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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Is Enhancement Over-rated?

Any human on the planet Earth with an email account is likely tired of all the spam messages they receive for Viagra, Cialis, Enzyte, and other so-called male enhancement products. One must remember that it's not personal - after all, it's just spam, right?

I think Bob is missing a few beans in his coffee...

Somehow or another, the makers of Enzyte (and the others) believe that men and women want to go through life smiling like a Cheshire Cat after too much nip. To me, the entire enhancement industry portrays a false caricature of life; one that presupposes the most important thing on everyone's agenda is, well, getting busy. The issue is not that intimate relations are bad, it's that we've elevated them to a point where Madison Avenue would have us believe our life is meaningless without them.

Officially, enhance is a verb meaning intensify, increase, or further improve the quality, value, or extent of. For example:
  • His refusal does nothing to enhance his reputation
  • Computer techniques that enhance images
For the linguists in the audience, the origin of the word enhance is Middle English (formerly also as inhance); from Anglo-Norman French enhauncer, based on Latin in- (expressing intensive force) + altus 'high'. The word originally meant 'elevate' (literally and figuratively), later 'exaggerate, make appear greater', also 'raise the value or price of something' Current senses date from the early 16th century.
Calvin looking to improve the quality of his brain (Bill Watterson)

Modern society tends to use the term almost exclusively in a cosmetic sense. Open up Google in your browser and search for images using the word enhance. Go ahead, I'll wait...

The majority of images you see on your screen have to do with cosmetics, hair, body, fitness, etc. In other words, ways that we might enhance (improve the quality or value) of our outside. But what about the inside? Somehow we've become a people who value how we appear to others over how we treat them. Is it any wonder that young people struggle with their identities when they are awash in messages from adults that the very concept of identity is flexible? Are we becoming a nation - a world - of aesthetes?

So what is the solution? Naturally, everyone will have an opinion on the answer. I've noted a few things below which I believe will help.
  • Psalm 139:13-16 reads, "For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them."
It's difficult for anyone to recognize their own, personal, intrinsic value when they are told that their very existence is the result of a cosmic coincidence of events and at the end of their life is nothing. In effect, all the enhancement in the world won't change our eternal destiny, yet we pursue it as a means of giving more meaning, more value to our lives. David reminds us of our divine origins, that God knows each one of us deeply and personally, since before we were even conceived.
  • In Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, King Solomon teaches us, "Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart."
In effect, all the enhancement in the world is not going to save you from adversity. Helping your fellow humans, supporting each other; that's where increased value lies. Regulars to The Stream will know that I've just returned from a trip to Haiti where I served with Mission of Hope. One of the most powerful community ministries they have undertaken is known as 3 Cords. 3 Cords employs amputee women and mothers of amputee children, giving them hope that they are still whole, valuable, and precious. The MoH vision for this ministry comes directly from Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. If you would like to support this tremendous project, you may do so here.

  • So what really makes for the best male enhancement? Although the passage speaks primarily of women, men can take this to heart as well when the Apostle Peter gives this great advice in 1 Peter 3:3-4, "Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God."
I could go on; but I think you get the idea. I'm not saying that it's bad to make an effort to enhance our personal appearance. If I didn't take a bath or shave before I came to work, I probably wouldn't last very long. But when that enhancement becomes our entire focus, we have to stop and wonder, "Why?"

Paul brings it home in Romans 8:38-39...

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

That from a guy who continually took it on the chin from the world.

What do you think?


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