youarewhatyousee
youarewhatyouseefull

It all starts mindlessly enough.

We see less than half-dressed women in the magazines. The suggestive sex-scene on the movie screen. The single bachelor and bachelorette stealing off for a night of romance on reality TV.

We hear the song lyrics about the boy and the girl in the back of a pick-up truck. We’re flooded with the instagram bikini pics and the celebrity hook-ups and the barely-there-fashions on models who look nothing like us.

We’re already in the midst of being awkwardly introduced to the budding hormones inside of us. And all these new things peak our interest and feel good. And look good. And please us. So why look away? Why think too much about what we’re taking in if we believe the fact that we’re not putting out is good enough? After all, we’re kids. And all of this we’re being exposed to becomes more and more normal, every day, to us.

Then gradually, over time, the intensity picks up. And the half-dressed women in magazines become the completely naked women on our computer screens. And the suggestive sex-scenes in the movies become the hard-core porn in our browser history. And the single bachelor and bachelorette’s night of romance becomes a trigger for our own arousal as we find ourselves lusting for and coveting the same empty things.

And we become young adults who move from mindless kids to reckless teens because we’re desensitized to the sensitivity of sex as a precious thing.

How did we get here? From innocent to unfazed so quickly? And, even worse, defensive about these things?

I read recently that the average age a child is exposed to pornography is eight years old.

Eight.

I was about that age, if not even younger than that. If you read my viral post, 50 Shades of Grace, you know that I was exposed to pornography young. And struggled with the bondage of that temptation and the repercussions of that fixation for years to come.

But my struggles with porn weren’t simply born out of my first glimpse at a graphic scene. They were born out of an unguarded heart and unspoken conversations that nobody thought to have with me. They grew out of a desensitization to broken, messy things and an unawareness that what I was mindlessly taking in, on a day-to-day basis, was actually shaping me.

In a 50-Shades-of-Gray-Orange-Is-the-New-Black-Kardashian world, there is no slowing things down. There is no changing the trajectory of a sex-crazed culture fueled by big money. There is also no way to shield ourselves from ever coming into contact with these things. We’d have to lock ourselves inside our homes and never turn on a phone or a computer or a TV.

But those wouldn’t be the first steps of change, anyways. Because changing those things is entirely too far out of our short-term reach. What’s not out of our reach is choosing, wisely and with self-control, what we choose to see. After all, we may not be able to control what we are served, but we have complete control over what we choose to eat.

It is a basic principle, but a conversation that seems to have been forgotten, spiritually. Or maybe a conversation too far delayed when we step back and look at the reality of the situation and the ages of exposure to certain things. We know that someone doesn’t become obese after eating one cupcake, it takes long-term and continuous consumption of high-sugar, fatty foods. In the same light, we know someone doesn’t become an expert in their field of study because they solved one equation correctly. It takes hours of study and practice and application to master a technique. Just as someone doesn’t go bankrupt from spending one dollar unwisely. It takes several poor decisions, irresponsible investments, or careless spending. And behind all of these things exists conscious mental decisions and choice-making. So why would the same simple, guiding standard not be applicable to what we consume, visually?

If you are what you eat, are you not also what you see?

Jesus spoke to this fundamental truth in Matthew 6:22-23 when He said, “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” In other words, we are shaped by what we see. What we choose to watch. What we consume mindlessly.

If we want to understand the root of where so many of our sexual issues grows, we’d be wise to begin paying attention to what we are seeing and watching and reading. What our prayer must become is, “God, give me eyes to see the world as you do.” And what our awareness must shift to is what we are taking in, and what that’s desensitizing us to.

Because when the naked woman on your computer screen is finally seen as a daughter of the King being exploited for sexual reasons, it changes things.
And when the sex-scene in the movie is finally seen another cheap attempt for the box office to make money, it changes things.
And when you realize the reality TV show showing singles wiling to compromise just about anything to get a rose and a ring looks nothing like a pure and holy and God-honoring reality…it changes things.

But most notably, when you begin to see sexual things outside of the context of how God intended them–NO MATTER the intensity or degree–you begin to understand why sin breaks God’s heart when it has its stranglehold around you and me.

We are called to guard our eyes and guard our hearts fiercely. May we have the commitment of David who said, “I will set no wicked thing before my eyes.” (Ps.101:3)

God, give us eyes to see the world as you do, and help us to fix our gaze on You.

“Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].”

 

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