Everyone knows what it's like to give in to temptation, and to feel the shame that often follows. Sometimes even Christians feel that resistance to the things that tempt them the most is futile, so they should just accept defeat, but in his newest book, Anglican Bishop Todd Hunter explains how Americans can overcome the desires that are most haunting to them.
Our Favorite Sins: The Sins We Commit And How You Can Quit (Thomas Nelson, March 2012) offers statistics, stories and spiritual principles to readers with the goal of helping them overcome the temptations and sins that often hinder their lives.
"The main thesis of the book is we're all in the grip of our desires, and that until we reorder our desires we will never, in any kind of sort of ongoing, organic, sort of natural way, be able to defeat our temptations. Because you can't be tempted by something that you don't have a pre-existing desire for," Hunter told The Christian Post on Thursday.
Hunter, who is the founding pastor of Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Costa Mesa, Calif., and the book's publishers at Thomas Nelson employed the help of the Barna Group, a Ventura, Calif.-based religious research company, to provide research statistics for the book. The Barna Group surveyed 1,021 American adults – both Christians and non-Christians alike – in February 2011 to find out which temptations and sins they are faced with the most.
The most common sin among those surveyed was falling prey to feelings of worry and anxiety, with 60 percent of people saying this was an issue for them.
"There's two things that are fascinating about it. One is that for it to be reported as a temptation, people have to see it as a sin ... or wrong, or less than ideal or something. So it's fascinating to me that six out of 10 Americans would say that they think that it's wrong that they worry too much," said Hunter.
He said these types of feelings are an "epidemic," which is made evident by the surplus of anti-anxiety medications that are available in the U.S. today, although prescription drugs aren't the only way people deal with these feelings. Some stressed people go shopping, others eat, and others take anti-anxiety medications to deal with their feelings, Hunter noted, and there are a lot of stressors to deal with.
"I just think it's the stress of modern times. It's the stress of global politics. It's the stress of global economics. It's the stress of elderly parents that people are caring for. It's the stress of unemployment and/or underemployment. I just think this is a very, very stressful time ... in America," he said.
But feelings of anxiety and worry aren't the only temptations his book points to. Those interviewed in the Barna study also said they have a tendency to procrastinate (60 percent), to be overcome by a desire to overeat (55 percent), to overuse technology and forms of social media (44 percent) or to just be lazy (41 percent).
There were other temptations also mentioned in the study – like lust, lying, cheating and anger – and 59 percent of participants said they did nothing at all to resist these temptations the last time they were faced with them.
"Temptations always oversell and under-deliver," said Hunter, who believes that modern methods of dealing with temptation aren't effective. Our Favorite Sins offers practical solutions that are based in ancient Christian practices, which he believes can help Christians overcome even their most challenging temptations.
"I hope to bring understanding that brings a real solidness to their life so that they feel like they own their life ... that they're not victims to their own inner whims, but that they become really solid apprentices of Jesus, learning to understand their own hearts and rearranging their desires such that they really do experience a different, more peaceful, solid kind of life," he said.