Perhaps you saw the former TV show To Catch a Predator, where a guy in a computer chat room thinks he’s talking to a young teen. He and the girl arrange a meeting at her home, which he eventually enters, thinking he’s fulfilling a sad fantasy.
What he doesn’t realize is that the girl is actually a young-looking vice cop, and the home is wired and filled with hidden cameras. The girl excuses herself momentarily, when out from behind a wall pops the condescending host who interviews the horrified victim. The cameras roll. (“It makes for great TV.” What a sad commentary on our culture that is.)
The look of horrified shock and pending disaster on the face of the “perp” is awful! Most of them, after submitting to an interview, eventually run out of the house, thinking they’ve been released, only to be captured and arrested by waiting cops outside.
Unbelievably, many of the perpetrators have seen the show! Some even say, “I knew it was going to be you guys.” Still, they show up. Like sheep stumbling dumbly toward slaughter, they move toward the irresistible answer to their fantasies.
Many are the creeps we’d expect. But some are teachers or respectable businessmen; one is a youth pastor, another a rabbi. They are you and me. I want to weep for them!
We could go further and list the politicians and church leaders who have made the same stunning career-ending choices, but we won’t. They are easy targets. Low-hanging fruit. The point is, this pattern is everywhere.
If we men are going to guard ourselves against falling to a similar temptation, we need to understand what the draw is. G.K. Chesterton tells us the answer in one of the most arresting quotes I’ve ever heard:
“Every man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God.” What?!!
Beauty, relationship, adventure, intimacy, significance, transcendence. They are all part of the hunger that God put in our hearts. His plan was for those godly longings to be fully satisfied through an eternally transcendent relationship with him. Horrifically, the first man and woman doubted him, and chose the curse mankind lives with: a core longing that will never be fully satisfied on earth.
So we, too, often choose false ways of satisfying this deep longing. Jer. 2:12-14 confirms this:
“Be appalled at this, O heavens,
and shudder with great horror,”
declares the LORD.
“My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me,
the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns,
broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”
When men (or women) pursue lust, pornography, sex chat rooms, or promiscuous relationships, all of them figuratively or literally the “door of a brothel”, we make two mistakes:
- We forsake God himself. We essentially say, “God, you are not really enough for me.”
- We dig broken cisterns. We pretend that our own solutions will truly satisfy. They can’t. They don’t hold water; so they don’t quench spiritual thirst. They leak.
Men, we must see the bigger story that is taking place in our hearts. We thirst for something God-given, which is only God-quenched. When we doubt that He is truly enough, we look for our own shallow sources of satisfaction. We dig our own cisterns. We stagger into the girl’s home, we click on the next link, we pursue the enticing flirtation at work or across the street. None of them will ever satisfy. They will only bring great horror.
Oswald Chambers tells us, “There is only One Being who can satisfy the last aching abyss of the human heart, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.” C.S. Lewis echoes the same refrain: “God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself. It is not there. There is no such thing.”
“Every man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God.” To that I would add, Every man who digs his own broken cisterns is looking for God…in himself.
Men, we already know the broken cisterns we dig don’t quench the thirst. That’s why we keep returning, looking for a bigger well. There is only one “spring of living water”: deep relationship with God, through his son, Jesus Christ, who made it clear, “If a man is thirsty let him come to me and drink…I am the Way, and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father, except through me…Seek and you will find.” (John 7: 37; 14:6; Matt. 7:7)
Knock and the door will be opened to you.
My greatest joy in life is my family. I know, that sounds like the comment you’re supposed to make as a man and father. All I can say is I literally shake my head in wonder at the family I have: my wife Beryl; my daughter Barclay and son-in-law Vince, their four daughters, Bella, Brynn, Brooke and Blake; my son Alec, my son Conor and daughter-in-law Bonnie, their daughter Gemma and son Calvin. Every one of them is a genuine gift. Beyond that, I have a calling that I live out through Peregrine Ministries. It is to help men: Understand their identity in Christ, Embrace their role as men, and Live out their God-given calling in life. Bottom line is I’m convinced men matter and I want to help them live life on purpose.