domingo, 3 de agosto de 2014
The Swine in Church
By David Outten, Production Editor
A popular expression is to say there’s an elephant in the room. The implication is that there’s a huge problem right under everyone’s nose that no one wants to address.
The church faces just such a problem. Surveys show that almost 50 percent of men in church have a problem with pornography. All too often the pastor is one of them.
I was one of them. I came to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord, in large part because I was drawn to pornography, even though I knew in my heart it was wrong. I wanted help. I was in a battle that I wanted to win, but kept losing. At risk was my marriage. At the time I had a son. I dreaded a life of child support and visitation. I knew my desires were getting uglier. They were going in directions I felt no control over.
When I accepted Jesus, I would love to say the problem ended. That would be a lie. I did make progress. Over a period of time my failures diminished. Today, I can work in a room alone on a computer with a 27 inch monitor and never go to a pornographic website. I’ve been married 40 years, have two children and three grandchildren. I thank God every day for my freedom, for my marriage and for my family.
Two recent news events have brought me to write this article. Elliot Rodger, a young man obsessed by the idea girls should have wanted to have sex with him, killed six people in Santa Barbara. His mind was warped by pornography. The other involved a young woman who died while a boy took pictures of her naked, hanging in a noose.
These tragedies make me sick. My heart goes out to the victims, their families, and to the perpetrators and their families. While I never came anywhere near such depravity, I battled the swine that would gladly have taken me there.
One of the Scripture verses that helped tremendously in the renewal of my mind was Proverbs 11:22. As I used to quote it to myself, it went like this: “A beautiful woman lacking in modesty and discretion is as a gold ring in a swine’s snout.” You can’t walk through a mall without seeing posters of women lacking in modesty and discretion. You can’t watch a football game without seeing women lacking modesty and discretion. You can’t even read news stories on the Internet. What’s important is that you see past the woman to the swine. You need to see lust as a demonic swine out to destroy your life.
Lust is a very cruel slavemaster. It can be like hunger. When you’ve had a meal and you’re full, you’re satisfied. A few hours later, you get hungry again. Pornography feeds lust. The more you look at, the bigger your appetite grows. The bigger your appetite, the more you want variety. The stories above are of people whose hunt for variety had deadly results. These are very rare cases.
More commonly you get what happened to me. Your wife is not variety. She looks the same every day, and may even put on a pound or two. She’s not enhanced with Photoshop software. She becomes less desirable. Your eyes and thoughts wander. Marriage becomes a sexual disappointment. She knows. It’s a disappointment to her that she’s not as desired as she should be. It’s grounds for jealousy. It’s a path to the destruction of marriages and the breakup of families.
God healed my marriage. He renewed my mind and enabled forgiveness.
The swine is in the church. There are men who have not finished the renewal of their minds. There are men who have not started the renewal of their minds. I used to bring the swine to church with me. My heart aches for those who still do. Freedom is possible.
We are all born sinners, selfish, envious, rude, and disrespectful. We are born to have hormones kick in at puberty. We are born susceptable to lust. What comes natural is not always healthy. If everyone grows up to live by their sinful nature there would be no civilization. We would be brutal animals fighting for food and sex. Controlling lust is as crucial for a civilized society as controling theft. It’s crucial to the church. It was so crucial to the early church that it gets mentioned in several letters of the Apostles.
These letters give the solution. Of course, the first step is salvation. Asking God’s forgiveness and accepting Jesus Christ as Lord. Jesus referred to this as being “born again.” Baptism symbolizes your commitment to die to your human nature and be raised in a new life led by the Spirit of God.
This commitment is like a marriage vow. It’s amazing the day you make it, and it comes under assault thereafter, by sticking with your commitment and weathering storms, your marriage grows stronger and stonger. By sticking with your commitment to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and weathering storms, your mind is renewed and you become more and more like Jesus himself.
Prayer, persistence and perseverance lead to freedom. The cartoons of someone with the devil speaking in one ear and an angel speaking in the other isn’t so silly. They’re real. The Spirit of God will speak to your heart every time the demon of lust demands that you seek gratification. You will choose whose leading to follow. Sometimes you may make the wrong choice. Satan will tell you, “See, you can’t stop. You’re hooked. Even God can’t help a case like you.”
I’m here to tell you God can. I stumbled, I struggled. God did not give up on me. Today, I’m a free man. I would rather be locked in an actual prison, and be free of lust, than live free to go where I wish and be enslaved by lust.
Using the logic of the sexual revolution, I could claim I was born to be a pedophile. By that same logic, I could claim I was born to be a thief. Some could claim they were born to be alcoholics. Rather than focusing on whatever evil we were born to enjoy, we should focus our minds on what God wants us to be. When we accept Jesus Christ, and are born again, our future is in righteousness, not sin. Our goal is to love, to be kind, to be honest, to be hard working and charitable. When one’s mind is renewed, you can become a model husband, father and citizen.
Lust, be it heterosexual or homosexual, leads to disaster, not just for individuals, but for society. Faithful marriage – God’s design for human sexuality – has tremendous personal and social benefits. Lust is the driving force behind the sex slave trade, child molestation, rape, abortion, and all the horror stories like those mentioned above. Lust celebrates human suffering. It throws a party when priests become pedophiles. It rejoices with every rape. It rattles the chains of those in Hollywood who everyone fears exposing. Lust is one of the greatest enemies of mankind.
Jesus Christ came to set free those held captive. On the cross He defeated lust. As the body of Christ, the church is called to proclaim this victory and to live it. We are called to chase the swine out of the church and then go on a rescue mission to free the slaves outside the church.
Not all of lust’s slaves want freedom. Some revel in their slavery. But, there are a lot of men out there who know in their heart, like I did, that pornography is wrong. They want freedom. To them I say, don’t give up. God can, and will, help those who earnestly seek Him.