Lessons from “A Christmas Carol” Part One: Unchained

"You have the power, as Paul says, to resist what you used to be in servitude to..."

This week leading up to Christmas we’ll be looking at lessons we can glean from Dickens  A Christmas Carol. Hope you enjoy these!

“I wear the chain I forged in life….I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.” ― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Men don’t come into my office because of a bad decision they made. They come because of hundreds, even thousands of bad decisions, linked together to forge a chain they, like Jacob Marley from the Dickens story, gird and wear of their own free will.

It usually starts with a discovery. Some act – the use of porn, a sexual fantasy, whatever – delivers impact. Deep impact, which the brain carefully records for future reference. Then, when the man is either bored, or angry, or lonely, or uncomfortable in some other way, the brain reminds him of the impact the sexual behavior delivered. So he repeats it, then the repetition becomes a pattern, the pattern becomes a dependency, and a chain is forged.

As someone who’s worn that chain, I can attest to how light it seems but how heavy it actually is. Light, in the sense that it doesn’t seem to be interfering with anything, no consequences seem to be coming, no obvious toll is being taken. God is amazingly patient, giving the man some time to consider the secret sin he’s entertaining and walk away from it before it becomes an unmanageable bondage. And believe me, as you read this, there are countless numbers of Christian men going about their church and family business looking fine, but privately forging their chains and mistaking them for light jewelry. They’re in for a terrible wake up call.

That’s because the weight of the chain grows without the wearer really catching on. But from the moment the links are forged his mind is being darkened, his heart hardened, his integrity drained. And since those are internal rather than external consequences, they, like unseen high cholesterol or blood pressure, are easy to ignore until the stroke or heart attack finally comes.

Yet it comes. In your case it may already have weighed in, and the secret’s out in the open. Scary, and horrible to go through, but necessary, because at least now it’s being dealt with. Or maybe it’s still coming, as inevitably as Scrooge’s death, and there’s still time to release the chain before it exacts a price you can’t afford. If you’re smart enough to recognize the inevitable, then you’re smart enough to do something about it.

Start by telling someone, today. Distance yourself from the chain, by whatever means necessary. Look long and hard at how much it weighs by examining the internal damage to your mind, heart and spirit. And give yourself the Christmas present of new freedom, a fitting way to celebrate the One who came into here promising that who He sets free is free indeed. A Christmas Carol reminds us that as long as there’s still breath in the worst of Scrooges, there’s still potential for a happy ending. Yours is waiting, wrapped and paid for.

Just this once it’s a good idea to open the gift early.


Greg | Dec 16, 2013

Joe, thankyou, this is so true. I know for I have taken up the chain yet again. I always find christmas time particularily challenging as it is a time that I am so lonely, and angry at my circumstances.

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