Oh, the times are dark . . .
We are marching toward the darkest day of the year, December 21, and I am consumed with darkness. I rise in the dark. I make dinner in the dark. There are even some places on earth even darker than Wisconsin! Like Alaska.
People consumed in darkness struggle to cope, one way or another. We all have our vices, don’t we? But should we? Should we go it alone, dealing with our darkness, turning to and using other things or people, in search of what we think looks like light, what we think feels like warmth?
We are an easily deceived people (Proverbs 14:12; Titus 3:3), drawn off course quickly when not firmly planted in God’s word, the whole counsel of Christ, who is the Light of the world, who longs to shine brightly in our lives so we will not stumble and fall, hurting ourselves and others.
But what do we really want? Do we want Light? Or do we prefer dark? How we live proves more than what we speak.
I believe too many of us want a mix of light and dark. We prefer gray. We say we love Light, but we dabble in dark, seeking pleasure or comfort.
We’re wounded people with gaping heart holes wanting healing, fixing, filling. But rather than come fully into the Light, our pride and fear keeps one foot grounded in dark, duped into believing that we can find an easier, quicker way to fill up our holes while we still pray to Jesus for blessing.
God doesn’t work according to our half-lit wishes or ways.
I’ve dealt with darkness this week and have been exhorted to exhort a few who have been deceived into thinking that dark is light—that gray is okay. Those who love Light have been thankful for the exhortation. Those who prefer dark—or at least gray—flew into a fury when their darkness was exposed, hurling all sorts of excuses and accusations.
Believe me, this tender soul would rather have the gift of making turkey dinners for the poor than the spiritual gift of exhortation, one of her gifts pointed out by numerous godly people over the years. She trembles and agonizes and wrestles with God, the giver of all gifts, coming pretty darn near paralysis of analysis. And she has just plain run away like Jonah once because she would have rather have been nice and “loving” and well-liked. Really, she’d rather not rock the boat by delivering a message of truth that might bring down the wrath of another upon her.
I confess. I’m not perfect and I know it. Everyone sins, including yours truly. And no, it’s not my job to judge or condemn anyone because we’re all sinners. But neither should the fact that we are sinners shove us into silent corners. When the Lord says open your mouth and speak truth, it’s probably a good idea to obey. (I’ll save my story about being swallowed by a whale and living in the stench of that gurgling stomach for another day. Want to know what REAL darkness feels like? I’ll tell you later.)
So I’m going to address something serious here. I’m going to just spit it out like whale vomit.
But I’ll be brief (for me!).
Beth Moore, in her latest Bible study Children of the Day, a study of I and II Thessalonians, stated her belief that sexual immorality is the biggest stronghold we have in our culture today. Everyone in our study nodded their heads in agreement. Beth has her finger on the pulse of our culture and even more on the pulse of Christian culture.
We have allowed dark to blot out light in the area of sexual thought and behavior. We have compromised with the enemy of our bodies and souls, with the enemy of our children and grandchildren’s bodies and souls.
Sexual immorality is breaking us apart, literally, because of our lukewarm, nonchalant attitudes and stances.
We have rationalized. We have chosen to put ourselves and our loved ones on the throne of God, fearing rejection or abuse.
We have normalized sex outside of Biblically-described, legal marriage for all sorts of reasons.
Hear this! Rationalizations are a mockery of God and His truth. God will not be mocked (Galatians 6:7). His patience is for the sole purpose of drawing us to repentance (Romans 2:4). Every sin has consequences, even if the sin is forgiven. Have we forgotten?
Ungodly sexual views and behaviors are not limited to sex outside marriage either. We have tolerated what God abhors even inside marriage, hurting our mates, being hurt by our mates, degrading and being degraded as objects instead of honoring each other as human beings made in God’s image.
God grieves. We should too.
God has gifted us with sex and the enemy of our souls wants to take this gift and use it to strangle the life out of us and our relationships. People may think they are not suffering consequences. The key word is YET. People may not be suffering the consequences of sin YET.
Where is repentance? I wonder.
Instead of agreeing with God on His definition of healthy sexual thought and behavior, we see a downward plunge into darkness. I see it on Facebook in the posts of teens. I see it on television in what the media has normalized in movies and weekly shows. I see it in commercials during football games. I see it on magazine covers on stands by the grocery checkout lanes. I hear it in interviews like the recent one with the current girlfriend of Aaron Rogers, Green Bay Packers Super Bowl MVP, who claims God is number one in his life. When asked if they had sex before games, Aaron’s girlfriend said no because his focus is on other things the day and night before a game. Later, she admitted they are sexually active.
It’s the norm. That’s a fact in our culture today, even among professing Christians.
So does that mean if one is to be “normal”, we must have sex before and/or outside of being legally married? Can we draw our own definition of what it means to be married?
It’s a biological need, many argue.
So does that mean we have the right to demand being served more than serving those we profess to love—those to whom we have committed for life?
Indeed, some of the arguments and human-concocted definitions of marriage and proper sexual conduct are compelling to the human mind and body. But they don’t move God’s moral line one millimeter. Living outside of God’s parameters is sin, whether it’s sex or anything else. Using people is sin, even when the using occurs inside marriage.
Listen. I’m no saint. I’ve struggled and stumbled. I’ve fallen in the past. I’m not a holier-than-thou type standing proud on a self-made pedestal looking down my nose and shaking a finger at any human being in order to condemn. Neither is Beth Moore. Neither are a couple of my best friends whose pasts are marked with sexual immorality, even inside marriage. Today, we all feel a strong conviction to stand up and speak truth . . .
It is possible, even in a morally dark culture, to walk toward the Light, to live in the Light. It is without doubt that those who have been or are currently in a sexually immoral stronghold can be forgiven, delivered, and seen by God and others as new creations in Christ, without blemish or stain. All we need do is agree with God on His truth, His standards, His moral line that never fluctuates with culture or times, and ask for forgiveness, restoration, and the strength to live as He has created us to live.
Christians who lament over the fall of our culture—over the decline of our country—ought to ask the Holy Spirit to shine light into our own darkness first. We cannot compromise and expect to live in the warmth of God’s full light when we want to remain half-lit. We cannot move God off His throne and crown ourselves or our kids or boyfriends or girlfriends or husbands or wives as kings and queens due to fear of hurting them or making them angry and possibly losing them. We cannot keep light bright by buying into the excuse that “everyone is doing it” and collude with them by allowing them to sleep in the same bedroom under our roof when they’re not yet married or let them use our time-shares or pay for their church weddings. We cannot keep allowing ourselves to be damaged in the dark emotionally or physically and not seek wise counsel and support.
We cannot let Christians say it’s alright to sleep with each other as long as they’re not having sex. Have Christians forgotten Ephesians 5:3?
But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.
Sleeping together is not an option before one is legally married. Period. Beth Moore said it in her new study based solidly on Scripture. The Bible says it. I’m repeating it. Truth is truth and, if we are committed Christians, we must stand up for truth even if it costs us dearly. We are ambassadors of Christ. We are called to represent Him properly.
Yet we must also love and offer an open hand to those who want to shake off their strongholds. It’s not our place to issue ultimatums. We are to love always. But loving does not mean tolerating lies. Loving does not mean compromising truth. Sometimes loving means setting solid boundaries and taking stands, even if others become angry and try to instill guilt.
It is time to stand up and step toward the Light of Christ. It is time for each of us to stop being bullied by our culture or our kids or our significant others or our mates into believing that to be loving means we must tolerate what God does not tolerate. It is time to stop twisting God’s word around the Serpent’s tail with “Did God really say . . .?”
It is possible to live in the full light of Christ, though not always easy.
Seek Him always in prayer, with the full-hearted intent to know Him and follow Him.
Submit to the absolute truth of His word. No twisting or rationalizing.
When we fall, confess quickly and ask forgiveness. God is quick to forgive the truly repentant.
But heed this warning . . .
God’s forgiveness depends on true repentance, not some flippant “I’m sorry. I feel so bad. Please forgive me. Oh, and by the way, this is just an impossible expectation in our culture today so please forgive me in advance because I know I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing because, after all, you don’t really mean this or that and, by the way, my circumstances are really quite unique and it’s all just impossible, don’t you know, for me to change.”
That’s not repentance. That’s bondage.
It’s time that we return to absolutes absolutely.
Tired of the dark?
Seek the Light.
It starts in the half-lit rooms of our own homes, in the darkened chambers of our own hearts.
Our God is a completely forgiving God and we, His people, must be completely forgiving also, seeking as God does to have all who dabble in darkness find and walk fully in the Light of His truth, being restored and transformed into His likeness.
We’re in this together!
If we band together and support each other—if we come out of our dark chambers and seek the fullness of His Light—we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. We can be the vessels through whom God turns our culture—our personal lives—our families—our communities—our nation—even the world—around for good.
Anyone going to sign up for this one? Let God know.
Oh, and BTW (by the way), secular studies show that married couples have the BEST SEX, long-term.
Yep. I agree.
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. Isaiah 9:2