Friday, August 8, 2008

The Assault on my Mind

I'm being assaulted. I checked the mail today--a fine, husbandish duty--and guess what I find? Victoria's Secret catalogue. Last night I saw the commercial. It stopped me like an ant in honey. I go on facebook to write to friends. Underwear ads. I check my email. "Do I look hot in this swimsuit?" I go to the checkout at the grocer: fifty magazines with bikini clad voluptuous women, smiling, talking about what pleases them most. Thank goodness I no longer live in a beach town!

I'm pretty sure our culture is obsessed with sex. And I think I'm in a battle for the purity of my mind. Solution: I could become Amish. I'd be guaranteed to never see a beautiful, naked woman again. But even the Amish have their scandals, so that won't work (stories of abuse, rape, 'sowing the wild oats'). The ancient Greeks were obsessed with the beauty of youth. Olympic athletes competed in the nude. Young boys served the older men as prostitutes. Ours is society similar to the Greeks. Mostly, young, beautiful women are worshipped as goddesses: football cheerleaders, actresses, models, porn stars. Looking at the facial expressions on the models in Victoria's Secret one sees a monolithic approach to sex: the woman is the temptress, and her eyes are glazed with a drunken, drugged vulnerability mixed with want. One after the other after the other, page after page, their is one notice: the faces are all expressionless. There are no smiles. No whimsical muses. No happiness. Just lusty-eyed dolls, saying, "Do what you please."

C.S. Lewis told this story. Imagine a theatre where a butler hold a silver platter full of delicate, delicious foods. The platter, covered with a drape, is slowly revealed by the butler as the audience coos and whistles and moans with each, tiny bit of removed cloth and revealed dessert underneath. Finally, as the cloth is totally removed, the audience moved toward loud, climactic applause. It's ecstasy.

Would you say the audience has an unhealthy fetish for food?

The assault on my mind continues every day. One slip of a mouse and I could be sucked in like a vaccuum to something that could kill my marriage and my vocation, and my life with Jesus Christ. What should I do? Well, I can do a few things. I can watch less tv. I can throw things from the mail in the trash. I can chose to not look. I can exercise mind control and think of different things. I can have more sex with my wife. I can use the internet less. Still, the grocer doesn't care about the assault on my mind. Neither do the billboard people. And even going around town in the summer can be harsh.

Nevertheless, the Scripture has this to say...

"Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those whom he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son [or daughter]" (Hebrews 12:3-5).

The beginning of the chapter tells me to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus. Jesus was tempted in every way I was yet was without sin. I need to "consider" Jesus. This is the starting point: being mindful of Christ throughout the day: when I get up, when I eat, when I work, when I play. Does that sound too simple? It does, somehow. But if we picture this modus operandi as a foundational approach to life, we can build other good principles upon it: like watching less tv, using the internet less, and averting my eyes at the grocer's aisle.

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