A New Tongue

Why is the porn habit so hard to kick? There are plenty of reasons, I’m sure, but one of them has to do with the language of lust.

It really can be a language, you know. The kind we learn early in life, then try to un-learn, but occasionally fall back into.

Think of language in the literal sense. The first one you learn is your primary language. It’s deeply embedded, comes naturally, and is spoken by the people around you. If you also learn a second language, you’ll need to use it regularly if you want it to come fluently.

You may even reach a point where it’s the only language you speak, if you transplant to another country. But your primary language will always be there, and at times you may fall back – or “default” – to it.

The Ricky Ricardo character in the old television series “I Love Lucy” was a pretty good example of this. Raised in Cuba, he transplanted to America where he began speaking English, with a thick Cuban accent. Then, when under stress over Lucy’s latest shenanigans, he would default back to speaking Cuban. It was his primary language, locked into his memory banks and ready to be recalled and reused.

So it is with lust. Lots of guys have trained themselves to respond to it with a quick “Yes”, the language of indulgence, whenever the temptation to fantasize, use porn, or “check someone out” comes along. It becomes a knee jerk reaction – I see, I’m aroused, I say yes to the arousal – which becomes a primary language, deeply ingrained; hard to unlearn.

And here we’ve got to admit a growing boy (along with grown men) gets a lot of encouragement to speak that language. From early in life we’re taught we should be studs, that sizing girls up is “manly”, and that sexual conquest is proof of virility. Erotic imagery is used to sell virtually every type of product, and messages bombard us daily suggesting, in essence, that lust is healthy. So no one should be surprised at the prevalence of this particular speech pattern. It’s taught, spoken, and reinforced at every level.

None of which excuses the Christian who speaks it. But it helps explain why it’s such a difficult language to unlearn. So today the man who wants to keep it clean has to learn a second language – the language of resistance rather than indulgence – and, having learned it, he needs to speak it frequently if he wants to speak it fluently.

Paul had a nice take on this. Writing to the Romans about sin and the body, he exhorted:

“For just as your presented your body parts as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your body parts as slaves of righteousness for holiness.” (Romans 6:19)

The body that indulged lust can become the same body resisting it and indulging in righteousness instead. This gets personal and pretty darned meaningful to me whenever temptation to indulge comes along. (Which is, sad to say, a regular occurrence.)

When I say “no” to the sexual fantasy or visual lust that beckons, yielding my mind and body to resisting the wrong and indulging the right, it becomes a form of worship, no less meaningful than when I yield my mind and body to praising Him my church. In both cases, I’m presenting my body parts to him for His purposes, experiencing so much more of Him and becoming that much truer to myself in the process. Everyone wins.

So let’s listen to Paul when, after superbly outlining the grace of God in the first several chapters of Romans, he says:

“I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1)

My first language was indulgence, which I can choose to repeat or cease. Today, I recommit to my second language, presenting myself to God and asking Him to remind me, when temptations hit, of the value and power of my second language.

Because, just as Paul said, that’s only reasonable.

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