My parents have lived in their house for nearly 40 years. While many important things have happened in that house, the fact remains that it is old. It was considered old even when they bought it. As an old house in a rural area it is especially suceptible to penetration by bugs. Ants, spiders, mosquitos, may flies, june bugs and many others frequented our floors and walls. One morning my sister found that she was showering with a tarantula. Once my brother found, and caught a black widow spider that had a thorax with a diameter the size of a nickle That spider lived in a jar forgotten in his room while he was on his mission, and was still alive when he came back. Bugs don't bother me. I'll pick up a daddy long leg with my bare hands. I'll stomp on crunchy bugs, and kill scary poisonous spiders without trepidation. This non-fear of bugs proved useful many times. In junior high when boys would try to scare me with insects, in college when my roommate would come unglued at even the tiniest spider, in showing my husband that I'm a reasonable cool headed person worth marrying. My achilles heel, however, is cockroaches.
The climate that I grew up in just wasn't condusive for roaches. I was 22 before I'd seen a real roach without plexiglass between us. My fear of roaches borders on paranoia, which completely bewilders my husband. He grew up in a city where roaches just were. It wasn't unusual to leave a bag of trash on the ground outside overnight and have it be covered with roaches in the morning. To him, they are just another pest, like ants. To me they are a symbol of all that is unwholesome in this world.
I think I trace my paranoia back to my sister. She served part of her mission in Yuma AZ. Between the heat, the farms, and her crappy apartment there were a lot of roaches in her life. This particular sister is the sort that does freak out about bugs. So the roaches, like most any bug, were horrific to her. Combine that with the fact that there was a lot of them, and she came unglued. She has some great stories about talking to the Elders on the phone, seeing a roach, screaming bloody murder and hanging up midconversation, which was unsettling to the Elders.
I heard these stories at a young, impressionable age. And so roaches became the uber-pest. The undefeatable foe of cleanliness. Roaches were indicitive of filth, disease, and rot. So one can imagine my horror at seeing a roach in my kitchen. I'm convinced that if I opened the walls there would be piles and piles of them, spilling out onto the floor. A tidal wave of roachy filth. When I shower or wash my hands I glance furtively at the drain pipes, certain that the second I turn the water off the invasion will begin and roaches will come streaming up from the plumbing. My first thought when I saw a roach in my kitchen was that we needed to move. The apartment was lost to the roaches and could never be reclaimed.
So, consider this; If a teacher were to say that some sin to was like a roach infestation of the soul, it would mean something drastically different to me than it would to my husband. To me, it would nearly mean that the person's soul is lost forever, and would mean that Christ's atonement is a true miracle to get rid of such a pervasive and horrible menace. To my husband, it would make the repentance process a simple, but ongoing process, requiring constance vigilance. I wonder how aware we are of the many ways that analogies can be recieved, and how those meanings can change. Also, can we, in our modern world, really understand what it means to leave 99 sheep to look for one? Does burying treasure in a field still mean what it once did? Was the change in understanding somewhat planned? In other words, was Christ aware of how people in our time would percieve those analogies, and is our percieved meaning more correct for us?