Monday, April 22, 2019

Is Pornography Really That Big of A Deal?

I realize that porn is an uncomfortable and touchy subject, but it is high time to clear the air.  We (Christians) fight on many fronts and it seems that pornography is continuously gaining strength and velocity. It has permeated our culture, our homes, our marriages, our children….

Our culture has normalized porn; things that used to be absolutely scandalous to discuss outside of the bedroom are now part of our common vernacular.  Culture has shifted.  Think about it, in the last 50 years, we’ve gone from wholesome television to sex and adultery on nearly every station.  We’ve moved from divorce being the exception to being the norm. Abortion, homosexuality….the list goes on and on.  We have become desensitized.

First things first.  We (yes, even Christians) are sexual beings.  Sex is a deep and instructed desire in our hearts.  God placed it there; which means He intended it for good.  But if we don’t know the holy premise behind the pleasure, we become ill-equipped to handle temptation, ill-armored to fight sexual fixation, and ill-willed toward a God who we think demands obedience for the empty sake of obeying moral law.

So what makes porn such a big deal? It is clear that sexual sin has deep, personal and spiritual ramifications.  Paul exuberantly warns the church at Corinth to flee sexual immorality.  Why? Because every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the person who is sexually immoral sins against his own body (1 Cor. 6:18).  

Our kids and teens are being targeted with mature content by the world.  A friend of mine recently put it this way: “Many of us grew up in an atmosphere of church, abstinence, and pornography, and what it did to us I don't fully know. But many young boys and girls are fighting a losing battle because they don't feel like anyone will help them lift that shameful burden.  Men and women can resist porn. Boys and girls (especially boys) are another story. They are facing Goliath and have neither rock or slingshot.”

For our generation within the church, purity and pornography somehow coexisted and we are seeing the ramifications play out in front of our very eyes. He described pornography as a “shameful burden” and I cannot think of a more accurate description.  It’s a known evil, yet we have done a terrible job giving children, teens, and even adults the proper tools (weapons, really) to fight against it.

So how do we deal with this ongoing battle against pornography?  How do we join a brother or sister in the fight?  How do we help our children guard their hearts and minds? In order to lift this burden; in order to find freedom, it must be talked about. Our silence is not moving us toward purity.

We must attack the root rather than just the fruit.

We’ve gotten really good at treating the symptoms without killing the disease. The truth is, not dealing with it God’s way has damaging effects on the Christian life.  If desires and thoughts are not fully dealt with God’s way, or sufficient action isn’t taken, the temptation remains persistent and grows even stronger.

We are too plausible to ourselves, suppressing the light of conscience, rationalizing what is wrong so that it seems like the most natural thing in the world.

Shame is the barrier to freedom. Believers must be willing to do what He says to do about our sin.  While Paul warns that sexual sin has deeper ramifications, it is still sin and should be treated as such.  You don’t have to deeply search the Scriptures for instruction on how to handle our sin, for the Bible makes it quite clear. The answer is never to hide it, avoid it, or justify it; but to confess and repent from it. 

We (the Church,) know that porn is not okay, yet there’s just as many viewing it within the Church as there is outside of it.  We need sexual discipleship.  Yes, you read that correctly. Right (biblical) thinking leads to right acting (behavior); it is not the other way around. 

We’ve become sexual atheists-acting as though God has no authority in this particular area. The purpose of sex is intimacy (being known), but we’ve become fixated on the path to intimacy; instant gratification. 

And the truth is, you can’t put to death what you believe is keeping you alive.  Until someone is willing to push through the “shame” that is connotative with sexual sin and pursue confession and repentance, we are merely treating symptoms rather than the root issue. We don’t need to normalize pornography; we need to normalize being transparent about our struggle with pornography (and sin in general). 

Churches are great at the “what”, but not so great with the “why”.  We need more than behavioral correction; we need pure hearts.  And the only way to get there is to:

  • quit justifying and rationalizing 
  •  look beyond individual shame for sexual sin
  • seek support and accountability

Addictions-A Banquet in the Grave, Ed Welch
Killing Sin Habits, Stuart Scott

Making All Things New, David Powlison
Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, John Piper & Justin Taylor
Sex, Jesus, and The Conversations the Church Forgot, Mo Isom

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Pro-Children in a Pro-Choice World

Since January (Sanctity of Life month), I’ve spent a lot of time thinking beyond the womb and pondering the impact that children have on their families, churches, and communities. This led me to think about those that carry a “my body, my choice” mentality.  Many that choose to abort their baby do not feel like they can properly care for a child, so they think an abortion is in the best interest of both baby and mother. So, let’s ask the question, what if the pregnant woman who thinks she cannot handle taking care of a child chooses life?  If she is “unfit” to be a mother, then what ramifications does choosing life have on the child?

Just last week a local police report circulated throughout our local news and other media sources regarding a small child that called 911.  When the authorities arrived at the home, the child (who was only 4) walked the police through the home, taking them to his parent’s bedroom.  Along the way, the authorities observed that both the home and the child were in poor, dirty, and dangerous condition.  

In Ouachita County, there are approximately 37 children in foster care at any given time.  The overwhelming majority of the children placed into care got there because authorities had to remove them out of circumstances very similar to what is described above. 

All throughout Scripture children are described as a blessing and a gift from the Lord.  But as we are well aware, our culture considers children an inconvenience and all too often as “optional”.  I think it’s pretty clear as to where the Church stands on these matters in theory, but what about in practicality? 

James tells us that pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is to look after orphans and widows in their distress (James 1:27).  Church, these children are circumstantial orphans.  

It’s time for the Church to do more than merely say she’s pro-life. The world has seen enough of the marching and the judgment and the criticism. It’s time for us to put some action behind those empty pro-life words.

What can we do?  We can serve and support pregnancy resource centers that help moms-to-be know there are other, God-honoring options beyond abortion.  We can foster.  Invariably, the first thing people say in response to the idea of being a foster parent is “Oh no, I could never do that! I’d get too attached.” And the truth is, yes, you will get attached, but that’s exactly what these children need.

These children need men and women who are willing to throw open their arms, throw caution to the wind, and love them with the extravagant love of Christ. 

May we love in word and deed.

Monday, February 25, 2019

We Steer Where We Stare

“You are what you eat.”

 “What you put into it is what you’ll get out of it.”

 The older I get, the more I appreciate and believe the sage advice in old sayings.  There’s certainly a lot of truth in how what we eat impacts our bodies and that we can expect little return when we put in little effort. 

I have also grown to realize that the same principles apply in our walk with the Lord. What we put into our hearts and minds; what we read, listen to, watch, etc., has a tremendous impact not only on our own spiritual lives, but also on how we view God and others.  When we don’t make much effort to grow in the Lord, we don’t make much progress. I have learned that we become what we behold.  So what are we beholding?

“So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” -Colossians 3:2-3

To seek something means more than to just look at it; seeking is actively pursuing. 

When I was first learning how to drive, I quickly learned that if I looked off to the left or the right side of the road, then my hand tended to go that way as well.  I would unintentionally steer in the direction of where I was looking.  The same can be said of us in our walk with the Lord; we steer where we stare.

May we fix our eyes on things above.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Are you sure? When God's Answer is Disappointing

If you know me well, then you know that I am a planner (read control freak); I like to know what I’m doing, where I’m heading, and how I’m going to get there.  So, as you can imagine, when God throws me a curve ball, I think my whole world is falling apart. 

Truth is, a lot of times I try to run ahead of God.  If I know He’s leading me toward something, then I will do everything in my power to expedite the process.  If it’s a good thing and He wants me to do it, then why not do it now, right? Well yes, but not always.  Sometimes God makes us wait and we don’t understand why. 

When things don’t go according to my plan and God says to wait, my first response is often to question Him. Are you sure?  Right now seems like the perfect time.  I thought you didn’t withhold good things from those you love. 

Y’all.  God is not trying to rob us of anything.  The sovereign King of glory is a giver; not a taker.  And when He does take, it is for the purpose of giving abundantly more. 

One thing I’ve learned from taking matters into my own hands too many times is this: I’m 28; God is eternal. We are probably going to see things differently from time to time. 

God wants us to get where He wants us to go more than we want to get there.  And He is terribly good at getting us there.