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
     and Scripturally.

          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
     is wrong.

          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
     church.

          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
     Christian."

          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."

          It is?

          "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
     Phil Scovell
     Denver, Colorado
     Mountain Time Zone
     WWW.SafePlaceFellowship.COM

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