The Steady Gaze – A  Darkness That Needs Light

50 Shades.  Just one of many examples of movies, tv shows, and a myriad of visual “entertainment” where spiritual and physical darkness is cloaked as “innocent romance” yet is anything but that.  Portrayed as a “guilty pleasure” with no consequences.  But, as Ron Hutchcraft says, “There are a thousand shades of dark, inviting us to what looks like a party. But ends up a prison.  A prison Jesus Christ came to save us from. To show us we are more than a body to be used. We are a soul to be cherished. Too precious to degrade or defile. Worth dying for.”

The truth is that it is a symptom as well as an illness; for our culture continues a feeding frenzy to see “just how far” we will go.  Much of our entertainment these days is characterized, on a much more subtle basis, by sexual immorality or right on the outside of the guardrail, along the edge of the cliff.  Most of it is not built on true intimacy but on a cheap imitation that leaves one hungry and assuming that more of the same will satisfy when, in reality, the only sexuality that satisfies is one grounded and lived out in the truth of God’s design!

True intimacy is something to value, to long for, to wait for, and to pursue!

The question “What’s your guilty pleasure?” can really be worded more honestly, “What’s the thing you want to do that is totally contrary to what God wants you to do, but you’re going to do it anyways?” justifying it with phrases such as “It won’t hurt; it will actually help my marriage,” “If I watch, I won’t actually do anything,” “I’m single; I need outlets; no harm,” “Grace gives me freedom.”  They may sound good, but an arrogance, that says we can stand where God says we cannot, drips from every word.

Certainly, there is a difference between the “guilty pleasure” of an unhealthy food that would be better to avoid or taking a break from a laborious chore to do something mindless and that to which God directly or indirectly says “No” particularly in the area of sexuality.  The enemy will tell us from a myriad sources that God is a killjoy who calls sex sinful and that biblical sex is boring. But what God says “No” to is never intended to kill our joy but to increase it.  As the one Who created us, He is far more aware of what will bring us true satisfaction than what we or the world believes. And, indeed, the mind, soul, and spirit are inextricably connected to the mind so that which we “think” on affects every part of us.

If “what’s your guilty pleasure?” in the realm of sexuality is asked with a giggle and a feigned hushed tone, does it somehow make it okay?  And if we can find someone we consider “godly” or “more moral” than us that is willing to engage in it, can we justify being a part of it?  Not if we are allowing Jesus to be Lord of our life and our choices. And, if that one we raise up as “godly” is leading us towards something from which God says to “flee,” then they are not ones we should follow.  They are also guilty before God of being a stumbling block and harming their own walk with Christ.  If we are that one, then God will hold us accountable for leading someone away from His Truth thus hindering their joy in marriage, present or future, and, above all,  keeping them and us from a healthy relationship with the Savior.

For God’s design for sexuality is, as one author puts it, “red hot monogamy!”  Knowing that in marriage you can explore the depths of the soul and body as He planned it, one on one, leaves no room for questions of the heart.  It is a safe harbor where two can increasingly, over time, know and be known and experience great contentment; no breach in the secret places as each protects their own sexuality and that of their spouse or future spouse.

When we set up guardrails for sexual intimacy, as one married or one looking towards marriage in the future, we hold fast to God’s command to “flee sexual immorality” and we protect the genuine. To either not avoid tempting situations or to not run if we find ourselves in them is never positive. To choose a “guilty pleasure” in regards to sexuality, whether it be emotional or physical, of the mind or in time and space, is never helpful nor justifiable!  Stepping over guardrails to flirt with the edge as one relates to sexuality and the opposite sex opens doors that lead to edges that are anything but harmless.

– a look, the clothes we choose, an “innocent” touch, words that stroke the ego

– pornography – visual or literary that makes an indelible mark on our brain

– a movie like 50 Shades and other media that aren’t so quickly dubbed “dangerous;” yet, while  not as deviant, are equally as sexually tempting

– internet sites, magazines, and catalogs that promote a sexual worldview that seems so “freeing” but as God’s word says are “nothing new under the sun”

It all leaves those who act on them wounded and hungry for the “real thing” found only in a sexuality that God designed for marriage. It also wounds those to whom they are connected.  Within marriage, enjoyment can be nurtured, fulfilled, and lived without regret!  It is where the soul and the body become one and true delight follows.  It takes effort, but the joy that follows as each learns to love and serve one another in every aspect, including sexuality, reaps a contentment unparalleled. Certainly, where past sexual sin of any kind has been a part of a life, God is more than able to bring healing and redeem it; but it must be laid at the foot of the cross and left there.  The enemy will say, “what is done is done…might as well do it again.”  Jesus says, “On the cross, I paid the price!  It is finished! Don’t keep picking up sin you have laid here and continue in it.”  We will not find healing and freedom from guilt if we consciously pursue it but will always be “just” missing the joy without reserve if we continue to make choices that, by their very nature, deny the goodness of God for us!

Today we are on the precipice of a temptation that threatens to undo the hearts and minds of so many; a temptation that has the capability of leaving an emotional mark on the soul of individuals and an entire generation.  The danger is greatest for those who minimize its potential and for those who will listen to those who diminish it, choosing to view it themselves. If it isn’t “so bad,” would we want our sons or brothers to be like Christian Grey, in all his sexual deviancy; or our daughters or sisters to date someone like him?  And, as we watch and listen to other forms of media, our filter must always be the Word of God where true freedom is found.  Is it true, right, pure, admirable? There is a pitfall when we “peek” and allow a “hint of sexual immorality” to invade our thoughts, even to just “see for ourselves;” for it is as James 1:14-15 says,  “…each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”  Sin always begins with what we allow in our minds; it is at that point we can choose to either shake our fists at satan and not give up ground or begin the slow fade of giving in to choices that will leave us empty.

And if we truly love family and friends, we will not keep silent about that which has the potential to harm them physically and/or spiritually nor will we join them in things we know break the heart of God.  Rather, we will “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) and “expose the fruitless deeds of darkness” (Ephesians 5:11) so that, as far as it depends on us, they will  hear that truth and have one  who will come alongside as a protective hedge to shed light into darkness. And we will not be wounded ourselves or held accountable for being a obstacle to their relationship with Christ.

True delight is found in sexual intimacy with one in marriage. For the one who is single, purity of the body and mind is no less important.  But for the one who claims Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, sexual purity is also tied to an unhindered relationship with God and with other believers.  We are not saved by our actions but by Christ’s work on the cross alone; however, our actions reflect the health of our relationship with Him and they are a barometer of how much we trust, fear, and are in awe of Him; and it is evidence of a life redeemed and transformed.

             “Oh, it’s hard to imagine the freedom we find, in the things we leave behind!” (Michael Card)

**  Further Resources:

As we “think on these things,” we must always do so in light of God’s word not as we perceive them.  These verses from Scripture are a jump off point, a place to start praying for the courage to stand boldly on Truth, on the goodness of God for His created and very much loved ones!

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”  Philippians 4:8-9

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”  Galatians 1:10

“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.  Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;  you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” I Corinthians 6:18-20

“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure.”  Hebrews 13:4

“Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or any kind of impurity…you are light in the Lord…find out what pleases the Lord.  Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” Ephesians 5:3, 8, 11

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”  Jeremiah 17:9 (and the heart will say, there is no harm in much of what we watch and listen to, but we have to ask God what He says…and look at it from His word)

“Flee the evil desires of youth” (2 Tim. 2:22). When you flee evil, you don’t keep turning around and asking, “Is this far enough?”  (Randy Alcorn)

“So much of the power of sin is found in its secrecy, Guard yourself with godly friendships and Gospel accountability. God designed sex to be relational…Let us give ourselves to His design and reclaim godly marriages.”   (David Platt)

Specifically in light of 50 Shades:

http://familylifetoday.com/program/fifty-shades-of-deception/#resources

http://www.authenticintimacy.com/

Special Offer:  Exchange your copy of “50 Shades of Grey” for Dannah Gresh and Judi Slattery’s “Pulling Back the Shades” at   http://pullingbacktheshades.com/

Resources on Pornography for Men and Women:

Tim Challies book recommendations for men and women:  https://www.challies.com/recommendations/pornography

Tim Challies Wife’s Plea to Christian Men: https://www.challies.com/articles/my-wifes-plea-to-christian-men

10 Verses to Help Defeat Addiction (Men and Women): https://husbandrevolution.com/10-verses-help-defeat-porn-addiction/

Fight Pornography Like a Man (A Transparent View): https://fiercemarriage.com/fight-sexual-addiction-like-a-man

Corrosive Influence of Porn on Women: http://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/divorce-and-infidelity/pornography-and-virtual-infidelity/corrosive-influence-of-porn-on-wives

A Letter to Sons:  http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/a-letter-to-my-sons-about-pornography

Men and Women both:  “We need to stop treating pornography like a fly at the picnic and start treating it like a viper in the bedroom.”