I know a guy who cheats on his wife. He cheats on her every day. He cheats on her multiple times a day. He’s a husband and a father and a serial adulterer.
I shouldn’t know this fact about him, but it came up in conversation a few days ago. We were talking about the divorce rate; both of us gave our theories as to why the statistics are so high. I mentioned in my diagnosis a few studies that show pornography to be a root cause in over 50 percent of divorces annually.
He laughed. “People don’t get divorced over porn.” He went on to explain that porn isn’t a “big deal” to most people. It’s not “like it’s cheating or something.” He told me that he looks at it multiple times daily. His wife, he insisted, might be a little peeved if she knew the extent of it, but only because women overreact about “that kind of thing.”
What kind of thing? Their husbands spending all day obsessively plunging through the darkest regions of the internet for graphic sexual images of rape, abuse, perversion, exploitation and other forms of filthy depravity previously unknown to mankind?
Yeah. That kind of thing. No reason why any wife should be too upset about that, apparently.
Listen guys, I know this is an uncomfortable conversation. But it’s time we man up and get real about pornography. First things first: if you’re married and you look at porn, you are cheating. Period. From a Christian perspective, this can’t be debated. Christ laid it out very clearly: if you lust after another woman, you have committed adultery. When we look at porn we are choosing to succumb to that lust; we are indulging it, fertilizing it, giving it respite in our minds. We are diving into it headfirst and soaking in it like a sponge. We are lessening ourselves, betraying our wives and participating in the violent exploitation of women (and girls). Or minds and our bodies belong to the Lord and to our wives; pornography, therefore, intrudes on their domain. If we look at porn, we are adulterers. We are adulterers in all the worst ways.
We don’t even need to refer to Scripture to figure out the simple equation that porn equals adultery.
Why wouldn’t it?
Because you aren’t physically in contact with another woman?
So what? That’s merely a matter of semantics and circumstance. The absence of physical touch doesn’t automatically free you of the scarlet letter — if it did, ‘sexting’ with other women would be fair game, I suppose. How would you feel if you looked through your wife’s phone and found racy, sexually graphic text messages she’d sent to a man at her office? Would you be alright with it as long as she could prove she never had any physical contact with him? Or is that totally different because she knows the guy, whereas porn is anonymous and impersonal? See, we find ourselves constructing many arbitrary lines of distiniction when we are deteremined to rationalize behavior we instinctively know to be immoral and wrong.
But, OK, what if she didn’t know the guy? What if she was engaging in “fantasies” with men she never met? Imagine that, in your cyber travels, you stumbled upon a porn site featuring pictures and videos of a particularly alluring young female: your wife. How would that sit with you? Your wife selling digital sex all over the internet — how would you like that? It might cause a bit of a marital dispute, wouldn’t you say?
If you wouldn’t want your wife being a porn provider, you ought to understand why she wouldn’t want you to be a porn consumer. If you wouldn’t want her to invite and encourage other men to violate her in their minds, you ought to understand why she wouldn’t want you to accept the invitation to violate other women in your mind.
I don’t mean to concentrate only on married men. Porn is poison for everyone, married or not. And I’m not here to castigate you if you’ve stumbled. We live in a society that preys upon a man’s weaknesses, shoving sex into his face at hyper speed every day, all day, all of the time. This isn’t an excuse; just an attempt to put things into context. I won’t yell at a guy who fights a porn addiction anymore than I’d yell at a guy who fights a crack addiction. But at least the crack addict likely won’t encounter very many people (besides his dealer) who will tell him that it’s actually healthy to smoke crack. If he ventures outside of the abandoned shack where he scores his dope, he probably won’t find any respectable people who will say, “hey, crack isn’t a big deal — it’s totally natural to smoke crack, man!” In that way, the crack smoker has a leg up on the porn addict. The porn addict, by contrast, has to fight both the compulsion itself and the myriad of creeps who will try to convince him that it’s all just a bit of innocent fun.
That’s a lie, of course. It’s not innocent. It’s not fun.
I could cite for you the mounds of psychiatric research proving the detrimental effects of pornography on the brain. But you can do that research yourself.
I could tell you about sex slavery, human trafficking, drug abuse, and child molestation, and I could explain how the porn industry wouldn’t exist without these necessary ingredients. But these are conclusions you can draw on your own, if ever you take even a moment to think about it.
I could remind you that these women you find on your porn sites might not be women at all — they could be children — and there’s no way for you to know for sure. I could then point out that any avid porn customer has most likely at some point been a child porn customer, whether he knew it or not. But this is, indeed, an obvious and inescapable reality.
I could tell you that many children view graphic porn for the first time before the age of 12. I could tell you that we haven’t even begun to reap the atrocious fruits that will come from an entire generation raised on the heinous perversions of internet pornography. But it’s probably too late for these warnings.
So what is left? Perhaps nothing, really. Pornography is evil, empty, deadening, dirty — this is something we all know. That’s why, unless you are either psychotic or utterly despicable, you wouldn’t want your daughter to get into the porn business. That’s why most people hide their porn habits. That’s why it still isn’t considered acceptable to browse “adult” websites at your desk at work or at a table in Starbucks (although people still do, in both scenarios). That’s why you only find porn shops and strip clubs in the slummy, rundown parts of town. No matter how hedonistic and “open minded” we become, we still recognize porn as something that ought to be stowed away in the dank, dark corners of our lives. This is Natural Law, and we can’t escape it. We have an innate understanding of right and wrong, whether we want it or not.
Married men: I think we should be spending our free time with our families, or reading interesting books so that we can sharpen our minds, or building things, or exercising, or doing anything else that will make us better men. Porn will not make you a better man. It will make you smaller. It will make you a liar. It will kill that instinct inside you that calls you to protect and honor women. It will turn you into something you never wanted to be. It will turn you into a sneaky, shameful pervert. It will turn you into an adulterer.
Real men don’t look at pornography.This post was written by Matt Walsh. To find his original post with comments, go here: http://themattwalshblog.com/2013/11/25/married-men-your-porn-habit-is-an-adultery-habit/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, Hebrews 10:24 (NKJV)
As a whole this community is suffering for their faith in Jesus. This doesn’t take into consideration what other kinds of suffering may be going on. In this community there may have been wives who had been abandoned by their husbands and husband who had been abandoned by their wives. In this community there may have been parents who were dealing with the loss of a child.
In this community there may have been people struggling financially because of the loss of a job. In this community there may have been people grieving over the loss of a loved one. In this community there may have been people that were stressed out because of all that was going on in their lives. Yet in the midst of this community that was going through hardships the inspired author tells them not to turn their focus inward.
How many of us know how easy it is during hard times to let our focus turn inward and begin to only think about ourselves and our problems? I think this is one of the easiest things in the world to do. Most of us are naturally selfish and self-centered anyway. Let problems come into our lives and watch us take our selfishness and self-centeredness to a whole nutha level.
Here we are told not to become self-centered and self-focused but to consider one another.The picture here seems to be that a church should be filled with people who care enough about one another that we lovingly watch over one another so that when a brother or sister becomes discouraged or begins to drift in their commitment to Jesus we go to one another with the sole purpose of stirring each other up to love and good works. What beautiful picture of what the church should be.
I want to point out here that this isn’t just speaking to the pastor. The inspired author doesn’t lay the responsibility to do this at the pastor’s feet. The other doesn’t say, “Consider one another so that you may go tell the pastor to stir one another up to love and good works
.” God lays the responsibility to consider one another and to stir one another up at all of our feet. If you see someone that is discouraged, hurting or drifting in their commitment to Jesus, YOU
have a responsibility to go to them in love and seek to stir them back up to love and good works.
This, in my opinion, is one of the greatest failures of the modern church. We see no responsibility for anyone outside of ourselves. Here is what is tragically sad. It’s not that we don’t see one another become discouraged or begin to drift. It is that instead of going and trying to stir one another back up, we either callously turn a blind eye to it, or wickedly use it as an opportunity to talk about one another. If we are guilty of doing either of these we should repent and ask God to forgive us for this sin.
Not only should we consider one another to encourage one another, but as we gather together we should be encouraged to serve Jesus. Our time together shouldn’t motivate us to complacency. What we do together shouldn’t end in the church building. As you read Scripture you see that what we do in together should motivate us to serve Jesus out in the world. Too many times we think of coming to church as our service to Jesus but that’s really not true, at least not entirely. Coming to church isn’t our service to Jesus as much as it is a service station that prepares us to go and serve Jesus. So a part of what the church does in encouraging our commitment to Jesus is to encourage us to be faithful in serving Jesus.
We do this through singing songs that remind us of our need to serve Jesus.
We do this through giving people opportunities to use their spiritual gifts.
We do this through encouraging people to see the needs in the world around us and then take the initiative to do what they can to help.
We do this through studying what the Bible says about our need to serve Jesus.
This means at times we will study about our need to take up our cross and follow Jesus. This means at times we will study about our need to share the Gospel.
This means at times we will study about our need to help the help the poor and visit the shut-ins.
This means at times we will study about our need to find and use our spiritual gifts.
This means at times we will study about our need to be salt and light in the world.
The church encourages us in our commitment to Jesus by challenging us and encouraging us to serve Jesus.
For further study read Ephesians 4:11-16.
What is the pastor to do?
What are the people to do?
What is the purpose for the pastor and the people each doing what they are supposed to do?
This post was written by Rev Ross. For the original post, go to: http://stacyjross.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/the-church-encourages-me-to-serve-jesus/
Let me tell you a tale of three pastors. All successes in their own right. I would be pleased to be a member of their congregations. They are good men, godly men, holy men. They have the same Holy Spirit working in their lives.... yet, they are different. And sometimes, they rub me wrong. At least two of them do...
One pastor was talking about how the Military creates dependency. "In the military, you don't have to make any decisions, all decisions are made for you, you just obey orders. They feed you, house you, raise you into a fighting machine. They tell you where to live and who to make friends with." (Just in case you're wondering, no, this pastor has never served in the military, although he has had numerous military folks in his congregation.) Yet, when I think about this pastor, he went straight from high school, to college, to seminary, to his first church. He serves in a denomination where the pastor is a professional. The churches in which he has served have always providing housing, paid his expenses, and given him a nice salary. (He is well within the top 1% of financial earners in his church. To his credit he does tithe his salary.) His denomination tells him when to move to another church. Does that sound independent to you?
Another pastor was talking about how the new generation of churches will be smaller and transient with bi-vocational pastors. This pastor is a good scholar. He has researched trends in the church and realizes that is what he needs to be training the next generation of pastors to do. Yet, when I think about this pastor, he went straight from high school, to college, to seminary, to his church. He serves in a denomination where the pastor is a professional. The churches in which he has served have always providing housing, paid his expenses, and given him a nice salary. His church isn't a mega-church by any standards but it is a good sized, medium church. He remarked the other day, "I haven't mowed a yard in years. People from the church come over and mow my yard (actually the yard of the parsonage where he lives that the church provides for him as part of his salary package)." Does that sound bi-vocational to you?
Another pastor, now at the end of his ministry due to his age, reflected with me regarding his life as a minister. He never had a church of over 250. He accepted meager salaries in spite of having seven children. He told me stories about God's provision: coats for his children that suddenly appeared on the doorstep one frigid winter morning, receiving "blue milk" and cheese from the local dairy, having an abundance of fresh farms eggs from an unnamed person in the community, working side-by-side with parishioners in painting and refurbishing the church (and telling of the wonderful theological truths and friendships that occurred during these times), caring for the church building by cleaning toilets, mowing the yard, taking out the trash, etc. Also, he never had a parsonage. Every home he lived in he either rented or owned (ironically, now at a ripe old age, on his meager salary, he owns several homes and they are rented by pastors or parishioners of his former churches). Each of these homes, he cared for in painting, refurbishing, caring for the lawn and shoveling snow. (Oh, that reminds me, he shoveled the snow at his churches. He wanted his church to be welcoming even during bad weather.) He stated he would never cancel church. "What if someone found their way to the church during bad weather only to find the doors locked? What if that was the time that they decided they needed Jesus? If even only one person showed up, I still had church." He NEVER wanted to count on the church to take care of him. He told me that he knew that he was called to be a pastor and in doing a pastor's work, he KNEW that God would take care of him. His salary was just to pay what expenses that he had as he never went into debt, owing no man anything.
Like I said in the first paragraph, three pastors: All successes in their own right. I would be pleased to be a member of their congregations. They are good men, godly men, holy men. They have the same Holy Spirit working in their lives.... yet, they are different. And sometimes, they rub me wrong. At least two of them do...
BE A MAN.
There's a sweaty hand handling his cocktail napkin
"Come on up and see me" is scribbled with a gold pen
"But you'd better ring twice"
Seven months after his little indiscretion
He sits with his wife at a therapy session
For a little advice
"If the healing happens as the time goes by
Tell me why I still can't look her in the eye"
"God I'm only human, got no other reason"
Sin for a season
There's a shaky hand shaking with the hand of her hostess
Drank a little much, but she'll drive herself home
If she can make it to her car
She never saw the sign or the boy with his daddy
Driving home late from their very first ballgame
And they don't get far
Now the years run together as her guilt goes wild
She still sees the body of an only child
"God I'm only human, got no other reason"
Sin for a season
Wealthy lips say "keep us from the Evil One"
While the praying hands prey with deliberate cunning
On the carcass of the cold
Gonna get the good Lord to forgive a little sin
Get the slate cleaned so he can dirty it again
And no one else will ever know
But he reaps his harvest as his heart grows hard
No man's gonna make a mockery of God
"I'm only human, got no other reason"
Sin for a season
This song was written and recorded by Steve Taylor. For the page about this song, go to: http://www.sockheaven.net/discography/taylor/meltdown/06.html
To hear the song, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHAnGG3rd10
There are twelve common steps that usually occur in sequence as a relationship moves toward an adulterous affair. These steps often occur over a long period of time, but a man and a woman can move thru these stages of an affair in a single evening. Becoming aware of the steps helps us to recognize what might be happening to us so we can stop the process before we are in over our heads.
Our two main enemies are rationalization and denial. We rationalize when we give acceptable reasons for unacceptable thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Denial is our often intense refusal to recognize the truth about our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Sin can harden our hearts and darken our understanding, turning us away from God. "Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness."
For example, a woman rationalizes that God understood and accepted her numerous affairs because, after all, it was He who created within her this "need for other men." A man lives in denial about his affair, "it's OK, because each time we have sex we end by praying together."
I will briefly list the 12 steps here and in the subsequent post. For a more complete understanding, you will need to read the book, TEMPTATIONS MEN FACE, from which this information is taken.
1. Readiness - The first step is emotional readiness. Something is occurring in a man's life that has him leaning away from the marriage. This is a vulnerable time. He needs to learn to recognize this and turn his energy toward regaining the full health of his marital relationship.
2. Alertness - The second stage in the affair process is a growing awareness of a particular person in our web of relationships. He begins simply by thinking occasionally about the other person. The innocent thoughts turn to fantasy. As she becomes more present in his conscious thoughts, she may begin to appear in dreams and the dreams are often filled with sexual fantasy. Masturbating while fantasizing about her is common.
3. Innocent meeting - Truly innocent, chance meetings, often legitimate business contacts can potentially build the relationship. This is the stage where some flirtations can develop, prolonged eye contact, harmless sounding sexual innuendo, enticing body language, etc.
4. Intentional meeting - Meetings occur frequently which appear to be by chance when in reality one person has acted in such a way as to increase the likelihood of the meeting. He will hang out for extended periods of time hoping for the chance to "surprisingly" meet her. The excitement of sexual attraction overpowers his rational side. At this point, he has entered a real danger zone.
5. Public lingering - The man & the woman now spend time together while in group settings. They will tend to shut others out by turning away from the group and avoiding eye contact with others. Observers know something is happening. However, they would still deny any suggestion that this was more than normal adult relating. The public setting help them to rationalize: "It's fine to focus on her. Nothing can happen. We are with others."
6. Private lingering - Soon the man & the woman find that they are still together long after the others have left. Conversation shifts from ideas to feelings. Caring is shared. Conversation drifts into private and personal areas. They still feel fine about the relationship because the meetings begin in public.
7. Purposeful isolating - Now the man & the woman begin to plan times alone for "legitimate" purposes. They may request the other to work on special projects at work that require them being alone or work late together. He may ask her to help him sort out his marital problems. They still deny any suggestions that their relationship is not completely appropriate. At home, his wife notices a decrease in verbal & nonverbal communication. He seems suddenly detached, cool, almost formal in his relating. There may be uncompleted phone calls.
8. Pleasurable isolating - Now the man & the woman are planning times alone with each other for the sheer enjoyment of being together. The relationship takes on a youthful euphoria. There is a shared experience of excitement and adventure with more intimacy occurring. There is more touching. His spouse notices that there are long blocks of time that are unaccounted for. There is a noticeable decrease in pleasurable times in the marriage. The relationship is still rationalized: "It's OK to have good friends of the opposite sex, there is nothing wrong with being close friends. After all, she understands me better than my wife."
9. Affectionate embracing - There is embracing without letting go. There is increased touching and playful caressing. Childish games like tickling and wrestling are often played at this stage to increase physical contact. The rationalization is that there is nothing wrong with physically expressing support for one another. At the same time, affectionate embracing and physical contact decreases with his wife.
10. Passionate embracing - Affectionate touching and embracing lead to passionate interchanges. The couple will still rationalize and say that it is fine to get aroused because it is innocent and unplanned, "Besides, my wife no longer makes me feel this way."
11. Capitulation - The couple gives in to sexual intercourse. Denial is eliminated at this stage. There is no way to deny the reality of what they have done.
12. Acceptance - Here they finally admit to themselves that they are in the throes of an affair. If they continue, it is definitely a conscious choice. The emotional investment in the affair is at its peak and the emotional investment in the marriage is at its lowest. The man may find creative ways for his wife to discover the affair. The tension of living a double life is usually too much for someone to bear for very long.
Is this the end of the story? Do the man and woman live happily ever after? Nope. The story of an affair is not a comedy. It is a huge tragedy with unbelievable fallout and consequences.
Tomorrow, we will discuss some of these consequences.
Much of this information is taken from the book, TEMPTATIONS MEN FACE
BE A MAN.
A temptation on the road to reverence is to stop and gawk at the wrecks in other people’s lives. Maybe it makes us feel better that while we may be struggling with one thing or another at least we’re not like that. Jesus tells a story of two men who go to the temple to pray. One was a gawker—that appears to be the audience Jesus intends this particular story to teach.
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Luke 18:9-14, NIV).
Other people’s sins are much easier to confess than our own. Other people’s brokenness is much easier to mock than our own. But God seems to be seeking something other than “holiness police.” God loves those who, rather than sizing up the difference between themselves and other “more sinful” people, instead bow low in recognition of their own unworthiness compared to Holy God. The road to reverence is paved with humility.
Notice the position of the two men in prayer. The Pharisee stands on his own two feet proud of his goodness but the tax collector “would not even look up to heaven.” One was confident in his righteousness and the other knew God was good and he was not. The tax collector trusted God enough, or at least was desperate enough, to cry out for mercy. Which one does Jesus say went home forgiven?
God desires honesty. God wants truth. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:8-12, NIV).
The Same Boat
We’re all in the same boat. We’ve all sinned. We’ve all fallen short of the glory of God. None of us are all we were created to be, but yet somehow we have the audacity to condemn others while seeking pardon for ourselves. Or do we think we are without sin? We sing, “Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me,” but then try to claim it exclusively. Saved a wretch like me, not a wretch like you, you’re the wrong kind of wretch.
None of this is intended to say that sin is not serious. It is. It is deadly. It separates us from Holy God. But God is greater than our sin. God is also greater than our neighbor’s sin. Remember what Jesus told Nicodemus? “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17). While we need to take sin seriously we must take God even more seriously.
Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin?
Sometimes Christians are seen as hateful when we point out the sins of others. But we claim this is not true. We “love the sinner and hate the sin.” I’m sure I’ve said that myself. But just this week I saw a quote by singer and humorist Mark Lowry with some important words to consider. They are helpful as we wrestle with sin and grace and how to live reverently. Mark said, “Love the sinner, hate the sin? How about: Love the sinner, hate your own sin! I don’t have time to hate your sin. There are too many of you! Hating my sin is a full-time job. How about you hate your sin, I’ll hate my sin and let’s just love each other!”
But too many of us are like the Pharisee in the story. We thank God we are not like those… fill in your blank here. Those drunks, those adulterers, those gays, those right wingers, those liberals, those “whatever we are not” people whose sins we want to highlight rather than allow the light of Christ to work in us. It is irreverent to do what God does not, to rank the sins of others as worse than our own. Since we are all in the same boat maybe we shouldn’t be so eager to see it sink.
James challenges us: “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’, you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’, also said, ‘You shall not murder.’ If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:8-13, NIV).
It’s stunning to consider we have broken the entire law. All of it! How in the world can we then turn around and point a condemning finger at others when their sin is ours as well? But if our guilt is stunning, this is more so. God has mercy on us. God casts our sin as far as the east is from the west. Through Jesus Christ we find not only pardon for our sin but power to become all we were created to be. Our response to God is worship. The appropriate response to others is mercy and love.
A Journey of Grace
Though we journey toward reverence we’re not there yet. We couldn’t have even started on our own. It’s all about grace. Grace, grace, grace: grace to draw us, grace to forgive us and grace to make us as we should be.
One thing I know is that gawking slows us down. Sometimes it even causes us to wreck. Let’s keep our eyes on the road.
This excerpt is from the book, Irreverent: Finding Our Way Home. Order the book here or the Kindle edition here.
This post is taken from Seedbed, provided by Rev John Leece. For the original post with comments, go to: http://seedbed.com/feed/noticing-other-peoples-sins/
BE A MAN.
The young man told me an unbelievable story. He was telling me about an activity that was popular in his college dorm. It was called "hogging."
As he explained what this activity was, it became clear to me that this young man was engaging in a very sinful and demeaning sexual activity. By many standards, his behavior was considered deviant and misogynous.
Clearly, hogging is when a man purposely seeks out an overweight or unattractive woman to satisfy his sexual appetite. Many times, it is a game, a form of competition that men do to see who can have sex with the largest woman. It is not unusual for a group of men at a bar decide to "spice up" the most overweight or unattractive woman or it occurs when it is close to bar closing and a man decided he will "settle" for this woman rather than go home alone. This type of behavior is disgusting, despicable and wrong on so many levels.
This young man was starting to feel a twinge of guilt for his behavior. The night before he was involved in a "rodeo" where his friends hid in his bedroom and took pictures of his sexual activity and then jumped out and surprised the woman, humiliating her and telling her it was all a competition. This last encounter ended with the young woman breaking down in tears, angrily crying hysterically and threatening to call the police for sexual assault.
It's disgusting the path that sin takes in men's lives. The desire to seek sexual thrills coupled with competition makes men stupid. This selfishness leads to treating people like objects, forgetting that other people have needs and feelings as well.
His behavior reminded me of a section of the Bible where Paul is speaking to first generation Christians: "Don't you know that wicked people won't inherit the kingdom of God? Stop deceiving yourselves! People who continue to commit sexual sins..." Then Paul reminds them that even though they have engaged in sexual sins, that they have changed... "That's what some of you were! But you have been washed and made holy, and you have received God's approval..."
This young man didn't have a Christian heritage on which to build, just like these first generation Christians. He thought that what he was doing was "normal, what guys do." Fortunately, the Holy Spirit was speaking to him, letting him know that abusing women and seeking sexual thrills and competition is not "normal." And he was listening...
God takes pleasure in uprightness, in those who seek to please Him before pleasing their own sensual desires and selfishness.
This young man changed for the better. He is now walking in righteousness, seeking God's will for his life. He is forgiven. He is now made holy. He is receiving God's approval.
God changed this young man.
Allow God to change you.
BE A MAN.
"We're gonna put our money into a computer rather than marriage counseling." This was a statement from a man with a rather troubled marriage. "I don't think counseling is going to help us any. We can spend time together in front of the computer and find good resources there." I looked at his wife and she, in a rather pie-eyed fashion, gave her tacit permission towards her husband's solution to their many marriage troubles. He proceeded with a rather lengthy story about how a new, more powerful computer, would be the solution not only to their family woes but also the difficulties in his marriage. "We will gather around the computer as a family and make our computer a place of bonding, we'll become stronger if we invest in that rather than counseling." I attempted to protest but he had won his wife over to his point of view. They cancelled their remaining sessions and I never saw them again.
Do you think the computer helped this marriage? A computer is amoral. It is neither evil nor good. It is what is done with the computer that brings in the morality.
I have been able to watch this man's behavior from a distance and unfortunately, his life has fallen apart. His wife divorced him. Several things transpired that she could not live with: 1) he used the computer for watching porn, 2) he used the computer to develop relationships with numerous women with whom he had affairs, 3) he was arrested for having sex with a patient, 4) he was also arrested for domestic violence and 5) he lost his medical license.
The computer also affected his children. One of his children became addicted to pornography (from the same computer), another was charged with sexual molestation and must now register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, the rest of his children have completely cut him off, wanting nothing to do with him.
I'm not saying that if they had continued in counseling that everything would have been perfect and these problems would not have occurred but I think it is ironic that the very thing he convinced his wife would solve all of their problems seriously contributed to his moral failure and the subsequent behavior of his family. I'm also not saying that the computer was his main problem. His main problem (in spite of claiming the name of Christian) was old-fashioned selfishness. He was not allowing God to transform him.
I'm writing this to you to ask you a few questions:
Into what are you pouring your time, energy and money?
Have you convinced yourself that possessions will bring your happiness?
Or have you invested your life into accountability, honest relationships and seeking God's will for your life?
God is very clear about His will: It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.
I have heard that this man is now trying to repair the damage he has done and is trying again to live a life that is pleasing to God. I find that encouraging.
Please pray for him.
BE A MAN.
Most Christians today like to say that all sins are “equal” in the eyes of God, that there is no scale of less or worse sins, that a white lie or a homicide alike would have been enough to require Christ to die on the cross. We say this in theory, but in practice, we know that a white lie won’t get you kicked off the church leadership team. And a homicide likely will.
In practice, there are some sins that are socially acceptable, even in the Church. There’s one sin in particular that has pervaded our society and churches so silently we hardly give it a second thought, and that is the constant hunt for more over what is enough. Or, in an uglier terminology, what is known as gluttony.
When I think about gluttony, I think about my desire to shove a dozen donuts into my mouth and wash them down with chocolate milk. Or perhaps it’s my tendency to mindlessly feed chips to a stomach that’s no longer hungry. Many of us can look at the sin of gluttony and think, “That’s not really my struggle.” Or, we think, “What’s the big deal?” After all, most congregations have compulsive over-eaters among them, and they’re not considered “less spiritual” or “backslidden” for it.
But gluttony has never been merely an addiction to food. And if we look at it in its original definition and context, gluttony becomes far closer to home than we’d like to admit.
At its simplest, gluttony is the soul’s addiction to excess. It occurs when taste overrules hunger, when want outweighs need. And in America, where upsizing has always been part of the American dream, it’s often difficult to distinguish what is hard-earned achievement and what is indulgent excess. In this sense, even the most athletic and toned among us can be gluttons. Any of us can be.
All desire for excess stems from a lack of satisfaction. I’m not satisfied with my portion—be it the portion on my plate, in the marriage bed, or in my bank account. Because I’m not satisfied with my portion, I then seek a greater portion. But because every portion is a finite part of a finite whole, I am constantly chasing an excess that can never satisfy.
This is the story of Genesis 3. What was the sin in the Garden of Eden if not a desire for excess? Adam and Eve were given beautiful sights and beautiful tastes in the absence of shame, but what made the garden a paradise was not any of this. It was a paradise because God walked in the cool of the day with them. And yet, Adam and Eve’s downfall was because they deemed even this as not enough. They weren’t content with their portion of paradise, and they reached out—to disastrous consequence—for more.
Like them, we are ravenous beings. We embody bottomless cravings that constantly paw at the next attractive thing. Our appetites are as strong as death, Proverbs 27:20 tells us. We are always on the move for the next thing that can satisfy and slake our restless thirst. This endless pull is the engine of gluttony. It propels our souls ever toward excess.
And yet, the desire for “more” is not inherently bad, but it is often misdirected. What we need is a relentless appetite for the divine. We need a holy ravenousness. Our craving souls can turn and become enthralled by a goodness that is found in the presence of an all-glorious God. There is only one infinite source of satisfaction that can satisfy our bottomless cravings.
A taste of His supreme grace is enough to lure an appetite long held prisoner to lesser portions. If stolen water is sweet, lavished grace is sweeter.
And here’s a strange side effect: The more we drink deeply of the endless love of an infinite God, the more our tastes will be changed. The deep bright marrow of grace will drip down into the restless souls of the ever-hungry.
In pursuit of lesser portions, our tastes have dulled. We’ve become numb to our real hungers, filling them with lesser fare. But when we return to the source, we taste anew.
Psalm 34:8 challenges us to see the difference for ourselves: “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” I think Paul understood this verse when he told the people at Lystra that God gives food and gladness so that our hearts would turn from vain things and turn to the ultimate satisfaction of who God is (Acts 14:15-17).
Consequently, if God has ordained that His goodness can be tasted and seen (and, I would submit, heard, smelled and touched), this has at least two direct implications. First, it means that every finite pleasure and satisfaction is meant to point us toward the infinite pleasure and satisfaction of God. My admiration for a sunset, then, need not stop at that horizon, rather it can curve upward into praise and gratitude. Second, it means that if our desire for "more" is misplaced, then certainly it can be redirected to something good as well.
Is the desire for excess sinful? It depends on whether the soul is addicted to a finite excess or an infinite excess. Do we ever think of gorging on God? Do we relish the chance to spend a few more minutes in prayer, hidden away from the world for just one more taste of the divine? When was the last time we lingered long over the pages of an open Bible because we just couldn’t stop admiring the honeyed flavor of an ancient truth? If the Bible is the story of the only infinite good, why do we spend so much of our lives at lesser tables?
We Christians have so tamed our enjoyment in God that we cannot fathom what such thrill-seeking would even look like. Feasting on God is as foreign to most Americans as an empty stomach. Why can’t we fix our souls on the only goodness who can handle our cravings? Why do we chase the more mild flavors of money, food and sex?
If only we would not stifle our gluttonous cravings, but turn them in the right direction. If only we would feast on an infinite God who offers fullness of life, rather than these lesser tables with the far milder flavors of money, sex, food and power.
As George MacDonald put it, “Sometimes I wake and, lo, I have forgot.” Sleep is like a reset button and my hunger is misdirected often. I think I’m hungry for the finite, but I’m really hungry for God. To remember, we need to taste daily, deeply and constantly of the goodness of God. So let us turn together, and feast rightly.This post was written by Jason Todd of Relevant Magazine. For the original post with comments, go to: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/practical-faith/socially-acceptable-sin
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
It’s happened to most of us. We’re cruising down the street, singing along to Justin Bieber’s sweet new jam when all of the sudden, some imbecile swerves in front of us and cuts us off. Not only does this give our hearts a shock, it usually unleashes a little monster we like to call “road rage.”
Our knuckles whiten, we grit our teeth, we may even let a dirty word fly out of the side of our mouths. We give our horn a long, harsh push or—even worse—we slip up that one finger that tells this reckless renegade exactly what we think of their driving. It’s so easy to lash out since, after all, we don’t know this person. They’re just some anonymous moron drifting in and out of traffic as they please.
This scenario is a classic American experience: we believe we have the right of way, someone compromises that right, and we take offense, often reacting in impulsive, unwise ways. And it doesn’t just happen on the road.
When you think about it, the same thing happens to us all the time in the public square—anywhere, really, where ideas are presented, debated and shared. And on the Internet, particularly, it happens a lot.
As with any large gathering of souls, the Internet consists of many different people from many different upbringings offering up many different opinions and beliefs. And for those of us who are fortunate to live in countries that afford us the freedom to live and believe as we choose, we’re granted the right to choose where our loyalties in religion and politics lie. Those choices aren’t taken lightly nor held loosely, and most of us defend them with our very soul. This being the case, the Internet often disintegrates into a hotspot of disagreement and offense; bursting with arguments, insults and accusations with little or no warning.
We’ve seen it happen recently in discussions of gay marriage, gun laws, abortion, gender roles and more. Someone posts something that offends our beliefs, and a counter is quickly posted elsewhere. It’s as if those attacking our beliefs and opinions are actually attacking us personally, and that’s something we just cannot and will not allow. What once had the supposed potential of a calm discussion soon turns into slurs and insults being tossed back and forth, growing more and more hostile as witnesses enter the fray to defend their friends and own opinions. Names are called, orientations are attacked, and opinions are ransacked—until it all descends into digital chaos. All because someone took offense to an individual’s opinion and acted out.
This begs the question: What right do we have to be offended at someone else’s opinion or beliefs in the first place? We certainly have the right to disagree with another’s stance, but to take a personal affront to the beliefs of another speaks to something else entirely. It’s as if we’ve adopted the type of selfish mindset that expects everyone to shape their every thought and response to what we’ve chosen to believe.
Who are we to assume that our opinions hold more value than those of another? In reality, each of us possesses the equal right to believe as we wish. We may not agree on faith or politics or a million other things, but we can be centered enough to realize that differing opinions are not a call for anger and harsh actions.
Even so, some feel it is their right to incite us to anger—or to be incited to anger themselves. If we’re honest, we sometimes take the stance that our taking offense is a spiritual posture—one of speaking truth, combating lies and championing What Is Right. This may be true or it may not be, but in the words of Paul, if we have not love, we are “nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:2).
These interactions can lead to bruised feelings and angry responses, simply because that’s our first reaction as human. But as Christians who seek to be examples of God, it is our responsibility to turn away from those who would offend and malign us with aimed insults. Is it easier to respond in anger once we’ve been offended? Without question. But because we are called to love this world and to be more through Him, we should not only refuse to engage those who come at us with hate, but choose to look upon them with grace and a loving heart as well.
At the very root of our Christian identity, we are called to love this world as God loves us, and that means without condition. We are to show the kind of love 1 Corinthians 13:5 describes as not rude or irritable nor insistent on its own way. The disagreements aren’t going anywhere. We just have to accept the call of loving the naysayers anyway.
In the end, it’s not easy to respond well to that which offends or hurts us, but if we choose instead to fill our hearts with the love and grace of God, there will be no room for the pain or offense this world brings. Speaking out of offense rarely brings about good things. But speaking out of love—that’s what can move mountains.This post was written by Corey Copeland of Relevant Magazine. For the original post with comments, you can go to: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/relationships/taking-offense-not-part-christian-calling
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.