That got me thinking about a topic that I don't believe I've ever touched in this space due to both fear and shame. The irony is that Christians aren't supposed to be fearful and shameful, right?
We should be though. Otherwise, how do you explain the approximately two-thirds (or 64%) of U.S. men who view pornography at least monthly, which is a number that researchers say is virtually mirrored by Christian men?
Shouldn't they (shouldn't we) feel fear (Proverbs 1:7) and shame (2 Corinthians 7:9-11) when they (when we) engage in such blatantly sinful behavior?
Truth is, typically, viewing pornography is more than just a "one time thing" and more akin to an "addiction" just like those statistics indicate.
As Pastor Peters once wrote...
There is an emptiness and a void that compels desire and that takes form in the self-destructive behaviors of addiction. These become a way of avoiding insecurities and escaping the emotional issues that have led to the addictive behaviors. It seems to me that addiction is less about the vice than about the need within. While it can help to avoid the thing that is the focus of the addiction (sex, drugs, internet and social networking, etc.), the avoidance is no cure. The emptiness within that the addictive behavior has exploited remains and so the person is always vulnerable. In this day and age, with the great accessibility we have to addictive behaviors, we are not helping people by simply telling them to avoid their weakness. In fact, it is this weakness, emptiness, and void that must be exposed and confronted.
Pastor Matt Richard once wrote...
It has been said that the greatest needs of mankind are money, sex, and power. People will lie, cheat, and steal to acquire money. Marriages are destroyed, families are ruined, and jobs are lost as a result of sexual affairs or pornography consumption. Physical fights, threatening letters, and intimidation tactics are engaged to keep another person underneath a thumb.But believe it or not, none of these things are considered the greatest need of mankind.What then ‘is’ mankind’s greatest need? The greatest need is to be justified, to be considered right and good and whole.
With that desire and need always present within us, Satan, the world, and our flesh constantly tempts us -- especially us Christians -- to find justification apart from Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice for us upon the cross.
Our self-worth becomes an idol and rather than realizing that we have a new identity in Christ we continue to scratch and claw our way through the new robe of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10) we have been given as a gift and all because we think the dirty, old, ragged robe of the "Old Adam" makes us better.
I'd imagine we do this whenever we succumb to the thinking that the Old Adam is what the world admires and wants to see since it's the only thing that has any real merit and value in this life and in this world (or so we're told repeatedly day-after-day).
James 4:4 (ESV) You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
John 15:19 (ESV) If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
That's the truth; the truth that shatters the myths of the Old Adam.
What do we do? We act as if we don't care about any of that! After all, who wants to be hated all the time? Plus, as Satan is so quick to point out, "Come on now! You're obviously much better and much more faithful than most Christians you know anyway, so what's the harm in taking a break and enjoying yourself just this once? It's not like it matters anyway since your God is a God of unlimited forgiveness, right? I'm sure this will be the one and only time you do something like this too so go ahead and just try it once and then you can stop fantisizing about it."
Who hasn't had that experience before? It hits a little too close to home, doesn't it? Even so, just because it's common to us all doesn't mean we should ever just shrug our shoulders, shake our heads, and roll our eyes as if to suggest there's no use in us even trying to wage war against the temptations that are all around us on a daily basis beckoning us to play with them.
I think of those movies and TV shows where the Police Officer knows he's not supposed to do something given his particular vocation, but because the temptation is so great, he decides to remove his badge first or to leave it at home so that he "technically" can't get in trouble.
My dear friends, the Lord doesn't work that way, and we can't just strip off Christ's righteousness that we have been clothed with since our Baptism whenever we feel like it, living like unconscionable and unrestrainable heathens, just testing God day-after-day to keep looking the other way or to keep forgiving us as He promises He will.
It's like Rev. Weedon pointed out in the lecture we highlighted the other day, there's a real danger in thinking, "God's all about grace! I'm all about sin! What a great deal, because I can just be who I naturally am and He can be Who He naturally is!" and it can lead to pure Antinomianism and even spiritual suicide (1 Timothy 1:19).
I spend a lot of time shining the light of truth on the darkness of deceit in this world and within Christ's Church (Ephesians 5:11), but I rarely ever shine that light upon myself within this public forum.
Today, I want to publicly expose myself (pun intended) to the guilt and shame of one sin in particular that has truly plagued me to varying degrees since I was a 12 year-old boy and even continues to from time-to-time still to this day as I sit here writing this as a 36-year-old man.
Adultery. Fantasy. Fantasizing. Lust. Pornography. Porn. Sexual Immorality.
All of it is nothing but pure sin.
Romans 6:23 (ESV) For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What I love absolutely about that verse is that it not only kills me with the Law, confronting my sins head on, but then it restores me to life with the beautiful promise that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
It's all right there in that single verse.
Thankfully, there are many more like it too throughout the Word of God.
When we don't let the Word fully destroy us and then fully comfort us, then there's Absolution and Private Absolution and, of course, the Sacrament of the Lord' Supper to help sanctify us.
There are times when I can't run fast enough to those passages of the text for comfort, hope, and strength, but then there are also times when I can't go near a single one because I'm too caught up in the pleasures of my sins.
Rev. Eric J. Brown OF Zion Lutheran Church in Lahoma, OK once wrote...
One of the things to remember is this. Sin, all sin, is a corruption of that which is good. Beauty is a fine and wondrous thing. When admiring beauty gets twisted into lust or desire, that is sin. Money is a blessing and a tool, but when greed and lust and covetousness enter in, then it is sin. Some things play off of and are designed to stimulate sinful thoughts (like porn) – these ought be avoided. Somethings aren’t designed to promote sin, but due to our own weakness or temptations we find stronger, we need to avoid them (while some can have a single drink with no problem, the alcoholic, due to weakness, ought not order that drink). So where is that line? It’s different for each person on each topic. On this, what does your conscience tell you — do you feel guilt or shame in looking at things — then you might want to try lessening it. If not, I wouldn’t worry too much, but know that lust and covetousness of the opposite gender (or for some, the same gender) is often lurking at the door, and be on guard against those temptations when they pop up. Hope this helps.
Such is the nature of sin, isn't it? It promises you the world, can even make you feel really, really good (Hebrews 11:25), but those feelings are fleeting and short-lived, and you're left chasing one sinful experience after another in an attempt to feel something, anything, since the serpent succeeds at getting you to believe that a momentary sin is better than a momentary feeling of anxiety, discomfort, hurt, pain, and stress.
I finally decided to write this entry because I know that there are other Confessional Lutherans out there who are struggling with this particular sin like I am. These are the confessions of a Confessional Lutheran (struggling) porn addict.
Oh, and the "others" aren't just other Confessional Lutheran men either. Women are no longer immune to the sin of pornography in this hyper-sexualized society we live in today (consider the popularity of movies like "Magic Mike" and/or "Fifty Shades of Grey" and you'll know what I'm talking about).
Ok, but why even write something like this in the first place? I mean, it's not like I'm going to divulge all kinds of sordid details, and it's not like this is the first or the last piece to be published on this topic.
That's true. I get that too.
However, there's something I've noticed within the past year that I think was quite unexpected for me as an x-Evangelical, and since I believe it's uniquely tied to being a Confessional Lutheran, I wanted to write about this subject from that distinct perspective.
Here's the thing...I wish I could say that I have been "porn free" and that I haven't viewed any kind of pornographic material within the last year, but that would be a complete and utter lie. I wish I could say that I haven't "fantasized" or "lusted" after women who are not my dear wife within the past year, but that would be a complete and utter lie. I wish I could say that all of these related sins are no longer "a thorn" in my flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7), but they are.
Lord, have mercy!
Truth is, even though I would definitely classify myself as a "Struggling Porn Addict" as opposed to a straight up "Porn Addict" I have to ask myself -- is there really a difference? Sin is sin, right?
Dearly beloved, there is a difference. Lutheran beliefs, teachings, and confessions have been such a blessing in that they've helped me to see the difference for the first time after years of anguish!
At the same time, it's not like that means that I've somehow reached some kind of "new level" of the Christian faith or that I somehow think that I'm "better" now. Not at all! Like I said, sin is still sin whether it's dialed down a few notches or not.
I guess the point I want to make in this article today is that there is hope for you. Yes, I've learned that these temptations to sin seem to ebb-and-flow with the other challenges and struggles you're facing in your life at the time.
For me, whenever I am really stressed out at work, or unhappy with some situation in my life, or stay up much later than everyone else (later than I should be!) doing absolutely nothing only to get really, really tired and weak -- those are all "triggers" for me.
They're not excuses, but it was such a blessing when I finally realized that. It was an even greater blessing when I discovered the Confessional Lutheran church and came to a proper understanding of Law and Gospel, the Simul justus et peccator, and the forgiving power of His Word preached and His Sacraments distributed.
What I didn't expect was how I would take that new appreciation and understanding of His grace, forgiveness, and mercy and use it as a license to sin without even realizing it!
Hebrews 10:29 (ESV) How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?
That was the one verse that echoed throughout my mind once I was brought to my knees and had seen what I was doing.
Satan is the Father of Lies and he was out in full force as the "roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8). He would casually whisper in my ear, "Yeah, but why are you so worried about what Hebrews 10:29 says? After all, didn't Martin Luther himself say to 'sin boldly' even?"
Yes, he did, but he certainly wasn't encouraging a lifestyle of unrepentant sin for the believer! In fact, the same Martin Luther Luther explained it this way in our Confessions...
It is, accordingly, necessary to know and to teach that when holy men, still having and feeling original sin, also daily repenting of and striving with it, happen to fall into manifest sins, as David into adultery, murder, and blasphemy, that then faith and the Holy Ghost has departed from them [they cast out faith and the Holy Ghost]. For the Holy Ghost does not permit sin to have dominion, to gain the upper hand so as to be accomplished, but represses and restrains it so that it must not do what it wishes. But if it does what it wishes, the Holy Ghost and faith are [certainly] not present. For St. John says, 1 John 3:9: Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin, ... and he cannot sin. And yet it is also the truth when the same St. John says, 1:8: If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. *- (SA III.III.43)
I've been taught that we should take these very words as proof that's telling us that there must be a "struggle" against sin in our lives and that the struggle is actually evidence that you are a Christian saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).
That is, it's a good thing and a good sign that our sins bother us and make us feel guilty. It's a bad thing and a bad sign if our conscience ever becomes numb to the point where we think of our sins as "no big deal" or if we no longer even dream about eliminating them from our lives one day.
Rev. Gary Hall of St. John’s First Evangelical Lutheran Church once responded to a Christian who wrote in to Worldview Everlasting plagued by one habitual sin in particular.
QUESTION: I struggle with masturbation every week and I confess it to god and ask for his help. but then I just commit this sin once or twice every week. and I’m wondering if my repentance is really true or not because no matter how much I resist it always seems to come back. I can’t break this cycle.
ANSWER: Sexual sin is indeed troubling to the conscience. As St. Paul writes: “All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.” Having said that, masturbation is like other sins in that we commit them daily in thought, word, and deed. I am sure that masturbation is not the only sin which you are committing. Yet, like masturbation they are all sins of which one needs repentance. One thing you do not say is if you have ever looked at pornography, or look at it from time to time or are addicted to it. This, of course, makes it harder for you to restrain the flesh. If you are addicted then psychiatric counseling is warranted. We also have a culture which presents sexual imagery in many forms. Again, working against the restraining of your flesh. You don’t say if you attend a church. If it is a church where the pastor provides private absolution, your best bet is to go there and receive this gift from God. It is a good remedy for all sin, though troubling sins are often are what are confessed. If not, you might consider finding a church that does offer this priceless gift from God. And as a good Lutheran, I must add, that this church ought also to preach to the Gospel in all its purity (Christ alone, no human works), and administers the sacraments according to Christ’s institution (using the proper words and elements, and as saving acts of God). I also must add that while the married estate is the proper place for sexuality, it is not a thing to which one should rush just to alleviate conscience. Your remedy is forgiveness, not marriage. God may grant you a wife, he may not. If he does that is not the end of sexual sin, for even husband and wife commit adultery. But he has given you the one, sure and certain promise of the forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ.
Obviously, I struggled with this shocking revelation about myself.
Here I had thought that I had finally arrived "home" so-to-speak, having sailed the Works Righteousness Waters of American Evangelicalism for the Saved By Grace Alone Through Faith Alone In Scripture Alone Shores of Confessional Lutheranism, but in reality all I had done was find a fitting excuse for my sinful behavior (or find a tool that I could use to help comfort my conflicted conscience).
As previously mentioned, it's like Rev. Weedon pointed out in the lecture we highlighted the other day, there's a real danger in thinking, "God's all about grace! I'm all about sin! What a great deal, because I can just be who I naturally am and He can be Who He naturally is!" and it can lead to pure Antinomianism and even spiritual suicide (1 Timothy 1:19).
Who reading this right now can't relate to this? It's so common that a someone else wrote in to Worldview Everlasting with a question along those lines that prompted Rev. Dustin L. Anderson, Pastor at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Marseilles, IL to respond beautifully.
QUESTION: Hey, I wanted to write you a quick question that has been weighing pretty heavy on me. What does it mean if you know something is sinful and you ask for forgiveness and then you turn around and do that same sin again sometimes often? Does that mean that I am not truly repentant? How will I know if I am? I have thought in the past it was behind me and that I would stop this sin but, it continues to creep up in my life.
ANSWER: Welcome to the club of sinners. All baptized believers in Christ endure your same plight in one way or another. I, too, struggle with many a sin. That is the key -- struggling. Repentance in the Greek is literally "change of mind." An analogy: you are walking along and you are confronted with a sign that clearly tells you "You’re going the wrong way!" Repentance is the result of the Law of God clearly telling you "You’re going the wrong way, with your thinking, your life, your faith, etc." The Law tells you the truth of who you are and what you’re doing that they are not good at all. You are a sinner. Repentance is the "Oh, crap!" and the about face in direction. Repentance, however, is never alone. There is always faith that follows, otherwise what’s the point if their’s nowhere better to go? So, in being shown your sin you are turned around toward the gift of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Having received all in the Gospel you now live as a new man. You are a saint before God and you are headed in the good, right and salutary way. There is a reality that you contend with everyday that makes repentance a more complicated thing than it really ought to be. This side of eternity you are always both sinner and saint at the same time (Simul Justus Et Peccator). You are simultaneously sinner and saint. So you are constantly at war with yourself. It really sucks! You are not alone in this fight. St. Paul fights the same thing in his life as you can see in Romans 7. So what are you to do? Repent. One thing about repentance is that it is a lifestyle. The very first of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses is "When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said 'Repent', He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance." To be a baptized believer in Jesus Christ is to ever live, move and have your being in Him, which means your are constantly being redirected by God’s Holy Word. In His Word, you are shown your sins, but more importantly you are shown and delivered the forgiveness of your sins for Jesus’ sake. To be repentant (A word of caution: avoid adjectives and adverbs in theology. Either you’re repentant or you’re not. http://www.worldvieweverlasting.com/2012/02/16/im-pregnant) is to be what God has said you are. To be that you hear His Word where He has promised to put it and that is where preaching, teaching, and Sacraments are being delivered according to Christ’s command. That is in the Divine Service, Bible Study and Private Confession and Absolution.
If there is one particular gift from God that He has given for the comfort of those beset by recurring sin it’s Private Confession a Absolution. Going to your pastor to be forgiven by God Himself is of incomparable comfort to the baptized believer who struggles with recurring sin. Your pastor will hear your confession, forgive you by name and proclaim the Gospel to you in your specific situation (a personal sermon of grace, mercy and love for you.) Also, as a part of pastoral care, after all is said and done and you are forgiven and right with God, your pastor may suggest some practical tools to help you avoid your particular sin. THIS IS NOT PENANCE! You earn nothing here. They are simply aids to help you in bearing fruit in keeping with repentance. An example: if one struggles with drunkenness. Confession is made. Absolution is given. Gospel personally proclaimed. Then in pastoral conversation afterward it might be suggested that the individual remove all alcohol from their home. They don’t have to do it, but it would help them with their sobriety. If the sin were internet porn it might be suggested to tape a picture of their mother, one of the Blessed Virgin and one of Jesus Himself right to the computer screen. How do you know you’re repentant? The catechism says this: "Confession has two parts. First, that we confess our sins, and second, that we receive absolution, that is, forgiveness, from the pastor as from God Himself, not doubting, but firmly believing that by it our sins are forgiven before God in heaven (Confession: What is Confession?)." How do you know? Confess your sins and be forgiven for Jesus sake – everyday! Hope that helps.
Now, I know that some of you out there feel so burdened by this particular sin that even after reading all of that you're only response is still something like, "Yeah, but..." as if to say, "Yeah, but I'm a worse sinner!" or something like that.
Thankfully, Rev. Dustin L. Anderson had me and you in mind when wrote an equally powerful reply to a Christian who was struggling with homosexual temptations (hopefully, by now you can see that the problem and the solution are both the same regardless of the specific form that the temptation to sin takes).
Know that you are not alone in your battle against the flesh, "for [you] do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with [your] weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as [you] are, yet without sin." (Hebrews 4:15 ESV). Jesus Christ is with you and for you in the midst of your deep and dark battle with the world, the devil and your own sinful flesh. He has suffered and died for you and all your sins, without any worthiness or merit within you. You are loved by God in His eternal grace and mercy. Habitual sin attacks and cripples everyone of us, each in our own way as the Fall into sin has affected us. Nevertheless, all sin is equally condemnable in God’s eyes. Therefore the medicine and defense against such pernicious and wicked sin is the same – Jesus Christ crucified for us for the forgiveness of our sins. So, in faith, we direct our gaze on Him, who saved us all with His precious blood. Your particular struggle with homosexuality is a tremendous cross to bear. It is, indeed, a thorn in the flesh that you have pleaded to have the Lord take away from you. As the Lord responded to Paul, He also says to you, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV) This, too, I believe you know, as you have sought comfort in Preaching and The Lord’s Supper.
Paul in Romans 7 expresses the struggle every baptized believer endures, who wrestles with habitual sin. "For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin." (Romans 7:15-25 ESV)
As you mentioned at the end of your letter "I think I need to go to confession, but I am terrified of telling this to the pastor." You are right! Private Confession and Holy Absolution are exactly what the Lord would have for you. And as a penitent myself, I understand the fear associated with the idea of going to confession. Yet, I would counsel you to look at this Sacrament as the precious gift from God that it is. The last thing the world, the devil and your flesh want you to do is audibly confess your sins to the one sent by God to loose (forgive) your sins. The unholy trinity does not want you to claim your sin as your own so as to have it forgiven. And because they don’t want you to confess your sins, they stir up fear within you. They do this by introducing doubt into the promises of God. "Did God really say?" The unholy trinity appeals to the core of your fallen nature. They arouse unbelief. According to the fallen flesh no one believes God’s Word and Promises. But all is not lost. To overcome this unbelief God gives you His Spirit and Word. He sends you the beautiful feet of His pastors to remind you of His gospel promises and to actually deliver everything Jesus is for you. The Sacrament of Confession and Holy Absolution is a gift of unimaginable comfort, especially for habitual sins. In the confines of the confessional all your darkest sins are called what they are before the pastor so that the pastor, in the stead of Christ, can intimately forgive you, by name, with God’s Holy Name – the very name spoken and given to you at your baptism.
Does confessing your sins hurt? Yes, but only because the flesh, the old man, the sinner in you is being crucified to death so that a new man may arise to live in God’s grace and love for Jesus’ sake. The comfort that comes from Confession and Holy Absolution is the certainty that God forgives you all your sins, every single one of them, no matter what they may be, even homosexuality. The habitual sins of which Luther speaks of in the Smalcald Articles are those sins that are held outside the forgiveness of sins. That is to say, to persist in sin without any concern or care with what you are doing. Faith cannot survive without the reception of the forgiveness of sins for Jesus sake. You are not that man! Consider King David, he committed sin after sin, because sin breeds sin, that is until it is confronted and killed by the Law of God, which says, "You are the man!" Then, repentant faith says, "I have sinned against the Lord." It is that man, who is then absolved with the Gospel, "The Lord also has put away your sin…" You are the man and you know it! More than that, your sins are put away, they are forgiveness in the bloody cross of Jesus. Believe it and receive it. The fruit of the cross, the forgiveness of all your sins, is delivered to you superabundantly through the means of your baptism remembered, Holy Absolution heard, and Christ’s body and blood eaten and drunk. None of these are dependent on you, but come from outside of you by grace in the beautiful feet of those who are sent to deliver them to you. The thorn you bear is difficult, but the grace of Christ is greater! He is ever for you and so are those pastors sent by Him. There is no greater joy that a pastor has than to forgive sins in Jesus’ name, no matter what they might be.
Wasn't that precisely everything we constantly need to hear and be reminded of?
See, this is one of the distinct characteristics of Lutheranism -- it points you away from yourself and to Jesus Christ and His atoning work upon the cross for you, for me, for everyone. It reminds us of His precious gifts to us, His Means of Grace, and clearly explains why He gave them to us in the first place.
The best part is that we never have to place our hope on our own "abstinence" and "will power" since our comfort and hope is placed solely on Christ's perfect righteousness on our behalf, imputed to us as His children.
Yet, what do we do? Again, we insist on trying to have it both ways, don't we? Sins like these feel so good that we might even catch ourselves believing the lie that it couldn't possibly be so wrong when it feels so right.
So we try to compromise with God and give Him what we think He wants while perhaps holding on to a small piece of what we would consider heaven here on earth.
That, my dear friends, is dangerous! Here's why we should never try to excuse or rationalize sin...
QUESTION: When does “lust” become “lust?” Are sexual fantasies always sinful? I always thought that they were, but it sounds like the “he” and “she” of Song of Solomon are fantasizing about sex before they are married. Luther says it becomes adultery when it goes from “natural attraction” to “concupiscence,” but that still begs the question – when does “concupiscence” become “concupiscence?”
ANSWER: Don’t spend time worrying about where a line may or may not be. You’ve probably crossed it. Confess it. Confess that you are a great sinner, trust that Christ is a greater savior, and live in the freeing knowledge that God Himself promises forgiveness, life and salvation through the cross of Christ. In other words, if you think that the activity is wrong, it probably is. Your conscience is an important gift. Rather than trying to find a way to make your actions pure, look to Christ who is always pure. If there is a fine line between “natural attraction” and “concupiscence,” only God knows where that line is drawn. If talking about natural attraction, I would say that, especially in Luther’s day, there was a need to remind people that sexual love is a part of God’s creation. There have been times in Christian history when even love for your wife was considered sinful. Love directed to the right person is not sin. In other words, take heart in knowing that God created love, and he created us to be with a helper suitable for us. If you are noticing the suitability of a potential helper, praise God! Set and keep proper boundaries. After all, the flesh is weak. The bridegroom of the Song was looking forward to being with his bride. But notice the direction of this desire. His desire is for his bride, and not for the bride of someone else. I trust that if you are asking a question like this, that you are not looking for a license to sin. Should someone else be looking for such a license, he or she must remember that the Gospel is for the sinner who is repentant, not the sinner looking to the Gospel for permission to sin. But if you are wrestling with a question like this? Look to Christ, my man. Look to Christ.
You know, Dr. John Kleinig had some very interesting things to say about the Song of Solomon regarding God's purpose for giving it to us in His Word as well as its direct relationship in helping to combat any sinful sexual addictions during his interview with Issues, Etc. so please be sure to check that out (it was quite the "Aha!" moment for me, personally!).
At this point, what I want to do is simply provide you with a list of additional resources that I have found to be extremely helpful to me since becoming a Lutheran.
These are resources that specifically address the sins of adultery, fantasy, fornication, lust, pornography, and masturbation. I can assure you that while everyone reading this has come face-to-face with one of these sins (whether present in your own lives or present in the lives of loved ones), and has heard and read all the contemporary Christian responses of how to address them, you've probably never prayerfully considered this subject from a distinctly Lutheran perspective.
I hope that you find that as helpful as I have.
By all means, bookmark them (or this page) and return to them as often as you need them too.
We opened today's piece with some words from Pastor Matt Richard and I'd like to end with some words from him as well.
However, the more that we forcefully try to produce and acquire that which we believe will justify ourselves, the more we typically hurt others in the process, thus further damaging the story we find ourselves in. Tragically, "Those who justify themselves are under compulsion to do so. There is no escape. . . . With our need for justification we entangle ourselves in the web of guilt" with each additional self-justifying attempt. The cycle continues. Uncertainty impinges. Darkness sets in. Despair begins. Madness. Listen, there is alternative story. There is another way. This other way is the way of your baptism in Christ Jesus. In baptism you have been buried with Jesus into death. In baptism you have been resurrected anew in Jesus. In your baptismal death you have been untangled from your story of self-aggrandizement. Undeniably, your story does not define you or justify you. It can't. It won't. You and your story died with Christ; washed and drowned. Your sin-story was nailed to the cross in baptism and you were given a new story—betrothed to the Lamb, belonging forever to the risen Lord Jesus. "Thus, [you] are hidden from [yourself] and removed from the judgement of others or the judgment of [yourself] about [yourself] as a final judgement." At the baptismal font you were joined to Jesus, hidden in Him and His wounds. Baptized: the Lord is well pleased with you. Baptized: considered right and good and whole. Baptized: lacking nothing. Baptized: justified completely. Baptized: you are!
In other words, remember that you were "born again" through the washing of the water and the Word in your Baptism the next time it's porn again.
The sins of adultery, fantasy, fornication, lust, pornography, and masturbation and the modern Christian's struggle against them are all issues we can never be too honest about.
Personally, I think the overall point here is one about the nature of sin and about the nature of sinners. It's important to remember that there is no time when we are not sinning, because the truth about us is that we are...well...sinners!
Sinners sin, even forgiven ones. Adultery, fantasy, fornication, lust, pornography, and masturbation are just forms of sin that sinners commit, because our hearts are still hardened even after becoming baptized children of God.
Still, in a Lutheran layman's terms, be at peace, because despite all of that, you have a Savior who forgives you and who loves you.
NOTE: I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or a Christian, Candy-Making, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this note, I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little over a year ago. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries. I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a dude's diary in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!