5 minute read

Have Yourself a Merry Little (Porn-Free) Christmas

Last Updated: December 20, 2020

Mark Denison

Mark Denison, D.Min., along with his wife Beth, is the founder of There’s Still Hope, a national sexual addiction recovery ministry. Mark has a Master’s in Addiction Recovery, is a certified PSAP (Pastoral Sex Addiction Professional), and is an active member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. Mark is a former church planter, pastor (30 years), NBA chaplain, and university board chairman. Mark has written four books on recovery: Porn in the Pew, 365 Days to Sexual Integrity, A 90-Day Recovery Guide, and Porn-Free in 40 Days.

A classic movie, Meet Me in St. Louis, was released weeks before Christmas in 1944. Judy Garland played the leading role, as a young woman seeking to comfort her sister in the face of their father moving the family to New York City against their wishes. Garland sang the following words to her sister, from the song written just for her, by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blaine.

“Have yourself a merry little Christmas. Let your heart be light. From now on, our troubles will be out of sight.”

The song became an instant hit, bringing comfort to American soldiers who were fighting overseas during World War II. In the decades since its first recording, the song has been recorded by such iconic stars as Frank Sinatra and James Taylor.

We all want a very merry Christmas. But for those entrapped by the slave master called pornography, a “merry little Christmas” is dependent on a “very little Christmas,” as in very little porn.

Not surprisingly, porn use tends to spike during the holidays. Carol Archebelle, writing for Charisma News (December 15, 2017), identifies five reasons we watch more porn during the Christmas season: more free time, family triggers, often tired, loneliness, and new devices. What’s the answer to a “very little (porn) Christmas”? For that, we return to a story as old as Christmas itself.

The Wise Men

The account of the wise men is a three-act play.

Act I: The wise men came.

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him’” (Matthew 2:1-2).

The wise men left an undisclosed location to follow an identified star for an undetermined time to an unknown destination. They did what wise men always do—they sought Jesus.

Act II: They met Jesus.

“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (2:11).

Notice, the men did three things. They bowed before Jesus, worshiped him, and gave him gifts. That is the predictable pattern of a true spiritual encounter. A real encounter with Jesus is evidenced by our behavior.

Act III: They went home a different way.

“Having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route” (2:12).

We have a “come as you are” Savior, but not a “stay as you are” Lord. Having laid their gifts at the feet of the King, the wise men returned home with a lighter load. Jesus does that—he lightens our load. Who we are when we came to him is not who we are after that encounter.

Five Decisions That Will Make for a Porn-Free Christmas

From the story of the wise men, we see several unmistakable links from their journey to ours. In the way they came, what they brought, what they left behind, and how they returned home, we see five decisions that we all face this Christmas season. Our response to each of these decisions will determine the kind of Christmas we have for years to come.

1. Two Options: Peace or Porn

Upon the announcement of the Savior’s birth, the angels proclaimed, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14). As a youth, I learned the message of peace: Peace Enters After Christ Enters. And as a man addicted to the false promises of sex, I learned what it was to live in turmoil, toss and turn through sleepless nights, and to walk in daily fear of being “caught.” You can have peace or you can have porn, but you can’t have both.

Related: 5 Quick Tips for Staying Sexually Sober During the Holidays

One of the cries of every porn addict is a cry for peace. “I just want a good night’s sleep,” one client told me. “I don’t know what it is to go one day without anxiety,” said another. The God whose presence was felt by the men who brought presents is the God of peace. You have two options: the God of peace or the god of porn.

2. Two Ways: Solo or Shared

According to the picture in my Children’s Bible, there were three wise men. Some legends go so far as to name them: Melchior (from Persia), Gaspar (from India), and Balthazar (from Arabia). It is deduced that three gifts required three men. Of course, we don’t know how many wise men there were.

But we do know how many wise men there weren’t—one. The Scripture tells us of the wise men, not the wise man. The lesson is clear. We are not to travel this road alone. Let me say it like this: God has called you to a personal relationship with him, but not a private one. Recovery is not a solo sport. You can get there, but you can’t do it alone.

3. Two Maps: Direction or Destination

The wise men didn’t know where they were going or when they would get there. They knew one thing—they must keep following the star. For them, direction trumped destination. They knew that if they focused on direction, the destination would take care of itself.

Recovery is a mountain without a peak. There is no graduation or coronation. And you don’t get a participation ribbon. Like the wise men, we must keep our eye on the Star. If we keep pursuing Jesus—at Christmas and throughout the year—we will find Him. And if we keep pursuing recovery, we will be surprised at how far we have come, year by year. You can break the bond of pornography. But you must do it one day at a time.

4. Two Choices: Give or Get

The wise men brought gifts to Jesus. They knew that was the secret to blessing—what we give. In 12-step meetings, you will hear this: “The measure we gave was the measure we got back.” And in the Bible, you will read this: “Give, and it will be given to you” (Luke 6:38).

If you want a “very little (porn) Christmas,” try this. Give to Jesus. I learned this little poem 45 years ago, and I love it to this day:

“What can I give him, small as I am?

If I were a shepherd, I’d give him a lamb.

If I were a wise man, I’d surely do my part.

But what can I give him? I can give him my heart.”

Related: ‘Tis the Season to Be Tempted!

5. Two Results: Change or Chains

Because they came, they bowed, they worshiped, and they gave, the wise men returned with a lighter load. And they had quite a story to tell. We’ve been telling it on their behalf for over 2,000 years. Depending on what they did that first Christmas, they would have to live with one of two results: change or chains.

If you want a “very little (porn) Christmas” this year, you have that opportunity in front of you. If you leave your porn habit behind, you will experience change you’ve only dreamed of. If you hold onto your old habit, you will experience chains. It’s up to you.

My prayer for each of us is this . . .

“Have yourself a merry little Christmas. Let your heart be light. From now on, our troubles will be out of sight.”

  • Comments on: Have Yourself a Merry Little (Porn-Free) Christmas
    1. Phil L. on

      Yes! The wise men knew that if they stayed the course, the destination would come. The same thing applies for porn recovery- it’s a journey of trust with God and others where peace can be found. That peace will make it matter little that we are not delivered once and for all from any inclinations to porn; the journey will be a peaceful one, spent freed from the chains of addiction. This has been my story. Wonderful article.

      Reply

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