speech that is edifying, as God commands that it should be.

Conclusion

Let us profit fully from this important revelation that God has given to us in Deuteronomy 23:13-14!

 

Rajesh

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