note: Weekly on Wednesdays 7-8pm at the BG ACT Campus House we are hosting a weekly discussion with video based teaching looking at the IDOLS that are alive and well in our culture and maybe even in our lives! Join us Wednesday night 7pm. Our study includes challenging teaching from Kyle Idleman as part of his GODS AT WAR study. We will not be in the Chapel for the remainder of this semester. Come at 6:45pm weekly for some PIZZA / SNACKS / & HANG OUT before we start!
MODERN DAY IDOL WORSHIP: 2 CASE STUDIES
In his book GODS AT WAR, Kyle Idleman offers a few case studies along the way. They help us to see that Idols are very much alive and well! Join us this Wednesday night at 7pm at the ACT Campus House as we continue our study:
CASE STUDY #1: THE RELATIONSHIP IDOL
No Big Deal She’s a young woman who grew up in our church. Her family wants me to meet and talk with her. They’re concerned because she’s about to move in with her boyfriend, who isn’t a Christian. This ought to be a fun one.
I call her twice and leave messages, but she doesn’t return my call. The third time she picks up. She knows why I’m calling and tries to laugh it off. “I can’t believe my parents are making such a big deal out of this,” she says with a nervous laugh. I can picture her rolling her eyes. In her mind this whole thing is a mild cough and nothing to worry about. “Well, I appreciate your talking to me for a few minutes. But I have to ask, do you think it’s possible that you’ve got this backward?” “What do you mean?” “That instead of making a big deal out of nothing, it could be that you’re making nothing out of a big deal?” More nervous laughter.
“It’s not a big deal,” she says again. “Do you mind my telling you why I think it is?” She sighs deeply and proceeds to give me her prediction of all the reasons she thinks I’ll produce. I interrupt her with a question. “Have you thought about how much moving in together is going to cost you?” “You mean the cost of the apartment?” “No, I’m not necessarily talking about money. I mean the way your family feels about it, and the pressure you’re getting from them. That’s a kind of price, right?” “Yeah, I guess it is, but that’s their problem.” “And what is this going to cost your future marriage?” “I don’t even know if we’re going to get married,” she responds. “I’m not necessarily talking about your getting married to him, because statistically speaking, you most likely won’t.” She understands what I’m getting at, but I push it a bit farther.
“How much is this going to cost your future husband? What price will he have to pay for this decision?” She has to stop and consider that one. I continue to count the ways that this decision is a big deal, because it’s costing her more than she knows. “So here’s what I suggest. If you’re willing to pay a price, then this must be pretty important to you. It must be a fairly big deal if you’re willing to go through all of this.” I take her silence for reflection, and I finally get to my point. “When I see the sacrifices you are willing to make, and the fact that you are willing to ignore what God has to say about all this, it seems to me that you’ve turned this relationship into a god.” “What do you mean by that?”
“A god is what we sacrifice for and what we pursue. From where I sit, you have the Lord God on one side saying one thing, and your boyfriend on the other side saying something else. And you’re choosing your boyfriend over God. The Bible calls that idolatry, and it’s actually a pretty big deal.” No nervous laughter this time. She confesses, “I’ve never thought about it like that.”
CASE STUDY #2: THE SEX IDOL
He comes in maybe five or ten minutes late. He had asked if we could talk for a few minutes, and I suggested meeting for coffee. But he wanted to meet someplace “a little more private.” So we set my office as the location. He arrives and pauses in the doorway, as if still not sure he wants to keep this appointment. “Come on in.” I smile and motion toward a seat. He answers my smile with a very brief one. He sits, and his body language is all about reluctance. He wraps his arms one around another, lightly massaging his right elbow. I guess he’s about my age, mid-thirties, an ordinary guy. He hasn’t told me what this meeting is about, but I know.
The conversation I’m about to have has become very familiar. I ask him a few mundane questions about his work, where he’s from, anything to break the ice and create a more relaxed setting. When we’ve done that for a couple of minutes, he finally broaches his subject. I can tell it takes all the courage he can summon to release his long-held secret. “I … um … I think I’m addicted to pornography, or something,” he stammers. He looks at his shoes. “Okay. Well you’re not the first person to walk in here and sit in that seat and say those words. How long has this been a struggle?” He tells his story, starting when he was twelve years old and saw certain images with the guys — in magazines smuggled in from somebody’s dad’s closet. Pictures that disturbed him at first. Pictures that lodged in his mind, that wouldn’t go away, that started calling to him. Pictures he can perfectly visualize all these years later. He talks about his hatred of the internet. He describes the web as if it were his mortal enemy.
“In the old days, people had to go to those stores,” he says. “Ugly stores with the windows all painted over. Cheap, seedy places. I never had the courage to go into one of those stores.” “But the internet is anonymous.” “Exactly,” he says. “It’s so easy. Any kind of picture, any kind of video is at your fingertips. Just like that. Instant gratification, whenever you feel the slightest urge.” He speaks with the weary tones of a twenty-year slave, of a prisoner who has given up on escape plans. “What am I supposed to do,” he says, “unplug the computer? I’m dependent on the internet like everyone else. I need it for work. I need it for everything. Even if I just used a phone, you can pull up those images there. Turn on the television, and there are a million suggestions. Am I supposed to just watch the Disney Channel?” He says he had no idea what pornography would do to his life, particularly his relationships. He seems to understand, at least to some degree, how it has changed the way he views and interacts with women. “Thing is,” he said, “you come to see it’s just an itch. That’s all. An itch. But it never goes away, and you have to scratch. Well, you have to scratch harder and deeper as time goes by. You know what I mean?” “I know.” There is silence.
I’m sure he’s expecting me to give the same advice he has heard for so many years: Put a filter on your internet browser. Join a support group. Find an accountability partner. Redirect your eyes. All helpful suggestions, but I know he’s tried them all multiple times; otherwise he wouldn’t be sitting in front of me. What I know is that there is an idol that must be dethroned, and until that happens he will suffer. He’ll enjoy no intimacy in relationships. He’ll struggle to have any real connection with God. “You think what you have is a lust problem, but what you really have is a worship problem. The question you have to answer each day is, Will I worship God or will I worship sex?” He doesn’t verbalize it, but the expression on his face says, “I’ve never thought about it like that.”
Idleman, Kyle. Gods at War: Defeating the Idols that Battle for Your Heart
JOIN THE CONVERSATION THIS WEDNESDAY 7PM - AS WE LOOK AT THE IDOL OF PLEASURE