Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Popeye, Kidnapping, and Addictions

PopeyeRecently our family watched the movie Popeye, featuring Robin Williams with huge plastic forearms, singing through clenched teeth. I have a soft place in my heart for this movie, as it is the first feature film I recall  seeing at the theaters - and if my memory serves me correctly, we even went TWICE (must have been a rough month for mom - or, more likely, I was especially well behaved. Mom, please don't spoil my memory with the facts in the comments).

In the movie, Wimpy, who has a weakness for hamburgers, is enticed by Bluto to steal Swee'Pea, Popeye's son, who was recently-acquired-by-basket-delivery. Bluto is secretly plotting to use Swee'Pea's uncanny ability to predict the future for his own gain, by making money off the mechanical horse races. But Popeye follows in hot pursuit, foiling Bluto's plan. A gripping plot indeed.

When Wimpy handed the baby to Bluto, my son asked, "Why did he steal the baby?" My response: "Because he is addicted to hamburgers." (My son did not see Bluto slip Wimpy a hamburger during the trade-off). We then discussed addictions and the nature of addictive behavior for the next few minutes. The final lesson?

Addictions will cause a person to do crazy things.

Addictions lead to all sorts of crazy behavior. Whether one is addicted to coffee, sugar, comic books, literature, country music, cleanliness, messiness, movies, sit-coms, soap-operas, truck-stop-junk-food, health food, Internet, cell-phones, solitude, diet coke, exercise, or sloth, when one is addicted, you are more likely to make sacrifices for that addiction, to serve that addiction, to neglect more important things for that addiction, to think about that thing and how you get more of that thing all the time, to do things that if you could step back and look at yourself, would seem absurd and silly, like swapping a baby for a hamburger.

Addictions will become such a part of a person that they will no longer be able to separate themselves from it. Their addiction becomes part of their identity. They will no longer be able to objectively look at themselves as they are - they become blind to the addiction.

John MacArthur in the book When Sinners Say "I Do" had this to say about this tendency:
Christians are rapidly losing sight of sin as the root of all human woes. And many Christians are explicitly denying that their own sin can be the cause of their personal anguish. More and more are attempting to explain the human dilemma in wholly unbiblical terms: temperament, addiction, dysfunctional families, the child within, codependency, and a host of other irresponsible escape mechanisms promoted by secular psychology.
The potential impact of such a drift is frightening. Remove the reality of sin, and you take away the possibility of repentance. Abolish the doctrine of human depravity and you void the divine plan of salvation. Erase the notion of personal guilt and you eliminate the need for a Savior. 
Explaining away sin with more convenient terms has become the sanitized way of dealing with the unholy. One of the better books I've read this year on dealing with sin and "putting your sin to death" has been The Enemy Within by Kris Lundgaard. On pages 85-88, he offers the following encouragement and a few steps for the battle with sin:

“One of the means God has given us to overcome the power and deceit of the law of sin in us is to put our minds to work not just for obedience, but against sin. These are some ways you can use your head to weaken the flesh:

1. Thinking about the sovereignty of God.  Think about the great Lawgiver who forbids sin. This helped keep Joseph out of bed with Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39:9). When you come face to face with the lust of the flesh, think, “It is God who forbids this; the great Lawgiver, who rules in sovereignty over me, on whom I depend for every breath of life, and from whom I can expect my lot in this life and the next.”

2. Think about the punishment of sin. Keep in mind that “our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 10:29). To forget this or ignore this is to slap God in the face (Romans 1:32). Jesus counseled us to fear him “who can destroy both body and soul in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

3. Think about all the love and kindness of God, against whom every sin is committed. When God’s love touches your soul and moves you, and you know that every sin is against the Lover of your soul, you will not sin.

Is this the way to repay the Lord,
O Foolish and unwise people?
Is he not your Father, your Creator,
Who made you and formed you? (Deut 32:6)
4. Think about the blood and meditation of Christ.
For Christ’s love compels us… And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. (2 Cor 5:14-15).
 5. Think about the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. If you fully consider how sin grieves the Spirit, how it defiles his dwelling place, how you lose and forfeit his comforts by it - this works against the lusting of sin.”
Try using the above steps to wage war against sin in your life - particularly in the arena of your mind. Begin by refusing to describe sin as anything other than sin. And know your limits and stick to them. Wimpy started small - by promising to pay for that which he could not afford ("I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a Hamburger today.") He had no idea where that slippery slope would lead. Be watchful with sin, or it is only a matter of time before you'll be holding up signs at highway intersections that say "Will kidnap babies for food."


John and Pam Majors said...

Wow, all that time I just thought we were having a fun time at the movies, and it was a lesson about addiction. I am sure we went twice so I could catch all the things Popeye mumbled. I still like that movie just as it is. But, thanks for the spiritual lessons too. Mom

John and Pam Majors said...

BTW, my favorite phrase you quoted is about denying sin and thus removing the possibility of repentance. That is profound.

John and Pam Majors said...

Excellent, and so timely, John!