I am pretty sure that this post is going to tick some people off. I am confident that there will be some people that read this next principle and think that I am being legalistic; that I am going to extremes and that I am not in touch with culture. Some of you will read this post and you will say that I just became irrelevant to the world in which we live. Some of you will think…“He isn’t as strong as me, he isn’t as wise as me, he isn’t as _____________ as me. He doesn’t get me.” As tempting as those thoughts are, I hope that you take some time to really think through this principle and how it might play out in your life, because we both believe to take a step away from destruction and toward restoration, this principle is essential.
When Trisha and I were separated, I began to go to counseling and a few weeks later, Trisha joined me. One of the first assignments I was asked to consider and engage in by our counselor was to fast from TV for the duration of our separation. I was confident we could have things put back together in a week or two, so fasting from TV didn’t seem like a big deal. As we have mentioned before, we were separated for two months and God showed up, and used that time to awaken some things in my heart that I had failed to recognize and deal with.
Restoration Principle #3: Without a sold out commitment to purity of heart, our marriages will naturally drift toward destruction.
Philippians 4:8 says “ Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.”
The truth about me is that I struggled with sexual sins. Those weren’t the only sins that I struggled with, but those were the ones that ultimately destroyed my marriage. Here is what’s wild: I taught this passage on Sunday morning. I quoted this passage to guys I met with that had pornography addictions. I often shared this verse with friends I played basketball with that couldn’t stop cussing. I knew this passage…but didn’t apply it. Well, I guess I applied it to the point that it felt comfortable…but not when it conflicted with CSI Miami, or Grey’s Anatomy, or The Practice. I never quoted it when I was trying to talk Trisha into watching a rated “R” movie that “only has one sex scene that we can fast forward through.” I never broke out this verse as I was walking into the movie theater to watch Wedding Crashers. I knew this verse was truth, but didn’t take seriously the downside of not applying it to my life.
During the time that I fasted from TV, God really broke my heart with this verse. I spent so much more time in His word than I had probably ever spent, and came to terms with the fact that I was a hypocrite when it came to Philippians 4:8. He showed me how compromise and justification had become second nature. Once I admitted to the struggles I had with pornography and lust, I began to see how some of the things I was filling my mind with were being used by the Enemy to point me and even our family in that direction. I had blown it off and thought I was above it, and honestly, judged people in my church that didn’t watch the shows that I watched or went to the movies that I went to…”they must not be as strong in their faith as I am.”
Wherever sin lives, intimacy dies. That is true in your relationship with God, and it is true in your marriage. But the good news is that wherever intimacy lives, sin dies. I don’t know what this looks like for you…really that is between you and God. But for us, we watch very little network TV. We attend very few movies these days. I guess that is a price that we have chosen to pay…but the payoff is huge. We have shared this principle with couples, and they say… “So, no Office? No How I Met Your Mother? No Grey’s Anatomy?” No…not for us. We feel like being sold out to purity in our thoughts, in our hearts, in our marriage and in our family means saying no to things we know violates this principle.
A few months ago, my 12 year old son had some friends over. They were going to play X-Box 360 for a while then they wanted me to take them to the movies. They started talking about different movies to see, what movies some of them had seen and what was good and what wasn’t. I just began praying that God would give me the wisdom I needed to help my son navigate the situation. Here is the cool part…we have talked so much about this principle of purity and how to protect our hearts…I didn’t have to say anything. My son went to the computer, went to the PluggedIn web site and reviewed all of the movies that were playing. He then told his friends the two or three movies that he would feel comfortable attending…end of discussion. I know it won’t always be that easy…but that is just one instance of “whatever is pure, whatever is holy, whatever is right” paying off in a big, big way.
Maybe there is some unidentified destruction in your heart and marriage because of a lack of purity? I have been there. It is so hard to admit…even harder to deal with and not justify. What would your marriage look like if you really took Philippians 4:8 seriously? How could intimacy grow as sin was put to death in your life and in your marriage? This post won’t win any popularity contests…but it has been and continues to be one of the most essential steps in our move from destruction to restoration.