God at the Brothel Door!

Sam Fraser

100 years ago, G.K. Chesterton wrote, “Every time a man knocks on a brothel door, he is really searching for God.”

God at a brothel door? Provocative thought. What was he getting at? Perhaps we have turned to sexual encounters, via prostitute, massage parlor, sexual affair or the good old standby porn because we don’t know how to connect more deeply with God?

What we hunger and search for in this old world cannot, will not be satisfied through the ways of the world. Being made in God’s Image, we can only satisfy those deepest longings by being in relationship with Him. Perhaps, what we are resorting to is a disappointment that we cannot seem to remedy in isolation, by ourselves to ourselves, alone. Alone, in that deepest part of being, yearning to fill that part of us that is empty, in pain, or a deep desire for transcendence, but disappointed, falling short every time. It requires effort and self discipline, and more than a little suffering as we work through our immaturity, dig down into our unfinished business from the past. It is very much in our human fallen nature to not want to make the effort. It is much easier to settle for mediocrity and resign ourselves to second best. The easier way, the counterfeit, that is less demanding. Sexually acting out in whatever form we have established will always be a far cry from what God’s best… and we know that.

“Every time a man
knocks on a brothel door,
he is really searching for God.’
G.K. Chesterton

As good as the anticipation may be, the acting out and release that takes place, it is not long before whatever gratification we enjoyed, gets exchanged for the condemnation, guilt and shame that follows. The old hollow feelings return to haunt and taunt as it becomes the seedbed for the next acting out to occur as the cycle repeats itself all over again.

Although there is a momentary pleasure, however shallow and temporary it may be, it does draw us back again and again, over and over, even though it never remedies our deepest longings. It only medicates and distracts us from the pain. Until next time, when the unmet need reels us back to the old unsatisfactory acting out. We knock, and knock again at the brothel door. It is safer, easier, and a less demanding counterfeit in lieu of the real deal.

With a little thought, it begins to make sense what old G. K. was getting at. But the kicker is how can we find a way to enjoy the pleasures of God more than the pleasures of sin? If sin didn’t feel so good, it would not be so difficult to stop. We are sexual beings and as men we are designed to respond to stimulation. Putting ourselves in stimulation’s way has become very easy these days. But how to de-sexualize our need for intimacy with ourselves, others and God makes sense upstairs in our heads, but doesn’t seem to have much pull downstairs in our hearts where the emotions and drives can seem so overwhelmingly powerful and seemingly impossible to stop at times. It is easy to get discouraged and resign ourselves to defeat.

To experience more pleasure and enjoyment with God than through the old, old habits of sin is the $64,000 question (with inflation maybe it is now the ten million dollar question).

Each one of us in our own way needs to discover how we can enjoy God, to find pleasure in relationship to Him to such a degree of depth and intimacy that the pleasures of the flesh, of this world, or of our own selfish indulgence can be confronted, battled and defeated. Ephesians 3:17-19 says it this way:

May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God. (NLB)

The point I want to raise is to get you thinking about the making a conscious choice between the two types of pleasures. It will take a little thought and some creative experimentation and you may have to try out several different activities to make the right connection, of enjoying the pleasures with God, but it is worth the effort.

Through this growing process, there are as many different ways that fits us to a ‘t’ that can fulfill the knocking inside. So experiment: try this, try that, don’t stop, the Lord will help you. He wants this even more than we do! Get those legitimate needs met in a healthy expression of an intimate relationship with the Lord….regularly.

For me, one of the greatest ways, when I am alone and circumstances dictate that I have to find a way to enjoy myself without access to others has been to whip out my ever-growing collection of praise and worship c’d’s. Worship opens the door to all the Lord’s goodness. Psalm 30:4-5 says,

Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones! Praise his holy name. His anger lasts for a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime!

I particularly like the Vineyard style of contemporary music. To each his own. The point being is to try out some different activities, get creative, find some ways that will bring you to God and experience deeper pleasure with Him rather than our own former discretions.

Knock, knock, knock…. go in.

Practical Repentance

Joe Dallas

Did sin ever yield real pleasure? If so, go back to your old drudgery, and wear the chain again, if it delights you. But inasmuch as sin did never give you what it promised to bestow, but deluded you with lies, be free. ‘Charles Spurgeon

When you’re angry enough, scared enough, or frustrated enough, you take action. So it is with sexual sin. If you’re ready to repent of it, you’re probably angry (‘I’ve had it!’), scared (‘God be merciful to me a sinner!’), or feeling the futility of it all (‘There’s no future in this for me!’). All three roads lead to repentance.

To repent is to turn. That’s what distinguishes repentance from confession, which is a simple acknowledgment of sin as opposed to actively turning from it. It is through confession, according to John 1:9, that we are forgiven of sin: ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’ I John 1:9 But confession doesn’t necessarily change us, important as it is.

God not only calls us to acknowledge our sin; He also commands us to put it away. Now ‘repent’ is a word we associate with dour men in sackcloth warning us about the coming doom. That’s too bad, because repentance is a valuable concept. It means ‘to think differently, reconsider, turn around.’ No real changes are made without it.

Repentance is the willful act of discontinuing a thing which is destructive, followed by an earnest effort to do what is constructive and right. In short, without confession nothing is forgiven, but without repentance nothing is changed. To repent, or turn, you need to first identify what you’re repenting of, then determine the most effective way to do it. Exactly what do you need to repent of? Of course, you can’t repent of having sexual impulses. You can’t rip them out and abandon them, and you can’t just will them away. Repentance applies to acts of the conscious will, whether they are outward actions or inward indulgences. So you are not trying to repent of sexuality per se but of conscious sexual sins. These would of course include sexual contact apart from marriage, and the use of pornography. These are direct forms of immoral behavior, easy to detect and obviously immoral.

‘We can’t keep the birds from flying over our heads, but we can keep them from building a nest in our hair.’ -Martin Luther

Sexual fantasies are similar. They, like sexual lust, are conscious acts of the imagination. And they too need to be distinguished from fleeting sexual thoughts. Martin Luther, speaking of impure thoughts, said that we can’t keep the birds from flying over our heads, but we can keep them from building a nest in our hair. That’s pretty well put. Wayward sexual thoughts come to everyone, I suppose, but when we indulge those thoughts by orchestrating sexual fantasies, then we’re not just having fleeting thoughts; we’re creating mental pornographic home movies.

But repentance shouldn’t stop there. You should also consider any activities that contribute to them or encourage them. Here you need to be very honest with yourself. Are there parts of your lifestyle’habits, places you like to go, forms of recreation’that encourage sexual immorality? That’s a question every Christian has to ask himself; it’s a question that’s doubly pertinent to you. So often, men can go on kidding themselves, then wonder why they’re not making any progress. They claim to want freedom, and seem willing to give up overt sexual sin, but show an unwillingness to give up the very things that lead them back into that activity. In all matters, the question should never be ‘Is going to such and such a place an overt sin?’ but rather ‘Do I have the liberty to go to this place without setting myself up to stumble? Will it encourage me toward my goals, or will it encourage me toward a setback?’

If you’re serious about repentance, bring every part of your life under scrutiny. Remember, you’re trying to emerge from the mindset of a child to that of an athlete, putting aside anything that interferes with your ultimate goal. That, in the truest sense, is repentance.

For more help see Every Man’s Battle.

How’s Your Plan Working?

For some of you reading this, Every Man’s Battle is still a fresh experience; you’re still on the mountain top, and your recovery is exciting. For others who may be a year or two removed from an EMB workshop, things have drifted back to the routine, and some of the ‘warm fuzzies’ of the workshop have faded. Whichever group you find yourself in, one thing is for sure: for your recovery to be successful and meaningful, it will be extremely important to stick to the action plan that you developed at EMB.

One of the hardest parts about sticking to the action plan, is that sometimes it gets a little mundane, a little routine. I can still picture Joe, in sweatshirt and jeans, flexing his muscles while reminding us that as guys, we’re more ‘hero’ oriented than ‘routine’ oriented. ‘Give me a burning house and a baby, and I’ll show you what a hero I can be,’ he’d say. ‘But ask me to take out the trash or get up 15 minutes earlier to put on coffee for my wife? C’mon, that’s a little boring.’ Yet that’s what recovery is all about, doing the mundane, doing the routine, and doing it consistently.

What’s the action plan that I am talking about? Well, by way of a little refresher, let’s go over the things that Joe and the EMB staff want us to do after we leave EMB. I am not going to go into the detail that Joe does, but I’ll hit the highlights. One of the things is to make sure to get an accountability partner and an accountability group. Find someone who isn’t afraid to ask you the tough questions, and who will see through if you’re trying to manipulate. This person does not have to be in recovery from sexual addiction themselves, although that is helpful, but they do need to be available, and willing to meet with you on a weekly basis; and they do need to be honest with you and demand honesty from you. If you’re married, it’s important that this person have full access to your wife, and can call her about anything that is going on in your life that is inappropriate.

Another part of the plan is for you to be seeing your pastor, or someone in leadership at your church. This will help you stay spiritually focused. And speaking of staying spiritually focused, starting off your day with some prayer and Bible reading is the best way to let your Heavenly Father know you’re grateful for all of the gifts He has given you.

Recovery is all about: doing the mundane, doing the routine, doing it consistently!

In all of the follow up calls I’ve done with EMB alumni, I have never once had a guy who was struggling or who had relapsed tell me that he was closely following his action plan. On the flip side, most of the guys who are doing well are doing most or all of their action plan. How are you doing with your follow up plan? If you don’t have a church home, call New Life–we may have a referral for a church in your area. And if you’re not spending any time with the Lord during the day, carve out 15 minutes today to do that. They may not sound like the most exciting things in the world, but it’s the ordinary things in life that we do consistently that keep us in recovery.