An Altar of Broken Stones: How to Worship From Your Past

Zen on the Beach

For Christians who struggle with pornography, one of the biggest questions can be what do we do with our past?

We’ve all probably heard inspirational testimonies of Christians wrapped up in drug use, abuse, and poverty having a glorious Come to Jesus moment and making a 180 degree turn in life.

In my experience, the second someone (especially a woman) talks about how they used to be a porn addict, people want to change the conversation.

I don’t know what it is, but something about lust just makes things different.

You were addicted to drugs, but God saved you!  Hallelujah!

You used to be an alcoholic beating on your wife, but found Jesus?  Well, praise Jesus!

You were cheating on your husband but a friend invited you to church? Woohoo!  Let’s share your story on the church blog!

You were addicted to porn?  What… really?  Ummm… well, that’s nice.

Masturbation and lust?  Well, no, we don’t talk about those things from the pulpit.  It’s just not appropriate.  It might cause other people to stumble.  How about we just say, “You made some bad choices.”

Give me a break.

Such a stigma can leave us wondering what exactly we are supposed to do with our pasts.  I have women ask me all the time, “Now what?” Like it or not, fair or not, pornography and lust have shaped who you are.  They have influenced your worldviews, your opinion on sex and love, and how you interact with people (male or female).  That’s just the reality of it, and one that you will constantly have to face.

Fact is: You were addicted to porn.  There’s no undoing that.  Many of us just want to know how to live with that.

How do you move forward when your past is a stigma?

If you’ve been following some of the recent Facebook posts, I’ve been sharing articles about the stigma around sexual sin.  It’s (finally) starting to come into the light, and I love that there is a conversation about it now.

Maybe we are, as a church, approaching this the wrong way.  Maybe we are teaching sexual integrity as too much of an all-or-nothing irredeemable thing. As if God can transform drug addicts, adulterers, and murderers, but not sexually promiscuous women, and especially not women who struggle with ‘man’ sins.

But God can transform that life, and He has transformed (or is transforming) your life, and that transformation is something that brings Him glory.

Some people come to Christ young and never get in trouble beyond stealing a dollar from mom’s purse.  That’s not you.  That’s not your story.  That’s not God’s story in your life, and you can’t change that.

So, what do you do?

You worship Him from that, and you share that grace.

Think of it as an altar built of broken stones.  In the Old Testament, there are a few different altars of remembrance that are set up as a testimony to what God had done for the nation of Israel.  When He helped them or made a covenant with them, an altar was made as a monument to His goodness, grace, and faithfulness.

Has He been good to you?  Has He shown grace to you?  Has He not been more than faithful to you?

How do you celebrate that? How do you praise that?  You build an altar of remembrance.  You take all of the brokenness in which He found you- the broken home, the broken worth, the broken value, the broken love, and you build a monument of those broken stones.  The world might think it’s ugly, or unacceptable.  The church might feel it doesn’t meet the standard of acceptable altars, but it doesn’t matter.

Don’t ignore your past.  Worship Him from it.

As you walk forward on your journey of freedom, you can always refer back to that place, not as a time to regret, or a time to feel guilty and ashamed again, but as a time of celebration and worship.  You can look back at that altar, and how far you have come and say, “This far, O God, You’ve led me.”

Photo: Kay Gaensler / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

One comment

  1. It hurts so much to see what I’ve become. Sometimes it’s just too hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But it helps to know that this thing, this addiction, is not just some freak thing that I do.