Battles of the Mind

Disclaimer: This post is from the archives, and may not represent the current views of the author. It also may not be at all interesting to read. Continue at your own peril!

I was looking on the disk I have with all my poems on it for a good poem to describe what I’m feeling today, but I didn’t really find one. I’m not really in the mood to make one, but let me just describe a little about what’s been going through my head.

It all starts as I dig into the Scripture; I haven’t looked at these passages recently (until now, as I’m looking them up), but they’ve popped into my mind as examples of what I’m talking about. Take a look, first, at what Paul says to the Corinthian church:

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God – even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1)

Focus mainly on the last sentence. Here Paul tells the Corinthians to follow him as he follows Christ. What an example! Paul had the confidence to say that to these people; he knew that he was strong enough to be Christ-like example to them. He knew that he wouldn’t stumble and lead them astray. Now, take a look at Job:

“I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl. For what is man’s lot from God above, his heritage from the Almighty on high? Is it not ruin for the wicked, disaster for those who do wrong? Does he not see my ways and count my every step?

“If I have walked in falsehood or my foot has hurried after deceit – let God weigh me in honest scales and he will know that I am blameless – if my steps have turned from the path, if my heart has been led by my eyes, or if my hands have been defiled, then may others eat what I have sown, and may my crops be uprooted.

“If my heart has been enticed by a woman, or if I have lurked at my neighbor’s door, then may my wife grind another man’s grain, and may other men sleep with her. For that would have been shameful, a sin to be judged. It is a fire that burns to Destruction; it would have uprooted my harvest.” (Job 31:1-12)

Listen to what Job is saying! He basically tells God, “Hey, if I’ve sinned, then give me my judgment and I’ll accept it gratefully. I know what the punishment is for wickedness, and so if I have been wicked in any way, give everything I’ve worked hard for to everyone else. Ruin everything I have if I’ve done wrong. Hey, I’ve got an idea! If I’ve fallen into lustful thoughts about another woman, I’ll let other men have my wife to have sex with her. It seems like a fair trade.”

Every time I read this passage, my jaw drops. I’m a guy, and I know just how hard it is to stop lustful thoughts. I see a girl going by and my eyes follow her to get the best look at her that I can. But here’s Job saying that he’d give up his own wife if he did that. He says he’s made a covenant with his eyes not to look lustfully at a girl. Do you have any idea just how hard that is?!

In homeroom at school, we’re reading through Every Young Man’s Battle, a book all about remaining sexually pure in a world of impurity. While the first part of the book reinforces the importance of this topic, much of the book deals with specific ways to control the eyes. It explains just how easy it is to fall into lustful thoughts just from what I see – since I (as a guy) receive sexual gratification mainly through the eyes. While gouging out my eyes wouldn’t make the problem go away, it would definitely help the problem. It’s a matter of self-control and willpower to force my eyes to look away, and since I’ve already built up the habit of letting my mind and eyes wander, it’s a constant battle to reverse the process.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that these people of great faith in the Bible make it seem so easy to remain pure, and here I am struggling just to stay afloat. I ask God for help, and I know He gives it to me, but sometimes it just doesn’t seem like enough. And I know what the real problem is, too.

You see, while I have a definite motivation to destroy this problem in my life, I also live a fragmented life. Last year in History class, we watched Francis Schaeffer’s video series entitled “How Should We Then Live?” In it, he goes through history and explains the mindset of people in certain time periods and how they viewed life. During one part of the movie, he mentioned how man today is fragmented; without a set of absolutes to base their life on, their life splits into pieces. As I sat there last year, I realized that he was describing me in great detail. While I believe in absolutes, I don’t live by them many times. I try to restrict God to a short time-slot on Sundays and then completely forget He exists the rest of the week. And therein lies the problem.

You see, I don’t have too much of a problem guarding my eyes on Sundays. While I don’t particularly appreciate the way some of the girls in my youth group dress – it definitely doesn’t help my struggle – I just pray and ask God for His help. On a side note, since I usually pray with my eyes closed, that also cures the problem in and of itself. But then, God goes back into His little box – although I don’t do that consciously – and I struggle the rest of the week. Right now I’ve worked so hard to piece together the fragments of my life to integrate God into every aspect of my life. I can definitely see the progress, but it’s far from complete. There’s my school life, my home life, my church life, my social life, etc. And you’d think that since most of those lives have godly influences in them, that it would be easy to fit God in. Unfortunately, it’s proving much harder than planned.

I know I’m never going to completely erase the struggle of impurity. The book merely says that we develop good habits – but after all, habits can be broken. I just thought that I’d have been able to fix this problem long before now. So, here I sit, having spouted out my problems on the Internet. Please pray for me as I go through this battle – because it really is a daily battle that I’m going through. And ladies, please dress modestly. You don’t know who you’re causing to stumble by what you wear, and causing your fellow brother in Christ to stumble is not what you should be striving for. I know that ultimately it comes down to the guys’ minds that need to be changed, but we as guys shouldn’t have to keep our guard up during a worship service. It’s just not right. We should be striving to help each other, not tear each other down. And I know that right now I’m trying to better myself and others by remaining pure – it helps others in the fact that my relationships with girls will improve as I keep my eyes pure. But it just seems that it’s an uphill battle sometimes.

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