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Temptation is not an island

Temptation Island

After the controversial Who Wants to Marry a Multi-millionaire, the Fox Television Entertainment Group has launched another distasteful series. This time the show is called Temptation Island.

The goal of the show, according to the network executives, is to test the relationships and learn about human nature by forcing the contestants to date the attractive denizens of the island. The show is set on a picturesque Caribbean retreat. Four supposedly committed couples will be split up. The women will be put in a resort full of handsome males and men placed in a camp with sparsely dressed females.

Apparently someone will win some money but not until all eight contestants have been subjected to numerous provocative stunts and embarrassing queries. It was reported that the participants had been screened for sexually transmitted diseases.

This series is obviously a response both to the fiasco caused by the failure of Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire as well as an counterattack on the rival networks, specifically the successful Survivor from CBS and ABC's The Mole.

As expected, this show has raised many ethical questions. When one of the male contestants was asked about the venture, his answer was: "It's like going to participate in the Pepsi Challenge, except it's ladies instead of soft drinks."

Since the show was set on an orphan island and no contact with the outside world was allowed, the implication is that there will be no escape.

But temptation is not an island

Many people sin when tempted, especially in the area of sexuality. "We were trapped", "Everyone was doing it". "It was the natural thing to do" and "It was done out of desperation" are the usual excuses. But temptation is really not an island, certainly not an orphan island.

In the New Testament times, the city of Corinth was notoriously known for its loose moral standards. That was why the apostle wrote firmly to the believers with these reassuring words: "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful: he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." (1Cor. 10:13).

Don't be fooled. Temptation is really not an island. It is a peninsula, with connections to the mainland. Its shoreline is dotted with beautiful beaches but those are the traps. They are there to distract us from the mainland. Satan wants us to believe that we have been orphaned and deserted and that no outside help is available or no one cares. We need to run away from the attractive beaches back to the mainland. Running on sandy beaches is never easy but God has promised to give us the strength. Jesus has left His footprints on the sand for us to follow. He was tempted in every way, just as we are, yet without sin. (Heb. 4:15)

Fight temptations vigorously

"In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood". (Heb. 12:4)

Recently a friend shared this experience with me. He works as a bulk buyer for a nationwide store chain and has to travel frequently by himself. After a long day's work, the evenings are meant to be relaxing. Often that is the time he would be most vulnerable. In a relaxed mood, it is easy to let down the guards. Pornographic movies are readily available without him taking a single step out of his hotel room. Besides, nobody will know. Better still, it can be charged to the company account.

At that hour, he feels too tired to run. Indeed, where can he escape to?

Recently he has found a novel method of defense. Wherever he feels vulnerable, he would phone home to his wife. He frankly admits that they sometimes talk for hours about nothing seemingly important. But this strategy works for him. Soon the hotel movies become much less attractive.

"I don't bleed but my bank account has frequent hemorrhages," he jokingly confided to me one day, obviously referring to the biblical teaching about resisting temptations.

Final remarks

Yes, fighting temptations can be costly.
Yes, the one who resists temptation the longest will be attacked the hardest.
Yes, there is outside help ready and available.
No Christian is exempted from temptations.
No, maturity is no guarantee. We all need to be on guard always.
No, temptation is not an island. There is definitely a way out.

Though quoted often, this statement still serves as a good reminder: "We may not be able to prevent the bird to fly over our heads but we can stop them from building nests on our heads".

Clement Yeung

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