Remember in my last post I said I’m a good procrastinator? This is true. I was sitting at Goshen’s premier coffee shop, the Electric Brew. That’s typically where I do most of my deep level thinking. It’s either there or while sitting on the toilet. Those are the two places where I get a little privacy. Actually, even the bathroom isn’t sacred anymore since Adi has learned to open doors. I was supposed to be working on my MMS Aviation presentation which I had to give the next day at “The Garage” church in Michigan. As I was sitting there deep in thought I kept getting distracted by people walking in and out of the front doors. This led me to this topic which needs to be addressed in churches today. I’m not super qualified to talk about it, but I may be the only one dumb enough to wade into the danger so here we are.
But first, let’s set up some metaphors and allegories. Let’s sandwich the hard truths in some light humor, shall we?
Janice made a large cast iron skillet full of bacon this morning. Did I mention that I love my wife? I do. She likes to make large quantities of bacon and then puts the prepared bacon strips in the fridge. This works great as we can use the bacon as a quick addition to sandwiches or wraps for lunches the rest of the week. The problem is, obviously, that my wife fries up 10 pounds of bacon and only 1/2 pound gets put in the fridge. That doesn’t add up, you say. Tell me about it. I only eat 9 1/2 pounds of bacon and gain 50 pounds. If only I was that good at investing financially! I could buy more bacon then.
The problem arises when my wife leaves the bacon on the stove to cool. The house smells like bacon and that smell triggers a saliva avalanche in my mouth. Now my mouth is all watery. You know what would taste good? Something salty. Oh, there’s bacon on the stove? Wow, that would hit the spot. I snap off a corner of one slice. It’s thin (because we buy cheap bacon) and fried perfectly so it offers just a wee bit of resistance as you crunch it between your teeth then quickly melts and explodes in bacon awesomeness. I think to myself, “Wow, that’s spectacular.” Then I notice a piece that’s a little less done. This means it’ll be chewier than the last piece I tried. I like bacon in all forms – I do not believe in discrimination. So I try that piece. Yup, just as good as I thought. Then I find a bigger piece. There’s many pieces in the pan so it won’t matter if I snatch just one piece, right? My wife would never notice. I pick up the piece and try to shake all the grease off of it so it has fewer calories. That makes me feel better about eating it, you see. I’m not a glutton, I care about what I eat. I smile at my responsibility and restraint. Then, ten minutes later, I ate 9 1/2 lbs of bacon. Oh no!
My wife comes back into the kitchen and gasps. “Where did all the bacon go!? That pan was full five minutes ago.”
I shrug my shoulders. “This cheap bacon cooks down to nothing. Maybe try a different brand next time?”
She looks at me suspiciously then turns to the fridge and gets out a carton of eggs. “Do you want some scrambled eggs?”
“No thanks, I’m not that hungry.”
Men who nibble bacon are still guilty of killing the whole pig.
Now, let’s move the discussion to Tim Tams.
Tim Tams are a chocolate biscuit first discovered in Australia where it grows on the Tim Tam tree, which happens to be the official tree of Australia (Don’t bother looking that up).
My wife and I were introduced to the “Tim Tam Slam” by Erleen’s (my wife’s sister) roommate, Camille. Living in New York City for many years gave Erleen & Camille the opportunity to become more cultured than us Midwestern folks. I am used to eating biscuits one bite at time like an uncivilized brute. But, oh oh, what’s this? I’ve been doing it all wrong (not the first time).
Camille pointed out that you get a cup of hot coffee then you nibble off opposing corners of the Tim Tam biscuit (as the picture above shows). After that you simply use the Tim Tam as a straw by putting one bitten off corner below the surface of the coffee then sucking on the other bitten corner. This pulls the hot coffee through the biscuit and within 3 seconds the whole biscuit is such a hot mess that you can’t hold it anymore (this could be a relationship metaphor). By this time, however, you should have slammed the whole biscuit into your mouth where it melts further, resulting in a decadent, warm, rich, chocolatey mass.
It’s phenomenal and also why it’s called the “Tim Tam Slam.” Unfortunately Tim Tams are only widely available in Australia. Much to everyone’s fortune, Camille had found a whole pile at a bent and dent store and shared some bounty with us (we still have a few packages in the cupboard if anyone wants to come visit us).
The biscuits come in packages of maybe 10 or so. You start by eating a whole biscuit, commenting on how good it is, offering to share another with your wife, she responds by telling you doesn’t want another one, so you eat it because you have no choice (your wife won’t share), then your wife feels vindicated and eats another too (because you had two). Before you know it, all 10 biscuits have disappeared into thin air.
If you don’t want to eat all the Tim Tams, don’t nibble on just one.
Strangely, while I was sitting in the coffee shop watching the fine folks of Goshen stand in line to pay for their coffee, I suddenly saw a connection between bacon, Tim Tams, and pornography. Whoa, Josh! You’re getting pretty close to some lines you probably shouldn’t cross. Ah, but here we go.
I think it’s impossible for you to be victorious over pornography while you’re “nibbling” thin slices of sexual perversion which is sprinkled throughout computer games, your favorite Netflix show, at the beach, or even at Walmart. You know what I mean. That seemingly insignificant infraction of your conscience where you say, “Oolala, what’s this?” Followed by, “Ah shucks, it’s not really that bad” and then you linger a little longer. Why do you think supermarkets offer you little samples on toothpicks right in front of the deli? Why does Amazon Prime offer you a free trial month? Because they know once you get a taste, you’re going to want more of it. What the world is selling you is far more addictive than bacon or Tim Tams or Amazon Prime and yet you think you can enjoy just a taste without growing your appetite? You’re a fool.
If the world is offering you a sample of something, then they are trying to sell you something. I think, in the grand scheme of things, Satan is actively trying to buy your authority as a man and leader of the household. He’s taking your God given authority away from you and giving you cheap thrills to pay for it.
Did you know that modesty is tied in with the headship order found in Christian marriages? It is. When Paul talks about women wearing coverings on their heads, it wasn’t just an arbitrary object that women were to put on their heads. In that day and age it was provocative for a women to their hair exposed. Hence the covering which kept the hair hidden.
But what has that to do with authority in relationships? Think about it. When a woman uses her sexuality to attract a man, the woman is in charge of the relationship, not the man. The man wants what the woman has but the woman gets to set the “price” or terms before she gives the man what he wants. This is why women offer “samples.” They’re finding customers, or as Proverbs calls them, “foolish men.”
A Christian women, when dressed modestly, is not trying to attract him by appealing to his weakest nature. She is not trying to take over a man’s will by manipulation. Hence, modesty in dress is submission to the natural order.
When a man is addicted to pornography, he has given up his authority and is subject to his darkest nature. He becomes a follower, not a leader and in the back of his mind this haunts him in every area of his life. There is always that one thing that has him defeated and who’s chains he cannot break. While he may conquer many things in life there is always that one thing that leaves him will power to resist but cannot.
Nearly all the men whom I’ve talked to about pornography admit they have struggled with it in one form or another at some time in their life. Nearly all these men thought they were alone in their temptation and other men had it all under control. None of the men who found victory over the big problem did it while still enjoying the small “guilty pleasure” every now and then. The small guilty pleasures always add up to a big problem.
The church rarely talks about pornography addiction. I find people who are currently struggling with it don’t like taking about it. Maybe the church isn’t talking about it because many in the church are actually struggling with it.
God gave me victory from addiction 5 years ago now. I don’t pat myself on the back because I didn’t do anything to deserve it. God, in his goodness, delivered me from it in a split second because He had a plan for my life and needed me to get over that stumbling block. I can still remember the exact time and place it happened. I walk in victory because of his grace and forgiveness but that doesn’t mean I can indulge in the free samples people hand out on every street corner. Avoid those street corners because no small amount of temporary pleasure is worth the mountain of addiction and wretched misery that comes with it.
I am embarrassed at my shortcomings as a human being at times but when God intervenes and saves you with his goodness, forgiveness, and grace, I believe you’re putting your own pride ahead of God’s glory if that pride prevents you from sharing what God has done in your life.
I think I’ll make my daughter, Adi, wear a clown outfit. Clowns seem to have more than enough pants to cover themselves with. I’m kidding, of course. Clown outfits are expensive.
If you need someone to talk to about this, text, call, or email me. I’m not a counselor but I’ve been there and I know that stuffing the shame away into the secret places in your life is just awful. Dealing with that ball of guilt and misery while putting up a facade of spiritual maturity and victory is gut wrenching and exhausting. It’s time to do something about it and I’d like to help any way I can. Even just breaking the secrecy and telling someone about it may help. While I feel a specific burden for unreached people groups, missions is simply bringing the Light to the darkness and so I want to try harder to do that intentionally in life whenever I can.