The other day I came across a scary statistic that has me thinking. The stat goes something like this: Seventy percent of people who have a pornography addiction come from rigid (rather than relational) homes.
First, a little context. Rigid homes are homes where there is a clear right and wrong and children are related to based on whether they follow the rules or not. Rigid homes are not necessarily religious, but they can be. Relational homes are homes where the relationship is prized over adherence to rules.
Part of what made the stat so jarring is that Evangelicals were largely lumped into the “rigid homes” category. While Evangelicals are not perfect, they in theory should be one of the groups of people most opposed to pornography and all types of sexual sin. But the stat indicates that is not the case. It seems that homes with Evangelical parents largely have relied on rules (re: rigid upbringing) in order to get their kids to conform to their standards. And this is where my revelation about God came in.
I began to see that the thing that strengthens the human heart against pornography (relationship) is the same thing that actually enables the Christian life. But often, we substitute rules in the place of relationship because it’s easier. It’s easier to teach people the rules and expect them to follow them than it is to help them build a relationship with an invisible God.
I’ve found myself relating to my kids in this rigid, right vs. wrong style parenting. And setting them up for a pornography addiction is the absolute last thing I want to do. These rules seem wise, but they don’t have the power to sustain godly living. Following the rules doesn’t enable you to follow Christ just like they don’t help you avoid pornography.
Instead, Jesus is calling us into a relationship with God. He wants to talk to us. He wants friends, not slaves. And the degree to which that makes us uncomfortable is the degree to which we have missed the kind of Christianity Jesus and the apostles taught us.
It’s this relationship with God in Christ that provides us the space to have all of our broken places transformed. As we draw close to God and get to know Him, as we share with Him all of our brokenness and He shares with us all His love, we are changed. We go from trying to be right in our own power to being changed from the inside by a relationship with God.
Friends, we need to get rid of any other definition of Christianity that doesn’t start with a relationship with God. We need to resist the temptation to replace our relationship with God with rules. This will change us. In the end it will make us more relational with others. Transformed by our relationship with God, we will realize our right and wrongs won’t work with others either. And the love we have for others will be transforming for them as well.
I need to work on this. I suspect I’m not the only one. But let’s press into the kind of relationship with God and others that changes us, our families, and those around us for generations. Will you join me?