“I will set before my eyes no vile thing. The deeds of faithless men I hate; they will not cling to me.” Psalm 101:3
This is what I call “the wow vow” because it is quite a promise to make to God. I don’t know if David made this before or after the bathing beauty affair. If so, he failed to keep this vow. If not, he must have been renewed with a passion for purity after his moral fall and subsequent restoration to God.
Don’t get me wrong. I want to make this vow along with David, but this promise is a difficult one to keep in this sex-saturated culture. I want to say I will set no vile thing before my eyes but vile things keep setting themselves before me.
You can’t walk down the mall (Victoria, it’s not a secret), drive down the street (billboards!), or surf the Internet without seeing something vile. And forget watching television or going to the movies. Vile commercials invade your purview when you least expect it. Sudden sex scenes erupt on the movie screens sometimes without a kissy buildup when I can leave and get popcorn.
In this culture, we have a few options to guard ourselves from the vile. We can become monks and hide ourselves away in some castle without wireless or cable. Or we can learn to live as monks in the midst of all this vile mess.
Here are a few things I do to limit exposure to the vile. I use tools like www.pluggedin.com to find out what to expect in the movies that I want to watch. I ask friends I trust about movies before I go and see them. That means I usually don’t see movies on the weekend they open.
I DVR a lot of the shows I want to watch on television so that I can fast-forward through the commercials (some of which are vile) and any scenes that are vile. Does it work perfectly? No, but it works a lot better than doing nothing.
What about billboards I drive by or scantily clad girls that just happened to be walking down the street in front of me? Here’s the thing I’ve come to realize. I don’t have to look at them just because they are in front of my eyes. I can turn away. Do I always? Sadly, no. Do I want to? The new me wants to, but the old Greg is as vile as ever. It’s a battle between the horrendous and the holy, the pure and the putrid, the vile and the vow.
If you don’t have the same struggle, you are either a eunuch or a liar.
I can’t help but think of Paul’s words in Romans 7:15-24, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being, I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Sometimes, when I see a girl in an atomic dress (50% fallout), I sing the old hymn, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus.” Okay, that’s weird. But that’s really the answer. The key to victory over lust is more than taking the “wow vow” by refusing to set the vile before your eyes, but to turn your eyes upon Jesus when it sets itself before your eyes.