Sometimes I wonder what I would do if someone broke into my house. It’s a scenario that is not altogether absurd, given the neighborhood I live in. Assuming the worst (and that there was some way of identifying undeniably violent intent), I wonder if I would be up for it. I don't think about details, just the general idea. Would I face a violent threat to my children or my wife with courage, fortitude and conviction? Would that intruder regret having chosen my house and family to victimize? I hope so. I hope that when faced with certain evil and a simple equation of right and wrong that I would not shrink back from doing what was necessary; not so much to harm the person threatening harm but to protect the vulnerable from it. I hope that I would use the full force of my body and will to remove that danger from my home and preserve the lives of my kids.
I am coming to feel like the threat of pornography to our kids, our marriages and our own souls feels like just such a certain evil. I have never been much of a moral crusader. I tend to be more of an ideologue, wanting to win hearts and minds for the higher principles of life and surrender to Jesus. I believe that ultimately He will see to the details of discipleship in each of his followers. I fear that too often we reduce our life with God to a list of rules or behaviors, degrading the gospel to law and not a relationship or a way of life.
But maybe in every culture there are one or two beachheads or strongholds that resist principle or intentionality. Places where the enemy is too entrenched and clear thinking doesn't seem to reach-- Where the cultural noise is just too loud to hear the whispering Holy Spirit shouting for holiness. Isn't this just such a case?
What has been relegated to counselors offices and (at best) small accountability meetings may need to be brought into the light of day and be addressed as a communal problem. Sunday, the letter we read to the church at Pergamum lead me down this conceptual road. I feel compelled to call us to a higher standard. I am asking that we elevate the dialogue on the issue to our living rooms and leadership team meetings. I am calling on our elders, directors and micro church leaders to know how our people are doing in this area and to not shrink back from the evil that has broken into our houses.
I am trying to stand up to an intruder that does not belong in our homes and that threatens our spiritual lives. I am not trying to take on the industry or even the will in the wayward heart to consume it, but rather its place in our community. I am standing up to the part of it that has pushed its way into our homes. I want to see it put out. I am not ready to go on a crusade or even alter my philosophy of ministry, I am merely asking for us to live what we say and to take holiness in ourselves and the lives of those we love more seriously.
I made some practical suggestions Sunday and I want to help those of you who are ready to take that challenge. It can be broken down into three categories.
If you need help with repentance, I would suggest two things. Pray through each line of Psalm 51, and then find a person to confess your indiscretions to. Please choose someone who is appropriate, a good friend, parent, or spouse, not an acquaintance or a friend of the opposite gender.
Next put into place some serious safeguards. Jesus said, if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. This calls for radical response to the damage that sin can do. In other words, give up something small to stop a great evil in your life. We have compiled some software resources and practical steps for you.
Finally, if you think that might not be enough, and if you are worried that this struggle has progressed to the point of addiction and therefore you need extra help, please read this companion article.
Remember, our sin is not greater than the God who has called us and saved us. We are not defined by the things we have done wrong, but instead by the thing that Jesus has done to undo those wrongs and free us from them. The real work is realizing that we are created to be holy, and to live into that identity.
Remember the words of Ephesians 4,
"You were taught... to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."