Broken Windows of the Soul: A Pastor and Christian Psychologist Discuss Sexual Sins and the Prescription to Heal Them

Broken Windows of the Soul: A Pastor and Christian Psychologist Discuss Sexual Sins and the Prescription to Heal Them

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781600662942
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Publication date: 05/31/2011
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 136
File size: 335 KB

About the Author

DR. ARNOLD R. FLEAGLE is the senior pastor of Trinity Evangelical Free Church in Amherst, Ohio. Previously he served as Director of Church Development for the Central District of the Christian&Missionary Alliance that covers Northeast Ohio and West Virginia.Dr. Fleagle holds a B.S. in education from Shippensburg University, a M.A.R. degree from Asbury Theological Seminary and a D. Min. degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He has authored or co-authored devotional and academic articles and eight books, including Developing Your Secret Closet of Prayer (50,000+ sold to date).He is married to Faye and they have two sons, Matthew and Marc.

DRR. DONALD A. LICHI is a licensed psychologist at EMERGE Counseling Services in Akron, Ohio. He is also an adjunct professor with Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Deerfield, IL). He is married to Marcie, and they have three adult children and seven grandchildren.

Read an Excerpt

Broken Windows of the Soul

A Pastor and Christian Psychologist Discuss Sexual Sins and the Prescription to Heal Them

By Arnold R. Fleagle, Donald A. Lichi

Moody Publishers

Copyright © 2011 Arnold R. Fleagle and Donald A. Lichi
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60066-294-2


The Windows Are Cracking

"If a window in a building is broken and is left unrepaired, all the rest of the windows will soon be broken."

—James Q. Wilson & George L. Kelling

"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."

—Proverbs 4:23

Imagine that you are walking down the street with no one else in sight and you notice an abandoned car. The hood is up, there are no license plates and apparently no one could care less about this car. Would you be tempted to help yourself to some free parts? What if you noticed someone else getting away with some tires, a battery or other accessories? Would you be even more tempted to help yourself?

Several years ago Stanford University psychologist Philip Zimbardo took two cars and parked one on a street in affluent Palo Alto, California, and the other in one of the seediest neighborhoods in the Bronx, New York. As part of the experiment he removed the license plates, raised the hoods and abandoned the cars to their fate. Within ten minutes (!) people in the Bronx began helping themselves to parts of the car and within twenty-four hours virtually everything of value had been stripped. Then random destruction began until the entire car was trashed. In contrast, the car in Palo Alto sat unmolested for a week until Zimbardo smashed one of the windows with a sledgehammer. Within a few hours it, too, was totally demolished.

Reflecting on Zimbardo's research, Malcolm Gladwell, author, speaker and staff writer with The New Yorker, stated, "Disorder invites even more disorder; a small deviation from the norm can set into motion a cascade of vandalism and criminality. The broken window was the tipping point." Once one of the windows was broken, and left unattended, soon the entire car was trashed.

Serious Consequences of Small-Scale Neglect

Zimbardo developed what became known as "Broken Windows Theory," which suggested that to reduce or prevent crime and maintain social order, "small" problems must be fixed immediately. Zimbardo's theory held that a little disorder that goes unattended invites even more disorder.

On the heels of Zimbardo's experiment, criminologist George Kelling and social scientist James Q. Wilson reported that a broken window in a building left unrepaired soon led to all of the windows in the building being knocked out. Why? Damage left ignored sends a message that "no one cares," "no one is in charge," "we can further vandalize with no penalty." Kelling and Wilson found that neglecting even the smallest things led to abandoned property, growing weeds and additional smashed windows.

"Fix the Broken Windows"

In the 1990s New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani decided to test the Broken Windows Theory. His police chief selected two high crime precincts and ordered the police to "fix the broken windows"—that is, zero tolerance for the small crimes like graffiti, public disorder, aggressive panhandling, the window washers at stoplights, fare jumpers at subway stations, public urination, etc. Police arrested petty offenders, cleaned up the neighborhoods and enforced a zero-tolerance policy for violations of public order. They washed the subways of graffiti daily, cracked down on fare beaters and loiterers and made their presence known.

So, what happened as a result?

Surprising Stats

Police officers found that one of seven "petty offenders" had an outstanding warrant; one of twenty had a gun. Arrests for misdemeanors went up 500 percent between 1990 and 1994. As a result, New York City became one of the safest large cities in the country (actually about as safe as Boise, Idaho on a per capita basis). Car thefts were down seventy-one thousand from one hundred fifty thousand. Burglaries fell from two hundred thousand to seventy-five thousand. Homicides decreased to 1970s levels and dropped by one-half since 1990. Every precinct showed double-digit decreases in violent crime.

Inspired by New York City's dramatic results, communities across the country developed "neighborhood watch" programs. A cursory search of "broken windows" on the Internet reveals thousands of applications in communities, schools and businesses.

Some Good News

The good news is that many communities, schools and businesses are finding that when they began to pay attention to the small details, a positive tipping point emerged. When order is visibly restored at the smallest level, a signal is sent out. "This is a community where bad behavior has serious consequences." "If you can't get away with jumping a turnstile into the subway, you'd better not try armed robbery."

Broken Windows of the Soul

You get the idea, right? Of course "broken windows" is a metaphor for the astonishing speed with which societal norms unravel. A single broken window soon attracts people who will smash more windows. After all, breaking windows is fun, isn't it? Pockets of disorder (graffiti, litter, etc.) communicated that authorities could not or would not enforce standards. Soon, law-abiding citizens left and criminal elements moved in.

The concept of "broken windows" has important spiritual applications for you. In his book The Christian in Today's Culture, Charles Colson cites the concept of shalom (e.g., civility and harmony) as the key preventative to reduce crime. His compelling challenge to the Christian community is to get involved where we live. He notes, "The best way to reduce crime is not to react after the fact with punishments and rehabilitation but to discourage it before it happens by creating an ordered and civil community life."

Colson appeals to the Christian community to put faith into action by fixing "broken windows" in our communities and cites a number of success stories. He believes that

it is only Christians who have a worldview capable of providing workable solutions to the problems of community life. Thus, we ought to be in the forefront, helping communities take charge of their own neighborhoods.

As you have already guessed, there are a number of spiritual applications of "broken windows."

This book develops the metaphor of "broken windows" and makes practical applications to your life. Specifically, while we talk about dealing with temptation in general, our main focus is on the myriad of sexual temptations you face on a daily basis. Let's be brutally honest. What "broken windows" have you left unrepaired in your life? Have you been guilty of allowing the litter of immorality, loose talk and compromised values remain like unwashed graffiti in your heart? Have you ignored the voice of God's Spirit by allowing selfish independence, sexual temptation and wandering affections to go unattended? Are you sending a message to God's enemy that no one is in charge; no one cares? What are the consequences of small-scale neglect in the neighborhood of your soul?

Let's Get Started

For much of my professional life as a Christian psychologist, I (Don) have ministered to clergy and religious leaders who have had moral failures. I recall hearing one pastor preach a sermon with fervent conviction on the topic of temptation. He exclaimed, "Moral failure usually begins with an urge, thought or idea long before the act." How true! Sadly, I found out that a couple of years later, he had an affair with the church secretary, divorced his wife and abandoned his family and ministry. What he apparently didn't realize was that the cracks of his own urges, thoughts, fantasies and ideas were not quickly repaired. When one "broken window" was not quickly fixed, more were soon to follow.

So, how do you deal with the "broken window" of besetting sin and/or temptation? It begins with attending to the "small stuff." Most Christian leaders who found themselves experiencing the consequences of a moral failure never dreamed that their flirtation with sin would lead to such devastating consequences.

There is a heavy price for small-scale neglect. Temptation is an example. Think about the time when you have ignored the "broken windows" of small compromises. Apparently dealing with temptation isn't a twenty-first-century phenomenon. The elder Paul reminds the youthful Timothy to "flee the evil desires of youth" (2 Timothy 2:22). Like a broken window, temptation needs to be dealt with when it is still an urge, a thought or an idea.

You may believe that because you struggle with sexual temptation that you are spiritually weak or that you may have a character flaw. Not so! Scripture is quite clear that Jesus was tempted in every sense that we are—and yet without capitulating to sin (see Hebrews 4:15). To be tempted is not sin. It is only when we are drawn away in our temptation and the evil desire is conceived that it gives birth to sin (see James 1:15). We'll talk much more about this later.

How to Get The Most out of This Book

To make this book even more practical for you, we provide personal reflection questions at the end of each chapter. The temptation will be to skip over these and read through the book. If you do that, you will miss some great opportunities for personal spiritual formation and growth. Further, we advise you to share the book and the reflection questions with a trusted friend. Our prayer is that you will begin to take small steps toward healing and victory in the areas the enemy most wants to destroy you. Take a close and personal look at some of the "broken windows" in your own soul. Will you open your heart to what is presented and ask the Holy Spirit to fix the "broken windows of your soul"?


What's Happened to the Neighborhood?

"When there's an elephant in the room, introduce him."

—Randy Pausch, author of The Last Lecture

"While people are saying, 'Peace and safety,' destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape."

—1 Thessalonians 5:3

We use the expression "the elephant in the room" to refer to a serious issue or problem that is obvious to everyone but is not being acknowledged or addressed. Sexual sins, and in particular the use of pornography, now constitute a herd of elephants that can no longer be ignored. The community we live in—the culture that surrounds us—has been compromised by immoral practices in epidemic proportions. Recent statistics show the widespread breakdown in sexual attitudes and habits and the resulting consequences of compromising with evil. From our experience as a pastor and a counselor, we can attest to the escalating vulnerability and victimization of people around us who have been trapped in sexual sin. It is terrifying and tragic.

You are not just a statistic, however; you are an individual whom God has formed and framed for a purpose. You may have "taken the bait" and the hook is cutting and shredding your life. You may have a family member or friend who is hooked and you want to help him or her get free. Either way, you need to be aware of the gravity of the situation before we can shed some scriptural and practical light on successful ways to overcome it.

Relational Debris

One of us (Arnold) has served as a pastor to several church congregations and as a district director who worked with more than one hundred ninety pastors and more than eighty congregations. From these vantage points he has witnessed the debris of broken relationships across the emotional landscape. It has now reached astronomical proportions due to the damage inflicted by infidelity, adultery and such sexual deviations as pornography.

The multitudes of people in counseling over these issues, the frequency of splintered marriages, the number of guilt-ridden adolescents and even the encroachment of these sins into the minds and hearts of grade-school children is rising at an alarming pace. This widespread moral breakdown threatens to bring about cultural collapse. As a society and as individuals we need to be aware of the threat and deal decisively with it. As Christians, we need to be ready to minister to our culture and alleviate the inevitable fallout.

Cracks in the Christian Wall

As we look at the church today, what do we discover? One might suspect that the Christian community, which teaches and preaches lofty moral values, would be somewhat insulated from sexual addictions. However, by the 1990s the early cracks in the wall were beginning to be observable and traceable.

Promise Keepers did a survey in 1996 at one of their stadium events, that revealed that more than 50 percent of the men in attendance had viewed pornography within one week of the event. In September 2008, a Promise Keepers event was held in Cleveland, Ohio. As reported in The Plain Dealer, Cleveland's daily newspaper, "Attendees who participated in a text message survey were asked what was their most difficult challenge. More than 80 percent of the text messengers said it was viewing pornography."

Younger men are not exempt from pornography. Jason Carroll, an associate professor at Brigham Young University, declared that "nearly nine in ten college men report some level of use; 50 percent report at least weekly use; and one in four reports daily use."3

How about Christian women? They would not indulge in pornography—at least not in significant numbers—would they? It may seem difficult to fathom, yet Today's Christian Woman magazine in the fall of 2003 reported that 34 percent of their female subscribers admitted to intentionally accessing Internet porn. So much for the age-old adage, "Men are turned on by sight, and women are turned on by touch." If women are looking at trash and if the eyes are the window of the soul, then it is inevitable that their spiritual lives will be severely contaminated.

An even more frightening statistic may be found in the demographics of pastors—the leaders of the Christian church and supposedly the high-water mark of Christian culture. C. Peter Wagner pointed out in Prayer Shield that "over the past couple of decades, an alarming number of pastors have dropped out of the ministry for two main reasons: pastoral burnout and sexual immorality." What percentage of pastors now say that porn is a temptation to them? The winter 2006 issue of Leadership reported that 38 percent of pastors owned up to the struggle.6 When almost four out of ten trained, equipped and church-commissioned leaders are affected by sexual temptation through visual representation, indeed, the moral foundations are collapsing!

Bob Russell, recently retired from the sixteen thousand-member Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, made this discouraging entry in his book When God Builds a Church:

A few years ago a group of us who are privileged to lead large congregations decided to begin gathering annually for the purpose of fellowship and inspiration. We knew we would enjoy the opportunity to share ideas and encourage one another. But each of the last three years, there has been at least one minister who didn't return. In every case it was because of moral failure in the person's life.

One of the most publicized pastoral failures occurred in 2006 when Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals and pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, confessed to sexual immorality with a male prostitute. The tentacles of sexual temptation had extended to the highest levels of the American evangelical church.

Another illustration of the havoc wreaked by sexual sin in pastoral marriages is shared by Debra Laaser in her book, Shattered Vows: Hope and Healing for Women Who Have Been Sexually Betrayed. She was married to a respected marriage counselor who was also a part-time Christian college professor and interim pastor. The tidal wave hit fifteen years into her marriage when her husband, Mark, was dismissed for initiating sex with several of his clients.

If the devastating grip of sexual addictions and sins is affecting the Christian church, which professes such high values and standards, where will the society as a whole be found? With the advent of the computer, the infiltration of the mind has come right into the office and the home. The place of solitude provides a quiet retreat to engage in the destruction of ethical purity and the chiseling away of loyalty and satisfaction in marriage. A pastor who attended a "Broken Windows" seminar later sent an e-mail unfolding his

difficulty in maintaining his spiritual health and his commitment to his wife. While desiring to stand strong against sexual temptation, he vividly revealed the battle in which he was engaged.

I don't know why, but for the past three or four months I have been under a continual barrage of temptations from the enemy that seemed relentless. It seemed that everywhere I turned, I was having temptation thrown at me. Television ads, TV programs, lustful thoughts and imaginations, memories of inappropriate movies and pictures I had literally seen decades ago, provocatively dressed women, etc., just seemed to come at me relentlessly. I am thankful that I have never looked at Internet pornography, nor been involved in any kind of inappropriate relationships. So, I was baffled as to what the source of this temptation was and why it was and why it kept coming at me over and over again for such an extended period....

I have seen so many good pastors bite the dust due to immorality and I have pastored in churches immediately following the resignation of the former pastor due to sexual sin, so I realized that "there but for the grace of God go I." On my own, I am very vulnerable, but God is faithful. This leads me to what the Lord showed me in His Word that helped me deal with such things. In 1 Corinthians 10:13, the phrase, "beyond what you can bear" jumped out at me. I suddenly realized that since I have been growing and maturing in the faith for over forty years, I am able to bear much more temptation than I did as a young teenager, because God is faithful! But it also means that I can expect much stronger and more persistent temptation from the enemy. I can't rest on past victories to get me through. I must be reminded of the continual and increasingly stronger attacks from the enemy. Even after thirty-one years of marriage to the greatest woman on earth, I am still vulnerable and very capable of failing if I take off my spiritual armor or let my guard down, even for a moment. So I must daily commit myself to purity and faithfulness to my marriage vows and my relationship to Christ.

The rewards of moral purity are so fantastic! It is wonderful to be able to hold my wife in my arms and look her straight in the eyes and be able to say how glad I am that there has never been anyone else but her in my arms. [Used with permission but with name withheld]


Excerpted from Broken Windows of the Soul by Arnold R. Fleagle, Donald A. Lichi. Copyright © 2011 Arnold R. Fleagle and Donald A. Lichi. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Title Page,
1. The Windows Are Cracking,
2. What's Happened to the Neighborhood?,
3. Here Comes the Landlord,
4. Spiders in the Glass,
5. Triple-Paned Insulation,
6. Is Someone Watching the Neighborhood?,
7. Fixing Broken Windows,
8. Arming the Alarm System,
Two Case Studies,
Also by Arnold R. Fleagle,

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