Pastor's Column - May 21, 2014

First Byline: 
Rev. Kenneth Catoe of Hagood Avenue Baptist Church

Don't swim with gators
This past week, I was walking near one of the many small lakes that dot our low country landscape.
It's a beautiful, sunny, warm, late spring day. The 10-acre lake looks so inviting. Then, I saw the water stir and a few seconds later a small alligator was swimming away, all the while looking right at me. Later I am told that there are several gators in the lake.
I think to myself, there ought to be a sign somewhere saying "Beware of Alligators." You ask a local person about the gators and he says it's ok because "they're small gators." Do you swim in this lake or not? NOT ME! There's no such thing as a "small" gator swimming in the lake with me: no way, no how, no time, no sir! But my friend is pushing me to take a swim. He's even taking a swim himself. He uses some of the same ol' arguments that are time tested. 1) It's not a big deal, I'm doing it and I'm fine. 2) Your mamma's not here. 3) Come on, live a little. 4) It's just a small gator, anyway. 5) The bible doesn't say anything about not swimming with gators. 6) I dare you. 7) A real man/woman would do it.
Alligators are fascinating creatures but not suitable to go swimming with. Anyone knows that, don't they? No, they don't.
Everyday people make the decision to "swim with gators." They rationalize their decision like this: it's just one drink; he/she's not a bad kid, they're just misunderstood; everybody is going to the party; even Jesus drank; It's OK because I love him/her; God wouldn't give you urges if He didn't want you to satisfy them; marriage is just a piece of paper to make it legal; God will forgive me when I ask for it tomorrow; one joint won't kill you besides it's legal in many states; no one will ever find out.
The sign says "gators are in the lake." Gators, even small ones, can harm you greatly, even deathly. The signs are clear: do not steal; do not commit adultery; do not kill; do not covet; do not put anything or anybody above God Almighty; Guard the worship day, it's sacred; do not lie; do not gossip; love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.
Sure, the signs are old ones but the "gators" are still there. I'm not swimming with the gators and I thank God for the "signs."
Rev. Kenneth Catoe is the pastor of Hagood Avenue Baptist Church in Barnwell.