Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding… – Psalm 32:9
We men are stupid. We achieve great things, show great promise, and then put it all at risk for sex. Here is a good synopsis of the male condition. As the article says,
Men whose lives are filled with gifts and opportunity, men who have worked hard to achieve, risk it all and sometimes lose it all.
On one hand, it seems that the only reason we men do anything good in life is because of women we love; on the other hand it also seems that we do a multitude of stupid things because of our desires and misconceptions about being with or looking at women.
You know that this isn’t just someone else’s problem.
Many of us try to say that we are OK, thinking that sex isn’t our problem. True, not all of us are addicted to online porn. But there are other problems to have: some of us smoke, some drink, or gamble, or yell at our family members. If we are honest, most of us should concede that the things we think we do in private would undo us, were they brought into the light. When we hear stories about falls from grace, I think most of us know that the story could easily be about us.
Research confirms this. XXXChurch says that 75% of pastors don’t let anyone see their internet browsing history. In the year 2015, we know better. This is the root of our problems.
Why are we like this?
If one ascribes to believe Scripture, as so many men do when they are caught in compromising situations, the reason for our behavior is obvious: isolation. A man who believes he can’t be caught will do anything. A man who is aware he is being watched will behave lawfully.
Here is what the Psalmist says:
For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.
– Psalm 32:3-4
When I kept silent, my bones wasted away. Silence is our enemy. That which we do not say will keep us from experiencing the life we are meant to have. Indeed, in the next verses, the Psalmist acknowledges that confession was the door to freedom:
I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.
– Psalm 32: 5
Yes, this is Spiritual. But let’s quit fooling ourselves.
We read this, and most of us reduce it to a purely spiritual situation.
“I need to spend more time reading my Bible,” we say.
“I need to pray and confess my sins…” We say.
Solitude is getting you into this mess. Baptized solitude won’t get you out of it.
If you believe Scripture, then there is no division between that which is spiritual and that which isn’t. Jesus came — not in spirituality, but in reality. The gospel isn’t some spiritual belief — it’s an acceptance of historical facts. It’s admission of reality.
This means that the path to freedom takes us toward other people, not away from them. We won’t ever experience freedom unless we can acknowledge our sin to others.
Why is this true? Because that which we acknowledge to others is usually that which we believe to be most true. As I’ve said before, we trick ourselves into thinking that the ultimate goal of the Bible is that we be good. But go back and read Psalm 32, and look for the author’s good deeds, and you’ll see that there are none. In fact, the entire psalm is written about how the author has been bad.
And in the end, the “steadfast love” and “joy” that the psalmist talks about belongs to people who are not good, but honest.
It’s very hard to be honest without saying anything.
So, yes, we do need to pray, confess, and read Scripture. But there’s an extra element we need in our lives, without which I don’t believe we’ll get the freedom we need. That element is some kind of environment where we speak the truth. When we speak the truth to others, we’re on the road to a place where the badness loses its power, and we can experience new things.
I don’t know what this means for everyone. For many of us, it means we need to start reaching out and finding other people we can trust. For others, it means we need to go back and feed relationships we already have. It may mean finally making a commitment to go to that men’s group. It may mean venturing outside of the group you already attend, to find a group that will be more beneficial.
Don’t be mules.
The alternative is to continue to be a few missteps from losing everything. The psalmist likens it to being a mule. Think about it: mules are strong, brutish animals, bread to do manual labor. They are stubborn. And they can’t reproduce.
The application is that if you fail to admit your sin, you’ll be like the mule: strong, brutish, stubborn, and unable to reproduce. You’ll spend your life pushing and pulling, and yet be left unable to leave something good behind for those who come after. I don’t think that’s the life we want.
In conclusion, let’s recognize that isolation is our enemy. The light can only redeem the places where it can shine. So let’s open ourselves up, where it is appropriate, so that we can start leaving behind a legacy of honesty and trust.