A New Perspective (by G S Royal)

I have a friend who has a fear of flying, so she thumbs her nose at it by deliberately flying. I have another friend who has a fear of public speaking, and he deals with it by joining Toastmasters.  I spent most of my life hiding my body because I was ashamed of it. As a young teenager, I quickly learned that I had nothing down there to be proud of. It took me decades to learn I had nothing to be ashamed of, either. Like my friends, I chose to spit in the eye of what I feared. I chose to accept my body and stop hiding it. To deliberately let it be seen (without offending someone or violating the law).

Sometimes what you’re most afraid of doing, is the very thing that will set you free.

Indecent?  No.

So many have been wounded—myself included—by a view of the body “that has the smell of brimstone all over it,” to quote my friend Draco.

Pastor David L Hatton tells a story of a blind man who was sitting on the sidewalk with his hat turned up at his feet and a sign that read I’M BLIND. PLEASE HELP. A few people had put something in his hat, but most just passed on by. A man who worked in public relations came by, turned the sign over, and wrote a new message on it. Later, he came back by and the hat was full of money! What he had written gave those who read it a new perspective: IT’S SPRING, AND I CAN’T SEE IT.

The problem I had, and so many of us still have is this:

My body is beautiful, and I can’t see it.

As though some miraculous metamorphosis has transformed our perspective (see Romans 12:2), we need to see the human body the way God sees it: naked and unashamed, the pinnacle of his creative genius.

Thousands of people have defeated their body shame demons. They have come to see themselves through God’s eyes. And they are doing it through the prism of naturism.

Ungodly?  No.

Most detractors are good church-going people who think they are honoring God by condemning those who live as naturists. In some ways, prudery has been elevated to the value of scripture, and that’s a slap in the face of the very Creator whom they try to serve!

What’s ungodly is listening to the enemy of our souls when he tells us to be ashamed of the image of God that we bear. Let the words of a poem I wrote a couple of years ago speak to you:

The Imago Dei
(The Image of God)

A man and woman—naked—
once in a garden stood
Created in God’s image,
He called it ‘very good!’

Fashioned for a purpose,
one infinite in worth:
to replicate God’s image
through miracle of birth.

Then comes the great deceiver
who so wants to be God,
and have the gift He’d given
these creatures made from sod.

He saw the Imago Dei
they clearly represent
and hated with a passion
everything it meant.

What happened next is epic.
A tree, its fruit, a lie:
“You’ll be like God! Here; eat it.
You surely will not die!”

Then once the bite was taken,
dressed only in their skin,
they heard, “…and put some clothes on!
Your nakedness is sin!!”

How prudishly we’re living
in our ‘enlightenment’,
while foolishly retaining
that gnostic excrement

so readily accepted
by hearts that went astray
when moral independence
was birthed that fateful day.

As mankind swallowed fully
a fallen angel’s plan,
Godly wisdom faded
from the heart of man.

We should actually be ashamed of being ashamed! As Mr. Larry has stated: How is it possible for the human body, which was created in the image of God, to be offensive to anybody? Satan would love to see God’s greatest creation be considered offensive.

What’s ungodly is objectifying certain body parts, and thereby separating the body from the soul that owns it.

What’s ungodly is teaching our children that the mere sight of naked humanity is sin. In doing so we have helped our great enemy create a culture that is steeped in pornographic filth.

What’s ungodly is the prudish mindset that gives pornography its power!

Study the Scriptures regarding this, asking God the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to His truth. Many are finding that these bodies are still fearfully and wonderfully made.  Because of Christ’s redemptive work, our bondage to sin has been broken.  We no longer have to believe the lie.  We can replace it with the truth.  We can once again be naked and unashamed.

G S Royal
©2022

What does nakedness mean?

Words have meaning. And as such, much of our communication can become an exercise in semantics if we cannot agree on the definitions of the words being used.

Classical languages use different words to communicate nuance where English only uses one word to express a host of different ideas. I think of the word “love.” In Greek there were four words for love:

  • Philia – a love found in strong friendships
  • Eros – an erotic love of passion and intimacy
  • Storge – a love found in family relationships
  • Agape – a type of selfless, unconditional love

In English we use the same word to cover the gamut of feelings from “I love my wife”  to “I love frozen yogurt.” I sure hope my love for my wife is stronger and different than my love for froyo! Do you begin to see the potential confusion over words that are identical in every way except for context?

So it is with nudity and nakedness. Watch this video to see what I mean. The video text will be printed after.

The word naked is usually used as a descriptive adjective. 

One might think of a naked mole rat, which describes a pink, nearly hairless rodent, or the “naked” truth, which is a way of saying that the information shared is unvarnished or without ornamentation. Simply put, we usually think of naked as meaning “without a covering.”

What does the term “nakedness” mean in the Bible?

Most of the passages that speak to nakedness are found in the Old Testament. As such, it is from within the Old Testament pages that most Bible teachers today draw their conclusions about what God thinks about nakedness.

If we really want to know what God’s perspective is towards nudity, it stands to reason that we must correctly understand the words from the Bible and their meanings.

There are three individual words for nakedness in the Old Testament: arowm, eyrom and ervah.

In Genesis 2:25, we are first introduced to arowm, which means “simple and innocent nakedness.” 

“The man and his wife were arowm, but they were not ashamed.”

Later, in Genesis 3:7, after the Fall, the word eyrom for “vulnerable nakedness, with a sense of being exposed to harm” is used. 

“Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were eyrom; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.”

And finally, after the global flood, in Genesis 9:22 we are exposed to a new word for “active sexual nakedness,” ervah

“And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the ervah of his father…”

All three of these variants have their basis in the same root Hebrew word, but their biblical usage indicates different shades of meaning. Sadly, in our common language translations, we generally just get one word, “naked,” which, understandably, has led many to develop wrong thoughts on what nakedness is all about!

God never calls arowm or eyrom shameful. There is no Scripture in the Bible that says, “Thou shalt not be naked” or “Nakedness is sinful.” In fact, He used naked circumcision as a visible sign of His Covenant with Abraham and his descendants.

Ervah, on the other hand, is where we see sin joined with nakedness and shame. If what a person was doing in a situation was sinful, or could be the cause of sin, it was ervah

In the New Testament, the word for naked is gymnos. It means “bare, without clothing” and is the root of the word, “gymnasium.” The gym was a place to exercise in a state of nudity. 

Hebrews 4:13 reminds us that in God’s eyes, “No creature is hidden, but all are gymnos…

Many “grown-up” translations try to “cover up” simple nudity in the Bible, such as when the Apostle Peter was naked and fishing, but interestingly, the International Children’s Bible gets it right!

“…he wrapped his coat around himself. (Peter had taken his clothes off.) Then he jumped into the water.” See John 21:3-7.

What word was used in the Greek for his lack of clothing? Gymnos, of course!

Like ervah above, there are two instances in the New Testament where shame added to nudity produces a negative situation. The greek word aschēmosýnē is used for specific situations when nudity is inappropriately sexual or used to shame. 

In Romans 1:27, this word is used to describe unnatural sexual activity, and in Revelation 16:15, it is used to implicate the consequences of laziness. 

Ultimately, we look to the teaching of our Rabbi, Y’Shua, who teaches us that sin starts in the heart and grows into action. 

Nakedness, like other subjects in the Bible, is actually a neutral state. Most people throughout history have known that simple nudity is not sinful. Yet, if we hold faulty definitions, our thoughts, our actions, and our discipleship journey with other believers in the Body of Christ will be affected. 

It is wonderful that, as New Covenant believers, we have the ability to focus our hearts on Jesus and experience the innocent, pure nakedness of the Garden.

What wrongs might be righted if the church rediscovered this truth?

See also the presentation at https://renude.life/what-is-naked/


[H6174] (ex. Gen. 2:25, 1 Sam 19:24, Job 1:21) — arowm

[H5903] (ex. Gen. 3:7 & 10, Deut. 28:48, Eze. 18:7) – eyrom

[H6172] (ex. Gen. 9:22, Exo. 28:42, Lev. 18:6) – ervah

[G1131] (ex. John 21:7, Heb 4:13) — gymnos

[G808] – ashchemosyne

Introducing ReNude.Life

My good friend has recently launched a new resource that has neatly organized and presented some of the most common questions asked by those who are just learning some of the key ideas we believe as Christian naturists. Then, of course, the answer to such questions are explored in context. Body shame and social conditioning is so pervasive that most people view the naked body either through over-sexual eyes or with great distain as if it were lewd or obscene. This new website tackles the questions Bible-believing Christians might ask in a thorough and creative way.

The site was created by our good friend, and it’s related to Aching For Eden in that most of its content first appeared here in our own Objections series of blog posts and videos we helped create. It’s our joy to collaborate with others of a like mind because we believe this is such an important message that needs to get out in whatever way it can.

I also love the metaphor of the butterfly that is featured throughout the navigation of this site. A renewed (or ReNude) view of the body truly is a metamorphosis and the old ways of thinking are gone for good. Behold, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:18). A caterpillar should not want to stay that way for life. Likewise, a butterfly would never want to go back to being a caterpillar once it could fly. Nor should we once we’ve tasted the blessings of freedom this life and form of thinking offers us. I make this point at length in this post.

So check out ReNude.Life and share it with those who may be interested in taking a hard look at what the Bible actually says about nudity. Here’s what the homepage has to say:

Answer Questions About Nudity in the Bible

Have you ever wondered what the Bible actually has to say about nudity? ReNude Life is designed to answer questions about nudity in the Bible and promote the freedom that comes through knowing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

You might be surprised by what you learn!

What causes the strong cultural bent against simple nudity? Why is it that nakedness is immediately attached to sexuality? And why does “sex sell?” These are common thoughts, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

Our culture’s lack of simple nudity understanding leads to many dangers like pornography addiction, sexual abuse and trauma.

For far too long, Christians have adopted the worldly view that naked bodies are shameful. We dutifully layer on clothing and swimming costumes and force nursing mothers to cover up.
As a result, we have drifted along with a world that places being acceptable and inoffensive first. Scripture, however, tells us that we are the Imago Dei, literally made in the Image of God!
We’ve forgotten that God made us “naked and unashamed.” So, how can we be a light instead of accepting the darkness?

Like a caterpillar changing into a butterfly, our hope is that by renu-ing your mind on the topic of biblical nudity, you’ll be able to strip off old ideas and emerge into the ReNude Life!

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:2

Check it out at www.renude.life today!

Coming to our Senses

This was written by our friend Jason. He is also featured on this post, and this interview as well as having written the scripts for our objections series.

Can a Blind Man Lust?

Love comforteth like sunshine after rain,
But Lust’s effect is tempest after sun;
Love’s gentle spring doth always fresh remain,
Lust’s winter comes ere summer half be done;
Love surfeits not, Lust like a glutton dies;
Love is all truth, Lust full of forged lies.
Venus and Adonis by William Shakespeare

So, can a blind man lust?

When we think of lust, we almost immediately think of the eyes. And that brings up beauty, sex, adultery and pornography.

Several years ago, a pastor would drive 90 miles to my house for prayer counseling because he was dealing with an addiction to pornography. He’d heard from friends of the successes we had witnessed through our Theophostic Prayer Ministry practice and desired to be healed from his addiction.

People use addictions to sex, alcohol, food, drugs, smoking, body-modification and even work–anything to numb the emotional pain in their souls. Addiction to pornography is a pain management problem that manifests as a fixation with false intimacy. It is the pain–and the source of that pain–that must be healed. Often times through traditional counseling, one addiction is removed only to be replaced by another one. This pattern repeats until the person has a socially-acceptable addiction like “hard worker” (read: workaholic).

This pastor, however, wanted to really be set free from his addiction and not simply transfer it to something else. So instead of focusing on the fruit of his pain-inducing beliefs (the pornography fixation), we looked beneath the surface to allow the true causes of his pain-medicating behavior to unfold. Like most folks, this was a methodology foreign, yet familiar to him.

We rarely think about this process of natural association, yet perform it constantly. Just as we never think about our internal organs until one of them “cries out,” we also do not think about the how or why we make the decisions that we do, or have the emotional responses we do to external stimuli.

Everything that ever happens in our lives is brought into our souls through our marvelous senses and processed and categorized. It is considered and compared to thousands of “files” from past memory pictures and emotional happenings and then it is acted upon. It happens so fast that it is nearly imperceptible — unless you take the time to ponder it.

Which brings me to our subject: lust.

Lust by itself is not, in fact, a bad word. It is a neutral word that is absolutely synonymous with the word “covet” and the word “desire.” The reason I want to slow down and define it is for us to realize the gravity with which we use words. Even in the English language, lust does not mean “see.” It does not mean recognize. It does not mean appreciate. It does not mean despise. It means hunger, crave, intend to possess.

Depending on the context, lust can mean earnestly desire or it can mean wrongfully desire.

And [Jesus] said to them, “I have earnestly lusted to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. (Luke 22:15 ESV)

But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Jesus speaking in Matthew 5:28 ESV)

Yes, exactly the same word. Each context determines whether it is “good” lust or “bad” lust. When we are lazy with language, we end up degrading words and their meanings. Remember the Ten Commandments? The last one? You shall not Covet? It is just as accurate to read it You Shall Not Lust…after another man’s wife or possessions.

Is there such a thing as good lust? Perhaps for our ears, the word “desire” sounds more pleasant. Either way, they’re the same word in the original tongue. Scripture offers encouragement for positive desires and prohibitions for negatives ones. Each type is based on the context of the desire.

In summary, Paul writes in Galatians 5:16: “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the lusts of the flesh.” In turn, what we will do is gratify the lusts of the spirit.

What about the blind man? If men are so damnably stimulated by sight, then by definition a blind person could never commit this sin. Yet, instead of facing the truth that wrongful lust is a matter of the heart, we have gone to the drastic measure of making rules and restrictions of the strictest sort, thinking perhaps that forced blindness is the answer.

The truth is that a blind man can lust and covet wrongfully any of the things or persons that a sighted man or woman can. It is not the physical attributes that endanger us. It is the evil intentions of our hearts. Wrongful lust requires intent to possess.

What Do a Pufferfish and a Bikini Have in Common?

Ready to Graduate from Felt Board Christianity?   [makeitcozee]

Do you suffer from “felt board Christianity?” If so, it can seem like the Bible is a simplistic bunch of stories with generalized rules for life. “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth” it has been called. Do you want to go deeper?  At some point, I think we all do.  We have to peel back the layers and dive in.

Everything Jesus is trying to teach us about the Christian life begins in the heart.

We defined what lust is and what lust is not, so now let’s talk about how the word has been redefined and dumbed down. Large swaths of Christianity presently equate the recognition of beauty in our gender differences as wrongful lust. And because of this lowering of the bar, new concepts have been added in to compensate for the change of definition.

Sight itself has become the bogeyman.

Everywhere we look (no pun intended), it seems there are things and people to see (and I guess that means danger!). When we pop our heads up, we hear this refrain of warning: Men are visually stimulated. Heads down, men. Look away!

Stimulating, isn’t it? —  Photo Credit: Ibrahim Iujaz (CC)

It’s the subject of radio programs and talk shows: Men are visually stimulated. Volumes have been written around the postulate that men are visually stimulated. I wonder how many millions and millions of dollars are changing hands based on this mantra that men are visually stimulated?

Perhaps we should follow the money.  Pornographers and anti-pornographers all benefit financially by continuing to chant this mantra, but never utter this secret truth: women are visually stimulated, too.  Simple biology tells us that human beings have senses. One of those is sight.  Placing visual stimulation in our targets as the problem only creates a missed opportunity for success and creates a vicious, vicious cycle of shame.  Relationships suffer and real problems go unsolved.

The combination of the visual stimulation mantra and the watered down definition of lust have been well crafted into a deadly recipe.  The visual stimulation lie wrongly makes women responsible for the conduct of male human beings and takes volitional control completely out of the picture.  Men have a responsibility to control their thoughts and their actions.  Our self-control problems are not the responsibility of the the fairer sex.

This idea that men are mere predatory animals bound to their wild inhibitions and bursting at the seams with wrongful desire is childish and foolish.   And I propose that pointing to visual stimulation is the wrong place to conclude a discussion about lust.  Stimulation is a bogeyman because stimuli will always exist.   We have applied the wrong labels to the way our bodies react.  Stimulation is not sin.

The real test of a man (or a woman) is how she learns to respond to that stimulus.

People have tried for ages to remove sin by removing the potential for temptation. In this case, the common strategy is to consider that if men are visually stimulated, the stimuli must be removed.  Except, stimulus is not the cause of wrongful lust, is it?  Stimulation is only a sensation, placed by God in our very real, very flesh-and-blood bodies. This strategy will fail.

We’re alive. We feel. We see. We smell and taste. We sense. We respond because we’re alive.

Let’s make this real.

The Sky is On Fire! [Jason]

Close your eyes and step outside into the breeze. [It’s ok, you can come right back.] Feel that tickle as the air move across the delicate hairs on your skin? It’s stimulating. Walk into the kitchen when someone you love is baking bread. Take in a deep whiff. Smell that? It’s stimulating. Feel the seat beneath you. Press your foot into the floor. Your sense of touch is being stimulated.

Oh, look, a person! Any person. Maybe it’s a woman. Maybe it’s a man. What are they wearing? What color are their eyes? Are they tall, short, brown, pale, thin, sturdy? Observe their facial expression and posture.

This is the Imago Dei. The Image of God. It really doesn’t matter what they look like, what they wear or what they’re doing–your vision is being stimulated by the greatest of God’s Creation:  a human being.

Don’t turn away.  God wants us to see–and be seen–by each other.

This is why Jesus, rather than condemning our bodies, constantly brings us back to the heart.*  But that is not all He did. He gave us the KEY to overcome wrongful lusting and coveting!

The pastor I spoke of was healed by this key: He learned to see the truth.  Jesus renewed his mind–changed the way he thinks–in regard to the goodness of the body and set him free from the lies that had led him to seek out false intimacy as pain management.  He is still free of pornography today, and that addiction did not shift to something else.

As we continue, here are some points to ponder:

  1. God made our bodies, both male and female. They are good. Gen 2:25
  2. Modesty is an attitude, not a dress code.
  3. Lust comes forth from the heart and is the responsibility of the luster.
  4. To the pure, all things are pure. Titus 1:15
  5. A weaker brother does not have strong opinions; that’s how we know he’s weak.
  6. We are to grow the weak to maturity, not leave them to stagnation.
  7. Uncomfortable truth may not feel good at first, but eventually we feel its freedom.
  8. Truth does not equal American Culture or even Christian traditions.
  9. Cultures change, yet Truth remains. And it sets us free.

As I have learned to come to my senses on what lust actually means–that it is a heart-directed, neutral term–it has freed my mind to focus on people as whole individuals, rather than divide them, body and soul.

Freedom to walk in the spirit enables us to follow Christ wherever He leads.

Have you embraced this truth? Do you see people as whole, or does that idea cause fear? If so, what stops you from really seeing others, body and soul?*Yes, I realize Jesus once said tear out your eye and cut off your hand. That was metaphor, friends. metaphor. Remember, we’re going beyond the felt board. 

Not So Fast… (by G S Royal)

In our search for the truth of an issue, it is not unusual for one spouse to discover it before the other one does. If that truth calls into question a long held tradition or something we were taught by someone we trusted (or even cherished), it’s only reasonable to expect some resistance when sharing your new-found understanding. I have dealt with this in my own mind, not wanting to let go of some things I’ve held tightly for years, while finding it difficult to ignore the truth that is being revealed.  Consider this from Frantz Fanon, psychiatrist:  

“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong.  When presented with evidence against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted.  It would create an extremely uncomfortable feeling called cognitive dissonance.  And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit that core belief.”

Regarding naturism, for spouses who truly believe IT’S A SIN, we should be proud of them for refusing to participate. That is the first hurdle many Christians have to jump, but many never do. It’s not comfortable to jump hurdles, and without sufficient motivation most will never try. Some may step right up, jump in, and love it, while others require spending significant time reading, studying, and praying, before coming to the understanding that simple nudity is not sinful. (The reason for the nudity may well be sinful but that’s a different issue.) Having reached this point doesn’t mean one is ready to book their next vacation to a nude beach, but it is a major hurdle to have cleared. For most Christians, determining what God thinks about something is the most important task of all. 

The IT’S A SIN mindset can easily be a cop out, too. Hanging that sign on your door and refusing to discuss it further is perhaps a form of cowardice, or worse: a form of dishonesty. We already know what God thinks about that. Challenging a lifetime of teaching is not easy. There has to be a real desire for understanding before we are willing to sacrifice tradition upon the altar of truth. 

Having settled the IT’S A SIN argument, one then begins addressing the second most important question: WHAT WILL OTHER PEOPLE THINK!? This can be a very lonely time because it’s so personal, and requires one to become deliberately vulnerable! We know God already knows, and we can trust Him to treat us lovingly, but we’ve learned the hard way that people are not always so kind—particularly those closest to us! This is when husbands and wives must love as God loves, being persistently kind and caring. There’s no better time for living the Golden Rule.  This isn’t a battle to be waged, but a heart to be won!

Perhaps we err in rushing to convince someone to embrace what we now see clearly. We present passage after passage as evidence, and show the results of word studies that reveal what certain Hebrew words really meant in the context and times in which they were written. We can easily move from that to speculation as to how it all should apply to us now. With all the reading, studying, talking and praying perhaps we need to slow down and take stock. Here’s what I’m sure of: 

God made Adam & Eve naked and they all liked it. Then after the fall Adam & Eve didn’t like it anymore. The ‘liked it’ choice came from a Godly mind, and the ‘didn’t like it’ choice came from a corrupted mind. 

Christ’s redeeming work did more than pay our sin debt, He freed us from our bondage to sin and its corruption! He was called the second Adam for a reason! 

Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Once our minds are renewed, we start seeing the naked body with the mindset Paul encouraged in Philippians 4:8: “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

Perhaps we should dwell on that for a while.

The Wife of Your Youth

In the overly sexualized worldview of the culture around us, it’s quite common to hear of people leaving their wife for a younger woman. They joke about getting a newer model, as if the person they are married to is a car or a gadget. It’s very dehumanizing and sad to see! The prevalence of this mentality gives way to a lack of self confidence for aging women, who are already bombarded with messages everyday on how they can use such and such product to look 10 years younger. This poor body image is not only an issue for women, but they typically bear the brunt of the onslaught of this messaging. The results are catastrophic!

Is there a better way? You better believe there is! The answer is Imago Dei. You don’t have to be a naturist to believe in the full ramifications of Image Dei (the image of God), but I have not met anyone who lives out this theology better than Christian naturists. They believe at a very core level that every body is a somebody, made in God’s image, and deserving of dignity, respect and love on that basis alone. Yes, many may abuse that gift by their own actions, but this view is at least the starting point for every person. Along with that comes the belief that there is inherent beauty in all that God creates, and human beings are the pinnacle of his creation. The crowning glory of Eden was and so should remain to be man and woman, naked and unashamed. Yes, even our bodies are wonderfully made and are not lewd or obscene in and of themselves. This was true in an innocent pre-fall state in Genesis 1-2, and even though Genesis 3 messes everything up with sin entering the picture, the stage is set in verse 3:15 for the reversal of the curse and the restoration of all things. With this present mindset of being naked without shame, a jolt of self-confidence is gained, which is so rare to come by without such an extreme view. Let me back track and not call this self-confidence, but rather God-confidence. It’s confidence that God doesn’t make junk. To think less of yourself is to spit in the face of your Creator. Naturists don’t stand for that in any way, shape, or form! What about humility? Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself. It’s thinking of yourself less.

What’s this have to do with the subject of this post? Everything. It stands in stark contrast to the attitude mentioned in the opening lines. Imago Dei is a more healthy, wholesome, godly, and biblical worldview to have.

Imago Dei is a more healthy, wholesome, godly, and biblical worldview to have.

In the ESV translation, Proverbs 5:18 says to rejoice in the wife of your youth. It’s a beautiful picture in the midst of a stern warning against adultery. “Drink from your own cistern,” says verse 15. “May her (the wife of your youth’s) breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love” is the exhortation of verse 19. Continuing on in context, verse 20 asks, “Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?” There’s a lot here, and we’ll get to it shortly. But first, let’s delve into the rejoicing in the wife of your youth for a minute.

My wife and I were married at the young age of 19. We were high school sweethearts and both virgins on our wedding night. I wish I could tell you everything was great after that, but it wasn’t. I ruined my otherwise stellar score on the purity scale with a pornography habit just before our special day. This had a destructive effect, for sure, which I’m so glad is now a distant memory. We did enjoy young love, but we also went through a lot of heartache, due to our brokenness that needed to be redeemed by the only one who can make all things new.

My wife told my boys just the other day that she would gladly go through all the pain again to come out on the other side and have what we now have. It’s greater than she ever imagined as a young girl. Our love has been through the crucible of suffering and has come out stronger on the other side. The refiner’s fire did a number on us, but we are grateful for the purifying process. I mentioned to her that I don’t really remember her body as a 19 year old. Nor do I wish she could get it back. Time has taken its toll on both of us, and we are no longer the skinny kids who stood at the altar. That said, I wouldn’t trade down for anything else! She has aged like fine wine and is more beautiful than she was at our wedding. I look forward to many more gray hairs and wrinkles and drooping or sagging skin. She’ll always be for me the standard by which all beauty is measured.

MyChainsAreGone.org is a wonderful resource to read. It confirmed my change for us. My wife discovered it on her own while doing research after I told her about my embrace of naturism and permanent victory over porn. 

On this page of MCAG, there are two columns comparing and contrasting two different views of a person’s sexual responses to the sight of a woman’s form– the traditional view and the renewed view. I’ll highlight just two of the categories here.

Marital Intimacy according to the Traditional View of a person’s sexual responses to the sight of a woman’s form:

The couple comes together on their wedding night and see each other for the very first time. The experience is wonderful and very worth the wait. They eagerly anticipate the opportunity to enjoy each others’ naked bodies for the rest of their lives.

Marital Intimacy according to the Renewed View of a person’s sexual responses to the sight of a woman’s form.

The couple has reserved sexual intimacy for their wedding night, regardless of whether they have seen each others’ bodies before. They have not allowed themselves to respond to the sight of nudity with sexual lust, so their wedding night is truly a consummation of their relationship and love. It is wonderful and well worth the wait.

There is much more on this page worth reading at MCAG, but the other category I want to highlight would be life changes.

Life Changes according to the Traditional View of a person’s sexual responses to the sight of a woman’s form:

As a woman experiences the changing of time upon her body, youth fades. Along with that youthful beauty, she loses some of her sexual appeal. The man still disciplines himself to be satisfied with her body as it is, but the sexual impact of her nudity on his libido has waned. In some cases, a woman’s body may change significantly due to disease or lifestyle choices. These drastic changes will affect his sexual desire and require a stronger resolve to flee from the enticements of other women, especially younger ones. As she ages, his wife simply does not and will never again have the kind of sexual appeal that she had when they married.

Life Changes according to the Renewed View of a person’s sexual responses to the sight of a woman’s form.

Physical appearance is part of a who a woman is, but the man values his deepening relationship with his wife more than her youthful beauty, and since his sexual response is based upon his relationship with her, rather than on her physical appearance, his ability to respond sexually with his wife is still strong. Changes in appearance do not take anything significant away from her femininity, therefore, the man’s sexual relationship deepens with each passing year — even throughout their twilight years.

Now which would you rather? To me, it’s plain to see. I’m happy to be in the redeemed and renewed view’s camp. It was God’s plan all along. It’s his ideal and the sexual ethic we are to follow. It puts us right in the middle of his full blessing. Not that everything will be perfect or easy, but we will be operating in his spirit and according to his will. I say it often, I wouldn’t trade it for anything, and I’d wish it on my worst enemy, if I had any.

Now a word for single people. One major criticism of purity culture is that it does not say much to singles. It props up marriage and promises it to be the greatest achievement, second only to salvation, of course.  One group that this almost idolization of marriage excludes by default, are those who are unmarried or divorced. While this article focuses primarily to husbands, I don’t want to downplay in any way the valuable perspective of single people. You may perhaps have a greater understanding in this life of what will be our ultimate reality of being the bride of Christ. 

It’s time to get back now to the thief of optimum love, and that’s selfishness. It’s out of selfishness (to your spouse or future spouse if marrying later) that you might choose to indulge in pornography. Of course, some may view it as a couple and try to spice things up. However, I believe that if you are living according to God’s plan, not out of duty and obligation, but out of love and joy, you won’t need to spice anything up. It’s ultimately a selfish act and a lack of trust in God’s word and faithfulness to deliver on his promises. It’s not victimless. It causes your own spouse insecurities because it sends them the clear message that they are not enough. It objectifies those engaging in the intimate acts as objects for our own selfish gratification. It rewires our brains in ways that are contrary to God’s intent for sexual integrity and our own optimum pleasure and satisfaction. If you read fightthenewdrug.org , you’ll see decades of research showing how porn negatively impacts love and relationships, can contribute to cycles of stress, and even fuel sex trafficking. Again, let’s go back to Proverbs— why embrace the bosom of a stranger?

Bottom line, I believe God does know what’s best for us, and had our good in mind when he placed sexual intimacy within the confines of a committed and loving marriage relationship. I’m not a fan of how purity culture put their messages out, but that part, they did get right. For me, I’ve tried entertaining and indulging porn, and it did nothing positive for me. It’s effects were only negative ones in my life and for those I love. I’d much rather heed the warning against adultery (because that’s what lust of the heart is) and instead welcome the invitation to enjoy the wife of my youth. It’s the difference between a gourmet meal and day old fast food out of the garbage bin. I only wish more people could see and understand the difference!

Mud Stained

White is a very clean color. It’s no wonder a white glove is used to pass the dust test on any given surface. Your kid wants these awesome white tennis shoes, and your mind instantly goes to how they’ll never look the same after just one outing. Once I went to an Italian restaurant and ordered spaghetti while wearing a white shirt. A man I’d never met before told me that was a bad idea. How did he know I’m a messy eater? God likes white too, and in Revelation 19:8, he says the white robes we read about are symbolic of the righteous acts of his people. One more example coming back to earth would be this: A white convertible car looks incredible, doesn’t it? Until it drives through the mud.

That last example is where I want to spend a little time. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and get to thinking about stuff and have a hard time getting my brain to shut back down. This is the result of one of those instances. I thought of this trendy white car. White stood for goodness, purity, and godliness. Then all of the sudden it drove through the mud (which to me was symbolic of sin, or the loss of innocence and the brokenness of impurity). Mud stained the sides of the car and it lost its new car value and depreciated greatly. Discontented with its present condition, the car went all in and got really filthy. Have you ever seen one of those mud derbies? This white car is now completely covered in mud. It’s caked all over an inch thick! The white car is now brown, and remember that slime and sludge is the bad stuff in this analogy.

For me, the bad stuff was pornography. It stole my innocence, and once I opened that door it grabbed me and wouldn’t let go for many years. I started just driving through a puddle, and then it accumulated over time to the equivalent of a tough mudder. Could I ever be pure again?

It wasn’t just the porn. In this post Mrs. Phil pointed out that I had other issues as well. I had a quick temper, anger, and I was mean. Much of that behavior came as a result of using porn and what it teaches you, and not liking myself because of it.

And yet I knew and even preached these verses:

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” -1 John 1:9 NIV

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” -Isaiah 1:18 NIV

Are these verses lying? No, that can’t be. But why don’t they seem to be true? Well, it must just mean our overall justification and standing in Christ and not have much efficacy in our daily struggle with sin. God saves us through Jesus, but this struggle will be with you until that day of sanctification in glory, is what I used to think. In the Lord, the car is white and he knows it, but here in this fallen world, I hope you like the color brown. How defeatist!

Do we do that with any other sins? Throw our hands in the air and give up trying to become more and more like our perfect example in Jesus? Once a thief, always a thief! No! In fact, as I type this, I’m reminded of one of the apostle Paul’s favorite thing to write in Greek after asking a rhetorical question like Romans 6:1 (NIV), for example: “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” He replies “Me genoito!” which can be translated, “certainly not, by no means, not at all, no way, never, absolutely not, or God forbid!” So, back to the example. You have a habit of stealing. You become a Christian. You learn stealing is wrong (which in this example, even non-Christians would tell you it’s wrong!). Shall you continue stealing and give up hope of ever not being a thief? Me genoito! Yet, this is what we tend to do with lust. Many think we can’t overcome it this side of heaven. They say in a fallen world, you’re just always going to have to deal with it. At least in my circles, this thinking is prevalent. This is where the modesty movement and purity culture really comes into play and people start to blame women for what they are wearing, instead of blaming men for their thoughts (or visa versa).

I decided it was high time to call bluff on this type of thinking. Naturism really challenged all of my assumptions. If there can really be Christians who love the Lord with all their hearts, and see all bodies as the image of God and not as a lewd temptation, can that really be? Years before, I thought it was impossible and these people are just justifying their own perversion. But then I got to know some who made these claims. They said they hate porn. They said they didn’t have porn problems any longer because of the change in their minds. (Here’s another quick Greek lesson which sounds a lot like the last one: metanoia is the word translated as repentance, but what it means to repent is literally to have a transformative change of heart.) Christian naturists claimed, in a very real sense, that the brown car can be made white again.

They were right! And they display a stronger faith in taking God at his word when he says he can make all things new (Revelation 21:5)! That car can be made like new through God’s power! Do not doubt it, my friend! He did it with me, and he can with you too.

There was one more important bit in my stream of consciousness while trying to sleep that night. I have told several trusted individuals about our practice of Christian naturism. And while that revelation was met with shock for certain, after the initial surprise wore off, these people gave me the benefit of the doubt, because we have built a relationship of trust. They know my heart and see me as pure. No wonder Jesus said of the pure in heart, that they will see God (Matthew 5:8). God sees me that way as well. In his eyes, my car is white, sparkling and shining. In that area that used to muck me up so much, I know I’ve been thoroughly washed clean through God’s power and the mud doesn’t stick to me like it once did. There will be a lot of mud slinging going on around me. We are constantly bombarded today with visual stimuli whether we seek it out or not, but the point it, when it comes my way, it doesn’t have to stain my soul. I am certain of this. 

I’m also aware that those who do not have that same relational equity built with me, aka the general population, would not understand the same way. They would most likely get the wrong ideas and condemn our practice. I’m sure of it. But why is this? What occurred to me is that even though I know my car is white, and God knows it, and ultimately it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, they would see my car as mud stained because (drum roll…) they are looking through mud stained glasses. They don’t see Jesus as powerful enough to redeem the sin of lust (at least in this life; they don’t act like they do, anyway). Until they change their hearts and minds on this issue and allow Jesus to clean them, they will always project their own issues onto us who have worked through them and come out on the other side.

It’s just as Titus 1:15 NIV says, “To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.”

Review of “Surfing for God”

This is a thorough review of “Surfing for God: Discovering the Divine Desire Beneath Sexual Struggle” by Michael John Cusick. I’ll say right off bat that while I’m often very critical of books that deal with overcoming pornography that are in the Christian “mainstream,” this one was quite good for the most part. It offers a more holistic approach which includes work and care for one’s soul. This component is often missing in the bulk of most books which typically aim at the management of behaviors without going deep to the source of those behaviors.

Normally on these reviews, I share excerpts that I highlighted while reading and notes which were my reactions (often upset reactions) to what I’m reading. In this case, I made many highlights, but few notes. My unique perspective as a Christian naturist is obviously missing, but what was also missing from this book were many of the man-made strategies that deserve serious scrutiny. My own thoughts will be italicized from this point on. 

Location 221 (Kindle): I am tired of the never-ending battle over lust.” A battle that so often leads to defeat. Borrowing from the shampoo bottle instructions, I call it the “lather, rinse, repeat” cycle. First, it begins with getting clean—genuine remorse and sincere repentance. Promising God that we won’t go there again. Then, for reasons we don’t really understand, we go there again. Eventually, when our shame overwhelms us, or perhaps we’ve been discovered, we come clean again. But this time we tell somebody and find an accountability partner. Finally, we commit to a new strategy by redoubling our efforts, trying even harder, checking in more often with our accountability partner, and maybe reading our Bibles more. It’s lather, rinse, repeat—with the emphasis on repeat. And the saddest part of this cycle is that most men see no alternative. We’re seemingly stuck with two choices: either suppress our passions or give in and indulge them. We know in our hearts that porn is not God’s best for our lives. But in the heat of the moment, it seems as if there’s nothing better than porn. We desperately need another way to live.

I would agree. I call this the guilt and shame cycle in a chapter of the book I’m currently writing.

He says in Location 257, Many approaches exist for healing compulsive sexual behaviors like porn addiction. By offering my framework, I am not in any way criticizing other approaches.

I guess I am unapologetically criticizing other approaches. But I’m offering a critique of the strategies (which have been found to be woefully inadequate) not the individuals themselves.

Page 7 · Location 370: Who says viewing porn is wrong when our culture tries to reassure us that it’s natural and normal—in fact, based on popular consumption and the ten-billion-dollar industry it generates, you’re abnormal if you don’t view porn!

This is a sad reality we have to deal with. I offer a different spin on the “Normal vs. Natural” debate in this post.

Location 473: …the compulsion toward porn far exceeds the thrill of orgasm or appreciation for a woman’s body proportions. It involves far more than viewing a new stimulating sexual position or a hotter, more provocative partner. In the same way, overeating is not about food—something else compels the food addict to eat an entire one-pound bag of M& M’s in one sitting. Compulsive shopping is about so much more than needing more stuff to put in our garages or closets. So, too, our sexual lusts and preoccupations with porn point to more than naked bodies or illicit sex.

I don’t care at all for some of this objectifying language, but I get that he’s building a case for a focus on the soul of the struggling man (or woman in many cases). I’d have to wholeheartedly agree that lust is about more than naked bodies. It’s about the heart, regardless of one’s dress or lack thereof.

Page 15 · Location 483: …we seek on the physical level what can only be obtained on a spiritual level, then we set ourselves up for a never-ending cycle that only leads to desperation, despair, and bondage. So if sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical pleasure, then what does that tell us? Almost a century ago, G. K. Chesterton wrote that the man who knocks on the brothel door is knocking for God. If he were writing today, he might say that the man who surfs the web for porn is surfing for God. If nothing else, this truth means that sex is a signpost to God. It also points us to the way He designed us as sexual beings—when we are most aligned with this design and intention, we are most powerful, complete, and fulfilled.

Great quote!

Page 15 · Location 489: Maybe you’ve heard the saying that in a marriage the sexual relationship is a barometer for the relationship in general. When a husband and wife enjoy a healthy emotional, relational, and spiritual connection, most of the time good sex follows. In the same way, a man’s sexual appetite is a barometer for what’s going on inside his heart. Your sex drive consists of more than testosterone and the buildup of seminal fluid pressing for biological release, more than being visually stimulated and feeling aroused. Sexual arousal is an accumulation of your experiences, deep needs, and unconscious beliefs. Your heart shares a deep connection to your body parts. The way you are sexually aroused reflects what’s happening deep in your soul, beyond your sexual organs. Indeed, sex is as much spiritual mystery as it is physical fact. The reality is that your heart needs something, and porn promises to meet that need.

Porn promises intimacy, but fails to deliver. Lust is a cheap imitation of the desire for true love that God instills in us. The master counterfeiter is hard at work to keep us from the real deal.

Page 16 · Location 498 Like all idols, porn promises us something we desire. In reality, it overpromises and underdelivers.

Page 17 · Location 526: What makes pornography so addictive,” wrote John Eldredge, “is that more than anything else in a man’s life, it makes him feel like a man without ever requiring a thing of him.” 2 The allure of porn is that—contrary to a woman in real life—it makes us feel like men, and it never rolls its eyes at us or rolls over in bed. Porn never reminds us of our failures, flaws, or shortcomings. It doesn’t evaluate our appearances or performances, our net worths or credentials. Porn doesn’t tell us to clip our toenails or put the toilet seat down. Porn doesn’t care if we are sullen, irritable, overweight, selfish—even undesirable. Porn’s only requirement of a man is a pulse—and maybe the click of a mouse.

And a heart that lusts after another person.

Page 18 · Location 537: So in the absence of felt strength, we turn to porn as if it were steroids for our soul. In our minds, porn makes us bigger, stronger, and more desirable. We get our fix and affirm our manhood. The seductive images reliably tell us that we are the man. But as we do with real steroids, we risk porn’s damaging side effects and possible public disgrace. Without this drug, we become just another guy and wonder if we make the cut. C. S. Lewis understood this when he wrote that every time a man masturbates, he chips away at his manhood.

While true, one note I had earlier which I did not include was that this book seems geared toward men only. Females also struggle with porn. The solution should be all encompassing.

Page 23 · Location 609: Porn promises power over women another way. Images and scenes of women being humiliated, degraded, and violated for the pleasure of men are now commonplace online. What is this about? Most often, it speaks to the clinical issue of tolerance, the idea that more and more of the “drug” is required to get the same effect. When more of the drug can’t bring about the desired effect, then it becomes necessary to change drugs. In the case of porn, changing drugs means seeking out scenes that are darker, edgier, and even more abusive. I’ve spoken with numerous men who began their online porn career by “innocently” searching for naked celebrity pics, but eventually ended up compulsively searching for violent and repulsive material they never could have imagined wanting before.

I’ve read over and over that this is the case. With me, I never got to this level, thankfully, but even a “low-grade” porn compulsion is destructive enough. We are made for better.

Page 25 · Location 639: Lust is the craving for salt of a man who is dying of thirst.—FREDERICK BUECHNER

Page 27 · Location 682: Jesus doesn’t call us to a self-improvement plan. Instead, He appeals to our deep thirsts and desires, even if we don’t recognize it.

Page 31 · Location 747: Jesus addressed the issue of lust. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5: 27–28). The Greek word for “lust” in that passage is epithumeo, which means “to set the heart upon” or to “intensely desire.” Yet when Luke recorded Jesus’ words as He broke bread with His twelve disciples at the Last Supper—“ I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22: 15 ESV, emphasis added)—he used the same word, epithumeo, that Jesus used to describe lust. Was Jesus lusting? Yes. Was Jesus sinning? Of course not. He was deeply in touch with the deep and godly desires in His heart. Through the centuries, theologians and philosophers have referred to lust as disordered desire. Such a definition is extremely helpful in understanding Jesus’ two uses of the word for lust, as well as clearing up our own misunderstandings. Disordered desire results from desires that are disowned, demanded, or misplaced.

I love this. Such a good point!

Page 33 · Location 769: While we try to ratchet down our desires, God invites us to desire even more deeply.

Page 33 · Location 773: The problem with lust is that we’ve thrown the baby out with the bathwater. Think about it this way. Suppose you have just finished a hard day of cycling or hiking in the heat of summer. Extremely thirsty, you return to your vehicle and grab the water bottle you packed earlier that morning. You are aware that the water in your container is comprised of countless molecules, each containing two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. For some reason, you decide that you will only swallow the oxygen atoms and not the hydrogen atoms. Despite your best efforts, you can’t do it because the two hydrogen atoms and the one oxygen atom cannot be separated. To separate them would mean you would no longer be drinking water, but something else. A man trying to suppress his lust is like someone trying to drink only the oxygen atoms.

Page 34 · Location 784: When we demand, we leave no room for love because we go from being lovers to consumers. A man compulsively drawn to porn does not have a problem with his desire. God created him with a natural attraction to feminine beauty. The problem is not that he is thirsty but that his desire has become a demand.

Page 40 · Location 881: Our hearts—the containers that hold love—are broken. That is why even when we drink deeply of God’s living water, we are thirsty again. Like clay water jugs with cracked sides, we leak because we are broken.

Page 42 · Location 903: As a man heals from his bondage to porn, he must understand his brokenness and allow it to compel him toward Jesus. Our brokenness is our only requirement for receiving God’s grace.

See, this is all excellent!

Page 42 · Location 913: [Jesus] was not giving an anatomy lesson. In a heated conversation with the religious professionals of the day, Jesus had been discussing what makes a person clean or unclean. The popular teaching was that a person was unclean for not having followed certain ceremonial steps. But Jesus turned this teaching upside down. “What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’” Jesus said, “but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean’” (Matt. 15: 11). His point was that no matter how many acts of obedience we perform, our problems are internal, not external. Our actions and behavior—what comes out of us—are just the tip of the iceberg.

Page 43 · Location 918: As if Jesus’ impassioned discussion with the religious rulekeepers were not enough, He went on to utter His harshest words yet, to those who believed that God should be impressed with their moral performances. “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. . . . First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean” (Matt. 23: 25–26).

Page 43 · Location 922: What this means for a man caught in the chains of porn and lust is crucial. If you could somehow magically stop looking at porn and exercise self-control in place of lust, you still wouldn’t be dealing with the problem below the waterline. You’ve only cleaned the outside of the cup and dish.

Such good insights!

Page 44 · Location 931: Understanding ourselves at this level is not about the “what” of our sin (I can’t stop looking at porn), but the “why” (porn promises to meet some need in me). The whys that explain our addictions can be categorized into four interwoven, underlying dimensions: wickedness, weaknesses, woundedness, and warfare.

He delves deeper into each of these in the book. Worth the read.

Page 48 · Location 991: …these men initially reported to me that they didn’t have any wounds. Not applicable. Not me. I’m good. None of them intentionally lied or tried to be deceitful. They had simply cut off that part of themselves in order to survive. The problem, however, is that the survival techniques that helped us go on when we were young prevent us from thriving when we are adults. Our solution becomes the problem. Until we realize that we are wounded, we will never recognize how we turn to porn as a balm to heal the injuries of our hearts.

Page 48 · Location 1001: Why, then, do we so often limit Jesus’ ministry to forgiveness and payment for sin? His death on the cross restored our relationship with God and enabled us to receive eternal life in heaven. But the restoration of our relationship with God also makes restoration possible in us. Eternal life doesn’t begin after we die—it begins right now.

Preach.

Page 50 · Location 1037: In the embers of your wickedness, weakness, and woundedness, the Enemy lurks, seeking to throw gas on the fires of brokenness.

Page 51 · Location 1043: The greatest barrier to the life of freedom that God desires for us is not our brokenness. It is brokenness unsurrendered. When we conceal or refuse to surrender our wickedness, weakness, and woundedness, they remain not only out of sight but also out of the realm of healing.

Page 56 · Location 1116: …porn is such a snare to our souls. It sells us a pack of lies by making us feel so alive . . . for a moment. But the “life” it hawks is 180 degrees different from the life Jesus offers. Porn’s “life” is a counterfeit…

Page 57 · Location 1132: When the devil tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread, he was appealing to Jesus’ legitimate desire for food. In the case of my knockoff watch, the legitimate desire was a longing for approval and acceptance, born out of my insecurity. With porn, any number of legitimate desires may fuel the lust—affection, comfort, strength, or affirmation. It might help to compare designer gifts with deceiver gifts.

Page 58 · Location 1155: Jonah warned us that we cannot keep both the counterfeit and the real at the same time. We must choose. “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs,” he wrote (2: 8). Counterfeit worship renders us unable to receive God’s good gifts.

Page 59 · Location 1160: That’s what porn and lust do to us. They tell us we’re not going to receive God’s provision, that we’ll never be satisfied with His manna, so we’re better off finding our own. But the intimacy we experience in those illicit moments is a counterfeit intimacy. It makes us feel like men without requiring us to be men—until we wake up one day with a cheap imitation of intimacy in our top drawer.

Page 59 · Location 1163: We begin our journey from slavery to freedom when we expose the counterfeits at the root of our brokenness and admit our thirst for the real thing. It involves shifting our focus from the external objects of temptation (i.e., women and porn) and, as I said earlier, taking an authentic look at the spiritual roots under the surface.

This is where the concept of Imago Dei fully understood and implemented really comes into play. Women (and men) are not objects of temptation. It does help to look at the roots, but if you continue to see others as temptation, they will be.

Page 61 · Location 1190: …demonic spirits are attached to these idols (1 Cor. 10: 20). Scripture also warns that when we give ourselves to an idol, it ensnares and traps us so we cannot break free (Deut. 7: 25). We are fooled into thinking an idol is serving us when in reality we are serving it. We have fallen for a counterfeit “god” to worship. Unbelief lies at the heart of idolatry.

Reminds me of Romans 1, worshiping the created instead of the Creator.

Page 64 · Location 1240: What we see is the progression of compulsion. It starts when we turn away from God as our source of life and turn other things into idols that we’re convinced will satisfy our desires. We worship and serve “created things rather than the Creator”—that’s counterfeit worship. Along the way we try desperately to numb the painful realities in our lives—the discontent, disappointment, dashed dreams, or fears often going back decades and rarely related directly to sex. Rather than face what’s really churning beneath the surface, we opt for denial and distraction in fantasy “relationships” that get us off the hook from stepping up to the plate as real men. Our minds become “futile . . . foolish . . . darkened”—that’s counterfeit truth.

Haha, yep, we’re tracking together here!

Page 67 · Location 1283: …while guilt says, “I have done wrong,” shame says, “I am wrong.” Shame is a feeling (which quickly becomes a belief) that we are defective, flawed, bad, or worthless. The lens of shame always focuses not on what a person has done but on who the person is. It focuses on one’s self. The heaviness and torment of shame are unbearable. And the verdict is always the same—that at our core we are inferior, inadequate, or unacceptable.

I’ve said it before, shame is not of God. Conviction is, but it’s tone is kind, and God’s kindness leads us to repentance (Rom. 2:4). God is calling us wayward children home to embrace us (see Luke 15:11-32).

Page 68 · Location 1294: To be naked and unashamed before God meant that Adam and Eve were both free and able to offer to God exactly who they were, without holding anything back or hiding their true selves. They were fully known, just as they were created to be, and they were fully okay with that. This led to an uninhibited intimacy with God and with each other.

Page 69 · Location 1316: Vulnerability, once a blessing, became a liability. Unity, once a reflection of God’s nature, now divided them. Being known, once a gift, set them up for possible heartbreak. So they gathered fig leaves, not just to cover up physical nakedness but also to cover their nakedness of soul. Hiddenness became Adam and Eve’s self-protective strategy of choice in relationships.

Page 70 · Location 1329: Suddenly Adam and Eve were afraid of God. Their shame became a barrier to His offer of mercy, love, and care. Between the fig leaves and running for cover in the trees, they removed themselves from being able to receive what only God could offer.

You said fear and that’s what the text says? Where did shame come in? Why do you and others skip over God’s question of “who said you were naked?” Here’s what you glossed over. Our enemy must have told them they were naked and should feel shame over their bodies. They were married after all. They had no need to cover themselves without this deception.

Page 72 · Location 1351: For the most broken people in Jewish society, Jesus extended mercy, forgiveness, and hope into their sexual messes.

Amen.

Page 72 · Location 1352: This tells us that the voice of shame should never be confused with the voice of God. The voice of shame comes from our brokenness, not from our loving heavenly Father. God never turns away from our brokenness. But in regard to our shame, we have good news: “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8: 1).

Page 76 · Location 1425: What are your wounds and weaknesses? They will become the place where the lies of the Enemy become your beliefs. That will also become the place where you take matters into your own hands to overcome weakness or find relief for the pain of the wound. Put simply, we hide, compensate for, or seek relief from our wounds and weaknesses. Our brokenness is also the place where we become vulnerable to the Enemy’s lies.

I do really appreciate the emphasis on the realities of spiritual warfare. I don’t see a demon under every rock, but have acknowledged the gravity of this truth that few talk about. That is why I am also writing a chapter entitled “The Real Enemy.”

Page 80 · Location 1483: Who might be an Eric to you—someone you could invite into your shame who would not be frightened by your nakedness? Who can you trust with you?

The author probably doesn’t even understand the full truth of this statement! This, after a heart-wrenching story and some real vulnerability on behalf of this Eric person. Christian naturism excels in this area by default in ways uncommon or even unattainable to most people.

Page 84 · Location 1524: Each time the cycle concludes and repeats, we descend deeper into a downward spiral that reinforces the previous cycle. In my case, I turned to porn and sex to relieve the pain of my brokenness. But each time I gave in, my shame poured gasoline on the fire, which increased my brokenness, which in turn increased my need to find relief. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Page 86 · Location 1552: External triggers can be obvious—like getting an e-mail solicitation for porn or seeing a beer commercial where an attractive woman bends over a pool table. External triggers may also be less obvious, like being home alone, having unrestricted computer access, or interacting with someone you find sexually attractive. Internal triggers include feelings and thoughts. Emotions such as disappointment, loneliness, rejection, anxiety, anger, and boredom are common triggers. Physical feelings, including fatigue, headaches, hunger, or chronic pain, can also serve as internal triggers. Thoughts can be more subtle internal triggers. A few examples include: I’ve been working so hard I deserve to reward myself . . . My girlfriend is so inattentive . . . My boss never appreciates me . . . If I were a real man, I’d know how to rock climb (or fix my own brakes).

Page 88 · Location 1581: Although I have not acted out sexually since 1994, at times the battle with lust can be intense. Recently, I noticed a pattern I had not been aware of. Whenever I would go to the grocery store, I made it a point to walk down the magazine aisle. As I walked past glossy covers featuring celebrities and models, I discovered that my energy and mood lifted ever so slightly. Even though I wasn’t stopping to focus on any given magazine, just walking past those images was like an afternoon shot of espresso. The moment we become preoccupied, our brains start releasing dopamine and adrenaline, our energy levels may increase, and our deflated souls begin to fill and rise like a balloon inflated with helium. I know men who haven’t looked at porn in years but who virtually live in the preoccupation stage. Their minds are constantly on the prowl for sexual stimulation, and they justify it because they aren’t using porn.

I don’t feel that pull anymore, at all, since changing the way of think about the body and the Image of God.

Page 93 · Location 1669: Our hearts are freed from the fixation on porn to be captivated by the beauty of God’s love, all so that our hearts can be given more fully to God and others.

Page 95 · Location 1689: Larry [Crabb]  just looked at me, dead serious, and repeated himself. “If what you really want to do is look at porn and masturbate, then go ahead and do it.” I could tell he wasn’t being flippant, but I also knew his integrity. So I launched back at him, “I know this must be some kind of reverse psychology or paradoxical treatment you’re trying on me, right?” The look on his face, however, told me this was not his intention. “I don’t get it,” I exclaimed. “Why are you telling me to go ahead and look at porn and masturbate?” In frustration, I hit my fist against the armchair and shouted, “That’s not what I want to do!” Larry’s eyes sparkled with delight. “Exactly!” he cheered. “That’s the point. Looking at pornography and masturbating is not what you really want to do.”

Great story. We must grow up and mature. Our identity is of one who does not resort to such childish habits. 

Page 97 · Location 1732: Some years ago a man said to me, “I wish I could go to a hospital and have my sexual addiction surgically removed!” Although he spoke in jest, his desire for healing was intense, and he knew he needed to get to the heart of his problem. Wouldn’t it be nice if a doctor could give us an anesthetic and then extract our sinful patterns—just like a ruptured spleen or an inflamed appendix? Of course, no such operation for the soul exists. And if it did, it still wouldn’t deal with the problem.

That’s right.

Page 98 · Location 1747: Throughout the rest of the sermon, Jesus made the point that obedience to the law begins and ends with the heart. Let’s face it: a blind person is just as capable of lusting as you and I are. Physical surgery won’t cure our lust. Jesus knew better than anyone else that the surgical procedure we needed was a heart transplant, not dismemberment.

Page 101 · Location 1788: The truth is this: God has dealt with sin in your heart. And having a new heart changes everything—including what you do with your eyes and hands and other body parts.

Page 101 · Location 1792: From the teaching I had heard, through Jesus’ death on the cross, my relationship with God was restored and the debt for my sins was paid. As a result, I was forgiven, and I was assured of going to heaven. Little did I know that although these truths were certainly real, the gospel involved so much more. I had no idea that my heart had been made new or what that actually meant. I had no idea that salvation was an absolutely essential door I entered, so that in Christ I might experience restoration.

Page 102 · Location 1811: Your sin nature is not your true identity. It’s not your deepest nature and it’s no longer your controlling disposition, proclivity, or propensity. Sin no longer defines you. Instead, here is the deepest truth about you: your sinful nature has been put off, or stripped away (Col. 2: 11), and you are dead to your sinful nature (Rom. 6: 11).

Yes, yes, yes!

Page 103 · Location 1826: Countless followers of Jesus have lived under a crippling theology that defines them by their sinful nature and a desperately wicked heart. But we must not confuse our sinful nature with our new hearts. Our sin nature was crucified with Christ. Our new hearts are alive with the very life of God beating in us. And our new hearts are good hearts.

Page 104 · Location 1835: If you set a bowl of carrot and celery sticks beside a bowl of potato chips on a table, which would seem more appealing and appetizing? I’ve always known that vegetables are good for me, and that chips may be an unhealthy option. But knowing that fact has rarely made a difference in my appetite. I want the chips! For the first twenty years of following Jesus, I associated God’s ways with the carrots and celery, and my ways with the potato chips.

OK, this is hitting too close to home now! I joke, but it’s true. In the same way I’ve overcome lust through God’s work, I now need to overcome gluttony and take better care of the body he gave me.

Page 104 · Location 1839: The gospel turns all of this upside down. The reality of the new covenant and your new heart is that deep down, your inclination now gravitates toward God’s heart and ways. “Delight yourselves in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Ps. 37: 4).

Page 105 · Location 1846: Following Jesus is not about not sinning; it’s about releasing His life from within. Like turning on the faucet. The goal is not to turn off the faucet of lust, but to turn on the faucet of trust. Trusting that God has restored my heart, and that my heart is good. Slowly, I began to understand just how much energy I had spent on sin management, trying to repress the cesspool I imagined within and keep the sewage inside from spewing out. As I stopped putting my energy into shutting off the faucet from the cesspool, my real passions began rising to the surface. The pipes in my soul were getting unclogged, and something was starting to flow that I didn’t know was there. I began experiencing what Jesus described as “a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4: 14).

Page 109 · Location 1905: In light of current world conditions, few people would disagree that we are at war. Just look at ongoing problems with terrorism and countless murders from the illegal drug trade. Add to that grim reality the atrocities of genocide, childhood sex slavery, and sex trafficking, and few would deny the reality of evil. But speak of evil in the form of living, breathing personal entities—Satan and demons—and, well, that seems a little extreme to most people. Despite the visible evidence of evil, plenty of skeptics refuse to believe in a source behind that evil.

Here starts a whole section about the invisible battle in the spiritual realm. Again, I’m glad he included this.

Page 109 · Location 1910: And I can certainly understand. Even as a Christian, I haven’t always believed in the influence of evil spirits or demons. Until twelve years ago I held a strong—though largely unexamined—position against the direct influence of the Enemy in our lives. What would people think of me? Would I come across as some religious nut? As a part-time seminary professor, I didn’t want to appear intellectually unsophisticated.

Page 110 · Location 1913: I remained resolute in my beliefs until I encountered man after man in my office who struggled with all kinds of sexual brokenness. One man confessed that every time he looked at porn and masturbated, he immediately heard an accusing voice telling him he would never be free.

When I read this, I shuddered, showed Mrs. Phil, and we were taken back to a time that we fought an eerily similar battle. She heard those same words: “You thought you could be free? You’ll never be free!” With the most evil laughter. We will expand this story in our book. Suffice to say, this stuff is very real. The enemy does not want anyone to be free.

Page 113 · Location 1960: Theologian Christopher West remarked, “If the body and sex are meant to proclaim our union with God, and if there is an enemy who wants to separate us from God, what do you think he is going to attack? If we want to know what is most sacred in this world, all we need do is look at what is most violently profaned.” 2

I love reading Christopher West. This is a quote I had also included.

Page 115 · Location 1991: And once we grant the powers of darkness permission to influence us, the Enemy uses two important strategies to further deepen our bondage: footholds and strongholds… Paul very well could have said, “In your anxiety, in your lust, in your passivity, do not sin . . . and do not give the devil a foothold.”

Page 116 · Location 2010: Spiritually speaking, certain circumstances allow the Enemy to not only get in the door but also set up camp and stay for a while, all with the goal of conquering the individual.

Page 116 · Location 2011: Paul described the nature of our war against the Enemy’s strongholds this way: “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10: 3–5). Notice that Paul began with the assumption that believers are actively engaged in a war. He also reminded us that our weapons in this battle are distinctly different from the world’s weapons. Also, notice that Paul defined strongholds as “arguments” and “pretension”—beliefs and lies—that take root in us, and that stand in the way of knowing God. These falsehoods concern our perceptions about God, ourselves, or others. Lastly, notice the order of the warfare. Strongholds are demolished before every thought is taken captive. Countless men have told me that they cannot control, or take captive, their thoughts. But we cannot take our thoughts captive, or overcome any other sexual sin, until the stronghold has been demolished.

Page 117 · Location 2021: When the U.S. Navy Seals captured and killed Osama bin Laden, they didn’t walk up to his compound, ring the doorbell, and quietly request that Mr. Bin Laden come with them. Instead, they commandeered the heavily defended compound in which he had been living before taking his life. It works the same way in the spiritual sense.

Page 117 · Location 2028: First, you must announce the lie you have befriended. Below are some of the most common ones.

• I will never be sexually satisfied in my marriage.
• Sexual gratification is necessary for my well-being.
• I will always be ruled by lust and cannot change.
• Real intimacy is not worth the risk.
• I don’t really love God or I wouldn’t be struggling this way.
• My heart must be desperately wicked.
• I can never let anyone know my deepest struggles.
• I am not a strong and powerful man.

I have written about agreements in the post Onions Are Terrible.

Page 118 · Location 2045: Next, you must renounce the lie. In 2 Corinthians 4: 2 Paul declared that he had “renounced . . . shameful ways.” He didn’t say that he’d stopped them, or even repented of them. He said “renounced.” Renouncing means to formally withdraw from participating in the lie, like a gang member who renounces his affiliation in a gang.

…You may have believed the lie in your past, but you are deciding—by an act of your will—that you will no longer buy into it.

…Finally, we must pronounce the truth.

Such good stuff here: Announce the lie, Renounce the lie, Pronounce the truth.

Page 123 · Location 2111: Without understanding porn’s impact on the brain, too many men either quit trying to change or carry unnecessary guilt and shame when their spiritual zeal and willpower aren’t enough.

I love the brain stuff. It’s fascinating and important to understand.

Page 125 · Location 2159: If some malevolent being held a competition to create the perfect delivery mechanism to enslave our human desire, Internet pornography would win the grand prize. You must understand that online pornography is fundamentally different from the Playboys or Penthouses of past generations. If the magazines, videos, and DVDs of the past were like the Wright brothers’ plane at Kitty Hawk, then Internet porn would be a supersonic jet.

Page 126 · Location 2167: No one would argue that the orgasm is one of the most powerful physical, emotional—and some would say spiritual—experiences of being alive. Scientists have shown that in those moments of ecstasy and surrender, the release of serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, and norepinephrine is as powerful in the brain as heroin. 

Page 126 · Location 2171: Internet porn overstimulates the brain. This occurs in four unique ways. First, our brains crave novelty, and the Internet provides an endless variety of novel sexual images. When I was a young man looking at magazine centerfolds, images lost their appeal within a short amount of time. But with online porn, new images are instantly available with the click of a mouse. With each new image, our limbic system releases a burst of dopamine, which tells us we gotta have it.

…The connection between novelty and sexual arousal is well established by what scientists call the Coolidge effect. After dropping a male rat into a cage with a receptive female, researchers initially observed intense copulation between the rats. Eventually, the male rat exhausted himself; even when the willing female rat wanted more, he was spent. However, when the original female was replaced with a new receptive female, the male rat immediately revived and began to copulate again. This pattern was repeated over and over until the male rat was literally exhausted. With the introduction of a novel sexual mate, this process will be repeated again and again until the male succumbs to exhaustion or death.

Page 127 · Location 2185: In food and substance addictions, a person either runs out of the drug or food, or is physically unable to tolerate more. A man can eat only so many pizzas or smoke only so much crack before reaching the obvious limits. With Internet porn, an infinite supply is available.

…And as long as a man has an Internet connection, he can continue to binge. This is why it’s not uncommon for addicted men to stay up all night viewing porn, and even lose track of time.

Page 128: Internet porn overstimulates the brain because it’s available on demand. Again, unlike substances that require the user to arrange for a fix, a man carries a forever stash of porn in his mind without even turning on the computer. Every time the images come to mind, he experiences a burst of dopamine in his neuropathways.

Pages 129-130: When dopamine is released in large amounts or for long periods, two things happen simultaneously. First, the receiving nerve cells get overstimulated and start removing receptors. It’s like when someone keeps shouting at you; you cover your ears. But the sending cells scream even louder (more dopamine) until they are hoarse, and can now only whisper (the amount of dopamine sent is below normal). With the receiving cells half deaf (fewer receptors) and the sending cells whispering (less dopamine released), you are left with two options—feeling awful, or finding porn, the one thing that now releases dopamine more than anything else. With porn this is a gradual process, yet it lies at the heart of addiction. Low dopamine signaling that leads to a numbed pleasure response is known as desensitization. It is precisely why men feel so helpless, so powerless, when they try to overcome their sexual addictions.

…Every thought, feeling, habit, skill, or behavior in your life has a corresponding neuropathway that fires in your brain. These pathways are designed to function optimally. However, as the brain’s reward circuitry gets entangled in a tug-of-war, the brain rewires itself for addiction and new neuropathways are created. Every time a man views porn, or eventually even thinks about porn, the burst of dopamine strengthens the connections between cells. The stronger the connection, the easier it becomes for cells to communicate on that path. This idea of the brain changing itself is called neuroplasticity.

Page 131: Our brains can be rewired from their addictive patterns. Just as you can reboot your computer and reset the hard drive, you can reboot your brain and restore the sensitivity of your brain circuits.

Page 132: …begin your first ninety days of abstinence.

Better than the first 90 days of abstinence is the first day of true freedom which brings instant abstinence for life. This is what my experience shows me is possible.

Page 133: Holding on to the idea that you won’t, or can’t, relapse is not only unrealistic; it’s counterproductive. If you fall, get back up. Some people hear the drama of my story and assume that I experienced an immediate breakthrough. But my journey from identifying my addiction to freedom took four years.

Mine was a breakthrough and took much less time (almost instantly).

Page 133: Determine the day you will commit yourself to sexual sobriety. Once you begin, keep a calendar to track the days, weeks, and months.

I did this and accountability. It didn’t work. There is a better way. Better than being sober for so many days or months is being new for the first day of the rest of your life. The author spoke of this being new earlier in the book. This is walking that back.

Page 136: Recent attention has been given to children and adults who suffer from NDD, or nature deficit disorder, as a result of spending too much time online or engaged in electronic media. Avoid this disorder by interacting with the outdoors in the sunshine, fresh air, and natural beauty of God’s creation. Get out and move! Pursuing alternative passions expands your horizons and rewires your brain at the same time.

Amen, and I could say much more about this!

Page 137: So be encouraged. Your struggle with porn is a learned response, in many ways, just like the skills of a pianist or athlete. Your brain can unlearn, and it can change.

Page 145: Modern Christianity has all but lost an understanding of the inner sanctuary. God never intended our faith to be a mere intellectual pursuit. He intended to restore humanity’s ability to walk with God. He calls us to walk with Him from an inward place. When we are disconnected from this place, this center, we gravitate toward anything nearby that gives us a false sense of being centered.

Page 146: I remember speaking with a man I’ll call Mark about facing the emptiness. With great frustration he related his difficulty of being able to sit still, remain attentive, or simply be engaged and present when he attempted to spend time with God. I assured him that his frustrations were a common struggle. Then I asked him what seemed like a totally inappropriate question. “What would it be like if during your time with God you were to imagine the hottest, most sexually appealing woman, and focus on her for twenty minutes? Would that change anything?” Mark smiled impishly. “Well . . . yes, but that would be a sin.” In no way was I encouraging him to sin, or even attempt to do what I was asking. But my hypothetical question allowed our conversation to take an important turn. What we ended up discussing was that he was able to be still, attentive, engaged, and present. The only requirement was that he had to be looking at porn. This was no small insight. With no awareness whatsoever that his brain had become wired for porn, or that he was addicted to his own brain chemistry, Mark had wrongly concluded that he just couldn’t engage and be attentive because he was somehow deficient and unspiritual. Do you hear the lie even here? The lie he came to believe was that he didn’t love God and must not care very deeply about the kingdom. As soon as he understood the basic way his brain worked, he was able to separate his brain rewiring from the novelty of porn from his true heart.

Page 147: Ten years ago I decided that I no longer wanted to live off of other people’s spirituality. I no longer wanted to settle for hearing about other people’s encounters with God, and only teach others what I could glean from the books I was reading. I wanted to experience God as David did. I wanted to dwell in the sanctuary of God and “gaze on the beauty of the Lord and . . . seek him in his temple” (Ps. 27:4).

Pages 149-150: …will solitude and silence, centering prayer, and inward attentiveness really make a difference in my struggle with porn? That’s a very important question. The scientific verdict is in, and the answer is a qualified yes.

I know what did work for me without any qualifiers.

Pages 156-157: Identifying what places, people, circumstances, or experiences trip your trigger is key. What provokes lust, craving, and movement toward porn? No trigger is insignificant if it serves as a cue to lust and craving.

He says to stalk your triggers. With a new heart and redeemed mind, you don’t want or be bothered by whatever used to trigger you. That’s called healing, peace, and renewal.

Page 157: …your cravings do talk to you. They are the physiological expressions of thirst and longing, communicating to you that a legitimate desire is not being met. What is the craving about? What is the longing beneath the urge? What is the legitimate desire? Before learning to interrogate their cravings, I hear men say, “I’m just really horny.” But after learning this method of soul attentiveness, men say, “I’m not horny; beneath feeling sexually aroused, what I really feel is lonely.” Surf Your Urges By now you probably understand that white-knuckling and gritting your teeth is not going to take you to the root of your lust issue.

I can relate to this. This WAS me.

Page 159: Here’s an example of what urge surfing might look like with porn or lust. Say you are home alone and haven’t looked at porn for two weeks. Suddenly, you start thinking about going online and surfing for porn. The first step is simply to observe. Sit comfortably in a chair and take a few deep breaths to help you get centered. Then take an inventory across your body. Where is the urge coming from in your body? Where do you feel it? Is it a feeling in your gut, shoulders, genitals? What is the sensation? Is it emptiness? Is it tingling? Anxiety? Now comes the part that requires a little courage. Speak out loud what you are experiencing: “I’m feeling a craving . . . it feels like butterflies in my stomach. It’s a light, hollow sensation.” Say whatever you are experiencing three or four times out loud. Now that you have observed what the craving is, the next step is to focus. Direct your focus on one specific area where you are experiencing the urge. Notice the exact sensations. Focus on the lightness, or hollowness, or tension. Observe how large of an area the sensation takes up. Is it the size of a baseball? Or is it the size of a pinprick? As you focus upon the sensation, describe it to yourself out loud. For example, “My heart rate seems faster. I can feel my face flush. I feel an energy in my temples.” As an outside observer of yourself, keep noticing the sensations and experiences and describe them out loud. The third step is to refocus. Return again to each part of your body where you experience the urge or craving. Are you able to observe any sensory changes? You may perceive after several minutes of urge surfing that the cravings have decreased or altogether disappeared. It’s important to say here that the point of urge surfing is not to eliminate cravings, but to experience them differently. Instead of running into the wave of craving, you are riding on top of it. Knowing that you can ride even the biggest wave is empowering. In the early stage of recovery, you can practice this until you are so familiar with the urges that they no longer trouble you.

Fine and good, but seems a bit tedious to me. Perhaps that’s me denying my inner feelings, but I would rather think that my former impure desires have all been replaced by pure ones.

Page 160: Of the hundreds of men I’ve counseled about their sexual addictions, not one has told me that after masturbating he felt stronger, more confident, and more vitally connected to the deep part of his soul. Debates over whether or not masturbation is a sin totally miss the point. The crucial question is not whether masturbation is right or wrong. The question is, as it is with any thought or behavior, does it hinder our spiritual, emotional, and social maturity? Does it stand in the way of love?

Page 166: One’s naked self is the self that is hidden and alone. Wicked, wounded, and weak, broken and impoverished. It holds no charm, credential, accomplishment, or status. Henri Nouwen called it the “irrelevant self.”1 It is the self that, apart from God’s loving pursuit, we try to conceal. In order to be ourselves, we each must come to terms with our naked selves.

…In our nakedness there is no pretense of earning or obtaining His love. It’s a gift that makes the gospel more real. Only in our nakedness can we experience the Father’s mercy, tenderness, and healing and realize that we are neither shamed nor despised.

He speaks in a spiritual sense here, but he’s right in more ways than he knows! There is something that happens when you embrace your physical nakedness as well. You can go from a hate relationship with yourself to a loving relationship for the body God has lovingly given you, in his own image.

Pages 167-168: As you embrace this freedom, you can begin to direct your will according to your truest desires. You can make healthy choices and exercise self-control. You decide whether or not you will stare at a woman’s breasts, masturbate to porn, have sex with your girlfriend, or flirt with the woman at your office. This is what the Bible means by self-control.

Nothing accomplished this in me as quickly and completely as embracing Christian naturism.

Page 168: God is concerned with so much more than giving you the energy to keep you from looking at porn. Obviously, He wants you free from any bondage—including porn and lust—that stands in the way of your relationship with Him. But in the big picture, He wants to free you from any encumbrances (related or unrelated to porn) that prevent you from living the life he intended.

Pages 173-174: God passionately desires to transform you from a twig of shame—think Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree—into an oak of righteousness that will display His splendor, His glory—like one of the mighty redwood trees in Yosemite.

Great section in this chapter on Isaiah 61, and oaks of righteousness, over the oaks of idolatry.

Page 178: A friend from AA drove him to the hospital where he began treatment. After a week of extensive mental health assessments, his psychiatrist, a straight-shooting Irishman, announced that he had reviewed the data and made a conclusive diagnosis. My father braced himself for the worst. “Your problem is that you are immature,” the doc pronounced. “You need to grow up, and learn to live without alcohol.” Dad walked back to his hospital room, where he sat for a long time to ponder the doctor’s words. “I decided he was right,” he told me later. “When I walked out of the room, I decided I would do whatever it took to learn to live without alcohol, to grow up.” And grow up he did. Almost forty years later, he still hasn’t had a drink. But even better, his journey of recovery has led him to become the man that one day I hope to be.

I love this story and the life altering decision to grow up. You cannot mature if you think you can never look at people and their bodies differently. The church typically warns against lust and tells you it’s a never ending battle. These two ideas cannot coexist. There are men in their 70s and 80s who never grew up in this area. This cannot be so with us.

Page 179: This is what the LORD says to the men of Judah and to Jerusalem: “Break up your unplowed ground and do not sow among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the LORD,

circumcise your hearts, you men of Judah and people of Jerusalem. (Jer. 4:3–4)

God told His people to break up their unplowed ground, referring not to soil but to the ground of their hearts. The Israelites’ hearts had grown hard and unreceptive, like parched land that can’t absorb rainfall. The soil of their hearts had become barren and unable to grow anything. In order to yield a harvest, the fallow ground needed to be broken. Their hearts needed to be broken in order to absorb God’s love.

Pages 181-182: In the battle against lust and porn, most Christian approaches stress the importance of accountability. In my experience, however, what we need more than accountability is accessibility. During my sexual struggles, I was held accountable by friends and mentors who were among the most insightful and highly trained men around. But I didn’t have the ability or desire to let these men into my heart.

That level of vulnerability is rare among men. It’s automatically present when we take off our clothes and just are as we were created.

Page 183: It’s about the avoidance of shame. This form of accountability is a gospel of sin management that is all too common, and fraught with problems. The most obvious issue with this approach is that every addict is a master at deception. We lie. It’s what addicts do.

Pages 184-185: In the cardiologist approach we move from accountability to accessibility. We expose our hiddenness, but more than that, we acknowledge our brokenness. Instead of trying to manage our sin, or be inspired to obey, we recognize our need for transformation. We begin to allow God, and a few others, to walk into the messiness of our lives, and we learn that we are more than the sum of our brokenness. Cardiologist accountability does not require a professional therapist or counselor. It begins with the assumption that our whole lives, including our brokenness, are the soil in which God grows us. The only requirements for becoming a cardiologist of this kind are a healthy curiosity, a desire to be a caring friend, and a willingness to grow in your understanding of the process of spiritual transformation.

Pages 189-190: Recently, I heard a Christian expert in sexual addiction suggest that telling men to pray more in order to overcome porn was tantamount to spiritual abuse. On one level I totally agree. Any approach that does not take into account the whole person— emotional, relational, and physiological, as well as spiritual—is incomplete. To emphasize the spiritual at the expense of our total personhood is a reduced gospel.

Did you catch that? The most overused advice usually given by those in the church is practically spiritual abuse!

Page 194: “Since junior high I’ve fought a war against lust and porn. I finally got tired of putting so much energy into battling porn, so I gave up. Instead, I’ve been putting my energy into becoming a different kind of man. I’m changing the way I do life. I’m starting to see myself and God differently. I’m learning what intimacy is all about. I guess I’m becoming a man who just doesn’t need to look at porn anymore. What it once did for me, I no longer need, because the gaping hole in my heart is gone. I’m pursuing God for who He is and not what He can do for me. I’m focusing on being transformed and discovering that it’s actually starting to happen.”

Page 196: …on a behavioral level you have been surfing for porn, while on a heart level you have been surfing for God.

Hence the name of the book.

Again, this is a book I can recommend without too many caveats. There exists in it an admission of the limitations of many modern man-made strategies that fall short or have loopholes and don’t get to the root of the matters of the soul. The laser focus on our real enemy, and the matters of the heart that are in play was a welcome breath of fresh air.

I Once Could See But Now I’m Blind

A guest post from Figleaf:

Almost everyone loves the old hymn – Amazing Grace.  The melody and words easily flow from the memory banks of our mind and out of our mouth with deep warm affection. “I once was lost, but now I’m found; was blind but now I see.”  We understand that verse to mean we were at one time spiritually blind to the truth of the gospel – blinded by the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4). But in the last couple of years I’ve discovered the reverse can also be true in a very positive way.  What I once could see – now I am blind to it!

Satan (the god of this age) and his demons are very adept at blinding humanity to spiritual truths.  But his first attack was not to blind, but to have eyes opened!  He even bragged to Eve how their opened eyes will make them like God (Genesis 3:4-7).  As usual he spoke in half truths – their eyes certainly were opened, but they were not anymore like God than he was.

Adam and Eve’s newly opened eyes revealed to them a new perception of body shame, fear, confusion, and disrupted relationship with each other and Father God.  I imagine how in horror they quickly wished they were blind to all of these things once again.  Perhaps they would have been better off putting the fig leaves over their eyes instead of their bodies!

And now Adam and Eve’s perceptions of this new reality have been successfully passed down to humanity for centuries and generations.  Much of this perception has been focused on one thing Satan hates the most – the naked human body as the image of God.  He has successfully influenced culture, society, and the church to reinforce this perception. On one hand he stirs up lust for the human body, and on the other hand he brings shame upon it.

Fortunately the darkness of blinded deception is occasionally pierced by the glorious light of truth.  For me, this glorious light of truth came packaged in the surprising wrapping of Christian Naturism.  All of the previously viewed books, videos, and blogs under the banner of Naturism have brought a light of truth that has been so bright it has blinded me to the lust and shame of my naked human body and the bodies of others around me.

Yes, I once could see and now I”m blind – and so thankful for what I no longer see when I look at a naked human body.  It’s kind of like being back in Eden.  With truth I’ve thrown the old serpent out of my garden, and now I enjoy my nudity without shame or lust – just as Father God intended.


Phil’s commentary: Thanks to Figleaf for this beautiful and insightful reflection. I’m so glad to resonate so strongly with your conclusions. I thought I would tack on this YouTube video that David Hatton was kind enough to send to me just today. I thought what Sister Wendy (the art nun) said so eloquently went well with Figleaf’s great word. She says at the end of this short video, “There’s nothing, nothing amiss in any part of the human body… There’s to me something far more salacious about these sort of snickers and criticisms than in just a Christian delight in God’s skill.”

I’ll Never Agree

The following is my reply to a brother who told me he would never agree to my view of naturism as a Christian:

You say you’ll never agree with me on the naturist position and can’t see anyone in the Bible practicing that. Never say never! I once was in your camp and thought the same thing about the Edenic ideal. Christian naturists, in my view, had to be a bunch of perverts trying to justify their awful behavior. For me, that was a projection of my own perversion at the time, especially since I equated nudity with sex. This is the main hang up for people that is hard to get over, but once you break that link, temptation to lust loses all its power. As Martha C. Nussbaum put it so eloquently and succinctly: “Nudity quickly becomes unremarkable when generally practiced.”

Now, having taken off the lenses of cultural bias, I’ve seen the words of Scripture anew. I see the body as the pinnacle of God’s creation, made very good. That didn’t stop being good when man sinned, at least I don’t think God changed his mind on it from one chapter to the next. Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed until they ate of the fruit. Then we are supposed to believe that this husband and wife are suddenly ashamed of their nakedness, after God commanded them to be fruitful and multiply? Something deeper and more sinister seems to be at play here! Many gloss over one of the very first questions God asks Adam after he confessed they were afraid and hid because they were naked. That question is simply “Who said you were naked?” It’s largely ignored, and most, it could just not be in the text at all. Could it be that the continued influence of the lying serpent deceptively put ideas contrary to God’s heart in their impressionable minds?

God wants us like little children to enter His kingdom. Someone described innocence as being “unaffected.” Kids learn body shame from grown ups. They don’t have this instinctively. We teach them, just like our first parents were taught. Is it possible to be innocent again or unaffected by sexual temptation this side of heaven? I think if our minds are renewed (Romans 12:1-2), we can be. Imagine a swindler who gives his heart to the Lord and quickly realizes that as a child of God he should swindle no more. We would do him a major disservice to his faith and new walk with Christ to tell him, “Well, the truth is that we live in a fallen world. And even if you don’t want to swindle any longer, you’re going to struggle with swindling because that’s just who you are. No! We’d tell him, “Swindling grieves God’s heart and it’s not who you are any longer.” That is the most I’ve ever referred to swindling, but I hope the point is clear. Lust is no different, and we shouldn’t treat it differently! Lust is not a constant threat to the one who doesn’t want to lust, he or she who trains their own arousal to be based solely in relationship, not in the visual aspect only (see www.mychainsaregone.org).

Jesus was fully human, tempted in every way as we are, yet did not sin (Hebrews 4:15) The woman caught in adultery was most likely fully naked, and Jesus looked at her with compassion, not lust. He commands us to do the same. (Matthew 5:27-28). We need to see people like God sees them, as made in His image.

I do not want to cause you to compromise your convictions. But as one who held the same convictions before, I will now speak of my freedom. I don’t want to try and convince you about naturism. It wasn’t even invented in Bible times, as you stated. There wasn’t a need to protect a group of like-minded people without the trappings of clothes, and restrict them to a certain area in those days. This is because nudity was simply more commonplace those days. We are post Victorian era and much more prudish as a result. We have also unfortunately been conditioned to treat the sight of bare skin strictly in a sexual way. That can be unlearned as easy as it was learned.

It’s sad to me that I never knew so many things about the ancient world at the time when Jesus roamed the earth. I didn’t really think about Roman baths or bathing at the river. How did people know who was and wasn’t circumcised? Since our clothes are so cheap to produce today, we don’t think about having one super expensive garment, that served as collateral in times with no credit cards, and doubled as a blanket at night. If you own very few garments, you would accustom yourself to working naked, like Peter and fishermen, for example. There are mosaics and frescoes and artwork that depict all these realities, as well as nude baptism for centuries! I was either unaware of these facts or outright rejected them. The point is, simple nudity was common and expected in that era, unlike today.

God commanded Isaiah to go and preach naked for three years (Isaiah 20:1-3). Would he command someone to sin? Did Jesus sin at his crucifixion or even when he came out of the grave and was mistaken for a naked gardener? When Saul in 1 Samuel 19:23-24 stripped and prophesied, people saw and asked if he was among the prophets (who were accustomed to prophesy this way).

I had no clue about Pope John Paul II’s landmark work known as “Theology of the Body” or what significance it would have for my life and faith. I didn’t know about all the censoring of art throughout the centuries, including the Sistine chapel. I was clueless about the subsequent removal of the loin cloths drawn over the top to reclaim Michelangelo’s God-honoring masterpiece.

As a result of not knowing or appreciating these truths, I lived a lie. The lie is that there is only one response to the sight of flesh. Like Pavlov’s dogs, my thinking was one track minded, and so the result was exactly what you’d expect (one of enticement and lustful desire). When I started to see that there is another and a better way, everything changed. My bondage ceased in a way never attained before. Soon after my wife’s body shame issues (of which she was largely unaware, even though it colored much of her world and confidence) died along with my struggles. Praise the Lord! What used to be a rock of offense, is now a great blessing just as God intended it to be in the beginning.

As for the most common objections, we cover them and the Scripture references in question at great length in this video/text blog series. I personally know several pastors and have read of many more who see no reason why naturism cannot be reconciled with Christian faith and practice. Some of them became naturists after studying the Bible for themselves, unsuccessfully trying to prove naturism is wrong! In fact, they and I attest to an enhancement to our faith and love for our Creator God and Lord.

You bring up two passages not addressed in this series: Ephesians 5:3 – But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. My answer is we agree! You would surely say that can’t be so, but that would be because you still link nudity to sex in your mind. There is non-sexual nudity that does not arouse sexual energy. Medical communities know this and naked tribes knew it until we went and told them they were naked and and deemed them “improper” in that state of undress. Nursing mothers should be left alone to care for their offspring without being sexualized. I have gathered with other believers and we’ve worshipped together all in undecorated bare bodies and there wasn’t a hint of sexual immorality. There were only sweet times of fellowship that honestly are hard to replicate in the clothing obsessed society. There’s really something about the vulnerability and honesty and humility of all people coming together in one mind. These are such fond memories and powerful times of Spirit-led meetings, and passionate prayer. It’s no wonder the prophets of old were known to shed their clothes as they prophesied.

Greed is also improper for God’s holy people. Could an obsession with clothes (even “modest” fashion) be a well-intended conviction actually based out of pride and greed? That aside, do we try to curb greed in the same way we attempt to keep lust at bay? Do you suggest that we cover up the banks just so we have not even a hint of greed? I realize it’s a faulty analogy, but it shows how we elevate sexual sin over other sins in our minds. This is because we struggle to accept bodies as what they are, and we tend to obsess over what we think we cannot control (lust). Greed I can control with God’s help, so the sight of a bank sign won’t trigger me. See what I mean? Shouldn’t we treat all sin in the same way?

2 Timothy 2:22 – Avoid the passions of youth, and strive for righteousness, faith, love, and peace, together with those who with a pure heart call out to the Lord for help. Again, we absolutely agree! To us, there’s no finer example of a pure in heart than chaste nudity in a soul that walks with the Lord, just like Adam and Eve did in the cool of the day. In my youth, I conflated this passion, made it all about me and did not live righteously. As an adult, I spent many years stunted in that one area of maturity. Then I realized I should grow up (using the maturation of our knowledge and God’s power to be made like a child, unaffected by the grip of lust). Now, thanks to God, I live for love, peace, and righteousness, not out of duty or obligation, but out of joy and relationship. True ethical naturists are adamant when they say nudity is not porn. They are so very different. Naturism is antithetical to porn. I agree. I hate porn because it devalues the person, splitting body and soul in two. Naturism shows the whole person and without any pretense or falsities. I avoid the passions of my youth today and live with a mature purity that I wish everyone would be able claim for themselves.

I know what I was like before embracing body acceptance and rejecting a body taboo. It’s a night and day difference for us, as I am not ever tempted to go back to my porn compulsion and my wife is finally seeing herself and others as God sees them. You could do this without naturism, but in my experienced opinion, nothing works faster and more completely than ethical Christian naturism. It also seems more congruent to the mindset in Bible days where non-sexual nudity was a given and not as shocking as it is today. Yes, sexual sin was a major problem, but these are heart problems and always have been. They aren’t dependent on the visual stimuli that you may or may not encounter to cause you to sin or not.

A friend named Jim put it like this just the other day, “The prudish mind is like a can of gasoline. All it needs is the necessary spark and voila, the mind explodes with distortion of the person — again, because we are messing with a primary need. Without having a prudish mind, I could easily stumble onto a porn site and it would affect me with great negativity and sadness with no allure whatsoever. As a matter of fact, I did stumble upon one last week while looking up saints of all subjects. And it affected me with negative emotions as I could see separation of the soul of the individual from the body.”

Herein lies the question: Could I lust at a naturist resort? I suppose I could if I wanted to. Although, it must be stated that naturists don’t take too kindly to any gawking or ogling! But think about this— I could also lust at a public swimming pool or even at a church service. Or I could choose not to lust in any of those places or situations. When it’s a matter of the heart (which it is), no one or nothing can make me sin or keep me from sinning. Why would I put myself in such a dangerous place such as a naturist resort where temptation abounds? Because it’s not dangerous to me any longer, because through God, I’ve retrained my mind to not objectify other image bearers. It’s like a former alcoholic that can go down the liquor aisle or even a bar and not have a problem. They are truly free and not enslaved in that bondage if they can do that. Otherwise, I wouldn’t suggest it! This is to say nothing of having a positive Christian influence and example for those naturists who claim no faith. It’s no surprise to me that I have talked about my faith more on a nude beach than I ever did on a textile beach!

For me personally, I couldn’t go back to how I used to be. I would compare it to a dog returning to its vomit. I used to see the body as lewd and obscene and a constant source of temptation. Now it is a beautiful work of art, that God himself fashioned in His own image and likeness, to be protected and always treated with the utmost respect.  Big mental changes are hard to come by, especially when you’ve been many years in certain thought patterns. This is why in the movies, Neo might be too old for the red pill in The Matrix or Anakin may be too old to train as a Jedi in Star Wars. Again, we flee from youthful passions, but we must become like little children according to Jesus. Children can learn a new way of thinking easily. They are innocent and, in our case, unaffected by lust, until we teach them otherwise. The dichotomy is that mature purity is reflected in being innocent (and living with sexual integrity in both thought and deed). We, likewise, would de well to reclaim that unaffected state through our new thinking and renewed minds as Jesus makes all things new (Revelation 21:5). That’s how I want to be. This is how I am. I’m never going back.

Something that I didn’t tell him that I wish I had would be this: I don’t want to limit God by saying I’ll never do something when there’s a chance that He may be calling me to it. This is obviously a moot point when something clearly contradicts God’s heart and His will for us, but if there are believers saying this is a godly blessing in their lives, I’m not going to write it off as an absolute “No” without first looking into it and praying about it. Convictions can change with new insight and information. Values and faith don’t and shouldn’t change. For me personally, I can say, along with my friend, Matthew Neal, that I’m a naturist by biblical conviction.