Just Like In The Movies
Abstaining from Abstinence
By Phil Scovell
Have you ever, upon feeling sad or discouraged, turned on
Christian radio or TV in hopes you would hear something that might
lift your spirits? I have probably done that thousands of times over
my lifetime. I thought that was mostly what Christian broadcasting
was all about but it doesn't seem to be most of the time.
I switched on the TV to watch some late night news. I listened
until everything began to repeat itself and then thought I would surf
the Christian TV channels on our satellite service. I was feeling
that sadness and discouragement and God as my witness, I thought maybe
somebody would be talking about something that would encourage me. I
will always think that way although, over the years, and the thousands
of times I have done this, rarely has anything I heard lifted my
spirits, encouraged me, or answered any question I had about my walk
with the Lord. I wonder why? I know why; I'm just thinking out loud.
Anyhow, I made the same mistake this particular night, but, as I said,
I'll never stop doing it and I am thankful for all the Christian radio
and Christian TV we have today so don't jump my case for being honest.
I tuned just four stations. Two of the 4 were asking for money
to support their ministry and spending the entire show doing so.
Nothing knew there. In fact, the first one was asking for 1,000
dollars per person and he would pray a special intercessory prayer of
financial blessing for you. I guess that means the rest of us
couldn't be blessed. A third channel was a man telling people who had
the most authority in the church today. Dumb me. I thought it was
Jesus but it didn't sound like that was what he believed so I changed
channels once again for the fourth time.
A Christian movie filled the screen. I had never seen one of
these Christian movies before, although people had told me about them,
so I began to listen. It was pretty neat at first, great acting, and
it was all Christian in nature. You've probably heard of Seventh
Street Theater? I had heard of it but didn't remember until the movie
was over and they said the name but this was my first time seeing it.
Unfortunately, I only saw the last 10 or 15 minutes of the movie. I
wanted to puke and hit myself on the head with a hammer for even
watching that little of the movie but like I have already said twice,
I will continue doing the same thing I did tonight until Jesus comes.
Then it is no more Christian radio or TV for me ever again.
As I have said, the acting was as good as any I have seen. The
Christian flavor really made it feel and sound real and I thought it
was really cool. My complaint wasn't the movie, the content, the
acting, or anything else other than the advice given in order to help
a man with a problem he faced. Let me set this up so you'll
understand what it was about.
Apparently, a man had come to visit a Christian family. He was
not born again. I believe he came with his brother who knew this
Christian family. As I said, I got in on the last 10 or 15 minutes,
maybe it was 20 minutes, of the movie so I don't know how all this
developed, but the man who was not a Christian continually was going
upstairs and checking his email. The Christian wife of the house used
the same computer but started getting porno popup advertisements on
her computer. The husband, or man of the house, realized one day that
it all started when this visitor came to the house. He approached him
one day and literally asked him if he was hooked on pornography. The
man denied it and things got pretty tense between them.
Soon after this confrontation, the unsaved man used the computer
again. Gage was the name of the man who owned the house and had
approached the man about the pornography. Gage walks into the room
just as the man tried accessing his email and pointed out once again,
the porno popups started only after he came and started using his
wife's computer, and told him he could help him if he would allow it.
Fast forwarding a little, the man gave in and said he was hooked on
porno. Gage began talking a lot of good Biblical stuff to him and
eventually seemed to lead him to Christ, although this part was very
shallow to me, but then I've led quite a number of people to Christ in
my life and I like to be sure the person understands and is showing
commitment when they pray compared to what I saw in this movie. It
was just a movie so I guess it isn't all that important. Not!
Anyhow, Gage did a good job helping the man and explaining things but
then from there, everything went downhill fast, and the wheels came
off his theology, and the conversation crashed and burned spiritually
First, Gage told his friend that if he became a Christian, not
only would Jesus help him with this problem, but He would fix the
problem. So far, so good, I figured, because that was a true
statement but incomplete. So I wanted to see what came next.
Gage told the man how Jesus would fix the problem for him. Are
you ready for this? He told the man that he had to deal with his
problem. Wait! I thought Jesus was going to do all that for him. I
guess not because now, Gage was telling this man that he had to solve
his own problem. How? Thank you for asking. Gage said, the only way
he could solve his problem, get a hold of your underwear now, was to
give up computers completely. What? You heard me. He told the man
the only way God could help him is if he gave up computers totally in
his life. The man said, "Gage, I can't do that. I build and repair
computers for a living. How could I give them up?" Gage literally
told him he had to get another job. He said, "Look, what is the last
thing an alcoholic needs?" Of course, the man said a drink. Gage
said, "There you go. You have to give up computers just like a drunk
has to give up alcohol."
I was dumbfounded. I thought he had told the man that Jesus
could solve his problem for him. Then I hear the only way this man
can be free is to give up all computers? Holy Cow! So what if the
guy was fat, like me. Does this mean he should give up all food,
never go to the grocery store, Dairy Queen, or a fast food place, give
up can openers, his pop can collection, and stop drinking water, too,
just in case? This psychological behavioral modification methodology
crap sneaked into the church clear back even when I was a little boy
growing up in the Baptist church. I was born again, on the other
hand, in an Evangelical Free Church but I digress. I was taught, both
in the Christian home by a father who was a preacher and a pastor, as
well as in the church, and Bible college I attended, that abstinence
was God's way of solving Christian's problems of habitual whatever.
This included going to movie theaters, which was a sin, watching to
much TV and in one church, even having a TV at all was wrong, smoking,
drinking, sex outside of marriage, that was a given, masturbatory
practices, hand holding, kissing, and a number of sexually related
things we all tossed in on top of this rule, no pun intended, mixed
swimming, when I was very young, and that means boys and girls
swimming in the same pool together, or lake, or ocean, missing a
church service no matter how sick you were, and a few hundred other
legalistic rules and regulations. Now, I am not suggesting some of
these things are not indeed sin but I am suggesting the movie I
watched and am writing to you about right now was not only stupid but
unscriptural. Stay away from all computers? Get a different job
where you aren't working were computers around? What sort of job
could that be, I wonder. Anyhow, I will now address why this theology
In a word, or two, it doesn't work, never has, and never will.
Let's first, since the movie was focused on pornography addiction,
address that topic as an example.
Do you honestly thing, a man, or it could be a woman I suppose,
was addicted to porno, that by not watching it, exercising a ton of
self will in the process, that such a man would be free? hell no, he
wouldn't be free. He'd be in hell all the time, in a manner of
speaking. Let me use myself as the first example.
One evening, a couple of men picked me up to go to the church.
It was a week night and we were all elders, in a very large Baptist
church, although we were called deacons, and I was 21 years old and
the youngest deacon the church ever had.
As we were riding down the street, I was in the back seat, one of
the men said, "Boy brother Scovell, you are lucky."
"I am?" I replied; not having the foggiest idea what in the Sam
Hill he was talking about.
"Yep," he sighed. "You are blind so you can't see all the half
naked women walking down the street during the summer like this."
I wanted to say, and nearly did, "I'd give anything to have
enough sight to see those half naked women walking down the street,"
but I was a good Christian and said nothing. In my mind, however, I
said two things to myself, "Is this guy looking at such naked women
walking down the street right now? If so, let's hear about it." Then
I thought, "Does this guy honestly believe if you are blind, your
brain isn't working?" My point should be obvious. You've heard it
before; I'm sure. Your sex organs aren't between your legs; they are
between your ears. In other words, it is your brain and your mind and
your feelings and your emotions God uses to create intimacy; the rest
is simple biology. Outside of marriage, it is sin. Period. Nothing
less no matter how much others rationalize it; in or out of the
Here is another example.
A former homosexual came to a Christian counselor and told him he
had been straight, that is, he had withheld sexual expressiveness from
himself for 15 years. The problem was, he confessed, "I'm not free.
I can't get it out of my mind. I go to homosexual support groups, I'm
faithful going to church, I read my Bible, I pray, I've given up all
my old friends, and I stay as far away from other gays as I can. Yet
I still feel the pull of the life style. I've lived with it because I
just thought this is how it is supposed to be once you become a
After about three different prayer sessions, the man was shown
the lie he had been believing and three years later, wrote the
counselor a letter and said that he had no more urges and even the
desire itself had not returned. He was free!
So I asked you again, do you think that this man, who was
addicted to pornography, by giving up computers, would walk free the
rest of his life? Someone is saying, "Well, yeh, sure. If he truly
became a born again Christian, those desires would be gone." Is that
how you got saved? Has it worked for you; abstinence I mean. Don't
answer that question because I already know.
Let's step outside the box and see what God can really do.
Let's say you are a pastor and a man comes to you for counseling.
You set up the first appointment and once he arrives, you both soon
slip into a casual conversational time of sharing and soon you begin
to get a picture of what you think this man has come to you for. The
first hour session is pretty productive and common, nothing you
haven't experienced before, in other words. Since there is nothing
new, you give him a lot of books to read and a hundred bible verses to
memorized, and have him swear on the Bible laying on your desk that
you use for funerals, that he will, to the best of his ability, never
miss any church services as long as he shall live. Well, it is the
same Bible you use at weddings, too, so what the hay.
Next week, the man returns. More information is shared but
nothing of a personal nature. Well, he admits he masturbates
occasionally and he likes women, so you give him a couple of books
written by Christian psychologists, some who say masturbation is ok,
and others who call it sin, and expect him to figure it out on his
own. Of course, the pastor can't admit he does the same thing and
that he has begged God for years to help him and that he has tried
everything he's heard about but still cannot stop doing it, but this
guy doesn't need to know all that.
The third week, the mud hits the fan. I mean, the pastor took
pastoral counseling in seminary and all, and even has his masters in
family and marriage counseling, but he ain't never heard something
this weird. The pastor has just learned, the man is a bicycle seat
sniffer. That's right. No fooling. Honest. The guy cannot help
himself. He sneaks around, mostly at night, finds bicycles parked in
garages, chained up at the YMCA, leaning against house in the
backyard, and he just can't help himself; he has to sniff the seats.
To the horror of the well train pastoral counselor, who has had 5
years of psychological training and over 12,000 hours of hourly
counseling throughout his ministry, what comes next totally short
circuits his Christian brain and he nearly goes into a spiritual panic
attack. Why? Because what he is now hearing doesn't fit his
Christian training nor his psychological education. Well, what is it
then? The man in is office reports that his disease, addiction,
syndrome, phobia, disorder, or whatever the damn thing is labeled, is
now out in the open in broad daylight. That's right. His problem has
come out into the open and he even sniffs bicycle seats when he knows
other people are watching. You're laughing right now but the pastor
is freaked out that such a crazy mentally ill pervert is in his office
and the young man with the disorder, is crying hysterically and
begging for help. The pastor wants to toss the man out of his office
but instead, admits to this poor young man that this is far beyond his
ability to handle professionally and recommends a good Christian
Psychiatrist 250 miles away that the man must see as soon as possible.
The session is over and the broken man stumbles from the office and
that night shoots himself. Thank you Jesus for nothing.
First of all, some are saying, "It serves him right, the crazy
guy, I mean. After all, he was crazy and probably a child molester,
too. He couldn't be any Christian of any kind. He deserves hell."
Ok. Stupid, but ok.
So what about your feelings for the habitual masturbatory
practices of the pastor who now not only is masturbating more than
ever before, but is dialing up porno on the web, and trying his
hardest not to start sneaking out at night to sniff bicycle seats.
"Come on, man. This story is crazy."
"Yes, it is," you say. "Besides, these people are messed up in
the head. They need a shrink. They are mentally ill in the first
place and they need professional help."
I see. So you don't believe a pastor, or another Christian,
could help such a person?
"No, man. We have to leave such things up to the professionals."
Again, thank you Jesus for nothing. So much for miracles. I
guess that died out with the last apostle; whoever he was.
There is one little problem with all this bilge you've been
barfing up. The pastor? The masturbatory pastor? Is somebody going
to tell him he has to stay away from his penis, and all other penises
in the world, if he wants victory over this sin, so called, and if
that is what you are thinking, I wonder how his wife is going to feel
about this advice when she learns you told him he has to give his
penis up? Ain't as funny, now, is it?
So, what's the answer. The movie got it right the first time
when the helping Christian, Gage, told his friend that Jesus was his
answer. His mistake was, he was wrong when he said that by getting
born again, his problems were over, because God would help him, and
then explained that this meant that God would help him give up
computers. Wrong, wrong, wrong, and more than a little stupid, but it
was a movie after all and not really real. Right?
Several years ago, I heard a news story. It happened here in
Colorado. A man in his early sixties, retired, went out to go to the
hardware store. He turn the engine over, put the pickup in gear and
slowly backed out of his driveway. Hearing the crunch, he stopped,
pulled forward slightly, and leaped out; running to the back of his
pickup. He had just run over his 4 year old granddaughter, riding her
trike, and killed her.
For many years, the picture generated in my mind kept flashing
back into my thoughts. I could, at times, almost feel it in my
emotions and I grieved for that man. I often prayed the Lord would
somehow bring someone to him to assist him in dealing with, not coping
with, this horrible tragedy he had suffered. The report on the news
said he was getting psychological assistance.
Finally, one day, I sat down and began to think. "Lord, what can
you do for a grandfather like that? Anything?" I just didn't know
and I was serious. You can believe this or not but in my mind, the
face of Jesus flashed and nearly filled up my entire inner vision. I
smiled when I saw his face because I cannot think of this grandfather
now without the full face of Jesus appearing in my inner vision. I
also heard, felt is a better expression, what Jesus said when I asked
Him to show, or tell, me what he could do for such a person. His face
filled my vision which means Jesus was saying, "I can be his complete
life." I felt much more being spoken into my grieving spirit that I
felt for this man, too. "I can," Jesus said into my thoughts, "Appear
to him in this manner ever single time the horrible pictures and
memories flash back into his mind." I knew then what Jesus could do
for a broken hearted man. I know also what he can do for anyone,
regardless of what it is, I know what Jesus can do. I'm wondering if
you know? Is it pornography, alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, or
something not even on the list? Guess what? Jesus can fix it once
and for all and it won't be like in the movies either.
Safe Place Fellowship
Mountain Time Zone
End Of Document
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