Monday, July 10, 2006

Ozone, PSA's, and Pornography

Every registered radio station in the country has to broadcast a certain amount of public service announcements every week. It doesn't matter when you air them, as long as you fulfill the time requirements. So, like most secular stations, 106.5 The End, Charlotte, NC broadcasts all of its PSA's at the same time every week... Sunday morning.

This is important because it explains why, at 7:30am on Sunday morning on my way to church, I was listening to an extended explanation of the Air Quality Warning System in Charlotte. That particular Sunday happened to be a "yellow" day, which I suppose explains why we didn't see any young children, the elderly, or those with respiratory disorders at church. I'm just glad it wasn't a "red" day. Or even worse, a "purple" day; it's hard to build community when everyone is wearing NIOSH approved respirators...

So I'm thinking about the Air Quality Warning System and the radio expert lady says that if children grow up with poor air quality, i.e. high ozone content, then they have reduced lung function as adults. Like maybe only 75% or something! She went on to say that all the crap that people put into their lungs permanently diminishes their capacity to breathe. Scary. I wondered what she would say about my cigar smoking, but then remembered that I didn't smoke cigars when I was a little kid, so I felt better. Then I imagined what I would have looked like at age two, in diapers, with a big stogie hanging out of my mouth. Suck on that radio expert lady!

Normally at 7:30 in the morning, I am too tired to think, but this particular Sunday I treated myself to a #1 at McDonalds and was therefore hyped up on all kinds of sugar, carbs, caffeine and fat. And it was in this state that a very disturbing thought occurred to me. I wondered what kind of irreversible damage I had already done to myself. I knew that my Grandfather had died at age fifty of a heart attack, and there I was eating McDonalds. (They don't call it a Mac-attack for nothing, you know.) I had re-injured my shoulder in a belly-flop contest just the other day reminding me, in a rediculous way, how fragile the human body can be. And I must admit that I felt the familiar twinge of guilt that comes when I realize that I am not as quick mentally as I was as a child because of the drugs I chose to use.

After I was done thinking all of that in the span of just a few seconds a thought washed over me like a January wave. I knew what my great pollution had been. Pornography. And the air it polluted was a pure love, a deep intimacy, a true knowledge of another person. What if my capacity to love had been permanently diminished? The answer to this question was a hundred times scarier than heart-disease, or injury, or even dementia.

Perhaps God wants to heal me, perhaps he does not. I don't pretend to know what He is up to with me, nor do I try to guess. I do know I want to be healed. I want to be able to love like I am loved. I want to be able to actually believe for once that my wife and my friends and my savior actually like me the way that I am. I want to like me the way I am. I want to finish a Sunday service and not be depressed because it wasn't better. I want God to be happy with me. I want God to fix me.

The air pollution lady thought that we needed to clean up our act in order to be healthy. We need cleaner cars and cleaner industries. Less CFC's and DDT's and PCP's and GOP's. But there is one fatal flaw in her solution. She is thinking too small. What if instead of cleaner air, we could find a way for people not to need air at all...

The bible says that we sin when our own evil desires are stirred up in us and then we are dragged away and enticed. Satan can't tempt you with something you don't already desire. And I desire sex. Lots and lots of hot sex. And I never really questioned this desire. I mean, why would I, until I thought of something. The bible says that in heaven we won't be married, but we will be like the angels. I have always assumed that this meant that the needs that marriage is designed to meet on the earth will be met. Now the desire is to breathe, but the need is oxygen. The desire is sex, but the need is true intimacy. Someday I will no longer have the desire to have sex at all and I cannot wait for that day.

I think that is sad. Should I feel like this? I think my desperation has actually brought me a little bit of perspective. Can you imagine not having to rely on the imperfect conduits of love called people to fulfill your need for love and community and approval. I want so desperately for God to be pleased with me, but I cannot bring myself to believe that He is already so. I know it but I can't obtain it. Can't claim it. Certainly can't live it. What is it that hijacks this certainty on its way from my mind to my heart? I have no peace without it.

A moment of clarity. Clarity. A woman on a computer screen never says no. Is never tired. Never has a headache. Because she is not a woman. She is less real than an idol made of stone or wood that you could at least feel and touch. An idol you could adore. She is an idol that you are free to despise as long as you are drawn back eventually. All the girls in ever girly magazine can't make me feel any less alone. Or any more in control. I plead with God every day to take this desire out of me, but He won't yet. He can't yet. I want to tell Him what I think about that, but I'll save my breath for confession. There will still be plenty of confession. The truth is I can't undo what I've done and I can't un-see what I've seen. The mind has no delete button.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was under the impression that you oversaw the youth ministry at your church, and I find it tragic that you have used profanity, and have talked openly about pornography and sex on your blog. Perhaps you should talk more to God and less to an internet audience.

Anonymous said...

And I find it tragic that you, mr/mrs anonymous, are perfect, flawless in every way. It takes incredible humility for Jared to share his faults, and what he has learned, in the hopes that he will change someone life. He has changed mine, merely through this blog posting which you find so unacceptable.

Anonymous said...

Never would I claim to be perfect, flawless in every way, and I do believe that there is a time and place to share faults and encourage someone in their walk with the Lord. However, when dealing with the fragility of youth, a youth pastor is called to a high standard of leadership, and his example is crucial. Profanity, which I've read here more than once, could quite possibly be a stumbling block for a young person. The Lord takes leadership in the church quite seriously and requires much of those He places there. I was concerned for the fact that this sharing of too much information may hurt more than it helps. Honesty and integrity are of course valuable character traits, but unless someone asks directly, I believe there are things we take to the Lord and not necessarily to anyone who will listen.

Harrison said...

I remember the first time I learned that someone had the same struggles as me (it was, in fact, a conversation with Jared in high school). It was the most freeing thing that ever happened to me because I realized I wasn't the only one who didn't have it all together. I think that in todays church, one has to appear perfect at all times, and openly admitting a sin is taboo because we are too proud and we don't want to be gossiped about. Anyone who knows J would say that the reason he posted what he did was to show people that he is a human being who sins, and who is on the way back out and has an answer on how to do it, even if it is an ever-developing answer. I know that there are times and places to share certain things, but I think eyes will be opened by things J has written, and I applaud his post. 3 cheers! Hip-hip-hooray... who says hip-hip-hooray anymore? That is so lame...