Perception is “NOT” Always Reality

“Perception is reality” is a phrase that comes up from time to time in our society as if this idea is to be accepted as our way of life.  In many ways, this makes me think of the adolescent years when “peer pressure” is at its highest impact on our lives.  People are so concerned about others perceptions that they make decisions of behavior and life choices from what they “think” others may be thinking.  Now we mature adults may think that peer pressure is just a teen-age phase of life; however, we adults just change the terminology to “perception is reality.”  And in turn, we do or don’t do various things because of what we think others may think of us.

Patrick Carnes, Ph.D. shares a story in his book Out of the Shadows (2001, 3rd ed.) about a guy who pulls up to a red light next to a beautiful women in the lane next to him flirting with her eyes.  They share this flirtation for a few red lights through town and he noticed the women pulling into a street side parking place.  As this guy perceived the situation, he thought that the flirtation they shared was going to lead to an impromptu date.  As he parked and got out of his car to go into the restaurant with this beautiful woman, he noticed her running into the building and was startled by her quick movement.  He then looked up to see the name of the restaurant she chose for their impromptu date was called “the police station.”

Would the woman in this story agree that perception was reality?  She would agree that “her perception” was reality, but in actuality, neither person perceived the “shared experience” in its reality.

As a child welfare social worker, I was trained to gather as much information about a situation as I could before coming to any conclusions.  One night while working the child abuse hotline, I was called out on a situation in which a little girl was rushed into the emergency room and died.  While the little girl was being treated, the doctors noticed signs of abuse.  My job was to evaluate the situation to determine if it was safe for the younger sister of this little girl to remain in the family’s custody and this all had to be accomplished in just a couple of hours.

This was a life and death situation.  If this little girl died as a result of the suspected abuse, then the life of the younger sister could be in danger.  But, if the reason for her death was due to other medical reasons, then I would have been involved in taking the only living child from a mother who had just watched her oldest daughter die.

Now I could have said “perception is reality” or “it is better to error on the side of caution,” but would I have done the right thing, regardless of the decision that I made?  Though the decision to remove the child would have been a group decision, all the information was coming directly from my investigation.

My motivation for leading Clean Heart for Men is to help troubled marriages, to help make good marriages stronger, to positively impact future marriages, to help fathers who are present in body only to become involved fathers, to help men to find freedom: the kind of Freedom that can only be found in a developing faith in Jesus Christ.

In my 3 ½ years of experience with Clean Heart, I have found that the men who come to the group and stay, are men who are developing into men of integrity in all areas of their lives.  These are men that I have come to respect and consider to be men of God with sexual integrity, these are men of honor, men to be respected.  When it comes to a man training himself to live a life of sexual integrity, perception is “NOT” always reality.

Churchgoers Want Sexual Sermons

For those who are wondering how church people would respond to sermon series directly addressing sexual issues, here are the results from one study that endeavored to answer just that question.

In March 2005 Christianity Today published the results of a study called “Christians and Sex” in their Leadership Journal.

680 pastors and 1,972 laypersons were surveyed, with the following results:

* 44% of churchgoers want to hear more scriptural teaching from their pastors on the subject of sex.

* 22% of pastors feel they should spend more time on the topic.

* 85% of pastors say they speak about sexual issues once a year, while 63% of churchgoers say their pastors do so. Among those churchgoers who say they want their pastors to preach more about sexual issues, 47% say their pastor speaks about it once a year, an even bigger difference of opinion.

A CTI analyst was quoted saying “Perhaps this desire for more biblical exposition on sexual issues exists because pastors are not speaking forcefully or clearly enough, while exposure to sexual images and messages in today’s media is ever more heightened.”