false intimacy

March 14, 2005

I have to confess I was a bit hesitant to include False Intimacy on my current reading list, lest visitors to this site think I am in over my head with sexual addiction. But I did decide to list it, and I want to share some thoughts from it as well.

I did read this book for personal reasons, but for professional as well. I’m taking some time during this break to brush up in areas to pursue wholeness. I’ve heard of many who have fallen in church planting, and I’m trying to explore areas where I may be exposed so I can understand them better. I also chose to read this for professional reasons, as I think every pastor should. The problem of sexual sin and addiction is out of control in our culture and snowballing. Pastors, and all Christians, need to understand what is going on rather than pretend it doesn’t exist.

Sexual addiction comes from taking the easy way out. We experience pain and frustration in our relationships, and so we would rather chose an alternative where we have more control, or at least we think we do. I’m a big fan of technology, but I wonder if the technology of our culture is providing us too many opportuntities to take the easy way out.

  • The obvious example is the easy access of pornography and the easy stimulation it provides instead of the work that goes into maintain a genuine relationship. But what about…?
  • Cheat codes in video games allow us to take the easy out rather than patiently struggle through something we are having difficulty with.
  • We share our deep thoughts in blogs, where, more often than not, our readers are those who agree with us and voice support. Thus, we share our thoughts in a safe environment. (How many of you have I talked to who have told me you hesitate to comment here because you don’t know if you have anything to say or that you might look foolish? Even that falls in this.)

Life is hard. Sometimes it is downright difficult and may seem unbearable. Often people turn to Christianity in hopes of finding the easier way, and all too often Christianity has simply been presented as Your Best Life Now.

I’m all for teaching that following Jesus leads to life to the fullest. I believe that with everything in me, and teach it often. But sometimes that comes through longsuffering, patience and endurance. We have to teach this easy-out culture to face the reality of their life and tell themselves the truth. There are no cheat codes. The last chapter of the book spoke to this, and I will close with a paragraph from it:

We can’t prevent the problems of sexual addiction within the church if we don’t change our message from “how to feel better now” to the unpopular biblical theme that the sufferings we experience “are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). We must emphasize the message of patience, endurance, perseverance and hope rather than the message of immediate healing for the wounds of life. We must teach spiritual groaning rather than tacitly encouraging spiritual murmuring when God doesn’t seem to be meeting our needs today.

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