Wild Oats

If a young man sows his wild oats, he goes through a period of his life when he does a lot of exciting, usually immoral, things.  We never hear of a young woman sowing her wild oats. The male chauvinist would probably say something like this: “Girls ain’t got anything to sow; they should stay at home and SEW.”

If that got your hackles up, then consider this: to sow, one must have seeds, and while one can “sow” in a figurative sense (such as sowing seeds of good will), when it comes to “wild oats” the reference is conspicuously one of sexual promiscuity, and the “oats” are akin to the “seed” which the Bible references as children of Abraham, in a culture which clearly associated the progeny as the product of the males of the species (the female being the “bearer” but the male being the “creator” so to speak):

seed of Abraham, his servant, O child of Jacob, his chosen.”

In sowing, there is always a reference to the future.  What one does today has implications for what happens tomorrow.  Or, as the farmer knows, if he or she plants seed corn, the produce will surely be ears of corn.  Before this goes too deep to escape charges of sexism, let’s move to what Jesus has to say about seeds in the “Parable of the Sower.”

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Matthew 13 New International Version (NIV)

The Parable of the Sower

13 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

Wrapping up, there is lots to say, but precious little room to say it.  So in summary:

The sower of seeds is a careless farmer, sowing seeds without regard to their placement but with complete awareness of their future.  The destiny of each seed is determined by where it happens to fall.  But the sower is not the only farmer Jesus knows about in this parable.  There are many farmers, and farmers know that farming is more than sowing; farming involves the entire process of cultivation, from breaking up the earth and removing the stones and thorns, to watering the seeds under the blanket of soil, to removing the weeds which always seem to grow faster, to harvesting the produce and placing it in baskets.  One might even say that farming continues until the product is consumed, leaving plenty of room for farmers to travel back and forth between farm and market.  A farmer has no time for wild oats. And where too many seeds are scattered, careful farming rounds them up (oh, that would be sheep) and sees that they find protection and nurture.

Consider your own “farming” as you meditate on this parable AND as you consider the ways in which you can sow more intentionally through Biblical literacy, understanding and living.  Visit us at http://www.biblicaltraining.org/lp/thedisciplescollege

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