A recent (6/5/15) 6.0-magnitude earthquake which struck Malaysia’s Mount Kinabalu, killing 18 people, is not being blamed on seismic shift, plate tectonics, nor volcanic activity. No, interestingly enough, it is being blamed on … four nude young people!
Four foreigners were detained and charged with public obscenity for taking their clothes off atop the sacred peak.
It started with a challenge to see who could best withstand the wind and cold temperatures at the top of the mountain. Against the vehement complaint of their tour guide, two young men and two young women removed some or all of their clothing.
This, according to locals, was a personal offense against the tribal spirits believed to dwell on the mountain.
The pictures, taken a week prior to the earthquake went viral on the internet, causing widespread anger throughout the region. Government officials even weighed in on the incident. "This is very offensive behaviour and showed disrespect to the sacred mountain? [sic] This will certainly bring misfortune," said Sabah's deputy chief minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan, speaking for himself as well as other local officials.
The four plead guilty, showed genuine remorse, and begged the court’s lenience. In a country rife with tribal superstition, as well as fundamentalist Islamic values, they were very lucky to get off with time served, a $1330 fine, and deportation.
Do you ever fear that your difficult circumstances just might be the result of a recent misstep? It's natural for the guilty conscience to come to such conclusions. But despite our guilt, we as believers have the assurance of God's promise that, "there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). Although tragic things happen in this life, the believer is given the biblical assurance that there is "no condemnation" involved. Because of this, we can face the trials of this life without guilt or shame, and even look forward to all the righteous judgments of God to come.
"Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy; let them sing before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity" (Psalm 98:8-9).