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I Don't Butterfly

by Tim O'Hearn

Quite a few years ago, while I was in the Navy, I spent considerable time in the Philippines. The city outside the base, as is frequently the case everywhere, was noted for the number of bars, and the number of women who worked in the bars and on the streets. When I would go into town with some of my shipmates I would invariably be propositioned by one of these women. Knowing how uncomfortable that made me feel, one of my friends offered me a standard response that these girls would understand. They so frequently met men who would cheat on their wives that saying I was married meant nothing to them. But they were also very jealous of their prerogatives, so to speak. If a man was a regular customer he was expected not to be seen with another woman. To do so was known as butterflying, from the action of a butterfly gathering pollen from many flowers. So my friend told me to reply, “I have a girlfriend, and I don’t butterfly.”

The question then comes up, do we butterfly on God? Is God our one-and-only, or is he our one-among-many? When he took Israel to be his people, he said he wanted them to worship him only. “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” (Ex 34:14) He does not change. He still wants to be our only God.

In the latter period of the divided kingdom God sent his prophets to Israel. One of the common messages through the prophets of that period was, “do not butterfly.” Well, maybe he phrased it differently. “How shall I pardon thee for this? thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods: when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots' houses.” (Jer 5:7)

His message is the same today. “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” (Jas 4:4) “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” (Rev 2:4)

Having established that it is possible to butterfly on God, how can we do it? Perhaps the answer is in that last quotation from the Revelation. We have loved God. When we leave that love, or even give him partial love, we have butterflied. “Hear, O Israel. The Lord your God is one Lord. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your might.” (Deut 6:4-5) When we give God less, we are just playing around.

With whom can we butterfly on God? Just about anyone or anything. With Israel and Judah it was idols. Most of us don’t have that problem these days. Nevertheless, we chase after wealth, power, fame. Sometimes we just chase after money, control of our lives, and being liked. It’s all a matter of degree. I have known some people to put their desire for a family in God’s place. I guess it would even be possible (maybe even easy) to put chocolate there.

Sometimes it is not even a matter of leaving God. A butterfly may return to the same flower, after all. In the house that is your life you have many rooms. Most of them are open to everyone. Some are open only to God. But do you have a little closet that you keep locked, and just open it once in a while? This is that closet you don’t even want God to see. He gets everything else in your life except what is in that little closet. As long as he does not get the key to that closet, you (I) butterfly on God. Give God the key. Tell Satan, “I don’t butterfly.”

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