A Review of “Clean”

This is a thorough and lengthy review of Douglas Weiss, Clean: A Proven Plan for Men Committed to Sexual Integrity. Thomas Nelson, 2013.

(See other book reviews here.)

This book contains a lot of truth, and that’s the good news. It paints an accurate picture of the dire consequences of compulsive porn use and sexual addiction. The bad news is that it operates under an assumption which is a lie. Naturally, the tragic result of mixing truth with a lie is a mesh of half truths. It bases its logic under the premise that there is only ever one response a man can have towards the sight of something deemed attractive, and it’s a sexual response. I also lived under that assumption for many years and reaped what that conditioning sowed in me. There are no true solutions to this problem as long as you believe this lie. Once you reject it, you can live a existence that few even know is possible.

What follows are excerpts from the book (in bold) and my notes which I wrote as I read the book are in italics.

“…this type of internal transformation requires work. More work than most people are used to.” Page 1

The Lord has done the work. We just need to accept his work as finished and powerful enough to help us aside from our own effort.

“I also see a lot of church leaders struggling to help those trapped in the cycle of sexual sinning, whether it’s porn or adultery or something else. But many church leaders fall to sexual temptation themselves, and the ones who do stay pure are often at a loss as to how to help those struggling.” Page 1

True. Was certainly the case with me. WAS.

“…if a community of believers is willing to go the extra mile for one another, get real, and extend grace, they will soon see the blessing of the Lord return to their sanctuary.” Page 1

These are all great things and should take place. However the lies about the body need to be addressed for lasting change without an on-going struggle.

“The book of Joel says, ‘I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten’ (2: 25). That can be true of your life, if you are willing to own your past and believe in the possibility of a new future.” Page 1

This is one of the verses that was a key insight for us, and that’s why it’s on our homepage.

You will find the Lord giving you insights in how to communicate ideas that help men get and stay clean.” Page 1

It’s not so much about getting and staying clean in my estimation, as much as it is being clean in who you are (in Christ) and not a matter of trying to be something you aren’t.

“No matter who you are, it all comes down to doing the work. Tom Landry, a famous professional football coach for the Dallas Cowboys, knew this truism. During his tenure, his teams made it to multiple playoff and championship games. While he made everything look easy on the outside, always maintaining a calm demeanor, he had a saying about leading his players: ‘Leadership is getting someone to do what they don’t want to do, to achieve what they want to achieve.’ He knew his players had to show up at practice and do the work if they wanted to win. The same is true with getting clean.” Page 1

Being clean is about wanting to be clean, not doing something you don’t want to do. You live clean because you want to. It’s all in the mindset, and the mindset here is all wrong, in my opinion.

“The enemy of our souls began a sexual campaign—or as we would later call it, a sexual revolution. This campaign would question the very core biblical view of sexuality.” Page 2

He did this immediately after Adam and Eve sinned, if you don’t gloss over it! (See Genesis 3:11) The enemy hates the image of God and he told them they were naked and most likely planted in them the idea to cover up. Most people ignore God’s first question to them: “Who said you were naked?” That’s the sexual revolution that has caused brokenness throughout all generations.

“I have been sexually clean for more than twenty-five years. I have not masturbated, viewed pornography, or had any sexual behavior outside of my marriage. My clean lifestyle has been validated repeatedly by a polygraph, so I am telling you the truth man to man, soldier to soldier.” Page 4

“I have written several books related to sexual addiction. I am considered an expert in the field of recovery, having appeared on Oprah, Dr. Phil, and many other national television shows, and I’ve even had a Lifetime Network movie made about our treatment for sex addicts called Sex, Lies and Obsession. I am also the president of the American Association for Sex Addiction Therapy (AASAT). We train and certify counselors and life coaches to help those who struggle with sexual addiction both nationally and internationally.” Page 4

I may not have all the credentials and the numbers of people impacted that he has, and that’s ok. We both want the same thing and I wish him well in his ministry. I’m saddened he needs to repeatedly use a polygraph. And also the combative language of soldiering on in this battle really grieves my spirit. It’ll be a battle if we think it will be! I’d rather skip the battle, myself.

“Pornography Time Statistics • Every second, $ 3,075.64 is being spent on pornography. • Every second, 28,258 Internet users are viewing pornography. • Every second, 372 Internet users are typing adult search terms into search engines. • Every 39 minutes, a new pornographic video is being created in the United States.” Page 6

“If 90 percent of the men at a Christian conference see this as a big issue in their relationship with God, we all need to take this war seriously.” Page 10

“Half of the pastors or their wives at churches where I have been a member have fallen to sexual sin during my thirty years as a Christian.” Page 11

We don’t really need all these stats to know about the problem. I’ve been at these men’s conferences and I’ve stopped going to them because they just tell guys they will have a problem. If you believe it will be an issue, it will be an issue. They need to know it doesn’t have to be a problem in their lives.

“We have all seen great men of God excelling in the Lord and moving toward global impact, only to succumb to sexual sin. Suddenly, all they can do is watch as their ministries, families, and reputations crumble in shame. Had these men prepared themselves to fight against sexual sin—been transparent with others, sought counsel, remained accountable—we would still benefit from their ministries today. As I like to say about the devil, if he can seduce you, he can reduce you.” Page 22

We make the devil’s work easy by agreeing with him that the nude body (image of God) is lewd and obscene. If we instead believe the truth, we won’t need any accountability and won’t even struggle!

“I could give you hundreds of examples of men caught up in pornography, adultery, and other improper sexual behaviors who decided to repent, become accountable, and build a support team. As a result, they began to help others and change the world.” Page 25

I could give hundreds of examples that easily eliminated lust without the need for accountability or support groups.

“Knowing the reason for staying clean will have a similar effect on you. It will give you strength in the fight for sexual purity. It is easy to swim with the current in our present culture, but it takes real strength and courage to swim against it.” Page 28

You wanna talk about swimming against a current? Try going against the current of purity culture, which in essence agrees with our present culture’s views in how they see the body and flesh. Once you appreciate our God as Creator and see the human body and soul as the pinnacle of creation, you will want to BE clean and give other image bearers love, respect and dignity. You will hate anything that objectifies another human being demeaning them as an object.

“If you think you can control lust, you are deceived. The opposite is true, and unless you can see this, it will only increase its hold on you.” Page 33

I believed this until I didn’t. I’m so glad I no longer believe it, because that was a miserable thing to believe!

“Satan’s deep “secret” is quite simple: be immoral. He has used this same trick throughout the centuries, but it’s not a secret anymore. Anytime you’re being tempted into immorality or viewing pornography, you are falling for the enemy’s teaching hook, line, and sinker.” Page 39

I think he had another secret that isn’t as well known! Again, see Genesis 3:11 and ask yourself honestly why you think God asked this question.

“Joe gradually began to lust after and flirt with the twenty-year-old blond women in his workplace. He also started to rationalize that he could masturbate again. He reactivated his landmines over a couple of years.” Page 44

I think a better way is to not have any landmines that could run the risk of reactivation. When I was in my issues, I had a type. Actually my type was those who reminded me of my wife. But as my mind and thinking has changed completely, she and she alone is my type and there are no landmines in sight or underground. Praise God Almighty!

I say he wouldn’t need a weapon if he wasn’t engaged in a battle he didn’t need to be in. It’s not and doesn’t have to be every man’s battle! What if this battle everyone seems to think we need to fight tooth and nail is actually a diversion from the real war being waged by our enemy. As we are busy fighting this battle over here for momentary purity, the enemy has surrounded us from all sides to where we can’t escape and experience true and lasting purity of heart and soul.

“Why did all this hell break out in Joe’s life? He dropped his weapon!” Page 47

“God gives you various weapons to protect yourself and those you love. These weapons include the fear of the Lord, wisdom, the Word of God, accountability, honesty with your spiritual authorities and spouse, porn blockers, and accountability software. So many weapons are at your disposal.” Page 47

These so-called weapons are weak. They are man-made attempts at managing and coping with sin. They aren’t an answer to the “heart” of the problem. I was waiting to see what his tried and true method was, but it’s sadly the same old same old.

“Women are three-dimensional creatures with spirits, souls, and bodies, with relationships, responsibilities, and dreams for their lives. When we lust, we remove all these other aspects of their beings and just look at their packaging, or their bodies. We objectify or make them things, instead of souls or people. In lust, we devalue the amazing soul that a woman is and make her into a lust hit—entertainment that we scan into our brains.” Page 49

Yes, agreed! But seeing is not lusting, and lust doesn’t have to be the automatic response to seeing. Your aforementioned passage of James 1:15 says, lust when it conceives… What about when lust doesn’t come into play? This is my experience now after two decades of trying and failing the other ways.

“…we are not to lust after any woman on planet Earth. Paul said to treat “older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity” (1 Timothy 5: 2). Why sisters? Because that puts a relationship context around each person. Most of us would not lust after our own physical sister regardless of her level of attractiveness, because, of course, she is our sister. In the absence of the option to lust, we see her as a whole person with feelings, a history, relationships and value, not as an object.” Page 50

Ok, this part is getting good. This is what I’m saying.

“Lust, if it is not destroyed at this level, can and will grow. And if it is watered repeatedly with more lust, fantasy, and pornography, lust will continue to grow and become stronger. If you masturbate to lust-inducing pictures, it’s like feeding super-fertilizer to the seed, or genetically engineering it.” Page 50

Very true. So let’s not let it get to that point at all, by seeing everyone as a beautiful creation of God, seeing them as God sees them, not as the world does.

“A man may lust for years, never thinking he will sin. I have heard that hundreds of times from men, Christian men, who thought they would never cross the line. They didn’t understand that feeding lust guarantees the seed will grow into its next stage. Whether a man is saved or not, that’s the principle of the seed.” Page 51

Lust is sin, full stop. That first stage is too much. You’ve lost if you objectify and desire someone solely for personal gratification. (Even if it’s your own spouse!)

“If a man doesn’t perceive the battle he is in, he is more likely to fail, causing pain to himself and those he loves.” Page 53

I’ll say it once again. If a man believes he will be in a perpetual state of battle, he will be in a perpetual state of battle. If a man “commits to be clean” he can avoid the battlefield entirely. He does so by the renewing of his mind, just like with any other sin. It’s no different.

If you haven’t purposed to be clean when temptation comes—and I said when, not if—you can be truly caught off guard, and with little strength, or support, you may fail unnecessarily. Page 54

Today, I’m tempted with arrogance, and I’m working on it. Being tempted to lust is not a thing anymore. My wife knows this. I could never lie to her very well during 20 years of constant temptation. Now that I’ve overcome this issue by God’s grace, I can easily become arrogant in my portrayal of a much better way. This is often passion carried to the extreme. I’ve lived with both bondage and freedom, so I get passionate when I see what does not work being promoted as though it does. Temptation to lust will not come if you have worked through this with a renewed mind, in the same way I’m not tempted to murder my brother. I have no interest in either of these sins. I also need to renew my mind around food and gluttony, but lust is finished.

“He [meaning someone who doesn’t fight this seriously] doesn’t mind occasional, partial, or full nudity on television or in magazines. He accidentally or intentionally can be hit by sexual material and not think twice about it.” Page 55

Maybe the only boundary should be to not objectify anyone. Then the sight of even nudity will not cause this person to struggle. One trip to a family friendly naturist park will shatter all preconceived notions about the body and the potential for lust!

“A lack of accountability is always a sign of a man whose weapons are down. Page 57

A need for accountability is a sign of continual bondage. If someone has true freedom, there is NO need for accountability.

“He is alone in the web of pornography called the Internet. A man in this defenseless position is easily accessible to the enemy of his soul and his family, and extremely vulnerable to sexual temptation and acting out. It’s almost like telling the devil to take his best shot.” Page 57

This agreement that lust is the only response to the sight of flesh is causing all the strife. You could have all the access to all the porn (and you do), but it will not be a temptation if you don’t like or enjoy anything that objectifies another human being. Make that agreement instead!

“The Bible says, ‘For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he’ (Proverbs 23: 7 KJV).” Page 58

Using this very verse to counter the fact that you will constantly be tempted would make this book very short. Change your mind. Think differently. This is true repentance and when God renews your mind, that is all that is needed. The truth will make you free (John 8:32)!

“Your clean commitment clears your vision, and you will begin to see threats clearly as well. Prepare for them, and enjoy victory and a clean conscience after winning those battles.” Page 59

I agree a clean commitment is key, but also a redefining of what is clean and what is a threat. When you see the body as the crowning glory of creation, all so-called threats disappear.

“Men who protect have a plan.” Page 59

The plans mentioned in this chapter (as anticipated) are cumbersome and never ending. The only plan needed is to honor the image of God. That’s it.

“He still lives in an environment of temptation, as we all do. But if he opens an e-mail and sees something inappropriate, he tells somebody immediately. He cooperates with his wife in telling her the things she wants to know, and he has a trusted man or men to confess any inappropriate thoughts to as well.” Page 60

There are opportunities to lust literally everywhere. But if someone would rather die than objectify another image bearer, they will not have inappropriate thoughts, even on a nude beach, for example. That’s a worse case scenario for someone struggling with lustful thoughts. If you can be at such a place and be just fine thought-wise, you’ve got it made anywhere else! You might call that dangerous, but remember, you have declared literally everywhere as dangerous. Nowhere is dangerous for a person with true freedom.

“Let me give you an example. I was exhausted after three days in Canada speaking at a men’s and marriage conference and doing professional training for Christian counselors on sexual addiction. I got on my plane and took out my tablet to write a chapter of a book. The woman sitting next to me reached into her bag and began to pull out a magazine. All I could see was the red letter P. I instantly knew it was going to be a Playboy magazine. I looked the other way and sat facing the bathroom. I was angry. I prayed in my spirit, “Lord, if she’ll put it away, I’ll witness to her.” I didn’t have an “accident” and look; I stayed focused. She put her magazine back in her bag, went to the bathroom, and when she came out she pulled an everyday magazine out of her bag. I tried to share, but she seemed more comfortable with silence. When I got off the plane, I immediately called my accountability partner and my wife. I hadn’t seen anything inappropriate; I just didn’t want to be slimed by her issues.” Page 61

This is really weird to me now, I have to be honest. I don’t like Playboy or porn at all because it objectifies. I hate it. It’s slime in the fact that it uses people and entices others. But if I were to see a cover girl on a magazine from the seat next to me on a plane, it wouldn’t be a major event. I wouldn’t have to call anyone. It wouldn’t cause me to have any thoughts except for compassion towards the person in the photo. There is a big difference between pornography and naturist photos. This could be the subject of a whole article. They may both be nude, but one is sexual and the other non-sexual and wholesome. Many cannot see this because they are so conditioned to think only a certain way. This is the great tragedy that keeps so many from enjoying a life of freedom and victory over lust.

“Most guys struggle because of classical conditioning. That includes positive conditioning for a behavior. To change a behavior you might want to change your conditioning from positive rewards for lust to setting up a negative reward for this behavior. If you look at something or do something inappropriate, have a consequence set up and enforce it. A consequence is something that hurts you (negative reinforcement). Let me give you a list of suggestions. 

• No media for one, two, or three weeks 
• No cell phone for one, two, or three days 
• Walk to work 
• Pick up trash for two to four hours 
• Give money to a political or nonprofit organization you really disagree with 
• Eat a raw onion 
• Run two miles (if you’re not in shape) 
• Eat Ben and Jerry’s at 10: 00 p.m. (if you are in shape) 
• Leg lunges for half a mile or one mile The consequence has to be painful to you.”
Page 62

This is crazy! And my wife says infantile. Are we men or kids? I get it, though, grown men act immature. I did. But, if you hate what is actually inappropriate, you won’t need to do these silly negative reinforcements. A person, even fully naked, isn’t always inappropriate. This mind shift changes everything, and anything truly inappropriate loses its power and appeal. It’s not a desensitization to evil; it’s  a renewed mind to what is actually evil and what is not!

“Men who have lost this battle for decades change into men who become winners and protectors of those they love, due to the humility of consequences.” Page 63

Really? Self imposed consequences for messing up? Sound masochistic to me. How about fix the issue and not “mess up” anymore and live the life God wants for us. Stop living a life that is constantly worrying and striving.

“Men are the solution God has chosen.” Page 64

What? Jesus is the only solution I will put my trust in and He is more than enough. I don’t think that’s me being super spiritual or holier than thou. I just think the Lord is much more powerful, and men limit his power through disbelief! Is our view of Christ’s finished work on the cross so low that we need man-made strategies to help him accomplish his task of redemption? So sad!

“As you can see, there are major differences in a woman’s self-esteem after being in a relationship with a man with a secret sexual life.” Page 70

These and other stats mentioned here come from a pretty small survey, especially in light of Sheila Gregoire and company’s survey of 20,000 women (in “The Great Sex Rescue: The Lies You’ve Been Taught and How to Recover What God Intended”). The low self esteem numbers before a relationship with a cheating man are too low to begin with. It obviously will go down. But women need a better self concept generally speaking. And imago Dei concepts played out through naturism solve that as well as they do the man or women’s propensity to view and use pornography or have other sexual brokenness.

“An unclean or secret sexual life does have a significant impact on the ones you love.” Page 80

We all know this and don’t need all the stats to prove it. However, we need an actual life changing message, and I’m not getting that out of this book. Sorry!

“…a real man stops his inappropriate behaviors, stops sacrificing his family for his secrets, and on a daily basis fights for himself to stay clean so he can enjoy the privilege of being a husband and a father.” Page 81

I agree a real man will stop these destructive behaviors, but to do that, he needn’t fight at all! He must surrender. The Lord will fight for you. You need only be still (Exodus 14:14).

“Your brain is the pleasure center for your body, especially when you have a sexual release. When you release sexually, your brain receives the chemical mother lode of endogenous opiates. These opiates are the single highest chemical reward for anything you can ever do. You can run and work out, but sex is by far the biggest chemical high we get in life.” Page 85

“Let’s suppose you use your brain this way from age fifteen until age twenty-five. You would have a mega attraction to the unreal, self-created, self-worshiping world of lust. You would have created many attractions, misconceptions, and false realities that simply may not exist in the real world, and then encouraged these false beliefs with the highest chemical reward. These become your landmines in the future. If you masturbated to exclusively blonds and marry a brunette, you could be unsatisfied because of the blond landmine you set up in your brain. If you preferred a particular sex act in your pornography or fantasy world, this could also be a landmine. You have set yourself up for failure because your wife is not a sexual actress and may not enjoy or even desire that particular sex act.” Page 86

This section is a good one. The brain science is fascinating, and that’s why the mind is so important in diffusing those landmines. The renewing of the mind, that is.

He worked diligently on his recovery and visited my office to take his annual polygraph. Page 88

Sad that an annual polygraph is required! I asked a naturist friend if he’s had any issue in the 16 years since he’s embraced naturism. He said no, and I believe him, because in 3 years I haven’t had any issues and feel so different, even one month into naturism. It’s night and day. No polygraphs required!

“I never recommend that married men masturbate to their wives because it can cause problems. When I travel, I make sure I come home regularly so I never sin against my body in this manner.” Page 90

I have the same conviction in saying that I will not masturbate period, not even to my wife– not because I’m afraid of any triggers, but rather because I want to honor her and have our love making be mutually satisfying. This would have been difficult in the past with long trips, etc. But now, it’s no problem and I could go long periods of time without sex. That’s what nocturnal emissions were made for. Of course, I’d rather make love to my wife, but I’m not in desperate need to cut my trip short just for a release.

“I can hear some of you thinking, Doc, I’m already messed up, so now what do I do? Trust me, I know what it’s like to carry around a defective brain that has been rewarded for lust. I also have had a clean brain for more than twenty years and have helped many men clean up their brains too. Now we’ll talk about how this happens. Spank the Dog Here is a principle I have been sharing with men for more than two decades. I mentioned this technique in my book The Final Freedom: Pioneering Sexual Addiction Recovery. I call it, ‘Spank the Dog.’ This will be familiar to anyone who has had a puppy.” Page 90

“Get a rubber band and place it around your wrist for at least thirty days. Every time you lust, objectify, double take, rubber neck, or have a past image hit your brain, snap the rubber band. You will be amazed at how much of the time your brain is actually going the wrong way. Remember the dog: we are ‘spanking’ your brain when it is going down the wrong direction. Men have told me over the years that this negative reinforcement has shut down as much as 80 percent of their lust life and reduced the power of their landmines within a month. Some men have found it helpful to quote a Scripture after they snap the rubber band. This is like showing the dog where to urinate. Choose a Scripture, and after you snap the band, either say it out loud or in your head.” Page 92

I hate this so much! I’m deeply saddened that this is needed.

“You deserve a clean brain, but it doesn’t come easy. You trained your flesh to lust after a certain image or emotional trigger. Unfortunately, your flesh doesn’t change overnight. Be persistent, and over time you can begin to look at any woman as a person and not as an object. The longer you stay free from porn and masturbation, the easier it gets to see women as people.” Page 94

This is good, but again, a half truth. It is easy and can come overnight.

“You may be walking in the mall when you see a poster. You can see the skin, but can’t quite figure out if it’s another Victoria Secret image. But your braindar has picked it up and you are not only aware, you also are getting a feeling in your chest—or somewhere else. This sense or feeling is your braindar. It’s telling you there is a UFO in your environment. UFO is short for Unidentified Female Object. I know that women are amazing souls in incredible packaging and are not to be treated as objects. Guys know exactly what I mean when I say it’s way too early to see the soul of that person when your braindar goes off. It will tell you only two things: its gender and its location. If the braindar could talk, it would tell you something like this: “Female, questionable attire, at three o’clock.” Believe it or not, this braindar can be a gift to you in obtaining a clean life. In the past you used your braindar to locate a victim to lust after or worse. Now you can use your braindar as a warning device.” Page 94

“You still receive the information of gender and location, but now it’s all about what you do with that information. Instead of using the information to move toward the UFO, you use it to move away from the object. If the braindar says, “Object at three o’clock,” then you look in any other direction so as to not include that UFO in your range of vision. If you’re at a restaurant or in another public place, sit away from the flow of the UFOs, or sit in such a way that you are no longer able to engage in a straight line with what your braindar has warned you about. If you are at an airport and you see a UFO sitting in a seat nearby, pick a seat where you are not able to look directly at her. I think you get the idea. Braindar can help you choose to move away from someone or something in your environment that can be stimulating you for whatever reason. You can’t control that you have braindar, but you can control how you use it. You can’t control the environment, but you can control how you navigate your environment.” Page 95

I read this part out loud to my wife and she was appalled. It’s so messed up, in our opinion. He states that women are not an object and then calls them an object, and treats them like an object! Also, to shift your seat so as to not look at a woman you deem as attractive is not victory over lust. It’s a sign you are still in bondage! It reminds me of the Duggars and their “Nike” code word. But look how that worked out for Josh Duggar!

“You will never destroy an enemy you embrace. As you clean your brain, it is helpful to hate lust in all its forms. Lust destroys everything and everyone around you. It can take your family and leave you appearing foolish. Hating this enemy can be an effective part of the process of achieving a truly clean brain and a truly clean life.” Page 97

This quote showed up as a popularly highlighted quote on kindle as I read. I can see why. This is key. We should hate the sin of lust and all that degrades God’s original intent for our sexual wholeness. However, I’ve noticed that in our attempt to hate this sin, we go to the other extreme and throw out the baby with the bath water so to speak. We see women as dangerous to provoke our lust. We see their bodies as something to hate, and we end up hating ourselves for our lack of control. Instead of having this enemy, the best way to beat an enemy is to make them your friend. This may sound a little dangerous, but stay with me. The human body was created to image God, and He saw it as very good. Not just body, but soul as well, but not just soul! They are intertwined, and the body itself is not bad, in and of itself. It’s a form of modern Gnosticism to think that it is. To see that “enemy” as friend (just another body belonging to a precious child of God, worthy of respect) is to eliminate the danger in that threat. You won’t lust when you live this way. The real enemy is the one who started this lie that our bodies are shameful (Genesis 3:11).

“…it’s not the eyes that are the main problem. The main problem is what men are doing in their minds. A man might be looking at and maybe talking to a woman. Some guys have the dexterity to have a conversation and simultaneously have lustful thoughts, or even fantasies, about the person who is innocently talking with them.”

“I have come up with a technique that has helped men stop these thoughts from ever getting started. This can even be helpful in a situation where a man has to not only resist looking while talking to a woman who is inappropriately dressed but also doesn’t want to have to deal with the sexual slime that can linger after such an encounter. I call this a “brain covenant.” This is like a prayer you say at the beginning of every day.” Page 98

The intent and the words here are fine. The underlying assumption isn’t. Neither is the goal a good one. It’s too short sighted due to the perceived desperation of the situation. The move from the eyes to the brain and the mind is good. But then his mind is still not clean. It’s been rinsed, but not deep cleaned. He mentions a struggle to look at women who are dressed inappropriately (in our boob obsessed culture, that probably means a low cut top showing cleavage). He calls this sexual slime to be dealt with later on (after he leaves and mulls this encounter over in his unrenewed mind). This is so sick, but I get it, because this was me! He is trying to resist the temptation to undress her in his mind. If he was used to seeing regular bodies unclad in non-sexual situations, this would not even be an issue! Does he have a problem when he sees a nose or an elbow? No! That’s because they are uncovered and therefore not sexualized. Before I changed my mind about the body, I had this endless struggle, requiring ever-present hyper vigilance. When I decided, once and for all, that all bodies are beautiful and all people made in God’s image have inherent dignity, everything changed. My arousal is reserved for the rightful place of relationship with my wife. What used to turn me on and be “a dangerous battle” does not any longer come into play. I have more than a mere attraction for my wife. We have a commitment, and a history, and a fidelity that is stronger than anything lust could offer. I can be literally surrounded by naked women, and not have any unwanted or sinful thoughts creep up like they used to. You might say this normalization of nudity is a seared conscience, but that’s your own unclean mind projected onto what seems unfathomable to you. I invite you to do just one hard step, and that is to consider a better way.

“If you pray early in the day, out loud and with conviction, a prayer that states a commitment to love women, protect them, and hate all lust toward them, it can be a powerful anchor of your commitment for your brain to follow and be aware of all day long.” Page 99

I like the idea, but why decide to do that one day at a time when you can renew your mind for every day to come? I don’t want to clean my mind for a day, but rather for a lifetime. This is who you are. You are made new, renewed. The old man is gone.

“She is way more than her body parts or face, which is the box that many men try to put her into.” Page 104

My point exactly. Now, let’s see if you actually apply this fully…

“Habakkuk 2: 15 and 16: Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors, pouring it from the wineskin till they are drunk, so that he can gaze on their naked bodies! You will be filled with shame instead of glory. Now it is your turn! Drink and be exposed! The cup from the LORD’s right hand is coming around to you, and disgrace will cover your glory. This is a powerful Scripture, but I have never heard it preached on. What the prophet was commenting on is commonplace today.” 

“The correct response to nakedness is to not pursue it and also to cover it up.” Page 107

How’s that working for us?

“…we can see that the body is innately holy. We also can see we have a responsibility to cover nakedness. Our hearts have drunk in the devil’s perversion, and we can have one of two responses. We can protect holiness by covering nudity, or we can consume this holy nakedness in some sexual manner.” Page 107

Hmm. I see the devil as the one who originally wanted to cover up God’s image.

“Exposure to holiness brings out who we are. When you see the holiness of a naked woman, what’s your reaction? Is it to protect and cover up her nakedness, as our God would want you to do, and you would feel better doing, since part of your calling is to be a protector? Or do you lust and desire to sexually consume the holiness of a naked woman?” Page 111

Are those the only options? Such a mix of truth and untruth! Is that what God really wants? Was that his intent in the beginning? I’ve concluded that our behavior as men can be boiled down to one of two responses. Your behavior or thoughts will either be like that of a predator or a protector. Jesus was a protector of women (including the naked woman caught in adultery in John 8).

“[In the story of Noah] Ham, first on the scene, didn’t make the right choice. He beheld his father’s nakedness. Other than tell his brothers, we don’t know what Ham did.” Page 112

But it was a lot more than simply beholding… See this post.

“They chose to protect their father, not to entertain themselves. They instinctively did what Isaiah talked about—they covered his nakedness.” Page 112

Um, God told Isaiah to go stark naked for 3 years! (Isaiah 20:1-3)

“God loves to bless men who at any cost protect his holy daughters. If you have a daughter, how would you feel if you were sitting in a public place where someone was lusting after her?” Page 116

This is true, however the application is not. I’d heard the “that’s someone’s daughter” approach many times and it didn’t help me, even after I had a daughter of my own. What’s needed is to see the personhood of another. If you went to a naturist park (this is the most extreme example given on purpose) and started covering the ladies out of an obligation to protect them, you’d cause a riot. They don’t need protection in the way of covering. They need respect and dignity in spite of what they are wearing or not. The only thing such an act would expose is one’s own perverted thoughts. When missionaries went to naked tribes and clothed them, was that protection? They were just fine, but after being clothed, they started having the same problems Americans have.

“I am 100 percent committed to calling my pastor before I would consider doing anything sexually inappropriate, including looking at pornography. His cell number is in my phone, and I informed him that when he became my pastor, my sexuality was placed under his authority. I told him I would call before, not after, any sexually inappropriate behavior. Some men might feel embarrassed to actually do this. I, however, would be more embarrassed if I didn’t have this friendship as a safety net.” Page 126

This is a section I feel the author is quite proud of entitled “Three Owners” where he says your penis has three different owners. This is just sad that someone needs to have this safety net. Stats shared earlier in the book show that 50% of the pastors also would need the same! We shouldn’t have to be this immature. We need to grow up.

“Being under authority has given me more than two and a half decades of freedom, because I don’t have to make the decision. An attorney reportedly said that he who defends himself has a fool for a client. I would say sexually it is showing wisdom to be under authority. You are blessed to be under authority.” Page 127

Are you truly free if you have need of this? God’s authority is good enough for me. I’d rather die than objectify another human being, and I don’t need anyone else to help me with that. Foolish? I’m grateful it’s been so easy since I changed my thoughts on the matter.

“You’re having urges to view inappropriate images or pornography, or maybe you want to masturbate or flirt with a female coworker. If you are under authority, after you call Pastor John, you call your wife. Imagine that conversation. ‘Hon, this is your husband. I’m at work, got some downtime and I thought I would look and lust after other women, you know Victoria’s Secret, then try some hardcore pornography and maybe even masturbate. Since you are the owner of my sex organ, I have to ask your permission since I am under your sexual authority.’ For single guys, use the second phone call for an accountability person.” Page 129

I have no words. I know this is hypothetical to make a point, but why is this hypothetical even necessary?

“Once you start down a path of sexual independence and rebellion against your sexual authorities, there is no telling where that path will lead. As a janitor, however, you only get bathroom rights. That is the only authority I have sexually in my life, otherwise I have to use my cell phone to ask permission.” Page 132

This is just disturbing and such a low view of the image of God and of men in general. My sexual integrity and fidelity is now a given. I agree that we are God’s and my body is not my own and it’s my wife’s as she is also mine. Do people actually make these phone calls? When I was stuck in the old way of thinking, I’d lie to my wife and she’d know it. I hated hurting her like that. Now she trusts me completely because those old issues and obsessions are gone. No gimmicks required.

“Let me put this principle into four simple words. Put them on your cell phone, screen saver, a Post-it note, any place where you can be reminded of them: God, wife, me, pee.” Page 133

“Yes, you can summarize sexual authority in those four words. God is the first owner. Your wife is the second owner. And you are the third owner, which gives peeing rights only. This revelation can help you get and stay clean. When you accept your place in this hierarchy, you will be free indeed.” Page 133

Ridiculous!

“Love is the opposite of lust. Lust and love cannot exist at the same place at the same time. Lust and love are as polar opposite as light and darkness. You have to leave light to enter darkness. You have to leave darkness to enter light. In the same way, we have to leave love to lust and leave lust to love.” Page 139

Yes, yes, yes! I agree with this part.

“Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity” (1 Timothy 5: 1–2). Paul gives us some insight into leaving lust and entering love. Paul was telling Timothy that when it comes to women, and men for that matter, to always put them in a relationship context.” Page 140

Also very good stuff.

“You start to notice there is a guy in the restaurant who keeps staring at your wife. You look over, and sure enough he is still looking at her. He’s not looking at her as you would a person in the crowd; he is actually lusting after her, checking out her body, hoping you go to the restroom so he can slip her a card. He’s not seeing your wife as a person or a mom, just a thing he is entitled to lust after. How are you feeling toward this guy? Well, I don’t imagine very positive. You might think he is a creep who has problems, but at the very least you’re uncomfortable, and at worst protective or angry.” Page 142

He is a creep and so are we if we stoop to the same level. The relational context is key, but you have to stop thinking temptation is everywhere and women are dangerous and will get you going by just being attractive.

“The other part of this tradition, ‘don’t tell,’ is held up by the rank and file of men in the church. If you’re lusting, viewing porn, masturbating, flirting, cheating, or anything inappropriate, don’t tell. Don’t tell yourself, your wife, and your spiritual leaders. Keep your sexual behaviors a secret.” Page 145

This is a problem and does need to change. And there are some good points made in the book around this section. Being open is liberating, but the thinking must change for lasting change. I know I sound like a broken record, and probably am starting to come across as arrogant, but I’m just desperately pleading for us to do better, but not by striving, but rather by surrender.

“I am astonished by how many Christians honestly have more faith in their sin, than in Jesus’ blood to forgive the sin. I see people repeatedly trapped in thinking and believing that their sin is somehow so special it nullifies the power of his blood. If you are trapped into believing your sin is that special, let me tell you, it’s not! Your sin is not special or powerful. His blood paid the full price for any and all sins whether they are sexual sins or not.” Page 155

I like this because I believe Jesus’ finished work on the cross is powerful enough to heal sexual brokeness aside from our own efforts.

“If you are confessing to a brother, then you want a clean life. It is the only way to stay clean that truly works.” Page 166

It’s important for sure, and this book has good stuff in this section, but it’s not the only thing that truly works, and it didn’t for me.

“Imagining the worst is helpful, especially for the guys who dabble with fantasy, pornography, and masturbation who think they will never cross the line. Just suppose you did fornicate or commit adultery.” Pages 180-181

No, you DID commit adultery by lusting. There is no line. You crossed the line in your heart even though there was nothing physical between two people. We can’t justify lust by saying we didn’t cross the line. See Jesus in Matthew 5:27-30.

“Knowing the impact of you falling helps you desire to protect those close to you from that pain and stay away from the road to trouble.” Page 181

Negative reinforcement can keep you out of trouble for trouble’s sake. But wanting to be trouble free out of love and gratitude is an even better motivator. You won’t want to do the things that cause trouble, instead of just not wanting to be caught.

“I find it helpful to make a daily commitment to stay on the right road and avoid the road to trouble. I accept that I am at war, not just with the devil and this very sexual culture, but also with myself. James 1:14 says that we are drawn away by our own lust. That means that left to myself, I could lust, I could think higher of myself than I should, or feel entitled to a better wife, life, or something else. I am like you—in a battle of my own flesh.” Page 186

I want that commitment to be who I am, not have to try to convince myself every day.

“I declare that I commit to love and protect all women today, that I hate all lust of all women in my heart or my mind, and that all women are made by God, for God, and going back to God.” Page 186

These are great. Just make them who you are in your core and you won’t have to work hard to believe them or stray from them.

“Intimacy anorexia is the active withholding of emotional, spiritual, and sexual intimacy from the spouse.” Page 199

Pretty good section here in the book!

“I have a passion for taking this land for Jesus, with sexually clean men in every church, from every denomination, in every town and city in our nation and beyond our borders.” Page 209

I have the same passion, but go about it a different way. I’ve tried his way, and had temporary success, and I’ve lived my way and felt entirely different as a result. 

“Ask yourself, If my son duplicates how I raised him regarding sexual purity, would I have strong or weak men down my sexual family tree?” Page 210

When I believed it was a battle for every man, I struggled and was powerless to help my own sons. Now, I feel like I’ve given them a leg up that few people have.

Conclusion: This was a book that was recommended to me before I had made my change of mind. I purchased it but did not read it at the time. Had I done so, I believe it would not have changed things for me as it’s solutions are the same things always prescribed in popular Christian books. Having read it after my change, I can see clearly what is truly clean (the mind and heart) versus what is clean only on the outside (performance, will power, accountability, and sin management). I don’t want to be guilty of what Jesus describes in Matthew 23:25-26 ESV: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.  Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

26 thoughts on “A Review of “Clean”

  1. R. B. Mears

    Great book review Phil O! This author is missing the point. Matt 18:3 tells us we will NOT go to heaven unless we convert ourselves to be as little children. Little children don’t need to call others to confess thoughts. Christian Naturism is the perfect conversion place to become as little children in regards to lust. A little child is disgusted by pornographic images, and today so am I.

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  2. Loyal May

    Like the other books I’ve read on this topic, it falls short of the real answer though it came right up to the correct answer then turned back to man made solutions. The excerpt from 155 is a rebuttal of his primary focus and is the answer. Romans 6, if believed will help each of us recognize who we are in Christ and the freedom from the slave master of sin, all types of sin.

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  3. Jim Weathers

    Phil…I agree with the responses you have made. I am sorry the author was so focused on protecting his purity that the woman on the plane missed an opportunity for Christ to be shared. The author may have been surprised to find the woman was a believer as well. His philosophy is no different than AA …. boasting of accumulated years to abstinence but continuing in bondage to the lie that you can never be free from inbred sin. Churches who espouse this pseudo-religious posture have pews full of folks dead to sin, self, flesh, Adamic fallen and carnal natures but with no spiritual freedom. They don’t do sin, but most don’t do anything else that relates to life. The author’s premise is not robust spiritual freedom but behavior modification. Naturism recognizes that God created the body as a covering so that we are not walking around in our naked spirit (1Cor 5:1-5). Like you…the more I embrace naturism the more freedom I experience relationally in the view of self and others. Thanks as always for the sharing that you and Mrs Phil do in helping us find Truth. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Paul B

    Ephesians 6:10-18. The battle is not against flesh and blood, but purity culture always made the battle that way. All parts of the armor are provided by God. Truth, righteousness, readiness of the Gospel. The shield is faith. An active trust in God. The only offensive weapon is the word of God, which needs to be used in context. US soldiers in Afghanistan would have never tried to load their weapons with AK47 rounds.

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  5. Jan

    Great review Phil. And really, self- imposed consequences for bad behavior is like the robber after stealing saying I’m going to drive myself to the jail. Snapping a rubber band when I think lustfully, really. Where is the freedom?

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  6. Paul B

    “In lust, we devalue the amazing soul that a woman is and make her into a lust hit—entertainment that we scan into our brains”

    I think this quote is telling. The first question we need to ask is what is meant by being created in the image of God. Is a woman a soul? In a sense yes, but there is more to it than that. I have often heard the argument that because God is spirit, then the image of God is spirit not physical. My answer to that is a lesson in Hebrew poetry. English poetry uses poetic language, but mostly rhythmic syllable counts and rhyming sounds to create a word picture.

    For example,
    There once was a bear at the zoo
    Who always had something to do
    When it bored him to go
    On a walk to and fro
    He’d reverse it and walk fro and to

    Hebrew poetry is different. They also use poetic language, but there isn’t the rhyme or rhythm we have in ours. It is made up of couplets or triads of ideas. All the ideas speak to the same theme, but the last idea is the important one. Genesis 1:27 is a 3 line poem. It reads,

    So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

    The first 2 lines are both about us being created in the image of God. It is there twice, so that’s important. The main point is the 3rd line. Male and female. That is a physical difference. To say that physical is not a part of the image of God is to ignore the poetic structure and the implications of that.

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  7. tandrscott

    A few thoughts about this author: As you suggested, he needs to experience nudity without sex to break the mental program that nudity is always preperation for sex. That means visit a family friendly naturist resort.

    I remember a sermon on worry where the preacher made the claim that the more time you spend on a problem the larger it becomes in your mind. I believe it applies to all areas of thinking. This method would have the follower thinking about lust almost all the time. It seems like what the Apostle Paul was warning against in Col 2:20-23

    I am not sure we have control of what thoughts come into our minds. They can come from our spirit, Satan, and the Holy Spirit. Lust does not come from the Holy Spirit. His job is to convict us of sin. That leaves our spirit or a spirit from Satan. Both will try something else if we do not respond. I am not getting any thoughts about alcohol or tobacco. If the mind is renewed by naturism and following the leading of the Holy Spirit, lust will fade to nothing also.

    I am not sure the accountability person is a good thing. People who knew about my naturism beliefs turned me into the pastor of the church and now I listen to online sermons instead of attending church. If your accountability person needs to play Judas for some gain, he could do a lot of harm

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    • Phil O.

      I also don’t struggle with not murdering my brother, because I don’t have that desire. I don’t want to do that or lust anymore. It’s really that simple! Thanks for your comment.

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  8. waca1

    Most of the examples given are of mature aged men. What about unmarried men , do they not suffer from lust? When i was 15 , already a christian, going to church at least 3 times every week, i would masturbate at least 3 times a day..I was just so sexually charged up. We had no internet, no TV,no porn magazines , we had a weekly newspaper, and bible readings every day of the year. There was no sex education at school, Did not have a girl friend until i was 18. There was a lot of sex happening on the farm, cows and bulls pigs and duck and hens mating all the time, And me needing to find release in a quiet place every day.Thinking back i was about 12 and a half, the first time i had a wet dream, and i thought there was something wrong with me. Nobody talked about sex. One thing i do have happy memories of is going skinny dipping in a dam on the farm, which we did very often, including my father. But we sure were not nudists. My point is young men are very sexually made and the more we can be open about our weakness, and rather covering up our bodies from top to bottom, clothe our bodies in Gods righteousness.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul B

      Hi waca1. Just reading your comment and felt that the farm you were describing is in Australia. You use words I would use. Looking at your profile, you say you like Queensland beaches. I’m Toowoomba. I don’t get to Queensland beaches enough.

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  9. imaching2

    “But seeing is not lusting!” This leaped off the page as I read it. This is a primary truth that so many refuse to accept. It is the lynch pin of purity culture. That lust is the only response to the sight of flesh has been so persistently taught (and experienced) that we believe it is scripture. It’s another of the myriad verses found in the second chapter of Jude.

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