Finally Free?

Book Review:

I bought a book by Heath Lambert entitled “Finally Free.” There is much of the book that I enjoyed. I really appreciate his heart and dedication to the Lord. Sadly, I’m finding some of the same advice found in other books I’m critically reviewing, even though Heath says his is different. I will give him this, he does approach this issue a bit differently than most, but as we’ll see, it leaves me wondering if those who follow his advice will actually be “finally free.”

As in the last post of this nature, the author’s brief quotations will be bold and in quotation marks, and my comments written in real time as I read the book will be italicized. (A few of my comments have been edited for clarity.)

“Finally Free is not the typical man-centered self-help book that offers the reader shallow teachings and a hopeless future.” p. 1

I hope it’s not. But one look at the table of contents is bringing up some red flags for me.

“I have never met anyone whose life was radically changed by hearing (again) how damaging the pornography industry is and how they desperately need to think differently about it.” p. 12

I would tend to agree here. I believe thinking differently is vital and a key part in changing and having a renewed mind.

“This book is about something much better than pornography. This book is about the amazing power of Jesus Christ to free you from pornography.” p. 12

I would also say that true and lasting freedom comes by the power of the finished work of Jesus on the cross. Also, it is not my work at all. God does it aside from our own effort.

“Eagerness to be clear of pornography expresses itself in two practical ways. First, you pursue accountability. You need help in a struggle that is impossible to fight alone. Accountability entails enlisting other Christians who can help you think about strategies you have not considered, who can actively check up on you, and who will diligently pray for you. Second, eagerly seeking to clear yourself means you pursue radical measures to ensure you have no access to pornography. This enslaving sin is only defeated by drastic measures to cut it off from all angles.” p. 37

Wrong, wrong, wrong! This is just avoidance of the problem, not a solution to eliminating the problem.

“You will never be free from pornography until you acknowledge that in order to change you need the help of God through brothers and sisters in Christ.” p. 46

Is God not enough???

“Ben’s meeting with this group of guys was the only thing he was doing to fight against porn. As important as that is, it’s not enough. In other chapters, you will learn about other strategies that are needed to win the battle.” p. 47

Or more cumbersome man-made strategies that fail to do God’s redemptive work that he alone can do, and do so effortlessly.

“Sadly, this well-intentioned conversation illustrates several defective approaches to accountability.” p. 49

This chapter talks more about the problems with accountability than it does the good kind of accountability, which still, he states that it is not enough in and of itself, even when done correctly!

“God has given more spiritual authority to spiritual leaders.” p. 51

Hmm. Spiritual leaders have been woefully inadequate to quell the problem of porn and lust in the church. They have perpetuated these ideas that are not helping to eradicate the issues at the core.

“…not giving so much detail that it would fuel further temptation.” p. 53

Here he’s saying that in your accountability group you should spare everyone the details of your habits, so as to not tempt anyone else and give them ideas. I see what he’s saying, and I’ve been the victim in this. Guys in my youth group growing up were so surprised I had not masturbated in all my high school years. Their talk finally got me curious once I gained some more independence. However, this is part of the problem with traditional approaches. An honest approach would spare no detail if the resulting outcome is true freedom. It won’t be a temptation any more!

“Accountability oriented around questions and answers can devolve into a cat-and-mouse game in which the struggler provides legally precise answers that are something less than a full and open disclosure of sin. Even when the confession is totally honest, what gets confessed can easily be limited to the question asked… If you’re going to hold people accountable, you should actually hold them accountable.” p. 54-55

True victory is achieved only when there is no need of accountability.

“…true accountability requires an effort to be committed in the long term.” p. 56

No, all that is needed is a one time work of God changing how you view the body and others. It will work for the long haul easily.

“When people get lazy and stop trying, failure is not far behind.” p. 56

This is only if you do the band-aid approach and not true healing. It’s not bare-knuckling and your own will power that will bring success and victory. It’s not striving or trying harder. Change your mind, trust God, see people as made in His image, and the body as a beautiful creation, and watch failure be a thing of the past.

“Frog and Toad quickly realize that if they are ever going to stop eating cookies, they will have to do something to limit their access to them.” p. 59

This analogy is flawed. It supposed cookies are bad in and of themselves. Cookies are good. Porn is bad. While eating too many cookies is bad, just a little porn is still harmful. Bodies are not bad in and of themselves, nor is sex within God’s plan. A better analogy would be cookies that have poison in them and look similar, but are deadly. Porn is a counterfeit of godly sexuality and chaste nudity is porn’s antithesis.

“Many people struggle with pornography because it is so easy for them to get it.” p. 60

While it is easy to access, men struggle because we told them they would. Then we don’t tell them how to lose their appetite for lustful thinking. We don’t teach them to reject lies. All we offer them is sin management without true solutions.

Let me put it another way. Booze is easy to get. If you’re an alcoholic, it never ceases to be easy to access, but one has to learn to hate it and its drunken effects in order to be free of problems. As I write this, my sister in law is celebrating 10 years sober tomorrow. I’m proud of her and that she can go to the grocery store and be just fine.

“…we must act aggressively— every time we are tempted and in every way required to avoid the sin.” p. 61

How about not be tempted in the first place? That sounds to me like a better plan. And yet, it seems unfathomable to so many— like it’s the only sin Jesus can’t heal this side of heaven or something!

“The truth is that you could be all alone in a room filled with pornography and remain pure if you had no desire for it. In fact, this is the long-term goal. You will know you are finally free from pornography when you have full access to it and yet no desire for it. Though you’re not there yet, that’s where you’re headed. And in order to get there, you will need to change the way you think about pornography.” p. 63

This is SO true, and this is what I have been saying! But then what is suggested in the rest of the chapter and book is not the way to achieve this. Not at all.

“You will not have victory over pornography until you first have victory in the battles that come before you look. Foundationally, this battle begins in your heart—with your thinking.” p. 63

So renew your mind on the body and how you view others as the image of God! That’s the heart and mind shift needed and that God does instantly when the switch is flipped. Then, the war is over, let alone the battles.

“If you only attack the outward behavior, the problem will keep returning. You must uproot pornographic lust in your thinking, dealing with what Jesus unveils as the lustful intentions of your heart (Matthew 5: 28).” p. 64

Exactly. But these radical measures don’t do that.

“I can guarantee failure if you wait to begin the fight against porn until you are alone in the dark with your computer.” p. 64

Not if transformation has taken place!

“…there are three radical measures you can take with regard to your thinking.” p. 64

Nope, there’s only one, one time.

“…reach out for help.” p. 65

Repentance is not needed if you are healed, remember scriptures to thank God, you won’t have to reach out for help!

“…you must limit the time you spend alone—” p. 66

Doesn’t sound like freedom, but another type of bondage!

“I realize that after reading this, some of you are freaking out. Reading about these radical measures raises all sorts of objections…” p. 71

No, I’m freaking out because this is bad advice. The “cure” needs to solve problems, not create more problems. Again, this isn’t true healing! They are cumbersome methods of sin management, and unnecessary. 

“You can try to remove porn’s availability. You can eliminate your time alone. Yet you will still seek out porn if you desire it. This is why Jesus and the good news of the gospel is the only sure hope for those who want to be free from porn. Only Jesus has the power to change your heart desires, and he does this as you believe in his forgiving and transforming grace.” p. 72

This contradicts the whole chapter! Again, I agree, it’s only Jesus. It just doesn’t have to be a long journey and his work is done outside of your own effort or involvement! This advice is so ineffective if you are still sick! I think that was Heath’s point, but it’s a caveat that goes contrary to the rest of his content and advice.

“Outward radical measures do not change your desires…” p. 73

Another admission of man-man strategies not working at the heart level.

“These external measures are the first steps of change…” p. 73

In my experience, and that of thousands of other brave and outside the box thinkers, there is only one step. Yes, it’s unconventional, but it makes perfect sense. One of my friends stated, he does not think true victory is achievable aside from the normalization of non-sexual nudity and the mindset that comes from embracing Imago Dei fully. I don’t know that I can go there, but there is nothing like it that works faster or better!

“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Proverbs 28: 13). p. 76

I’m including this to highlight Heath’s use of scripture throughout the book. It’s a real positive to this volume. No argument here. Confession is important, first to God, then your spouse if married, then overcome your sin, lose the need for confession, and use your knowledge and testimony to help others!

“Tom made a critical error when he confessed to his wife. After he fessed up, Tom said something foolish before either of us in the room could stop him. He commented that perhaps if she had a more active sexual relationship with him, he would not have been tempted. His wife did not take that very well. Her response was understandable because Tom’s suggestion was selfish and wrong. This kind of statement transfers the responsibility for your sin onto another person. When you sin, you are the one responsible (Mark 7: 21–23). Other people can sin against you, make your life difficult, and entice you to sin, but they can never make you sin. When you sin, it is always your fault, and you should never say or do anything to make it sound like the fault lies elsewhere. If someone did sin against you, it is necessary to bring that up only after you have confessed and taken full responsibility for your own sin (Matthew 7: 1–5).” p. 85

I really appreciate this from Heath. This type of garbage (if I may be so bold) is believed and even taught in many Christian circles. I’m glad Heath recognizes this type of thinking, anticipates the objections, and swiftly refutes them. This is one of the ways this book is different than some others.

“Do you notice something about my effort to quit thinking about my old gray car? It isn’t working. Even though I’m trying really hard to quit thinking about that unpleasant automobile, my efforts are ineffective. Every thought that goes through my mind—though motivated by a desire to quit thinking about the car—only presses the image of it deeper into my mind. I need another strategy. My problem is that I am focusing on the very thing I want to stop thinking about. Instead, I need to start thinking about something else—something different.” p. 90

This is interesting. I submit that you have to reframe how you think about the body and other people. No one is an object. A person is more than the sum of their parts, way more! We know this instinctively, perhaps, but we still dehumanize others all the time. We have to think of human beauty as “very good” like God said at the beginning. We have to think of others as beautiful (not in the shallow ways of the world). We have to love and respect others. Humankind is the pinnacle of God’s creation. When we look through the pornographic mindset we will see temptation. When we see others as God does, temptation is non-existent.

“Jamie grew up in a nominally Christian, conservative home. When he left for college, he was what most would consider a good kid—responsible and hardworking. Jamie wasn’t at college for long before he became involved with a group of young men who introduced him to pornography. Jamie loved it. He had never seen a naked woman before and had certainly never seen sex. Jamie loved porn because it allowed him to enjoy women who, he believed, were prettier than anyone he could ever have a relationship with in real life, all without any fear of rejection. Porn was so easy and so fun that Jamie couldn’t get enough of it. At first he was shy about walking into a store to buy it, but he quickly got over his initial embarrassment. Eventually he placed a huge bookcase in his living room full of nothing but pornographic videos. Any shame he once had about using pornography was now gone… Jamie’s porn collection had grown so large that it now took up almost the entire basement. He would return home from work and descend into the basement to indulge in porn late into the night. He was often late for work because he had no strength to get out of bed after late nights watching actors fornicate on screen. Alyssa wanted out of the marriage. By now, however, she had given birth to twin daughters and was worried about how she could raise a family by herself. She tried fighting for her marriage to no avail. Jamie had moved a bed into the basement and would hardly speak to her. He lost his job and spent all of his time in the basement instead of looking for employment. One afternoon Jamie came upstairs and asked one of his daughters to come into the basement and play. Alyssa took the girls and left. Jamie is now in his sixties. He doesn’t have a job and lives with his elderly father. All he does, day after day, is look at porn. He doesn’t care about work, his ex-wife, or his grown daughters. He is a miserable sight to see. He is unshaven, has missing teeth, smells bad, and wears dirty clothes. Talking to him is nearly impossible, as it seems he doesn’t even know how to have a relationship with a real person anymore. Jamie’s story is a bad one. In fact, you might read this and feel pretty good right now, congratulating yourself that you’re not nearly as bad as he is. You might also be thinking you would never let your problem get so extreme. If so, you are missing the entire point of Proverbs 5.” p. 103

This is a very sad story. I agree with Heath that we should never justify our issues by saying they aren’t as bad as someone else’s. What sticks out to me in this tragic tale is, “He had never seen a naked woman before.” Had non-sexual nudity been normalized for him, instead of growing up sheltered and repressed, this would be a different story. This is why my wife is naked at times around my teenage boys. We believe this is the way to porn-proof them. They know what a real woman looks like, and are learning that there’s just not much of an allure or mystery to a body. It’s just a body. It’s not the big deal that others make it out to be. They are learning to despise pornography for the way it objectifies and creates a false fantasy, and they are seeing real love and commitment in their parent’s example. Where I was once powerless to help them as they grow, now I have the knowledge and experience to share with them and have them be different than their peers.

“I don’t think your wife should fill that role [accountability]. You should treat your wife as your wife. She should be free to treat you as her husband. It is a deadly poison for a marriage when a wife becomes a cop policing her husband’s activity, asking him all kinds of questions, and examining his Internet reports. Your wife needs to know you have a faithful accountability partner doing those things so she can have peace of mind as she focuses her energy on being married to you.” p. 104

No, she needs peace of mind knowing that she can trust you without any accountability! Trust me, this is better. I’ve had accountability partners, and against Heath’s advice, I’ve had my wife fill that role. I actually had her give me a chip for every month I’d been “good.” She could usually tell when I was lying or when I’d “fall off the wagon.” Now I don’t need any accountability or any software, and we are loving life and each other like never before.


As stated, much of Heath’s book was enjoyable and good. These would be parts where I took issue. The differences are glaring. My experience flies in the face of the radical measures Heath suggests, in exchange for an even more radical measure, but just one. That said, Zondervan would probably not publish my book!

Woefully Inadequate

I have a habit of looking intently at what the Christian world is saying about pornography addiction. The good thing is it’s being talked about more openly. The bad thing is that conventional Christian wisdom on the subject is woefully inadequate. I wrote some about this in the post titled “Save your money, sanity, and dignity!” I mentioned in that post that I may feature some books I’ve read along with the notes I took while reading them. I read material hoping to find something different and something that actually works, but even those who claim to be different recycle the same sad ideas that are failing miserably. Today, I’ll cover just one chapter. I bought this book because I knew there would be one chapter dedicated to lust and pornography. I love reading on kindle and highlighting certain parts and adding notes. I hate it when I see the same ole tired advice, however.

Before I get into the quotes and notes (with limited commentary) I have to share a few qualifiers. 

First of all, my critiques are not ever directed toward the good hearted individuals promoting these ineffective strategies. In this case Patrick Morley has made a tremendous impact on men’s ministry for thousands and thousands of men over the years. I’m grateful to him and others and their positive contributions and ministries. I’m sure this book is wonderful. I just found this particular chapter to be lacking.

Second, since I’ve found true and lasting freedom with no help from popular techniques or practices, I’ve become very passionate about the truth and that can sometimes come across as arrogant. This is never my intent. I have to constantly remind myself that I thought the same way most of my life. Now that I’ve overcome what was once thought to be virtually impossible to eliminate, I have to be careful not to be harsh toward those who can’t fathom this level of freedom.

The book I bought to read is “The Christian Man: A Conversation About the 10 Issues Men Say Matter Most” by Patrick Morley. Chapter 8 is ironically (in my opinion) called “Lust: The Right Way to Deal with This Powerful Drive” – I say ironically, because I didn’t see a right way in there. In fact, the big idea for this chapter is: “the practical solution to lust for most men is to get married and enjoy regular sex with their wife.” My reaction is: Seriously? That’s the best you can do? That’s just purity culture all over again. Marriage doesn’t guarantee fidelity and integrity! I thought that would fix my issue. How many others thought the same? That’s what we were told. It’s a lie. Even a good marriage and good regular sex is no solution if you have a perverted way of thinking.

Ok, let’s get to the quotes and then my notes (his words will be bold and in quotation marks while my reaction will be in italics):

“I have always felt too uncomfortable to teach this material in depth at the Man in the Mirror Bible Study until, essentially, I was forced to as part of my preparation for writing this chapter!”

Being so unformfortable with a topic, that you were forced to look at it does not bode much confidence in your level of expertise in this area.

“I don’t know how it could be any clearer: If you have chosen marriage, Satan will tempt you if you don’t have regular sex. If you want to go on a “sex fast,” you can, but only by mutual agreement and not for long. To be blunt, if you’re not horny, you’re more likely to exercise self-control. Bottom line: Our sexual design is a powerful, primal force. Having regular intimate relations with our wives is the biblical solution to block the corruption of that design by sexual immorality, including lust.”

I’ve written and re-written this comment a few times as it’s a touchy subject but it is the crux of the matter with my and many others’ frustration with popular Christian teaching on sex, especially “obligation sex.” The underlying premise is that men are are highly susceptible to sexual temptation if their wives aren’t meeting their “God-given” needs enough. I believed this type of mindset for most of my life until I rejected it as the lie it is. Much could be said here, and I will probably expand on this topic in an future article all by itself. For now, let me direct you to a podcast by some ladies (Sheila Wray Gregoire and company) who are working hard to undo a lot of the harm that comes with this teaching. They talk openly and frankly about many items which aren’t brought up very often, such as consent and marital rape. They give voice to 20,000 women surveyed in their research (that’s a massive study and important data!). While they are asking hard questions and pointing out valid problems, in my opinion they don’t go far enough with solutions, but they are at least moving in the right direction. The sad truth is unhealthy men in many cases can abuse their wives in several ways while appearing to be godly in the process. Those are startling words to take in, but unfortunately I believe them to be true. I was once complicit in these types of abuses, that are typically overlooked. Give this podcast a listen if you have the courage to do so. 

Patrick makes a common disclaimer here in quoting 1 Corinthians 7 allowing for moments of temporary abstinence by “mutual agreement” in order to distance himself from any allegation or criticism of this nature. And while he would not condone any of the evils I’ve mentioned, this is often the logical end result of the ideas being perpetuated even in his own quote, if you read between the lines. This is so common in these resources! The consequences can be quite tragic. We need to be better!

“This is not a chapter on how to have great sex, but on how to deal with lustful thoughts.”

Deal with lustful thoughts? How about eliminating them?

“Every man is wired by God to appreciate beauty of all kinds—sunrises, mountain vistas, newborns, soccer, and so on. But a woman falls into an altogether different and exclusive category.”

Why? Says who? Surely not the same God as we see in Genesis 1-2?

…men think about sex nineteen times a day on average.”

They’ve been conditioned to do so. That was the case with me. Not anymore.

“As men, the main way we experience sexual attraction and arousal is through sight.”

That’s the lie that abounds. I think an exclusive and intimate relationship is a better way to attraction and arousal with your wife and with her alone. I’ll write a piece called “The wife of your youth” soon to explore more on this.

“He [David] didn’t go up to his roof to look for a naked woman so he could be sexually aroused (provided that’s true, and I think we can plausibly assume it’s true).”

David’s sin of adultery was probably premeditated. I think it’s likely that he went up there for that very reason. It was a common occurrence, and he knew what he was doing and sought it out, and when seeing wasn’t enough, he had to have Bathsheba.

“[We can also be] surprised by a sensuous waitress, the suggestively dressed coed who attracts your attention at the gym, a sex scene you didn’t seek out… Sex, of course, is everywhere. But in our cultural moment, seduction is inescapable. We’re bombarded. The visage of a shapely woman walking down the street comes to mind, or a scantily clad model who suddenly appears while scrolling through what should be a harmless news feed. But these images burst into our minds like a guest who doesn’t knock. When a sex scene comes on your screen, is that for you a temptation to lust or the sin of lust? It depends. It’s not lust to “stumble” onto a temptation.”

This is the tragic reason why men are so weak and frankly immature; we tell them over and over that these little situations are so dangerous. It’s sickening! We must always be on guard if we haven’t renewed our minds on how we view the body and other human beings, made in the image of God! Once you remove the desire in the first place, temptation goes away completely.

“It was a bare-knuckles brawl between old habit and new commitment. My face was half twisted toward her, but my eyes bulged out to stay glued on those peas. ‘Finally the battle began to subside. A few moments later it was over. I had won. God gave a spiritual victory. I still am tempted to lust, but God has given me the power to have victory every time I ask him to help.’”

This is a story about a guy focusing all his attention on 3 peas on his plate to avoid looking at a “very sensual woman.” What a terrible way to live! And it’s unnecessary.

“[His] wife, Sarah, asked him, ‘Are you intentionally not looking at other women?’ When Mike said, ‘Yes,’ Sarah said, ‘You have no idea how secure it makes me feel to know that you only have eyes for me.’’

I had a similar experience with my wife, but now I have seen that the covenant with my eyes which Patrick is referring to from Job 31:1-4 is not as he describes it here. And in the verse’s immediate context it refers to the thoughts. It’s not about what you see, but how you react and think about what you see. Bouncing your eyes solves nothing!

“There’s no reason you can’t make it your covenant too. I did many years ago. I haven’t been able to keep it fully, but I’ve sure done a lot better having made the commitment than not.

Exactly- you won’t keep it fully until you change your mindset. Then it will be easy to keep it and fully.

“Job’s covenant requires will power—your will and God’s power.”

I know it can’t be, but it sounds like you’re saying God’s power isn’t enough. The logical deduction is that God needs us. That’s just not true. As long as you believe that, you won’t see God’s power and transforming effect, because you think he needs your involvement. He’s powerful enough regardless of any of our efforts. Our will power is feeble and frail. We need God plus nothing.

“Let’s be honest: you can’t resist googling something you shouldn’t or thumbing through the Victoria’s Secret catalog on your own—at least not every time. If you haven’t already done so, consider making “Job’s covenant” right now as a call to action. That’s what Mike did.”

Let’s be honest, even though Mike made this covenant, he’s going to fail because you told him as much, and didn’t offer him real hope or a better alternative.

“He [David] graduated from “seeing” her to “watching” her. Instead of turning away, he stared.”

This is predatory behavior from someone who is conditioned to think these desires are unavoidable. Instead of preying on any woman, I’d rather be a protector of all women.

At this point it was either turn away or lust was inevitable.”

Aha! There it is. The notion that lust is inevitable is so strong in Christian books. It’s like we can’t imagine our men being equally as strong or mature!?

“Lust is sexual desire out of control.”

No, it’s just the desire. If you remove that desire, you have nothing to have to control. The commandment against killing my brother is so easy to keep, because there’s no desire to do so (hopefully)!

“Adultery type 2 is mentally having sex with someone not your wife, or lust.”

Absolutely agree! No argument here. This is part of what is missing in the usual discussions.

“Nevertheless, ‘mental’ adultery is not the same as “physical” adultery.”

Wait just a second, didn’t you (and Jesus for that matter) say it was the same? It IS the same and needs to be viewed as the same. There are some different ramifications, granted, but it still is adultery. As long as we make distinctions, we won’t treat it with the same severity, and we need to.

“You can’t commit adultery with your own wife.”

Yes you can. It would help to study some of Pope John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body” to better understand both lust and purity of heart. 

“What I’m about to tell you is opinion—please read it accordingly. You can masturbate and not sin.”

I suppose it’s a matter of opinion and conviction. I’ve determined as a married man to have my wife’s direct involvement with any and all of my orgasms. It’s been surprisingly simple to keep to this. It doesn’t feel cumbersome. It’s a joy to have and honor this conviction.

“When you see a beautiful woman and feel an attraction, here’s what you should do: Pause and say, ‘Thank you, God, for this beautiful woman whom you have reverently and wonderfully made. I pray she knows you, or one day will know you, the way I know you.’ And then move on.”

This is ok. This is some good advice. I appreciate this; I just don’t think it goes far enough. To renew your mind is to see the other person as a whole person (not just an object), an image bearer, beautiful and deserving of love, respect, and dignity on that basis alone. I’d rather die than objectify another human being reducing them to the sum of their parts. That’s the mind change.

“Look once, you’re human; look twice, you’re a man; look three times, you just disrespected your wife.”

Not just disrespected. You’ve committed adultery in your heart because you looked with intent.

“Nobody is forcing us to lust. Lust is our own fault.”

True. It’s our fault alone- not our hardwiring or any external stimuli. So no excuses! And no more pressuring wives to “put out” more or “be more sexy” in the guise of protecting you from having a lust problem. That’s victim blaming and it’s wrong and gross. Why can’t we see this?

“Here are several practical examples of how you can flee sexual temptation:”

These, like so much advice given, are mere avoidance techniques and sin management. We have to do more than treat the symptoms of a greater and more dangerous disease. We have to kill it at the root and eradicate the problem. Or using another metaphor, don’t just brush away the cobwebs, which will surely come back as long as the spider lives! See Romans 8:13.

“Give a brother or your small group permission to hold you accountable…”

You can lie and fake it.

“Even if you have a group of men asking you weekly, “Have you sought out any sexually explicit materials this week?” you can still lie to them.”

Thank you.

“Run as fast as you can from any group that reinforces the notion that all men “struggle” with lust and so it’s acceptable. Men in those groups can rarely testify to God’s power to change their lives in this area.”

My point exactly. It’s better to not even have the need for accountability in the first place. 

“…was still struggling with unwanted sexual behavior. He said, “PG-13 gives me hungry eyes.”

I like that term “hungry eyes” – it describes so many men today and myself at one time. The problem is you are opting for junk food instead of a gourmet meal that is a healthy and loving committed relationship with your wife (if married). Hungry and thirsty should describe your desire for righteousness not for sexually provocative and relationally empty conquests.

“He said, ‘I had a broken mind.’”

Yes, indeed. But behold, Jesus is making ALL things new, including your mind, if you’ll let him (Revelation 21:5, Romans 12:1-2).

“…the leader of a ministry that specializes in sexual purity said, ‘One hundred percent disclosure in brokenness, humility, continued transparency, and confession to the people you care about is the only way out.’”

Nope. The only way out is not confession, but a redeemed mind to see others as God sees them.

“Steve has now been free from bondage to pornography for three years. ‘I’m still tempted all the time,’ he said. ‘But now I immediately text my wife and tell her what’s happening.’”

He is SO not free! It breaks my heart that this is viewed as success. I have been free for three years, but I’m no longer tempted. And it’s been so different than the 20 years prior! I know it’s a permanent change, not just temporary victory. I’ve had sustained times of victory in the past, but always with a constant struggle. Now, the struggle is gone. It does not have to be every man’s battle!

“Objectifying women and thinking about sex constantly became a daily struggle.”

Objectifying is the key word. But again, it’s only a struggle because you think it will be. We have this unhealthy fixation on certain body parts due to a hyper-sexualized culture and the constant warnings about it from the church, which only serve to reinforce this dehumanizing view of other people.

“Today, Miguel is living in victory over pornography. He said, ‘That doesn’t mean I’m not tempted. I still have pornographic images pop into my mind, and I’m not perfect.’”

Miguel’s story as told by Patrick is a very sad story, and I’m glad it’s better, but this is still NOT full victory!

“…they can be free from compulsive behavior, but it’s going to be a lifelong battle. They’re going to be tempted every day.”

No, no, no!!

“Miguel, who now lectures on porn and sexual purity…”

What? After what I know of Miguel from this story, it seems like the blind leading the blind.

“[Miguel’s] own intentional plan…”

This is indeed “his own” plan. He and so many others. It’s not God’s plan. God, the only one needed for immediate, lasting, and permanent change, is sorely missing in this awful plan.

“Confess to everyone you can—”

Or just to God and your wife (if you’re married). Get the real solution and then help others with your testimony.

“Ask them to monitor your computer with software like Covenant Eyes.”

Save your money and be trusted without these aids. Again, you’re not truly free if you have to depend and rely on these filters. 

“Purge all pornographic content from your home, your devices, your social media accounts, etc. Delete apps, people, websites, etc. that may be triggering lust.”

Trade one bondage for another, it would seem. And still not be free from either!

“The best way to overcome temptation is to not put yourself in a position where you will be tempted.”

Wouldn’t the very best test of whether you are free or not be to spend time in the place that is unthinkable, where temptation is all around you (say like a nude beach)? If you are fine, then you are truly free! I know this sounds crazy and unconventional and like the worst advice. But it worked for me and for thousands of others and a true cure to pornography and lustful thinking.

“When you fail—and you will—”

I’m wondering why I wasted my time on this chapter if you, like other authors, are just admitting defeat here!

“Ed Cole, a pioneer in men’s ministry, wrote a story in his magnum opus, Maximized Manhood, about a men’s retreat in Eugene, Oregon…”

This was a good story and a good point that’s worth reading. But then I still was asking how those men are going to overcome their longings after repenting? It will continue being a struggle and temptation, as long as you think it will be.


I want to end with a story he used to open and set up this chapter on lust. It shows just how pervasive the habits of thinking sexually like the world have become, even among those who are supposed to be leading spiritually. I don’t want to be too critical of the pastors in this story, because that would’ve been me too, as long as I believed the lie that all men are visual, etc.


“At a conference away from home, several pastors went to lunch together and were waited on by a strikingly beautiful, sensuous waitress. You could hear the sexual energy crackle in the air. The temptation they felt to lust was so arresting that each man muttered his order into his menu so as not to stare. As she exited into the kitchen to place their orders, they all sat speechless staring at their place mats. As Mark Rutland told the story to our Bible study group, the senior man finally broke the ice in his own inimitable way. “Well, God hath made the heavens and the earth.” They all nodded in agreement. “Oh, yes.” Then he said, “And all that is in them hath God made.” “Yes, that’s right,” they agreed. “And also all humanity hath God made,” he continued. “Yes, God made humanity,” they chimed in perfect cadence. Then the older pastor nodded his head toward the kitchen door where their waitress had just disappeared and said, “And God hath made some nifty humanity, hath he not?” They all howled, and the spell was broken… If even pastors can be so easily tempted to lust, one thing should be crystal clear: no man is immune from the temptation to lust. As one man put it, ‘My three greatest temptations are money, pride, and bikinis.’ Any man who says he doesn’t struggle with the temptation to lust is lying. Plain and simple.”

Good writing, but my experience and the testimony of many new friends causes me to vehemently disagree. Or I guess I’m lying! (I’m not.)

See more posts on lust by clicking here.

David L. Hatton’s “Meeting at the River”

David L. Hatton’s “Meeting at the River” is a sort of parable-like fictional narrative with opportunities to present ideas throughout. I liken it to William P. Young’s The Shack, in that regard, although a completely different subject matter. Here is Hatton’s own description of the book:

“In this semi-autobiographical, fictional tale and intellectual treatise, my divided view of the body is challenged by an encounter with the past. As a bivocational pastor and nurse, I’m shocked when some from a religious crowd in ancient dress disrobe at my favorite swimming hole to be baptized totally naked! Antiquity offers a fatal blow to the old wall in my mind that keeps my experiences of hospital nudity from confronting the taboos of my upbringing. When that wall topples, I gain a new perspective on life in Bible times, a deeper theological appreciation of human embodiment, and a pricked conscience about the root cause of our culture’s obsession with pornography. Join me in unlearning deceptions as old as Eden, in relearning truths as relevant as our children’s future, and in facing the test of my transformed thinking by the further challenge of four skinny-dipping Bible college students.”

With that backdrop, I’d like to share some of my favorite selections from my reading of the book and what it means to me. 

“When certain portions of the body are concealed and considered evil to look upon, the normal curiosity of youth about what is hidden leads to temptation.

Then, upon exposure, the sight of those forbidden areas can wound the conscience. Even worse, these conditions empower the wicked to make a show of those hidden parts for truly corrupt purposes, even to enslave young souls in lustful thoughts.”

This is the elder speaking at the river to explain what a healthy and godly view of the body is. His words certainly resonate with me. This was my experience growing up. From the first time I saw “certain portions of the body” at an early age and was taught to avoid it, temptation abounded. I was a young soul enslaved in lustful thoughts, and grew into a man who was equally enslaved. After embracing a renewed view of the body, I was elated that these problems vanished. As Hatton so eloquently put it, “Prudery lays the groundwork for a pornographic mindset.”

“When sermons teach that [Bathsheba’s] beauty caused King David’s lust, they expound not the words of Scripture but the minds of preachers.”

I had been conditioned to only react one way (sexually) to any sight of nudity. This nagging issue stunted my spiritual growth, strained my marriage, and affected how I saw members of the opposite sex (even fully clothed). I hated myself for how I would objectify women and wanted to rid myself of this bondage once for all. But common methods afforded by the church world didn’t work. The problem was never in the dress or undress of women around me or on screens. The problem was my own mind.

“When people teach that the human body is dirty or obscene, it creates fertile ground for pornography. This is why porn addiction is so strong in our society, even among Christians. Our culture is inundated with a sexualized view of the body. I’m sorry to say that the church has been a key player in spreading that idea.”

I’m sorry to say that so have I. But that will be no more. As a Christian leader, I used to think I was a pretty good guy with a bad secret. But now I know that in reality, I’m a pretty bad guy with a great secret. The great secret is that God forgives and renews, and lustful thinking does not have to be a lifelong struggle. I used to think I’d never kick my bad habits. I’d hear older men speak of ongoing issues with their thought life. I didn’t want to be that, and by God’s grace I won’t be. 

Then comes the issue of prudery for the sake of modesty. As if there’s not enough guilt and shame going on without adding a bunch on top. Hatton addresses what modesty actually is and should be understood as being:

“Holy humility is the divine modesty humans need. When fully embraced, it brings death to shame. By humbly and gratefully accepting what we really are, we never feel less than we are when naked, nor more than we are when finely dressed. This bathing at the river, where nothing is hidden, quickly unravels the immodesty of pride. At the same time, being accepted in your humble nakedness, by friends and family and others, is healing. It breaks the bondage to ungodly shame over the size or shape or blemishes of the body that God has given you.”

Some of the modern attempts at modesty actually fly in the face of what Paul was instructing Timothy and the church in the New Testament. They are a source of pride, and not humility, which is the point. Simply covering certain body parts may actually incite more lust, drawing attention to it and stimulating the imagination, than if the mystery were revealed and the humble unclad body were seen in its entirety. 

It’s sad how much of an effect our culture has on us. Without a renewed mind, we could be tempted to think that anyone who does not look like a model is less beautiful. I reject that notion outright. Body shame is shameful. All humans are God’s image bearers and deserve respect as such.

“Christians will never have a radical reformation in how they view the naked body, until they can distinguish their devotion to culture from their understanding of Scripture.”

The twisted part of Christian thought when it comes to the body is that a girl in a bikini in a suggestive pose is somehow more decent and less obscene than a woman wearing no clothes just going about her day as normal. Which is natural and which is unnatural? The thinking is backwards. I’ve been complicit in both spreading that idea and falling victim to it’s deceitful outcomes. I used to always repent of my secret sin. Now I must repent of having taught the dangerous ideas that once entrapped me and enslave so many today. As Hatton summarizes: 

“God cannot bless the deception of body shame. Nor does He ever cease to bless our naked flesh as a sanctuary for His presence. He never calls what is good evil. Nor will He sanction errors about His incarnated image, even if His own children preach them. Such lies are a great stumbling block, leading multitudes to trip and fall into the very pit they warn against. And because church leaders have adopted and spread this as though it were part of the Gospel itself, then it is their duty to repent and make restitution.”

Quotes from “Christian Body”

Christian Body: Modesty and the Bible by Aaron Frost was one of the first books my wife and I read together after we began our journey into Christian naturism. I distinctly remember finishing it over a long weekend at a little cabin, spent entirely as created (nude). It was a special time, but as we read and highlighted certain quotes, I recall we both got fairly angry. What upset us as we read, was not the content itself, but rather that we had missed these fundamental principles for most of our lives. It angered us that our family, and Christian community was living the lie still, and completely unaware of the dangerous side effects of what we often call “modesty.”

We highlighted many passages– too many to cover in this short article, but for sake of time, let’s dive right into a few quotes from the book.

“The biblical response to pornography is not to cover the body, but to oppose sexual objectification with a shining example of Godly people who are not overpowered by the sight of God’s creation, but instead appreciate one another in our natural forms with honor, respect, and dignity.”

I had looked into Christian Naturism many years ago. I, like so many of those around me, disregarded it as implausible being raised with standards of “modesty.” That upbringing, however, did not stop me from developing an ongoing struggle with pornography. When I explored it further, I came to see that simple nudity and pornography are two very different things. My problem, which would overpower me, was the objectification of the body, not the sight of it. My mind equated it with a sexual connotation, not as God’s creation. As a result, I did not treat it with honor, respect, or dignity. That is the key to no longer be overpowered by lust. Respect and appreciation of God’s creation.

However eye-opening this was, here’s some of the parts that made us mad:

“When God first asked, “Who told you that you were naked?” it was apparently Satan who had told them this, but now it is missionaries who carry Satan’s message for him telling unaware people around the world that they are naked… For many cultures, which did not previously have a sexually perverted perception of the body, Christians have manufactured indecency where it never before existed… By this method, Christians in the name of so-called ‘modesty’ have spread some of the worst moral pollution around the world through bigoted and legalistic perceptions of morality that draw from pagan culture rather than God’s Word.”

Strong words in a harsh tone, but one that is deserved. I believe Christians aren’t knowingly and purposefully propagating these harmful ideas. That’s the clever and shrewd enemy, Satan. I’m angry at him. It took most of my life to learn we had been duped! 

Here is another example:

“Today, the once honorable and principled Japanese culture has largely adopted our Victorian modesty concept, and as a result has developed an exploding pornography and sex-trafficking trade and a deeply perverted culture of dysfunctional sexuality thanks to missionaries who bring Satan’s message telling the people that they are naked.”

And later he says, “We are making fools of ourselves and actively promoting the very error that has helped cause much of the perversion in our society!”

I’m sure that was never the intent of these missionaries, but they themselves have lived under the lie that began in the garden of Eden. Nakedness was a part of everyday life in Bible times, but the church embraced the lie early on.

“In today’s cultural climate, depictions of nudity are hastily labeled as pornography and strictly censored in many circles, but archeology frequently discovers original depictions of daily life in Bible times where workers, bathers, and the poor went about their business completely naked without any immoral innuendo or religions censure. This matches the unremarkable nudity mentioned several times in the Bible. Public nude bathing was a common practice for both Jews and Christians before, during, and after the time of Christ, and these nude bathing places were neither preached against nor even avoided by Jesus (John 5:1-7)… These ruined works of art show that the disdain and revulsion we hold for nakedness today did not always exist and was not originally contrary to Christianity but was introduced later and caused believers to go back and deface their historical artwork. The ‘Christian’ idea of indecency was an entirely foreign concept in early churches until long after the time of Christ.”

My wife and I had never really thought about this before. There were even some pictures of this censorship that we saw for the first time in this book. We only knew what we had grown up believing, which is what our well intentioned parents taught us, which they learned from their parents, and so on.

I suffered from an addiction to pornography and my wife had her own body issues. The collective wisdom of the church on these issues was not very helpful at all. This book eloquently stated for us how we had both achieved a lasting and permanent victory in both our areas of debilitating struggles.

“Men have consistently reported that this brought them victory over their struggle with pornography, and many women have discovered a new level of self-acceptance and confidence in the bodies God gave them after years of jealousy and debilitating insecurities. These are wonderful things that the family of God ought to be standing for rather than fighting against!”

“Unfortunately well-meaning, but very misguided Christians are often the most vocal group fighting against this freedom. Those who expend the most effort to keep themselves from the temptation of ‘worldly’ immodesty are the most hypersensitive and vulnerable to sexual temptation and addiction… I have been saying for some time now that if we were to remove modesty standards completely, the degrading, shameful pornography issue would wither and die a silent, forgotten death and many, many dysfunctional sexual vices in our culture would melt into obscurity.”

As I read, it was confirmation of what God had done in my life to eradicate this problem area for me. My wife began to see the changes in me and how what I would tell her about her own issues was also true. We both found freedom, and I pray that many others do as well. I vow that my children will not fall into the same traps that I fell into, and that my daughter would see herself as a beautiful creation of God, worthy of both respect and admiration. I pray the church would repent of its willful pride, misguided interpretation of modesty, and blind loyalty to the attitude of our enemy in seeing God’s crowning glory in creation as obscene and dirty. Sadly, the true filth is a mind that has not been renewed to see others as God does.