Years ago, author Jon Acuff popularized Christian satire with his blog, “Stuff Christians Like.” One of his more popular posts was called “Booty, God, Booty,” which captured the reality that both on radio stations and in life we talk mostly about secular things (“booty”), sandwiching in some good-feeling Jesus-stuff, before returning to the “booty.”
Booty, God, Booty — that’s the formula. Squeezing God into our lives like a radio segment. Rather than His being integrated into all of the segments.
I often feel this way with my faith and struggles and the day-to-day blurry lines of life in between, taking an “inspirational vitamin,” as Jon calls it, every time I stray.
I can’t tell you the number times I’ve fired up Spotify or YouTube for hours of worship music and “healing” from the previous night’s swampy dive into illicit things. It feels authentic but also somewhat forced, this repentance and praise by day – only for me to return to those same illicit things by night.
I’ve listened to worship music on the car ride home, only to turn it off literally and metaphorically, reengaging my lust upon arrival. I can even recall times I’ve been listening to worship music while cruising the Internet for some arousing videos or flirtatious exchanges — the bizarre space where God and booty collide.
I’ve found my own modification to Acuff’s “Booty, God, Booty,” and it goes something like: Pornography, Promiscuity, Praise. Repeat.
It often feels like a self-fulfilling cycle of a formula: that as soon as I praise God, when I repent and I’m again “right” with Him, I’m back on an inevitable trajectory toward porn and promiscuity and the dark desires of my heart.
Or if I’m currently entrenched in those long nights of porn and promiscuity, oh well, praise is on the horizon — tomorrow.
I’ll repent and praise and just deal with it all tomorrow.
This mindset translates beyond lust and sin to all areas of life, too. That even when things are generally great, it’s hard to rest in that goodness for fear of something awful inevitably coming — sooner than I’d ever want.
But this isn’t the way to live. Pessimistic. Fearful. Always anticipating some future mire or punting the current night away.
I often feel trapped in the cycle, both the pitfall and the praise, this centrifugal force of a revolution that must complete. And repeat.
This feeling that I must enter the dark, and only then may I rediscover sweet spiritual light.
I’ve exhibited this same pattern in some of my male relationships, intentionally making myself feel bad and treating men as salves for my wounded masculinity. It isn’t healthy. Those are some hard stories for another time.
Returning things to Jesus, I don’t think our praise was ever meant to be put on pause during our dark nights of the soul; our praise is just as required then as when we’re on the mountaintop and basking in the light.
An old hymn beckons us to praise Him in the morning. And noontime. And when the sun goes down. And presumably every time in between.
Praise should be our first thought. And our last. The only.
Our praise for the Almighty — it must be perpetual.
How I need to reengage the Lord with praise in those moments of despair and temptation, when I don’t “feel like it.” When I feel He’s not enough.
I don’t want to follow filth and then Jesus, filth and then Jesus, segregating myself into two persons by day and by night, two persons who do not align.
Scripture speaks of a day when our praise will be perpetual, and I believe there will be no “getting tired” of it. That, in fact, we’ll only want to display more and more praise for more and more years unending.
If we’re called to bring more of heaven to earth until that day, I feel convicted to bring more of my praise into the porn and promiscuity with which I still struggle greatly.
Of course, the Father always stands there with open arms when I do mess up. I need not feel shame to reapproach Him with praise after a late-night porn or promiscuity binge.
He stands there for me, and He stands there for you. His death covered all sins — even the ones oft repeating.
But more than ever, I feel He wants more of me in the messy meantime. During those shameful “p-times” when I am tempted. When I feel hopelessly chained to my struggles, sexual or otherwise. During the doubt, the despair, the boredom, the loneliness.
I don’t want pornography, promiscuity, praise to be my ingrown formula for my segregated self for years and decades to come.
As another hymn goes . . .
I want to be praising my Savior. All the day long.
Do you struggle with pornography or promiscuity? How do you approach praise before, during, or after your struggles?