Our society has drastically changed over the last fifty years. For the critic of this statement, I challenge them to review the statics on sexual deviance. Regardless of personal “feelings,” I believe most would agree that our culture has become lax in the area of restraint. Fifty years ago, the Christian male wasn’t confronted with the sexual explosion found on television, Internet, advertising, billboards, movies, etc. Because of the negative connotation of sex, we often recoil from this discussion. We can’t turn our heads and hope “that it just goes away.”
Biblical principle teaches that sex is wholesome and appropriate when confined to marriage; it should be taught. So, what does the Bible teach regarding God’s intention? Why are we losing so many to pornography and premarital relations? Let’s study this issue together.
God created sex: In the Garden of Eden, God told Adam and Eve to “…be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth…” (Genesis 1:28, ESV). One purpose of relations is procreation to repopulate the earth. Our wonderful Creator didn’t want us to be alone and gave Adam a “helper” (Genesis 2:18). God, being rich in mercy, knew that humans needed companionship. The husband/ wife relationship is another example of Jehovah’s kindness and foresight.
God intended sex for pleasure. Sex is not dirty—fornication is. Our culture has stained God’s true intention. I challenge you to read Song of Solomon. Because humans are given free will, we have to decide not to participate in certain actions. Let me give you a couple of examples.
Sex is designed to be confined to marriage. Can one choose to participate in premarital relations outside of God’s purpose? Sure they can. Eating is another pleasurable avenue. Were we designed to eat food in order to absorb the calories, thus maintaining life? Absolutely! May one choose to indulge in food as a comfort, thus abusing its sole intention? Of course. There are many things created by God for our benefit, but we must “… no longer [live] for human passions but for the will of God” (1 Peter 4:2, ESV).
Why, then, do men lust? This question has been pondered for many generations, yet the answer was addressed by Jesus. He said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28, ESV). As with all of our behaviors, intention or motivation is at the root. As males in our current society, we should strive as Job did when he stated, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; why then should I look upon a young woman?” (Job 31:1). His goal was to be pure; he was focused. So, let’s answer the question “Why do men lust?”
First, men want to lust. Jesus clearly conveyed that the root cause for lust is “intent,” noticing and lusting are totally different. If your motivation is as Job’s, you are striving not to have impure thoughts; a male should “make a covenant with his eyes” (Job 31:1). “Noticing” is accidentally seeing someone or something that could elicit desire; the faithful Christian at this point looks away and “… takes every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). “Lusting” is acting as David did when his gaze fell upon Bathsheba; rather than looking away, he fed his desires. In the end, David’s actions caused much heartache upon all involved. “Lust” is fantasizing or thinking about any impure image. This can be a picture, television pixels, or someone standing in front of you. Christianity is about personal accountability; it’s about self-control. By prayer and focus, men need to desire to be faithful to God and not “… look at a woman to lust after her …” (William F. Beck, Th.D., The New Testament in the Language of Today, 1963, p. 8).
Men will fail because people are sinful, but there is no excuse for a rebellious attitude of, “I just couldn’t help it. God made me this way.” As James clearly states, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire” (James 1:14, ESV). We are tempted by what we want and the devil knows this. We must be “… transformed by the renewal of [our] mind[s] …” (Romans 12:2, ESV). We live in an era that is much different from one hundred years ago. We must remain steadfast in not diluting ourselves with the world.
Second, we have dopamine. In God’s ingenious design, humans were given a brain. This is often referred to as the “heart.” An example of this is in Matthew 15:19 when Jesus says, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” Everything we feel, smell, taste, or think is processed in the mind. That is why the New Testament is riddled with admonitions for the Christian to be clear-headed and prepared. This organ is the microprocessor of the body.
When it comes to sexual desire, the male brain is equipped with a chemical called dopamine. This can be equated to drugs like cocaine. As Dr. Archibald D. Heart writes in his book Healing Life’s Hidden Addictions, “This form of addictions [addictions that tranquilize], like the others, probably has a basis in the chemistry of the brain. It has become quite clear in recent years that the brain has its own natural system of tranquilizers …. The best known of these natural tranquilizers are called ‘endorphins’ [dopamine].”
So, God created men to have this desire for the opposite sex. Left unchecked, this can cause problems outside of marriage. When a man sees an image that is impure, his body releases dopamine. This is the reason why so many Christian males are losing their families, their jobs, and their souls over pornography. God formed us to have pleasure, but as we detailed earlier, we must control ourselves.
Third, men don’t understand their temptations. How often do commanders lead troops into battle without understanding the enemy? Generals will sit down and discuss the weaknesses, flaws, strengths, past attacks, and countless other strategic plans in order to be prepared.
That’s why Paul exhorted the Christian to prepare for spiritual battle in the book of Ephesians when he said, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (6:11, ESV). We must understand ourselves; we must understand our weaknesses. The following are some points that I believe will help us to adhere to God’s standards, thus helping us remain pure:
1. Be careful what you take in. Jesus taught, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:19). As the famous expression goes “you are what you eat,” so we are what we take in. We should abstain from movies, T.V., or activities that we would be ashamed of. Ask yourself: “Would I watch or do this with friends from church? Would this glorify God?” The following statement that we hear often rings true: “What would Jesus do?”
2. Stay away from your temptations.
Self-reflection reveals weakness; failures manifest why we fall. Often times some will continue making the same mistakes without realizing they bring it upon themselves. The devil knows our weaknesses. That is why he “… prowls around seeking someone to devour.” We must examine ourselves; test our motives; constantly strive to change. Pray, study, apply.
3. Understand that you will fall. When we become arrogant, we fall (1 Corinthians 10:12). We need the blood of Christ to cleanse us because we sin. Mistakes will be made even though our intentions are good. Many take guilt to their graves not understanding that if we “confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). God wants us to repent but we don’t have to wear “the yoke.” Pick yourself up and try again.
4. Help others with what you’ve learned. How great it is to know that you’re not the only one who fails? Often we feel alone because we are afraid that others will have a tendency to look down upon us. However, teaching others brings joy and happiness that is beyond words. God’s great plan allows us to help ourselves (through His Word) and, in so doing, help others.
By Andrew Hallenback
This article first appeared in an issue of Think magazine. For more info, or to subscribe, click here.