Posts tagged needham
What Monster Movies and Porn Have In Common

“See? Told ya. Only one way to kill a werewolf.”  - Rudy from The Monster Squad I was five when I saw my first PG-13 movie.  For some reason the older kid in the neighborhood out of his own good graces invited my juvenile self and a buddy over to watch The Monster Squad.  It’s a super dated teen monster movie from the 80’s.  A surprising fact, it never won an Oscar.  I know, I couldn’t believe it either.  Anyway, onto the plot:  A band of buddies find themselves battling a horde of monsters with Dracula as the ringleader in order to save the world…kinda like Goonies but with mummies and vampires.  The genius of the film (if I can use such a phrase) is in the scenes where the kids are determining what weapons are appropriate for which monster.  They spend time arguing about the necessary accoutrements for killing a vampire and so on.  On one occasion, a kid named Rudy proves himself right by successfully taking out the werewolf with a silver bullet and then exclaiming, “See? Told ya. Only one way to kill a werewolf.”  Now, how in the world am I planning a segue from a terrible 80’s B-movie to porn?  Well, for those who didn’t know, this blog is a very belated ‘part 2’ of my previous blog, “All In the Family:  Lust and Her Ugly Cousins”.  In that post I sought to resource you with practical ways to experience freedom from lust’s stronghold.  But practicum does us no good if we don’t know the type of monster we’re dealing with.  You can’t really talk garlic and crucifixes until you’ve decided it’s a vampire and not a werewolf in your living room (trying to stay relevant for all my Twilight readers J).  So I want to talk ‘big picture’ in this blog.  What’s really at the heart of our battle with lust?  Just what sort of monster are we dealing with here?

For a while I thought about sin, and in particular my porn addiction, as a violation of God’s law, the 10 Commandments.  I was committing various crimes against God’s standard and thereby indicted myself before a holy God.  My sin, my monster was primarily an activity-based issue.  Of course, the point of this blog is not to deny that.  The Bible is profoundly clear that our sins are activities of the mind and body against God’s perfect standard, His Law.  But I believe there to be an even more profound lens through which we can understand the monster of sin and in this case, lust:  Sin is not just a violation of Law, it is a violation of appetite.

The Old Testament is one giant train wreck of sin.  We get two good chapters and then the earth goes to pot.  I don’t just mean Adam and Eve.  I don’t just mean those pagan nations that all end in the suffix –ite, either.  I mean the nation for which God selected for Himself, Israel.  It took about 34 seconds after God led them out of slavery in Egypt for them to start grumbling against Moses and God because they were hungry.  Then you arrive at the 10 Commandments scene.  Moses comes down from the mountain, having been with God for 40 days receiving His Law to find the nation having a giant orgy and worshipping a bunch of earrings they melted down to look like a cow.  Fast forward to the years of the Kings.  These kings are charged with leading the people of God into obedience of God’s statutes.  They were to be models to the people of grace and servant-hood.  Instead, they were some of the biggest criminals of all:  erecting statues to false gods, practicing unspeakable sexual immorality, some kings even sacrificed their own children to idols by burning them alive.  Greed, murder, deception, idolatry, adultery, theft and pride riddled this people.  And then, we arrive at the Prophets, where God spells out His indictment against this vile nation.  Jeremiah, the weeping Prophet, doesn’t get two chapters into his book before he lays before the people what God believes to be their crimes.  I was shocked by what I read.  I expected a laundry list and what I got instead was two charges.

“[M]y people have committed two evils:

they have forsaken me,

the fountain of living waters,

and hewed out cisterns for themselves,

broken cisterns that can hold no water.”  (Jeremiah 2:13)

Wow.  All the things God could have said, and He chose instead to boil their crimes down to two things:  They forsook God, the fountain of Living water.  And They tried to drink from wells that could not satisfy them.

Maybe we’ve struggled so long under lust without experiencing real freedom because we didn’t understand what type of monster it was.  We thought we could beat it with silver bullets but we didn’t realize we were battling Dracula, not the Wolfman.  We’ve attacked lust by trying to choke it out with willpower, self-denial and the like, but we haven’t considered that maybe the solution is found in quenching our thirst in Jesus, the fountain of living water.  Our monster is one of appetite, and to beat it we must satisfy our appetites in the person of Christ.  This is the solution.  This is the only solution.  Our wooden stake in the heart of sin.

Jesus once said to a crowd of people “I am the bread of life;  He who comes to me will never hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” (John 6:35)  I’m gonna go out on a limb and say Jesus is telling the truth.  He really can satisfy us in such a profound way that our hunger for sin will wilt away.  There is a way to not hunger and thirst for lustful images by feasting on the Satisfier, Jesus.  Take Him at His word.  Sit with Him daily.  Read the Scriptures and allow Him to leap off the pages at you.  Speak to Him.  Listen to Him.  Invite Him to fill your soul with water that quenches and bread that fills.  Maybe for the first time in your life, you won’t need to fear your monster anymore.

All In the Family: Lust & Her Ugly Cousins

Months ago I listened a most fascinating and challenging sermon by one of my favorite teachers, Tim Keller.  The sermon was called “How to Change”.  Do yourself a favor and find it on iTunes immediately.  His talk tackled the fruit of the Spirit as addressed the book of Galatians.  Keller quoted the wise Puritan theologian Jonathan Edwards who in one of his books was quoted as saying “There is a concatenation of the graces of Christianity”.  Concatenation.  It’s a weird word but it’s packed with meaning.  Basically, Edwards was saying that there is a deep interconnectedness between the fruit of the Spirit, so that you can’t truly have one without the others.  If you experience peace, but no humility, what you really have is a shell of peace, a façade that will show itself to only be circumstantial in the end.  True peace must necessarily be partnered with humility because a truly peaceful person is someone who admits that God, and not they, is in control and that they submit to His will for their life.  Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are all close relatives of each other.  You can’t say your in the family and not be around all of them.  Kinda like Everybody Loves Raymond.  :)  Over the past few years of observing myself and those around me, an idea has been developing in my mind about a different type of concatenation.  But first, some things you may not know about me.

Fact #1:  From the age of 9 until about 7 years ago, I was deep in the trenches of porn addiction.  Yep, for the better part of 10 years of my life my identity was wrapped up in my lustful habits.  At the worst point I was looking at pornographic material every day, often never leaving my room except to go to school.

Fact #2:  From the age of 9 until about 7 years ago, I was severely overweight.  In fourth grade I weighed 116 lbs.  I was a 36 waist by the time I was eleven.  In high school and college I weighed about 260 lbs.

All of that changed by my sophomore year of college.  God gave me a number of decisive victories over lust that year, and eventually 1 week of freedom turned into 2, turned into 3, and then one day I just never returned to internet porn.  It was such a burden lifted.  Interestingly, at the exact same time my gluttonous eating patterns began to change.  I was saying “no” to overeating, and pound by pound the weight began to fall off.  In just a handful of months I lost almost 70lbs.  I went from a 42 waist to a 34.  I even dropped a shoe size!  It occurred to me recently that these two victories happening simultaneously might not have been mere coincidence.  Could it be that in some odd way, there was a link between the two and that by crippling one, the other crippled as well?  Perhaps spiritual fruit isn’t the only thing that is concatenated.  Perhaps our sins can be too.

By this point, you might be confused by what I mean.  Let me give a couple more examples.  I have two friends, both who struggle with lust (manifesting in a pornography addiction).  As the battle with lust increased in Friend A, so did his battle with his weight.  He would stumble by looking at porn and console himself by eating a meal.  Conversely, he would gorge himself on food, and as sure as the sun rises would go to his room and get on the internet.  On top of these two issues, slothfulness showed up to play.  This man who was once very disciplined in his lifestyle was now sleeping past noon most days.  Lust, gluttony, laziness, all manifested in his life at about the same time.

Friend B has two foibles: A constant losing battle with lust and a constant losing battle with dust.  The dude is just a slob.  Disorderliness and uncleanliness mark his existence.  It is my opinion that for both of these men, there is a deep connectedness, a concatenation, of sins in their life.

My point is this:  Lust, gluttony, slothfulness, uncleanliness, drunkenness, are members of the same family:  Self-indulgence.  They can no more be separated than Siamese twins who are connected at the heart.  If one is in your life, it is incredibly easy for the others to show up.  Consequently, if the victory you experience over one is a real, Jesus-given victory, the others will have a much harder time sticking around.  I’ve seen this in my life and in the life of many folks around me.

The reason I am writing these things is to provide one more round of ammunition in your arsenal against sin.  I don’t believe this truth is all you need to find victory.  In my next blog I’ll be tackling what I believe the ultimate problem and solution are to the sin of lust.  That is not what this blog is about.  But this can still be ammo for you. Perhaps you are in the throes of lust and addiction and are desperate for freedom.  Consider this counsel.  Heed the words of Paul, “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:27).  By taking control of one part of your “body” you might be able to reign in the others.  I wish I would have known this long before seven years ago.  Perhaps I would’ve experienced victory sooner.