BCC Staff Note: You’re reading Part Three in a four-part BCC Grace & Truth blog series on grace-based, gospel-centered approaches to overcoming lust and pornography. In addition to today’s post by Deepak Reju (Dumb Down Your Smart Phone), you can read Part One by Luke Gilkerson here: 14 Gospel Promises That Trump the Power of Lust and Part Two by Heath Lambert here: Pornography, Radical Measures, and the Gospel. Later in the week you will also find Julie Ganschow’s post: Ensnared by Lust.
Hot Coal in Your Pants
There was a time when porn was primarily a problem for desk-tops or laptops, but over the last few years, technology has expanded to a host of different mobile formats—ipods, smart-phones, tablets (and who knows what APPLE will come up with next year?). So, if you are helping someone fight a porn problem, you’ve got to ask about all of their devices.
Think of hot coal. If you had a piece of burning coal in your pocket, it would burn a hole through your pants, and sear the skin all the way done your leg. Not a pretty picture, right? Mobile technology that gives us access to the Internet anywhere and at anytime is like sticking hot coal in our pockets. If you don’t have the self-control it takes to fight off temptation, you’re going to get burned.
Protect Yourself from Yourself
Most guys, as I talk to them about this problem of porn on the phone (or ipod, or tablet), take a posture of negotiating. I suggest to them, after repeated failures of looking at porn on their smartphone, that they don’t have the self-control and maturity it takes to have access to the internet anywhere and at any time.
Then the deliberating starts: “But what if I….”
“…cut out all of the dangerous apps?”
“…put the parental controls on?”
“…let my best friend program the administrator’s password so I can’t get into the app store?”
“….put covenant eyes on my phone?”
Chances are you probably know how to get around all of these measures, and with some scheming, you could find out how to easily get access to porn once again.
Don’t get me wrong, I think constructing boundaries to prevent a porn addict from committing foolishness yet again is a good thing. In fact, it’s an important first step in helping any struggler. But my concern here is three-fold:
- An unwillingness to accept your immaturity and inability to maturely handle unfettered access to the internet anywhere and at any time.
- The treasuring of mobile technology as if it is something we can’t live without.
- An unwillingness to make the sacrifices needed to protect yourself from sin.
Here’s the principle: You’ve got to protect yourself from yourself. If you don’t have the maturity to handle unencumbered access to the internet, and if the boundaries and software programs are not protecting you from stumbling, then you’ve got to do what it takes to stop the problem.
The biggest problem is not the pornographic picture on the screen. The problem starts with the lust brewing in your own heart. In other words, the biggest problem is you. You’ve got to find ways to protect yourself from the lust that comes from your heart.
Jesus says you need to take a radical step:
“If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell” (Matthew 5:29-30, ESV).
I’ve read this text with a lot of strugglers, and I usually ask: “What is Jesus’ approach to your sin?” It’s certainly not passive. He doesn’t negotiate. He suggests one thing—aggressively get rid of it. “Tear it out and throw it away.” “Cut it off and throw it away.” Take a radical step in dealing with your sin.
What is a radical step for you?
There are a lot of different things you can do to cut the sin out of your life. Let me make one suggestion: Some of you need to consider dumbing down your phone. Believe it or not, they actually still sell “dumb” phones—something that doesn’t give you access to the Internet or email or apps. All it does is what phones were originally meant to do—call someone else, or maybe even text them. If you ask the sales man at your local AT&T store, after he has removed the confused look from his face, he’ll walk you over to the corner of the store and show their somewhat small selection of Internet-free flip phones.
Several years ago, a young man I met for counseling explained to me that his fight with porn was a difficult battle, and so he decided to not have a computer or television access at his apartment, and to only carry a simple flip-phone. No one told him to do this. He actually decided this on his own.
Now before you judge him as being a pre-historic Neanderthal, realize that he was just trying to do what Jesus told him to do—recognize that when you sin (and especially if it is a habitual problem), it is better to take a drastic step to protect yourself from sinning again.
Friend, don’t be passive with your sin. Don’t underestimate how much power sin has over your heart and your life. Be aggressive with your sin. Cut it out and throw it away.
Join the Conversation
What additional applications can we make from Matthew 5:29-30 regarding being aggressive in our fight against sin?