Thursday, May 19, 2011

Character is more than who you are when you're all alone. It's also knowing when you shouldn't be alone.

This week at Southland, we will continue our series on Living Virtuously in a Virtual World. Such a series would be incomplete if it did not include a discussion about how Christians should respond to the proliferation of pornography on the Web. Pornography is nothing new. My guess is that as soon as human beings figured out how to draw pictures, they started drawing dirty pictures. What’s new is the volume of dirty pictures that are now available with just the click of a button.

While statistics on pornography prove to vary wildly depending upon the source, many estimates put the number of pornographic websites in the millions. One article in Christianity Today noted that 60% of the sites on the Internet are sexual in nature. That same article noted that the danger is not just for men. The numbers of women addicted to pornography is on the rise. I have no idea of knowing the accuracy of these statements, I do know from my experience as a minister and from interactions with other ministers that pornography is wreaking havoc on our marriages, our families, and our souls.

How can Christians be faithful to Christ’s call to honor God with our bodies? We’ll explore that topic more broadly on Sunday, but a simple word to start the discussion today. We don’t do it alone. God gives us his Spirit, who both forgives our sins and empowers us to new life. And God gives us one another. I always heard that character is who you are when no one is looking. While there is some truth to that statement, I’ve come to think there is a needed corollary. Character can also involve knowing when you shouldn’t be alone. Think about it. When an alcoholic says, “I need help in staying sober,” that person has shown character. He or she isn’t weak but wise.

As we’ll talk about on Sunday, God made us with strong sexual desires. Often, if left to ourselves, we will seek to satisfy those desires in ways that pervert God’s intentions. We need help. We need people who can help us stay accountable to one another and to God’s ways. As far as the internet goes, one of the ways we can do that is through internet accountability programs. Programs like Covenant Eyes or Safe Eyes, don’t filter internet use so much as they bring it into the light. You install the program on your computer and then put in a trusted friend’s e-mail knowing that they will get a log of every sight you visit. It’s like having someone constantly look over your shoulder which is what some of us need.

Again, such a move isn’t a sign of weakness, but of wisdom that says a God kind of life happens best when lived via the community of faith.

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