Joe digs up good advice in the Good Book.

Week of September 7, 2006

Jessica Simpson

Hey Joe: Do you think it's a good idea to live "in sin" with someone before you marry them?

Jessica Simpson, Hollywood

I assume you mean "intimately." I consider it to be one heck of an honor for you to ask me a question of such magnitude. In this respect, we have something in common. Many times I have asked the advice of others in helping me to arrive at a fair determination. After weighing the pros and cons of the advice offered, I take full responsibility of providing the appropriate answer, which in your case is: no. Whether you realize it or not, as limited as my Bible knowledge is, you have touched upon a biblical subject — one stemming back to ancient history better than 2,000 years before America's existence.

According to the Bible, God laid down His laws, after He sent Moses to Egypt to lead Israel out of bondage. It is clearly recorded in the Book of Exodus that after Moses accomplished this goal, he went up onto Mount Sinai to receive God's ten commandments, thus leaving Israel behind until his return. Upon returning, he found that the group had broken every commandment listed. After the compilation of the Bible, it was closed. Nothing was to be added nor taken away. Enclosed, in addition to the five books written by Moses, are many other books written by men the likes of Moses.

The Book of Genesis, along with the general makeup of Hebrew families, reveals the beginning of the story surrounding Adam and Eve. First Corinthians, Verse 7, sheds more insight into the question asked, which was very intelligent, especially when in search of truth. My turning to the Bible, which began over a year ago, stemmed from the same reason: I wanted to know the truth about the outcome of Pharaoh, a question not many preachers nor church members were able to answer. For this reason, I began reading the Bible for myself. Initially, Exodus was the book that struck my fancy. It related to this evil man called Pharaoh, who enslaved the Israelites.

Because of such control, God sent Moses to tell Pharaoh to "Let His people go." "His people" meant those who wanted to serve Him. Pharaoh refused his request. On several occasions Moses delivered the same message, only for Pharaoh to continue his defiance. Not until God exhibited His omnipotent power did Pharaoh concede — even then defying God until God killed him. However, the legacy left by Pharaoh did not faze the orchestrators of America. The system of slavery God destroyed in Egypt was renewed in America. I've often wondered if those who structured the country felt it was OK with God. If so, Hebrews 13:8 states, "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever."

America chose God; God did not choose America, though she had the opportunity to be what God wanted Israel to be, which was a holy nation. She flunked. Moses demonstrated what is called commitment by doing God's will. For every wrong committed, the Bible tells how it can be rectified. Matthew 7:8 says, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." Most preachers aren't preaching the truth, they are preaching around it.

Prince Joe Henry, one of professional baseball's original "clowns," was an all-star infielder for Negro League baseball teams in Memphis, Indianapolis and Detroit throughout the 1950s. But up until the late 1940s, Prince Joe didn't know anything about the Negro Leagues. His knowledge of organized baseball was limited to the Cardinals and Browns games he attended during his preteen years at Sportsman's Park, accompanied by lifelong buddy Eugene "Gene" Crittendon, who could pass for white.

Perhaps Henry's most vivid memory of those games: Upon entry, white ushers would politely escort the boys to a small section of the left-field stands reserved for "Colored." After climbing past several tiers of bleachers, they'd arrive at their stop, rows and rows behind their white counterparts.

Even at a young age, the boys were conscious of the double standard -- and determined to vent their disdain. The opportunity would arise with the urge to urinate. Rather than head for the latrine, the boys would edge their way to the front of the section and let fly. As the liquid foamed its way down the concrete steps toward the white kids, Henry and his pal would ease back and relax, politely rooting for the visiting team to beat the hell out of the Browns or the Cards.

After all, Henry and Crittendon hailed from Brooklyn, Illinois, a small, predominantly black township just east of the Mississippi River. So hospitable were the residents of Brooklyn that they were known to take in a rank stranger, treat him to breakfast, lunch, supper and a night out on the town -- and afterward, if he messed up, treat him to a good ass-whippin'.

Direct questions on any and all topics to [email protected]. If we don't like yours, we'll hit Joe with our own.

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