Against Againstness

against

Inside my generation is a gnawing need to be part of something. To belong to something greater than ourselves, to be part of something great.

The problem is that belonging to great things involves a lot of work and determination. We aren’t really into working or determination, so we choose the next best thing.

Againstness

You see, it is easy to belong to a growing mass of critics. You read watch a video of Ray Rice punching his wife. You are filled with outrage. You tweet a nasty denunciation of Ray Rice, Roger Goodell, The Baltimore Ravens, the Western Culture, Men, and the spiraling failure of humanity. If you are especially industrious, you even wrote a blog post about it.

Take a deep breath. That was hard work. You did something.

But you didn’t. What you did was join the large mass of humanity in agreeing that Ray Rice had done something terrible. You aren’t a lone voice bringing attention to a terrible situation. You are part of a large self-congratulating mob patting each other on the backs for how much they are against domestic violence. Againstness gives you the illusion of doing something. As Barnabas Piper clear shows in his article Defined by What We Aren’t, againstness is at its best laziness and at its worst Pharisaical.

Throughout my teen years I traveled with an organization called Teen Missions International. Every year, the great Bob (he has a last name, but we all just called him Bob), would stand in the darkness on commissioning night. We were all ready to have a pizza party that night as we headed out to our overseas work, but Bob would solemnly say.

“Do you see this darkness. It is better to light a candle than it is to curse the darkness.”

He would light a single candle in that large tent. We would see the outlines of people even in that large space, with the lighting of a single candle.

Darkness cursing is easy. Candle cursing is even easier. Wouldn’t a bigger candle be better? If you really want to light that space, why not get some big halogen bulbs? Candles are bad for the environment. That message he spoke after lighting the candle wasn’t that inspiring.

Bob did something. The rest of us are just critics.

Hating sin is not loving God. Hating the effects of sin is not caring for people. We need to define ourselves by what we are FOR.

Yes, I know. This sounds an awful lot like work. We need to make a hard choice, stop pretending we are loving people by being critical of their enemies. Don’t pretend you love God because you hate his enemies. We need to actually love our God and love his people.

Ironically, this is really mundane. Loving God looks quite boring, even domesticated. For most, it means living a quiet life working their jobs and loving their families. It means we complain less and compliment more. It means looking at God and asking why I don’t delight in him more.

The greatest sinner you know is reading this article right now. Is it possible that you are so critical because you feel your own sin. It is easier to justify my sin if Ray Rice and Chris Brown are evil. At least I don’t do that! But that nagging knowledge that you have failed your God won’t go away.

The cure for againstness is to look deeply at what God has done FOR you. If you are so screwed up (and you are, much more than you realize) and God loves you so much anyway, WOW. That is good news. When you look out of your broken heart and see other sinners, the bent of your heart won’t be to condemn, because if I condemn them, I condemn myself. God does not condemn me, even though he really should.

I want that for others too.

We stand with the God of the Universe at our back and in front. With that kind of security, we have so much to be for and too much work to do. Sometimes that means being against evil. Most of the time it means proactively teaching and training and loving and building. It means being rather boring most of the time. If we don’t build, the world will fall apart.

So let’s do some building.

-Chip

I would also like to recommend the excellent book Facing Leviathan by Mark Sayers. In its pages, I discovered much of my own againstness and where it came from.

The image above is courtesy of Acid Pix and is used with permission.

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Porn and the Christian Guy: Part 4, How do I stop looking at Porn?

what can i doThe story of an addict goes something like this. You find some porn. You seek out porn. You take risks to get more. Relationships and work start to suffer. Your conscience begins to pound hard on you. This thing that you can’t live without is making you MISERABLE!

Then you get caught. What you feared the most has happened. You promise this person (who is invariably your wife) that you will never do it again. You are resolved and certain of a porn free future…until the following night. You start secretly looking again. It gets worse and you are the same old addict you were before, but it is now it is crucial that you don’t get caught. The spiral continues.

You get caught again.

Now what do you do. The promises don’t work any more. Maybe you should try a new plan.

This story has been retold in millions of marriages. Some of the details change, but the plot is eerily similar. If you are in that place, there is hope for you. Are you ready to begin? Recovering is a painful journey, but IT IS WORTH IT!

1. Repent to God 

The person you have most offended is God. Imagine if you were married to the President’s daughter and were looking at nude pictures of his other daughter. That is what you just did to the God of the Universe. Remember that your confession to Him must be thorough, specific, and gutwrenching. He is angry about what you have done but He also loves you very, very much. There is forgiveness for you in repentance.

2. Tell your wife.

Now, I should note that this rule applies to everyone except you. You are the great exception to this one. Seriously, if I met your wife, I would give you a pass. She will be hurt and you really love her and wouldn’t want to see her hurt. You are just that kind of guy who loves your wife that much.

Or you are just a coward who is unwilling to confess what you have done to her.

I will concede that there may be exceptions to this rule. You aren’t one of them. You have sinned against her in a very personal way. She deserves to know as much as she wants to know. Jesus felt that lust was equivalent to adultery (Matthew 5:28) and she deserves to know. Man up and tell her.

Also, when you tell her. you are forbidden from blaming her for any of this. She may have refused sex to you for a decade but this is still your sin and she deserves an unqualified apology.

Pro Tip: One of the things no one ever tells you about confession is how much better you feel when it is over. You don’t know how much weight you are carrying until it falls off your shoulders. Trust me, there is a lot more joy there for you when you confess this to God and your wife!

3. Find and join a good recovery group.

If you were going to beat this on your own, why haven’t you already. Don’t lie to yourself! There is no amount of motivation that is going to get you to quit this destructive behavior without the support of a recovery group. Remember that the Church is believers working together to grow closer to Jesus, so a Christian recovery group is you harnessing the power of the body of Christ. Use it.

Let me phrase it another way. If there was a tool to help you recover from your addictive pornography problems, wouldn’t you be a fool to ignore it. If this was a pill you would take it. Swallow your pride and join a group. If that group is no good, find another one. Some groups aren’t any good. Keep searching until you find a helpful group of men to support you.

A good rule of thumb is that you confess to your wife but she is NOT part of your accountability. She has been through enough and should not be in the position of asking you how you are doing. You do the work and tell her how you are doing and some other guy can be the one who holds you accountable.

4. Get Covenant Eyes on your computer.

There is an excellent piece of software out there called Covenant Eyes. It is internet monitoring software that sends a scored list of the websites you listed to your accountability partners. It is pretty sensitive and will catch you if you visit pornography on that computer.

One objection I hear sometimes is, “But Chip, what about my privacy.”

The real question is whether you really want to give up porn or not. Without monitoring, it is very unlikely that you will be successful in your recovery. If you don’t want to do the hard steps to getting better, you won’t get better.

5. Be Encouraged

The reason you are reading this post is that you ARE doing something. You are learning how to recover from a life with pornography. Most men never get to the point of even looking for help. You may have a long way to go, but be encouraged that you are taking the first steps.

One final note. I have not mentioned the Christian disciplines. None of the above options will help you at all without practicing prayer, Bible reading, and regularly meeting with Christian brothers. You will only beat pleasure (pornography) with a stronger pleasure (knowing Jesus). This will be the topic of a later article and I will explore it more then. This article is the first aid. The Christian disciplines will be your path to good health.

Have hope. There is good reason to hope.

-Chip

Up Next:  My Husband Keeps Looking at Porn, What Should I Do?