Every age brings its challenges for Christianity. Among them is the fact that living by faith means that we put the ultimate matters of life and existence into the hands of someone that we cannot see. In a world filled with sensory experiences, faith in God is a challenge. This is nothing new of course. In the First Century, the Apostle Peter reminded his church that,
“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8–9)
It is not that a lack of sight makes Christianity seem untenable, it just makes it different than most experiences today. Instead of having joy based upon an empirical basis, we have joy through our communion with the invisible God through the portal of faith.
In recent years I have noticed a trait, particularly among men, where faith is impeded. I am talking about the cultural fixation upon fantasy. Many men today are wrapped up in a world of fantasy and also find it increasingly difficult to live by faith upon the God who is invisible.
In each of the examples below men are giving themselves to something they can see but is not real. However, with Christianity we give ourselves to something that we cannot see but is actually real. (In the following examples, I want to make clear that I believe the first is sinful but the others are not inherently so.)
Over the last two dozen years pornography use has exploded. Some may call it an epidemic. Young men are being raised on it and the addiction continues through the college years and into their 30s and 40s. As a pastor I don’t often go a week without hearing about somebody’s struggle in this area. Let’s think about what is happening here. Pornography attempts to enjoy the blessings of sex without the relationship of marriage. However, this is not the whole story. There is also the fact the medium for consuming it is not real, it is a bunch of images. Everything about it is a fantasy; the women, the experiences, and whatever the pleasures that come from it. It is all a fantasy. Many men are wrapped up in this sexual fantasy, and it is therefore little wonder that they are distracted from a faith that is real yet unseen.