Overcoming Playboy Spirituality - 2006
Overcoming Playboy Spirituality
By Nathan Colquhoun
I remember the first time I got ‘saved.’ I was four or five years old and my parents walked me through the four steps and then they ordered pizza for me to celebrate. I also remember getting saved about two hundred more times after that initial conversion. Every time I was either re-dedicating my life to Jesus or making sure that it worked. I became gradually more sincere and progressively more sold out each time. I kept getting asked so I kept answering that I wanted to be saved. I figured that since the desire to be saved was still there that I still could go further and be saved more, or saved better each time.
My first pornography experience was equally exciting except I don’t recall there being any pizza. It was new and electrifying. I was young, oblivious and went with what seemed right. I also remember about two hundred more times experiencing pornography. The pictures were still there inviting me to indulge in them. The desire kept returning so I figured that maybe if I did it just one more time then I would satisfy myself better or feel more complete each time.
The further I journeyed into my spirituality, the more I realized that it was almost a direct reflection of what pornography was like. It wasn’t until I realized the parallels did I realize that my spiritual walk wasn’t as healthy as I thought. Slowly I have been trying to strip away what was damaging my Christian faith and trying to replace it with what I saw Jesus doing.
:: Instant Gratification vs. Gradual Process
If there is one thing that makes pornography everything it is today, especially within our technological world, it is the fact that anyone can get it instantaneously wherever they are. I can bring up whatever images of whoever I want, whenever I want, wherever I am. There is no need to even go through the shame of having to buy it over the counter anymore; I can do it in the privacy of my own room. My Christian life took on many of the same characteristics. Whenever I was in need of a spiritual high I would simply walk to the next prayer service, worship service or bible study that was around. While I’m there I can receive anything I need spiritually in a two-hour service.
There is no lie in instant gratification. It does gratify, and it does it instantly. The problem lies after it’s over. We want it again, and then again. After we get our climatically charged moment, we’ll need it again to feel continually satisfied and the cycle repeats itself. We end up living our lives from gratification to gratification with no sustenance in anything we are part of. We go to church and it fulfills all those spiritual longings we possess during the week and then we build up the need and then go to church again. If Sundays are the only place we worship, get fed, are in community, fellowship and are discipled then it is nothing more than a spiritual orgasm.
Our spirituality needs to go deeper than once a week highs. It needs to be part of our every day life. We need to completely indulge our lifestyles with the community that we are part of and the worship of our creator. Spirituality is not a fantasy world that we jump in and out of once a week, it is something we are married to and are part of every day. We can’t continue to waver and expect it to last; fulfillment comes with time, energy and consistency with the people we love and in relationship with God. Jesus spent a long time with the disciples. He was present through every mistake and victory?. He didn’t send his spirit so that they could have a Pentecost once every week on Sunday.
:: Void of Relationship vs Built on Relationships
The reason that pornography has such devastating affects on people is because it is void of any real substance or relationship. We trick ourselves into thinking we have a connection with someone. But, they are simply there for our good pleasure and are removed when we are done with them. We get all the benefits of an intimate relationship without the commitment that it takes to be in one. Churches today are filled with people who smile at one another, worship beside each other and then go home and not have any connection with those people until the next week. We are afraid to open up to the people around us and end up just using them to meet our quota for the week and to make us feel good.
It’s easy to think we have meaningful relationships with those in our community when we see them once every week. We go through the short and awkward conversations and think that we actually made a meaningful connection.
True spirituality is based on relationships that go deeper than figuring out each other’s work days and asking about the family. It opens up our lives to other people to a point where nothing is hidden. Our hurt, our passions, our embarrassments, our accomplishments and our remorse are all laid out bare before the other person and you journey together. This is what happens when two people truly love each other the way that Christ meant it. We slowly tear away the facades that each of us have put up and then choose to love each other despite our shortcomings. There is something about connecting with someone when you are both laid bare. Any one who has experienced this would never go back to the relationships that are nothing more than entertaining images of what each of us wish we were.
:: Self Focused vs God and Other Focused
Pornography shows no care for other people. It is all about the person indulging in it. How? It is about making ones self feel good and nothing more. Unfortunately, church and spirituality have taken this turn also to a dead end. We constantly are trying to feed ourselves by reading the bible. We are always looking for ways for God to bless us and heal us and make us happier than we already are. We want people to think the way we think and we want people to act the way we act. We want God to work within our agenda and for God to take our plans and make them his. The worship songs are slowly turning into me-focused songs. The groups are slowly becoming less and less for the unsaved and becoming focused into making us better Christians. The money is not going to the world around us but to make our buildings better and our technology more up to date.
This couldn’t be further from the gospel that Jesus gave us to proclaim. The gospel that I see in the scriptures is one that calls us to be feeding the poor and taking care of those in need. It tells us to let go of all we have in exchange for a community who takes care of each other and all those around them. It tells us to love others more than we love ourselves and to think of others first; not to make sure that we are comfortable and spiritual enough first and then help. Spirituality is based on others. That’s where the fulfillment comes. It’s a paradoxical spirituality in that you achieve what you are looking for when you help others find it.
:: Guilt Ridden vs. Forgiveness Laden
Thousands of people are filled with guilt because of their uncontrollable addiction to pornography. They indulge freely for the moment and feel the guilt until the next moment. I can’t count the number of times I have been told to read my bible more, pray more, study more or give more. It seems that we are constantly failing and coming short of where we are supposed to be in our spiritual walk. The standards appear to be increasing and we seem to be less able to even reach where we were the year before. We are constantly fueled by our guilt of not being up to par.
Instead, Christ calls us to be fueled by the forgiveness that already exists. He calls us to live within the grace that he offers us with every breath. Instead of trying to live up to impossible standards that we can never reach he tells us to live under grace and with love and passion for him. The difference is vital. One has us trying to reach a goal that is unattainable by us and already attained for us. The other has us living a life free of that impossible task; without that immovable burden. We have already reached perfection in the eyes of Christ, so there is no point in being guilty for not achieving it by our standard. The only way our spirituality can fully be experienced is by simply living it through the forgiveness provided solely by Christ.
Overcoming Playboy Spirituality means to practice discipline and self control. It means that we no longer will be seduced by the gratification of the temporal things of life but will look only to that which lasts forever. It means that we will look to Jesus for water that will never have us thirsting again instead of the water that leaves us with seven husbands, yet, still unsatisfied. It means that we won’t sit around and ask what we can do to make us look better, more attractive and comfortable but instead ask how we serve the people around us. It means that we won’t lavish guilt on people when they can’t meet our standards but we will journey with them to show them the forgiveness that already exists for them. It means that we will grow in deep relationships with people instead of hiding from them. It means a lot of things that we will each figure out on our own. Slowly we will pull ourselves away from the air-brushed images of spirituality that exist all around us and we will get the raw and freeing reality of Christ.
Nathan can be contacted at NathanColquhoun at gmail dot com