Subject: O2: Evicting the Enemy in the Gates (Porn in Church)

This week's journey: Be the Greatest  Mark 10:35-45
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Evicting the Enemy in
the Gates
(Porn in Church)

Satan's greatest trick is deceiving us into thinking he doesn't exist (C.S. Lewis). Or perhaps greater, to know he does exist, and the ways he's working, but to do nothing about it.

C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters is one of my favorite books. It's the chronicle of senior devil Screwtape's advice to his apprentice tempter, Wormwood, on how to seduce his assigned "patient" for eternity. We're given great insight into how the devil works, particularly among "church people." I can almost hear Screwtape speaking about us today:

"Don't worry about those who know the truth, or even profess it. Even we're able to do that. As they become aware of our work, disguise the true horror. Make it about something academic. Out there. Something distant. Anything to keep them from recognizing the Voice of our Enemy commanding them personally. Of course, our best weapon is to ingratiate their moral superiority! They must not see through the eyes of our Enemy's Rightness, but their own righteousness! By all means, let them bluster! How lovely to hear their sneering and hissing! What music! Joining in our own chorus... all within His very gates! In this, we actually have them worshiping themselves... in the name of the Enemy! [hideous laughter]

"No. Worry about those miserable, pathetic little souls who are aware of their weakness... aware that the Enemy made them for Himself... who approach Him not for their own status, but with their very lives, aware that He is truly speaking... who have an eager, ready desire to respond. We must stop this at all costs. It would be the end."

“We too need to guard the faith, guard it from darkness. Many times, however, it is a darkness under the guise of light. This is because the devil, as saint Paul, says, disguises himself at times as an angel of light.” - Pope Francis [Link]

Does this speak to you as it does to me? Do we really believe our ultimate call is to see God, to be "pure of heart" (Matt. 5:8), such that we're aware of the Enemy's attack through pornography? Such that we do something about it?

Putting it straight: If you or those you love are on-line anywhere without filtering or accountability software you're playing games with eternal life. You're playing with Fire. The door is wide open, and for many if not most of the most "religious" and "holy" among us, Satan is coming in.

90% of children 8-16 have viewed porn
64% of Christian men say they view porn once a month
50% of pastors regularly view porn
Age 12-17 are the largest group who view porn

One of our great strengths as Catholics can be a crippling weakness: we are conceptually rich in culture. How alarming and motivating is it for most of us to speak of porn as an "objectively grave matter"? Not so scary. That's like chatting with friends at your kitchen table about the burning house going up in flames across the street, and your informed fireman friend Fred says: "Yep. I'd call that a boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion. Sure hope no one gets hurt." 

Let's say it plainly. Hell is very real and porn can land you there. Porn is designed to land you there. Forever. On whose authority? The Son of God. He admonished us not to fear that which can destroy the body, but that which can destroy the soul (Luke 12:4-5). Do you believe it?

“[Jesus came] to give us the freedom… [from] the enslavement the devil has over us… On this point, there are no nuances. There is a battle and a battle where salvation is at play, eternal salvation. We must always be on guard, on guard against deceit, against the seduction of evil.” - Pope Francis [Link]

So, you know the truth. You profess it. But where are you at? What do you really believe? Let's see.

Go back to the above stats and replace "view porn" with "jumped off a bridge attached to a fraying bungee cord." Imagine these thrill seekers doing just that, mindless that the cord they're depending upon is fraying. But you know. They're people you know and love. People you live with. People you interact with every day. Would you say something? Would you do something about it? Knowing that statistically well over 50% of the men you know are there, and the cord could snap any time?

We know the answer. Likely in the instance of physical life you would be more than merely one who knows, or professes. You would do all you could to be rid of the danger.  You would be a believer.

So again, are you a believer when it comes to awareness that porn can destroy the soul?

“Let us ask the Lord for the grace to take these things seriously. He came to fight for our salvation. He won against the devil!" - Pope Francis [Link]

Of course, if it's not enough, porn is not simply destroying souls. It's not simply about eternal suffering "then and there." Porn is one of Satan's means of ensnaring victims in a very real and tangible hell here and now.

Neuroscientists have explained how porn radically re-wires how men and women think, about themselves and one another. Porn scrambles a built-in "adhesive" meant to bond a man and woman forever in sacramental marriage.

Porn is like two pieces of duct tape stuck together, only to be ripped apart. And again. And again. For every instance of porn. What happens to the "stickiness" of the tape? What happens to the tape? This is a remote idea of what porn does to a soul. And why porn is responsible for destroying countless marriages, families and relationships.

To understand porn we need to understand something about God's design for purity in connection to the "sexual urge." Another of Satan's great attacks has been brainwashing many of us into regarding the sexual urge as something divorced from purity, as something "naughty," or "dirty"... or simply "our own thing." Distant from God. Of course, porn reinforces this.

To the contrary, the pure sexual urge is a God-given, built-in compass whose Due North is God Himself. It is about our ultimate, eternal end of intimacy with God, and in Him, with all others. It is about Holy Communion. As Pope St. John Paul II suggested, the heart of the sexual urge is an urge to a completion that can only be found in God. The sexual urge is the capacity for man and woman to literally make God, who is love, known-- through total, mutual, self-giving love (Gen. 1:27).

And it must be emphasized that this capacity for divine-human communion is no less possible for those who are not married. In fact, whether a priest, religious, or single, the very same "urge" is simply directed in different ways of worshiping God, of making Him known.

"Marriage in this life is meant to foreshadow heaven where, for all eternity, we will celebrate the 'marriage of the Lamb' (Rev 19:7), the marriage of Christ and the Church. This is the deepest desire of the human heart to live in the eternal bliss of communion with God himself.  As wonderful as marriage and marital intimacy can be in this life, it's only a sign, a foretaste, a sacrament of what's to come. Earthly marriage is simply preparation for heavenly marriage." - Christopher West [Link]

Porn lies to the deepest desire of souls, promising a kind of intimacy, but only delivers intensity. It promises transcendence, but delivers slavery. Cut off from God, porn paves the way to disrespect for others, promiscuity, infidelity and even violence. Porn engenders deep guilt, shame and helplessness, a brick wall keeping the Niagara Falls of God's grace from flooding into our lives.

“Let us always remember… that the Adversary wants to keep us separated from God and therefore instills disappointment in our hearts when we do not see our apostolic commitment immediately rewarded. Every day the devil sows the seeds of pessimism and bitterness in our hearts. … Let us open ourselves to the breath of the Holy Spirit, who never ceases to sow seeds of hope and confidence.” - Pope Francis [Link]

It's time those walls come down. 
It's time we quit allowing Satan to hide in the shadows.
It's time we shine a big, bright light on this.

I'm inviting men and women of courage to be honest about their own challenges, personally, and in their marriages and families. [This short audio is particularly powerful] Let's raise the conversation. Let's create grace-filled environments marked not by shame, but the power of the Cross. Let's recognize the power God has given us in Christ. This will ignite a holiness revolution.

The fact that a multitude of godly men struggle should suggest that praying isn't enough. Being involved in church  isn't enough. The Sacraments aren't even enough... without understanding our need to cooperate, to "avoid the near occasion of sin." To believe.

Our Enemy is cunning. We have to know our vulnerability and minimize his influence. For our part let me say having Catholic Covenant Eyes on our computers and devices isn't just for our children.

What women and men need to understand.

What women need to understand is that vulnerability to porn has nothing to do with how much we love our wives. It has nothing to do with our earnest desire to be holy. In fact, we're vulnerable to porn precisely by God's design. God placed in each of us a relentless desire for completion that can only be found in Himself, and He linked this to sexuality.

What women need to understand is that real men really want to win. They need their wives to understand their vulnerability without judging it, or taking it personally. God's transforming love can help them overcome understandable hurt and anger and get in the game, to go to battle for them, to sacrificially pray for them. And yes, to insist upon accountability. (Commit)

What men need to know is that porn is grave, and is paving the way there. Porn is sexual involvement with other women. It is adultery. (Matt. 5:28) Satan is there. As Jesus suggests, it's not even just the physical engagement. It's your imagination. Your soul is in danger. You need real help. You can not conquer on your own. 

What men need to know is that regardless of how far you've fallen, or helpless you feel after so many attempts, Paul is absolutely right: You can make yourself a living sacrifice. You can conform no longer to the ways of this world. You can be transformed inwardly by the renewal of the Spirit; this means your inner world of imagination, thought and feeling. You can live in the abundance of God's good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2)

Where to begin?

Start by deciding. For real. Not kinda-sorta. Because God made you for greater things. Because your spouse and family need you. Because you are more than a conqueror. (Romans 8:37)

You may have done this before, but this time mean it by taking action and closing the door. Make your declaration to the Lord. Engage a good priest or brother whom you trust. Fully confess. Heartfully repent. Renounce the Enemy in the name of Jesus Christ. Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Back it up with real commitment. (Commit)

“[The Devil] attacks the family so much. That demon does not love it and seeks to destroy it. […] May the Lord bless the family. May He make it strong in this crisis, in which the devil wishes to destroy it.”
- Pope Francis [Link]

Parents, especially dads, regardless of how much control you think you have over media consumption, don't presume. Have the courage to sit down with your children and ask straight forward, "Have you struggled with porn?"

Convey to them that you get it. That God designed them for great intimacy. That the Enemy would rob them of it. Acknowledge that it is attractive. You're on their side. They can come to you. You're going to battle for them. Together you're going to help them receive all God desires for them.  Right there pray with them and bless them.

“[T]he Devil is at work. But I would like to say in a loud voice ‘God is stronger.’ Do you believe this, that God is stronger?” - Pope Francis [Link]

"As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
- Joshua 24:15

In our home we've enlisted in the battle. We're committing in two ways. Please join us. First, Catholic Covenant Eyes is installed on all our devices and computers. It's the best recommended solution by every Catholic leader I know. Resist Wormwood's whispering in your ear right now, "You and your loved one's are just fine. You're different. You don't need it." He doesn't want that door closed. This is your battle right now.

Secondly, my sons and I decided that we're going to give up meat on Fridays for the specific, sacrificial purpose of defending and honoring God's design for women, and to live fully our call as men. Join us.

And if you want to be a real Kingdom builder, you can make a difference with one click. Share this article. Tweet. Like. Email. Consider printing and passing out Catholic Covenant Eyes hand out. Get it to your pastor.  

“The devil cannot stand seeing the sanctity of a church or the sanctity of a person, without trying to do something.” - Pope Francis [Link]

We are Church. The united Body of Christ for the salvation of the world. This is our ultimate purpose. The gates of hell will not prevail. In the power of the Holy Spirit, let's take this world back for Jesus Christ.

United in the great mission of making God, who is Love, known,

Greg Schlueter
President / CEO, Image Trinity [Mass Impact]



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