“My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.”~ Proverbs 3:1-2
Christians contend that God – out of love – has laid down moral boundaries for us in his blueprint called the Bible. Picture a boundary like a fence. A fence stretched out across a field says, “Here, not there.” “This, not that.” “Mine, not yours.” Life without boundaries would be chaotic, even dangerous. If roads had no signs or pavement markings, you couldn’t go the grocery store without taking your life into your hands.
This being the case, we would expect that if God were a loving Being he would provide boundaries for us, and that these would especially include the parts of life that have the greatest power to bless us or harm us. Since our sexuality is just such a thing, we would expect to find fences around it.
And so, from its first chapter to its last, God speaks to us about this gift of sexuality he has given us, and how it is to be used. (Don’t believe me? Genesis 1 teaches that God created us male and female. Fast-forward to the Bible’s very last chapter, Revelation 22:15, where we are told that among those excluded from God’s heavenly city are the “sexually immoral”. Told you. First to last. And everywhere in between.)
Of course this is where everyone begins jumping off the bandwagon. Up till now we’ve been arm in arm. Powerful things need boundaries. “Yeah, yeah, yeah, lay it on me.” Sex is a powerful thing. Look at the wreckage. “I’m with you, man. Preach it.” Therefore sex needs boundaries around it, and God has provided them, because he loves us. “Abandon ship! Run for the exits!”
If this 40-day journey is going to be of any use to you, then you are going to have to make your peace with God’s boundaries, and stop ignoring them, denying them, or redefining them. They exist because God is good and loving, and – here’s the mind-blowing part – because God wants to share his goodness and love with you and me.
Many Christians struggle with a distorted view of God. They think (consciously or subconsciously) that adopting God’s boundaries will mean a more hollow life for them because God for some reason takes pleasure in denying them pleasure. A life without porn does not seem better than a life with porn.
When Augustine (a sex-addict turned giant of the faith from the fourth century whom we’ll spend lots of time with in Week 5), became serious about becoming Christ’s follower, he prayed with his lips, “Lord, make me chaste”, but prayed with his heart, “Just not yet.”
He still clung to the idea that a pure, ordered life though noble and worthy, would be tedious and dull. In other words, he believed that God was out to shortchange him. God was not good. His healing came when he discovered how radically he was loved by God, and then learned to reciprocate that love. At the end of Book 1 in his journal we call his Confessions, Augustine writes of God, “Good is he who made me, and He is my good…I thank you my sweetness and my glory, my confidence and my God.” Your healing will come when you can begin to think and feel similarly. Until you love God more, you will not love sin less.
Holding a distorted view of God is often coupled with a distorted view of his boundaries, and why he gives them. Deuteronomy 6:24 tells us “And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day.” Anything which God lays down as a boundary for me is meant for my good. God wants to preserve me and keep me alive. God’s commandments at their core truly are ‘holy, righteous and good’ (Romans 7:12).
Be careful here though. I don’t get to declare myself the standard-bearer for what is good or not. I don’t get to sort through God’s boundaries and choose the ones I like and toss out the others. “Well, I don’t see the good in this, so forget this.” Proverbs 16:24 is absolutely chilling. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”
In other words, the goodness that a given boundary is meant to bring to me may not reveal itself right away. And the harm that breaking that boundary might bring to me may not come in the mail tomorrow. Its shipping date might still be a long ways off. The fatherless are not always the best ones to ask about the harm caused by fatherlessness.
I may not understand God’s boundaries at first. I may not agree with them initially. His boundaries may even cause pain (and how can that be good?) My body and its desires may file lawsuits against me if I choose to go with God’s boundaries.
But if I can take that leap of faith and cling to the thought that God – because he is good – is not out to neuter me or rip me off with his boundaries, but instead is trying to bring out the full glory of the masculinity or femininity he has bequeathed to me, then maybe I can feel an inkling of real hope in what up till now has been a hopeless enterprise.
Sex is powerful, and sex-corrupted is more powerful yet, but God is the most powerful one of all, and he is not finished with you yet. Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4).
What ideas in this reading did you find helpful or challenging?
“God’s boundaries may even cause pain – and how can that be good?” OK, go ahead and answer that question.
“Until you love God more, you will not love sin less.” Put this in your own words.
Pretend to be God for a moment (just promise to come back.) What good might God have in mind for you in wanting you to have a porn-free life?
Prayer and Worship
“Father, I thank you for…”
“Father, please help me with…”
“Father, please be with…”
“In the name of Jesus, who died for my sins, who rose from the dead and who is with me now through the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
Today’s Worship Suggestion: “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” (Thomas Chisholm)
This Week’s Memory Verses
(We encourage you to memorize both the verse and the reference, in any version you are comfortable with.)
“For the righteous falls seven times and rises again.” ~ Proverbs 24:16
“I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman.” ~ Job 31:1
“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4