This week I read a very insightful article by the wife of a blogger… in her letter (here) to Christian men I read things I have said, things I have ranted, questions I have asked. I read things I’ve wanted to write but have been too afraid to write. I read things I have written but never published. And I began to wonder why.
One of them I wrote at the time that 50 shades appeared. Around that time I read a massive number of responses to that by Christian and secular writers alike and I found that what I had to say was already said more eloquently than I ever could have hoped to. But time has passed, the Ashley Madison scandal has come and gone – pastors have resigned, husbands and wives alike have had their hearts broken, we can only imagine that numerous homes have been divided and families have shattered.
I know, that while there are people out there willing to broach the issues present here, there exists, also large numbers of men and women who are afraid to speak. Some of them are men and women trapped in the shame, guilt, self loathing that comes when a Christian is overwhelmed by and confined in the prison of lust, that more often than not, leads into the world of pornography. Others who are afraid to speak are the loved ones of the prisoners.
One of the main things I loved about the article this week was the way that it discredited what I believe is one of the biggest lies about this sin. The lie is that somehow this sin is one sin that cannot be defeated.
One of the reasons that this lie is allowed to propagate is because as Christians are often reluctant to celebrate victory over this secret sin. People who are released from it – and yes there are people released from this – and are prepared to talk about it, seem to be few and far between. There’s a shame at having ever been involved in that “life”. I’m at a loss as to why we can’t celebrate when the captives of this particular prison are released.
I believe that this attitude contributes to the power of the prison. Maybe part of it is that many of us are too quick to judge the sins and vices of others. This is especially true if it’s an issue we’ve not had to deal with and maybe have never had a loved one struggle with. Or perhaps in some cases it’s a battle we are fighting ourselves that we feel has defeated us and we’d rather not acknowledge its existence. A friend and I were talking the other day about the fact that there are certain issues that we (Christians as a whole) are happy to celebrate our fellow Christian’s release from. We celebrate the alcoholic who is able, through the Spirit, to overcome alcoholism. We celebrate the drug addict who is released from the power of drugs, we celebrate when “he who stole, steals no more” …
Surely our celebration of the defeat of lust and pornography addiction would lead others who are struggling to see that there is hope.
Men and women come out of this, they come out from under it. Marriages do survive it, families survive it, hearts can be healed.
I know of two blogs, I read that from time to time deal with this issue. I’m sure there are more but these are a great place to start.
One belongs to Anne Marie Miller (one of there articles here)
The other is We are THAT family (related article here)
I trust that you can see that there is hope for you too, to one day, soar above it. It is possible. This is not the one sin that the Holy Spirit cannot overcome. Romans 6 is quite clear on this. It is also quite clear in pointing out that you cannot do it on your own. But you know this. You know this because you’ve tried and failed again and again. You fought and failed. You need to have the Victor on your side. You need to read Romans 6 and see the truth contained there. You need to see what Paul says there is true for you here and now.
Men and women tangled in this web, there are some things that I would like you to know, some things I would like to tell you. While I haven’t experienced all of this personally I’ve been close to it. And here’s what I’ve observed.
There are some lies that you have believed for a long time and it’s time to get rid of them.
There are lies you have believed about men. Lies about yourself. Lies about women. Lies about love.
Men were not designed by God to give themselves over to the worst that is in them, anymore than women were. Men were designed to be in relationship with God. In a relationship that involves the gradual sanctification of the man – and restores the individual man to his intended glory. The world tells us a lie that man is not designed to be answerable to God for anything. Sometimes the church and her people perpetuate the lie that while man is answerable to God, he cannot ever be sanctified. There are people I know whose lives directly contradict this lie. They are being sanctified, they are being healed. I have seen that this is truth. Sanctification of the believer is real. The death of Jesus Christ on the cross has given us the victory over sin – even this sin. Romans 6 tells us this clearly, you are set free from the power of sin – even this one – this is true for you. He died once to break the power of sin.
Men, you have believed the lie that you are inferior to other men – you are not. You have believed the lie that you are a lesser man – you are not. The world is full of lesser men – you, son of the King are not meant to be numbered among them. I know for some of you these are lies you have believed because of bitter experience. But the fact remains – they are lies. You are the one who, with God’s help, will love your wife as Christ loved the church. You are the one who with the help of the Holy Spirit will cast aside the sin and death, the world tells us men must pursue – to pursue the life God designed you for.
For too many years you have believed lies about women, what they want, who they want, what they need and what it takes for a woman to feel loved and what it takes for a woman to be happy.
For too long you have immersed yourself in an industry that tells you that aside from comically obvious physical differences we, women, are all the same.
We are not. Your wife, married man, (your future wife, single man) is not the same as everyone else, she is infinitely more than anything you will have ever seen before in your viewing materials or in the descriptions of what other man-boys believe a woman should be.
She is the one who is, or will be, as involved in your transformation as you are/will be in hers.
Yes, you’ll be able to find more attractive, more witty, more intelligent – sure … but then so could she.
Charles Stanley in his book Man of God says:
When a man loves his wife properly, she becomes more than he dreamed and far more than he deserves.
This is a long journey out of this world but it will be worthwhile. There will be days when she is more than you can handle and she will overwhelm you. She should be overwhelming, if you view her as the gift she is for you from God. Your life together should be building from strength to strength not lurching from disaster to disaster. Love should be as God intended it – how much better that it be overwhelming than underwhelming?
The synthetic, counterfeit and superficial world you have observed, immersed yourself in, will never show you the truth of love, or what love looks like or how love can be given and received.
It will show you a performance. Love is not a performance – love is an action. Love is a choice.
You have been an audience member at a show; a staged, contrived, directed, produced, edited, enhanced, dubbed over, drug enhanced performance. One in which, the performers do not love each other, or what they were doing, or themselves, or the God you profess to love, follow, serve and obey. These purveyors of this cheap “love” do not know what the business of love is about. Love is not about self-gratification. Love is actually about sacrifice and service, and love is about one another, not self. The love you crave, the acceptance you desire can not be found here – and you know this to be true.
Charles Stanley in Man of God provides an excellent tool for discernment between the truth of love and the lie of lust:
If you need help in discerning between true love and the world’s false, perverted version, ask this question:
will it help me become the person God intended me to be?
If the answer is no, then it is not true love.
The false views, the lies, must be erased. And that will take some time, some effort and the Holy Spirit. But it will happen.
The truth and reality of love is not as easily captured as you have been led to believe.
The world will never be able to replicate the truth of love in its entertainment, because in truth, the truth of this love is not seen on a screen nor is it seen in a display of flesh, it is seen in a million little choices. It is seen in softly spoken words, it is seen in acts of forgiveness, kindness, sacrifice, thoughtfulness, generosity to the other. It is not always visible to the naked eye.
The world can never replicate the truth of love in its entertainment, because in truth, love is a mingling of souls — and souls are camera shy.
Souls, they are not so easily captured.
The depth of a soul can not be known, but through genuine shared experience.
This is the way it is meant to be – how would marriage, and the truth of love, be a reflection of Christ and the church if it wasn’t all at once overwhelming, overpowering and self-sacrificing?
Wives of men neck deep in this lie, husbands of women who are up to their necks in this, if you can do this journey together, you will be greatly rewarded. You will not be able to do it alone though. Neither will he, or she. You will need to pray for him, he will need to pray for you. You will need to pray together for each other.
A husband or wife who is fighting this battle in the Spirit, will be successful. The man or woman who tries to do this in his or her own strength will fail. But for the one who fights in the Spirit, the one knows that the battle is not his or her own, the Spirit will fight through him and for him, and for you, your marriage and what He knows God desires and plans for you both. This one will be given the victory and the dark nights, tearful mornings and angry dawns will one day pass. Because while the Holy Spirit is at work in him, He will also be at work in you. You will learn to forgive things you might right now consider to be unforgivable. I’m not saying it will be easy. You won’t be able to do it yourself, never in your own strength. There are days when it will break your heart, some days you will harden your heart but God is able to replace your stone heart with a heart of flesh. That will hurt too.
What has been written here is not meant to make you feel guilt – you already live there.
It is meant to tell you that there is a way out. You need to let the Holy Spirit have His way in you. Let Him do as only He can: allow Him to open your eyes, release you from prison and heal your heart and bind your wounds.
To open blind eyes,
To bring out prisoners from the prison,
Those who sit in darkness from the prison house. (Isaiah 42:7)
He heals the brokenhearted
And binds up their wounds. (Psalm 147:3)
Give yourself completely to God, because you were dead but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master… (Romans 6- read the whole chapter, memorise it)
You will, one day, soar above the mud and mire you see around you now.
When you are up on those eagles wings — please be one of the ones who provides hope to others. Be one who inspires. Be one who sings out the victory song. Be one who directs others out of the mud and invites them to spend a day by the sea.
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
― C.S. Lewis