[For the sake of time, sanity and honestly laziness, I have some previously used material I’d like to share from time to time: let’s call them “regurgitations.” I have a few saved posts I wrote that were previously shared on the late great blog “Enabled by God” (shout out to Kyle if you’re reading). These were mainly devotional in type, and I believe they may be beneficial to someone somewhere in the E-World. Enjoy.]
There is a giant elephant in our church sanctuaries. He sits in the back. Vile and unassuming. The deacons, choir, congregation, and even the pastor knows he’s there, yet they all try to ignore him. Meanwhile, he discreetly wreaks havoc on the soul of the church.
This lurking elephant’s name is porn.
It’s estimated a solid majority of young men (18-30) in the church view sexually pornographic images at least once a month. Even a disturbing amount of young women are becoming more fascinated by it. Depending on what statistics you’re looking at, it is not improbable this sin is ravaging the very soul of your pastor.
Now before we go too far let me give a disclaimer: I know the statistics of the “true church” (born-again-blood-bought-bride-of-Christ) do not emulate those of the world. I know most statistics on “the church” include anyone who warms a pew and casually confesses Christ. That is a valid argument. But even after the goats are separated from the sheep, I personally believe the statistics of porn abuse in the “true church” would still be surprisingly high. If I can be intensely personal and honest: My most fatal bouts with pornography occurred after I came to Christ. And even though I have experienced some victory regarding the specific sin of porn (by the grace of God), the general battle of lust still rages ever onward within.
Porn is a multi-billion dollar industry (with a “B”). The revenue one can make in defiling God’s temple, abusing the gift of sexuality, and objectifying women is staggeringly sickening. What once seemed to be a seedy underworld, is now being thrust upon us in the open arena of modern culture. Given the chemical reactions and “high” the brain experiences while a person views sexual images, porn is as addictive as any drug on the streets. While the American church is spending much of it’s resources lambasting the sin of homosexuality and opining over lost constitutional rights, we’ve let a dark ugly elephant take up residence deep within us.
Jesus, in his ever-penetrating way, sheds His light directly into our darkness. Let’s see what He said on the Sermon on the Mount:
“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”
The self-righteous Pharisee’s jaw would have dropped at Christ’s interpretation of the law. They thought they had a corner on the religious market, but Christ blew their whitewashed attempts at spirituality out of the water. An outward appearance of religiosity could be sustained for a time, but not absolute perfect purity of heart. Christ was attempting to drive his listeners to repentance by displaying all men as guilty before God’s impossible standard of righteousness. Their (and our) only hope was casting themselves upon the mercy of God in Christ. That would be Christ’s word to those who believe they are relatively good compared to the home wrecker, harlot, or man whore; yeah, but are you perfect? If not, repent.
There are also some haunting words here for the red blooded American male who already professes Christ. Life is war. It’s a furious struggle with self. The sinning eye must be violently removed. The transgressing hand must be brutally dealt with. Eyes and hands are both good gifts from God. But even good gifts must be abandoned if they interfere with our service to the King and his Kingdom. Relationships, cars, careers, reputations, retirement homes, and political agendas are good things; but God may be calling you to unleash a Samurai sword of sacrificial love and obedience on these good things for His sake.
You may look like Lieutenant Dan in the end, but it’s infinitely better to be a warrior who sacrificed, than to be a spectator who compromised.
These are also haunting words for the American female who professes Christ. For our female readership (all two of you!), this means there are some legitimate questions you should be raising to yourself before you ever even begin a day. Maybe questions like:
-Am I going to act and present myself in such a way as to encourage my Christian brother’s battle against adultery?
-Is what I am wearing going to take a Christian brother’s eyes off of Jesus and on me?
-Is my body going to be the diversion that helps cause another Christian man to become a casualty in his war against sensuality and lust?
-Should I be more careful what photos I post on Facebook, Myspace, etc.?
Ladies, before you slap a legalist stamp on my forehead let me explain to you an unfortunate secret: Your non-Christian male coworkers, classmates, church members, internet lurkers, passive bystanders and neighborhood perverts in general are already looking at you lustfully. Your Christian brothers are the only ones in the world who are really trying their God given best not to. I speak for most of them when I say: Help a brother out!
It would be remiss to characterize the battle of lust as mainly dealing with simple behavior modifications. We have a much higher calling on our lives than merely not looking at porn. We must replace that passion with an immeasurably greater one. Namely, by fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Heb 12:1-2) By seeking his mighty right hand, where there are ceaseless pleasures (Psalm 16:11). By thirsting for His sweet and holy presence, where we can truly taste and see that He is the only lasting good (Psalm 34:8).
May our pursuit of the deceptive shallow delights of this world be blown away in the light of His radiating redemption. And may His face alone be where true beauty, fascination, and satisfaction are found. Forevermore.
Tim Challies has recently posted a “Prayer for Those Struggling with Porn.” by Pastor Scotty Smith. It would benefit you to check it out.