The Church and Porn, part 1

porn1

This is the first of a three-part series: here are the links to part 2 and part 3.

This is going to be another departure from what I usually try to address on my blog, but I want to respond to something that Paul Byerly asked of the members of the Christian Marriage Bloggers Assn. Without giving the text, I will say that Paul B. wrote of his concern about the damage that pornography is doing to marriages in our country, and asked if the Church’s message and approach in responding to porn should be changed.

Attack The Real Problem

Back in the 70’s, I attended one of those summer Jesus Music Festivals, held at a Virginia campground. As I recall, there were some good, even great bands, but the one thing that stuck with me most from that festival was the preaching of the late evangelist Tom Skinner, one of the featured speakers. A former gang leader, he became an evangelist and for a time, was the chaplain of the Washington Redskins and was a fixture on the ‘Skins sidelines during home games.

At this festival, Skinner spoke on the need to live in the Spirit of God, using Gal. 5: 16-24 as his text. As we all know, this segment of Scripture contrasts the works of the flesh with the gifts of the Spirit, and it has been, is now, and forever shall be the text for hundreds of thousands of sermons, books, articles, etc. But it wasn’t  the the contrast between the works and the gifts that I remember, so much as his treatment of the beginning verse of the segment, v. 16:

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

Like me, Skinner liked to use vivid imagery to illustrate his points, and he brought out the difference between us trying to deal with our sins vs. walking by the Spirit. He spoke of a Christian trying to deal with a besetting sin, let’s say impure thoughts, for example. This Christian works for a year or two on learning to bounce his eyes so he won’t be tempted to think impure thoughts. He realizes that he has a problem when he goes to the beach and sees those skimpy swimsuits, so he stops going to the beach. He works like a logger with an ax trying to chop down this sin in his life every day.

He gets to the point that he feels that he’s chopped down the tree of impure thoughts, this work of the flesh, only to realize that another tree has sprung up; he discovers that he has problems with anger! And so he begins to work on his anger issues, starting a campaign of several years duration learning to chop down this work of the flesh, his Irish temper. But then…! You guessed it, another issue pops up, and another, and another. 

The upshot is that this brother is walking in constant spiritual defeat because his spiritual life is one of constant struggle, always fighting his own nature, his flesh.

But let’s look at that verse again:

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

Does it say anything about fighting against the works of the flesh? No, it doesn’t; instead it gives us one directive: “walk by the Spirit.” That’s all. It says that if you do this one thing, i.e. walk by the Spirit, you won’t fulfill the works of the flesh.

SQUIRREL!

Steven Covey is the man who is credited with writing one of my favorite quotes which addresses one of the character flaws that plague mankind. Some might say it’s a feature of the design, but I think it’s a bug. Be that as it may, the simplicity of Covey’s statement belies its depth:

Keep The Main Thing The Main Thing ~ Steven Covey

I love this quote. We can get too easily distracted and drawn off into chasing squirrels (just like Dug, in the movie Up.) And the Church excels in this. I’ve been a Christian since 1969, and I’ve seen us Christians get our knickers in knots over so many issues, whether it be politics, homosexuality, communism, etc. Yes, there is reason to be concerned about matters around us, but it’s like we lose our grace when we get with them.

And it’s not just since 1969. The American church has been involved in many ‘crusades’ down through the years. In the 1800’s, of course, the two biggies were Slavery (pro & con) and the fight against Demon Rum. (For an interesting read, learn how we Methodists were the reason Welch’s Grape Juice was created.)

And, yes, these fights against social ills were (and are!) worthwhile endeavors; I’m not saying that being involved in Abolitionist or Prohibitionist causes were wrong. But I am saying that when we make our causes our raison d’etre, we take our eye off of the main thing.

Walk By The Spirit . . .

If we choose to fight against social ills using our human strength, we will most likely lose. After all,

Slavery – America has never been so deeply divided, racially, as today.
Prohibition – Enacted, repealed and ridiculed. A historical joke.
Drug War – Hello, Colorado!
Same Sex Marriage – My denomination will probably split in the next few years.
Porn – Japan is lost, America is going…

Or we can do what we are called to do. We aren’t called to be social activists, but to be Christians who take the message of Christ’s redemption and healing to the people who need to hear it.

“CSL, do you really think a return to ‘That Old Time Religion’ will make any difference?”

Why, yes. Yes, I do. You see, it’s happened before. In fact, stay tuned for a history lesson about Christian movements that truly affected society change (including a revival that only a war could stop) in my next post.

CSL

4 Comments

Filed under Marriage & Sexuality

4 responses to “The Church and Porn, part 1

  1. tjcox53

    Interesting thoughts. Had never quite thought of that particular verse in that way. Just might lead to some answers, I’ve been seeking for my own walk…

    Liked by 1 person

    • There was a reason why I made the suggestions I did back in the Waiting, Watching and Working series, for a refused spouse to spend time in prayer and reading.

      Have you ever walked by a tree and heard it grunting and groaning to try and produce fruit? Or walk by a cornfield and listened to the cornstalks toiling hard to make corn? No, it’s ridiculous.

      John 15:4 says, “Abide in me, and I in you. As a branch can’t bear fruit by itself, except it abides in the vine; no more can you, except you abide in me.”

      There is only one command in that line, and it isn’t “bear much fruit!” Simply, the command is “abide in me.” The second part, Christ abiding in you, the Holy Spirit bearing fruit through you? That’s on him. You just do what you are commanded to do.

      More coming in the next two posts.

      Like

  2. Pingback: The Church and Porn, part 2 | The Curmudgeonly Librarian

  3. Pingback: The Church and Porn, part 3 | The Curmudgeonly Librarian

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