2007-04-17 - Thorn in My Side
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Sometimes I feel kind of like Paul. No, I don't have his great revelations but I do struggle with puffing out my chest and getting a big head. I too have a thorn in my flesh. I don't know what Paul's thorn was although I've heard various theories on the subject but I do know my own thorn. My greatest thorn is sexual temptation and when I fall, I feel like I have let God down.
But - I cannot let God down because I was never holding him up. However, I can let myself down, and those around me, breaking their trust and my own. Trust is a hard thing to earn back when it's broken.
I have had a few people write me since I started this lust series and I wanted to share a few excerpts from some of those e-mails so you can understand how your harmless pornography habit may hurt those who love you most. Most are from a one female listener and I have changed the details to conceal her family's identities. Consider this woman to be the unspoken voice of your wife.
"As the wife of a sex addict, my life and marriage is being destroyed on a near daily basis and although the TV is not to blame for the problem, it is helping to throw gasoline on a fire that was started long ago." "I fear for the future of my little boys, who are exposed daily to the garbage being poured out by the media. I bathe them in prayer and try to set a Godly example for them to follow, but I cannot control or limit the things my husband chooses to allow into our home through the television and radio. Satan has blinded so many men to the evil that he has packaged so beautifully and as one whose family has nearly been destroyed by infidelity, I can only pray that other men will 'get it' before it's too late."
"I am very close to filing for divorce but I don't want to give up if God is going to intervene. It's just so hard and discouraging when I don't see any change coming. I know that God is bigger than this but this sin / addiction is so devastating and is a powerful stronghold. My husband's name is John, and if you wouldn't mind lifting him to the Lord I would appreciate it more than you could ever know. I love him dearly, but I don't know how much longer I can live with the strain and the burden that this sin has brought into our lives."
"Our former Associate Pastor was a sex addict and his actions caused a great deal of heartache and destruction in our congregation. I hope that he is able to get help for his problem and that our members are able to heal. I think that many people in the church believe that this is a problem that does not touch us, but we are sadly mistaken."
"My husband and I had a year of couple's counseling, after his two affairs came out. Unfortunately, neither the counselor nor I had a clue about the real problem... that there was an addiction underlying the affairs (and most of the problems that we have had in our years of marriage). My husband is a Christian, has had the year of therapy, hears the Word being preached each week at our church, and has the Every Man's Battle book. The problem is he refuses to admit that he has a problem, that porn and all that it entails is a sin, and that he can't fight this on his own. I don't think he even wants to fight it anymore. I think since he isn't actually having physical relationships with other women (as far as I am aware, anyway, but I didn't know for two years the last time), he doesn't think that what he is doing is wrong. The truth of the matter is our marriage is being destroyed on a near daily basis and I am tired or crying myself to sleep every night. I can't keep hoping for a change that may never come. I have tried everything, and I mean everything, to make things right, to be the perfect wife, partner, mother, housekeeper, etc."
"He wants a fantasy. And apparently he will choose that fantasy world over the woman right in front of him that loves him, with all my heart and soul, I still love this man. However, I just don't think the pain I am in can continue."
"I hate the prospect of divorce but I also can't see living another 30 or so years suffering like this. I just don't understand men. At all. Do men get it? Do they understand that this porn epidemic is DESTROYING the women that love them? Most men seem, in my opinion, to think it's just something guys do, that it's no big deal. I can tell you, if I weren't a Christian I would have absolutely committed suicide when I found out my husband had 'taken it to the next level' of affairs. He doesn't seem to make the connection between his affairs and porn and lust. I have cried out to God so many days and nights that I am just about out of prayers."
The thorns that prick you prick those that are around you too. I don't expect you to stop dreaming about women in magazines because you suddenly find them unattractive. I don't even expect you to stop lusting after coworkers or fantasy women on TV or the web just because I say it's wrong - after all, you don't know me from, well, Adam. Nevertheless, I hope and pray you'll stop because you realize it hurts your relationship to the Lord and to those who love you or may love you in the future if you're currently single.
There is a very good reason why Jesus said lust was like the sin of adultery in Matthew 5:28. It is because God knows that this sin can tear apart families and that is not his plan. He created the family, he created you as a present, or perhaps future, husband to another of his precious creation, and he desires for you to model his love to her.
Can you imagine Christ one day saying words like these to you? "Oh you Christians just don't do it for me anymore. Sure you love me but I'm tired of you. I'm going to run off with the Buddhists." That's not the Christ I know. He said I will never leave you or forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5) That is not the husband I want to be and I hope it's not the one you want to be either.