What is Better?
Is it an orientation? Or a choice?
I remember walking into an adult bookstore for the first time. (This was before high speed internet connections were common and you could get the crack delivered to your home in 5 seconds or less.) I wanted to be there; and yet I didn’t. I was trembling inside and a little bit outside. I’m not sure exactly how to describe it. I was driven there by a compulsion — to see things I shouldn’t see, to get things I shouldn’t have, to know things I shouldn’t know. There are sections inside an adult video store; I hope you didn’t know that. Some repulsed me. Can you imagine that? Walking around a porno store and avoiding the “gross” stuff? As if it wasn’t all disgusting? I knew I should not have been there but I wanted to be. Everything inside of me said it was wrong, and everything inside of me said it would be okay. Just push through, get what you want, and get out.
Before you become numb to this battle and stop fighting it you must go through it. Was I in that store by my orientation? Absolutely. Was I in that store by my choice? Yes. And when I put Genesis 3 (“Did God actually say…?”) together with Romans 7, I see why I believed it was ultimately better at the time to feel good doing what I wanted instead of suffering the internal agony of not being who I was. It felt so much better to give in than to fight. Which is why so many porn users don’t fight it at all. The porn promises release. The abstinence promises pain. And then there’s this voice saying, “The pain means you shouldn’t be trying to change who you are.”
But there’s nothing else in me God wants to change except who I am. And this comes through the cross — Christ’s cross becoming my cross. What is better? To be warring all the life in Romans 7, denying urges and not feeling good inside, or doing what we feel is right simply because it feels good, better? One voice answers the latter, and it strokes the ear. The other strikes terror sometimes — okay, many times — but it takes us from Romans 7 to Romans 8.
Don’t believe the lie that struggling always to obey God is a worse lot in life than disobeying him with peace. God did not make us to “feel good inside” (or outside) all the time this side of heaven; he made us to share in the sufferings of Christ, that we might share in his resurrection. And the reality is, for many, the resurrection kind of life in these areas of death isn’t always postponed to the life to come. But you won’t know that until you’re willing to go to the cross for as long as it takes to die.