Food File: November 22, 2018

Target Audience: Evangelical Christians

It’s been a while since I have posted to this file. Right now, I am cooking my boneless, skinless chicken breast for supper. This is a sign of growth and progress in my life. Oh, I have cooked many boneless, skinless chicken breasts in my life, but I have been going through an unusually high time of stress in my life. Normally, I would be sitting at my computer with a bag of tortilla chips, salsa, and a couple of tubs of sour cream. Not tonight, though. I have lost almost 30 pounds in the past three months at Weight Watchers. I have started working out at my local YMCA and I am starting to look really good again. Oh yes, I have been here in the past. 
There will always be times of stress, anxiety, and depression for me. Being a Christian does not insulate you from the emotional realities of life. Christians can be subject to abuse of all kinds. I will have more to say about abuse in another post, but abuse does relate to how I have eaten in the past and my relationship to food. I have always looked at food, particularly sugary desserts as comfort food. That is what my mother used, as did a lot of mothers of her generation, to comfor kids when we were sad, when we celebrated, when we were stressed, etc. When I was growing up, no one thought about long-term consequences, like being morbidly obese later in life. 
Times are different now. We know a lot more about nutrition and the negative impacts of sugar, sodium, and fat in our diets. Until recently, that never stopped me from indulging in my food drug of choice, usually donuts or chips of some kind. 
There is still a long road ahead for me. I may have lost about 30 pounds, but for me to really be in shape and healthy, I have to lose about another 170. That is such a large number. At the moment, my goal is to lose 60 pounds in six months. That number is much more attainable. I will take the next chunk when it happens.

Misconceived Leadership

Target Audience: Evangelical Christians, Conservative Christians

It has been my observation over a number of years that, in a number of churches and denominations, that strong leadership is characterized by the ability of people to control other people and outcomes. That statement is about as judgmental and general as it can get. It isn’t a judgment against any one person or group of people. Perhaps the concept of leadership in churches has always been characterized by strong, dominant, assertive or aggressive individuals who pilot agendas from beginning to end. I offer no evidence to support this claim or to contradict it. I have also never been to the Global Leadership Summit, or Leadercast, as it once was called, albeit a number of leaders in various churches have attempted to coax me into going. 

The fundamental misconception of leadership is that it has to be “strong”, or “assertive”, or “aggressive” and that its ultimate objective, in an ecclesiastical environment, is to “pilot” an agenda from beginning to end. I believe this concept of leadership is completely foreign to the New Testament concept of leaders being equippers of God’s people. 

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The Apostle Paul writes:
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for the works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-13 NIV

The one thing God asks of the offices listed above is that they equip his people for the works of service. Please note that he didn’t say the well-educated people, or the rich people, or the good looking people, or the successful people, or the experienced people. He just said that those in leadership in churches should equip God’s people for the works of service. I like the fact that “works” is plural and not singular. I have heard it so often used in the singular inferring that there is but one work in the ministry, but there are so many. 

While church leaders today would be loathe to admit it, I believe there is a separation of “sheep and goats” when it comes to selecting leaders in churches. In my own church I have experienced this discrimination. I have been told that I am not “ready to lead”. I find that to be a most curious statement. What does it mean to be “ready to lead”? Does it mean that I still think too independently for the tastes or the comfort of the appointed church leadership? Do they think that I am not mature enough in my faith (after 45 years as a Christian)? Perhaps I am not. Merely being a Christian for decades does not necessarily mean one is mature in the faith. Who, then, is qualified to lead? How do they determine who is qualified and who is not qualified to lead? When I read passages like the one I quoted above, I am led to believe that God feels that all of His people are qualified to lead, otherwise He would not have given those in leadership the perpetual task of equipping His people for the works of ministry. I tend to think that the very word “leadership” or “leader” is so polluted by ungodly imagery that it may no longer be useful within churches.

Those in leadership may assert that I am sucking on sour grapes because I was not “chosen” or “selected” for a leadership position in my church. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, I abhor the notion that leadership itself is something to be obtained or a goal, or that if you are in leadership, you have “arrived” at some lofty plateau of Christian excellence. In many, many cases people celebrate their ascension to leadership rather than approach it with a sober humility. In a recent chat with a leader at my church, I asked him why he picked the study questions for our Bible study each week. [Now I want to couch his response with all due respect and humility because he may have fired off a hurried response without taking time to think about it. I have been there many times and have always lived to regret it.] He responded that he selects the questions that he feels are most important and because of time constraints not everyone will be able to discuss questions that are relevant to them. Sadly, his response is very consistent with many other leaders in churches today. 

Picking the study questions in a youth Bible study or a study for young children is entirely appropriate as they may have not yet gained the intuitive abilities necessary to choose their own questions in a group. This leader, though, is leading a Bible study of well-educated and mature Christian adults. The notion that they are not capable of rationally choosing their own questions for discussion is offensive on the surface and leads to yet another question about liberty and legalism.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1 NIV

The Greek word for freedom in this passage is eleutheria (ἐλευθερίᾳ) which can be translated freedom or liberty, in particular, liberty from slavery. That first sentence could accurately be translated, It is for liberty that Christ has set us free. Google defines “liberty” as: the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views, or: the power or scope to act as one pleases. Even within the restrictive context of the Bible, God creates a balance between liberty (the ability to choose) and order (see 1 Corinthians 14). Unfettered liberty is in itself a form of slavery as we become slaves to our own desires that will ultimately lead to fractured communities. Liberty within the context of a structured environment, though, produces freedom when people are offered the ability to make choices that result in growth and greater intimacy with God.

Leaders that seek to manipulate or control people and outcomes deny the liberty that is rightfully given to people by Christ. They are leading, but if their ultimate goal isn’t to equip all of God’s people for works of service, then what is the object of their leadership? If they are not leading in a manner that results in people being equipped to do their jobs, essentially putting them out of work, then how are they truly equipping God’s people? If leaders are selected by criteria that is a clever blend of worldly imagery and Biblical principles, how does that serve to bring people on the margins (and every church has them) into the full fellowship of the church? 

I believe the answers to these problems lie not in the blogosphere but in open and honest discussion within churches, including people who feel as if they are on the margins, those who may not be “ready to lead” or those who others may not see as leaders. I don’t think there is a simple answer because the world we live isn’t a simple place. Blogs such as this one and others can contribute ideas and thoughts to a discussion that needs to be ongoing in progressive churches that have an interest in growing, both numerically and in the sense of intimacy with Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hatred Wrapped as Love

Target Audience: Conservatives, Evangelical Christians, Fundamentalist Christians

God is Love (1John 4:8)

What happens when we blend the definition of love with our political ideologies? An ideology is a set of beliefs commonly held by people within a certain group. For example, conservatives have beliefs that are distinctive to them. The same is true for liberals and other political ideologies. Everyone has an ideology of some kind. All of us align ourselves with one community or another, often several different communities intersect our lives. So our worldview is often a blend of various different ideologies and systems of belief. 

Those of us who identify as followers of Jesus, though, have agreed to align our worldview with a much higher standard — the principles of the kingdom of God, which Jesus Himself ushered in when He was on earth. As such, we commit to a new way of seeing other people. 

Recently, I had a conversation with a young Christian. He told me that while he doesn’t offer much original content on his Facebook page, his friends have no doubt about where he stands on God and issues such as LGBTQ. When I dug a bit deeper I discovered that his idea of “standing for God” was to tell people within the LGBTQ community that they are living in sin and their lifestyle would ultimately destroy them. In his opinion, this was the best way to communicate and show them the love of God. He went on to tell me that he did not have “time for theological discussions”. Sadly, he is symbolic of many right-wing, conservative Christians who tend to highlight the wrath, the judgment, the anger of God as opposed to His love, forgiveness, and His mercy. I was not privy to his conversations with the LGBTQ people to which he referred, but I doubt any of them asked if they could go to church with him to hear more about his vengeful God. 

Like so many [conservative] Christians these days, he focused on a person’s issues — note I did not use the word sin — instead of doing what Jesus really asked us to do, point them to Himself that they may know His love. Sin robs all humanity of the moral high ground. None of us have the right to think of ourselves as better than anyone else or to sit in judgment of another person. That alone is Christ’s role. 

When we wrap prejudice, hatred, and bigotry up and call it love we betray God and the essence of the gospel by which we were saved. I have often felt that the people who feel they have the moral high ground and look down on others tend to feel that it didn’t take quite as much of Jesus’ blood to cleanse them as it does the real perverts, like people in the LGBTQ community. 

That brings me to The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel. While I can agree on a few points in this document, most of the points, specifically referring to race, sexual orientation, and women are abhorrent to the essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This statement places men above women, and in fact subjugates women to men in a marriage relationship rather than making them equal partners with their husbands. A proscription found in the Pauline epistles prohibiting women from teaching in church or even speaking in church has been elevated to transcendent doctrine instead of being identified as a cultural practice. In Paul’s time men were usually educated and women were taught by men. Hence, women were not equipped to teach or speak in churches in that day. That doesn’t make them unequal with men. That is merely a cultural norm that does not need to be carried over into the 21st century. 

Women were not their only targets. People within the LGBTQ community also felt their hatred and scorn. Instead of welcoming people from that community into churches as full members of the body, worshipping alongside all others, The Statement declares them to be sinful merely because of their identity and their lifestyle. Far too many Christians have misread and misunderstood the New Testament with respect to homosexuality. Even worse, they have demonized homosexual men and women, making it a far greater issue than it ever was in the Bible. I have long believed this hatred and bigotry is borne of insecurity among heterosexual leaders in churches that they have successfully inculcated in their flocks over generations. It is now accepted as transcendent doctrine on the level of the deity of Christ, blood redemption, or the virgin birth, when in fact it is error that went to seed.

Jesus said: A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another. (John 13:34-35). The authors of the Statement got it wrong. It is the exclusive work of the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin. In their smugness, highlighting the errors of other sinners for which Christ died, they inadvertently violated another instruction that Christ gave: take the plank out of your own eye before you worry about the speck in another person’s eye. The hatred and bigotry that shone through so brightly, not the love of God for all creation, is nothing more than a blight against evangelical Christianity. Instead of drawing people to Christ, many, I am sure, will flee as fast as possible. Who wants to be around a vengeful, hateful god like that?

A much more positive and progressive read is this one: Statement on God’s Justice

Food File: August 29 2018

Target Audience: Evangelical Christians, Overweight People

I haven’t updated this file in quite some time. When I created it, I had planned on doing weekly updates about food, my weight, and my health overall. In my defense, I have Attention Deficit Disorder and I rarely do things consistently, even those things that I enjoy doing. That being said, a week ago Saturday I started a new chapter in my weight journey. I rejoined Weight Watchers for perhaps the eighth or ninth time in 30 years. I tipped the scale at 368.7 pounds. I am 5’7″.

This summer has not been kind to me in a few ways. I live in southern Ontario, in Canada, and we have had one of the hottest summers I can remember. It isn’t so much the heat as it is the humidity that bothers me. I am much more acclimated to cold weather than to hot weather. When the temperature hovers around 40C, that is too hot for me and I find myself confined to my air conditioned apartment. I have a bachelor’s apartment in a senior’s building, which has a number of wonderful advantages for me. Unfortunately, in hot weather, I can’t get out much and exercise is extremely limited. So while I wanted to start walking the streets this summer, the weather was simply too hot, even in the evenings. 

The sad reality about walking is that I have been inactive for so long I can barely walk from my apartment to my truck. Even walking around food stores is stressful and exhausting. Most of the time I shop at Costco, Walmart, or Loblaws, not because they have the best deals or are the closest to me, but because they have scooters that I can drive around the store and I don’t have to stand in line. At this point, it is more the standing in line that is the issue more than the walking. There are days when I can do the walking but I just can’t stand in line. 

There are other problems as well. Moving itself is sometimes a battle. From having to sit on a shower stool to take a shower to sitting in the kitchen while I prepare food, I have lost much of my physical stamina that I had even three or four years ago. I have arthritis, and that can be debilitating for anyone, even people who are not obese or even overweight, but I can’t use arthritis as an excuse most days. 

I attend a large church and there are many volunteer opportunities, but most of them are only open to people who are physically fit, not because the church discriminates, but because the work can only be done if a person is in reasonable physical condition. I finally reached the point that I want to do more at my church, but in order to do more I have to be able to do more. 

As I said above, I have tried Weight Watchers in the past. I have also tried Overeaters Anonymous, high protein/low carb diets, Sparkpeople.com, My Fitness Pal, among other diet schemes that I came up with on my own. All of them are good programs and many people have lost weight on all of the programs I mentioned above. Recently, at a Celebrate Recovery Step Study meeting we talked about accountability. As I drove home from the meeting I realized that I had always tried to lose weight on my own. I thought that stepping on the scale each week at Weight Watchers was my moment of accountability. For some it might be, but for me, it was too easy to rationalize why I gained weight or maintained when I should have lost weight. I needed people to hold me accountable, but not in a judgmental or negative way. I have enough shame, guilt and remorse over being overweight to last the rest of my life. No one has to add to it. 

What I needed was a group of people, a small group of people, who I saw on a regular basis, people who are part of my life, preferably from my church, who would ask me about the past week, did I lose weight, what challenges am I having, how can they pray for me, how can they encourage me. I am still trying to build that small group of people who can positively hold me accountable on a weekly basis and support me when times get tough. 

The tough times are when I experience emotional upheaval in my life, when I am depressed or discouraged, lonely, or feel isolated from the people at my church. Right now all small groups are on hiatus until the middle of September. Small groups are a critical emotional and psychological anchor for me, as well as being an important anchor spiritually. Three weeks may not seem like a long time to some and this is one of the busiest times of the year for people with kids, but I still need a small group. So, I suggested meeting for coffee at a local coffee shop with a few people from my Wednesday night Bible study. Tonight will be the first of three meetings until our regular Wednesday night group resumes in September.

I have started a journey with Weight Watchers that could last two years to lose the roughly 200 pounds to get to my goal weight. Round One ends in February 2019 and I hope to lose between 40 and 60 pounds in that time. I have done it in the past, but then I was younger in the past and more capable physically. 

I will try to post weekly if nothing else to recount my previous week and update my weight loss. So far, I have lost 2.6 pounds, and that was with minimal exercise.

 

Food File: May 6 2018

Target Audience: Evangelical Christians, Overweight Christians, Food Addicts

It has been a while since I have updated my food file. As I have mentioned in earlier posts, when I started this post, it was my intention to write a post every week, but rarely does that happen with me.

For the month of April my life was in a state of flux. In January, my former housemate let it slip that he was intending to move. I am not sure when, or if, he was planning on telling me, but he seemed to be upset that he had inadvertently let the cat out of the bag, so to speak. That began a four-month journey as I had to seek another place to live. I will unpack that more in another post, but my life was turned upside down. 

Until the month of April, I had been trying to stay on track, but even that was somewhat of a charade. I realized that I had been playing games with myself regarding my boundaries and taking chips at Celebrate Recovery when, in fact, I had been eating pretty much whatever I wanted, with little regard to weight loss, portion control, or my so-called boundaries. The first week of April I was still clinging to a sliver of control or sanity, but it wasn’t much. Then my former housemate showed up and made off with the Internet he had promised to leave in place until I moved. Suddenly, I had to go out to get wifi and the Internet. Aside from my church during the work week, the only other places I could go were McDonalds, Tim Hortons, and other coffee shops. While it is true that I didn’t have to partake of their goodies, I quickly found the temptation to be overwhelming, particularly since I was really feeling sorry for myself. 

I am now in my own bachelor apartment and the master of my kitchen. I can eat when I want and what I want, and I don’t have to share a fridge or cupboard space with anyone. It has taken me a week to get settled. This past week, I have pretty much eaten whatever I wanted. Even before I moved I managed to inhale three 2L cartons of ice cream and added a fourth the week that I moved. I will never be active enough to justify that much ice cream. 

There are no obstacles or impediments to eating properly. Even before the move, I had total control over my food. I just used my housemate and sharing space as an excuse. I live in a senior’s building on property that is suitable for short walks, sitting in the sun, and perhaps even getting to know some of the people in the building. The deck is now stacked in my favor unlike it has been in a long time. Even still, every long journey begins with a single step.

Food File: October 25 2017

It just occurred to me that it has been a while since I have posted what I had hoped to be a weekly update about my food journey. I started this shortly after I joined Celebrate Recovery because I am approaching my food journey somewhat differently, more slowly, more methodically, and I hope that the long term results will be better. 

As I have mentioned, other times I have cut myself off all the stuff I found troublesome. Now, I will never be able to have a box of cookies or a cake or pie in the house, or anything like a carton of ice cream, but that doesn’t mean that I should completely eliminate it from my life. An alcoholic has to eliminate alcohol from his/her life. No one “needs” alcohol, but we all need food. It is true that people live quite well without chocolate cake or ice cream, but I am not a diabetic (yet) and can have both in moderation. It is the moderation that is the challenge at this point.

I am happy to report that I have remained true and sober to my boundaries, and even tightened them up a bit because I felt they were a bit too loose. I had been allowing myself to have a dessert in a coffee shop, but then I found that I was finding all sorts of reasons to go out for coffee and have a dessert with my coffee. So, I brought having a dessert in a coffee shop or restaurant when I am alone within my boundaries. I can still have a dessert when I am with a group or another person, if it seems appropriate. Another boundary is that I cannot attract attention to myself if I want a dessert. For instance, if I am with a group and I am the only one considering dessert or having a dessert, then I have stepped outside my boundaries. If there are other people having dessert and I would like to have one too, then it becomes, a question: do I really want it? That is a lot more manageable than dealing with the cravings and emotions of wanting something I see everyone else having but realize that I “can’t” have it too. 

My current challenge is bread. I am able to get bread from a high-priced bakery at a local food bank for free. Anyone can just walk in and take whatever bread they want. At this time of the month, when my money is short, bread might be a meal and I am really thankful that I have the opportunity to get it. My food goals for November need to be a bit more precise in order to get me from the start of the month to the end of the month without having to rely so much on bread. 

Anyway, that is my update for this week.

Addicted to Porn

Target Audience: Men, Women, Christians, Addicts

Please Note: I am not a health care professional and am not offering advice to anyone who reads this blog post. I am offering thoughts from my own life and insights I have gleaned from listening to other Christians who also battle an addiction to porn.

This is an issue that has destroyed the lives of countless Christians. It is worse when a Christian leader is caught in this addiction because ministries, and sometimes churches, can be destroyed and innocent people hurt. It can destroy families, marriages, careers, and lead desperate Christians caught in Satan’s treacherous web to do desperate things. This post is not intended to be uplifting. It is intended to be enlightening, and perhaps encouraging if you have battled with an addiction to porn. It is not specifically aimed at men, although men seem to be more prone to addictions to porn than women. 

Why
Great question. The most obvious answer is that it is all about sex. In some cases, that could very well be true, but not always. Last year, I took a course called Healing Care at my church. It was loosely based on two books, Wounded, and Draw Close to the Fire, both written by Terry Wardle. The premise of the course is that most Christians have wounds that have never been healed and often dysfunctional behavior is used to soothe the pain caused by these unhealed wounds. If you think about it in a nonsexual context, it actually makes sense. Let’s say you were really looking forward to an event. You were seriously emotionally invested in this event, but at the last minute, the other people cancelled the event or something went wrong and you missed it. You were hurt that the event didn’t happen or that you couldn’t go. There is no good lashing out at those responsible, and nothing you can do will correct the situation. So, what do you do? Get a carton of your favorite ice cream and eat it while watching a favorite movie. Watching the movie is perhaps a good idea, but the ice cream — not so much. Many people would call the ice cream “comfort food”, which is a way to rationalize a dysfunctional behavior. If you had a dish of ice cream while watching the movie, that is different, but to consume the entire container could be seen as attempting to soothe the pain by making the body feel better or giving yourself some other sensory rush. The point is: the root cause of an addiction to porn (and by extension — anything else) might be a wound that is entirely unrelated to sex. On a sensory level, porn can appear to medicate or soothe the pain.

Satan’s Fangs
Think of Satan’s fangs sinking into your mind. Okay, that can be scary, but there is a point here. One of Satan’s fangs has a sedative that is used to break down things like moral filters, boundaries of right and wrong, inhibitions, conscience, and other filters that people normally use to resist evil. The sedative also diminishes the feelings of guilt, shame, and fear. While I tend to believe those emotions can be harmful if they are out of control, they can also serve as flashing red lights to warn us of impending danger. Satan’s sedative lulls us into a state where we are fully awake, but drugged.
The second fang implants ideas, urges, and desires that the Christian would otherwise immediately recognize as being wrong, or at the very least inappropriate. These ideas, sometimes called “fetishes”, become sexually appealing, desirable, and are often triggers sexually. Alone, they appear to be harmless, merely matters of choice or preference, and part of our overall sexuality. 

Porn is Progressive
At this point, I am going to default to the male gender. It isn’t that women do not also experience this problem, but I will use the male gender merely for simplicity.
The first time someone looks at porn, the image of a naked woman might be all he needs. That might continue for weeks, or even months, but eventually, he will begin to want to see more, crave more, and perhaps search for more. The image of a naked woman is no longer enough to satisfy his lust, so he starts clicking on images or links that will provide him with a visual feast unlike he has ever imagined. Perhaps at first he might still experience a twinge of guilt as he suspects that what he is watching might not be entirely “normal”, however normal may be defined.  By this point, though, it is very difficult to merely shut it off and not go back. The rush of unbridled sexual pleasure is a rush that is both intoxicating and addictive. He wants more. 

Fetishes as Seeds
For the purpose of this article, a fetish is an image or object used to stimulate or trigger sexual desire and/or orgasm. Fetishes are not always harmful. I am not going to expand upon benign fetishes. Harmful fetishes are sexual desires that serve as a wedge in an otherwise healthy and Godly marriage. In that sense, they are “seeds” that Satan plants in the minds of porn addicts long before they ever encounter the women they marry. They become harmful when the addict, fearing judgment or worse from his new wife, keeps his addiction to porn a secret, hoping that they will never discuss it. The newly-wedded addict is entirely focused on developing his intimate life with his wife. Porn is the furthest thing from his mind for months, or perhaps even years, but just like the most delicious slice of chocolate cake, routine sex can get boring, particularly if you had been used to a smorgasbord of fetishes in your youth. It is at this point that the seeds that Satan so patiently planted years ago now bear fruit. Most Christian porn addicts know they cannot go outside their marriage to satisfy their fetish hunger. Even if they may have been brave enough to broach the subject with their wives, who may have recoiled if they were unaware of the world of porn, the hunger for the fetish is still there and Satan is now ready to harvest the fruit of the seeds he planted so long ago.

The Need for High Stimulation
The progressive nature of porn demands that a greater and greater thrill is needed to achieve an orgasm. Alone and single, what does it matter, right? No one else is harmed. It has no effect on anyone else, so who cares? It is no one else’s business, right? Wrong. The progressive nature of porn is very much like a drug where the user has to keep increasing the dose in order to be satisfied. As long as sex with his wife provides this high rush, sex is awesome and the temptation to return to the dark world of porn is all but nonexistent. Like everything else in life, it doesn’t last. 

Porn Induced Erectile Dysfunction (P.I.E.D.)
This is very much a male issue and it does not necessarily impact every male who is addicted to porn. I should also state that some people do not believe it actually exists. The YouTube link above is for those who wish to explore it in greater detail. I only mention it because, while I have no idea how many men may be affected by this condition, I cannot say that it does not exist. If it does, then it is something that every man who is addicted to porn ought to consider.

The Delusion of Freedom
What you have been reading so far may or may not be true for you. Porn creates a world where freedom is replaced by slavery and those who are enslaved believe they are free. When Satan is successful at getting Jesus followers to tear down boundaries, definitions of right and wrong, good and bad, he succeeds at enslaving us in addiction. When an addict defines being able to talk about or discuss all personal issues without boundaries, or when there are no taboos, not only are addicts enslaved, they are susceptible to abuse and being abusers. It would be wonderful to believe that Christians, people who have committed their lives to Jesus Christ, could never be enslaved, but this happens all the time. True freedom only exists within boundaries. It is a myth, a lie, to believe that when all boundaries are removed, and any behavior is accepted, that only then are we truly free. In isolation, or in the darkness of this cyberworld, where people can be anonymous, people are able to define freedom anyway they please, even if it is within the boundaries of their enslavement.

The Delusion of Secrecy
When I was much younger if I wanted porn, I had to go somewhere to get it. I can remember traveling from the Toronto area to Niagara Falls, NY to go to a porn theatre because, in those days, there was no hardcore porn in Canada. Now, I don’t have to leave my bedroom to get it. For far too long I believed that because I binged on porn in the privacy of my bedroom, far from the eyes of the general public, what I did was done in secret and no one would ever know. Perhaps no one will ever know the precise kind of porn that I watched, but my addiction to porn impacted other people. Maybe it didn’t have a negative impact on my family, or my friends, or the people with whom I worked, or the people with whom I worshipped week after week, not directly, but other people were affected. There were people in chat rooms, or the people I would watch in videos, people I will never know. People who were abused or coerced into making porn. The belief that my addiction to porn only affected me and can remain a secret is naive, a delusion itself. As long as I kept it a secret, healing and wholeness would always be impossible. While keeping it a secret was an obstacle to my healing, I do not tell everyone about my addiction. Not everyone needs to know, is interested, or even emotionally equipped to deal with my “truth”. Among the many casualties of addiction, boundaries and balance are perhaps the first to die. 

The Path to Healing
Jeremiah 17:14 says: O Lord, if you heal me, I will be truly healed; If you save me, I will be truly saved. My praises are for you alone! (NLT)
If your addiction to porn is a result of a wound that God, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, has never healed, then the first step is to ask God to reveal to you, if you do not know, the wound that needs to be healed. Having started on this lifelong journey of healing myself I can confirm that it is not quick, nor is it easy, nor is always painless. Once God has healed you of the wound(s) that may be at the root of your addiction to porn, it is time to pull up all the seeds that Satan planted in your brain, perhaps a long time ago. The Apostle Paul writes: Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. (NLT) One of my pastors told me that the Greek word for “nailed” can be translated “nailing”, the participle form of the verb, signifying perpetual action, as in never ceasing. While I hate doing housework, spiritual housework keeps us safe. The fetishes that were planted by Satan through addiction to porn are still in your mind and your heart. Even if you no longer use porn or have any desire to look at it, those seeds are still there. Until you pull them up, confessing them to God, and if it helps, to another person, they are a danger to your spiritual life, and to your [future] marriage.

Healing in Community
God designed His followers to live in community. We are designed to worship in community, to bear one another’s burdens in community, and to be healed in a community. It’s really tough to do it alone, particularly when you don’t have to. While many churches are not equipped to handle addiction directly, there are some excellent 12 Step programs available to offer support among people who have battled addictions and emotional issues. The one that I attend every week is Celebrate Recovery. This is a Jesus-centered program that offers support for a wide variety of issues. If there isn’t a Celebrate Recovery program in your area, there may be other 12 Step programs that can offer support and encouragement. If you have battled porn or any other addiction and are now free of that addiction, a great way to give back to your community is to begin attending a 12 Step program such as Celebrate Recovery and supporting other Jesus followers and allowing them to help you keep focused on your relationship with God. 

What God Really Wants
A Relationship
Virtually every Christian addict believes that God wants him or her to be free of the addiction in order to serve Him. Indeed, God does want us to be free of addictions that are obstacles to serving Him, but He wants so much more. In the many years that I have been a Christian, I have believed God wanted different things from me. At one time, I believed He wanted me to be holy, as in separate from the carnal world in which I live. My response was to shun everything in my life that I believed drew me away from God, including my family, friends who were not Christians, entertainment that I viewed as carnal or evil, but that didn’t work for very long. I love my family and my friends, both Jesus followers and those who do not follow Him. I wanted to work in a Christian environment until I managed to get a job and discovered it was not the utopia I imagined it would be. Instead of trying to articulate all the things I believed God wanted me to be, I will skip to the present. For the past two years I have attended a church that doesn’t preach much about holiness or being separate from the world. The main thrust of the teaching focuses on the fact that God desires more than anything else to have a relationship with me.  I am not sure how I missed it all these years, but more than what I did or did not do, what kind of stuff I got myself into, or the things I eliminated from my life, God wants a relationship with me. He wants to be friends, buddies. After more than 40 years of teaching that characterized God as “The Father”, and a “Judge”, and hearing about the wrath of God, the judgment of God, and seeing God as someone to be feared, as in being afraid, the idea of Him being my buddy is rather new.
Humility
I have talked with more than one addict who, when he or she experiences freedom from the addiction, believes they are new people, that God has freed them forever, that when they think about the pit of addiction, it is now disgusting, revolting, and horrible. Indeed, it is all of those things divorced from emotion, lust, passion, and emotional weakness. Every day, I highlight the previous day in green as a visual reminder that my sobriety from addiction is a day-by-day thing. I can never feel like I am immune to the treachery of Satan, not for even a moment, nor can I afford to ignore the wisdom of other Christians who have tread this same path as me. More than freedom from any particular sin in my life, God wants to have a relationship with me and to remind me every day that He is there and I need Him every day. I have never been sure of the definition of humility. I am not sure anyone has really figured it out, but I have a feeling that knowing that I need God every single day might be part of what God considers to be humility.

Your comments and feedback are always welcome and helpful. Thank you.