Pornography and work
Have you noticed how much Scripture talks about evil men loving darkness? The second chapter of Proverbs warns against:
Those who leave the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness; who delight in doing evil and rejoice in the perversity of evil. -Proverbs 2:13-14
Notice that it’s said to be twilight, the evening, the middle of the night, and darkness when young men commit adultery:
I saw among the naive, and discerned among the youths a young man lacking sense, passing through the street near her corner; and he takes the way to her house, in the twilight, in the evening, in the middle of the night and in the darkness. And behold, a woman comes to meet him, dressed as a harlot and cunning of heart. -Proverbs 7:7-10
Jesus pointed out that night and the power of darkness were chosen by those who were out to kill Him:
While I was with you daily in the temple, you did not lay hands on Me; but this hour and the power of darkness are yours. -Luke 22:53
Why do men turn away from Jesus?
This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. -John 3:19-20
The temptation to pornography increases as the day goes on. No one wakes up in the morning thinking, “Hey, I think I’ll shower and then, right after breakfast, maybe take a few minutes to gaze on the shame of strangers.”
No, not in the morning, but later in the day and particularly at night; and therefore, as the day goes on, our vigilance against this soul and marriage and family-destroying sin must increase. Beware of darkness!
Whether you are a man or woman, parent or child, be strategic in fighting pornography. Assuming most children won’t be reading this for help fighting this wickedness though, fathers and mothers should take note of this aspect of the temptation. Think about how to use it for your own protection and the protection of your household.
Get yourself and your sons tired by nightfall. What you want for yourself and your sons is to order each day in such a way that you end the day looking forward to bed and sleep. The best way to promote this is to cultivate, day by day and year by year, a very healthy work ethic. In fighting pornography, work is our friend because work makes us tired. This, in turn, protects us from ennui.
You don’t know the word ennui? Shame on you. It’s a central temptation of decadent cultures and you live in one, so look the word up and think carefully about the connection between ennui and the soul-destroying temptations and habits of your life—particularly pornography and its kissing-cousin, video games.
What rips lassitude out of a man’s being?
Love and worship and work. Give yourself soul, spirit, and body to them all. Love your wife, and do it actively. Love God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, and worship Him actively. Kneel. Lift your hands. Belt out the hymns and “amens!” These are the works of worship just as listening and expressing concern and affection and helping with the dishes are the works of love.
But then work. The Fourth Commandment is “six days shalt thou labor, and do all they work.” This is half of this commandment. We are to spend ourselves six out of seven days each week laboring, doing so each day in anticipation of ending the day with labor’s rewards of hunger and tiredness leading us to eat and sleep.
The secret is loving labor so much that the end of the day brings labor’s rewards of hunger and weariness. Why do I call these rewards?
Because they are the God-given antidotes to that terrible enemy ennui. Lassitude.
Honestly, as a man, a father, and a pastor, I know of no more effective weapon against pornography than a long and hard day of physical labor. Teach your congregation; teach yourself and your sons the joy of work. Teach them that God assigned Adam the duty of laboring in the garden before the Fall. Teach your sons that nothing is closer to the manhood assigned them by God than the work of guarding and protecting God’s world around them.
Teach them that work is no curse, but glory and happiness and protection and peace. Teach them that the Fall only made work a pain. It never made work evil. Cleaning out the fencerow now, we might wear gloves because there are thorns and the poison oak and ivy are oozing urushiol, but the thorns and urushiol never ever keep a man from work. He loves his work because he loves his food and he loves his honest and peaceful sleep.
In the life of discipleship, we must fight many evils and say “no” to many temptations and sins. Our legalistic mindset and stinginess leads us to focus on saying “no,” and this is necessary, for sure. But often even more important is saying “yes” to something or someone, the love of which or whom will displace the love of evil and lust’s strange flesh.
We understand this when we say the married man’s best protection against pornography is pouring himself out in loving his wife. (And children.)
But thinking about our children, they’re not yet married and there’s something they can be taught right now to love which will protect them from a whole host of sins the rest of their life.
This is work. Work itself should be a joy to them and work’s fruit should be even more a joy to them. Not simply the money, but more the beans and apples and (this week) sitting back and gazing with pride on the piles of snow in the yard providing a glorious backdrop to the well-shovelled driveway and sidewalks.
Here’s one of my favorite quotes, this one from Pascal:
I have discovered that all the unhappiness of men arises from one single fact, that they cannot stay quietly in their own chamber.
The man who works hard all day so that he is hungry and tired come the evening and darkness is halfway there to sexual purity. The man who loves his work and its fruitings is halfway to holiness. Dinner and bed are labor’s rewards that keep us quiet in our chambers. Screens off and snoring.