As a kid, I remember my mom always telling me, “Partial obedience is the same thing as disobedience”. I would usually roll my eyes and say something like, “Yeah, sure mom, whatever you say”. I thought she was being completely unreasonable in her expectations and wanted too much from me, but really she was trying to teach me a lesson; a lesson that I unfortunately did not learn until much later in life.
Have you ever felt like God was telling you to do something? And it wasn’t just something that you would find easy, it was something that you really, really didn’t want to do. That was me in my first year of college.
I was still struggling with viewing pornography and masturbating to whatever material I could find (books, movies, my own thoughts) that would turn me on if I couldn’t watch porn. My relationship with God was up and down because of this. I felt convicted by the Holy Spirit about my actions, and I had begged God to just make me stop, but nothing was changing. Whenever I would slip up and view pornography or masturbate, I fled from the Lord. Sometimes I wouldn’t talk to him for days, sometimes it was weeks. I was just too disgusted with my behavior and inability to control myself. I figured he was tired of my tearful apologies and requests for intervention.
The problem with running from God in my most vulnerable, miserable moments is that I couldn’t hear what he was telling me to do. You see, he had given me a command, but I wasn’t paying attention and didn’t hear what it was until I was nineteen years old. He was telling me I needed to talk to someone. But not just anyone, I needed to talk to someone specifically.
That someone was one of my mentors who has now become one of my closest friends. I decided I was smarter than God and would take this command, but put my own little twist on it. I would tell someone, just not who he wanted me to.
So, I told my mother. I had a good reason too. I told God I couldn’t tell my friend because she wouldn’t be able to hold me accountable. Of course, I knew better and my plan was flawless; except for the fact that my mother had never looked at porn or masturbated. Except for the fact that my mother was embarrassed beyond belief when I brought this up to her. Except for the fact that my mother did not want to bring it up again and was therefore no good to me as accountability.
I don’t blame my mother for the next few years, I blame myself.
Because I didn’t obey the commands of my heavenly Father, I suffered for it. Instead of finding relief and someone to talk to about my struggles, I only found more shame, guilt, depression, and self-hatred. I would suffer for two more years like this, until I finally realized that partial obedience truly is disobedience. And maybe I should start taking my Savior’s commands more seriously from now on.
If you are feeling any of these things because of your sin, you need to confess. But it isn’t always enough to just confess to whomever. I encourage anyone struggling with what I did to confess. You can confess it to me with no worries of judgment or anyone else finding out, but if God has told you to tell someone specifically, then it won’t be enough. Don’t make the same mistake I did. Obey the commands your Father has given you.