There have been a few times in my life when I found myself standing at the edge of a cliff.
One of my favorite times was when I visited the Grand Canyon while I was in college. It was breathtaking, but I'll admit that I was thankful for the railing.
While that cliff promised great views and good memories, most of the other cliffs I've come across aren't so positive.
Pornography was a spiritual cliff for me. I knew I did not want to fall, so I set up physical boundaries to keep me from falling.
That's what I used to do. Now I do things a little differently:
When I visited the Grand Canyon, I was able to hike down to the bottom. I didn't scale down a cliff, but instead took a meandering, all-day hike to a place called Phantom Ranch.
Our spiritual lives can often mirror this same journey.
Pornography may be the place where my sinfulness is most noticeable, but I can't remember a time when I consciously decided to start looking at porn. Instead I took baby steps down a path of sexual brokenness and eventually found myself staring in the face of a porn addiction, wondering how I landed there.
I see it now.
Although I was a Christian, I unconsciously adopted the world's sexual ethic in many areas. I did not used to think anything of watching movies laden with sexual innuendo. Scantily clad cheerleaders were a part of the Sunday football watching experience. I filled my mind with sexually explicit lyrics from popular songs.
Why did I not expect these things to effect my thoughts and heart?
While I'm not blaming the music industry or the NFL or Hollywood for my porn problem, they were some of the mile markers on my way down to the bottom.
The sexual views of our world's society don't always lead to overtly bad choices, but they can lead us on a slow descent from God's heart and into a self-seeking mindset.
It's the reason that many Christian men and women walk away from their spouses because they aren't being sexually fulfilled. It's why many Christian people use Scripture to leverage their spouse into sex even as the rest of the relationship is neglected.
We make sex all about us, and culture cultivates such a perspective. Even in Christian circles we look at personal sexual fulfillment as the greatest reason to get married, but when sex is all about ourselves we will never be fulfilled because nothing in this life is supposed to be all about us (see Romans 12).
Since God's wakeup call in my life, he has been taking me on a patient, steady journey up out of the valley to help me change this perspective. It took hard work--step by step--which included eliminating about 95% of the football I watch and most TV shows and movies.
Additionally, Laurie and I have changed how we view all of our media consumption. Instead of looking at things through a lens of "Can I watch this?", we instead ask, "What is this really adding to my life?"
If we never take stock of the things we consume, what we read, watch, and listen to, we may find ourselves on that meandering path that leads us somewhere we never meant to go.
What are you consuming today?