Monday, January 08, 2007

His Thoughts Are Best

Recently, I took some time to visit several links on my blogroll. You will probably notice that I have added several new ones. They are really good, so be sure to visit them.

One of my original favorites is SharperIron. I found that blog when I attended the GodBlog Conference of 2005 at Biola University.

Author Dan Burrell has written a post at that blog about The Top 10 Evangelical Stories of 2006. You may find yourself agreeing or disagreeing with his choices. Personally, I found that the fact that he put "porn addiction" at the top of the list very disturbing, quite alarming and truly sad.

I have heard several pastors discuss this problem in their sermons over the past year. It has been written about in two Christian newspapers as well. The post states why it is happening:

Burrell writes:

And you’ve waited for it all this time . . . The Number 1 News Story Impacting Evangelicals . . .

1. Porn–It’s Not Just for Perverts Anymore.
Multiple studies show a crisis of pornography viewing and addiction that is infecting born-again males as much as it is those who do not profess to be believers. The Internet has opened the gateway to a private struggle that many Christian men fail to admit they have—controlling one’s thought life and sexual appetites and using the gift of sex outside of the context of Scripture. Because of the three “A”s—it’s Anonymous, Affordable, and Accessible—more and more men are casually visiting pornographic websites and then finding themselves ensnared. Most men report that they did not have to go looking for pornography. Through thousands of spam email messages, deceitful links on Google and Yahoo searches, and other covert methods, the pornography came to them. Before long, they developed a habit. As a result, Christian counselors report a dramatic rise in crisis counseling among porn addicts. Marriages are damaged when hubby is discovered. Ministries are ended when pastors are uncovered. The church has a history of trying to ignore the topic of sex in general and has done little to deal with this issue honestly, transparently, authoritatively, and scripturally. Thus, many men describe themselves as being “in agony” over the addiction without knowing where to turn for help. One study suggested that for some men, pornography can be as addictive as crack cocaine. The pornography problem is one of the most important areas of concern in churches across the philosophical spectrum, and church leaders need to get serious about working with their men and young men (and sometimes women) in dealing with this temptation.

Isn't it amazing to read that porn can (and, apparently is) as addictive as crack cocaine?? Is there any doubt who wants men (and, some women) to be addicted to such a sin? It's a battlefield of the mind issue. The "I can't help it" excuse doesn't work! If Christian men claim Christ as their Lord and Savior, then they know that God wants obedience in this (and every) area of their lives!

That's precisely what it comes down to. The choice between obedience or rebellion.

Look at Jesus' admonition about this topic:

Mat 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Mat 5:29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast [it] from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not [that] thy whole body should be cast into hell.

Mat 18:9 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast [it] from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.

Mar 9:47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:

If those verses aren't direct, pre-addiction-warnings regarding the consequences of porn addiction, then I don't know what would be!! Ultimately, it is just another sinful rebellion against obeying God.

However, it is so serious, that Jesus said it would be better to physically "pluck out one's eye" then to be engaged in porn viewing!!

Yes. Jesus used hyperbole in these verses, but we can see the terrible results that come from disobeying His warnings. Addictions aren't "harmless fun." They can ruin a person's mind, heart, soul and spirit, not to mention the harm that can come upon one's family, friends and acquaintances.

Anyone who smokes knows how difficult it is to quit and not go back to that bad habit. I have seen friends and relatives struggle with it for years. Scientific studies tell us that porn is as addictive as crack cocaine!! I just can't imagine that, but apparently it's true. It's best not to even get started with these terrible strongholds of sin.

Have you ever read the book of Ecclesiastes? Most scholars agree that it was written by King Solomon. Remember, Solomon was given more wisdom from God than any other man. So we must ask, why did he make so many sad and bad mistakes in his life? We will come back to that question later in this post.

In his top ten list, Burrell listed the Ted Haggard scandal as number five. He wrote:

5. It’s the 1980’s All Over Again—Ted Haggard . . . Exposed!
Just when people quit snickering every time they heard the names Bakker or Swaggart, we are being treated to another round of high-profile peccadilloes. Right before the election, a gay prostitute from Denver exposed NAE President and Colorado Springs pastor Ted Haggard for a range of charges including purchase of crystal meth and payment for gay sex. Shortly thereafter, another Denver pastor of a megachurch was pushed out of the closet by a Denver newspaper; and more recently, another staff pastor from Haggard’s church was forced to resign over an affair that was conducted years ago. Once again, the reputation of the church and the presentation of Christ suffered over moral failures.

We could compare Haggard's moral failings with Solomon's. Solomon wanted to go his own way and do his own thing. Solomon had anything and everything he, possessions, sex with many women and every worldly pleasure. Yet, in the end, Solomon wrote:

Ecc 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this [is] the whole [duty] of man.

"Fearing" God here means revering, worshipping Him, knowing Him and recognizing Him for who He is. So what can we conclude along with Solomon? The whole purpose of man's creation is that he reverence and worship God by obeying Him! All godly character must be rooted in obedience. It is the foundation of happiness!

Jesus said:

Jhn 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have [it] more abundantly.

There is no doubt that porn is just one of the enemy-of-our-soul's tools that he uses to "steal, kill, and destroy" our relationships with loved ones.

You may think that I'm wrong about this, but from my observations of people, no one can ever be truly happy without being obedient to God. Anything in our lives that is out of order will be brought into adjustment by obedience. Obedience is the whole duty of man.

Obedience and disobedience both have consequences.

For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Romans 5:19 KJV

Our choice not to obey doesn't only affect us individually, it affects multitudes of others!

Remember how the Israelites turned an 11 day journey to the Promised Land into a 40 year one?



If they had promptly obeyed God, many of them and their children would not have missed out on that promised land arrival. They wandered in the wilderness because they would not submit to God's ways.

People today (and, as Burrnell's list demonstrates...many are Christians!!) are wandering in the wilderness of rebellion because of their disobedience to God!

I once heard a quote that said, "obedience is a far-reaching thing; it closes the gates of hell and opens the windows of heaven." Now, we know there is more to it than that (e.g. accepting Christ as Lord and Savior), but we can look at that quote and see that a life of disobedience is the fruit of wrong thinking. Wrong thinking is what often gets us into trouble.

Two of my favorite verses in the Bible are 2 Corinthians 10:4,5.

2Cr 10:4
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,

2Cr 10:5
casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,

Can you see that keeping every thought "captive to the obedience of Christ" would keep us out of trouble?

I know...easier said than done!

But putting our trust in the Lord and making the daily effort to please Him (i.e. be obedient because we love Him for who He is and what Christ has done for us) is the whole duty of man (us)!

Jesus said, "If you love me you will keep my commandments."

We must choose to examine our thoughts in the light of the Word of God.

Going back to Solomon. We may wonder why he made the mistakes he made since God gave him so much wisdom.

Easy answer.

It is because it is possible to have something and not use it.

As Christians, we have the "mind of Christ" but do we always use it?

Jesus is the righteous example to us for "wisdom from God." But do we always use that righteous wisdom from Him?

In Isaiah 55:8, the Lord says, For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways.

No matter what we think, God's written Word must be used to examine our thoughts and we must be willing to submit to His thoughts.


Because His thoughts are best!


Jaded said...

Wow, it's been hard trying to post anywhere on blogger today! I tried to post here earlier with no luck, and the system swallowed my original response! Here are my thoughts on your post...

I have to agree with you in that I find it hard to consider things like porn, gambling and other types of chosen behaviors as being akin to a crack addiction. When we use the term "addiction" that freely, I think it's irresponsible. Someone who is addicted to drugs, alcohol or cigarettes isn't only addicted to the behavior, but their bodies are physically dependent upon the substances to function. I'm not even suggesting that there isn't a compulsion, but a true addiction? I think there has to be a better word for it, don't you?

In any case, the article made the comment that so often, the church ignore sex entirely, which I think is true. Sex is a natural part of a relationship, and a huge part of how we're wired as human beings. We're designed to procreate, and we do that through sex. In ancient Greece and Rome, sex was a big part of the culture, and everyone was having sex with everyone else. As a result, in Rome, marriage rates were way down, thus also bringing the birth rate down. The emperor at the time, Augustus, gave tax breaks and incentives to couples who were married, and he outlawed extra-marial affairs, not because of morality, but simply because women were using some actually effective means of birth control and not having children! He felt that humanity would become extinct if the behavior continued.

God doesn't want us to be without sex. On the contrary, He created man and woman to not only be spiritual partners, but to procreate, which includes sex. In 1 Corinthians it states:

"But because of the temptation to immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not rule over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not rule over his own body, but the wife does. Do not refuse one another except perhaps by agreement for a season, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, lest Satan tempt you through lack of self control." 1 Cor 7:2-5

Not only does God want us to have a sexual relationship with our partners, He wants us to have a healthy, plentiful one. And He considers things like porn to be temptations from Satan, not addictions. At least, that's how it appears to me. So, when most attention is spent on telling us to look at sexuality as something bad, it may be hard for even faithful Christians to separate what's good about sex from what's truly immoral. Sex isn't immoral, as long as it's within the confines of marriage.

Unfortunately, when I see these high profile, powerful evangelists confess to a porn addiction or an extramarital affair, I see more remorse for the fact they were caught than the fact they were doing something wrong. It's very easy to rally your flock when you start blaming it all on Satan rather than the fact that you made choices you knew were wrong all along. And yes, I do hold ministers to a higher standard. If you are in charge of guiding the salvation of your congregation, you should be in better control of your own behavior and better prepared to resist temptation.

Every time someone in power fails to resist temptation, it harms every Christian. If we can't trust our leaders to be able to resist temptations, how can we resist ourselves? Also, it paints the picture that you can sin like crazy as long as you say you're sorry. It's like they're playing a "Get out of sin free" card, and it's not that simple.

I realize this is a long response, but, I had much to say.

Christinewjc said...

Hi Jaded,

I had trouble posting comments today. Hope it's fixed now.

I can agree with a lot of what you wrote. Perhaps there is a better word to describe the power of porn over men's minds. I had one in mind this morning, but I can't seem to recall it! Hate when that happens! It started with a "c."

Anyway, I found several links on this topic:

Escaping sexual sin before its too late.

Escape Sexual Sin: Consider the Consequences

Trapped In Temptation How to Break an Addiction to Pornography

Christinewjc said...

That last link didn't work:

How to Break an Addiction to Porn

Christinewjc said...

Just remembered the word!


3. Psychology. a strong, usually irresistible impulse to perform an act, esp. one that is irrational or contrary to one's will.

Mark said...

And yes, I do hold ministers to a higher standard.

that's not really necessary jaded, for you too fall way short in your own dirty little secret sins, as we all do. God has already told us He holds church leaders to a higher standard

Jaded said...

"God has already told us He holds church leaders to a higher standard "

Then perhaps more people should remember this when thinking of these so-called men of God as victims. It is absolutely necessary for us to hold our leaders to a higher standard in all aspects of their ministries.

Mark said...

It is absolutely necessary for us to hold our leaders to a higher standard in all aspects of their ministries.

As long as when we do, we do not forget they are indeed men, men that sin. I probably didn't make my point clear. To often we elevate Ministers and church leaders to a God-like status. That is where a church will go astray. I would not treat their sin or brokeness any different, nor would I make them out to be a victim. I would however follow the Biblical principles of Church leadership, and remove them from those positions. A man who cannot keep his own house in Godly order cannot lead the church to such order.

My point about not worrying about it, had more to do with God's justice will be served.

The 'standard' IMHO has more to do with leadership and not much else. To say a minister who 'falls' or has been exposed in sin is any worse than you or I, would be wrong. To pardon them and allow them to continue in a church leadership postion would be wrong as well. Does that make sense?

Mark said...

clarification on my comment To say a minister who 'falls' or has been exposed in sin is any worse than you or I, would be wrong.

Not exactly, becuase he has the potential to do great damage to the body of Christ, that is where God holding them to a higher standard would be justified. Holding them in a God-like status, would also be naive and wrong.

Jaded said...

Unfortunately, Mark, too often I see congregations hold their leaders as almost God-like. But I think maybe I wasn't as clear as I should have been, because your point was pretty much exactly what I was trying to say... those who are called to lead in church do great damage to all Christians when they, themselves, give into temptation and make choices that they know to be wrong from the beginning. When a man or woman decides to commit adultery, they have to make the conscious choice to do it in the first place. You have to make the choice to look at porn on the internet or to take drugs before you actually do those things. We all sin, yes, but like you said, our leaders have the potential to do great damage to the body of Christ. I absolutely agree with you! And I also agree that it would be wrong to allow those people to be leaders in the church again after being caught, often quite literally, with their pants down. You're right as well when you say that God will make sure that justice is served.

Imagine and I agree almost completely about something! Praise God!

Mark said...

Imagine and I agree almost completely about something! Praise God!

Amen, 2007 is gonna be a good year! :)