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Skipping Out on God, Catching Up on Porn: How To Re-Order Your Priorities

This is a statement from an e-mail I received a couple weeks ago.  A young woman had skipped out on church because she didn’t feel well and decided, instead, to catch up on pornography.

I think this is a common storyline.  I know it has been true in my case many times.  I don’t know what it is about porn addicts skipping church, but that always felt like my weakest time.  In fact, it still can be (see my post, Sick on a Sunday).  Strangely enough, I just changed membership to a church that has neither a Sunday evening or a Wednesday evening service, and I haven’t had a problem.

Here is the wrong conclusion to draw from this:  Stop going to church and you’ll stop struggling with porn.

(Again: Wrong conclusion)

Before you launch yourself off that edge, let me reel you back in.  The temptation is to try and get rid of our feeling of guiltiness without fixing what makes us guilty.  We want all the freedom but no consequences, and church, frankly, reminds us of our guiltiness and the consequences of said guiltiness.  It reminds us, yet again, that we are imperfect sinners, and sometimes that just does not feel good.

It feels even worse then, when we skip out on church and instead find ourselves buried knee-deep in pornography.  For some reason, ‘church-time’ pornography held such a deeper level of guilt for me than any other time.  I got to the point where I dreaded skipping church, because I knew the second I made that decision that I would slip down the slope and land in a thorny pile of lust.  It was inevitable.

It is the ultimate usurping of the throne of Grace.  In fact, what I am doing is violating the First Commandment in an X-rated fashion.  I am taking God, my God, my Saviour, my Redeemer, the Lover of my Soul, kicking Him out of the place He purchased with His blood, and replacing Him with darkness, and actively so.  The time that I was supposed to spend worshiping Him is instead spent watching porn.  So, of course, I would feel guilty!

So what now?

Well, this situation, like any other situation of weakness requires you to be vigilant.  What is happening is that the very emotions and feelings that keep you from going to church are ones that draw you into porn.  Think about it.  What are some reasons you skip out on worship?

1.  You’re tired.

2.  You’re sick.

3.  You’re stressed.

What are three of the slippery slopes to failure?

1.  You’re tired.

2.  You’re sick.

3.  You’re stressed.

When you grease that slope with the idea that you are too tired, too sick and too stressed to make time for God, then pour on some guilt for being too tired, too sick or too stressed for God, the natural end is that you fall.

So how can you keep yourself from falling?

Well, you need to reorder your priorities.  This is not a “thou must go to church every Sunday in order to be free from porn” post.  I’m not here to debate Sabbath laws or mid-week meetings.  I think that there can be a point where we are over-involved in church (there, I said it) for all the wrong reasons.  It’s not there to entertain you so that you won’t do something stupid.  The body of Christ is there for you to plug in, and minister to.

By all means if you are carrying some contagious airborne disease, stay home.  If you are so sick you can’t walk, stay home.  If you are so crabby that your mere presence in the building would cause the sun to stop shining, then stay home and take a nap.  If the kids are sick and crabby, stay home and don’t torture some poor, undeserving nursery worker.  I know some of my readers are Catholic and have a conviction about daily Mass.  Again, not what I am talking about here.

Church over personal health is not the battle of priorities in question here.

The battle of priorities comes after you make that decision.  Here is an idea that might be a new approach to some of you:

God isn’t locked inside the church building.

I think, sometimes, we think of worship as something that only happens in church.  Our modern day church buildings are equivalent to the Old Testament tabernacle- God lived there.  That is where you worshiped God.  We do that now.

We stick God in a church-sized jail cell and when we can’t go visit, we act like He can’t see us.

We act like we cannot worship Him because we are not in the actual building.  Well, all of our worship is going to just have to wait until next week.  That’s not true.  Not in the slightest.  In fact when you skip out on church, that’s just it- you are skipping out on church, not God.

God is still with you, so make a conscious choice to keep Him on the throne.  Still make worshiping Him a priority.  You have a choice.  The devil will have a million and one excuses and your flesh will want to listen to him, but here’s the deal.

If you can think straight enough to read erotica, then you can read some Psalms.

If your head doesn’t hurt you enough to keep you from watching porn, then you can watch an online service or listen to music.

If you aren’t too exhausted to masturbate, then you aren’t too exhausted to journal out some prayers.

The choice is, has always been, and always will be– yours.  Which one do you choose?