‘Stronghold,’ By C.J. Stunkard
When C.J. Stunkard’s novel Stronghold arrived at my door along with his request that I review it, I was curious and a little uncertain.
As a novel in the fantasy genre, I knew immediately that I was working at a deficit in my attempt to actually review it. I read limited amounts of fantasy, and I am not qualified to offer critique.
That said, I appreciate what Stunkard is attempting in his novel. He imagines the spiritual battle that rages in the midst of his temptation to, and his actual indulgence in, internet pornography.
He is transported from sitting in front of his computer monitor to a world in which demonic and angelic forces are engaged in brutal conflict. And he is called into the fray.
Stunkard creates characters that help define the spiritual reality he is caught in, which unfolds unseen as the real context for what happens when men view pornography, and when they struggle to fight its pull.
As someone who doesn’t read much fantasy, I struggled to enter in to the story. But I wonder if others who spend a lot of time with this genre would find Stunkard’s tale very engaging.
It’s true that the spiritual battle is intense with regard to pornography and lust addiction. It’s true that if we want to experience any freedom we need to enter the fray and take up arms to destroy strongholds. It’s true that understanding ourselves as warriors is essential.
For all of these reasons, I commend Stunkard for the courage to place himself among men who struggle against pornography’s pull, and I commend him for taking up arms.
Despite my own issues with fantasy literature, I am grateful for another author addressing the spiritual reality of the battle.
Over the next couple of posts here at Intentional Warriors, i am going to publish the text of an interview i conducted with C.J. with regard to his book and the battle as it works itself out in his daily life.
IW: In your journey of dealing with issues of pornography and lust as addictions, what brought you to the point where you decided it was time to fight those impulses?
CJ: Jesus Christ is the reason I stopped. I know a number of persons have experienced a different model, wherein they were discovered, then repented, and a clear transformation immediately came, but my journey does not reflect that—and from what I gather from your book, yours does not either.
My decision to stop was due to a long, grace-filled walk in which my growing love for Christ demanded the death of my relationship to porn. My adoration toward my Savior deepened my love for my wife, and in time, she too became a major catalyst for my ongoing recovery.
I do not know the day or the hour I chose to stop using pornography, but I know that it resulted from ongoing choices to love my wife and ultimately Christ more than my instant gratification, day after day.
IW: What have been key influences in shaping your understanding of the spiritual battle with regard to pornography and lust?
CJ: Personal Experience, a love of story, and a wide array of teaching from very different pastors all informed my “strategy”. Personal experience showed me what the battle really was–what the trenches involved and how I would need to survive them.
The Power of Story showed me how to better understand the nature of progress–providing a window through which I could see how my life is set on trajectory and the ways in which choices affect that trajectory. Story allows us to look at our journey as narrative, which allows us to find themes, motifs, and other deeper meanings to our experiences. Teaching gave me a doctrinal foundation and constant reinforcement to choose well, to be encouraged, and to wage the war set before me.
All three of these continue to affect my journey.
IW: Given that the spiritual realm and the battle are largely unseen realities in which we live, how do you keep the spiritual reality at the forefront of your thinking?
CJ: What a great question!
My relationship with Christ demands that I remain spiritually vigilant. I do believe that the spiritual battle is a far more visible reality than we choose to admit. The adverse effects and devastating fallout of our spiritual battles reveal themselves in our lives constantly. We fight it, and our exhaustion shows. When we win, the joy we experience radiates from our lives.
To provide a more practice answer, I look at the picture of marriage, wherein Christ is the groom, and the church is his bride. When I look at health in a human marriage, I see a zealous pursuit to bless the other and protect the marriage union. My wife and I desire each other’s good, and we both put our guard against threats to our marriage—emotional or social. So too, do I look at my relationship with Christ. One aspect of loving Christ as a part of his bride is actively guarding against things that will pull me away from him (sin). In order to be mindful of the war I fight out of my desire to stay near to Christ, I look for my blind spots and seek to overcome or avoid them as appropriate.
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[…] In Part 1, i introduced his book and shared some of the conversation C.J. and i have had regarding his book and the reality of spiritual battle as it relates to dealing with addiction to pornography and lust. […]
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