October 6, 2014
Updated October 9, 2014
18 comments 371 views
By now it is universally accepted that people–especially young adults are leaving the church in masses. One reason, it seems, is because Christians are perceived as hypocritical. Whether it is intentional or not, their lifestyles do not match up with what they profess to be important. Rather than a call to be sacrificial and community servants, Christians are accused of being image-driven and self-oriented.
How did we acquire this image of hypocrisy?
When the lifestyle of a Christian became identical to that of worldliness. Our principles became watered down accolades. And, our integrity came into question. Who wants to be a part of something that doesn’t stand firm?
While perpetrating this deteriorating charade of integrity, what is the message we convey? It is a notion that being a Christian means, “Being Good” and we advertise this message through our beliefs of following rules. When you measure your faith by rules, then you are setting yourself up for failure, because you will be evaluated by those same rules, which are impossible to keep, all the time. This kind of hypocrisy creates, distinctive, spiritual barricades. Matt. 23:13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.”
Christians often believe that those leaving the faith are leaving because the rules are too restrictive, which most of time is not truly why they are departing at all. Yet, ironically, we are so adamant in trying to fix the morals of others through rules, rather than offer love to them. Paul states it clearly, “But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” (Gal. 5:13b) Holiness is not achieved through a list of rules, but rather through the daily giving up of one’s own desires, for those of God and others; to be pure in spirit and truly self-sacrificial.
Like every generation, the young people continue to push the boundaries and reshape moral rules. But striving for holiness in one’s life is a universal standard.
In addition, we need to stop pretending we’re something that we’re not. Being transparent and open about our faults. We need to be honest with ourselves and to others about our own lives. “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16) Only then will it lead to restoration. In order to reverse the onslaught of hypocrisy we need to fix ourselves with Integrity (having strong principles), Purity (a striving for holiness) and transparency (easy to perceive ones failures and successes).
The difficult part about fixing this impression is that Christians get defensive when accused of hypocrisy. Young adults want to find people that they can trust and confide in. If Christians are not transparent and get defensive, it only stands to reason that young adults will feel uncomfortable and awkward and eventually flee from that scenario.
How can we reverse this impression and squash moral superiority in our lives? Love others unconditionally. Make love the priority and not the rules. Build relationships through transparency in our lives; Act first, talk second.
Question: In practical terms, what does this look like specifically in each of your lives? What can each of us do to truly reverse the perception of hypocrisy?
Connect to The Network and add your own question, blog, resource, or job.Add Your Post
You may be on to something Albert. But I think there is much more, as to why the secular world and young people look at Christians as hypocritical. It has to do with Christian theology, maybe especially Reformed theology. The fall of all humankind does not strike a compelling note to the ears of non-Christians. Young people and secular society do not want to look at themselves as scumbags in the eyes of God. They may have done some bad things along the way, but those bad things don’t characterize their life (as Christians might suggest). They are loving toward family and friends and are more than willing to help someone in need. On a scale of one to ten, most will think of themselves as a seven or eight. To be told that God judges a person only by their sins and not the good they may have done sounds way out of kilter. God created us as people, not as gods, why would he expect us to be perfect, especially when we don’t judge each other by such a standard? My wife is a great wife, as well as my friends and family. But God doesn’t think of them the same way? They are sinners in the eyes of God and therefore condemned? So when a Christian tells me I’m a sinner (even though they put themselves in the same category), it doesn’t win any accolades. It sounds as though this Christian is putting me down. Such a perspective on humankind (depravity) is a slam on people in general and on the individual in particular. So our theology, although true to the Bible, doesn’t help the Christian message win approval. The message itself sounds hypocritical to young people . It’s the natural reason, as to why Christianity, is not necessarily a slam dunk. Add to this what you have said, Albert, and it only makes Christians look more hypocritical.
Roger: Thanks for the comments.....Those words resonate strongly and may even be a part of the answer. Where we tend to begin with Sin - and many times unconsciously over-emphasize it's reality, we need to do a better job of counter-balancing the Grace in our lives. Beginning with grace and joy, and carefully adding spoonfuls of what sin looks like in the life of a CHristian; mixing in sin awareness with sanctification?
one of the areas I struggle with on this is we like to "be prophetic critics of the waste, injustice, and selfishness in our society,..." (Ordination of elders and deacons, GPH p1005), that's cool, relevant, makes us (the Church) look good and it's "safe"... however, if we actually follow the biblical charge from Paul in I Cor 5:12 to judge inside the church and not outside, this statement is exactly backwards... we are actually called to be prophetic critics of the injustice in the Church, (of course starting with ourselves with the help of the Holy Spirit)... and as you suggested, this doesn't go over well.... at all! because we/the Church will not look good...
here's a quote from Global trauma recovery website:
BOQ It is a sad fact that many organizations (church/denom), when faced with the choice of protecting an abusive leader or victim, choose to protect the leader (and thus the organization) rather than the victims of that abuse. All too often, victims report that the failure of the system to respond well to their cries for help cause more harm than the original abuse. EOQ
so not only is the Church not helping the person who has been "oppressed"/victimized, too many times, we are actually making it worse and become part of the problem. The response of the Church is even worse to the victim, when leadership feels threatened over the exposure of the ungodly conduct.
when this ungodly behavior is threatened to be exposed in the Church, instead of transparency, we find secrecy, silence, and cover up, instead of integrity, we find manipulation, intimidation and deception (it's often very subtle ie...technically not a lie, but effectively very misleading), and instead of purity, we find abusive type behaviors including emotional and spiritual abuse to shun, dismiss, etc those who have been hurt or much worse because of the ungodly behavior... i could list numerous examples of this unbiblical response in the Church, including our beloved crc... and i find that is what people outside the church see very clearly... we are only fooling ourselves, not God, and not those outside the Church...
God calls us His people to humble ourselves, pray, seek His face and turn from our wicked ways.... He did not give this charge to the world/unbelievers, but to us, His people.
Bev: It certainly can be another area of weakness in our churches in advertising supposed-hypocrisy. Some churches are better at handling this weakness....the majority, probably not. Partly this goes back to our inherent flaw of original sin and we are - like Adam & Eve - inclined to be secretive with our disobedience to God. However, do not discredit what our responsibility is towards society in standing against evil; standing up for Truth, Justice and honor. The problem is we mix up our roles. The churches role is not that of acuser and punisher.....that is the governments role. The church is is to hold up the ideals and remind people of what Truth is. And, the way we go about that is the key to turning this perception around.
I think secret sins are a HUGE part of the hypocrisy problem:
posted 10.7.14 on the charisma news website
BOQ... A new national survey of Christian men reveals shocking statistics pertaining to high rates of pornography use and addiction, plus rampant sexual infidelity among married Christian men.
The 2014 survey was commissioned by a nonprofit organization called Proven Men Ministries and conducted by Barna Group among a nationally representative sample of 388 self-identified Christian adult men.
The statistics for Christian men between 18 and 30 years old are particularly striking:
77 percent look at pornography at least monthly.
36 percent view pornography on a daily basis.
32 percent admit being addicted to pornography (and another 12 percent think they may be).
The statistics for middle-aged Christian men (ages 31 to 49) are no less disturbing:
77 percent looked at pornography while at work in the past three months.
64 percent view pornography at least monthly.
18 percent admit being addicted to pornography (and another 8 percent think they may be).
Even married Christian men are falling prey to pornography and extramarital sexual affairs at alarming rates:
55 percent look at pornography at least monthly.
35 percent had an extramarital sexual affair while married.
"These statistics knock the wind right out of you. They also confirm what we already know; that there definitely is a problem with pornography and affairs among Christian men and that they are starving for the church to step forward with solutions," according to Joel Hesch, who sponsored the survey and is the founder of the biblically based Proven Men Ministries.
He adds: "The purpose of the survey was not to point fingers, but to get a better grasp on the scope of the problem in light of ready access to pornography in this Internet era.
"It's abundantly clear that pornography is one of the biggest unaddressed problems in the church," Hesch continued. EOQ
That is quite an array of statistics, Bev. I would imagine the statistics for women, whether in the church or outside, would not be nearly as alarming. Do you think there might be a reason for such findings? Is it just that men are generally scumbags and always have their minds in the gutter? Quite possibly there’s a reason and that should, at least, be taken into consideration.
As to psyche men and women are wired very differently. And this difference comes to expression in a host of ways. It’s why men tend to be the abusers in a relationship, or tend to be child molesters, or why the porn industry is aimed more at men than women. As to the sexual psyche, women are much more into building loving and lasting relationships. Men are more into immediate sexual gratification. And when I say this is part of the male psyche, it isn’t something that is easily controllable. It’s like natural instinct, the way men are wired. It’s not easily turned off, or maybe there’s not even an “off” switch. So men can more easily turn to pornography for sexual gratification, while at the same time it doesn’t do the same for women. You can take away the pornography but you won’t change the way men are wired or what they may visualize in their minds. I remember hearing a well known Reformed theologian comment on sin. He said, “if people really knew the thoughts that go through my mind they would be disgusted with me.” He was talking about sexual sin. That’s true of nearly all men. We’re wired differently than you women. It’s part of the male psyche and isn’t going away. You may think the Holy Spirit can change a guy so he will think pure thoughts and get his mind out of the gutter. Really. Just look at the statistics you gave for Christian men, which show a contrary message. The church can guilt the male members of the church, but guilt will just drive a guy into more hiding, as again your statistics show. So is this a problem that reveals hypocrisy in the church? Perhaps, especially if the church claims to be more wholesome than those outside of its doors. It is a problem both inside and outside the church, especially if it leads to abuse or unwanted behavior. But it is a problem that comes naturally to men. So begin with understanding, and then work on the problem from there.
I do try to understand what is driving this, because it is so rampant and the fruit is horrific and includes objectifying women/people, the human trafficking of women and children and many other types of abuse and violence, destroying how we are made in God's image, and so it is not only a holiness issue, but also a justice issue... one possibility for these stats is our lack of listening to the Holy Spirit, 1) because scripture says He will always give us a way out of our temptations, and 2) the Word (Eph 5) says there is not even to be a hint of immorality, and it seems we have just written that off as impossible, so why bother trying since we are "wired" this way... something serious is amiss... and these statistics tell me, somehow we have quenched the Holy Spirit to some debatable degree... I believe we can walk in holiness with the help of the Holy Spirit, but it seems, we don't think it's important, and that could be another reason for these high numbers, we don't understand how important walking in holiness is. is this a popular message? of course not, when we have a significant majority of christian men looking at this on a regular basis, and human tendency is to try and justify it. and doesn't scripture include self control as part of the fruit of the Spirit?
Thanks for the response Bev. I don’t think my first response was all that helpful in your mind. But I would still stand by the final comment in my response, “begin with understanding, and then work on the problem from there.” Understanding goes a long way in trying to tackle any problem, otherwise the solution may be completely misdirected.
Understanding the male psyche is very important in tackling this problem. That’s where the problem lies (in the male psyche), more so than in the growth of the porn industry. The problems you associate with pornography have been around since biblical times and I doubt that the porn industry has made it any or much worse. The problem lies within people themselves. The fact that men are more open to reveal their secrets today is probably due to the more open society that we live in and this has spilled over into the church. In the past, Christian men would have seldom (if ever) admitted to viewing porn. Young teenage boys in Christian families were severely punished if they were caught with porn magazines (which were always well hidden) or caught masturbating. The guilt inflicted by parents was enough to keep a young person from ever again admitting to a sneak peek at porn. The past still affects Christian men today (perhaps your figures are conservative). So whether pornography is available or not, the problem of the male psyche is still there. The natural instinct (psyche) for men is different than for most women. And this male wiring is not so easy to change, even among Christian men, as is obvious from your statistics. Men, more so than women, look for instant sexual gratification. That is why men can so easily fall asleep once that gratification has been met. Mission accomplished. Men are wired differently.
You mentioned being created in God’s image, but you have to remember the fall has greatly marred that image. The human race has not only been credited by God with Adam and Eve’s original sin, but he has imputed to all of humanity a fallen sinful nature that will naturally gravitate to sinful actions. All people come into existence with this sinful nature apart from their own request. The apostle Paul talks about his own enslavement to sin, apart from Christ, and thinks of himself as totally miserable and helpless to remedy his situation. His thanks is to Jesus Christ, because he has forgiveness in Christ, and can move on from there. Recognize that just because a Christian is forgiven, it doesn’t mean he won’t still have problems with his sinful nature. The record of New Testament writing is a testimony of how prevalent sin continued to be in the church after Christ. So whether created in the image of God or not, we are stuck with a sinful nature that isn’t going away. Men, for the most part, are still stuck with a male psyche that craves instant sexual gratification. And perhaps porn helps to alleviate this craving.
You mentioned that porn contributes to the objectifying of women/people. You do realize Bev, that all sin objectifies its victims. Whether it’s lying, stealing, gossiping, slandering or murdering, sin always reduces the victim to a level below the victimizer. In one way or another the person committing the sin does not respect or look up to his/her victim. So to accuse pornography of contributing to the objectifying of people, then it is no different than other sin. So you may be right, but that is not a special characteristic that makes porn unique and more heinous than other sin. The church has been more guilty than most in the past at objectifying women with the degraded regard that it has placed on women (the women in office issue or voting issue in the more distant past, the submission of women to men in the church and home).
You suggest if we are wired that way (helpless fallen sinners) then something is seriously amiss. Of course it is. But what will help in dealing with this problem? Begin with some understanding of the problem. Then ask what is the most constructive ways others have dealt with this, whether in the church or outside. What will lead to the greatest good for the greatest number. In the past (within Reformed Churches) church discipline might have been the answer, but (with the numbers) that isn’t likely to be helpful at all, unless a greater sin (than looking at porn) has occurred. Perhaps the church needs to do better at being an encouraging community, a place where sinners can still feel secure, rather than having a alarmist mentality.
You suggested, as leading to a cure, perhaps we are not listening to the Holy Spirit or have quenched the Spirit. What does that mean? Does it mean that in some mysterious way the Holy Spirit will step in and change hearts and desires, if only we pray correctly or appease his wrath in some way? I’m always a little mystified when Christians talk about the Holy Spirit, as though he is going to supernaturally break into our lives and miraculously make changes. In our circles, we often talk about primary and secondary causation. God is always the primary cause, but most often natural means are the secondary cause. We go to a doctor or hospital to deal with cancer and when healed, we thank the doctors. But as to primary causation we give thanks to God. Are you looking for the Holy Spirit to work in some other way? Do you think that if we offer sacrifices to God, as did the ancients, then we can appease the Holy Spirit’s quenching? God wants us to look for honest and realistic ways for dealing with abuse that comes as a result of porn or a fallen male psyche. And then give him thanks. So the church needs to put its thinking caps on, maybe even look over the fence to see what is working elsewhere.
What do you suggest Bev, for getting to the bottom of this problem? What are some good starting points? What might be a God honoring way to get us started? Sorry for being so lengthy.
I am trying to understand, over the last several years, I have read "every man's battle" and "the pornography trap" as well as numerous articles and testimonies of people affected by porn. About a year ago, some Christian friends very openly shared with my husband and I, about the husband's struggle with porn and we've witnessed him doing a 180, speaking boldly to other men about this issue as well as other significant changes that he attributes to the Holy Spirit. My husband and I have talked about it often, and I have directly asked him about it, and his response was incredibly beautiful to me (If it's ok with you, i might pass this thread on to both of them and see if they would be willing to write a response from their "guy" perspective as well)... there is hope... but it's through the HOLY Spirit!
I believe this is a spiritual issue... as believers of Jesus Christ, He has made us new creations, and the old is gone and I'm not going to disregard the work He has done in your life or mine, but I'm going to acknowledge Him for what He has done and is doing sanctifying each of us... not saying, we will never struggle with lust, but at this level? many on a daily basis, with addiction rates to match? mmmm... something else is going on here... that indicates no genuine repentance or ????, at least can we agree it indicates something very serious is wrong?
prayer is the first weapon we have, and God reveals His heart to us as we spend time with Him in prayer (and the Word)... can I explain it? how does one explain the Living and active Word of God, infused with the breath of the Holy Spirit... is it "mystical"? not in the sense of eastern mysticism, but yes, in the sense that we can't explain with our intellect and logic how He works... it's super rational, not ir-rational... yes, He does supernaturally break into our lives and make changes... I have had numerous "experiences" that were so powerful and life changing, I cry just thinking about them... He has orchestrated statistically improbable/impossible (ie miraculous) connections and events numerous times as well. There is no way I can deny the Holy Spirit and His life changing work in my life, not only through the "experiences, connections, etc" but also through how He has made His Word Living and Active...
I understand our denomination does not have a great historical tradition when it comes to the Holy Spirit (we were cessationist on paper until 1973, when it was refuted by Synod on paper, but not so much in practice, and we are still struggling in this area, if we will be honest about it). Several books that helped me were Jack Deere's Surprised by the Voice of God and Surprised by the Power of the Spirit... Jack has a cessationist background, so we can relate to that... (quick disclaimer, read it with discernment, as at least one of the people he mentions have had some serious moral issues since the books were written). Just yesterday someone alerted me to a book called "Holy Fire" by RT Kendall... that will be one of my next readings...
I think one of the ways to fight this thing is to get a better understanding of the Holy Spirit, hungering for God and His Word. I feel I've only scratched the surface so far in my journey and for the last 7 years or so, the Holy Spirit has been one of the primary focuses of my studying and discussions with people and I will testify that Scripture has become significantly more living and active in the last 7 years than I had ever experienced in the 25 years before that. I've been very blessed in how God has connected me with other believers from different Christian "streams" to help me grow in this, but it will always take discernment and knowing His Word and spending time with Him.
one more point for now (and by the way, thanks for being willing to engage in discussion... I truly believe iron sharpens iron, and sometimes we avoid doing so because we don't want to offend anyone)... that was a great point that sin in general objectifies people, I had never thought of that before... however, I will submit that porn has a way of doing so at a far more rapid pace (which leads to abuse and violence), and there have been studies to show this.
and here's an article from 2012 as one example of some of the material I've read on this... and it's written by a guy who has worked with these types of issues for 20 years...
again, thank you for being will to share your thoughts... this is a HUGE issue, and so, yup, the responses get long...
Hi again Bev, and thanks for your response. I don’t know if anyone else is looking in on our dialogue, but I imagine they could be wondering where each of us are coming from theologically. I’m guessing that neither of us fit perfectly in the CRC. I can tell you don’t. And because I know myself, I know I don’t. As to the Holy Spirit, I know for certain we are in two different places. My intention is certainly not to discredit you, at least hurtfully. I’m glad for your relationship with God, as I also am with mine. Both very different though. Which means we are looking at this porn problem differently.
Obviously, you are looking at this as a spiritual problem, and I’m looking at it more as a genetic or male psyche problem. There is no doubt in my mind that our male wiring is different from the female’s, and that’s in part what makes it difficult for women to understand the nature of the problem. Your husband and you may have had frank conversations that has led you, at least in part, to come to a conclusion that this is a spiritual problem and can be solved spiritually, whether through prayer or the guidance of the Holy Spirit. But then I would have to say, your husband is not typical. Certainly all men are not the same as to sexual drive, just as all women are not the same. But in general (and I mean a very large majority), men seek more of an instant gratification sexually than women who tend toward long tender, loving relationships. Women can almost be turned off by the thought of instant gratification, where that is not the case for most men. And that’s what the porn industry plays up to. It’s the reason that men are more drawn to porn and women are drawn to love novels. There are so many ways to explain this male psyche thing, but I don’t want to be offensive. I’m convinced that it’s not a matter of simply praying that God will take this desire away or asking the Holy Spirit to intervene and the problem would be gone. If that were the case, then God would have to change the male Christian genetically. I don’t think, even you, would want that.
Thinking this is a spiritual problem, creates the same kind of situation that “Christian help groups” have run into in trying to help gay people become straight. For some time, before realizing that being gay begins with a genetic make up that can only be changed by altering the genetics of a person (and that can’t be done), Christians thought a homosexual could be made straight by a commitment to Christ and through prayer. But now you realize that such Christian help groups have gone out of existence. They didn’t work. Now there are Christian support groups for gays, but they don’t try to pray these people out of gaydem. They support them and help them to cope. They teach them abstinence even though their genetic makeup continues to pull them toward same sex relationships. The church (at least the CRC) calls them to a life of celibacy while at the same time they have a sexual drive toward their own sex. To top this off, our churches call these people sinners if they act on their sexual drive which they didn’t ask for to begin with. You, no doubt, have read some of the horror stories of the torment some gays go through while being in the church. The reality is that most feel driven away from the church. Enough of that. In the same way, I want to assure you that men are different from women in their sexual drives. Genetically they’re different, like gays. If men aren’t turning to pornography to satisfy this need for instant gratification, then they likely have a great fantasy world. I don’t want to put you or your husband on the spot, but no doubt you have taken long driving trips. When things start to get boring you may ask him, “what are you thinking about?” And for most men, the answer will be “nothing.” Yah, right. I can tell you what he’s thinking about ½ the time, maybe more. Just asking the Holy Spirit to intervene will be no more helpful than asking the Spirit to change the gay person’s genetics.
Now here’s the good part, Bev. I have come up with some helpful remedies for the porn problem among Christian men. You may even want your husband’s comments on these. The first solution is castration. That definitely will remove the sexual drive. In past cultures, even in Biblical times, eunuchs (castrated men) were used to guard and protect a king’s harem. It has also worked well on dogs in order to remove their sexual drive. And I think it’s been used on repeat sexual felons. Jesus did say, if your hand offends you cut it off. And Jesus also did say, “For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:12) There you go, Biblical support. I think it could be an instant remedy to the porn problem, if you can get Christian men to agree to this.
Now a little less drastic, there has to be drugs that can be used to reduce or remove the sexual drive of men. If there are drugs to enhance the drive, there must also be the opposite. The military used to use saltpeter on its soldiers, until they found it was ineffective. This too may not exactly be a spiritual remedy. But on the other hand, I suppose a Christian guy might say he would do this as unto the Lord. Then all of a sudden it becomes spiritual solution.
Here’s another solution, and maybe this hits closer to home as to being a truly Christian remedy. The problem of porn among Christian men is really the female’s fault. Paul did warn the women of the church to dress modestly and to cover their heads. There is no doubt why he made these kind of comments. If they dressed immodestly it became a stumbling block to men. It was a form of pornography sitting in the pew in front of them. Today, Christian women dress no differently than women outside of the church. You and I, both, have seen some pretty provocatively dressed women in church. Short skirts and high heels are definitely a no no. Only turtleneck sweaters and they should be loose fitting, very loose. Maybe, better yet, the church should hand out large plastic bags with eye holes for the women to wear as they come into church. Actually, some of our Muslim brothers and sisters apply that very principle to their lives. You may have noticed that it’s only the Muslim women who are totally covered in black from the top of their head to their toes, including the burka with the veiled opening for the eyes. Along with doing this because of their love for God, they do it so as not to be a stumbling block to men, other than their husbands, by revealing their beauty in open company. It’s an awesome thought, but I would hate it personally. I love seeing God’s creative beauty in the variety of women I see everyday. I see a beautiful women and I say, thank you, Lord. But you can understand the Muslim concept in promoting the modesty of women in public. Should Christians follow suit and could the Christian community influence society by such practices? Again, I don’t think this would fly among our women. It would take a tremendous commitment to the Lord.
How about the Amish communities with their modest dress and separating themselves from the world and their worldly influences? Don’t they do this because of their love of the Lord and wanting to separate themselves totally unto the him?
Such approaches as these is taking very serious one’s relationship with God which include the desire to honor that relationship above all others. Or perhaps another approach is to simply pray to God and ask the Holy Spirit to remove this desire, despite being wired genetically in such a way that men have a strong physical attraction to women. What do you think, Bev? Maybe the prayer idea is better. Only it hasn’t worked yet, despite a lot of prayers that have been prayed. Let’s hear your thoughts as to a solution.
wow, that convinced me even more that it's the Holy Spirit and prayer over the suggestions you listed, they sound like man's ways/our own understanding... God's ways are good and beautiful, even if we don't understand them (I think of Prov 3:5-6/Is 55:9-10)... one of the prayers I pray often is from Eph 1 open the eyes (spiritual senses) our our hearts... we need our spiritual eyes and ears open to hear Him and see the world through His eyes... when our spiritual senses are awakened, sensitive to Him, our entire perspective changes... everyone is beautiful, no matter how the world "labels/views" them... because we are all God's creation made in His image... I "experienced" seeing people through "God's eyes" to some extent for about one year - I remember exactly when and where it started - it was profound, however, over time, it shifted back to "normal"... now i have to be intentional about seeing everyone as beautiful and recognizing the potential He has given to each person, which is fine, I'm very thankful I had that experience to help me better understand how God sees us... it gave me a glimpse of His heart for people, but also recognizing how the enemy tries to steal the potential God gave us.
another prayer is for a spiritual hunger to know Him more... Taste and see that the Lord is good... I hunger after Him, I relate to the cry in Psalm 84 where the psalmist says "my heart and flesh cry out for the living God..., better is one day in your courts than a 1000 elsewhere" and in Psalm 40 where the deer longs for water, so my soul longs for God... once we have tasted Him, we want more... nothing else will satisfy... including our fleshly desires... we sell ourselves way short when we try to satisfy ourselves through earthly pleasure (not saying they are all wrong, just saying they don't compare). One caveat, God responds differently if we are just looking for the "experience" or if we are truly seeking Him... I discovered that some are looking for the spiritual experience, not God necessarily, and then you get into really weird stuff and open yourself up to all kinds of counterfeit garbage (the enemy loves to deceive)...
I know God can "speak" to anyone, anyway, any time (and yes, He speaks through people - which is the prophetic)... Scripture is His primary way, and His "message" will always line up with His word (if it doesn't, it's not Him)... One other book that is my main go to guide on hearing God is "Can you hear Me? Tuning in to the God Who speaks" by Brad Jersak... The weekend I got that book, my entire prayer life shifted (not just because of the book, but also because of a sequence of "hearing God" very specifically emphasizing the prayer "open the eyes of my heart" - my "experience" of seeing through God's eyes happened 4 weeks later). My life has been profoundly affected since then... that weekend was when Scripture became Living and Active at a whole new level for me... before that prayer had mostly been a one way monologue (with some exception)... after that weekend... wow. God transformed my prayer life and my faith... it hasn't been easy... with the cessationist strain still in the crc, it's tended to be seen by some as heretical and gets dismissed or worse... but i would not and can not go back ... it is my heart's desire that all would "see and hear" Him to know Him more through our spiritual senses... nothing compares to Him... He alone is worthy of our worship and obedience... this is His due... pursue Him with all our hearts... as King David wrote... one thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the BEAUTY of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple. That is one of my prayers for the Kingdom Church.
hope that makes sense ;) in a spiritual way!
Thanks Bev for your latest response. I think you and I may be on two different tracks as to the use of porn by Christian men. In my last response I did give some possible solutions to the problems associated with porn. Of course those solutions were given with tongue in cheek. But I was quite surprised by your response. To simply say those possible solutions represented man’s ways or our own understanding? Did you not see a kernel of Biblical truth in any of them? Of course making eunuchs of our men doesn’t make sense, even though Jesus himself commends the man who would go to such lengths for the kingdom of God. If nothing else it seems to say Christianity is radical and Christ would commend the person who takes drastic measures. Or to call a separated life style (separate from the world), such as with the Amish, nothing more than a human solution? Certainly there is plenty of Biblical warrant for the Amish perspective. Do you think compromising with the world could be part of the problem of porn in the church? The same goes for Paul’s warning to Christian women to dress modestly. When women of the church dress no differently than the women on the outside, do you think that might not send a message to our men that they can also compromise with the world? If women can’t take a stand for Christ as to their apparel why should we expect men to do any differently? These are more than man’s ways, as you suggested. I do think that Christians today still take principles taught in Scripture and ask if there is an application for our culture today. Especially if there might be an objective lesson, something Christians can act on.
But then as I listen to your further reply, I realize you are much more experiential as to your faith, and less objective. I’m guessing you tend to be more subjective and abstract in looking for answers. Maybe you’re thinking that if Christian men have the right personal subjective faith experience, then the Holy Spirit will take care of other areas of concern, such as porn. I’m just trying to get a handle on your perspective as to a possible solution to the porn problem among Christian men.
I still think the church has to begin with understanding. Men are and always have been more visual than women, whereas women are more relational. . It’s part of the male psyche, Where men enjoy porn, women tend toward romance novels. Even the Song of Solomon (Songs) plays on the visual attraction of the author (perhaps Solomon). Perhaps the statistics you gave are not so shocking as you suggest. You, at least, would expect men to be pulled more in that direction (the visual) than women. And perhaps some of those suggested remedies that I listed have at least a kernel of truth toward helping with the problem
Now I really wonder what you might see as a solution to the so called porn problem in the church. Lots of prayer has gone out, and so far it hasn’t worked, at least as of yet. I’m still at a loss, as to what a prayerful Holy Spirit driven solution would entail or look like. But if its just an abstract solution, then I think you are barking up the wrong tree.
Thanks again for responding Roger... I do believe this issue deserves our attention and discussion and appreciate your willingness to continue the dialogue here... I agree that there will be "concrete" tools that we can use to help resist the temptation... I agree we are called to be "separate" or holy... we will "look" different than the world, to be in the world, but not of the world... and yes, I agree that Christian women have a responsibility to dress modestly and that has not been the case too often as well... but to place the blame for a porn struggle on outside influences is missing the personal responsibility each of us has been given. I don't think we will find healing until we own our part (free will) in it.
I believe it is the Holy Spirit Who gives each person the "concrete tool" they need to resist their temptation. For any struggle, including porn, it is not a one size fits all. Everyone's struggle is different to some degree, what started it, what triggers it, the emotional/psychological stuff that goes with it, etc.... the Holy Spirit as the Counselor knows precisely what "tool/s" is most effective for each person, for each struggle... and that's why I emphasize the Holy Spirit... many times it might be the same "tool" that works for different people... yes, it might be drastic, such as getting rid of the smart phone and going back to an "old fashioned" non data type phone... it might be limiting the internet access to the 10-20 sites for paying bills and reading the crcna network ;)... it might be adding covenant eyes or a similar app to whatever technology we use, it might be that the spouse has the passwords and you don't know what they are (we do this with our kids)... for some it might be rehab... but until we know how to discern and test the Holy Spirit, or even recognize how He leads us, our solutions will primarily be man's way... (can He lead us without our knowing how to listen to Him? of course He can and He does because God is good and generous and gracious, but there is something that happens when we intentionally seek His leading and acknowledge His ways, He uses it to grow our faith exponentially)
until we are serious about wanting to change and recognize the horrible fruit that is caused by porn (or any sin), realizing that we are contributing to that when we look at porn (or even just by tolerating it- I think of Rev 2 where Jesus says nevertheless, I have this against you, that you tolerate jezebel and her pornea), and that we are called to walk in the holiness/righteousness that Jesus gave to us through His suffering - He deserves our obedience because He is worthy, none of these "tools" will be as effective without the Holy Spirit's leading in our lives... not saying they can't work to some degree without Him, but they will be far more effective with His leading...
I read that some non-Christians are trying to quit porn because they are finding out it has seriously affected their sex lives in real life... that's the reason that they are desperate enough to stop... I would think that as believers we would be desperate enough for many other reasons as well.
(getting back to the original thread =) Maybe I'm wrong, but I see some hypocrisy when we tell people as a justice issue, we should only drink "free trade" coffee, and yet (as a justice issue) we don't let people know that porn contributes to human trafficking, so don't look at porn! let alone for all the other "bad fruit" reasons!
Good job Bev, on the subject of porn. Sounded much more concrete and objective than earlier responses. We may differ on some things but on porn we can find some common ground. As long as we don't throw out understanding as a beginning point. And yes, we are all different, one size does not fit all. What works for one, may not work for another. We need to look to our own heart and circumstances while asking what will be most effective for in my situation, and then trusting God to work in the choices we each make. Thanks again.
I strive to be as transparent as possible by NOT pretending I have it all together. Most people who have been at my place know that housework is a struggle for me, and I don't attend every church service or other events because my health doesn't allow me to. To me hypocrites are people who never have a hair out of place in public are always smiling even when they're mad, at least on Sundays, but when nobody's watching that's another story.
Michele: Certainly that's one of the more obvious ways we are hypocritical, and in our "Big Brother" society it's more and more difficult to act when "nobody's looking". Being honest and transparent is certainly one way to turn this perception around....
Great food for thought Albert. I find myself continually frustrated by the horrible 'p.r.' job we do as Christians. The #1 reason for the slow growth (negative growth?) of Christianity worldwide has to be us Christians. For myself, one of the things I can do to help reverse the perception of hypocrisy would be to stop judging. I need to get out of God's way & let him do the judging while my charge is to love. God help me.
Kevin: Yes, because judging - which isn't our role - puts others immediately on the defensive; but, how easily we fall into that trap. reflecting on this, I'm wondering if it's because we have an innate desire to be fixers and so our default mechanism is after identifying it to fix it; but, God is really the one that has that responsibility, eh? In such cases, we need to work on changing our default mechanism... :>)
We love your comments! Thank you for helping us uphold the Community Guidelines to make this an encouraging and respectful community for everyone.