Psalms 118:18 or, how I managed to give up porn and eaked out enough courage to talk about it tangentially

Posted by Orville Bennett on April 4, 2009
Read time: about 7 minutes

I’ve been attempting to read the Bible, the whole Bible, for years now. It’s a remarkably boring prospect though. Call me sacrilegious if you will but that is honestly how I felt and sometimes still feel about it. I believe if you’re honest you may just admit the same.

Despite this obstacle I have, slowly, managed to meander through. At this point I’ve probably read the New Testament through a couple of times already. Old Testament? Not so much. Whenever I do get bored or skip a few days I usually fall back to my standard: the good ol’ New Testament. It’s easy reading most of the time.

I also have 3 Bibles now, the KJV, the NIV and the NetBible. The latter two of which are written in normal people english. This facilitates study of the Bible by making it much easier to understand. This probably has a lot to do with why I’ve made it this far in my Bible readings. It helps when the dense material isn’t written in an even denser language :-)

But is it study or reading? A little bit of both, although I feel it should be primarily the latter. Thing is I don’t play well with others, and yet, it’s hard to get some things if others aren’t around. Sometimes I pray to God for understand while reading (thusly falling into the category of study) but not often enough, I feel, to make it useful. Nevertheless, I have progressed. I dropped off at Psalms in the Old Testament sometime last year. Just knowing I had a hundred odd of those chapters to go through, and knowing I’d hit Psalm 119: The Gauntlet, eventually, made me want to skip it. And so I did. And so I fell off the wagon (to use a crude expression).

And now here I am, on the precipice of The Gauntlet and I hit this verse. Psalm 118, verse 18 (NIV version).

The LORD chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death

I had to smile when I read that because it seems like that’s exactly what he’s done to me! Because it is. I have not, and never pretended to be, the brightest or best follower of Christ. In fact I had a grand plan when I became baptized in ‘99 to be the perfect christian. It involved avoiding all human contact. Which worked spectacularly, with the exception of the porn and all. You see my thinking was, if I didn’t interact with people I could do limited wrong, and limited wrong was certainly better than more than limited wrong, and then I could work on the limited wrongs in my isolation and become the perfect boy. In my defense I should point out that this was a part of a similar plan, hatched earlier in my childhood to just avoid people entirely because they scared the heck out of me, now modified to suit my new-found life in Christ. Dinnae work out so well. I may explain why another time.

Anyways, being removed from humans for contact made it easy to descend into the depravity that is porn, and then there was the internet: the porn delivery system to end all. I suppose you could say it was a match made in hell. And so I come to the trickiest part of my essay/confessional. Explaining how you can be a christian, and be doing very unchristian things at the same time. sigh I’ll skip that part because I can’t really explain it. But I will say the following:

The Bible teaches forgiveness, both Old Testament and New. God was forever forgiving the Israelites after they screwed up and asked Him for forgiveness. Jesus also preached repentance (admitting sin, saying sorry) and forgiveness. Christianity then has forgiveness as a core principle. Not just forgiveness by God, but forgiveness of enemies, friends, co-workers, people who’ve wronged you, the man who molested your child, the doctor who botched your daughter’s plastic surgery (what, her breasts were too big), and even the wife who gets on your last nerve (girlfriend(s) too).

The difference between a Christian and non, in my humble opinion, apart from belief in Jesus as the Son of God/God himself, is additionally admitting that what we do is wrong, and trying not to do it again. I.E. it’s not just believing. We have to believe, in believing admit our wrongs, in admitting our wrongs be humble, and in the humility submit to His will.

That’s a tall order. Well, let me not generalize. That’s a tall order for me. Especially the last part, the submitting to His will part. I’ve never had any difficulty in discerning right from wrong or moral/immoral as it pertains to the views of God. I have forever, ever since I’ve been conscious of who I am had a problem with following though.

After all, it’s my life isn’t it? God gave me the right to do what I wanted to, so why shouldn’t I? Why can’t I have fun! Do something reckless or selfish. As long as I’m not hurting anyone else it should be fine. Or so I used to say. I’ve spent, I’d say a decade, from 16 when I was baptized, to 26 sometime this year, testing a theory. My theory was that I should be able to live how I wanted, and still be a Christian as long nobody but me gets hurt. I’ve seen time and again how this can’t ever be if I do what I want, versus what God says.

Sure it’s not fun sometimes, but ultimately it’s better. We can never guarantee that our actions, or lack thereof won’t hurt anyone else. You watching of porn will have an effect on your relationships (or lead to a direct lack thereof) in life. Your decisions about fun may harm others in unexpected ways. Go out, get drunk, pulled over, lose your license (third time after all). Now you can’t get that delivery job you need to help pay for your daughter’s registration fee. So she starts hooking. Wait, no, let’s go with something more acceptable: she starts stripping. Nah. She gets depressed because she doesn’t know what to do and starts using drugs. No wait! She falls in with the wrong crowd and starts selling drugs. But gets caught and loses what little financial aid she has, now guaranteeing… well I don’t know what. She still has a choice. A choice she hopefully won’t think will only hurt her once she makes it.
BUT I RAMBLE.

This brings me back to Psalm 118:18. God will beat you down like a redheaded stepchild to make, nay encourage you, to avoid those ill-fated choices.
You won’t understand at the time but those constant car problems, that car repossession because you chose to pay your daughter’s college bill instead of make the monthly payment, the loss of technician job which was exposing you to all that porn; these are things which happen because you’ve put yourself under God’s will. You have told Him, I believe in you, protect me. And when you do something you shouldn’t have, make that bad choice, or seemingly good choice which will end up hurting you He has to correct for errors.

Don’t take my word for it though. Look back on your life now and see if you can’t make out the connection, that barely visible line through the seemingly unconnected events which took place. It doesn’t have to be bad things either. I just chose to use those as examples because they’re the ones people complain about the most (or at least I do :-)). So when the LORD is chastening, don’t worry, iz bcuz HE LUBS U. It’s been about 9 months bye the way. I guess I should say this one was for all the struggling Christians in the house (pretty much all of us right? eh? ehhhh?) kthxbai.

Comments

Submitted by anne27 (not verified) on Mon, 12/07/2009 - 13:42.

Its funny how we always remember God when we feel disappointed with our life, or when we need his help most. I first decided to read the bible after a strong breakdown because i broke up with my boyfriend. I didn’t succeed to finish it then, it was very difficult for me to focus then, so i gave up reading it. My second attempt to read it was better, because i looked for an online bible study, which made it sound understandable. Anyway, i am proud i finished it in few months, and i wouldn’t mind to do it again.

Submitted by medea (not verified) on Mon, 06/29/2009 - 10:39.

What is forgiveness? Forgiveness cannot be understood without understanding the nature of sin and it’s effects. St. Matthew (22: 37-40) records the words of Jesus: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” Sin is a breaking of God’s Laws to love Him and to love our neighbor, despite and in the face of His infinite Love for us.</p>

Submitted by Mike on Mon, 04/06/2009 - 09:49.

Great post mate, a real encouragement and I respect your public confession about this stuff.

My pro tips for reading the Bible:
- Study with others in a group if you can, preferably a bunch of people you like and respect. It's good to bounce this stuff off each other if you can.

- If you don't have people you can do the above with there are a few places on the net you can do something similar. I'm happy for us to do something like this if you like. We could study the same book and talk about it every few days.

- Use commentaries. There's loads free on the net, check out http://www.studylight.org/com/ for some good resources of free ones. Currently I use Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary, Barnes' Notes on the New Testament and Adam Clarke Commentary. They are like having a Bible study with a wise dude there.

- Get a really good paraphrase. Check out The Message, I find it fairly lifechangingly easy to read and to apply to your life.

Hope some of this is somewhat useful!
Peace!