The Lord detests the thoughts of the wicked, but gracious words are pure in his sight.
– Proverbs 15:26
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
– Matthew 22:37-40 (emphasis mine)
“I have been thinking recently about how important my thoughts are. I don’t have to do wrong to get under blistering conviction and repent. I can lose the fellowship of God and sense of His presence and a sense of spirituality just by thinking wrong. God has been saying to me. ‘I dwell in your thoughts. Make your thoughts a sanctuary in which I can dwell. See to it.’ You can’t do anything with your heart – that is too deep – but you can control your thoughts.”
– Rev. A. W. Tozer, Tozer on Worship and Entertainment (emphasis the author’s)
WARNING: May have mature content beyond this point.
Penny: It is the things that you love that make you who you are.
Howard: I guess that makes me large breasts.
– From an old episode of The Big Bang Theory
The last quote was what I thought of when I read two devotions from A. W. Tozer over a two day period. You know the urban myth, “A man thinks of sex every seven seconds.”
Hey, people, it is a myth!
A study was performed using clickers in the hands of college students over the ages of 18-25. It was shown that the number of times that men think of sex may be twice that of women, but the number of times is not statistically significant in comparison to thoughts of food or thoughts of sleep. In other words, sex, food, and sleep reside in equal proportions in the minds of 18-25 year old males.
But think about that study from a different direction. Debunking the myth is one thing, but these young men still think about sex as often as they do food or sleep. The first is not a required thing for daily life. Maybe you can go without sleep for a couple of days, but then you crash. The longer you go without sleep, the more you are going to think about sleep. The same thing can be said about food. In thoughts regarding the essentials of life, sex does not compare with the other two.
The myth is busted or debunked, but sex is still what young men think about, a lot.
I graduated high school in 1970. The counter cultural revolution was in full swing. The civil rights movement was in full swing. The protests against the war in Vietnam were in full swing.
What you heard over every media outlet was “Make love, not war.” Free Love was supposedly everywhere. The concept seemed to be a new thought, an invention of the counter culture. Not for me, but you couldn’t go anywhere on the college campus without hearing about someone and their sexual exploits. And I went to one of the most conservative universities in the US at the time, and still today. The Free Love discussions may have been more prevalent in a liberal school.
With the rise of sexually transmitted diseases, the Free Love movement has waned a bit, but people still think that a major problem with the Christian faith is their puritanical ways when it comes to sex.
Hmmm. That has bothered me for over forty-five years.
It seems that the modern paradigm of the world includes some safer concept of Free Love, completely rejecting the Christian moral view. There are very few people who openly admit that they are saving themselves for marriage. When someone does so, they are ridiculed or simply called a liar.
I am a strong believer in history repeating itself when we don’t heed the warnings. I also believe that there is a lot of reliable history in the Bible.
The prophets told of idol worship corrupting the children of Israel. Some translations refer to the high places as sex-and-religion shrines (the Message especially). Genesis 38 is devoted to the story of Judah and Tamar, Judah’s daughter-in-law. Tamar tricks Judah into making her pregnant, but how? By pretending to be a shrine prostitute on one of the ‘sex-and-religion’ high places. The worship of false gods of the old testament led to the northern tribes of Israel being taken away and eventually Judah being sent into exile. It wasn’t one or two prophets who point this out. It was Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Amos, Micah, Haggai, and Zephaniah. All, according to the Message, pointed out the sex-and-religion shrines as being the people’s downfall. Paul, in his letters, mentions the words “sexual immorality” (NIV) as a problem in Romans, 1 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, and 1 Thessalonians. The words also appear in Jude and Revelation. Also, in Revelation 17, the woman on the beast appears as the embodiment of abominations on earth. She is called the prostitute. Can she be a shrine prostitute? I am not pointing this out to wave a puritanical banner. I’m trying to say that the counter-culture’s invention of “Free Love” is not new, and each time God’s people thought that “Free Love”, regardless of the name, was something to be worshiped, God had to step in and rectify the situation.
So why bother? These are just thoughts. When we are not looking to God and thinking of Him, our mind wanders. As it wanders, the prevalent thing to think about, other than the essential things, is sex. And over the course of all time, we humans have proven again and again as human beings to turn sex into a form of worship. The modern sexual revolution and penchant for Free Love is just the modern words for an old idea.
“Joy is not a substitute for sex; sex is very often a substitute for Joy. I sometimes wonder whether all pleasures are not substitutes for Joy.”
– C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy
Lewis expands on the concept of what we think about here, going beyond sex. Our thoughts must remain on God and His Joy. When I read A. W. Tozer’s quote, I could have thought about what books we read, what television shows or movies we watch, or the subject matter of the lyrics in the music to which we listen. They all have an influence in our thinking. But even then, sex gets involved in those things at times. The advertisements often use risqué images or questionable circumstances to sell everything from automobiles to hamburgers. If you ever saw an old commercial for Hai Karate aftershave, you saw men using martial arts moves to fight off the girls, half-heartedly. I can attest right here and right now that those ads were false advertising. When I used it back in the day, it only attracted gnats.
I have found myself reading a murder mystery, and there is a sex scene in the novel. I figure I can skip a page or two, and I won’t miss the story line. The occasional sex in a novel gets the publisher to think that the book will sell, but the sex scene is not necessary in the plot line of 999 or more out of 1000 novels. I left some wiggle room for the sex act being the motive for murder in the next chapter (adultery, rape, molestation, for example).
Another thing that I try to skip in my novel reading is the use of dirty words. Sometimes a sentence makes little sense if you leave the cursing out. My question to the author is why not leave out the sentence if there is nothing of importance added? I read one novel by a highly touted author in a large print book, therefore, less words per page. On one page there were 17 “F” bombs and three uses of “God” that were inappropriate. I found the book unreadable. It just puts more wrong thinking in our heads.
It may take moving to a deserted island to avoid the external media, but Tozer is correct in that we can choose to think about God. We can limit exposure to the other things. We can spend more time in God’s word and in prayer. This concept can work.
My wife told me last night that since she has strengthened her devotional time, reading more Scripture, and praying more, she has felt a calm that only God can provide.
I agree with her. My recent paid work, that is still on-going, has placed me into a position of having to deal with the world’s stresses. At first, I stumbled by getting angry and frustrated, but God drew me back into His happy place. He let me know in no uncertain terms that when I keep my eye on the prize (God’s prize), He will be with me and He will give me strength.
You can work all day and keep your eye on Jesus at the same time. In everything, you will find the presence of God. Even when things don’t go perfectly well, God is there to give you strength to endure the challenging times (making you stronger in the process), but only when we are thinking about God.
Lord, fill my thoughts with You and Your Love so that I have no room for anything else. Amen.