Monday, June 17, 2013

Our Savior's Love

The following is a revision of a "comment" I submitted at Latter-day Commentary:

Addiction issues (sexual and otherwise) stem, in part, from LACK OF LOVE and LOW SELF-ESTEEM. We talk about our Savior, our Savior’s love, our need to be patient, etc.. What we fail to acknowledge and/or perhaps don't realize is that our Savior’s love can and will WIPE AWAY EVERY DESIRE TO DO WRONG, even deep-seated addictions.

When one receives the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, one is privileged to receive a multitude of blessings. One of those blessings ought to be the opportunity to come back into the Savior’s presence. Upon doing so, one melts in the arms of His redeeming love, as it were. Nephi, Alma, King Lamoni and countless others have experienced this love. Even vile, hardened sinners, upon experiencing it, are transformed, almost overnight. One’ sins (and sinfulness) are literally “burned” out of them and one has no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually, because of it.

We must pray fervently and “without ceasing” to receive this love. And, once receiving it, we must pray without ceasing to retain it. It is charity, the pure love of Christ.

It is possible for one who has been thus “saved” to fall from grace again. Repentance, by the same act of calling upon God in mighty prayer, is then required. We all “fall from grace” to some extent (even in minor offenses).

It is the experience of communing with our Savior and receiving and experiencing His love that gives us the power and persistence to “endure to the end”, despite all hardships. Anything less would be inadequate to motivate one to “take up his cross” and follow Him.

I can testify that, in the course of time, one can be utterly delivered from addiction. In the case of masturbation and pornography, one “drawback” inhibiting one’s “motivation” to repent of these sins is that the “cost” of said sins seems so “slight” in comparison to the pleasures derived. Oh, sure, we recognize that we are “offending the Spirit” and “setting ourselves back” somewhat, spiritually speaking, but “who is without sin” anyway, we reason, and in what real way is anyone hurt? This mindset allows us to continue in sin, forever “short-changing” ourselves.

But what if someone else were hurt by our actions? What if our sin caused us to deeply harm, even kill another soul — preventing them from experiencing virtue or joy or inhibiting them from joining and enjoying the fullness of the gospel? What if our action turned someone else way from the gospel forever? Or caused our otherwise loving wife to leave us? Would we not then be “murderers” (as Alma, Jr.,was), having destroyed souls? Would not then our sin be very great?

Sexual sin is common. Those who persist in it eventually commit corruption that truly destroys lives. Once the person so addicted descends to that level of depravity, the loss is great. And with that loss — the loss of someone truly loved — the addict, perhaps for the first time, senses the enormity of his crime and realizes just how dear the price of his penance is (a price, fortunately, fully paid by Him who bore all things, if we will allow Him to).

I have experienced, in an instant, release from intense, life-long addiction that never returned, even in the slightest. In that moment I felt the departure of numerous evil spirits — the last being far worse than the first — from my body, causing me to shake and tremble. I have wept with sorrow, to the point that I have finally “given up” and said “God, take away from me all my sins, my idols, my demons, my lusts. I give them up. I don’t want them anymore.” And I meant it. I had truly had “enough”. I knew, with perfect knowledge, that I could no longer attempt to love both God and my graven images, my false gods, my idols. I could not love both God and mammon. And my love for God eventually won out. I loved my Savior, my wife, and my children — and I loved the one I would have continued offending had I persisted in sin — more than I loved myself or even my sin. The pleasure just wasn’t worth it anymore. As an expression of my love, I had to give up my sin. And I was willing to do so — out of love for others, not just myself. In fact, “myself” never entered the picture. I did it for love for others.

I pray that all those with addictions may be (like me) overwhelmed with love: love from (and for) wife, love from (and for) children, temporal blessings to overflowing. God knows I suffered years — decades! — without such love and blessings…and sin raged in my heart, forcing me to leave the Church and lose my way.

But God is merciful. My love for Christ — His appearance and witness to me — helped pull me through. And His blessings have cemented my resolve and redeemed me from the Fall. I now live in a state of happiness and peace from which, if I am ever careful to remember my former “captivity” and am mindful to continue in fervent prayer, I hope to never fall. For charity never faileth. If one has charity, one has all things.

It is worth not giving up.