In the late 1930s, Germany ravaged its European neighbors, conquering them one by one. The last major European stronghold was Britain. Germany’s battle tactic was twofold: bomb them into surrender and to starve them by choking off all shipping into and out of the island nation. They had a fleet of submarines that operated in “wolf-packs” to locate and then sink merchant vessels that were bringing needed food and war supplies to the effort. The German Admiral in charge of their submarine force wanted over a thousand submarines ready before the war to successfully choke off England. Hitler’s impatience overruled the Admiral and the war started with about one tenth the recommended number. Yet, even with the reduced number, Germany’s u-boats were deadly effective.
Allied ships, loaded with supplies would make their way into the treacherous waters, only to be hunted and picked off one at a time. This continued until a new strategy was developed and implemented. The strategy worked because it is a Biblical principle.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says,
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
The strategy was to group a number of ships together and send them as a convoy. Surround these supply ships with some destroyers and cruisers and sub-hunting, sub-killer surface ships. The idea or theory was that the combined firepower of many ships would increase the chances of survival against a pack of submarines.
And it worked! Convoys with 100 to 200 ships, all steaming in formation, surrounded by destroyer escorts, turned the tide of war, saving Britain from starvation and effectively arming them for war.
A Community of Convoys
Unfortunately, most Christian men don’t operate in “convoys” when it comes to the battle for sexual purity. We don’t have true Accountability Partners with whom we are totally honest. Most men I know, when hurt or when they fall or struggle, continue to suffer alone. There is not another to call to help them when they have a weak moment. Sexual shame is so strong, men don’t send out the SOS (Save Our Ship) signal when they have been torpedoed, are on fire and are taking on water.
The bottom line is that we need each other. We need each other to increase our prayer cover. We need each other to talk to and to share our struggles. We need each other for encouragement when we fall. We need each other to lift us up and carry us when we are too weak to go it alone. We need each other to speak words of encouragement when we think victory is not possible. We need each other to remind us of the tremendous promises of forgiveness. We need each other to get a better, clearer view of Jesus. We need each other to show us the way out of darkness when all hope is lost. We need each other to confess our sins to and to receive healing: “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:16).
Stranded at Sea
The USS Indianapolis was a “heavy cruiser,” assigned to a secret mission toward the end of the War. Their job was to carry the atomic bombs that would eventually be dropped on Japan, shortening the war and saving hundreds of thousands of Allied lives. They successfully carried out their mission. Then, steaming in the South Pacific alone, in the middle of the night, a Japanese submarine located the ship, and fired a spread of torpedoes into the side of the Indianapolis. The ship immediately sent out SOS signals.
The distress signals were received, but the analysts disregarded them, considering them a hoax. One of the Japanese strategies had been to send out fake SOS signals to lure Allied ships into a trap, so that the rescue vessels could be sunk. So the men on the Indianapolis had a false sense of hope, thinking that they would be missed, that the authorities had been notified and that help was one the way. It was not to be.
The ship sank within 5 minutes of being torpedoed. Of the 1,200 men on the ship, about 300 went down with the ship. The remaining 900 men went into the water, waiting for rescue. The surviving men were not all together. They abandoned the ship at different times. It was night. Currents separated them. Many were hurt, burned and injured. The water was on fire from the oil. There were inadequate life preservers and lifeboats. Day one came and went and no rescue vessels were sighted.
Day two came and again no help was sighted…the Navy did not even recognize that the Indianapolis was missing. However, they were not alone. Sharks came upon the survivors. Every morning and evening, sharks moved in for the kill. Over the next 3 to 4 days, hundreds of sharks viciously attacked the men who were floating in the waters, desperate for food, water, fighting the elements of the sun by day and the cold of the night.
Some of the men formed circles, locking arms together, facing outward. They would put the wounded and weaker men in their middle of the circle, and when the sharks would move in or the kill, the men in the circle could use the strength of the locked arms with the buddies and get the leverage to raise their legs and kick the sharks away from the circle.
By the time the Navy accidentally discovered the debris field and saw the oil slick from the sunken Indianapolis, close to 700 men had perished. After the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, it was the worst Naval disaster in WWII.
If only the Indianapolis had not been operating alone. If only the original SOS signals had been regarded as significant and credible.
We Need One Another
The gruesome picture of the Indianapolis represents what is going on in the church today. The sharks of pornography are devouring the men and women of God. Our church family is being devastated by a vicious enemy.
God never intended for us to fight the battle for sexual purity alone. “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18). “Because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband…Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (1 Corinthians 7:2,5).
All throughout Scripture, the exhortation is to be in fellowship and close communion with each other. Jesus sent his disciples out two by two, never alone. If you do not have a trusted accountability partner, cry out to God to bring such a person into your life.
Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6 of this series.
I would like to first say that I really loved this article. We DO need each other, and I know that I am only still here because somebody was praying for me and because I too had, and continue to have, edifying brothers and sisters in Christ. Walking in the light (1 John 1:7) with one another is absolutely one of the first principles to becoming an overcomer, and I emphatically teach this to my counseless.
That said, what I really NEED to say is I REPENT and publicly ask forgiveness for my previous blog posting concerning Mr. Rheem’s “Part 6” of this series. I failed to examine the interlinear content, and was too quick to be critical.
Personally, I have been in such a long and rigorous battle facing so much apostasy and “easy-believism” in the church. I do have a BA in Christian Studies while currently enrolled in my Master’s in Biblical Counseling with an emphasis in Biblical Creation Apologetics. And it seems that spiritual pride has crept up once again and clouded my compassion leaving me with nothing but carnal zeal.
(Proverbs 19:2 [NIV]) It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.”
As a Biblical Counselor I struggle when I see worldly philosophy trying to be amalgamated with God’s all-sufficient Word. And too exacerbate my propensities, as an Apologetic, I can sometimes fail to come out of defense mode. And much the same as in wartime, the risk of friendly fire increases. I impulsively fired on a brother in Christ, and I ask forgiveness.
If Mr. Bob Rheems ever reads this, “I ask you to forgive me. I was wrong! You are doing your utmost to ‘Freely give what you have freely received,’ to bless, encourage, equip, and edify people, and I am thankful for you.”
Luke, I repent to you too, bro.
@David – Thanks for your heartfelt reply and your thoughts here. Apologies accepted. I completely understand your zeal against the easy-believism of our day, as well as your desire to not see the church mix pure theology with hollow and deceptive philosophies. I share the same passion.
YES, YES, YES, I forgive you. THANK YOU for your sincere apology and public confession. It encourages me greatly. Praise God.
You guys are awesome!!!! I highly respect men that can admit when they have been wrong. “Today” is the day to make it right. :-)