Lust, Pornography and Masturbation (Part 1 of 3)

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I wrote this series of posts from (and to) a guy’s perspective. (“Lust, Pornography and Masturbation”)

Bible Lesson. Teen Bible Lesson.

Note For Parents and Teachers:

I urge you to review this material to assess its appropriateness for your child (children). Remember to be age appropriate and open the lines of communication early. Consider cultural, ideological, educational and technological trends (influences). If you think your child is too young to be exposed to these and other topic surrounding sexuality (and gender identity), you maybe the only one.

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“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. – Galatians 5:19 – 25 (English Standard Version)

“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” – Galatians 6:7, 8 (English Standard Version)

What are some of the powerful tendencies that put men at a powerful disadvantage when it comes to sexual temptation and lust?

  • we tend to have a strong and regular sex drive
  • we tend to be rebellious by nature
  • we tend to receive sexual gratification visually

And as guys we tend to forget the distinction between temptation and sin. Temptation is not sin. . .

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” – Hebrews 4:15 (English Standard Version)

Being sexually attracted to another person is not the same as “committing adultery in your heart” (see Matthew 5:28). We have to act on the temptation (mentally or physically), in order for it to become sin.

God understands our struggles. All Christians have to deal with appropriate (and inappropriate) sexual feelings and attractions. We choose whether thoughts and temptations will become sin . . .

“But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.James 1:14, 15 (New American Standard Bible)

If I feed the temptation, it will grow into lust (which is the desire to have what is not rightfully mine). Some have suggested that one of two attitudes (oftentimes both) are present within us before we give into lust:

  • Self-pity (“It isn’t fair to deny myself a little sexual pleasure.”)
  • Pride (“I deserve and have earned the right to have some sexual pleasure.”)

Also – as guys we tend to equate lust with sexual desire. They are not the same. We can feel sexual desire at any time. Lust occurs when we decide to take our sexual desire and apply to it specific images, fantasies or memories. Our battle with lust depends to a great extent on how we respond when temptation first hits. If we are going to be serious with God in developing a healthy and authentic sexuality as men, let’s prayerfully consider these six points . . .

1. Even though we have a natural, basic sex drive, the more we indulge in it, the more it grows. If your sex-drive has grown (or is growing) out of control, honestly, whose fault is it? Of course there will be times when the sex drive will be naturally persistent and unrelenting. Yet we have to make firm and clear decisions about what movies, television shows, videos, magazines and websites we use and the type of people we spend our time with. The more you deny the impure sexual inputs and fantasies, the more the sex drive will return to its normal size.

2. Discipline your mind/heart, eyes and body (II Corinthians 10:3 – 5; I Corinthians 13; Job 31:1; I Corinthians 9:24 – 27). There is nothing wrong with appreciating beauty. However, there is a difference between appreciating beauty, having normal sexual feelings, and undressing someone in your mind. Learn to control yourself so those feelings don’t grow into lustful passion, intentions and actions. Sit down and specifically take written notes of the things, people and situations that tempt you personally. Devise written plans on how you will realistically and firmly handle the temptations when they come. Write down the detailed steps and intentionally carry them out. Literally flee from the temptation . . .

  • Get blocks and filters for provocative websites, emails and blogs (or have Internet service removed if necessary)
  • Same with the television: change the channel, block problematic channels/programs and/or ditch the cable
  • Train your eyes and mind to automatically move away from a person’s attractive body; don’t stare and gaze
  • Avoid spending idle time alone while being naked
  • Enlist the help and prayers of mature, sincere and supportive friends who will encourage you to be sexually pure
  • Similar to people who can hardly resist food and drugs, avoid people and places that tempt you (and you know who and where!)

When leading a healthy spiritual life – surrendering to God, self-control, prayer, putting to death fleshly (sinful) desires and self-denial are all necessary (Romans 8:1 – 14).

3. Develop healthy, positive affections and attitudes in your relationships with women.

  • If you are a Christian, are you Christ-like and consciously make decisions not to bring shame upon His Name when you are with her?
  • Do you honor and glorify God when you are with her?
  • Are you the leader in the relationship?
  • Are you responsible, respectful, honorable and authentic?
  • Don’t push the sexual boundaries!
  • Don’t take advantage of (or manipulate) her emotionally or sexually!
  • Deliberately honor her for who she is; honor her parents; honor her future husband and family
  • Even if you are not a Christian, leave the women you date better for having known you! 

Regardless of the circumstances, the relationship should have been a blessing and an educational (positive) experience for both of you

4. Repression vs Replacement. How many times have you been told to “just pray more” or “quote an appropriate verse of Scripture when you are tempted”? These spiritual strategies are effective for the moment but repression techniques are not a long-term solution. Please understand I am not trying to minimize the importance of God’s Word. But to conquer ingrained thought patterns, we have to deal with the underlying emotional and spiritual needs that are feeding them.

We must go deeper, below the surface. The lies of our past must be replaced with the truth of God’s Word. How do we do that? Diligent study and application of Biblical principles in our daily lives. Experiencing and living the change in the way we view ourselves, the world and God. Let your “worldview’ evolve into an outlook and reality that reflects His truth (not the distortions of society).

5. For you younger guys, be wise and don’t be fooled! The sexual attitudes, decisions and habits of the teen years will carry over into adulthood. As an example (and to make my point clear), if you are into habitual masturbation and pornography at age 14, they are highly likely to be problematic for you and your relationships at ages 24, 34 and 54. You may receive forgiveness and cleansing from God, but you won’t be exempt from the consequences of poor and wrong choices (such as scarred emotions and relationships, diseases, lost opportunities, wasted time and money, etc.)

6. Stand up and be a real man.I am not talking about the stereotypical, “tough guy” image of a man’s man. I challenge you to be a real man of honor, honesty, character and discipline. Boys and “men” who are eager to prove their manhood by their sexual virility and sexual conquests only prove their immaturity, weakness, instability and lack of self-confidence. In addition, a real man acknowledges that there are principles and truths bigger than him and he is willing to humble himself before his God for help and strength.

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We can lust after many things. Long-term victory will come when we grow in our relationship with the Lord such that, consistently, our desire for Him overrides every other desire. It’s not easy. But it is worth it, isn’t it?

This is a very general overview of this subject. Since I always learn a lot from all of you, I welcome your feedback and comments. In Parts 2 and 3, we will discuss pornography and masturbation.

Note: If your concerns are homosexual attractions (feelings), I have included a modified version of this series on my other blog. You can access it by CLICKING HERE.

Questions:

(1) What are some of your triggers to temptation? What are (or could be) your preventive strategies? How do you take control of yourself and your environment? What tricks or plans of action work for you?

(2) This astute feedback is a partial quote from a fellow Christian blogger (whose opinion I trust and respect):

“. . . your thoughts on replacement rather than repression seem simplistic/idealistic. I feel as though seeking ‘the truth of God’s word’ is the simple answer that the church always gives. . . usually leaving the individual even more alone and lost. Most of us our trying our best to pursue God with everything we have . . .”

How would you respond to (address) his concerns and perspective from a Biblical/Christian viewpoint?

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Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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