Thinking Biblically

I was going to title this post Heartburn,  but I think I’ve already used that.  And this title is probably more to the point, anyway.

This is not a new concept. When I went looking for an illustration, they were abundant. Hundreds of other people have written recently on this topic.

And yet–look at the incredible election cycle we’re enduring, just for starters. Neither of the candidates thinks biblically, and that’s all we need to know about why we’re in this mess.

However, this post is not intended to be political; it is intended to be very personal, as if you and I were sitting together, perhaps in my counseling office.  I can’t hear all of the pain and problems you’re dealing with, but I can tell you this:  The answer lies in learning to think biblically about your situation.

 You can get some good advice from people who aren’t particularly biblical thinkers.  We go to unsaved doctors and dentists and so on all the time and follow the directions they offer us. But when it comes to matters of principle, matters of relationships, matters of walking wisely in this worn out old world, then you need to go to God’s Word.

Thing is, we can’t think biblically if we’re not reading the Bible; if we’re not studying, not under good biblical preaching, not learning and growing in the Word.

It is that with which we are filled that controls our thoughts, behaviors, words and emotions. If we are filled with lust, then that’s what will be evident in our lives.  If we are filled with hatred, anger, bitterness, envy, self—then that’s what will be manifest in our lives, no matter how hard we try to cover it all over with a gloss of spirituality.

We live in a world that bombards us with lust. Advertisements, billboards, prime time TV, so-called music that is full of anger, violence, and lust; all these things are tempting us at every turn.  I’ve had more than one man in my office tell me that it’s really hard for a normal man to maintain a pure mind these days.  Actually, I think that’s always been the case; I think it’s just getting worse as we move farther away from biblical concepts of thought, behavior, appearance, and language.

Yes, I have heartburn.  I have deep concerns for young men entering a world that tells them pornography is just fine; that the objectification of a woman’s body is no big deal; that masturbating to porn is normal and healthy because, you know, a man has needs.

I am even more amazed that (usually, not always) younger women are becoming more involved in watching porn, finding it exciting, stimulating, fun.  They see no problem with it, and think I’m just too old-school to understand.

No, I’m not.  I do understand.  I also understand that rattlesnakes will kill  you if you play with them. I avoid what I know can cause me terrible harm.

The problem with porn is that it’s a fake relationship that requires nothing of the watcher; at the same time, it creates a lack of interest in the watcher’s spouse, because sexual needs are being met while watching porn.

You may think it’s spicing up your sex life. In actuality, it’s slowly poisoning your mind and emotions, and you will pay the penalty in a broken marriage or a broken life. It’s evil. It is not biblical, it does not come from God.

Keep in mind that the first thing Adam and Eve noticed after they sinned was NOT that they had disobeyed the God of Creation; it was NOT that the fruit left a bitter aftertaste. No, it was that they were naked. The very first thing the scaly finger of Satan corrupted after the Fall was human sexuality, and we’ve been having trouble with it ever since.

I could go on at length here, but I have neither the time nor the energy at the moment. Maybe there will be more along this line on this blog on Fridays, I don’t know.

What I know is that it’s time Bible-believing Christians stop participating in what the world tells us is okay.  It’s time we acknowledge to fellow believers that we’re dealing with sin in our lives, and to ask them for prayer and accountability. The Bible tells us to confess our sins to each other (James 5:16). That doesn’t mean we go into gross detail. It means we admit that we’re tempted, have fallen to something sinful, that we need the prayer support of our brothers and sisters in Christ. That’s all.  It’s time that our prayer requests not be just a list of physical problems. Nothing wrong with holding each other up in prayer for health issues, but really, is that all we have to pray about?

Philippians 2:5.  Colossians 3:16. Galations 5:16.  Just for starters.

Caught in the Trap

Image

Are you caught?  Did you begin by just glancing at a picture now and then?  Has it progressed to hours spent in the dark in the middle of the night, going without sleep to indulge in your addiction? Do you find yourself thinking about it until you can get back to it?

Is it really an addiction?  There are those who stand on both sides of the argument on this one. To class porn with alcohol, cigarettes, or other drugs seem unrealistic since those other substances actually do interact with body chemistry to create a craving for the substance.  Some studies seem to show that sexual “addiction” really exists; that there is a chemical reaction to ogoing use of porn that creates a need to continue in order to get the “zing.”  Others feel that there is no chemical addiction, but that the behavior simply becomes habitual rather than addictive.  I don’t know what the whole truth is; I’m not sure we need to resolve that here. I typed “is porn really an addiction” into my google search, and came up with hundreds of sites that discuss the issue. If you’re interested, it isn’t hard to find information.

The truth is, people do get hooked.  Call it addicted, trapped, habituated, whatever; the end result is hours and hours of time and often a lot of money invested in a secret activity that destroys the fabric of relationship between husbands and wives, between fiances, and other relationships as well. The user is focused on the porn, and his intimate relationship with his wife suffers as a result. Either he asks her to do things she finds uncomfortable or hurtful, or he simply has no interest in her because he’s been masturbating while he looks at porn. Either way, it’s not a behavior that affects only the user.

So, if you know you’ve become dependent on pornography, or even if you suspect so, you must do some things

1.  Acknowledge that you are caught. You need help. He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion. – Proverbs 28:13

2. Admit that what you are doing is sin. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. – I John 2:16 

3. Quit blaming others.  It’s not your spouse’s fault. It’s not because someone else introduced you to porn when you were too young to resist.  It’s a choice you’re making right now, and you KNOW you need to stop.

4 Find someone who will be a spiritual mentor, an accountability partner for you.  This person needs to be someone you can trust completely.  He needs to be a person who will tell you the truth, and will hold your feet to the fire. There are groups that meet just for this purpose.  Talk to your pastor, or go online and look for accountability groups for pornography addiction. You obviously can’t get the victory over this alone.  Get some help.

5.  Prayer and confession to God is the most important step you must take. You need to study the Word to learn everything you can about sexual purity and holiness.  Prayer and God’s Word will strengthen you and enable you to continue to fight.

6. Get rid of all your porn–books, magazines, pictures, videos. Keep nothing at all.  Replace all of that with materials that will help you, like the “Every Man’s Battle” series from the New Life Clinic, or Mark Laaser’s Faithful and True.  There is  a lot of literature out there, because you are not the only one who is struggling with porn.  You are only one among  hordes of other people who have been caught in Satan’s trap.

Finally, learn to be a Joseph and flee the temptations that Satan will continue to place in front of you. He’s not going to give up easily.  Neither should you. Continuing down this path will eventually destroy your marriage, your relationship with your family and friends; it will make a real relationship with a normal woman an impossibility.

Porn Prevention

This is going to be a very practical post, I hope.  There really are things you can do to help guard your family from the plague of pornography.  You may find some of what I’m about to suggest difficult to accept.  I want to remind you that, as parents, it is your job to protect your children.  You wouldn’t spare any measures to protect them from a deadly rattlesnake; don’t be afraid to do whatever you have to do to protect them from something that will alter their minds and their hearts.  That’s how serious this is.

First and most important, teach them truth.  Teach your family biblical principles of behavior.  Help them memorize verses that teach us  to keep our hearts and minds pure.  Start with Philippians 4:4-8.  Do a word search on purity.  Make it a topic of conversation so that it’s easy to bring up on a regular basis.  Warn them that once a picture is in your mind’s eye, it is very difficult to erase.

I’ve always been impressed with this example:  In order for a bank teller to be able to identify a counterfeit bill, he studies the real thing.  He gets used to the feel, appearance and even the smell of the true dollar bill so that when a fake passes into his hands, he won’t be fooled by it. Some people feel that we need to study the counterfeit in order to understand the enemy. No! What happens when we do  is that we get pulled in to the enemy’s plan.  I don’t need to look at the centerfold of a girlie magazine to know it’s wrong for me to do so.  I just need to know the truth: Psalm 101:3.  “I will put no wicked thing before mine eyes; I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me. “

Second, be a snoop!  If you have any inkling that your child is being exposed to literature, pictures, or any other forms of porn, search!  It’s your job as a parent to protect your child. Don’t listen to his wails about his privacy.  If you knew there was a poisonous spider under his bed, would you shrug and let him go to sleep in that bed because he tells you that you have no right to look under his bed?

This ridiculous society we’re living in has us convinced that the kids make the rules. Don’t be taken in by that philosophy.

Third, supervise what they read, watch on TV, play on video games (have you ever really looked at the art in a lot of video games?  Women are all voluptuous and scantily clad, to say the least!); check their iPhones, iPads, iPods, and computers on a regular basis.  If you don’t know how to check the history, ask your kid to show you. They all know.  And it is very likely that they know how to erase the history, too, so . . . . .

Fourth: Learn how to work the parental controls on all your kids’ devices.  Get an accountability program like Covenant Eyes that sends you a detailed list of all websites visited every month.  Most important, please NEVER allow computers etc. to be in your child’s bedroom. Put them in high-traffic areas of the house so that  the screens are visible to anyone passing by.

I learned from a client who was dealing with his pre-teen son’s fascination with porn that you can use your X-Box to communicate with others in the same way you would browse the internet on your computer.  Be aware.

Fifth:  Get over the idea that your kid can be trusted; that he would never lie to you; that he’s just not interested in that stuff.  Of course he is. God created the male of the species to be intrigued by what he sees in the female of the species. Why do you think your kid would be any different, say, than you were at his age?

Look, the best, most upright kid around can be tempted to do wrong. This is especially true if his buddies are all moving in one direction and he’s the only one going a different way.  Sometimes, his first glimpse of porn is not of his own choosing: A friend on the school bus flashes a picture and says “Look what I found under my brother’s bed!” and the glamorous image is burned into his eyes before he can look away.  Believe me.  Yes, even on a Christian school bus.

Pray with your kids about staying pure and unspotted from the world.  Support them when others tease them about being a goodie two-shoes.  Help them learn to take a stand firmly and kindly, without being obnoxious.

Please, above all, realize that this is no longer an issue restricted to certain kinds of people who have no morals.  The use of porn is sweeping the Christian community just as it is the secular. We can hide our heads in the sand and pretend it doesn’t affect us.  That’s just stupid. We have so many ways to access porn these days that there’s really no way you can be too vigilant.

Next time:  How to get help if porn has you caught in its web.

Porn: The Men and Women Who Use It

Pornography is not just a man’s issue, although many more men indulge in it than do women–so far, at least. There are many studies out there that indicate a strong upsurge in female patronage of porn.

I wonder why?

One study says many women believe porn can improve their marriages; they don’t see looking at porn as cheating; it’s relaxing. Some women say they enjoy watching it with their husbands.

Okay, I could go on, but it just makes me sick.  I (and other women like me) am called “pornophobic” by these free-thinking women, mostly millenials, who think a dose of porn is just fine.  Millenials, by the way, comprise those born between 1982 and 2002.  They are smack in the middle of the post-modern culture, and are probably among those who have no particular problem with premarital sex, living together without benefit of marriage, having babies with a “significant other,”  and just generally feel like sex is no big deal and all of us in my generation are just a bunch of prudes.

And I apologize to any of my readers who belong in this age group who do NOT fit that profile.  I know you’re out there, and I pray for your generation because you have been robbed of a sense of cultural and biblical morality. The results of that theft are too many to count, and are probably food for another post, at another time.

I do NOT apologize for my biblical world-view. I am not embarrassed to say that I was a virgin on my wedding night, and so was my husband. We came to each other innocent and pure, knowing that we had never shared that experience with anyone else. It’s a good way to start a marriage.

So, back to the subject at hand.  What about  women who blame their husbands’ involvement in porn as part of the breakdown of their marriages?  Are they just too puritanical and unrealistic?  After all, if other women enjoy it and believe it helps their relationships, then it must not be so bad.

For many women, discovering that their husbands are indulging in porn is about the same as discovering an extra-marital affair. They see the pornography as “the other woman,”  one against whom they feel helpless.

Many women see porn as a violation of marital trust.  Viewing porn does not seem to fulfill the husband’s vow to love, honor, cherish, and keep himself for her only as long as they both live.  It breaks the trust, and trust is very difficult to regrow.

To compound their lack of trust, many women feel awful about themselves because they cannot compete with the plastic images of beautiful young girls on the TV or computer screen.  Stretch marks take on a whole new significance.  Also, if the husband is addicted to porn, he has become dependent on the digital images for his arousal. The woman he married is no longer enough for him.

How does the use of porn affect the men who use it?  Well, for one thing, they tend to lose the respect of their wives.  There’s a realization out there today that men crave respect from their wives; however, when they indulge in something that hurts her so much, that respect goes away.

There are other effects of becoming involved with pornography that can devastate a marriage.  Women who think it’s harmless, who say they enjoy watching it, leave me shaking my head in amazement. I don’t understand it.  Sexual intimacy is at the core of the marital relationship.  God intended it for one man, one woman, for life.

I don’t know how anyone can invite a whole cast of characters into their bedrooms and believe it will have no harmful effects.  One man and one woman for life is not limited to actual fleshly partners.  The people we see on screen are always in our memories. They don’t belong in our bedrooms.

Here is a blog that presents a very good, biblically sound teaching on the one man/one woman principle:

http://erikbrewer.wordpress.com/2011/03/11/does-the-bible-teach-marriage-between-one-man-and-one-woman/

Porn: What’s the Problem?

Really, what’s so bad about pornography?  I mean, it doesn’t really hurt anyone, and it’s just a bunch of narrow-minded people who are judging everyone else  because they think it’s a “sin.”  It’s no one else’s business what I do in the privacy of my own home!

Let’s take the “victimless crime” idea first, the idea that it doesn’t really hurt anyone.  There’s so much to be said about the other things that it could take more than one post, so this is my starting point.

Victimless?  Really?  What about the women and men who are photographed, filmed, debased, and used as a money-making commodity? Aside from possible abuse, what do you think it does to their minds, hearts and souls?

Well, but they do this voluntarily!  No one is forcing them–it’s their choice!

Really?  What about the children?

What about women who are controlled by pimps and drug dealers; by people who beat them, rape them, and sometimes kill them when they are no longer useful?  Do you really have your head buried in the sand so deeply that you are unaware of the human sex traffic activity that exists in virtually every population center in this country?  Please, do some research.  Find out some things:

1. Not everyone involved in the porn industry is there of his own free will.

2. There is no such thing as a victimless crime.

3   Kids who run away from home are often victimized by porn hustlers who are always looking for fresh meat. Sometimes they are kidnapped and drugged, forced against their will to participate in pornographic shoots.

4.  Women are rarely in this industry because they want to be.  See #3.  Yes, there are those who sell their bodies willingly.  I’ll never understand that, but I will guarantee you that there has been some sort of sexual/physical abuse in the history of those who agree without coercion to allow their bodies to be used in this way.

5.  Don’t be deceived.  If  you are looking at porn, you are a victim of the porn industry.  If you keep it up, you’ll be spending money on it before long.  Here are some of the immediate effects of participation in porn:

It creates an unrealistic expectation of sex and sexuality.

It creates a terrible view of and attitude toward women.

It adversely affects your relationship with your spouse.  You are hiding what you are doing, and if you masturbate while watching porn, you have less and less interest in your spouse. You are stealing what rightfully belongs to your spouse and using it in a completely selfish manner.

It creates physical problems because you are probably doing  porn late at night, losing sleep and creating a sleep-deprivation cycle that will eventually make you sick.

It creates a spiritual problem because, as you become more involved in porn, it becomes an idol for you. It is what  you worship. It is what you think about all the time until you can get your next “fix.” It becomes a priority for you.  It is idolatry.

Do I need to go on?  Anyone who will stop and think about this stuff in a logical, and biblical, manner will have to acknowledge that it is, indeed, sinful.

Ephesians 5:11.

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

Don’t participate in the barren works that are done under cover of darkness, and that are offered by the evil one who is the lord of darkness.  Instead, avoid those behaviors and speak against them  (paraphrase by me).

Ephesiansd 5:12.

For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.

This verse doesn’t mean you shouldn’t name the sin and speak against it.  It does mean that you shouldn’t be talking about such evil in ordinary conversation, with prurient interest.

More next week.  If you are a believer, and you are caught up in porn, please get back into the Word of God; pray that God will strengthen you to relinquish the sin; get some accountability in your life to help you resist the temptation.

Pornography: Definition and Statistics

pornography statistics

Pornography is certainly not new to the computer age!  If you are a student of history, you know that there is a huge body of pornographic works that goes back down through the centuries.  In a very cursory study, I found what many believe to be the oldest known carvings of pornographic activity in the Kangjiashimenji Petroglyphs in China. They are believed to date back to the second century b.c. You’ll forgive me for not wanting to become an expert in this topic.  I simply want to point out that, as Solomon says in Ecclesiastes, there is nothing new under the sun. 

Pornography comes fromthe Greek porne,meaning harlot or prostitute; and the word graphos which is a writing or depiction. Today, we think of pornography as printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings.

Another Greek word that comes into play here is eros,which refers to  what we think of as romantic love that results in the deeply felt love for another person, including physically expressed love.  This love, in my opinion, has very little to do with pornography, which is not intended as a relationship but rather as a temporary stimulation.

In my experience as a therapist, I’ve come to the conclusion that porn has absolutely nothing to do with love for anyone but self. It is a strongly private activity, bringing nothing into a relationship, requiring nothing of the observer. The one who reads or watches porn is completely free of any kind of commitment.  It’s not a real relationship. It does, however, strongly affect the marital relationship.

I’ve found several sites that offer statistics concerning how many people around the world engage in pornographic activity.  Rather than repeat these sad statistics here, I’m going to refer you to this site:

http://www.covenanteyes.com/2013/02/19/pornography-statistics/

It’s a very interesting article, and one I recommend you to read.

I  SO dislike digging into this subject! I do it only because I believe we must arm ourselves not with porn, knowing what it looks like or viewing it; but with the knowledge that it is out there; that our kids are being exposed to it and it is our responsibility to protect them.

There will be a post dealing with just that–protecting our kids. Until then, the best suggestion I can make to you is never to let them have a computer, tablet, iPod or even a TV in their rooms. Make them leave all their electronics out in plain sight somewhere else in the house when they go to bed at night. And if you think you hear someone creeping around in the middle of the night, get up and investigate. Do it.  It’s your job.