February 14, 2004.
On the corridor behind our class, she came in all her portable cuteness well packaged into the red and white school uniform, and she wished me a “Happy Valentine’s Day”. Something changed in the chemical composition of my brain from that instant, I can tell. I began to admire her secretly (and in turn, admire the opposite sex generally). The school staff unknowingly honoured my admiration for her by appointing her as my counterpart in the office of Laboratory Prefect. (Talk about having a crush).
Months later, I was going to deny the incessant calls for help from my male colleague in that Physics examination hall while just a singular whisper of my name from this cute lady was going to turn my head 180 degrees to give her a cue to answer a particular question. The Valentine fever caught up with me and transformed my thinking! Worse still, I never got the opportunity—or better said, never made use of every opportunity that I had—to tell this cute lady how much I desired to just hold her, hug her, and hopefully, be her lover. Her val greeting became the first in a series of many other things in my life. A brain reconfiguration, for one. The desire to look appealing to the opposite sex, another.I remember it all, today because of what I’m about to write about.
I was soon going to see a movie that launched me into unpleasant deeper depths in the school of love and lust—Waiting to Exhale. The few sex scenes in the movie activated my addiction bound curiousity. Days later, masturbation started. (I didn’t know what it’s called for a long while). Months later, it became addictive. Years later, it got me an admission into the unfortunate school of pornography.
This unpopular issue is actually more popular than we think and it’s high time we spoke more about it. In 2014, I exchanged correspondence with 24 teenagers and young adults on the issue of masturbation and porn. I was overwhelmed at their sincerity and openness. (To them, I dedicate this piece, actually).
I’ll like to introduce some few thoughts to you which I gleaned both from my personal sojourn through this maze and my eventual discovery of a liberating force that has empowered me to live above the grip of these challenges while being held firmly in the grip of God’s grace.
I discovered that the basic unit of my addiction was, in fact, one tiny little slice of life potent enough to determine how useful I could be to God while on the surface of the earth. This slice of my life was determining the direction and quality of my life and I couldn’t pray or fast it away. It’s called: My Appetite! (The word that brings out the sinful dimension is “lust”).
This fraction of life has, in fact, shipwrecked and side-lined more individuals than any other thing in the world. And Valentine’s Day has been highlighted historically as the day many people’s appetite is going to get the better part of them and exchange it for the worst.
While our appetites are created by God (be it an appetite for food, fame or fun—they are all created by God!), the unpleasant thing is that sin distorted them. And worse still, they are never FULLY and FINALLY satisfied. The voice of the appetite is the voice of MORE and NOW—never the voice of LESS or LATER. And more often than none, we end up trading the ULTIMATE for the IMMEDIATE at the impulse of our appetites.
Andy Stanley described this with the story of Esau and Jacob. (Genesis 25:29-34 CEV). It starts like this…
“One day, Jacob was cooking some stew, when Esau came home hungry and said, “I’m starving to death! Give me some of that red stew RIGHT NOW!”…” (vv 29-30).
“Right now!” That’s the voice of the appetite. It came to Esau’s vocal chords, and it still comes. To your heart. To your priorities. “go online right away” “now that no one is here, do it right away” “today is Val, there’s no better day to get ‘there’. Do it today!” The voice of the appetite. I pray you recognize it.
“Jacob replied, “Sell me your rights as the first-born son.”…” (v 31)
Here comes the deal. Each time you chose to give in to the urge, this deal has been struck. For the records, the birthright is such a great privilege in Esau’s day. The birthright assures the recipient of three things:
- A double portion of the inheritance (Great Wealth)
- Becoming the JUDGE of the family (Great Power)
- A divine empowerment to prosper trans-generationally (Great Blessing)
Who trades all of that for red stew?
“”I’m about to die,” Esau answered. “What good will those rights do me?””
“Seriously? About TO DIE?” But hey, don’t be quick to blame Esau. Psychologists understand that appetite stimulation induces a physiological change in the brain! Dopamine (a neurotransmitter) causes at least two things to happen:
- a simple appetite is MAGNIFIED out of proportion, promising an EXTRAORDINARY satisfaction
- your mind-eye is focused on ONLY ONE THING and blurs out everything else
That’s what happens each time you spend without thinking, or click without giving much thought…
“But Jacob said, “Promise me your birthrights, here and now!” And that’s what Esau did.”
Oh that someone could step in just before Esau makes up his mind and tells him what is at stake. Oh that a man will emerge from the future and tell Esau how he’s about to trade having 12 sons that will grow to become God’s chosen nation for red stew. Oh that someone can narrate to Esau beforehand the scene where God was going to introduce Himself for the first time to mankind as “the God of Abraham, Isaac and ESAU!” If only Esau could know ahead of time that his name will be popping up from the very mouth of God centuries down the lane! (Unless he trades the birthright). If only Esau could know that Matthew will open his best seller narration of God’s begotten Son with “Abraham begat Isaac, who begat ESAU, and from ESAU came the Messiah”…” If only… But no one emerged from the future to tell Esau what was at stake, and, perhaps, no one will emerge to tell you, too.
“Jacob then gave Esau some bread and some of the bean stew, and when Esau had finished eating and drinking,he just got up and left, showing how little he thought of his rights as the first-born.” (v 34).
The stew was gone, and so was the birth right!
BOTTOMLINE: You have absolutely NO IDEA of what God may want to use you to accomplish in this world, and you shouldn’t let your appetites spoil that! Not on Valentine’s Day; not any day at all!
Perhaps, the knowledge of what God could have done through Esau could have stopped him in his tracks. And I think the same is true of us.
So, how should we address this?
- Reframe. Look at your bowl of red stew in the light of what God might do through you! (Suggestion: Get a notebook and title it “5 YEARS FROM NOW” and start writing everything that comes to your mind about how you see yourself 5 years from now in every aspect of your life.)
- Refrain. Having juxtaposed the ultimate versus the immediate, refrain, and where necessary, like Joseph, flee!
I want you to know that whatever your bowl of stew maybe, after a moment, it’s gonna be gone and perhaps, with it, your wealth, your power or your blessing.
A WORD TO THE GUYS:
- Valentine’s Day is not a day to take opportunity of any lady. It’s not a day to exert your masculine frame over their feminine weakness. In fact, I challenge you to begin to HONOUR the women in your lives from today. (Not just your spouse, fiancée or girlfriend, but any and every women!)
- Yes, we live in a culture where women are viewed and talked about and sung about like they are some“commodity” (something you take, use, do anything you want with it and when you are done, discard or trade it in for another thing). No. The Bible says to “…treat them with respect” (1 Peter 3:7). So leverage your masculine strength advantage, not for your sake, but for their sake!
- They are joint heirs with us. They answer to the same heavenly Father. And Jesus’ life was given for their sake as much as for yours. So renew your mind in your perception of the feminine gender and make up your mind to treat them right.
- You should never again entertain yourself with the pictures of naked women!
- Suggestion: If you have on your playlist any song where a woman is referred to as a bitch or a whore, that song must be deleted from your devices and the recycle bin emptied! What you hear has a way of shaping your perception!
A WORD TO THE LADIES:
- On such a day as this (and ever) don’t dress like a commodity and don’t put up with being treated like one!
- If you fish for a partner with your body, you are going to catch body snatchers every single time! So respect yourself and value your feminine dignity.
- Postpone the “physical” of your dating relationship ALAP (as LONG as possible—till you get married!)
A WORD TO PORN-ADDICTS:
Whether you know it or not, the world of porn is a school where three lessons are learnt:
- A REAL BODY isn’t good enough. (Many of those stuffs you see on screen was shot countless times before a “perfect” shot was gotten. Their representation of sex is soooo unreal!)
- ONE BODY isn’t good enough. (Remember, appetites are never FULLY nor FINALLY satisfied. Don’t put your spouse in the impossible challenge of competing with the countless women in your porn-world. She will never be able to beat them…and you will never be able to be satisfied with your spouse. You will turn to more porn and more pain. And the cycle continues).
- YOUR WIFE’S BODY isn’t good enough! (That’s where it will end up. And great shall be your misery).
So what’s the wise thing to do? Check out of this school ASAP (as SOON as possible!)
Finally, I want you to know that someday (beginning today as you act on these words), you will become a great instrument of transformation in the hands of God. Your wealth will be beyond comparison; your power of influence unrivaled and God’s blessing immeasurably evident upon you.
Don’t trade that for anything!
Happy Valentine’s Day!