Trouble in Anatevka


These are the opening lines to the great Broadway musical, Fiddler on the Roof:

“A fiddler on the roof . . . sounds crazy, no? But here, in our little village of Anatevka, you might say, every one of us is a fiddler on the roof. Trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck. It isn’t easy.”

If I may use that in a different way altogether – there is today another sort of fiddler slipping recklessly along the housetops. That being, any Christian who messes with pornography, or any sort of sexual sin for that matter. He fiddles with absolute disaster. It is another one of the glaring problems with the Church in America. As that man or woman tries to play a happy religious tune, it is suddenly brought to ruin in the fall of a failed life, wooed and won by untamed sexual desires.

Sorrowfully, it is today an all too familiar story among Christians of every stripe – pastor to parishioner. It knows no bounds. The statistics are startling.

In one survey, 50% of the men who attended a packed Promise Keepers convention viewed a porn website within one week of the event. So much for keeping ones promises.

It is reported that 54% of all Christian pastors report having viewed pornography in the past year. Pastors. 54%.

In 2003, Focus on the Family did a survey that revealed that 47% of those that responded said that pornography was a problem in their home.

One pastor did not believe these reported findings, at least for his own church of 600. “Some 50% participating in pornography? Half my congregation? I mean, come on. How can that be?” So he collected data from his own people. Of those responding (the true numbers would be substantially greater, most hide), he discovered that 25% had viewed pornography in the past 30 days; 44% viewed it in the past six months; indeed 61% viewed pornography in the past year. His church was worse than the national average.

What is going on? What is the root cause of all this? I believe it is two things. A regrettable combination of a relaxed Christianity seated within an oversexed, beckoning society, especially American society.

In the United States alone, on the internet, there are over 68 million daily searches for pornography. That is 25% of all daily searches. A quarter of all activity. The United States is the world’s top producer of pornographic DVDs and web material. The second largest is Germany; they each produce in excess of 400 porn films for DVD every week.

There is no controlling it, even when not at home. 20% of American men admit to accessing pornography right at work. How many more don’t admit it? 70% of all internet porn traffic occurs during workdays between 9 am and 5 pm. Most disheartening, a recent study found that seven out of ten youth in America have been unwillingly exposed to pornography in some form. It’s all so easily acquired now. Full admittance with a few easy taps of the finger.

Even besides the pornography problem, our society flings sex out there for general consumption endlessly, in all directions and every which way it can. Unless your home television only gets the Hallmark channel, you are being inundated with commercials that stifle purity horribly, even when watching the good shows. Take a simple stroll down almost any street in America with pretty good foot traffic. It is getting difficult to do so in any sort of a relaxed manner with increasing immodesty of attire. So often you have to look away. Praise the Lord for wintertime. People actually wear clothes in the north tier states. A three month break for all of us.

Look at the skin game going on at the checkout line of your local grocer with its myriad of racked magazines, all with the young and the lovely across their covers, often in very compromising clothes and poses.

Even with the very best intended of internet searches, popup ads are willing and able to suspend any imagination that is wayward in the slightest. Availability is immediate.

The only proper single lifestyle that the Bible offers – chastity – is mocked to no end in every corner of our culture. In today’s topsy-turvy world, it is “right that is wrong” and “wrong that is right.” There seems not even the place to hide briefly from the bombardment. Certainly no cease fires are being offered.

I am not suggesting that you never go the the store, watch TV, or walk down a street. I am suggesting that while you are “in this world,” be not “of this world.” Be careful where you go and what you do at all times. I’m no prude and I am right. For a long time now this Earth has been no friend to God, nor to His people. Many good things on the planet does not mean “good planet.” Step careful. Be aware.

As a result of the blitzkrieg that I have outlaid here, spiritually and physically, we find all that was written in Proverbs 5-7 to be wholly true. Reading its 85 verses is a must for every committed Christian today. In fact, we shall go there now for both a highlighting of the problem and finding its prescription for cure. Yes, rest assured, there is help.

As to the problem, sexual sin does not rumble along the countryside aimlessly. It has been hoisted onto a set of very purposefully laid tracks. It is bound headlong towards a destination most particular. Where is that “end of the line?” Proverbs 5:4 and 5 says that though its enticements are sweet, sexual sin’s end is “bitter as wormwood,” and that promiscuous living is a “sharp . . . two-edged sword” that kills. “Her feet go down to death.” Verse 14 of that chapter says that it will bring you to “the verge of total ruin,” even in “the midst of the assembly.” So this, your little secret, is going to become public at some point. God will see to it.

Chapter 6, verses 27, asks the question, “can a man take fire to his bosom . . . and not be burned?” So you have that to look forward to also.

Then there is the losing of your honor. Chapter 5, verse 9, says that you will “give your honor to others.” Chapter 6, verse 26, says, “by means of a harlot, a man is reduced to a crust of bread.” The preciousness of your life is gone, sold to the lowest bidder. And it is possible for the sale to become permanent. Verse 33 says that “his reproach will not be wiped away.”

Make no mistake, sexual sin is one hair-triggered snare, set to tangle your feet hopelessly and hold you. Chapter 6, verse 22, says that the one who falls for it is “entrapped” and “caught in cords.” Verse 32 says that he “destroys his own soul.” Self inflicted wounds.

The bad news just keeps rolling on in. Read those chapters of the Bible. Really. Maybe that too will work to liberate you, if you find yourself there now, and hope to ever see the light of freedom.

Towards this (a far better end), advice is also given. First, Proverbs 5:8 says to “remove your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house.” Stay distant. In fact, Paul suggests to “flee away.” “Get thee out from there,” and I do mean now. All the good men of the Bible did. Joseph was one. He ran like the dickens. True, he lost his freedom for a while, due to the perjuries of a deceitful women, but he kept his integrity, and God restored the rest. His end was noble, true, and fruitful.

So Joseph fled the palace. Lot fled the city. Moses fled the nation. Again, heed my words, brother, sister. “Get thee out from there,” as one might from a burning building with hair on fire. Your trip might send you to a lengthy detour in your day, but it will also save your life, if not your soul.

If you are in a safe place, not tempting the tempter, and yet it still finds you (a billboard or an enticingly dressed shopper), immediately distract your eyes into another direction. Looking is buying. The Master himself said so.

Secondly, if you are married, increase you loving attention to your own spouse.  Proverbs 5:15 and 16 says “Drink water from your own cistern, and running water from your own well.” “Let her (not another) satisfy you at all times.”

Maybe Satan is setting you up right now by having you ignore the attention of your own spouse. Maybe you two are fighting more, or both carelessly letting “familiarity breed contempt.” Whatever it is, renew your loving attention to her today.

You single folks, be determined to preserve your vessel for a holy use. That could possibly even mean sex in a future marriage. You wait for him or her, as the holy Christ awaits his church/bride right now.

Thirdly, it always helps to renew the thought that God is watching you at all times. His eyes are seared onto the back of your neck. Can you feel it? That sensation of being watched? Yes, you are being filmed and recorded from up in heaven. Proverbs 5:21 says that “the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and He ponders all his paths.”

Next, and most helpfully, step into the light by confidentially admitting your weakness to another trusted Christian friend or minster. In the midst of all the Proverbs 6 sexual sin discussion, verses 16-19 gives seven things that are an abomination to the Lord. Among them are “a lying tongue . . . a heart that devises wicked plans” . . . and “a false witness who speaks lies.” Those all have secrecy in common. It is the norm to keep this battle private. When we do, and that is accompanied with continued failure, it leads us into a downward spiral: even further deceit, which leads to even further descent, which leads to even further denial.

Getting it out in the open, to the right person, in the right setting, is more than helpful. It disarms the enemy greatly. Not any single right move may spring you free from a lifelong habit. It is the accumulated whole of putting to work all the spiritual interventions that God has to offer. Together, in concert, they do the trick. Full disclosure is one of the more capable missiles in His arsenal.

And lastly, study and learn scripture passages that counter this sin. Verses on purity. Verses on the abiding Holy Spirit. Verses on the holiness of God. Verses on victory and courage. Verses on change. Towards this, listen to Proverbs 6:20-22:

“My son, keep your father’s command, And do not forsake the law of your mother.”

“Bind them continually upon your heart; tie them around your neck.”

“When you roam, they will lead you; when you sleep, they will keep you; and when you awake, they will speak with you.”

Those are some pretty comforting words. She, the adulteress, would not have you wise to her many devices. She would keep you young and dumb, all the way till the “arrow pierces the liver.” (Proverbs 7:23)

Fool her. God has greater plans for you than this. Surely you yourself have greater plans than that. End the sham. Man up and get help.

In the game of chess, “check” will lead to “checkmate.” Eventually, God will win the day. Make a move. You will be saved, and then He will long-last receive the glory in this terrible thing that Satan has always intended for the destruction of you and the weakening of Christ’s church.

In the film version of Fiddler on the Roof, the movie concludes with Tevye leaving his beloved village with the fiddler following behind. In our spiritual fight, even obeying the Lord fully, it (temptation) will not leave you alone. Not fully. Surely, even if, at times, from a distance, promiscuous society will attempt to close in again. You must be ready.

Out there are precisely two kinds of Christians when it comes to this area of life: the Josephs of the Bible and the statistics of this world. You must decide now, today. Which one better fits God’s plan for your future.


About William Cole

I am an all-the-time pastor, a part-time hospice chaplain, and a sometimes author. The church is eight miles out in the country from Marshall, MI. The hospice work is with Oaklawn Hospice, where I am Spiritual Care Coordinator. It's right in the town of Marshall. The writing I do to relax. I am elatedly married to my wife, April, and am a proud father to two fine young ladies, Ashley and Maty, not to mention my delightful exchange student daughter, Jessica.
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