Cleanliness and godliness


Cleanliness and godliness


Sunday, November 24, 2019

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CLEANLINESS, it is often said, is next to godliness.

Not many may be aware, but Earth celebrated World Toilet Day on November 19. This was with a view to inspire action to tackle global sanitation crisis and help achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, which promises sanitation for all by 2030.

“As it is important to have access to food and water,” opines Sadhguru, author, sociologist and environmental reformist, “it is equally important for a human being to have access to a clean toilet to bring health, well-being and to establish human dignity.”

A sewer toilet may be a basic reality for most Jamaicans, but the global statistics are quite fetid.


1. 4.2 billion people, more than half Earth's population, live without safely managed sanitation;

2. Nearly 700 million people still practise open defecation the world over;

3. Globally, around 2 billion people drink water from sources contaminated with faeces; and

4. Around half a million diarrhoea-related deaths occur yearly due to poor sanitation.

If the refrain is true that cleanliness walks with godliness, it only follows that God's book, the Bible, ought to have practical guidance on sanitation and hygiene.

Furthermore, a cursory glance at the ecological cycles that clean air and water, or microbes that transform waste into harmless products shows that cleanliness matters to God, “the Maker of Earth” (Jer 10:12).

Personal hygiene and appearance

Importantly, the Apostle Paul commands that we “cleanse ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God” (2Co 7:1).

Yes, the command to be clean comes from above. In this regard, therefore, use adequate soap and water to bathe regularly, and ensure that those under our care do so too. We do well to wash our hands with soap and water before we handle food, before eating, after using the toilet, and after washing or changing the baby.

As simple as it seems, washing of hands with soap and water is life-saving, as this basic act prevents illnesses or virus and bacteria from spreading, thus avoiding diarrhoeic diseases.

A flushing toilet appropriately disposes of waste. But even in lands where houses do not have a proper sewage system, waste can actually be disposed of by burying, as was done by the ancient nation of Israel at Deuteronomy 23:12, 13.

A pit latrine, too, has served some well, even in our country. The key is to wash properly after using whichever toilet facility, and regularly disinfecting and washing toilets and bathrooms on the whole, including door handles and water taps which are also home to bacteria.

Brushing our teeth after every meal may not be the easiest of things to do, but try walking with a toothbrush and toothpaste. If we fall down on brushing after each meal, certainly, we must always do so before going to bed and after rising anew.

Flossing is a great way to complete what the brushing process couldn't. A 'stenchy' breath may be heavy for another party to bear and, similarly, we would not want to spread bacteria to others because of our poor hygiene, especially since “each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others”, in the words of Philippians 2:4.

Clothing should be clean and presentable and benefit from regular washing. We do not need the latest fashion to demonstrate cleanness, but being neat and clean go a far way. Nails, often neglected, should be clean, as they, along with hair, can easily harbour bacteria.

Home and surroundings

Our homes do not have to be state of the art to be dignified and clean. It just takes effort to get things done. Keeping our vehicles clean by regularly washing is good. Food boxes with bones and drink containers harbour insects like roaches and flies, that have become synonymous with poor hygiene, as they are known for potential to spread bacteria.

Properly dispose of your garbage and handle responsibly, for God promises “to bring to ruin those ruining the Earth” (Rev 11:18).

Ensure your surrounding does not have breeding grounds of stagnant water for mosquitoes, our most feared insect at this time. And keep on the watch for health alerts on dengue over the air and in the Jamaica Observer.

Be assured that any sacrifice we make in the direction of cleanliness is looked upon approvingly by our God, the epitome of cleanness and the One who tells us through the Psalmist: “With the one keeping clean, you will show yourself clean” (Psalm 18:26).

Warrick Lattibeaudiere (PhD), a minister of religion for the past 22 years, lectures full-time in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Technology, Jamaica.

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