By: Shane James O’Neill
Sam Harris is probably my favorite public atheist (are Christians allowed to have a favorite public atheist?!).
While criticizing what God cares about, Harris once said: “He has galaxy after galaxy to attend to but he’s especially concerned with what we do, and he’s especially concerned with what we do while naked.” Harris made this comment sarcastically, trying to show how silly it is to present a God who runs the cosmos, with all of its vast complexities and dimensions, while then presenting a God who cares especially for us and about how we know each other sexually.
If truth exists then it matters, a lot. Or as the Apostle Paul put it, “If there is no resurrection from the dead, let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die.” (1 Cor. 15:32) If there is no truth outside of what you feel and think then live however you want and when you die everything will be empty. But if there is a resurrection then that impregnates this life with immeasurable meaning.
What do you believe about yourself? What do you believe about parenting? What do you believe about sex? What do you believe about God? Are these beliefs true? Why do you think they’re true?
The scary part is that we all have answers to these questions, but most of us have spent very little time on the answers. The answers are implicit, which just means that we live the answers, even if we haven’t thought through the answers and can’t clearly articulate them.
Girding the Loins
In Ephesians 6 we are told that we can’t get through the warfare of life (anxiety, depression, lust, hate, loneliness, etc.) if we don’t fortify ourselves with certain kinds of armor. St. Paul starts with the belt of truth. When attacks come against us, what you believe makes all the difference. If I’m able to rationalize that pornography is okay to watch when I’m really stressed or depressed then I’ll continue to allow arrows to rip into my imagination and pierce the relationships in my life. If I hold onto purity but secretly hope that a sexual opportunity will come my way then falling is just a simple matter of time. The truth I believe sets the boundaries for the lies and temptations I allow.
The belt of truth is the first armor that St. Paul exhorts us to put on in the Ephesians 6 passage. Why?
Roman soldiers wore thick leather belts that had a metal band on it. The belt held the other armor together, binding the protective clothing in place. Interestingly enough, the belt also had a protective piece that guarded the groin from attacks. The belt comes first in St. Paul’s list because the belt was purposely crafted and designed to hold the other armor, carry weapons, and protect our most vulnerable and intimate body part.
If we don’t care about pursuing truth, if we don’t intentionally protect ourselves from lies, if we don’t want to keep ourselves from rationalizations, then we can’t put on any of the other armor in St. Paul’s list:
We can’t exercise faith. We can’t know the gospel. There is no true spirituality. We won’t live with righteousness. Peace will escape us. And we won’t know salvation.
The belt, or truth, secures all these together.
Putting on Truth
What are some of the things you are hiding from? What are some of the ways you rationalize sin? – especially sexual sin. How do you make provision for the flesh? Do you keep a stash of pornography, do you watch stuff on your phone late at night, have you cheated but kept it a secret, do you let yourself act out under certain conditions?
1 John 1:5-7 tells us, “… God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of his Son cleanses us from all sin.”
Jesus doesn’t call us to perfection, He calls us to truthfulness. There is no healing in darkness, no salvation, God isn’t there, nor can Jesus’ blood heal you while you hide there clutching your shame.
Jesus says to us, “If you continue in My Word, you are truly my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
We are called into truthful covenant with God and with His family. We are called to present ourselves honestly before Him and before each other. This is how we daily put on the belt of truth: by believing in the God that Jesus shows us, seeking His face and bearing ourselves before Him, and growing in the light with God and with each other, bearing ourselves to one another.
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” (James 5:16)
Healing is found in the truthfulness of light.
Truth matters. It is the only way to be free. It will cost you your right to secrecy and shame — it demands light. But man that’s where healing is and that’s the only place freedom lives because that’s the only place where Jesus is. He calls our names, even now.
As we saw last week, “sex is where life begins.” Why wouldn’t the Author of Life care specifically about what we do while we’re naked?
So yes, Sam Harris, God is that big, and yes, he’s so big that He cares about little ol’ us. He cares about truth and He especially cares about what we do while we’re naked.
We can no longer settle for the mistreatment of women and the self-abuse of lustful pornography. “This is War” is here to train men in honor and integrity and signal a battle cry for men to stand for Sexual Integrity and fight against the use of Pornography.
Shane James O’Neill is the Editorial Director for ProvenMen Ministries. He is currently working on a graduate degree in apologetics at Liberty University’s Rawling School of Divinity.