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Soul Mates: Drawn Into the Mystery of the Other – Part 5

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

The Song of Solomon expresses the joys of romance and married love. God loves it when one man and one woman are totally in love with each other. Solomon and Abishag are the main characters, but knowing who is speaking is challenging in this book. There are pre-wedding flashbacks that make it hard to follow sometimes. There are dreams recorded that are interspersed throughout the song. And garden imagery is used to describe some very intimate, sensual topics. There are four places in the Song where either the husband or wife’s features are catalogued and commented on. It usually starts at the head and works down the body. While most of the previous posts in this series have dealt with the man viewing his new bride, this final post has the bride admiring her new husband.

She has to put words to how she feels. He has sung to her. Now, she will sing to him. There is an impulse in ancient love song toward hyperbole, exaggeration for effect. It’s perfectly permissible in a song. There is also a search for superlatives, words and phrases to highlight the value of the one being talked about. She compared her lover to the best things she could possibly think of in her day and time. In our search for superlatives, we might say “You’re astronomical, you’re galactical, you’re cosmic, you’re a star.” But her world was more about beautiful animals, dense forests, precious gems, lovely gardens, appealing smells, and great building materials. I want you to notice how many times his handsomeness and studliness is compared to precious gems or stones or to gold. She is trying to communicate his worth and value and her respect for him.

5:10-16 10 My lover is radiant and ruddy, outstanding among ten thousand.

She thought he was stunning and masculine and he just shined with a great complexion. She admired him. There’s just no rivals, no incoming freshmen who could ever match the handsomeness of her collegiate stud. Out of ten thousand, he’s still the one to beat. You know how hard it would be to find someone in a crowd of ten thousand people. Yet, she did find him and can hardly believe that people like him actually existed. Talk about respect. This guy is one lucky dude. Her facial expression and tone and now her words say that he’s the man she wants.

11 His head is purest gold; his hair is wavy and black as a raven.

This is not literal – a head of gold. He’s just number one in value to her. Gold was not native to Palestine. But it was used lavishly in the construction of important and valuable things, such as the temple. They even made false gods out of it. But she’s not making him a god. She’s not worshipping him. She’s saying that he has a good head on his shoulders. If his head was made out of pure gold, she wouldn’t be any better off. His level-headed approach was worth everything. She’s showing utmost respect for his judgment and his decisions. And when she disagrees, she does so winsomely. That’s how wise and perceptive he was and she was. I take it that he was well read, that he was a good leader, that he was a gentleman, that he was principled and moral, and had the utmost respect for women, especially her. He had the respect of a lot of people, even though he was young. And she just adored his jet black hair, black as a raven. There’s no gray in it. He’s young yet and he’s got a full head of wavy hair, and yet he is so wise.

12 His eyes are like doves by the water streams, washed in milk, mounted like jewels.

She’s just painting a picture with all this, isn’t she? She’s just giddy. He had beautiful eyes that just set perfectly with everything else. One resource said that the color of the dove noted hear would have been a deep blue color. When they would cluster up by a waterfall, the blueness would be set in contrast against the whiteness of the foam. He had gorgeous blue eyes. But they are white like milk. The guy is not a drunk with bloodshot eyes. He’s sober and in his right mind. These eyes are set like a jewel in a ring.

13 His cheeks are like beds of spice yielding perfume. His lips are like lilies dripping with myrrh.

She is moved by his looks, his smell, his kisses. An argument can be made here for good hygiene. Fellows, don’t overlook it. He had great breath. But even more, he said some really nice things to her. The “beds of spices” on his cheek leads me to believe that he’s got a beard. But it’s attractive and well kept. Beards were common in this day. Remember this is the exaggerated language of a girl in love. Beards are beds of spices to the lover. He must have wore great cologne too. Ladies go smell some samples, buy the one that just drives you wild and give it to your husband. He’ll be spraying it all over his body!

14 His arms are rods of gold set with chrysolite.

Chrysolite was a precious stone of some sort. As is the case with all precious stones, its color and rarity made it precious. When you have a precious multicolored stone, it commands a lot of attention because not that many people have them. These stones were used in jewelry or in decoration items or sewn into clothing. They were objects of appeal and beauty in the ancient world. She’s saying this guy is such a rare find. When she looked at him, she just couldn’t believe that he was hers. She loves his arms and hands were considered part of the arm in the ancient world. They are so sexy looking. Gold is actually a soft metal and pliable. When he flexed, it was like the gold just reshaped itself on his arms. He’s well molded. His head was like gold and now his arms are too. She loved his arms, hands, and fingers. You get the feeling that these hands have caressed her many times. She’s studied them. They’ve steadied her in a moment of imbalance on a walk in the Lebanon forests. They caressed her cheek as they have strolled through a garden. They’ve held her strands of hair. They’ve written her love letters. They’ve even been balled up and protected her from some rogue threat. They’ve intertwined with her hands. They tenderly touched her body. They have been used to figure out problems. She’s saying, “He can figure things out with those hands.” Men love to figure things out. If a man can find his way through a jungle with only a tattered map and pocket knife, he feels so alive, affirmed, excited, encouraged.

His body is like polished ivory decorated with sapphires.

Just the plain meaning of this indicates that he’s got a six-pack evidently – a strong torso. I’ve got a six pack. It’s just buried beneath all the polished ivory. A sapphire is a bluish stone and is mentioned frequently in the Bible. If his torso is decorated with these, perhaps she’s seeing the ripples of the six pack. There is also a very good possibility that she is describing his manhood and the male anatomy with the polished ivory tusk like remark and the sapphires. Let the Spirit speak.

15 His legs are pillars of marble set on bases of pure gold. His appearance is like Lebanon, choice as its cedars.

This guy sounds like Conan the Barbarian or Hulk Hogan. He did not have bird-legs. Marble and gold and cedar made great building materials. This guy was one put-together dude. He was tall like a tree in Lebanon. You could build a life on this guy. He was like one of the choicest Cedar trees in the Lebanon forest. They provided great construction materials. You may not love this guy, but you have to respect him. He’s not a loose cannon who is going to go off on someone, but he’s put together and sturdy and demands a certain level of respect.

16 His mouth is sweetness itself; he is altogether lovely. This is my lover, this my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.

She loved the way he talked to her. She loved him for being so much more than a sexual partner. He was a soul mate, a friend. She looks at her imaginary friends and says, “Do you girls see what I mean now.” This guy is one in a million.

This woman loved her man. When a woman loves a man this way, it is not a guarantee that he will never stray, but it captivates his attention like nothing else can. Many men have affairs with women who may be less physically attractive than his wife, but the woman he had the affair with made him feel like a man again.

Remember this is all a song. They didn’t always get it right. But when it was time to write the song about it all, these were the things that they wanted to say. They relished each other and became the closest of friends. Long before they pleasured each other’s bodies, they delighted each other with warm, creative conversation, time spent together, and loving embrace. We don’t know for sure what each of them looked like, but we can’t deny the love with which they were loved. And regardless of what they looked like, that’s what made all of this a beautiful thing. It’s the value of the one loved.

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Soul Mates: Drawn Into the Mystery of the Other – Part 3

Part 1

Part 2

4 Your neck is like the tower of David, built with elegance; on it hang a thousand shields, all of them shields of warriors.
Did this woman work out or what? What bride wants her neck compared to a solid, thick tower weighted down with heavy metal shields? Is Solomon messing up the poem? Is he about to spoil the romance of it all? The tower of David was a military place; it symbolized strength. The neck was a symbol of strength and inner character. She’s standing tall and straight. There is no shame. There is no disgrace. She has never been with a man, but she’s quietly confident. She was a true gift. She was not overwhelmed with embarrassment, even though she had some initial blushing. She had a tilt to her head and a sparkle in her eyes. She was ready for him to explore more.

I think that Solomon was undoing a necklace for her when he comments on her neck. Necklaces were made of coins and flat pieces of designer metal (Tommy Nelson and others). The clank of it all reminded Solomon of a fortress when all the soldiers would be called to battle and you could hear the whisking of swords going into their sheaths and shields bumping and clanging against the stone. “Her neck would hold much of the jewelry that a woman might wear. Such jewelry was often layered, where strands of jewelry were placed one on top of the other. This formed a layered appearance that could ascend from the shoulder and reach as far as the top of the neck.” Imagine the adrenaline rush as a soldier who was getting ready to lay it all on the line on a battlefield. Now, there is a different adrenaline rush. When he tenderly takes that necklace off her beautiful, slightly tilted neck while she was holding those long strands of black curly hair up away from her neck, he was totally lost in it all. She had this amazing body language. The way she held herself just captivated him, and yet she never said a word.

You can’t “not” communicate with others, especially a spouse. Without saying a word, you reveal your feelings and attitudes. Your smile says, “I’m happy” and a fake smile says “I’m not happy, but I want you to think I am.” Your frown and crossed arms say, “I’m mad,” and your drumming fingers and loud sighs say, “I’m impatient – get moving.” Even when you try to show nothing, your closed-off stance and refusal to speak say, “I don’t want to talk about it” or “I’m rejecting you.” You communicate non-verbally with facial expressions, gestures, and posture and you also communicate by how close you get spatially to people (McKay, Messages…). It seems that Solomon is doing most of the talking, but what I see is that her body language is awesome. He’s within 18 inches of her. He’s seeing all the nuances of her face. He sees if the eyebrows are raised or lowered, if the forehead is wrinkled or smooth, if the skin is pale or toned. She gave him all the gestures he needed to let him know that he was saying and doing the right things and that she loved it. Your face is an ever changing billboard signaling your attitudes and reactions.

All the men know what I’m talking about when I talk about “the Look.” The Look is a very useful tool for women and can accomplish many objectives. When she is upset or disapproving, “the Look” will often get him to stop doing something. When she is disappointed the Look can spur him to action (Pam Farrel). Abishag had great body language.

This is one kind, tender man, but it is also one amazing woman. He’s taking it all in. He’s being romantic. Guys, take note. He’s gazed into her eyes. He’s whispered affirming words. He’s helped her untress her hair. He’s traced her lips with his finger. He’s studies her teeth! He’s kissed her. He has tenderly removed her necklace. He’s just now getting to first base! His tempo is impeccable and it all says that he was attracted to her. He’s not even below the neck and he’s just mesmerized. And she overtures back a melody of body language that lets him know that all this feels so loving to her. She tilts her head just a little when he helps her to let her hair down, when he so delicately moves his finger along her lips. Her cheeks are a little red, but she’s confident and so alive in his presence. It all says to him, “I really like this.” Men, this is how women go about connecting. Intimacy means sharing secrets, talking things over, cuddling.

Gary Smalley wrote, “Men are microwaves, women are Crock-Pots.” He’s right. A man 3,000 years ago could jump out of a chariot and into the sheets just about any time of day or night and enjoy sexual things in just about any form. Has anything changed? God designed men to be visually oriented. This is not an excuse to be immature in how you treat or view a woman, and if you as a woman are irked, irritated, or angry about this basic wiring, your issue is with God, not your husband. A man is visually-oriented. A woman is so different. She needs time and tenderness to build rapport. If you have a problem with that, take it up with God. That’s how she’s made. But God made us both this way. It’s complimentary. If women were wired like men, nothing would ever get done. It would all be just one big romance. You’d never leave home. Tommy Nelson has suggested that if men were wired like women, we would have no over-population problems in certain parts of the world. God wired us this way so that men would always keep coming back to their wives and so that women would always reach out for him when he arrived.

Solomon is disrobing his bride. He expressed appreciation for everything he saw. The eyes were pure. Her hair was tranquil. Her teeth mature. Her lips loyal. Her cheeks were modest. Her neck showed integrity and confidence. Now, we see desirability. He’s worked down to the neck, what’s next?

-To Be Continued-

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Soul-Mates: Drawn Into the Mystery of the Other – Part 2

To read Soul-Mates: Drawn Into the Mystery of the Other – Part 1
This is Part 2.

2 Your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn, coming up from the washing. Each has its twin; not one of them is alone. Our teeth come in pairs. She still has her pairs. She has all of her teeth. That was a big deal 3,000 years ago. This doesn’t just suggest good hygiene; it suggests maturity as well. Solomon is not robbing the cradle! She’s past the baby teeth stage with huge gaps that are common between teeth. She’s smiling at him and her teeth are clean and smooth. Smiling is a woman’s greatest cosmetic.

3 Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon; your mouth is lovely. Do you know what I think? I think Sol is moving in for a kiss, that’s what I think. But he’s not in a hurry. He just takes it all in. Lips can be so sensual, their shape, the way they move when words are shared. Kisses are powerful too. Her lips were ravishing to him. He loved their color, their shape. I think he’s tracing her features with his finger, gently touching her lips while he whispers his approval and admiration. He watches her as she shapes and verbalizes her words.

There’s a touching story told from the hospitals of WWII, where a young and badly wounded soldier was brought in from a hellish week of fighting. After doing what she could for him, the nurse asked if there was anything else she could do. “Yes,” he said. “Could you just put on some lipstick while I watch?” There’s something about the beauty of a woman that comforts and soothes the soul (Captivating, 39). This wounded soldier saw the beauty of her lips.

Your temples behind your veil are like the halves of a pomegranate.
Note that the veil is still on. This guy is incredible! Talk about taking your time. Guys, pay attention here! He’s not in a hurry. And as his eyes take in the beauty of his bride, maybe for the first time due to the veil customs that women had to observe, her cheeks turn red, like pomegranate. She’s never been seen and observed like this before. He’s right there, only inches from her face now on this the beginning of their honeymoon. And she’s blushing.

The pomegranate has a red-and-white skin, which reminded the ancient poets of a blushing bride. Pomegranate is defined as a several-celled reddish berry that is about the size of an orange with a thick leathery skin and many seeds with pulpy crimson arils of tart flavor (Webster). But it’s the reddish color that’s the point of focus here. The temple wasn’t just the soft spot beside the eye, but included the cheek as well in ancient poetry (Hocking). He’s describing her cheeks and her blush of innocence. She can’t believe all the joy of this moment and she’s shy about being admired and looked at so closely, but yet she is enthralled to have captivated him so entirely. Sammy Kershaw would say, “She don’t know she’s beautiful, though time and time I’ve told her so.”

I come back to this idea of blushing. You know, I’m concerned today about the fact that we don’t blush much anymore. Young girls pretty much say and do just about anything for anyone. They don’t blush on their honeymoon because they’ve already done it all. Our culture says we should normalize immorality and in so doing, they have hollowed sex out and removed it from a sacred place. It’s something that is pervasive. “Our society is filled with people for whom the sexual relationship is one where body meets body but where person fails to meet person; where the immediate need for sexual gratification is satisfied but where the deeper need for companionship and understanding is left untouched (Buechner).” “When we bypass the soul and spirit in relationships, when we’re too familiar with sex – let it intoxicate us too young and too early and with too many – we lose its mystery and wonder (Bly).” And we don’t blush anymore.

Some of you single girls wonder why the boys get bored with you. You tell all and reveal everything in the first week of the relationship. Be mysterious. Pace your secret-sharing. No one should just waltz in and get what they want in the dating relationship. Be cool, fun, and exciting and try new things, but there are some things he shouldn’t see, should not know, and has not touched. It’s the chase of what he can’t have and doesn’t know that keeps him interested in the dating relationship. When you dish it all out on the second date, there’s nothing for him to chase after. Hold back a little. I think they call it “Peepin’ it.” If you tell everything, there’s nothing to chase after. No adventure to pursue, no challenge, no uncharted territory. You’ve dished it all out. Keep parts of your life to yourself. And when you get married, it’s OK if you blush. You’ll have a lifetime to explore and do things with your husband and reveal all the secrets that you hold. A guy can get sex from any weak or needy girl that’s crushing on him. You become old hat after a few months. And he probably won’t remember your name in 7 years. Girls today give up way too much information. It should take the guy months to get to know you. Easy girls are not keepers. They are a temporary fix until the right one comes along. If he stops chasing, it means he doesn’t really like you or he’s not man enough to keep pursuing – either way you find out what you need to know. And, guys, if you tell your girlfriend that if she gives up too much too quick then you will get bored and walk away, I guarantee you that she will stop. A fast win means the game is over way too quickly (with help from Lookadoo).

– To Be Continued –

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Every Human Desire (for Sex, Food, Pleasure) is Right – When Played In Proper Time and Place

It’s important to acknowledge that every human desire is right when it’s played in its proper time and within healthy parameters. It’s right to be hungry, but not be a glutton. It’s right to desire intimacy and sexual relationship, but not to consume someone for your pleasure alone. It’s right to renew and recreate, but not to be given to laziness and sloth. It’s right to love your work, but not to be a workaholic. It’s right to acquire things, but not to serve things. God has given us human desires that are right and good.

I like what C. S. Lewis said. He said that there are no wrong and right keys on a piano. Every key is right when it’s played in the proper harmony and time. Then Lewis makes this application. There are no wrong physical desires. Every desire is God-given and it is beautiful when played or fulfilled at the proper time (Mere Christianity). The goal is not necessarily to resist pleasure and desires; it is to play them in their proper time (Storms, Pleasures… 9).

God made you with certain human desires embedded in your nature. He made you to desire food, to work for things, to belong to a family, to own and steward possessions, to have close, intimate relationships, to experience the emotions of love and happiness. In fact, He wants you to enjoy food, relationships, your work, your things, your family, your life, your recreation, your sexuality. God loves it when you have a great time. He doesn’t get ticked off when you really enjoy doing something that you have a desire to do. But you must play these “desire-notes” at their proper time and with a proper duration in order to make something harmonious of your life. In theology, we talk about sin being a distortion and a perversion of the good. God has provided you with boundaries to help you know how to play these “piano keys of desire.”

God’s boundaries on our desires are not there to repress us but to show forth the true glory of being a fully alive human being. God doesn’t hem us in to repress us or to keep something good from you; it is to preserve the glory in each of us by fulfilling our God-given desires in their proper time and place. God invites us into wholeness when He tells us how to fulfill our desires in and through Him.

God says…

“I want you to have sex because it’s good, but here are some guidelines on where and when to play that note. Otherwise, this gift is going to become distorted and perverted. The intimacy you seek will not be found unless you use this gift the way I have prescribed.” We want to play this note in all the wrong places at all the wrong times in all the wrong ways. In doing so, we cheapen it, hollow it out, and it becomes so much less of a gift.

“I want you to enjoy great meals, but here are some guidelines on where and when to play that note. Otherwise, you compromise your health and your body.” We want to use food for comfort, not for health. We are a society driven by our hunger and cravings. Paul said in one place that “Your god is your belly.” (Philippians 3:19; Romans 16:18). You are a slave to your drives and appetites.

“I want you to rest and re-energize, but here are some guidelines on where and when to play that note. Otherwise, you spend your life doing nothing, squandering opportunities to make a true difference.” We want to use all of our time to serve our own agenda, but when it comes to God and making an eternal difference, we embrace passivity. Jesus worked hard, but at times he would separate himself from the crowds so as to reenergize for his work. Jesus said to his disciples “Come apart for a while lest you come apart (Mark 6:31).”

“I want you to know the joy of loving and being loved. Here’s how to do that. Otherwise, if you demand that people love you on your terms, you’ll be all about anger and revenge.” We want others to bow to us and meet our needs and make us happy. If they don’t, look out, because anger and revenge will become our life mantra. We’ll worry, grumble, complain, and get bitter. The Proverb writer said “Pride goes before a fall (Proverbs 16:18).” Paul taught to be angry and sin not (Ephesians 4:26) and not to seek revenge.

“I want you to have things, but here is how I want you to view them.” We want to have more than others and our god is all that we can acquire. God told the rich man who built bigger and better barns to the neglect of his own soul “You fool (Luke 12:20).” Jesus said “Seek first my kingdom (Matthew 6:33).”

We intentionally fulfill our desires in our own selfish way, sabotaging and undermining the way things are suppose to be. Our core problem says St. Augustine is that “the human heart, ignoring God, turns in on itself, tries to lift itself, wants to please itself, and ends up debasing itself.” By his own admission, St. Augustine had taken a mistress, fathered a child out of wedlock, and indulged in every fleshly passion. Augustine also said the only reason you think a baby is good is that he hasn’t got power enough to show you whose boss. He said if a baby had the strength when he emerged from his mother’s womb, he would seize the mother by the throat and demand his milk. It’s in our nature to set out to meet our own needs in our own way from an early age.

Sin (life apart from God) has penetrated and taken up residence in the inner sanctuary of our hearts, twisting, fracturing, distorting, and corrupting. Rather than opening up our hearts to the One who can make them new, we run to the sins we love, blinded to the truth and chained to the illusion that I am god and I can live my life and fulfill my desires the way I want to. We hide behind the sins we love – the things that give us pleasure, totally oblivious to what it is doing to us in the bigger scheme of things. The problem is not that people pursue pleasure. The problem is that they rebelliously and foolishly refuse to find pleasure in the one place where it may be genuinely found.

I encourage you to feel your God-given desires and fulfill them in ways that God has prescribed. His boundaries around our desires has a way of actually intensifying our desires and making their fulfillment even more sublime.

Do you want to enjoy great sex? Then use your sexuality in a way that God has prescribed; don’t give this part of yourself to just anyone or any pleasure-option. If you build in constraints around your sexuality, it becomes more meaningful.

Do you want to really enjoy food and eating great meals? Then make sure that eating is enjoyed to sustain you rather than just entertain you when you’re bored.

Do you want to experience pleasure? Then find a greater pleasure.

The Hedonistic Paradox states that in order to find true pleasure, one must have a greater pleasure (hedonism means pleasure and a paradox is truth standing on its head to get our attention). This simply means that if we make anything the sole source of our pleasure (except God), then we will never be satisfied. Stated positively: All the things that you think will bring you the pleasure you seek can actually bring a measure of genuine joy when you are not looking to these pleasures to be your everything. When we make another human being, food, sex, achievement, etc… our greatest pleasure, it is sure to let you down. But when you have a Greater Pleasure that you give your life too, then these other ancillary pleasures can actually be seen and enjoyed for what they were intended to be.

God wants to be your “Greater Pleasure”. It’s in Him that we have all of our human desires intensified; and that we find our “smaller pleasures” perfectly fulfilled in the “larger pleasure” of connection and intimacy with God. So if you want to know true pleasure, find a Greater Pleasure; otherwise, you’ll never be satisfied. And having found this Greater Pleasure, play your God-given desires in their proper time, with the right duration and frequency, and you are sure to create a life of beautiful music.

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“I Need a Pornography / Orgasm Fix” – A Look at Cyclical Addiction Triggers

I am going to consult Ricky Chelette for an explanation of how certain things, emotions, or experiences trigger our need for a pornography fix.

1. The first point he makes is about addiction triggers. Though many of you think that what triggers a person is the sight of a good looking man/woman, I think something much deeper is taking place. Most of our triggers fall into one of these broad categories: Health. Hunger. Angry. Lonely. Tired. Stressed. Depressed. Whenever we feel one of these feelings or something closely related to one or more of them, we have the thought of RELIEF. We all want relief from the pain, hurt and stresses of our lives. Archibald Hart asserts that the two major drives that underlie the addictive process are excitement seeking and tension reduction. This is often “set off” by a particular starting stimulus. We can call this the “trigger mechanism” for the addiction. It is the emotion or occurrence that starts a given cycle of addictive behavior.

Let’s imagine that Dave, a fictitious salesman, is generally bored with his job, but he loves to ski. Skiing is the only source of real excitement in Dave’s life; he lives for the snow slopes and dreams about nothing else. Clearly he is an addict because he neglects every other aspect of his life. Now, say it is Friday morning. Dave usually spends Fridays in the office writing up orders and processing his paperwork. This is a part of his job he particularly hates. Every form, letter, and purchase order is like poison to him; he even dislikes touching them. Dave checks his watch. Nine-thirty in the morning. Still six and a half hours to go before quitting time. He tries to concentrate, but the dull routine of his job acts as a stimulus for his addictive need. Boredom is the trigger for his addiction craving. He wants to be on the mountain. He wants to feel the cold chill of the wind and hear the swoosh of the skis. He checks his watch again. Only 9:50. The more bored Dave becomes, the more he craves his skiing fix. It’s going to be a long day!

Trigger mechanisms like Dave’s boredom begin the addictive craving for a given cycle of need. They differ from person to person and from addictive behavior to addictive behavior. Hart offers some additional common triggers: anxiety, isolation, boredom, depression, crises, sense of failure, unmet sexual needs, criticism, selfish needs. There are many other possible triggers for addictive behavior. In fact, anything that threatens failure, rejection, or abandonment can become a stimulus for an addiction cycle. Add to this the personality traits of passivity, under-assertiveness, or dependency, and you have a powerful set of addictive triggers. People often develop a deep desire for instant gratification.

2. The second point Chelette makes is about medication. The way that we find relief is to seek some form of medication. This does not have to be actual medication, though it can be and this is how people get addicted to drugs, but it is medication all the same. It is something that causes us to experience pleasure and relief.

3. The third point he makes is about preparing to medicate. Even the action toward the intended medication, is somewhat medicinal itself. For example: If you are going to do the big M (masturbation) for your medication you might get undressed and lay in bed, or jump in a warm shower. If you are going to cruise P (internet Porn) on the internet you might get into something more comfortable and begin the search process. If you are going to act out with another or “cruise,” you might get cleaned up and put on some alluring clothing or other articles that would give clues to your intent. Basically, you go through some sort of ritual of preparation. It just doesn’t “happen.” However, we have done this ritual so many times that it feels quite automatic–we may not even realize that we are doing it. It is at this stage that most people tell me that they feel as though they really can’t help themselves–“it is like another person has taken over my body and I am just on autopilot.” In many ways, they really are.

4. The fourth point he makes is about going from thought to action. I am convinced that once you move from thought to action, it is very difficult if not nearly impossible to stop the ultimate medication/action from taking place. Yes, of course God could intervene, but He has created us with free will and He rarely interferes with our willful decisions. During this phase of the cycle you are also likely to be producing adrenalin; a very strong chemical that makes a person’s heart rate increase, increases their blood pressure, and gives them a sense of invincibility.

5. The fifth point he makes is the actual follow through on the medicative fix. You carry out your medicative fix by doing the big M or having sex and achieving an orgasm in some way. When you do this, your brain produces a chemical called endorphin. This chemical is extremely strong, some say even ten times stronger than cocaine. Every time you achieve an orgasm or act out in some way to achieve your medication, endorphins are produced and your body responds in a very predictable way. This is why you get that feeling of pleasure, euphoria, or peace when you orgasm (medicate). There are actually chemicals being produced in your brain that make you feel good. The preparation for the orgasm also can produce these chemicals but not in the same quantity or intensity as the orgasm itself.

I want you to think of your brain as a CD. Each time endorphins are produced, you burn another track on that CD. If you keep playing the same tune (producing the same chemical) over a period of months/years, you burn a rut in your CD and it is very, VERY difficult to get out of that rut. It is a universal, psychologically proven fact. We establish pathways in our brain that demand that we do certain things and get our fix. Thus, we continue to the cycle of medicating our hurts. . . However, like every high, it is followed by an equally powerful low. The low begins as the chemicals in our brain are absorbed and assimilated into our bodies. We first begin to feel guilty. You see, what happens with our desire to medicate is that each time we do it, it takes a bit more stimulation to get us to the place that we have the same medicative results. We constantly need more. That is why we spiral into deeper addictions. It draws us in, deeper and deeper, until we reach the black hole–DEATH. James 1 says when sin is complete it will brings forth death: spiritual death, emotional death, and even physical death. The process is gradual most of the time, but it is guaranteed.

How can an addictive process be broken once it has begun? How do we break the cycle of sin in our lives, the need for a ritualized fix? In addition to turning to God, I think that we have to learn how to cope effectively and Biblically with our triggers. This is not easy, but it is possible. Here are some suggestions from Archibald D. Hart.

1. Understand the dynamics of addiction. The greater his or her understanding of the dynamics of the addiction, the greater his or her ability to overcome it.

2. Anticipate the triggers and expose them. Knowing the kind of circumstances that tend to “kick off” addictive behavior means that the addict can either avoid the trigger or formulate a plan for keeping the trigger from “working.” Ask a close friend or spouse to check-in with you when a trigger is going to happen. Sanitize your environment.

3. Addicts need to find alternative ways of responding to their trigger mechanisms. This means learning to deal with need in a more wholesome way. For instance, if boredom is a trigger, the addict needs to learn some way of handling boredom without resorting to the addictive behavior. If the trigger is depression, the addict must seek help in discovering the underlying cause of the depression and overcoming it. Suppressing depression is never a cure — it only prolongs the depression.

4. Last, addicts must seek spiritual and psychological healing. An addiction is a very complex learned response involving the whole person — mind, body, and spirit. The longer one has been controlled by it, the deeper it is entrenched. Lots of hard work is needed to undo these complex connections of thought, nerve, and hormone. I believe that God’s intervention is needed as well, whether He works through a direct miracle or through a more natural healing process.

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The First Great Lie – Atheism | The Second Great Lie – Pornography (Digital Cocaine)

There are two great lies being circulated and believed today. Atheism is the first and foremost lie. While I have no problem with atheists personally, it is preposterous to assert that God does not exist, and then to claim that “I am in a sincere search for truth, and oh, by the way, there’s one area of investigation that is off-limits – God.” Why would anyone assert such a thing, and in effect, walling off an entire field of study that could inform ones search for meaning and truth?

The second great lie that is being swallowed by a culture in moral free fall is pornography and the associated deception it promotes. The belief that a little pornography is harmless actually sets one up to accept the entire package of deceit. “She’s there because she wants to be. Look at how hungry her eyes are; how much she is affirming me as a man.” But in reality, the “she” or “he” is just pixels on a screen or a series of dots on a page, airbrushed and presented as something that will meet our deepest needs of intimacy. She may look hungry for you men, but it’s all a facade.

These beliefs set you up for deception – you start to believe the Lie. Here are the lies about women that pornography tells you (with some help from Sex and Lies, an article by Gene McConnell and Keith Campbell).

Lie # 1: Women are less than human. The women in Playboy magazine are called “bunnies,” making them cute little animals or “playmates,” making them a toy. Porn often refers to women as animals, playthings, or body parts. Some pornography shows only the body and doesn’t show the face at all. The idea that women are real human beings with thoughts and emotions is played down. She’s just a series of body parts.

Lie #2: Women are a “sport.” Some sports magazines have a swimsuit issue. This suggests that women are just some kind of sport. Porn views sex as a game and in a game, you have to win, conquer or score.

Lie #3: Women are property. It’s common to see pictures of the slick car with the sexy girl draped over it. The unspoken message is, “Buy one, and you get them both.” Hard-core porn carries this even further. It displays women like merchandise in a catalogue, exposing them as openly as possible for the customer to look at. It’s not surprising that many young men think that if they have spent some money taking a girl out, they have a right to have sex with her. Porn tells us that women can be bought.

Lie #4: A woman’s value depends on the attractiveness of her body. Overweight or less attractive women are ridiculed in porn. They are called degrading names, simply because they don’t fit into porn’s criteria of the perfect woman. In fact, if someone is attracted to a heavyset woman, porn labels that a fetish, which means sexual obsession or hang-up that isn’t “natural.” Porn doesn’t care about a woman’s mind or personality, only her body.

Lie #5: Women like rape and sexual abuse. “When she says no, she means yes” is a typical porn scenario. Women are shown being raped, fighting and kicking at first, and then starting to like it. Porn eroticizes rape and makes it arousing. Women are shown being tied up, beaten, and humiliated in hundreds of sick ways and finally begging for more. Even while being tortured, the porn actors and actresses have a smile on their face — a look of intense enjoyment. Porn teaches men to enjoy hurting and abusing women for entertainment. Men don’t see them as created in God’s image.

Pornography is a lie people believe. It will not satisfy your sexual drive; it will always ask for more of you. Before long, you will not just have an addiction; the addiction will have you. There are many beautiful wives in Victoria Secret night-ware who fall asleep every night alone because a husband can’t give up his late night pornography habit.

Dr. Victor Cline says that sex and pornography can be a more difficult addiction to break than cocaine. There are five stages of addiction…

1. Early exposure. Most guys who get addicted to porn start early. They see the stuff when they are very young, and it gets its foot in the door. The average age of first exposure is under 10 years of age.

2. Addiction. Later comes addiction. You keep coming back to porn. It becomes a regular part of your life. You’re hooked. You can’t quit.

3. Escalation. After a while, escalation begins. You start to look for more and more graphic porn. You start using porn that would have disgusted you when you started. Now it excites you.

4. Desensitization. Eventually, you start to become numb. Even the most graphic, degrading porn doesn’t excite you anymore. You become desperate to feel the same thrill again but can’t find it.

5. Acting out sexually. At this point, many men make a dangerous jump and start acting out sexually. They move from the paper and plastic and digital images of porn to the real world.

Emily Efurd, a licensed marriage and family counselor who has been working with sex addicts for over a dozen years. Emily offers some bottom line steps to overcoming sex addiction and the lie of pornography:

1. Recognize how you got where you are by examining the small but important choices you have made over time.

2. Confess it all as sin and choose to repent by changing your behavior. Slam the door on your former behaviors.

3. Stop masturbating, which is a type of substance abuse, to pornography. (The brain chemicals activated by arousal and orgasm are a specific chemical substance that can become addictive.) Take all your sexual energy to your spouse.

4. Stop objectifying women as sex objects or body parts and train yourself to see them as real people. For example, look them in the eye and note their eye color; note their hair color. Again, women are image-bearing creations of God. Give them the respect they deserve.

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The Centerfold Syndrome – A Banquet of Glistening Flesh

Steve Arterburn in his co-authored book Everyman’s Battle, shares a personal story.

“In 1983, my wife, Sandy, and I celebrated our first anniversary. One sun-splashed Southern California morning…I hopped in our 1973 Mercedes 450SL, white with a black top… I always loved driving along the…Pacific Coast Highway…

I never intentionally set out to be girl-watching that day, but I spotted her about two hundred yards ahead and to the left. She was jogging toward me along the coastal sidewalk… My eyes locked on to this goddesslike blonde, rivulets of sweat cascading down her tanned body as she ran… Her jogging outfit…was actually a skimpy bikini…

My eyes feasted on this banquet of glistening flesh as she passed on my left, and they continued to follow her lithe figure as she continued jogging southbound. Simply by lustful instinct, as if mesmerized by her gait, I turned my head further and further, craning my neck to capture every possible moment of my mental video camera.

Then blam!… My Mercedes…plowed into a Chevelle that had come to a complete stop in my lane… I got out of the car – embarrassed, humiliated, saturated with guilt, and unable to offer a satisfying explanation. No way would I tell this guy, ‘Well, if you’d seen what I saw, you’d understand.’”

Arterburn is honest. For ten more years, he spinned in the cycle of lust, deceived by its power. But he eventually broke out of the cycle and wrote a book about addictive sex.

Sex is a beautiful thing, but it can get twisted. Addictive sex is done in isolation and is devoid of relationship. Addictive sex is secretive. Addictive sex is devoid of intimacy. Addictive sex is victimizing and women are just objects or body parts. Addictive sex ends in despair. Addictive sex is used to escape pain and problems. Our addiction deceives us. Instead of bringing our sexual energy to our wives, we take it other places, especially in our anonymous place.

To prevent a sad story of deception, to empower men to lead in the church, to enable them to lead in their families and personal lives, Arterburn asserts that we must win the war inside. Thousands have wrecked their lives on the jagged reefs of immorality. This is how it all begins, “I was driving down the road one day…” Or “I was surfing the internet one day…” Or “I saw her at work one day…”

Hungry, angry, lonely, tired, stressed, depressed, frustrated, and sometimes discouraged, the tendency will be to turn to the “banquet of glistening flesh” to get another “chemical pop”, an epinephrine rush, an internal hormonal high, to jolt us out of the boredom of life. But we lose something of our true selves when we seek to fulfill our sexuality on our own terms.

A routine banquet of glistening flesh is not “harmless fun”. In his book, The Centerfold Syndrome, psychologist Gary R. Brooks, Ph.D., identifies five principal symptoms of what he describes as a “pervasive disorder” linked to consumption of soft-core pornography like Playboy and Penthouse. Pornography is not harmless. Here are the symptoms of living with the centerfold syndrome:

1. Voyeurism — An obsession with looking at women rather than interacting with them. Brooks contends that the explosion in glorification and objectification of women’s bodies promotes unreal images of women, and distorts physical reality. Sex without attachment.

2. Objectification — An attitude in which women are objects rated by size, shape and harmony of body parts. Brooks asserts that if a man spends most of his emotional energy on sexual fantasies about inaccessible people, he frequently will not be available for even the most intimate emotional and sexual moments with his partner.

3. Validation — The need to validate masculinity through beautiful women. According to Brooks, the women who meet centerfold standards only retain their power as along as they maintain perfect bodies and the leverage of mystery and unavailability. And the great majority of men who never come close to sex with their dream woman are left feeling cheated or unmanly.

4. Trophyism — The idea that beautiful women are collectibles who show the world who a man is. Brooks asserts that the women’s-bodies-as-trophies mentality, damaging enough in adolescence, becomes even more destructive in adulthood. Furthermore, trophies, once they are won, are supposed to become the property of the winner, a permanent physical symbol of accomplishment and worthiness. This cannot be so with women’s bodies.

5. Fear of true intimacy — Inability to relate to women in an honest and intimate way despite deep loneliness. Pornography pays scant attention to men’s needs for sensuality and intimacy while exalting their sexual needs. Thus, some men develop a preoccupation with sexuality, which powerfully handicaps their capacity for emotionally intimate relationships with men and for nonsexual relationships with women.

Women are beautiful because God made them that way. But they are more than “a banquet of glistening flesh.” If we are going to achieve true intimacy with a woman, then we must understand God’s view of purity. In order to experience sex as God designed it, we need to be walking the road of purity. No matter what you’ve been involved in up to this point, God is ready and waiting to help you get back on that road. To get there, you’ve got to make a serious commitment to restoration and a new view of women. Throw-off the centerfold syndrome. Stop believing the lie it proposes and avoid the unecessary crashes that are sure to happen when women are merely “banquets of glistening flesh.”

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