Do You Have Bumpers for Your Soul?
When I was growing up, all cars had bumpers. These were extensions on the front and rear of the car that would absorb minor bumps and impacts. They did a lot to prevent damage from occurring to the rest of the car.
My old 1988 Volvo station wagon had bumpers of pure, hard-as-a-rock rubber extending about a foot out from the car both in front and in back. Okay, they were a little unsightly, but, boy! Am I glad I had those bumpers! Twice, my car was hit from the rear. My wife, Penny, and I were shaken but not hurt, and there was no damage at all to my car. The bumper absorbed all of the impact; it protected us from harm.
I miss those bumpers. They don’t exist on cars today like they used to, maybe because they were unattractive or too costly, but, whatever the reason, we’re worse off for not having them. They helped protect and guard the welfare of the riders.
Today, we seem to have lost our moral bumpers. We desperately need something to help our souls absorb impacts and keep us from being damaged as we live in an increasingly sex-saturated culture in which porn is the norm and we are encouraged to choose our own sexuality and gender—of which over 100 designations now exist, according to a quick Google search. And we don’t have to go looking for all of this anymore. Our hearts are daily, even hourly, bombarded as never before, presenting us with multiple opportunities to venture down dark and destructive roads. Temptations fly at us from all directions. As God warned us, “…sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is to have you ” (Genesis 4:7).
Maybe it’s the LUG (lesbian until graduation) group on campus that encourages young women to experiment with sexual “fluidity.” Or maybe it’s the temptation, only a keystroke away, that can send you into any one of 260 million porn webpages while sitting in your living room at one in the morning. Or maybe it’s a TV program that encourages more and more teens to “be all you can be” as a gay teen (to use an old US Army slogan)—pushing the boundaries of sexual identity to a younger and younger generation that really isn’t equipped to understand the impact of decisions made at age twelve. Maybe it’s the newest edition of “mommy porn” romance novels—whose sales increased 24% in just the twelve month period from March 2020 to March 2021 and accounts for one half of all fiction sold1. They promise women a secret, adventure-filled, fantasy world in an otherwise drab and monotonous life.
There has never been a greater need to have bumpers for our souls when it comes to the sexual frenzy thrown at us—something to help us absorb the impact of what’s assailing us, both from within and without. Sure, we can buy computer filters and accountability tracking for our computers (which I heartily recommend). We can warn our children about the dangers of television, movies, and the internet, which all teach the lie that finding our one true sexual identity is of the utmost importance and without consequences. But it all boils down to this: How do we manage the temptations that can wreck our souls and shipwreck our faith with only a collection of helps, instruction, and assorted programs which, although useful, are just are never enough? We need something more substantial.
Only as we intentionally seek to deepen our relationship with Jesus Christ can we face what the culture (and our own evil hearts) throw at us relentlessly. Only ongoing personal transformation—taking the gospel into the center of our hearts and allowing fellow believers to walk with us—can we weather the bumps and collisions we’re sure to encounter. Only by intentionally walking in the light each week, supported by others in prayer, engaging in Bible study, and making honest confession with each other about what life and our own hearts throw at us can we begin to shield and safeguard our souls. These days, I’m challenging more and more people to think about where their points of light are throughout their week. In other words, who and where are those people or small groups of people who know your story and the places of your greatest temptation and who also help you incorporate the gospel into your life and struggles?
I know I may be speaking a foreign language to some people reading this, especially since living in a COVID world has caused us to pull inward, check out, and live in more isolation than ever. I’m talking about radical living in a world that wants us to schedule our lives to death so that there’s no time to do the things I’ve just mentioned. There’s no shortcut to holiness, but Scripture emphasizes its importance, instructing us to pursue holiness, without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).
Pursuing Christ in private and in community with others is the only way to survive the train crash of a culture that promotes an anything-goes, sexually insane agenda. Only then can we discover that the gospel offers so much more real life for the soul than short-term, temporary “fixes” that compromise our very selves. The means of grace become that buffer and bumper we need to survive (and flourish) with potential crashes all around us.
1 King, Rachel. “Romance Novel Sales Continue to Boom.” Fortune, 21 Aug. 2021. Web.