“But the Israelites were unfaithful in regard to the devoted things; Achan son of Karmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel. – Joshua 7: 1
(“devoted things” – The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them; also found in verses 11, 12, 13 and 15 of Joshua 7.)
What do you covet? What image is stored in your mind for safe-space keeping? Does your mind turn to that image and then imagine the possibilities of its actual possession? Anyone hoarding the desired ‘thing’ in their heart and mind has already taken into their possession what isn’t theirs and what wasn’t meant for them. If that is the case for you, then maybe you already know this: the desired thing — the devoted thing –is the thing you become. Whether it be gold or porn you will become a lifeless object. You have replaced the image of Living God with the image of your inanimate “precious”.
Our days are inundated with images. Images are ubiquitous. They are downloaded onto TVs, Computer screens, and Smartphones. Images are posted on walls, on trains, buses and park benches. Images are engraved into skin. One’s use of encountered images in fantasy plays a role in inordinate desires. Dwelling on fantasy, one loses grip on reality. Achan knew reality and chose fantasy.
I have no doubt that Achan knew God’s commandment, “Thou shalt not covet.” I also have no doubt that Achan knew the Garden of Eden story. I can picture the Evil One talking to him, “Did God really say you could not have those devoted things?”
I have no doubt that most Christians today know God’s commandment, “Thou shalt not covet.” I also have no doubt that most Christians know the Garden of Eden story. They also know the Gospel and the Sacrifice of Jesus which has destroyed the devoted things that once belonged to the Enemy of our souls.
Yet, modern man continues to covet what isn’t his or what wasn’t meant for him. This is particularly true of those addicted to porn. To view his “precious” in secret, the porn addict isolates himself from God and from others. He becomes a “devoted thing” person and disengaged from those around him. If you were to look into his eyes you would see a dull and almost lifeless person, a mere representation of a human.
The porn addict becomes like the images he takes in. The images are impersonal, distant, one dimensional, unreal, emptied of good, full of vulgar suggestions. The addict’s self-degradation continues biochemically through masturbation:
“When one masturbates using the porn image, Dopamine is released into your blood stream. You then feel a flicker euphoria and relief which passes away immediately leaving feeling depleted, irritable, depressed and ashamed when you realize that you became less human by desiring an image instead of the image of God in your spouse.
“When having sex or watching porn, dopamine is released into a region of the brain responsible for emotion and learning, giving the viewer a sense of sharp focus and a sense of craving: “I have got to have this thing; this is what I need right now.” It supplies a great sense of pleasure. The next time the viewer gets the “itch” for more sexual pleasure, small packets of dopamine are released in the brain telling the user: “Remember where you got your fix last time. Go there to get it.””
Achan buried his stash of “devoted things” under his tent. Men, not unlike Achan, will bury their images under the guise of normal. But what happens under the “tent of normal” does not stay in the “tent of the normal”. The people around you are adversely affected, just as the people around Achan were affected by his sin. The people of Israel were defeated in battle because God was angry about the sin. From Joshua chapter 7:
10 The Lord said to Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? 11 Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. 12 That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.
How do we deal with our own Image Locker? Achan began with confession:
And Achan answered Joshua, “Of a truth I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I did: 21 when I saw among the spoil a beautiful mantle from Shinar, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, then I coveted them, and took them; and behold, they are hidden in the earth inside my tent, with the silver underneath.” Joshua 7:20-21
Be sure, sin’s consequences follow sin, again from Joshua 7:
22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent, and there it was, hidden in his tent, with the silver underneath. 23 They took the things from the tent, brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites and spread them out before the Lord.
24 Then Joshua, together with all Israel, took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the robe, the gold bar, his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys and sheep, his tent and all that he had, to the Valley of Achor. 25 Joshua said, “Why have you brought this trouble on us? The Lord will bring trouble on you today.”
Then all Israel stoned him, and after they had stoned the rest, they burned them. 26 Over Achan they heaped up a large pile of rocks, which remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from his fierce anger. Therefore that place has been called the Valley of Achor[f] ever since.
If you are looking for trouble then the Valley of Achor is the place you will end up at. “Achor” means trouble. Continue to covet those things God meant for you to destroy. Continue to view porn. Then, as happened to Achan, you and your Image Locker will be tossed out of your family and your community. You and those around you will be burned and stoned and a huge pile of rocks will cover your charred and flattened carcass.
Or, you can confess to God and to your family about your sin. And, you take the images out of your Image Locker and burn them and then stone them and then bury them under a huge pile of rocks. This may require you to take the TV, the computer and the Smartphone and burn them, stone them and bury them. Better these things than you. I am not kidding. This is how healing of memories begins: speaking the truth about sin and then dealing with it so as to destroy its existence. Besides, you had been warned about the heat you would incur:
“For on account of a harlot one is reduced to a loaf of bread, And an adulteress hunts for the precious life. Can a man take fire in his bosom And his clothes not be burned? Or can a man walk on hot coals And his feet not be scorched?… “ –Proverbs 6: 26-28
I know of a man who was addicted to pornography. This man traveled about 60% of the time for his job. He was alone most of the time. In his hotel room at night, he told himself that he was under a lot pressure to perform. As such, to ‘comfort’ himself, he took in images from the computer and TV. The things he took in were things which should have been destroyed. They are the Enemies’ ‘things’.
After a time, he became depressed and sensed a growing feeling of emptiness and shame. He had put himself under the pressure excuse and now he was covered with dirt and holding onto his “devoted things”. This man finally confessed his sin. He then destroyed whatever image files he had saved to his computer. He then began to use a web browser that wouldn’t allow him to see pornography. He put his TV into a bedroom closet. He took another job where he was around the same people every day. He held himself accountable. But, his response didn’t end there. He knew he had to re-image his mind.
He “put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” He began to study art. He attended life drawing classes where he learned to see and draw the human figure. He went on to become a portrait artist. He is now seeing the image of the Creator in the eyes and faces of those he paints.
Final word: Take your Image Locker and move somewhere where you can be in nature. One could become a bird watcher or an astronomer. In other words, begin to fill your Image Locker with “things that are above” the “earthly elements”.
Here are three quotes regarding the effects of pornography:
“I believe – and research backs it – that material that children see online affects their ideas on sex. Nonetheless this is something that teaches us that we need to react before the damage is done and we need to prevent children seeing something online that might harm them or give them delusions”, explained Dagbjört Ásbjörnsdóttir, a sexologist at the Reykjavik department of Education and Youth.
“He was close with his family, but as far as friends go — he maybe had those acquaintances he communicated with every once in a while, but he pretty much isolated himself,” a source tells PEOPLE of Salling —Mark Salling’s Final Days: Glee Alum ‘Isolated Himself’ Amid Child Porn Case, Source Says
“[Anonymous] made me a more extreme version of myself,” William said. “I used to sleep badly. Now I sleep terribly. I used to be sarcastic; now I can be an a__hole.” He didn’t just “like “tormenting people; he loved it. He didn’t just “like” porn; he looked at it every day. “None of this bothers me, he added. “I don’t care about anything.” William had said in the past that he had no moral code; everything was case by case, his decisions based on gut reaction. Earnest Hemingway had said it best: “What is moral is what you feel good after, and what is immoral is what you feel bad after.”
Jake was nodding. “I have to agree with all of that, “he said. It desensitized me.”…Acting out with crowds of people on the Internet had created a detachment from reality and a sense of obliviousness to certain consequences. Anonymous did bad things, but its members were not bad people, per se.” (emphasis mine) —“We Are Anonymous: Inside the World of LulzSec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyber Insurgency
“Research has found a correlation between pornography use and mental and physical illnesses, difficulty forming and maintaining intimate relationships, unhealthy brain development and cognitive function, and deviant, problematic or dangerous sexual behavior,” Spano said before the House Health & Human Services Committee approved the resolution on an 18-1 vote.
Resources for Combating porn:
Dealing with a porn addiction: Integrity Restored
Internet filter: Covenant Eyes
A book for junior high and high school level: Plunging Pornography
A book for the very young: Good Pictures Bad Pictures