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If You Are Looking For A Battle You’ll Find One

by Seth Taylor on November 23rd, 2014 in Men, Students

It-Isnt-A-Battle-blogWhen I was a porn addict, I attended a small group at my church. We confessed to each other and encouraged one another through prayer and counsel. I made some really close friends in that group. There is something powerful about the ability to be truly vulnerable with another human being. (Tweet This!)

In our common struggle, we used a certain kind of language to speak about our struggles that hinted at our difficulties without always going into the grungy details. Much of this language was pulled from popular books at the time and from some passages in scripture, while much of it was simply what we felt.

One of the most common phrases we used was “it’s every man’s battle.” It felt good to know we were not alone there in that tiny office. And it certainly felt like a battle, so we adopted a lot of warfare metaphors and terminology. In some of our gatherings, you might have thought you were in a VFW meeting.

What we perhaps didn’t realize was that as we spoke that way, we reinforced a paradigm that we had adopted of our struggle. This paradigm dictated how we approached that struggle and infected the way we saw the world, our God, and ourselves. It did passive damage.

After many years of battle, I started to grow weary and began asking some important questions about this paradigm. It seemed deeply unhelpful to climb deeper and deeper into a war that most people, including most pastors who spoke about the issue from the pulpit, told me could never be won – only fought. Over and over again, I heard that in Jesus we were free, but we will always struggle.

It was in the scriptures that I began to find a way home; back to myself and back to the Spirit that created my sexuality. There’s a story in the New Testament: the Temple Guard was arresting Jesus shortly before he would be hung on a cross and executed. One of Jesus’ disciples pulled a sword to defend his Master and Jesus called out to him: “Peter! Put away your sword! For he who lives by the sword will die by it.”

And that’s where it hit me: it was time for a new paradigm. I had been living and dying by the sword: I’d been seeking battle, so that’s what I’d always found. (Tweet This!) I wondered what it would look like to seek peace. Would I find it?

Searching for a new paradigm, I turned to another treasured book in Christian lore: Pilgrim’s Progress. In John Bunyan’s classic allegory, he paints a picture of a man who has adopted his humanity not as something to be escaped or fought against, but rather as something that needed to be rechristened. And so it was that I came to see my addiction not as a battle but as a pilgrimage. (Tweet This!) And in this paradigm, all that was required was the next step – a step that was blessed and covered in grace. And instead of finding my power in the sword I carried and in all of the control mechanisms I wielded against my enemies, I instead found authority – that mysterious ability to move mountains, heal and be healed, and cause demons to submit. No sword necessary.

Lacey Clark Ellman, author of Pilgrim Principles: Journeying with Intention in Everyday Life, says that a pilgrimage is a journey that has been infused with meaning and intention. She claims this infusion makes a journey sacred, meaning the light of divine grace and power saturates it. So what if we borrowed that same thought, switched our paradigm, and blessed these addictions we carry as part of a sacred journey?  What if we infused this addiction with the meaning of and the intention of redemption?

I believe we can discover real power when we adopt this paradigm. This has been my experience. So lay down your sword, join with other pilgrims on the path, and start walking one step at a time into an unknown that is infused with grace and mercy. See you on the road.


 

my-pilgrimageAre you ready for for a new pilgrimage? Are you ready to break free from the holds of porn addiction? Sign up today for a FREE preview of the upcoming new workshop My Pilgrimage, A Guide On The Road To Redemption.

 

 

 

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  • bryan

    I don’t get the point. It seems as if you are declaring victory over it. Isn’t that just deceiving yourself?

    • Seth Alan Taylor

      I am absolutely declaring victory over it. And I am making the claim that true spiritual power actually exists and we can actually be free. And I believe that most of us have been trained into a way of thinking and a paradigm of God that more closely resembles an lifeless idol than it does the Creator of the Universe. As Christians, I believe it is our duty to seek the deepest expression of God and that we should be satisfied with no less than freedom at its most extreme.

  • bc

    It’s probably too easy to get zoomed in on terminology. The battle metaphor is important, but that’s all it is. Scripture references ‘wage war’, ‘flee’, and ‘escape’ with regards to sexual immorality, so it’s unsurprising the metaphor is popular. Yes, the concept of battling sexual immorality shouldn’t overwhelm life (when asked, Jesus doesn’t cite it as ‘the most important’ – for example), but at the same time, we shouldn’t be complacent. There’s definitely a wide range of ‘sweet spots’ where people aren’t hunkering down in a bunker (though maybe an initial stay might be welcome), and aren’t pretending they’re ‘beyond temptation’ (recipe for trouble in the long run, but I suppose that’s just my opinion).
    It’s also possible I’m missing a deeper point to this post.

    • Seth Alan Taylor

      Thanks for the response. I would agree with your last sentence – I am attempting to make a much deeper point. I am not speaking of battle or pilgrimage as metaphor – they are paradigms: a lens through which you interpret the world (and the scriptures). It is mainly a way of reading Jesus that I am examining here: Jesus said that if we live by the sword, we die by it. I believe he was speaking to a spiritual truth that is universal. Thanks for being willing to wrestle with this stuff….

  • Jose

    I appreciate the post. As in other areas of our life it’s imporant to understand that our issues with this sin is a journey no different than any other. Our battle against sexual sin is no different then the alcoholic or (insert your son here). We all are on a journey to meet Jesus. Along the way we will have a few battles but that is not the point of our existence. It’s easy to become battle weary so the term pilgrimage fits. Thank you for providing a perspective that is refreshing.

  • Dakota

    Great article. In my own life, I have been blessed over the last 6 months with freedom from porn and masturbation. After a while, it stops seeming like a battle all the time (although there are times when it still does) and starts seeming more like a pilgrimage. I knew that, but couldn’t put my finger on it until I read this. Purity is not merely a battle that has to be fought but never won. It’s more like a journey because the paving stones you were standing on months ago are not the ones you are standing on now. Along the way, you will face danger and sometimes you will detour, but the more you stay on the road, the more overall healing you will see. There is a sense of a linear progression, leading us to Christ.

  • David

    The issue I take with this post is that I feel it sets out to be a game changer, but it doesn’t actually change the most crucial part of the issue. The problem isn’t a problem of the mind, so changing the way we intellectually perceive this area of life is more of a band aid than a cure. Its a matter of the heart, and the only one who can change the heart is God Himself. “Turn your eyes upon Jesus”…..instead of porn. You have victory in Jesus, you have power in Jesus, and you have forgiveness when you stumble in Jesus. Making your mindset about anything other than Him seems to be missing the point.

    • David Glenn Taylor

      David, I understand where you’re coming from. Your position is the common one in the church. I guess the question I’d ask is this: why hasn’t it worked? And when I say “worked” I mean, why aren’t Christians kicking the porn habit? It’s only getting worse. Your position seems like a band-aid, not a solution. Unless the goal isn’t actually real, sustained freedom. It also limits the manifestation of Jesus… he said that he would send The Comforter to help us a guide us. Seth’s position is that the Holy Spirit has real power and we should be seeking that. Your belief in Jesus actually has very little power to heal your addiction. Which is why, I would assert, the addiction epidemic in the church is only getting worse.

  • Leop

    I needed this, thanks.

  • BCarl

    Can you explain further. How will you bless these addictions? How do you infuse the addiction with the meaning of redemption? There are great words here and advice but what’s the deeper meaning behind the one line phrases? I don’t mean to degrade the article but this leaves me with a lot of question about what the author is trying to convey by what he has said. I don’t want to try to use my own perspective to imply what he saying because I might lose the power of his words in the process. How do you describe the switch from battle to pilgrimage?

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