Love and Freedom

The subject of pornography is extraordinarily difficult to write about, not so much because sex is uncomfortable to talk about but because the audience is so diverse. Who is this message for? Is it the spiritual seeker or recent convert who has absorbed the broader cultural narrative that pornography isn’t really a problem, that it’s generally harmless and no one is really getting hurt? Is it the devoted person who is completely convinced that pornography is wrong and damaging but who is trapped in the addiction of it and feels a hopeless despairing of ever being free from the habit? Is it the spouse who has discovered their partner’s dark secret and is left reeling from the devastation with feelings of hurt and betrayal? I am reminded of Paul’s exhortation in 1 Thessalonians 5:14, “Admonish the undisciplined, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” I feel like I could write 1,000 posts on this subject; I realize I have your time and attention for less than 1,000 words.

There are two main ideas I want to try to focus on: love and freedom. I think it is worth first going back to the Scriptural passage of 2 Chronicles 34 and the story of Josiah. Verse three states, “In the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet a boy, he began to seek the God of David his father, and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the Asherim, and the carved and the metal images.” It’s interesting to me that it isn’t until later in the story that the lost Scriptures are discovered in the midst of rebuilding the Temple. In other words, before he even read the 10 commandments, Josiah had developed a vision of God that consumed him and burned away the desire for lesser things. He didn’t go about destroying and purging the false idols because he read the law and said, “We need to try harder to follow rule #1.” The law hadn’t even been found yet. Rather, he had a real encounter with a holy and loving God and it fueled him with a holy hatred of the destructive systems of sin and idolatry within his domain.

Do we have such a purifying vision of God in our life? Have we come in contact with Him and come away with an absorbing vision of a good, holy and beautiful God that naturally consumes and burns away cheap imitations of such glorious love? God hates sin, not because he is some kind of cosmic kill-joy that wants to ruin our fun, but because he is set against anything that will do to harm to his beloved. We should feel the same way about sin. As I have reflected on this passage and the fury and focus of Josiah’s response, I keep thinking of a quote I had come across years ago. The author is discussing Paul’s analogy of a boxer in 1 Cor 9:26-27 and notes, “Paul says that he is not like the Greek boxer in these respects [shadowboxing]. In his conflict with evil, he strikes straight and does not spare…When we think that the Greek boxer wore a pair of fur-lined gloves covered with cowhide which was loaded with lead and iron, one can imagine the punishment to which the recipient of the blows is subjected. If a Christian would be as energetic and unsparing of evil in his life as the Greek boxer was of his opponent, and would strike with the same devastating force, sin would soon be cleared out of his life and stay out. What ‘softies’ we Christians are with regards to sin in our lives. How we sometimes cherish it, pamper it, play with it, instead of striking it with the mailed fist of a Holy Spirit inspired hatred of sin and a refusal to allow it to reign as king in our lives.”

I want to couple this with some wise words from Dallas Willard. In Renovation of the Heart, he comments, “Our present American culture boasts of complete freedom in what one sees, says, and hears. Many professing Christians are paralyzed or even destroyed by adopting this ‘freedom’ as a lifestyle. For they allow images into their minds that eventually overwhelm them. If we allow everything access to our mind, we are simply asking to be kept in a state of mental turmoil or bondage. For nothing enters the mind without having an effect for good or evil…If God’s eyes are too pure to behold evil, we had better think it might be wise for us to look away as much as feasible – even if it is called entertainment. We are to abhor evil and cleave to that which is good, and the foundation for doing that lies in where we choose to place our minds…Those who let God be God get off the conveyor belt of emotion and desire when it first starts to move toward the buzz saw of sin. They do not wait until it is moving so fast they cannot get off it. Their aim is not to avoid sin, but to avoid temptation – the inclination to sin. They plan their path accordingly.”

The reality is that we live in a world where companies with vast resources of financial capital and the most advanced technology available want to corrupt, monetize and exploit your sexuality. You also have a spiritual enemy who wants to destroy your soul, your marriage, your family and all that is good, pure and beautiful in the world that was a gift from the heart of its Creator.

So what’s your plan? How will you choose your path accordingly and truly walk in freedom?  How will you seek God and allow the depths of his love to consume anything unholy? We are in a war. And the only weapon strong enough to win is love.

by Steve Lamp
Steve and his wife Melissa began attending Kingsway in 2014. Not normally prone to public displays of emotion, he wept during the first worship service and knew he had found home. As an avid reader, Steve believes the ideas we allow into our minds are critical to our spiritual formation. He enjoys exploring nature, playing and spending time with his two young sons and over-quoting his favorite authors, C.S. Lewis and Dallas Willard.