Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Confessions On Writing

Writing is dangerous, because it reveals the heart.

Matthew 12:33-34 says, "...Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks..."

People think they know you through your writing, but they truly only know a part of you: the part you're willing to share.  And sometimes that's the best part; sometimes it's the worst part.  Sometimes it's your willingness to share that says more about you than anything you say.  It reflects a desire to be known, and to know others.  To relate to people.  And to dethrone yourself from whatever pedestal people put you on.  In the worst case scenario, it creates a pedestal, which would swiftly be removed upon the meeting of the writer.  Because you would realize we're not so different, you and me.  I just write about my thoughts.  You carry yours inside.  And really, that's the beauty of it.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Pornography. (Yeah, I said it.)

"I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the Word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one." ~ 1 John 2:14.

I dedicate this post to my men friends, whom I love, cherish and admire as companions and brothers; and, to my future husband.  Know this, mighty men: you may lose a battle, but Love has won the war.  May your struggles be met by His compassion and mercy, and may you forever walk in the light of His love. 

No sin, no shame
No past, no pain
Can separate me from (God's) Love.
 ~ "Unstoppable Love" by Kim Walker, Romans 8:38-39.

Sex.  It's a touchy subject.  Too many people have been hurt by sex abuse.  Too many people devalue or overvalue its importance.  

To some, sex is violence.  To others, sex is ecstasy.  To God, sex is holy.  

Today we look at God's purpose for sex and, specifically, how the enemy has twisted that purpose through pornography.

God's Purpose for Sex

The same God who said "It is not good for man to be alone," (Genesis 2:18) said Adam and his wife, Eve, were both "naked and not ashamed" (Genesis 2:25).  God designed sex.  By God's design, sex builds trust, creates intimacy, restores relationships, expresses self-less love, and fulfills desire. 

Sex is good.  The abuse of sex is bad. 


Pornography.  It's the hidden part of your life that your girlfriend, your wife, your friends, your family don't know about.  Or so you think.  It's "my little secret" that's really no big deal.  I mean every guy does it, right?   And it doesn't really hurt anyone....

And yet. 

If you're really proud of something, you put it on the wall for all to see.  You display it openly.  But pornography thrives in secret, in the dark where no one's watching.  My friend called pornography "the Millennial's form of prostitution." 

"Where our forefathers stumbled into brothels," he commented, "men today shut their doors, turn off the light, and turn on their laptops. They shut the door and block out the light."   

Every guy I've ever talked to about this has said the same thing: "Every guy has struggled with porn at some point in his life."  Wow!  That's quite a statement.  So, men, take heart: you're not alone.  But just because "everyone does it," doesn't mean that viewing pornography is "no big deal."  It means, in fact, that porn is a big deal - a bigger deal than just you — which makes it all the more worth addressing.

Speaking with men over the years who have struggled with porn, I've heard a variety of reasons for viewing porn:

            "I was exposed to porn at a young age."

            "I was sexually abused as a kid."

            "Peer pressure."

            "It's a guy thing."

            "It's really no big deal."

But the underlying heart cry remains the same:

            "How can I ever have a real relationship?"

            "I'm afraid I could never have a wife, because of what I've done and still do..."

            "I don't want to be hurt again...watching porn is easier than being in a relationship."

            "I feel dirty."

            "I'm ashamed."

The language of pornography users is the language of surrender:

            "I just give in."

            "I cave."

            "I can't help myself!" 

It's like a conspiracy that overwhelms and overtakes the unsuspecting.

The problem with pornography, like all of the devil's schemes, is it replaces a divine truth with an empty counterfeit.  It promises you the world and leaves you empty-handed.  It promises to complete what's missing in you, but instead it leaves you broken.  Pornography is like a sugar high with crashing lows.  Some studies have postulated that pornography has the same addictive effects as cocaine on the brain.  Unlike cocaine, however, pornography is freely accessible and only one click away.

Pornography promises intimacy,

                                    but leaves you lonely;

Pornography promises satisfaction,

                                    but leaves you wanting;

Pornography promises beauty,

                                    but leaves you feeling ugly, unclean and ashamed.

Pornography damages the viewer.  It breaks trust, diminishes intimacy, hinders relationships, and leaves us wanting for more, like an all-consuming vacuum. 

God never does that.  He always fulfills His promises.  If you struggle with pornography, as so many men and women do, fear not!  

There is a way out: inviting God in. 

Love's Response

Part of the reason I think Christians struggle so much with pornography is the culture of shame and repression and outright fear of sex perpetuated by so many pulpits.  People don't want to mess up sexually, so if they're going to sin, at least it's not with another person, right?  Makes sense, yeah?  But this evidences a fundamental misunderstanding of God's purpose for sex.  Intrinsic in the belief that we have to repress ourselves sexually (and, thus, look for outlets like pornography) is the thought that God won't provide us with a partner or a "help suitable" for us (Genesis 2:18), or at least not soon enough!

But hear this truth:

"No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly."  
~ Psalm 84:11.

Christians, God is not withholding sex from us; He's preserving sex for us, to richly enjoy in a loving, safe, covenant-protected marriage.  God designed sex as holy (set apart).  He created sex as the holiest, most intimate physical expression of partnership between a man and a woman.  Sex is beautiful by God's design.     

God is not embarrassed by sex and He does not enjoy watching you suffer.  (God created sex!)  God is not mad at you.  God just hates that pornography leaves you unfulfilled, like an elusive mirage in the desert.  God hates that pornography leaves you naked and ashamed, when God holds the real deal for you in His hands.  God hates that you are demanding what does not satisfy, when His promise has been available to you all along: your intimate relationship with Him, and your relationship with an amazing partner with whom you can run, and win, the race.  He doesn't want you to miss out on that.

See, God's not up in the sky waving an angry finger at you like most men think He is.  No, God does not see you as filthy and unclean.  He does not see you as a desperate, pathetic mess.  He is not ashamed to call you His son.  You may think that, but God does not.

Look no further than the Story of Hosea to see how Love responds with compassion to unfaithfulness.  Or the prodigal son, who after wasting his inheritance on women and wild living, was welcomed back with open arms and lavish gifts from a Father awaiting his return. (Luke 15:11-32).  Or the woman caught in the very act of adultery who was told by Jesus, "neither do I condemn you;" instead, His mercy and love empowered her to "go, and sin no more" (John 8:1-11).  The same loving God wants to welcome you back into His warm embrace, to show you His faithful love, and to free you from the chains of your past and present shame and regret.  Allow Him to remove your cloak of shame and clothe you with His robe of righteousness.  In Christ, you are forgiven and free. 

One man testifies he overcame his porn habit by praying that God would help him view humanity through Christ's eyes.  His heart underwent a revolutionary change once he started seeing people as spiritual beings and children of God, rather than objects of sex.  He now sees women as companions to be cherished rather than objects to be conquered. 

When we return to God,

God trades what is fake,

                        for what is real;

God trades our loneliness,
                        for relationship;

God trades our wants,

                        for longings fulfilled;

God trades our filth,

                           for beauty;

God trades the profane,

                        for what is sacred;

God trades our shame,
                        for His virtue.

There is Hope

Isaiah 54:4 ~ Fear not; for you shall not be ashamed: neither be confounded; for you shall not be put to shame: for you shall forget the shame of your youth, and shall not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore...

You, dear reader, are loved by an Almighty God.  He is not ashamed of you.  He loves you.  And, as a woman of God, I find no fault in you.

Get help if you struggle with pornography.  You can't do this alone, without God.  We can do nothing without Him (John 15:5).  Go boldly to the throne of grace and get grace to help in your time of need.  And, if you want additional resources, check out this article about one church who is reaching porn viewers with the love of Christ:

Or this book, Surfing for God, comes highly recommended if you're looking for a more in-depth study on the topic:

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will rejoice over you with songs of deliverance. ~Zephaniah 3:17.

My dear brothers, walk in the light as He is in the light (1 John 1:7).  In Christ, you are free.