Monday, November 10, 2008

Dining at Death's Door

People have been on me to write something. That doesn't usually motivate me very well. With many words comes much sin, so I try not to write if I don't have anything productive to say. Rambling can be dangerous. But today I have something to say that I think men need to hear.

For at the window of my house I have looked out through my lattice, and I have seen among the simple, I have perceived among the youths, a young man lacking sense, passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness. And behold, the woman meets him, dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart. She is loud and wayward; her feet do not stay at home; now in the street, now in the market, and at every corner she lies in wait. She seizes him and kisses him, and with bold face she says to him, “I had to offer sacrifices, and today I have paid my vows; so now I have come out to meet you, to seek you eagerly, and I have found you. I have spread my couch with coverings, colored linens from Egyptian linen; I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love till morning; let us delight ourselves with love. For my husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey; he took a bag of money with him; at full moon he will come home.” With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him. All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life. And now, O sons, listen to me, and be attentive to the words of my mouth. Let not your heart turn aside to her ways; do not stray into her paths, for many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death.


This little quote is a masterpiece - more raw than Steinbeck and more eloquent than Shakespeare. I guess we should expect that considering the author is God, and the quote is Proverbs 7. The society that Solomon wrote to may have been less technologically advanced than ours, but it was no less crude. Solomon warns young men against an imaginary married woman who runs the town while her husband is away on business. She ensnares her prey with seductive speech and sensual promises. The poor young dopes think they're getting lucky, when in fact they're being led to slaughter. Solomon describes her bed as "the chambers of death." That sounds appealing.

This text is as graphic as the pornography that is plaguing the hearts of so many men in our churches. And while women are the fastest growing demographic for porn consumption, men are still the primary partakers and targets. The methods may be different than the woman in Solomon's picture, but the message is the same. "Look at what we've prepared for you." "We've acted out for you everything you're missing out on with your boring, drab, selfish wife. We can get girls to do what you can't, but wish you could. Money will motivate in ways love never can." "You can even pretend you're the one using these lovely young creatures - the ultimate in reality tv." "And the best part is, no one needs to know. You don't have to face the lady at the checkout counter anymore. These submissive starlets are at your beck and call, in the privacy of your own home."

Men, if there was ever a time to cut off hands and pluck out eyes, it's now. The promises of porn are the same promises offered by Solomon's lovely adulteress. They are absolutely sure to satisfy, and just as sure to kill your soul. I have read several sources that suggest (and my own counseling experience verifies) that porn is more addictive than any substance known to man. The recidivism rate (people who return to their old way of life) is incredibly high. If you've never experienced pornography, let this be a warning like Solomon's. Don't start! It promises fullness of joy, but it's really just dining at death's door.

If you're already stuck in the trap, know this - no one gets out of a trap without a cost. I hate to be the one to tell you that. But it's true. Maybe you've heard of wild animals that chew off a leg that's caught in a trap. The bad news is, they lost a leg. The good news is, they saved their life. If you are stuck in the never-ending cycle of indulgence, guilt, fake repentance, re-indulgence, deeper guilt, more earnest fake repentance, re-re-indulgence, soul-crushing guilt, fake repentance with tears, re-re-re-indulgence, love-killing guilt, secret fake repentance that doesn't require the death of yourself, re-re-re-re-indulgence, marriage-wrecking guilt, secret fake repentance with a promise that this time was the last time, re-re-re-re-re-indulgence, nearly suicidal guilt, more fake repentance with a list of rules added in, re-re-re-re-re-re-indulgence, giving up the battle and accepting that you'll be a depraved sicko for the rest of your life - there is hope for you!

All it will cost is your leg! It's great if you can get through life avoiding traps. But for all those who aren't wise or fortunate enough for that kind of safety, this life is crummy and it requires your death to escape it. How does a Christian die to pornography? How does a Christian chew off his leg to get out of the trap? It's not difficult to do, but it's painful. Confession. Consider this word from Deitrich Bonhoeffer in his excellent book Life Together: "The root of all sin is pride, superbia. I want to be for myself; I have a right to be myself, a right to my hatred and my desires, my life and my death. The spirit and flesh of human beings are inflamed by pride, for it is precisely in their wickedness that human beings want to be like God. Confession in the presence of another believer is the most profound kind of humiliation. It hurts, makes one feel small; it deals a terrible blow to one's pride. To stand there before another Christian as a sinner is an almost unbearable disgrace. By confessing actual sins the old self dies a painful, humiliating death before the eyes of another Christian... It is none other than Jesus Christ who openly suffered the shameful death of a sinner in our place, who was not ashamed to be crucified for us as an evildoer. And it is nothing else but our community with Jesus Christ that leads us to the disgraceful dying that comes in confession, so that we may truly share in this cross. The cross of Jesus Christ shatters all pride. We cannot find the cross of Jesus if we are afraid of going to the place where Jesus can be found, to the public death of the sinner. And we refuse to carry the cross when we are ashamed to take upon ourselves the shameful death of the sinner in confession. In confession we break through to the genuine community of the cross of Jesus Christ; in confession we affirm our cross."

Indulging in pornography is dining at death's door. Make no mistake. You're killing yourself. You're killing your ability to love others. You're killing your ability to delight in God, and your ability to desire your wife, or marriage if you're single. You're killing your eternal soul, for the sexually immoral will not inherit the Kingdom of God. It's better to die at the cross than at the judgment. Chew off your leg. Don't wait till it's too late to take that radical step. Confess your sin. Set up accountability. Don't fake repent. Truly repent. Don't forgive yourself. Chase after God's forgiveness. Don't pronounce a word of grace upon yourself. Let a brother or sister in Christ pronounce God's grace over you. You may be scared, but you won't regret it.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Darby, good post! Pornography is a big deal and easy to fall into and so very deadly. I couldn't agree more. It's not just there for men though, women too. Some people might be surprised, but I know it to be fact that women struggle too in this area, but not typically as much as men. My assumption would be that men and women are just different. Men seem to have a really strong desire that most women don't usually have. Just recently I heard a fellow brother in Christ make a huge confession and I am pleased that person had enough courage to come forward and confess sin as he did. Although he did not give details as to what the sin was, I knew what it was. (Knowing them as well as I do) I was pleased to hear him confess that, not pleased that he comitted the sins. On the other hand I would hope that most wives would not make it any easier for their husbands to fall into such sins. In saying that I don't mean that his sin is in any way her fault, that is not the way I mean it. But in some instances wives have denied their husbands that sexual gratification for long periods of time which makes it so much easier for the man to fall into temptation.

Darby Livingston said...

Anonymous,

I agree with you that the problem does affect women as well as men, which is why women are the fastest growing demographic. I also agree with your second point. I always say that we can't make someone else sin, but we can make it easy.