Pete had been a Christian nearly all his life, but since his teen years he had been losing the battle with pornography. Desperately he fought his lust, but every new solution was temporary. Praying harder didn’t work. Feeling worse afterwards didn’t work. Getting married didn’t even work. Feeling alone and ashamed, Pete struggled for years; but his bondage only increased.
One weekend, he attended a seminar on sexual purity with his friend. On the way home Pete was even more overwhelmed with feelings of condemnation, and hypocrisy. He knew he had to bring his sin into the light to get help; but the thought of his wife and kids finding out about his secret life was too humiliating to consider. Pete’s friend listened compassionately. But it was the last conversation he would have with Pete. The next weekend, Pete committed suicide.
One of the most frequent responses of a conscience seared by repeated pornography is “to turn against itself and plunge into the despair of self-loathing and unhealthy shame.” (Dr, William Struthers, Wired For Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain) Such self-loathing shame translates into feeling way too dirty for a holy God to want anything to do with. Here is a 2 ½ minute video explanation of why that is so devastating.
There are many biblical principles for battling lust that we need to teach our men—the way pornography use robs them of their ability to be intimate with a real woman, the discipline of bouncing our eyes, the power of accountability.
But the single, most important goal of any sexual purity approach must be overcoming the self-loathing shame that convinces a man he is too dirty for God to like. The entire approach must be grace-centered, and grace driven or its result will be only temporary. “Grace is the only antidote strong enough to overcome men’s toxic shame over their sexual lust. It is the only motivation compelling enough to pick fallen men up, when lust has bloodied them, and send them back into the arena to fight again. It is the only force potent enough to change the heart desires that lead us into sexual sin.” (Grace Transformed Sexuality Men’s Bible Study)
Tim Keller writes, "We can only change permanently as we take the gospel more deeply into our understanding and hearts." (Prodigal God). This is especially true when it come to the battle with lust.
Only the message of grace—that we are far dirtier than our most resent surrender to lust proves and yet at the same time, more loved than we can imagine--has the power to restore the masculine soul to wholeness. Self-loathing shame makes me feel repulsive to God—and why would I want to be near someone who finds me repulsive?
Imagine that you are a 5 year old who believes your grandfather does not like you. He tolerates you; after all you are his grand-child. But he’s always correcting you and you are convinced that he just doesn’t like you. He loathes you. You are repulsive to him. Will you want to go visit him this Thanksgiving?
But what if you knew that you were the apple of your grandpa’s eye—that he loved it when you came to visit, that your grandpa couldn’t get enough of you? When you arrived on Thanksgiving Day at grandpa and grandma’s, you would jump out of the car, burst into their house, run to your grandpa, and jump into his arms.
That is a picture of the relationship with him that God created us for—that he sent Christ to restore! That’s the way God loves you, and the men of your church who struggle with sexual sin. We are clothed in the radiant glory of the righteousness of Christ Himself!! There is no disgust, revulsion, or condemnation left for us. God spent it all on Christ!
We are made for God. He is the answer to our deepest intimacy needs. Even though our men know in their heads that they are forgiven and loved, the lie that their sexual sin makes them repulsive to God makes them shrink back from Him, sending them into isolation, which only creates a greater thirst for the false intimacy of illicit sexual sin.
As you read this, thousands of Christian men will be viewing pornography, which, like a computer virus, is systematically destroying their soul and capacity for true intimacy with a real woman. This fact is not just old news. It is today’s reality. Many of them have slid down the slippery slope of pornography addiction, because they were never equipped by their church with a grace-centered, heart-transforming approach to the battle with lust.
Would you consider talking to your leadership about bringing the Grace-Transformed Sexuality Seminar to your church? This material is not just designed for those with sexual addictions but to equip every man and young man in the church for this battle. Don’t you want to give them every bit of help you can?