How to destroy a marriage?

Living in fear is not recommended. If most of us were honest (seldom we want to be) fear is a strong motivator in a marriage. Fear of divorce, fear of being alone, fear of failure, of poverty, of a reputation in Church, and the list can go on. What I have noticed over the years is that many within the Christian marriage culture would rather live in fear. There is something normal to it all. And there is no doubt that fear is normal or expected in us humans. It is a basic part of what makes us a human being. Animals fear, and we do to.

Fear can give birth to control. Are you are always upset at your spouse because they are not doing what you want them to do? That is a result of not being able to control them. And underlying that is fear. When you desire to have your kids be like you, it usually is out of fear! You fear the unfamiliarity of being different or living a different kind of life. “What if my kids do not attend college?” “What if they get married to young, to old, to the ‘wrong’ person?” We live so much like this we tend to not even understand that we are moving out of fear. Fear is the chief motivator. We can call it God and faith; and we do! I find in my own heart i’d rather believe the illusion that I am a faithful guy. This too is fear. Who wants to be seen as not walking in faith in the Church? Being seen as a sinner is what the Pharisees loathed. We value strong people of faith! And we assume they do not fear or are moved by such a primitive emotion. Jesus lived a different lifestyle than the religious leaders of his day. It made them uncomfortable, and they ridiculed Jesus and his discipleship for it. Just think of some of his sayings and how it flew in the face of the religious norm. Here is an example:

Luke 14:13-23 “But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

This fear is no greater than when you have been hurt by the other. Say your spouse committed adultery. After such an action has occurred it would be easy to fear a repeat of the offence (no doubt Hosea did). But what if it was no offence at all? Think about this for a minute or two! Are there cultures where non monogamy has thrived? Wednesday Martin’s book Untrue tells about a few cultures that have a different kind of marital situation than we do, where a wife can be with a man other than her husband, and it is considered normal. There is no fear among those in this kind of arrangement when those rules are being adhered to. Or think of the non monogamy of Mormonism, Islam, and Judaism? Was there great fear among the women in these systems? I’m sure to most of the women, it was simply normal. They might not even have thought there could be a different scenario in there world. Did they fear being a wife of many wives? Did they know of a world where they had the choice to decide for themselves? There expectations were different then yours! Fear plays on rules and expectations. You have no fear of getting a ticket is when there are no rules of speeding.

But even in the alternative living scenarios Wednesday Martin reports on in the tribal lives of couples, there’s a understandings within the martial relationship, of guidelines within the culture to follow. And like our culture, when they are broke trust is broke. Then fear can reign, in both, the victim and the offender. And when that fear takes over a life, all you have is restriction, never liberation. My first insight is this; it’s not the format of the marriage that creates fear, Fear can and will reside in us long before any sort of marriage and it is one of the great motivators. Fear can reside in any kind of relationship. Husband, wife. Husband, son. Daughter, Father. Son, Mother. polygyny, polyandry, polyamory etc… Fear is in us, and it will manifest itself in different ways. Control is one major way. I’ll focus on this paradigm of fear in the blog.

Jesus came to liberate! Remember that. In your Christian marriage you should feel a freedom like no other! Free to love one another. And fear (the fear I’m referring to in this blog) is not a part of God’s kind of love. When we love in our power, we do fear, and in turn want to control. This is the normal way of love to be manifested in human beings. Fear is strongly attached to the kind of love we give.

God’s love contains no fear (1st John 4:18)—indeed fully-developed love expels every particle of fear, for fear always contains some of the torture of feeling guilty. This means that the man who lives in fear has not yet had his love perfected.

In the verse above, the Apostle John is talking about God and us. Our individual relationship with God should not involve the fear of torture or continued feelings of guilt. God is love towards his Church. He died for her! This guilt that resides in us for our sins can annihilate God’s love in our life. In the flesh, we are guilty individuals. No one living is righteousness before God. Know one? No one! Fear can be a sign of inner guilt that we are not trusting God’s grace to wash over. As if the Living water of Jesus cannot cleanse it. “Though your sins are as starlet, I will make you white as snow!” (Isa 1:18) Do you believe you are forgiven? Many times we say yes, but the fear in us says no way! Being in Church to worship Jesus can be healing, in the way of constant re-affirming of this truth.

It might be good to share here that there is a good fear, and a bad fear. You should fear a big truck coming straight at you! But if every decision is made in your life as if a truck is coming at your face then your decision making will become suspect, full of panic.

More than not, fear is in a marriage from the very beginning. It started when you dated (or courted or whatever you want to call it) and you just never knew it. And when you were married the inner motivation of why you did what you did was fear. Oh, you didn’t think so, of course. But that’s what is amazing about fear; it can percolate without boiling over or showing any steam. It lies undetected. Living a life by fear can be tiresome. You’ve been there before haven’t you!?

  • You have to watch carefully how the other person is acting when you get home, so you can act accordingly.
  • Maybe your told what to wear out of fear you might be to attractive to others. You might stumble someone.
  • There is a inability to talk about things freely in safety.
  • You are consistently thinking of the “what if I do this…” or say that…
  • You are not able to share your thoughts on desires, wishes and wants for sex, money or other “sensitive” topics.

But of course, it usually does not come off that way in a Christian marriage. You usually cannot detect when fear is running the show. In religious marriages usually there are some Bible verses on modesty that will be quoted as to reason for the change of cloths, or how you should avoid evil, or even that you are seeking the good of the other by correcting them. You really have there best interest in mind, or so you say. It’s what religious people do. It’s almost hard to fault anyone. It’s hard to let go and allow people to live in freedom. Can you relate? I think in general we are scared of freedom. It amazes me that God is not. He let’s us go! Radically! If there is any reason for the Tree of Good and Evil. This is it; Freedom. There are consequences to freedom. But just as the devil mocks God’s decisions in creation, so humans do as well. “Why would God create the Tree of Good and Evil?” Have you ever heard someone mock God’s decision to do so by asking a question like that before? Us humans are still mocking God along with the demons on this freedom issue. Though humans are unaware of the blessings of such freedom. Freedom that gives them the ability to mock! It is all so odd isn’t it. A song that struck me as I got older with this theme was Depeche Mode’s, Blasphemous Rumors. The chorus goes like this;

I don’t want to start 
Any blasphemous rumors
But I think that God’s 
Got a sick sense of humor 
And when I die
I expect to find Him laughing

My point being, that God seems to have a higher value on freedom than we do in our relationships.

The Pharisees of Jesus day were the same way as us and fell into the same sort of problems as we do. Can you imagine being married to one of them? They lived a life of control, and so it was important in there mind to make others like themselves. Good people they were. They were religious, and in control. They did it by self discipline & public put downs of those not like them, all the while quoting spiritual writings. It liberated know-one, including themselves. It instead hindered, restricted and diminished those around them. And ultimately, it crucified Jesus! We are told that the peopled feared the Pharisees for fear they would be put out of the synagogues! Even without a word from the religious leaders of Jesus day, the people feared them. And the Pharisees themselves lived in fear. Fear of judgement, fear of reputation etc… We are told this kind of religion actually does nothing for us. It actually just rebuilds the disability we already have. If you don’t believe me, study Colossians Chapter 2.

Can we give our spouse to God? Are we able to give the Lord, Lordship over our spouse, our kids, our fellowships? Or have we simply becomes Lord’s over our flocks? But what if my spouse is going to do that again? That is fear talking. They might do that again for all you know. But that is there sad decision. You need to be free of fear if they do choose that path in order to make loving decisions, that are hard decisions, when you need to. So many stay in a marriage out of fear, when the marriage has really been divorced long, long ago.

For many Christian couples there is no adultery in the marriage. But, there is a control that rules the nest. (We seem to think people are “equally yoked” just because they are Christians, but far from it they are). And for many, the marriage has become unbearable. Trying to live up to another’s standards is quite hard. Have you tried to live up to God’s? Good luck! Instead of trying, the Christian is to die daily and ask for help from the Holy Spirit. Why? Because we cannot live the Christ life, only Christ can through us! That’s why! The Spirit of God can help us from a fear based life to a love based life. Attempting to get a spouse (or kid etc..) to live up to your standards of holiness is not going to help. It will simply kill your marriage. It is a burden that is too much to bear. Trying to please a self righteous Pharisee would have been impossible! Jesus, the Son of God couldn’t! Neither can you. You can’t live to please your controlling spouse. You’ll get tired, depressed, sad & without hope.

When you are working on getting rid of your fear, you will no longer make comments about what they wear, or what they were looking at on there computers or phones. You will not have to quote passages and make your spouse or kids cry or feel stupid. Working on fear is taking out a sheet of paper and writing out what you fear on it. Put your spouses name down. Then write out what you fear about your relationship with them. After you write, you will be able to look at it and see exactly what is motivating you in your relationship. Fear is that powerful! When it is on paper it becomes quite revealing as to why we say what we say in conversations. Many times I have thought my words were out of love. They weren’t! It was fear all along.

If you have kids, great! Do the same with them! Write out what you fear. And then look at why you do what you do with them? Why did you send them to that school or had them go to Church? How come you said this or that to them? Fear is what has moved you to do what you do. Again, we can call it Jesus, but it isn’t Him. There is great fear in thinking you are wrong over and over. But the beautiful thing about the Bible is that this is exactly what it says concerning you! So you have no need to hide it anymore. Christianity starts of with this premise: We are failures. To hide from that underscores the entire Gospel. There can be a nice joy to know you have no need of hiding anymore. You can be free.

Luke 5:8,10 “When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” ….
“Do not be afraid,” Jesus said to Simon, “from now on you will catch men.”

Nothing is wrong with quoting scripture to them or to a spouse. Actually quoting a scripture can be most beneficial, as we are told to do. Meditating on the Word, and the ways of God should be something we are in constant exercise of. But just quoting a scripture is something devils do and so do Pharisees. There is something that is that is behind the sharing of scriptures that is most important to God. And all of us need help in this, do we not?

Now ask a question? Is God greater than your fears? Can God, the creator of the heavens and the earth intervene, if it be thy will? Is God able? And if our answer is no, then we will need to act out of fear. It might be a nice Christian religious fear that is moving us all the day, but it is fear. No different of a life from any other religious or secular person. The same fear moves us all.

But I have to believe God offers us something different. A life unmovable by love. Jesus is the example. Though rejected and despised, he did not manipulate out of fear. He did not seek to control. Instead he let go. He shared truth, and trusted the Father with the outcome and the judgement of others. There was no use of force or coercion in his actions to get us to believe in Him. The Father let’s the prodigal son’s and daughter’s go.

When we struggle with fear, we need to write and be aware of what is moving us in our conversations. There will be a lot of apologizing for things said or did. “I’m sorry I said those things to you. It was not because I am concerned for your modesty (I don’t want you dressing like that), it is because I am afraid you will leave me. I believe you are beautiful…too beautiful to be with someone like me. That is what is really moving me.” “I use scriptures to get my way and feed into my fear.” “That’s why I parent the way I do, it’s why I am the kind of person I am.”

Try writing your own out!

As you continue to work on this, you will no doubt notice many things said even within the Church culture are said out of fear. If there is anything C.S. Lewis taught us in the screw tape letters is that our adversary is a pro at distracting us from what is really going on.

We need to die. Die to it all! It’s the only way. Let Go and Let God is about dying to the thing…the it!

Galatians 6:14 “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

Sincerity

“We have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in relation to you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God.”

Let’s focus on the word sincerity!  It’s a loaded word in the original language that means without wax!  What does that mean Beau??? When a pot would get a crack in it, wax would be used to mend it and then it would be painted over.  Though the pot looked perfect, it was not. Over time the wax would no longer hold and the pot once again would be useless. So be sincere is to without wax, or holes!  It is referring to our life being free of hypocrisy or deceitfulness.

There is a heavy burden that we can bear when we are not honest with our failures in life.  I know personally how this is. It is very difficult to share with someone your secret faults (Psalm 19:12) because we might not want to change them or we simply don’t know how people will respond to them.  But in a relationship it is vital that there be an integrity within it, or else it is bound to have cracks and will eventually fall apart.  That integrity is upheld through honesty first and it’s what I am focusing on here.  But man it is hard to be honest especially in a religious context.  And it can be so difficult in a marriage to be honest, when being honest means being an utter failure.  We tend to see a lack of honesty as better than compete honesty.  Who wants to show off a crack?

In marriage it is especially important to remember that both you and your partner are full of cracks.  Greed, lust, jealousy, fear, resentment, hatred, envy etc..are in everyone and they manifest themselves in everyone (Mark 7:18-23).  Many overlook these or rather neglect them in exchange for a ‘good’ marriage of no problems.  But that is an illusion many live in within the Church.  No doubt we have learned in our growing up years that the more honest you are with loved ones, the  more they will see you as a person who is less than perfect, and that makes you vulnerable for what could come next!  The condemnation!  Oh, how fun is that?!  It is so un-fun, that we would better not say anything.  But the life of faith says otherwise.  It says to confess, to share, to trust God.

First, you can bring your cares before God.  (1st Peter 5:7)

I love this translation of Psalm 55

Psalm 55:22 (CJB) Unload your burden on ADONAI, and he will sustain you. He will never permit the righteous to be moved.

People might treat you with contempt, but Jesus won’t.  Neither do I condemn you He said to the woman who was caught in adultery.  God desires for us to come to Him!  Take the weight off and talk to him about your sex life, your lust, your desires, your inner thoughts.  Most have never spoken to anyone concerning there thoughts or desires.  And nor should one just tell anyone!  Some do not have sexual desires in marriage, and they have never shared that either!

“Cast your burden on the Lord….” You have been bearing it all, but you need to deliberately place one end on God’s shoulder. “…the government will be upon His shoulder” (Isaiah 9:6). Commit to God whatever burden He has placed on you. Don’t just cast it aside, but put it over onto Him and place yourself there with it. You will see that your burden is then lightened by the sense of companionship. But you should never try to separate yourself from your burden.  Oswald Chambers.

Next, find a person in your life that you can discuss your thoughts with!

Living in sincerity is not living sin free, but living without pretense.  It’s scary, but your mind will thank you for it.

Living this way is an act of faith!  Maybe radical faith.  How is that?  Because we have to trust in God to take care of us when we have no idea what others might think, say or do to us because of our honesty.  And that’s tough.  What is the payoff for such honesty?  Maybe the best answer is peace and a good conscience something that is quite beneficial in life.

Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith… 1st Timothy 1:5

There is our word again; “sincere” faith.  A faith without wax.  Do I have a sincere faith?  When I think of my sincere faith in my wife, I find that it quite easy to have.  I see her daily and interact with her.  There is evidence for her existence which I do not doubt.  I also have faith in her character.  She has shown time and again that she cares for me.  My faith in her is sincere, it does not waiver.  It is without holes.

You can trust the Christian God.  The effects of the universe declare a creator.  The ability to think rationally is because the world can be understood.  The universe is ordered.  There is natural laws and laws of logic.  The evidence of God is there, as His love for you on the cross at Calvary.  God so loved the world.  You can be sure of that as well.  We can trust God with our frailty.

God’s character is such where we can come to him without wax!  I love that idea.  I might be full of holes, but God is not.  I can come to Him with sincere faith, because He is faithful.

Let it out, let it out
Let it out

A Sanctified Life, A Balanced Life

 

The Christian life is one of balance.  I don’t mean some mindless  abstraction, but a mindful, conscious effort to implement various ideas and actions.  This blog is about these ideas and actions.

Many who want to get off porn do so because they feel guilty or ashamed of there sexual desires.  Others because they were caught by there spouses and have been forced or coerced into getting help.  And the verdict is out; many within the Church self diagnose themselves a sex addict only to get into sex addiction based groups, ministries or rehabilitation centers.  People are seeking answers.  “Why do I do what I do?”  Of course those that are wanting to reign in there lust should’t be the only Christian people asking that question.  Do you ask yourself that question?

There are many answers to the, “why we sin.”  We sin because we have a brain problem!  No I am not referring to your brain on porn.  Sure porn effects your brain as sex does and many, many other actions and ideas!  But could we say our brains are simply jacked because of Sin?

I’m excited to see the new workbook written by Peter Martin on the topic of Sin.  I know from talking to him that he included, in the workbook, a section where he discusses the ramification of calling lustful behaviors sex addiction instead of simply calling it sexual immorality or sin, iniquity or transgression.  I look forward to his understanding into these things.  It’s important because the way you identify yourself is important.  It’s a popular idea in our culture isn’t it?  One of identity!  We have many passages in the Bible that speak of our identity!  “I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh in the flesh, I live by faith.”  Christians should understand the importance of identity above any other philosophy, social culture or religion.  For it is this identify that we constantly are renewing our mind in.  And it is this identity shift which has happened to us by faith!  You see, when I have faith in Jesus, what does that actually mean?  What does that look like?  What is the application of that?  I can’t see faith can I?  Thoughts & ideas I cannot see!  But the answer to that overall question as to what faith looks like or what it means is found in Romans 6:1-11.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self[a] was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free[b] from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Can you see the identification in this section of the book of Romans?  This is what your faith in Christ means.  It is one of identity.  So what happens when we sin or transgress?  Simply put our identity is off.  We are not, “considering ourselves dead to sin and alive to God, in Christ Jesus.”  And that’s it!   So hopefully now you have a better understanding of your identity.  Where it has been good, and where it has left the building!  Also what faith looks like!  And it’s ramifications.

Jesus was full of grace and truth…what balance!  Why is balance important in the Christian life?

It’s a good question.  An important question!  Let me  give you a quick example of un-balance.  You like to listen to worship music.  It’s uplifting to you and set’s your mind in the proper spot; a God conscious spot.  But what if that was all you did in your Christian discipline?  What would that look like?  Take the idea to the extreme.  You would have someone who loves to hear songs about God, but that’s about all.  It’s a good place to begin for sure, but for all of us in the Christian life, it shouldn’t be all you partake of as your spiritual nourishment.  Just like an athlete, we need to be balanced in our training or else we will not have good function.

Here is a list that I come up with on ideas and actions that need my attention.

Ideas:

Daily motivation to glorify God

Setting my heart on the return of Christ

Set my identity in Christ

Be strong in Grace

Love/Hate

Thinking of others

Thanksgiving/Compassion

Actions:

Worship/Communion

Prayer/Meditation

Bible study

Confession/accountability

Service/outreach

Reading


When looking over the ideas and actions listed are you able to see area’s where you are out of balance?  Sure!  Of course!  Good!  I’m glad you do!  The Christian life is always working towards balance.  We are always growing in all of these ideas and actions.  It’s a life long work of sanctification.  Just because we implement these in our lives does not necessarily mean that all will go well.  Well, if we could do them perfectly then maybe it would.  I say maybe, because there has been only one who has been able to do them to completeness, and he was born of the Holy Spirit and not from a man’s sperm!  But if you or I have been constructed through the natural way, then we are bound to have deficiencies in what we seek to be like.  In short; we will struggle.  Many do not like that word; struggle.   It is a weak word, one of losers.  Unfortunately many in the Church are afraid of it as well.  What leader do you want to follow who struggles?  That truth in itself only confirms our depravity & impotence.

Though we know what we ought to do, there is a difficulty to perform such a task as to be like Jesus.  I mean we are talking about God.  So when a person declares from on high, “I am like Jesus!”  They are saying they are like God.  Wow!  Maybe this is why Jesus himself never overtly declared such statements before his trial; shouting, “I am God, I am God, I am God!!!  Because to do so would prove his own lack of divinity.  When someone is boasting is such highfalutin ways we see it as distasteful and embarrassing, and a sign of self righteousness, knowing good and well there outer flaws.  If anyone could do such boasting it could have been Jesus.

Any progress in the Christian life is a miracle!

In his, “Christian Life” Blaze Pascal put it somewhat this way.

There is great difficulty when entering the pious life.  This difficulty does not come from the goodness of God that is coming into our life, but from the distortions that are still within…The worst thing that God could do for you is to not give you this conflict that He came to bring.  “I have not come to bring peace on the earth, but a sword.”

Comcast, Keep It Up!

Most have criticized companies like Comcast for there allowance of Pornography  via pay-per-view and subscriptions.  But really, I have always thought Comcast did a great job with there parental controls for there cable TV service.  There are many options for blocking channels, show ratings, titles etc…  It really is good and thorough.  And the 4 digit password can detour many from accessing adult content.  But I would like to take a moment to commend them on there new gateway internet portal which gives the parents of a household many options as to how to filter out unwanted material from a device.

In the past, you would have to buy a filter software program for each device.  It could be quite the hassle and expense.  And I still think this is a good way to go if there is a device that is being misused in your home consistently.  Or especially if you want to monitor texts, phone calls, or even phone apps.

But xfinity keeps making great strides to give the adults in there homes a filter on each device that connects to your network.  So if a kid comes over to the house for the night you can get on your portal and locate the name of the device that he/she is using to filter it!  This can happen without the kid knowing!  Pretty cool!!!  It certainly does not deal with the mass amounts of available material on the world wide web, but what it can do is prevent the accidental exposure to porn that you are trying to prevent from happening.  This works for younger kids.  Older kids will just find video’s on how to bypass such filters.  Why?  Because that’s what lust does.  It always finds a way!

But what is way cool is that you can set a device on Bedtime mode through the online gateway through your online xfinity account.  This Bedtime mode will shut off a device for the times you specify!  So that is way cool especially if you do not want your kid from using a device at night, or even during the day!  This means they cannot use the internet in your home.  They can make calls and texts, play games and use apps, but they cannot access the internet through your wi-fi.  Very cool feature.  It again is a good move on Comcast part to help give more control of what is available to there kids.  This in my opinion is the best way for regulation of the internet.  Give the parents the tools needed to do a good job!  If a parent does not want to filter things out, then they have the right to do so.

Repentance & Charles H. Spurgeon

Peter and I (Beau) had a chance today (on the Better Pleasure Podcast) to discuss the great English preacher, Charles H. Spurgeon’s view of repentance from a few sermons of his.  This was in no way an exhaustive look into the vast work available on the web of Spurgeon’s sermons, but it was a good, clear sample.

Check it out if you get a chance below, after the blog.

At times Peter and I sense that many of the men we meet with weekly do not understand the term repentance very well.  Or maybe they know the current usage of it in Church all to well!  When most people think of an example of repentance, King David more often than not comes up.  The famous Psalms 32 & 51 are the examples of his repentance.  In turn the tune goes that King David repented of his sin of murdering his friend for his wife, and in turn was made brand new!  Never to go back to the temptations of old self again.  But is that really the case?  No.  Kind David had a rough go even after the intense evil he did with killing Uriah.  He still had his wives and his concubines, and he certainly missed the mark when it came to protecting his daughter Tamar against his son Amnon.  We are not told exactly what King David’s sex life was like after the event with Bathsheba, but the Psalms mentioned above, especially 51, is to be taken as a repentance of the sin with Bathsheba only.  My reasoning is because we don’t read of him saying, “hey God, cleanse me from murdering all those people in the past, and sleeping with all those ladies and having concubines and all.”  Some believers have such a problem with this failure of David that they say it was OK for him, and those of the Old Testament, to engage in the sex slavery of the day!  Why would people say such things?  Because this word repentance, I believe, is sorely mis-understood.  Repentance today is taught as being finished with a sin, no longer to go back.  Also it is the idea that now you are going towards God; and if to God, then not back to the sin again.  Well, if that really is the case.  Then anytime you repented of a sin, you would never go back to it!  That means there would be no need to ask God a second time for forgiveness for the same sin.  So confusing does this get that some even have used Hebrews 6:4-6 to suggest that if you fall away, then you cannot be brought back to repentance.  Yep, if you fall away after knowing Jesus, you cannot come back to repentance!  But if that was the case, then Jesus is wrong in Luke 17

“If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them.  Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”

And why give an alter call at a Church for those that have fallen away to come back to the Lord, when from Hebrews 6, they cannot!  There is obvious need for clarification.  But there is at most times none within Sermon culture.  And so this education seeps in to those that attend.  Over and over it goes.

The effects of this are tremendous, but rarely would one know if they are not involved in people’s recovery, counsel or accountability.

Many in the Church do not think they can ever be changed like there “leaders” are.  There under an illusion that he is all done with the big sins.  He may sin a bit with his pride (just a little), or maybe he might think his anger got the best of him when driving in traffic that day, but the deep greed, envy, lust of those listening, he certainly does not have.  I mean he needs to be above reproach right!  I am being somewhat sarcastic now.  But you can see where the lack of seeing repentance as a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly pursuit of the Christian puts the word (repentance) far away from the average Church goer from ever achieving. Why?  Because they sin over and over.  And if they do happen to not go back to a sin again, there is a certain worse sin that oozes out of us called self righteousness.  It is far worse that the one that left, for it hides itself in religious jargon & ritual.  This is where the Pharisees in Jesus day found themselves.  It’s not like they meant to get there on purpose.  It simply is what happens when fear runs the heart.  Fear of man, fear of not being seen as a leader who has it all together.  When I think of fear in my heart, I cringe.  I am a coward to it.  I know it, and must confess it to the Lord daily.  I wonder if what makes David a man after God’s own heart is that he was OK with this kind of honesty before God and the humiliation it could have among the nation of Israel.  David was a fragile man in so many ways.  Depression crushed him to the point of being paralyzed.  He lusted and killed in ways many of us cannot imagine a leader to do.  Yes he was an instrument of judgement on the enemy’s of Israel.  But in no way was he a perfect instrument.  Self righteousness prevents any of us from seeing our inner condition.

I was with a friend the other day (not a believer) and he commented that he thinks people are initially evil in the heart.  I said to him that what he just said was quite Biblically accurate!  He said, “really?”  I said, “absolutely.”  He was surprised.  Why?  Frankly, he does not see Christians as being of the kind that express there depravity or sin condition.  We have hidden it well from the world.  So much, that all they see is self righteousness.  As believers we tend to believe that at one point we were sinners and unable to come to God, but now that we have repented and are saved, we are pretty good.  Those that think they are better than others will segregate from the, “others.”  Do we?  Yes I do.

Jesus experienced this when a lady of ill repute went into a home he was at.  It happened to be a highly religious mans home whom had invited Jesus to a meal gathering.  Think of it as a BBQ.  And in the middle of the feasting time, an interruption takes place.  She comes in un-announced and simply weeps over Jesus feet. Everyone is embarrassed, and in my heart I know I would have been too.  That diabolical sin of self righteous pride wanted nothing to do with this women and her interruption with there “spiritual” time with the Master.  How many times am I frustrated at a person for there interruption of my spiritual experience or service?  Too much.

Repentance is seen once again in this Jesus event.  Both parties could have said they had repentance.  The religious group touted there repentance by saying they do not sin like that woman (it’s in the past), yet the women repented by declaring I am a sinner just like you men!  She did not think she was any greater than those in the room.  She saw things in Windex like clarity before Jesus.  Clearer than the religious men apparently.  And in the same way, this is really what King David seems to get right in his life.  He can see things in  clear reality before God.  He layed it out as this prostitute did.  Both saw that before God they were nothing but sick.  And this came out in tears and heavy hearts…broken and contrite hearts.  But never do we get the idea that they stayed clear of sinful inclinations the rest of the way.

Spurgeon’s sermons have this, present tense, self reflection of his own struggles and trials in life.  I am amazed at times when reading his sermons on just how often he throws himself under the bus.  And in doing so, he makes those that are listening to him educated that they are no different than he.  In need of God’s grace, from beginning to end.  This is one great lesson I learn from Spurgeon.  We focus on it a bit in this Podcast.  We hope it is helpful.

Before Discussing Porn

We live in a day where pornography is in constant news somewhere.  Currently there is the Presidents alleged past digression with a “Porn Star.”  I must say I do not like the term ‘porn star.’  To me there is no star in porn.  But that is my own thoughts, and I do understand why they use the term (They have there own awards annually).  Understanding what the word porn exactly means can be tough today.  As what was porn back in 1980 (playboy), is not really thought of as porn today by a teenager’s standard.  In talking with Jr. High kids in my city I will ask them if they think sexting is pornography.  The answer is usually, more often than not, a resounding NO!

There are obscenity laws that are on the books  to supposedly guide the country on the very issue of what is really porn or not.  Is porn obscenity?  If it were deemed so then I guess you might call a porn star an obscenity star too.  But that’s if they are seen as one and the same.  The reason I bring this up is because when we discuss porn with others (if at all) we tend to use porn as a generalized term to describe sex on film or picture (usually).  But the problem I find is this generic word, “porn,”  when used tends to steer our conversations away from what really matters in talking about sex, sexuality & sensuality.  Discussing these issues with a person properly means first listening, then understanding, but not simply being reactionary to the word porn.  Though this is tough to do for many!  When the word porn comes up in a talk with a parent and teen, or a husband and wife, just using the word porn in the conversation can hurt one deeply.  The word is a negative as obscene is, especially in serious conversation.

In Miller Vs. California (1973) the term obscenity was redefined from something that had no redeeming quality at all, to that which could potentially have some kind of scientific, literary, artistic or political value (but it is legally phrased as, “that which lacks,” those qualities.)  What would be obscene to me in Arizona would more than likely not be too obscene to those in New York, California or Las Vegas.  I for one do not see any scientific, artistic or political value in the watched or popular porn in the world.  But I understand this too;  Obviously not all porn is alike.  Just as there are different kinds or levels if you will of the obscene.  Over the years of my research on the subject, there is no doubt in my mind this is true.  I find it quite interesting when I read today of porn being a public health issue; for this reason:  What kind of porn are they referring to?  For many opponents of the industries existence this question is irrelevant, but for me it it one that we need to discuss.  Why?  Because understanding the kind of obscenity watched matters in our important conversations.

When finding porn on a teen or adults device, you had better be aware of the kind of porn that they are watching.  We all should realize that watching child pornography is different from watching consenting adults.  Another example is the difference there is between reading sexual fictional books and the sexual literature in the Bible.  Just because the topic of sex is brought up should not cause the same reaction from and in us.  We should be asking what kind of sex are we discussing?  What unites the examples i use is that all of them have a common denominator; sex.  But when needing to discuss sexual media of any kind with another, we should be asking the question; what kind of sexual information were you involved in watching, reading, listening too etc…  Of course it is not the only question that should be asked, but it is a major one.  How would you react to your son, if he found male homosexual pornography on the internet…and liked it?  Or your daughter was into Hentai video’s?  I realize that it is quite hard to stomach this kind of research on your part.  You probably never wanted to to know about it at all!  But the younger generation is one that is linked with an online world, that unless there are laws to limit what is on the world wide web in a major way then you will have to keep up with what your youngsters already know about sex & pornography.  And it could be quite a lot!  Never assume they know, because they might not.  But then again, they could.  At Running Light we are always discussing our culture through our blogs and podcasts.  Listening or reading them now and again will help you stay somewhat current.  Peter and I are always trying to use discretion when discussing pornography.  This is one reason Running Light Ministries is it’s own non-profit ministry.  We desire for these discussions to have a proper place in Church culture, but not necessarily on a Sunday or Wednesday evening Bible Study.  We understand the topic is delicate to the religious culture.

Remember that as technology continues to move forward, and there will no longer be any need for real life women and men to be in the “porn industry!”  That’s right!  There replacements?  A.I., V.R. & Holographic porn.  Has anyone seen the the movie Ex Machina?  Is this movie a picture of our future in A.I. technology?  What a trip if it is!  It really is an eye opener to how people could utilize A.I. technology for there personal desires.  But as of today, video pornography is still the numero uno source.  So until we step into the Brave New World (porn style) we will have to understand, the best we can, that today’s porn comes in many styles & genres.  And it’s free!

As all kinds of porn is allowed and accessible so easily, we should not be very surprised that as a society there would be a normalizing of a behavior and also a equal demonizing of the porn industry out of fear.  I was reading in the book, Big Porn Inc, how sexual predators of minors show porn repeatedly to children in order to make the sexual content seem like normal behavior.  The point is that the minor would go from being disgusted by the porn to, over time, warming up to it, finally seeing it as normal behavior.  Much of the porn sex available is certainly not normal sex in real life.  Forgive me here, but what I mean is that anal sex, or what is called “the money shot,” in porn is not normal in real life is it?  Most of us do not know the sex life of our neighbors and nor do I think we need to know.  But what is good sex anyway?  Or normal sex?

Regardless of what you think of porn, porn sex is done by human beings, so it is a reflection of us.  The seemingly odd sex that is on display in porn is certainly from the hearts of men and women, but that does not mean that it is commonly practiced.  I’m not saying that this odd behavior in porn is not tried in sexual relationships across the globe, but I am thinking it is not highly practiced in week to week sexual life.  The normalizing of such sexual behavior that is in porn will likely make more people say, “hey, maybe we can try that out!?”  This is no doubt true as there are sexual acts that we do today that seem very normal, but years ago, they would be seen as risky or perverted immoral behavior, even in a monogamous marriage!  So we need to be careful not to simply demonize a sex act primarily because it is not normal to us.  Sex acts that a parent finds normal, there teen might find common amongst his/her culture!  So I make the point that we need to be open to discuss what is being watched, admired & desired.

With this kind of understanding I would want to approach a conversation with the word porn in it with intellect and not just emotion.  Without it, there can be some monumental damage that you do to another.  You could demonize there sexual ideas or desires without discussing them.  This is quite a path most taken, but it is certainly shallow and lame do to it’s results.  People will and simply go online to find a person to talk to about intimate subjects if you are not willing to take the leap to discuss porn.  There are millions of online puedo counselors that all have seen Dr. Phil and stayed at a Holiday Inn!  And many of them have a different world view than your Christian one.  I am hoping to prevent you from doing exactly what your Christian values tell you not to do.  “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, & slow to wrath, for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God,”  James 1:19.  Does the person you are talking with about pornography born again?  I don’t mean do they attend Church, but are they born again Christian’s as defined in John 3? Why are they wrong in watching porn or liking it?  On what grounds are they wrong? Have you taken the time to talk about there relationship with Christ (if they even have one), before launching into the hurt you have?  I do understand how hurt you might be, and how hurt you are.  So take a breath and let’s trust the Lord in the lives of those we love.

Our desire for our loved ones to know Christ must be valued over our own personal hurts. Is that the goal of your relationships?  Or is there underlying ulterior motive? Secret motives that lay hid away, deep in the heart?  When dominated by them we will succumb to our emotions (rooted mostly in fear and pride), and the conversation will be about us.  We will not be compassionate but angry.  Instead of faith we will react to our fears.  Does this sound familiar to anyone?  Church history is riddled with it, to the point of murdering of one another in the name of Christ.  So we are not alone by far in our struggles to discuss serious topics or ones that are particularly confusing in our culture as porn or sex.  As those in the Church, we must seek to ask Christ to live his life through us if we are to move forward.  To us Christians, Jesus is the only way to move forward.

Why do so many young people finally give up on the Church?  Maybe we are struggling to discuss things in there world.  We simply do not want to.  It is scary to us.  Why is it so difficult for us to talk about sex!  My heart truly breaks for those that do not have a place in the Christian Church to discuss such an elementary topic to us humans.  When I get to the root of answering these questions for myself, I find a fear deeply rooted.  Do you?

It is enjoyable weekly to meet with men to read, pray and talk about these topics together.  There is a special healing in it.  It might be that we are not there primarily to fix one another, but to encourage one another.  Let us encourage one another daily as long as it is called today.

 

 

 

 

 

Helping those in the Church

It is crucial these days to understand the online world the younger generation partially lives in.  Too many in today’s Church culture are not even close to aware of the issues that young people face let alone what they see everyday online.  As the younger generation has gotten older, they become our Youth Pastors and helpers in Church.  And some of them no doubt, female and male, have seem much pornography.  Avoiding this truth is bordering on ridiculous today.  There simply is no excuse for older leaders to be ignorant of the struggles of today’s younger, online, generation.

The older generation should know all to well what happens when sexual issues are simply ignored or kept secret!  I was discussing this with my mom, who is now approximately 70.  Specifically about the sexual abuse of her generation and the secrecy which followed such acts.  Pornography was seen as used mostly by “Dirty older men,” by her generation.  But though there were no free porn back then or the porn industry as we know it today, there were so many young girls that were touched inappropriately.  Way too many.  One is too many!  She was sharing that all of her friends growing up have stories of either rape or molestation in them!   It is so sad that the older generation in our Churches today were told not to discuss it.  And  many girls remained silent and suffered in silence.  The older generation should know the consequences of ignoring sexual issues.

It is certainly time for us to discuss these topics regularly as a part of our normal discussions in our close friendships.  As a administrator at a Church, it is vital that my staff and I discuss these topics in a safe way.  Talking about sex is not something that we should be afraid to discuss in these days of online free hardcore pornography which many young and old stumble on unwantingly.  Keeping silent has implications of the same proportions that we see today in the lives of so many who live in a silent pain inflicted by predators years and years ago.  We can help!

Help by being a person full of grace that is not afraid to discuss these topics.  Porn is sex.  You shouldn’t be freaked out by that.  And as Bible reading people who are well aware that our Bible hero’s are those who slept with the maid, had multiple wives, were a part of the ancient cultures sex trafficking & prostitution, we of all people, should be comfortable discussing sex.  It’s a shame if we cannot… on multiple levels.  But you can be of such an encouragement to a person who might need a person to talk to.   Remember, this younger generation have been guinea pigs in the United States’s free porn experiment!   And who better than a person filled with the Spirit of Christ to help?

God desires us to heal from our past, so that we may help others.  I pray that is what we are able to do more of.  When a person on a Church staff or a member of a church is having difficulty with our lustful culture, having people available to talk with who can empathize would be ideal.  This kind of friendship could prevent a pastor or member from keeping there sin a secret for years and in turn help with all the shame the feel.  This is the heart of Running Light Ministries!  We desire to be those people you can contact to share what is weighing down your heart.  Cultivating a new paradigm in the Church starts with one person who is willing to help another.  In order to do that we will need to do things a bit different from the current Christian climate…But then again, I think Jesus did the same.

 

Porn Addiction and the Brain

 

By Beau Ouellette
Thoughts from an article from Dr. Lasha Darkmoon
Note: read the article on the link first.  (But you’ll get it when you read below)
Critique:
If the behavior of porn addiction and habitual self gratification is a function of brain damage, then who is to fault the person from doing it? The behavior is simply due to brain mis-function; Biology over behavior.
There had to be a time when the brain was not damaged as the person starting viewing porn. Yet lust reigned. Lust is the problem, not the brain damage. Or the brain damage is a result of lust not the other way around.
It seems that frontal lobe damage, caused by long-term porn addiction and the compulsive masturbation that accompanies it, will give rise to a constellation of behaviors called “frontal lobe syndrome”. These include four main behavior patterns:  (1) Impulsive behavior with little regard to consequences. (2) Compulsive behavior, often leading to total loss of control. (3) Emotionally labile behaviori.e., sudden and unpredictable mood swings. (4) Impaired judgment, leading to disastrous decision making.
How about addiction to TV or gaming and what that does to the brain. How about people’s arousal over books? So is book arousal ok for the brain?
To me the issue of the brain has little to do to shed light on breaking free from bondage to lust or even helping those understand what is happening in their lives. All of our brains have to be pretty messed up. We lust bad food, which affects the brain and body, we lust money which effects our moods and stress levels, we lust sex which from this article above is telling us how it affects the brain. Some people chose to lust sports, cars, houses, power, reputation, which must also effect the brain according to this view point. Obviously some distortions of the brain we deem ok and others not so.
When does brain function constitute bad behavior? We can have a rush of dopamine when we work out, so is that ok. When does this get deemed as bad? Or how about when I have sex with my wife? When is too much sexual stimulus with her bad for the brain? At what point does too much dopimine become harmful. Should we all be regulated daily to see what is too much or too little?http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dopamine
It seems the focus is on the consequences and not on the culprit.
The process of masturbatory conditioning is inexorable and does not spontaneously remiss. The course of this illness may be slow and is nearly always hidden from view. It is usually a secret part of the man’s life, and like a cancer, it keeps growing and spreading. It rarely ever reverses itself, and it is also very difficult to treat and heal. (See here)
It is sad to read this.
First of all this article always talks about men. Women self gratify all the time. Sex toys are bought regularly by women all over the world. China exports and sells 24 billion in adult material a year (Some of that sex toys)! China also is a country that bans pornography. (This shows that they are exporting other things than porn vids.) Are women’s brains damaged too? How have so many million women’s brains been changed through self gratification? Maybe we all have damaged brains? Yes I’m being a bit sarcastic here.
If all men and women enjoy self gratification, (with or without another body present) and in turn our brains are jacked because of it, then it would reason both genders need healing. From what though?
If lust is the cause, then how do you fix someone of lusting?
If you try and fix the brain damage through drug therapy, then you only cover the symptom. Nothing will change.
Lust is a product of the fall of man. Sin’s desire is for us, to rule over us!
If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Genesis 4:7
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.
From Jesus perspective, we are all brain damaged! Sin, (lust is a work of sin) is the cancer that has spread in us! The body is a fallen body, one that is damaged through the result of sin. There are many area’s of the body’s biological functions that are a mis due to sins work in it. We hate, kill, steal, envy, are jealous, cheat and all these actions run through the brain. Do we take pills for hating? Killing? Stealing? Being envious of others? Etc…
Back to the article – One of my patients was so deeply addicted that he could not stay away from pornography for 90 days, even for $1,000. It is difficult for non-addicts to comprehend the totally driven nature of a sex addict. When the “wave” hits them, nothing can stand in the way of getting what they want—whether that be pornography accompanied by masturbation, sex from a prostitute, molesting a child, or raping a woman.
An example might help illustrate this problem. Ralph was a sexual addict, married 12 years with three children. He was active in his church and held sincere, high moral principles. He believed in the Ten Commandments and opposed adultery. Yet his particular cycle involved pornography use, followed by paid sex with prostitutes. After each incident, he begged God for forgiveness and swore that it would never happen again. But it did, again and again.
Since the trigger of each adulterous act was pornography-use, we decided to try to free him from his dependence on this material. I asked him to write me a check for $1,000, indicating that I would return it if he went 90 days without using pornography. Ralph loved to hang on to his money and was quite attracted to our strategy. “There’s no way I’d look at dirty videos or magazines if I knew it would cost me a thousand dollars!” he said.
He managed to resist temptation remarkably well for a while. But on the 87th day, he drove past an “adult” bookstore in an unfamiliar city while on a business trip. He slammed on the brakes, entered the store, and went virtually berserk for 90 minutes. When I saw him the following week, he tearfully confessed that he had lost his $1,000. Since he had gone 87 days “sober,” I decided to give him another chance.
So we started another 90-day “sobriety” cycle. We both felt that if he could go 87 days, he could certainly make 90 if we tried again, especially if it meant recovering his $1,000.
This time he went only 14 days before he relapsed. He lost his money, which was given to a charity. He was extremely committed to quit in order to save his marriage and to live in harmony with his religious principles. But that was not the case. In my opinion, even if he had given me $10,000, he still would have relapsed. When the wave hits them, these men are consumed by their appetite, regardless of the costs or consequences. Their addiction virtually rules their lives.  (Seehere)
Pornography can be a source for lust to grow, but it is not the culprit either.
Books like the Song of Solomon were on the chopping block at times in history for being to erotic.  But the real issue was not the Song of Solomon, it was the lust which was in the person who read it. If lust is not dealt with then lust will find a way, it always does. You can remove all the pornography in the world, yet people will still self – gratify by themselves, or with another body or an animal. So people in history are brain damaged as well, as these practices have been around since the fall. Something needs to happen to change the human heart from a continual lustful behavior.
If the Son set’s you free you are free indeed.” John 8:36
The real way to help people overcome brain damage is not through the body, but through the Spirit! Jesus taught this in John 3 where he said, unless you be born again you cannot see the Kingdom of God. The change that Jesus pointed to was to become spiritually made new and alive!
The Spirit of God is the only way to overcome a fallen body. Romans 7 and 8 so greatly speak on this doctrine.
God is all powerful and His Spirit is able to change behavior of a body that biologically is failing. But most importantly God’s Spirit is able to conquer the culprit; Lust.
Conclusion:
Too much focus is on the effects of the brain (Mark Dricol’s book plus many more)
There is a focus on sexual issues with the brain of men, and not women (not consistent science or social science)
These behaviors that have caused the supposed damage to the brain have been around forever. So we can’t blame the modern pornography industry, though we do it so well!
Understanding my brain will not get me free from the real problem.
The real issue is that I am a fallen, sinful human being.
We need to be made new to have any change to conquer the culprit
Altering lust from sex to power, reputation, beauty, gaming, or TV, radio & readinga will still mean the rule of lust. There is only one true solution. A power to overcome the culprit which is lust.