Having accepted a counseling assignment for two years in a South American country, I met an interesting man. In his broken English, he confessed, "I like dirty women."
This man was a gynecologist, very educated and finally coming to the realization that he had a terrible problem. In English, dirty can mean several things. However, in Spanish, he was very clear. He used the word, "sucia." "Sucia" means physically dirty, unwashed. He continued with other clear words, "Indigenas, indias, mujeres sucias..." Translated, those words mean, "indigenous, indians, dirty women..." He was talking about a people group that were indigenous in that area: women from the Quechua people. These people are typically considered lower class by those who don't have indian blood.
Being educated and of Spanish descent, he considered himself to be superior to these people. That was his quandary. "Why do I like dirty women? I'm not attracted to pure blood women." He went on to explain that he would sexually use some of his patients, but only the Quechua women. He felt an attraction to women that he was not supposed to be attracted to, kinda like forbidden fruit. He soothed his conscience by believing that he was only having sex with women who were beneath his station in life. These people were essentially worthless in his mind.
He would trade his gynecological services for sexual favors with his patients. He found that many times, he would not be refused because these women were poor and did not feel good about themselves. "They couldn't say no because no one thinks they are attractive. I flatter them..."
So, you can see this man has a terrible sin problem. Actually, more than one. Just to name a few: 1) prejudice, 2) sexism, 3) racism, 4) elitism, 5) compulsions, 6) fornication, etc... Just plain sinfulness.
As his story unfolded, he also revealed that he was addicted to marijuana, alcohol and painkillers. Being a physician, he had no difficulty affording and obtaining these substances, especially when he would trade his gynecological services for these substances.
He was raised in an environment with a very strong mother and a father who had abandoned him. As we delved further into his upbringing, he noted that he was brought into sex early when his mother paid for a prostitute "to teach him how to be a man" as his father wasn't doing a good job at raising him. He recalled his first sexual encounter at age eight with repeated exposure, at his mother's insistence, until he left for college at age sixteen.
In spite of his medical and financial success, this man knew that he was doomed. "My soul is on the way to hell..." Fortunately, this gentleman was receptive to God's working in his life. He came for help because he had heard that hell was a place that he did not want to go. As I was unable to follow this man due to not being around long enough to help him, I was able to hand him off to a pastor. This pastor told him about God's redemptive power and discipled him. He became very much like Zaccheus. He repented of his sinful behavior and attempted to make restitution as best he could.
This man's story teaches us that we are not doomed by the sins of our parents, doomed because we had a bad upbringing or doomed because we have abused people. There is always room for God's offer of salvation. It is never too late to do the right thing.
Is your life like this man's? Or do you think that he is beneath you?
In what kind of sin do you find yourself involved?
It is never too late to do the right thing.
If God can change this man, he can change you.
How bout it?
BE A MAN.
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.
I know a Christian follower of Christ who tends to think that God is waiting around every corner, lurks behind every rock, in order to catch her making a mistake so that He can punish her. This poor woman thinks that the Lord actually does punish us according to our sins, even though Scripture teaches us the contrary: "He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities." (Ps. 103:10 NRSV) That alone is great news! But the Psalmist continues: "For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him" (Ps. 103:11). If one can fathom the depth of space between the heavens from the soil of the earth, God's love for His children is deeper still. That, too, is great news! But the Psalmist continues further: "as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us." (Ps. 103:12 NRSV) Considering that the east never meets the west, then our sins shall never again meet us in Christ.
I believe that we have barely scratched the surface of understanding and appreciating the love of God for us in Christ, or the sacrifice that Christ made on our behalf, or the blessings bestowed upon us in and through Christ. God is not eager to punish us for our sins; God is eager to forgive us our sins. The Psalmist continues still further: "As a father has compassion for his children, so the LORD has compassion for those who fear him. For he knows how we were made; he remembers that we are dust." (Ps. 103:13-14 NRSV) Too often we forget that God is for us: and if "God is for us, who is against us?" (Rom. 8:31) In other words, if God the Almighty Creator of the universe -- holy and just in nature -- is for us, then who of any greater value is against us, and why would that even matter? There is no one greater than God. So if He is for us, then no matter who is against, we shall prevail.
I fear that too many of us believers and followers of Christ still operate within the framework of works instead of grace. We have no inherent power to save ourselves; no inherent power to warrant forgiveness; no inherent power to perform the necessary means of atonement; no inherent power to live sinlessly; no inherent resurrection power; no inherent power to obtain the love and grace and mercy of God -- we are powerless. "For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly." (Rom. 5:6) We need to acknowledge and to own our powerlessness. The late Henri Nouwen, encouraging himself in his journal, writes: "Your willingness to let go of your desire to control your life reveals a certain trust. The more you relinquish your stubborn need to maintain power, the more you will get in touch with the One who has the power to heal and guide you. And the more you get in touch with that divine power, the easier it will be to confess to yourself and to others your basic powerlessness." Did not the apostle Paul confess the same exact idea?
To the Roman Christians the apostle confessed our weakness and ineptitude at saving ourselves (Rom. 5:6); and to the Corinthian Christians he expounded upon the concept of weakness: "So I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me." (2 Cor. 12:9) People make many boasts, but usually they are of the nature of strength and ability. Paul, however, boasted of his powerlessness. Again, Nouwen writes, "One way you keep holding on to an imaginary power is by expecting something from outside gratifications or future events."I just read that sentence today, and I had to read and re-read it again a few more times. I sensed a profound truth in it, concerning myself, but I couldn't fully grasp the connection. Then I understood that the "outside gratifications or future events" were themselves "an imaginary power" that were hindering me emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. Nouwen continues:
"As long as you run from where you are and distract yourself, you cannot fully let yourself be healed. A seed flourishes by staying in the ground in which it is sown. When you keep digging the seed up to check whether it is growing, it will never bear fruit. Think about yourself as a little seed planted in rich soil. All you have to do is stay there and trust that the soil contains everything you need to grow. This growth takes place even when you do not feel it. Be quiet, acknowledge your powerlessness, and have faith that one day you will know how much you have received."
I never had the power to force God to love me, to forgive me, to grow me. If I looked to others for personal or spiritual affirmation -- "outside gratifications" -- or some future event, such as a career, or a church office, or some other achievement in order to gain a sense of worth or approval, then all I have truly accomplished is a failed attempt at catching the wind. Either God redemptively loves me within His own self -- some attribute that derives from His nature -- or I remain powerless and hopeless for all eternity. No, God is not waiting to punish me or to punish you, brother and sister. Christ Jesus has already taken our punishment -- bearing upon Himself the wrath of God on our behalf on the cross of Calvary. If only I could convince that poor woman of these truths.This post was written by William Birch. You can find the original post here: http://classicalarminian.blogspot.com/2013/11/is-god-waiting-to-punish-you-believer.html
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
It's undeniable: the new covenant, accomplished through the work of Christ, means that we have new hearts. Our hearts are good. Or God's a liar. Until we embrace that stunning truth, we will find it really hard to make decisions, because we can't trust what our hearts are saying. We'll have to be motivated by external pressure since we can't be motivated by our hearts. In fact, we won't find our calling, our place in God's kingdom, because that is written on our hearts' desires. We'll have a really hard time hearing God's voice in a deeply intimate way, because God speaks to us in our hearts. We'll live under guilt and shame for all sorts of evil thoughts and desires that the Enemy has convinced us were ours. God will seem aloof. Worship and prayer will feel like chores.
Of course, I just described the life most Christians feel doomed to live.
Now listen to Jesus:
Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. (Luke 6:44-45, emphasis added)
Later, explaining the parable of the sower and the seed, Jesus says,
The seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. (Luke 8:15, emphasis added)
Jesus himself teaches that the heart can be good and even noble. That somebody is you, if you are his. God kept his promise. Our hearts have been circumcised to God. We have new hearts. Do you know what this means? Your heart is good. Let that sink in for a moment. Your heart is good.
What would happen if you believed it, if you came to the place where you knew it was true? Your life would never be the same. My friend Lynn got it, and that's when she exclaimed, "If we believed that . . . we could do anything. We would follow him anywhere!"This post was taken from the book, Waking the Dead by John EldredgeBE HOLY.BE A MAN.
The first generation Christians were brought out of evil. The power of Jesus radically changed these individuals. Look at the list of sins from which the first generation Christians were delivered: 1) sexual immorality, 2) idolatry, 3) adultery, 4) homosexuality, 5) greed, 6) drunkenness and 7) swindling. I Cor 6:9-10
Did you catch that? The church treasurer who cooks the books is among the list of individuals who do things that the church vehemently speaks out against. Yet…
“…that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” I Cor 6:11
Did you also catch “that is what some of you were”? These individuals were brought out of their lifestyle and were justified. Justified is a term that means “just as if I’d not sinned.”
So what did the early church do about individuals who committed the sexually immoral behavior of molesting children?
On this blog you will find a post written by a man who did just that and now can’t find a church that will accept him. I know another Christian man who 20+ years past his crime, paid for his crime, and has set up boundaries to not be around children, who is searching for a church that will accept him into their fellowship.
What is the church’s response to these individuals? We will accept the greedy person (“God I want you to bless me with a Cadillac”) and in fact will have opulent church potlucks where people that don’t need the rich foods pile it on. We forgive the church board member who cheats on his wife.
But what do we as a church do about individuals who committed the sexually immoral behavior of molesting children?
This is not an easy answer… There are three complicating but very important points to make before answering that question:
1. As a church we have a responsibility to protect those who cannot protect themselves. Children are very vulnerable.
2. Statistically, people who commit sexual crimes are rarely truly rehabilitated.
3. People who commit sexual crimes are very good at making you think that they are rehabilitated when they really aren’t.
Knowing these three facts, as a church what should be our response to someone who is a sexual offender? Especially to those who have repented, become a sincere Christian; have turned away from their sinfulness and desire to have fellowship with other Christians? Tomorrow we will make some recommendations.
BE A MAN.
I was thumbing through my Facebook feed over lunch last week when a compelling photo caused me to put on the brakes. It was a young African boy, no more than 4 or 5 years old, in tattered clothes on his knees, taking a drink from a filthy mud puddle.
I’ve had the honor of traveling to a few poverty-stricken places of our globe, and you never get used to seeing things like this. So I clicked the image to reveal the full picture. That’s when the caption hidden below the photo hand-delivered a whole new emotion:
“And you’re upset because you can’t get the new iPhone 5s.”
Touché guilt monger. Touché.
In 3 seconds, my internal compass spun from compassion to anger. A valid point? Maybe. But somewhere, like a mother threatening to send her 6 year old’s brussel sprouts to starving children in China, the creator of this condemnation jihad wrongly assumed that guilt and shame are good agents of change.
Look, we “first-worlders” need to be reminded of our blessings. Challenged. Even kicked in the butt every once in awhile. Perspective is a really healthy thing. But packing a moral point into a guilt grenade doesn’t motivate anything but our self-righteousness.
Shaming people doesn’t change them (at least not in a sustainable way). Our instinctual response to guilt is to cover up, to try and make ourselves look better, to save face, to attempt to earn our way back into the shamer’s good graces.
“I’m a good person! Really, I am! See! Look at me. Look at me!”
(Guilt is obsessed with me).
Real transformation is rooted in what Jesus has done.
“There’s no good in me! But Jesus loves me anyway! Look at Him! Look at what He did for me!”
Our response to an authentic encounter with grace is to, well, change. And then we instinctively begin to pour out of this newfound abundance. We give, because we now we have everything we could ever need. What if we got good at reminding each other of that?
(Grace defuses the shame-bomb).
Perhaps the better caption for that heart-wrenching picture might’ve been:
Because Jesus has already given me everything, I’m free to give my everything.
I don’t know. Just a thought. Or we could just continue hurling guilt-grenades.
This post was written by Erik Cooper. For the original post, go to: http://beyondtherisk.com/2013/10/02/defusing-the-shame-bomb/
BE A MAN.
Every year, federal and state governments pour millions of dollars into combatting sex trafficking through local and federal law enforcement agencies. But the emerging link between the child welfare system and child sex trafficking in the United States underscores the need for a new tactic, one that addresses the social origins of child sex trafficking.
At the end of July, the FBI’s Innocence Lost initiative, the wing of the agency tasked with addressing domestic child sex trafficking, conducted its annual three-day Operation Cross Country. During these 72 hours, federal agents across the country “recover” juvenile victims from sexual exploitation and arrest their exploiters. This year, the agency boasts that it saved 105 children and arrested 152 pimps. According to U.S. law, anyone under 18 and involved in the sex trade is considered sexually trafficked.
However, what happens to those who are “rescued” is unclear. Whether the children are placed in juvenile justice proceedings or the Department of Social Services, the story of the rescue mission as the FBI tells it ends when the handcuffs go on—often both on the exploited young person as well as his or her exploiter. (A video montage of Operation Cross Country VII accompanies the FBI’s press release.)
Julianne Sohn, spokesperson for the San Francisco division of the FBI, explained to AlterNet that the agency couldn’t account for what happens to the youth after they are “recovered” because local law enforcement agencies have varying policies on how to handle teens.
“If you’re 17 years old and sex-trafficked in New York you are literally a victim and a criminal at the same time,” Chrystal DeBoise told AlterNet. DeBoise is the co-director of the New York-based Sex Workers Project, an organization advocates for both sex workers and trafficking victims.
The Sex Workers Project has helped to decriminalize individuals who have been sex trafficked and charged with prostitution by successfully lobbying for the Vacating Convictions Law, passed in 2010 in New York, which allows a trafficked individual to have her record cleared.
But DeBoise notes there is still a long way to go: “Over 50 percent of our clients are trafficked and they tell us that the arrests were some of the most traumatizing parts of their trafficking experience.”
“It’s shocking to believe that you could be trafficked and for the rest of your life you have a prostitution record,” DeBoise said. “It is shocking.”
These FBI sweeps also result in the netting of adult sex workers. The data for Operation Cross Country in the Bay Area reveals that while its ostensible focus is to rescue child victims, the program results in a markedly higher arrest rate for adult sex workers: for the 12 children rescued, 65 sex workers were arrested in the Bay Area alone. During Operation Cross Country in 2008, the FBI recovered 47 juveniles while arresting 518 prostitutes.
Prioritizing criminal justice proceedings to combat child sex-trafficking has resulted in a paucity of services devoted to helping children most vulnerable to sexual exploitation: those in foster care. Depending on the city, 50 to 80 percent of child victims are or have been involved in this part of the child welfare system. The correlation has led many advocates to argue that funding needs to be redirected away from law enforcement and toward social services that are designed to work with traumatized children.
“People are beginning to realize that juvenile justice is not appropriate to serve sexually exploited children. People are frustrated that those kids are going to the criminal justice system rather than the foster care system, which is designed to help kids,” Kate Walker, from the National Center for Youth Law, told AlterNet. Earlier this year, Walker authored a publication for the California Child Welfare Council examining the needs of victimized children and how the welfare system should address them.
Southern California Congresswoman Karen Bass has proposed legislation to the House of Representatives that she hopes will address the cyclical relationship between foster care and child sexual exploitation. In April she reintroduced Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Human Trafficking Act (SCWRHT) that had died in committee last year. (After being elected to Congress in 2010, Bass co-founded the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth and has since been a strong advocate for extending services to foster youth.)
SCWRHT would establish training programs so child welfare agencies could better detect children at risk of becoming victims and respond to those who have already been traumatized and victimized. The legislation would also extend services to trafficking victims up to the age of 21.
Bass has distinguished herself by focusing on the social roots of sex trafficking, rather than investing in law enforcement and tougher penalties. Explaining why she voted against last November’s Proposition 35, which increases fines and penalties for convicted human traffickers, she said: “I worry that just like with Three Strikes, when there is a horrific crime we come up with an extreme response and the net gets cast too wide.”
“It’s not my focus to increase penalty, because I am also worried about the pimps.” According to one case study, approximately 25 percent of pimps come out of the child welfare system.
In 1990—fourteen years before she would make the transition to electoral politics—Bass founded and directed Community Coalition, a grassroots organization based in South Los Angeles dedicated to strengthening black and latino communities ravaged by economic injustice, the War on Drugs, and poor quality schools.
After being elected to Congress in 2010, Bass co-founded the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth and has since been a strong advocate for extending services to foster youth.
Like Bass, Kate Walker believes that with reform, the child welfare system has the potential to serve as a support network to child victims. “I think the child welfare system has a ways to go in terms of setting itself up to adequately serve these children, like prevention curriculum that includes teaching about exploitation, healthy relationships and ways to protect yourself.”
But while advocates may agree that improving the child welfare system is essential to addressing child sex trafficking, there is persistent ambivalence among policy advocates on whether locking up sexually exploited children is necessary in order to save them.
“There is a big divide in the field: should we be locking kids up or should we meet them where they’re at and provide them what they need,” says DeBoise.
Bass’ bill would create “specialized, long-term residential facilities or safe havens serving children who are human trafficking victims.”
One such safe house in Florida was forced to shut down within weeks of opening after one girl left the grounds and was raped. This recent tragic incident has led some legislators and social workers in Florida to conclude that it may be necessary to keep the premises of safe houses locked so that inhabitants cannot leave freely.
However, as DeBoise points out, “We don’t consider locking up any other victim the way we do with this population. It wouldn’t occur to us that we should lock up a victim of, say, domestic violence, if she continued to go back to her abuser.”
“When looking at the population of runaway kids involved in prostitution, there’s a tendency to treat them as criminals and force them into care.”
Casting further doubt on the incarceration model, Walker notes that one method of rehabilitating victims of sexual exploitation in California has been to send them out of state, far away from their exploiters. “Some of these places are on top of a mountain so the kids can’t run. But then they are just exploited upon their return to their communities.”
“I want to look at providing more services in the communities from which they come, because those are the communities that need them. When kids run away [from foster care] they are doing so because we are not providing something that someone else is; we’re not adequately meeting their needs,” explains Walker.
Speaking as a psychotherapist, DeBoise argues it is essential that services enable the youths to opt into therapy and shelter of their own volition: “We need shelters that are open and that have a high level of sophistication in the staff. We need to acknowledge that people can leave and they can also come back. When we work with those principles, we are successful. It’s not a problem to keep our clients, they don’t run away.”
DeBoise urges people to look at the phenomenon of domestic sex trafficking as part of a larger picture: “I think the way to end trafficking is to take seriously poverty and its consequences, racism and its consequences, sexism and its consequences. Trafficking is at the intersection of all these things.”
This post was written by C. Silver. For the original post, go to: http://www.salon.com/2013/08/15/far_too_many_kids_move_from_foster_care_into_the_sex_trade_partner/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
When I first started attending recovery groups in 1991, I met a guy who told me he’d had 2 years of freedom from sexual sin, and then fallen. I wondered how someone who’d gone that long could blow it. It wouldn’t be long before I would learn from experience.
I jumped into the recovery program, achieved 18 months of sobriety, and lost it.
I bounced back, gained another three years of sobriety, and lost it again. The bad news was that for the next three years I averaged a precarious 3 months of freedom with plenty of small compromises in between.
So what happened? Why do guys go so long and then lose it? Here are five reasons why:
This is number one, by far. A guy gets a few years under his belt, then the others in his recovery circle start looking up to him as the “one with the answers.” He enters the danger is if he starts buying into this and thinking he’s arrived... “Yo church, lemme show you how it’s done.” A guy in pride-mode is living in his flesh-strength, and fighting the lust of the flesh with the flesh never works. It won’t be long before he falls flat on his face.
2. They’re not grounded in humility. All of us are stuck with the evil, wicked nature the Bible calls the flesh until the day we die. Then there is the battle with the god of this world, who smells our weaknesses from miles away. Past freedom from sin is never a guarantee for future victory; we’re always one or two bad decisions away from a nosedive off the cliff. Pride blinds a man to the truth and causes him to rely on himself and his past. When I’m grounded in humility, I realize that I need God every day for the rest of my life to stay free from sexual sin. There’s nothing good inside of me apart from the Lord and I can’t do it without Him. This isn’t going to change until death parts me from my flesh.
3. They start making small compromises.
After a stretch of freedom, most men don’t fall instantly. What often happens is that they make little compromises that chip away at their resistance. They start allowing sexual fantasy to play in their mind, or they expose themselves to movies or other media they know is dangerous. “Hey, I can handle this; I’ve been sober for two years now.” Over time these little compromises strip down his resistance, and the next thing he knows he’s flat on his face wondering what happened. Never give lust an inch. If you give it an inch, it will jam its foot in the door and try to gain more ground.
4. They isolate themselves.
It’s easy to get too busy and stop attending support groups or back off from an accountability partner “because we’ve got this licked.” Yeah right. Guys who haven’t walked on water don’t have anything on sin. We need other godly men around us until our time on this earth ends. If you make a small compromise with lust, the easiest and quickest way to douse the sparks of temptation and compromise is to expose it to a friend as soon as you are able. This keeps the door slammed tight on lust and stiffens your resolve to say “no.”
5. They don’t stay alert.
“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Last summer, a day before I was to leave for a three day business trip, the Lord gave me several verses about Him “walking with me through the shadow of death.” I have to confess to being dense and not getting it. The first night, the pull to turn on the TV was consistent but not more than I could deal with. The second night, at another hotel, the battle got a little hotter. Then the third night, it was if the enemy pulled off the gloves and went for it. There were banging noises in the hotel room above late at night, and the pull to turn on the TV went red-hot. I flipped the TV on. Once I crossed that line, the temptation to rent a porn movie increased to bonfire proportions. By God’s grace alone I shut the TV off before it went any further.
I didn’t get God’s warnings before the trip, and it could have cost me dearly. Who knows how far I might have fallen if I’d have rented a porn movie? What I should have done was spend more time on my knees in prayer every night to shore up my defenses and ask for spiritual reinforcements from above. Bible reading and praying Scripture out loud would have helped. I got hit by an onslaught of the enemy and was in a battle zone wearing pajamas. Not smart.
We need to stay prayed up, sober, and on the alert; we won’t see what’s coming at us around the corner until it’s in our face.
This post was written by Mike Genung. Mike struggled with sexual addiction for 20 years before God set him free in 1999. He is the founder of Blazing Grace, and the author of The Road to Grace; Finding True Freedom from the Bondage of Sexual Addiction, available at www.roadtograce.net. For the original post, go to: http://www.xxxchurch.com/men/how-do-i-live-in-freedom.html
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.
Sometimes honest confession can seem astonishing, impossible, and dangerous. Because we have learned silence so well, we experience honesty as full of risk. After all, if we are honest, then other people will know what we think and feel. We will be exposed. The appearance of strength and competence we work so hard to cultivate will have to share the stage with our weaknesses, our failings, our sins.
When we practice honesty as a daily discipline, however, something happens to us. The promise of this text begins gradually to grow in our lives. We begin to heal. It is not a dramatic, once-for-all-time, quick-fix kind of healing. Nor is it a private healing, a healing that happens only 'inside' our heads or in secret with God.
Honesty leads to healing because people can now express their love for us in practical ways. Honesty leads to healing because we no longer have to pay the high tariffs that pretense demands. We heal because the experience of acceptance counteracts the contempt we so easily heap on ourselves. We heal because we are no longer alone. We heal because we are known and loved.
Honesty is a discipline with a promise. We will be healed.
Lord, give me the humility and
to practice confession today.
Heal me as I do the work of honesty.
Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan
National Association for Christian Recovery
I’ll tell you what shame has done for you, follower of Christ: it has hindered you from living the kind of life God wants for you. That’s what shame has done for you. Likely, shame has been instrumental for some of the stinkin’ thinkin’ you’ve been holding to for years — thinking that affected your feelings and emotions — thinking that led to wrong behavior. If you’re riddled with shameful thoughts, you may try to make yourself feel better in unhealthy ways (compulsory behavior, such as excessive drinking, over-eating, anonymous or promiscuous sex, gambling, shopping, use of drugs or medications). Shame ain’t never done nobody any good — ever. That’s just good theology, right there.
But let’s distinguish shame from guilt. If you do or say or think something wrong, then your conscience may inform you that it is wrong, and you may feel bad for the wrong done. That is guilt, not shame. Guilt is admitting to doing something wrong (you did wrong). Shame makes you think that you are something wrong (as though there is something wrong with you as a human being). The latter is dangerous because feelings of self-loathing and self-worthlessness contribute to further distorted thinking, which leads to further emotional damage, which may, in turn, lead to further bad behavior. Shame forms a vicious cycle that can be difficult to break the longer one is engaged within its grip.
Also, there is nothing necessarily wrong with feeling ashamed for doing or saying or thinking something heinous. This is mere acknowledgment of the wrongdoing. When you’re guilty of wrongdoing, and you acknowledge your guilt, you may feel a measure of shame — embarrassment, disgrace, humiliation — for it. But do not confuse doing something wrong with being something wrong. In Christ you have overcome. It may not seem like it yet, it may not feel like it yet, but it’s true (Rom. 8:37). The Bible admits that you have, by faith in Christ, overcome the world (1 John 5:4)!
You need to keep a close eye on your emotions: befriend them, says Henri Nouwen, and don’t become their victim. If you let them master you, you will miss out on the kind of life God desires for you in Christ. There shall be no other master over you but Christ (cf. Luke 16:13; 1 Cor. 6:12). Also, notes Nouwen, don’t “whip yourself for your lack of spiritual progress. If you do, you will easily be pulled even further away from your center … It is obviously good not to act on your sudden emotions. But you don’t have to repress them, either. You can acknowledge them and let them pass by. In a certain sense, you have to befriend them so that you do not become their victim."1Perhaps your negative emotions are triggered by negative thoughts that will try to master you by bringing undue shame. “You’re not good enough." “No one really likes you anyway." “The Lord doesn’t have time for you." “You never do anything right." Don’t befriend these kinds of thoughts! Here’s how you confront these kinds of negative thoughts and not allow them to control you emotionally. When you have a negative thought, such as “You’re not good enough," ask, “Good enough for who?" In Christ, the playing field for being “good enough" has been destroyed by Jesus’ perfection. When you have a negative thought, such as “No one really likes you anyway," ask, “Really? Not even one person in the whole universe?"
This particular negative thought is known as two types of cognitive distortions: 1) over-generalizing; and 2) omniscience (all-knowing). God loves you, so there’s at least one person in the known universe who loves you. So you cannot over-generalize and suggest that absolutely no one loves you. Plus, you cannot actually know that no one really loves you, since you cannot know the true thoughts and feelings of others. There are people who may really, really like or love you that you’re not too familiar with (people in the community, church, clubs or organizations, on-line, etc.). All our negative thoughts need to be confronted because all too often they do not necessarily represent the truth. Take the last negative thought offered: “You never do anything right." Really? Never, ever, do anything whatsoever right? If that were true, you couldn’t really exist in this world. The truth is that you probably do most things right, and maybe only a few things wrong; which is the complete opposite of what the negative thought was promoting.
Christ took your shame, believer (cf. Heb. 12:2), and He has no plans of giving it back to you. So, stop trying to take it back. Stop equating doing something wrong with being something wrong. Stop listening to those voices — preachers in particular — who attempt to manipulate you into subjection by keeping you under the heavy thumb of shame. Christ has set you free from all that tries to bind you (Gal. 5:1). “In everything, keep trusting that God is with you, that God has given you companions on the journey. Keep returning to the road to freedom."2 And stick close to those whom God has given you on this road to freedom who continually build you up (Rom. 14:19; 1 Thess. 5:11).
1 Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love: A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom (New York: Image Books, 1998), 42.
2 Ibid., 39. This post was written by William Birch. For the original post with comments, go to: http://willandgraced.tumblr.com/post/55592721019/