October 20, 2019
Gershon (not his real name) is a well-respected professor of math in a prestigious college in the metropolis. At 45, he has taught the subject diligently for more than a decade. He is a likeable figure in and out of campus. Although he has begun thinning at the top, his bright smile and sun-ny disposition have endeared him to students, making his chosen subject less cumbersome and daunting than it usually appeared to them.
Yet unknown to most people around him Geshon has been on a most difficult personal struggle. Married at 30, he is suffering from multiple obsessions — he craves for every gulp of hard liquor, and also burns with sexual passion for young, brown-skinned females.
Remarkably, Gershon has masked both obsessions with a seemingly sober front. He does not fre-quent bars and neither is he ever known to have made undue advances on his female students. So everyone regards him the ultimate “Mr. Nice Guy.” Even his wife, herself possessing a simple and quiet beauty, hardly detects Gershon’s secret cravings.
“Yes, Gershon sips brandy and whiskey but only on social occasions,” Erna admits. “I couldn’t im-agine him staying out at night with the boys — even when with hard-drinking friends.”
For some reasons Gershon seems to have developed a kind of inner strength that keeps him from freaking out, as it were, despite his demons within.
“There are moments when the urges would flare up, and I have to hold a tight grip on my flesh,” Gershon would tell his only confidante — his senior psychiatrist.
It must have been a tenseful episode. It would pass silently somehow, but how it leaves him in indescribable guilt and agony! And the thing keeps coming every now and then — almost without warning.
The syndrome is not really uncommon, behavioral experts agree. Every male, no matter how ed-ucated and well bred, evidently harbors a ‘dark’ moral side. A part of him, figuratively alluded to as “Dr. Jekyll” marks him as a decent, morally upright person, almost unlikely to stoop to deca-dent behavior. But another side, his “Mr. Hyde” makes him feel like a hungry predator out for booze or female flesh, whichever inflames his fancy at the moment.
An alcoholic can resort to concealing his vice by secretly sipping booze from a small dark bottle of energy drink. On the other hand, a flesh-hungry maniac secretly indulges in pornography or voy-erism. The more voracious ‘wolves’, however, can break out into acts of lasciviousness — or even rape!
This fact may well explain why we often hear or read of reports that seemingly respectable men as teachers, office executives and even priests or pastors have been involved in sexual harass-ment and sexual abuse.
Interestingly, the Bible has this to say of such persons: “God gave them to uncontrolled sexual passion … violently inflamed in their lust toward one another.” (Romans 1: 26, 27)
Understanding sinful cravings
Behavioral studies should enable us to understand more fully the inner personal struggle indi-viduals like Gershon are going through. At the outset such behavior may be generally viewed as “aberrations”. Yet, it will sound rather harshly unfair to treat the afflicted souls with blanket con-demnation, considering that practically everyone of us is in a constant struggle with a personal weakness, seemingly a little monster caged within.
The Holy Scriptures acknowledge with candor that “war within us”. The apostle Paul was brutally frank with himself when he wrote, “For I do not understand what I am doing. For I do not practice what I wish, but I do what I hate.” (Romans 7: 15)
Does It mean Paul had been a slave of his sinful flesh for life? Or had he eventually gained mas-tery over his weaknesses?
Like Paul writers of Bible epistles stand out for their candor, at times revealing their own charac-ter flaws, with no pretensions of self-righteousness. This all the more makes them credible and trustworthy.
Paul’s self-struggle, though, evidently had a happy ending. Nearing the end of his life — he hav-ing been sentenced by Roman Emperor Nero to death for being a die-hard Christian – Paul wrote to his young protege Timothy, “I have fought the fine fight, I have run the race to the finish, I have observed the faith. From this time on, there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me as a reward in that day …” (2 Timothy 4: 7, 8)
Even early Christians in Paul’s days were no outright “saints”, morally flawless and absolutely above reproach. The apostle acknowledged that some of them came from a shameful life of sin — “thieves, greedy people, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners”. (1 Corinthians 6: 10)
Then he concluded, “But you have been washed clean; you have been sanctified; you have been declared righteous in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 6:11)
That they had to continue putting up the fight against their own weaknesses was also part of the change into a “new personality” — a gradual but sustained transformation into an ideal that is patterned after God’s own image. (Ephesians 4:24)
It certainly would be unrealistic to imagine any human today without any flaw in personality or character. Indeed, you may know of certain ones with some outstanding qualities that seem to mark them iconic. Endearing and charming as they appear to be, each one, though, definitely har-bors some despicable traits known only to someone who has lived that long and that close enough to him.
Like our man Gershon, that Anyone is constantly struggling to be what he wants to be, but at the same time agonizes to avoid becoming the person he keeps getting to be. He feels possessed by a force, an emotion or inclination, over which he has little or no control.
To that category may belong such individuals as homosexuals, lesbians, pedophiles, maniacs, and addicts. Their addictions are stronger than their desire to be the kind of person they could ever want to be. This adds to their guilt and self-condemnation.
A day-by-day victory
Anyone who honestly acknowledges his character flaws but bravely puts up a constant fight against them certainly deserves our sympathy, respect and admiration. Just imagine what it takes for an alcoholic, a lustful but self-restrained pedophile, and a tobacco or drug addict to suppress their addictions day after day, moment after moment! Such attitude inspires us to also take up our own personal battles with ironclad determination.
The wars within us — our struggles with serious imperfection — can go on and on without letup, even till our very last moment alive. How have most victorious survivors coped with them?
Invoking ‘power beyond normal’
Many self-confessed survivors point to an extraordinary power source that accounts for their re-markable victory over their seemingly persistent weaknesses within`. That power is called faith. Not blind faith that has no grounding at all on reason.
Some swear it was their hearfelt invocation of God’s help that have infused them with the “pow-er beyond normal”, believed to be God’s holy spirit (Philippians 4: 13).
Through the years, this unseen force for good eventually has empowered those earnest believers to overcome their weaknesses and put on a stronger “new personality”. They undergo a tremen-dous transformation that skeptics could not understand. But they do matter as something realistic and undeniable to those who believe in a loving, caring God.
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