Friday, May 30, 2014

A Word I’ve Never Said in Bible Class … Until Now

From Messiah's June 2014 newsletter:

I said a word in Bible class the other day that I don’t think I’ve ever uttered during a Sunday morning adult Bible class. What was that word? “Pornography.” What was the context? It was in the middle of our discussion of the Sermon on the Mount, specifically where Jesus says, “everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:26).

Whenever the topic of adultery and lust comes up, the elephant in the room is often the topic of pornography. It’s not easy to talk about. It’s shameful. It’s also so much easier to hide nowadays. No longer do you have to drive to the seedy part of town and walk in the back door of an adult bookstore. No longer do you have to ask the person behind the counter of the convenience store for a copy of one of the magazines whose cover is hidden with a piece of opaque plastic, with just the title of the magazine peeking over the top. Now you can view images on your computer in the privacy of your own home and no one will know the difference … unless, of course, you get caught by a family member.

I suppose I’m primarily speaking to men here. Men are much more visually oriented and stimulated than women. One study I read stated that half of Christian men have a problem with pornography. Because of the secretive nature of the issue, I would venture to guess that the problem is even more significant. What constitutes a problem? In the first place, even mere casual viewing of pornography is sinful because it appeals to our sinful lust. It is breaking the Sixth Commandment. It is indeed adultery according to Jesus. In the second place, it can become addictive and can wreak havoc with marriages and other relationships and society at large when women are viewed as nothing more than sexual objects rather than individuals created in the image of God and for whom Christ died on the cross.

And there’s the “crux” of the matter. The cross is the first place to go for those who have been caught in pornography’s evil web. As difficult as it may be, go to your pastor and take advantage of private confession and absolution. As shameful as it is, remember that your pastor is not here to further shame you. As shameful as it is, remember that Christ bore your guilt and shame at the cross, including your sinful lusts and use of pornography to gratify those lusts. This sin is forgiven, too, by Christ your Redeemer. Go to your pastor and hear him deliver Christ’s words of forgiveness personally to you.

Like any addiction, however, you will need further guidance along the road to recovery. Confession and Absolution is a first and necessary step, but other resources will be beneficial. Christian blogger Tim Challies has written extensively on this topic, and I would recommend reading his material and list of resources given at (Disclaimer: Tim Challies is not Lutheran, so of course, when he writes on certain doctrinal topics, I don’t agree with everything. However, his blog has much from which a person could benefit, including the topic of dealing with pornography.)

Above all else, trust in the shed blood of Jesus which covers over our sin, both public and private, both the ones we don’t think are a big deal and the ones we do think are a big deal. With God, though, nothing is private. Every sin is a big deal. But you have an even bigger Savior “whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith” (Rom. 3:25 NASB). Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for all sin. He loves you so much that he took your sin all the way to the cross and rose again in victory. In the waters of baptism, you are washed clean. The blessings and benefits of Christ’s death and resurrection are yours. You are declared not guilty. Go in his peace. Trust in his victory for you.

In Christ’s service and yours,
Pastor Onken

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