Baptism and Nudity

A topic of much debate in Christendom (sadly) is baptism. The method or mode, the purpose, the people doing the baptizing, all of these are discussed at length. Is it immersion? It is sprinkling? Is it for infants or believers above the age of accountability? This article will not address any of these issues. What is never spoken about, hardly, is the fact that baptisms in the early church were performed in the nude. Is this is a shock to you? Keep reading…

At my own church, there is a sign by the baptistry that expresses the need for a robe to be worn over one’s clothes. This, especially for the females, will be the most modest approach and will not cause others to stumble in their thinking (is the general, though faulty, idea behind this). Church is not the place for a wet T-shirt contest, I get that! That would certainly not be appropriate. However, when I saw this sign, I immediately wondered how those in the church would react if they knew that ancient baptisms were performed devoid of any coverings at all! Candidates for baptism would strip off all of their clothes and jewelry to enter the waters naked and unashamed, and in mixed company. It was not scandalous like it would be today. It was just the way it was.

At some point prudery took over, and the art that portrayed these true facts about baptism got censored. See the tragic defacing of these historical pieces:

This should be proof enough that this was indeed the practice. However, should you need more convincing, you’re at the right place!

For the first 400 years in the Church, baptism was a nude practice. This was the pattern of the Jewish mikveh ritual before it was a Christian rite. Bathing outdoors was commonplace, so this was not offensive as it would be today. To quote Lightfoot in “Horae Hebraicae Talmuducae,” he acknowledges that: “Every person baptized must dip his whole body, now stripped and made naked, at one dipping. And wheresoever in the Law washing of the body is mentioned, it means nothing else than the washing of the whole body.”1

Robert Robinson wrote a 580 page book called “The History of Baptism” in 1817. In it he speaks of Jesus’ nakedness when he washed his disciples feet:

In regard to the nakedness of Jesus just now observed, it should be recollected, that, however shocking it may appear to English manners, and how rude and indecent soever it would be justly reckoned her to imitate the custom of introducing naked into publick company, yet in the ancient eastern world it was far otherwise, and at this day all over Italy, in places sacred and profane, statues, pictures, vases, and books exhibit such sights, and nobody is offended.2

He goes on to say:

Let it be observed, next, that the primitive Christians baptized naked. Nothing is easier than to give proof of this by quotations from the authentick writings of the men who administered baptism, and who certainly know in what way they themselves performed it. There is no ancient historical fact better authenticated than this. The evidence doth not go on the meaning of the single word naked; for then a reader might suspect allegory; but on many facts reported, and many reasons assigned for the practice.3

Furthermore, the symbolism of the sacrament takes on a richer meaning when it is practiced as it was intended.

Cyril of Jerusalem (313–386) brings significance to the naked portion of this ceremony in this way: “You put off your clothes, which is an emblem of putting off the old man with his deeds; and being thus divested, you stood naked, imitating Christ, that was naked upon the cross, who by his nakedness spoiled principalities and powers, publicly triumphing over them in the cross.” He adds, “‘Immediately, then, upon entering, you removed your tunics. Having stripped, you were naked. … Marvellous! You were naked in the sight of all, and were not ashamed.'”4

Of the Bishop of Jerusalem’s reliable account, William Tefler says, “Part of this heritage was no doubt a tradition of doctrine, and in particular of norms of baptismal catechizes. For all the freshness with which Cyril handles his matter, in catechetical lecturing, we may judge that he is guided by church tradition, when we note how impervious he is to the contemporary theological disturbances.”5

Theodore of Mopsuestia (c. 400) later added, “Adam was naked at the beginning, and unashamed. This is why your clothing must be taken off as baptism restores right relation to God.” He also said, “You draw near to the holy baptism and before all you take off your garments. As in the beginning when Adam was naked and was in nothing ashamed of himself…”6

St. Hippolytus, presbyter of Rome (c. 215), said that total nudity was required. The rule ordered, “let no one go down to the water having any alien object with them,” and directs women to remove even their jewelry and the combs from their hair.” And also these instructions:

“When they come to the water, the water shall be pure and flowing… Then they shall take off all their clothes. The children shall be baptized first. … After this, the men will be baptized. Finally, the women, after they have unbound their hair and removed their jewelry. No one shall take any foreign object with themselves down into the water…. Then, after these things, the bishop passes each of them on nude to the elder who stands at the water. They shall stand in the water naked. A deacon, likewise, will go down with them into the water.”

After being immersed three separate times, 

“when they have come up out of the water, they shall be anointed by the elder with the Oil of Thanksgiving, saying, ‘I anoint you with holy oil in the name of Jesus Christ.’ And so each one drying himself with a towel they shall now put on their clothes, and after let them be together in the assembly.”7

John the Deacon, writing around AD500, notices something similar. “They are commanded to go in naked, even down to their feet, so that [they may show that] they have put off the earthly garments of mortality. The church has ordained these things for many years with watchful care, even though the old books may not reveal traces of them.”8

Michael P. Wilson suggests that, “We should resist any suggestion that nakedness is being employed lightly. It is a costly word to express a costly truth. The saints of God shall, on the last day, be unashamed before their God as were Adam and Eve prior to the Fall. At baptism, though we do not completely and immediately escape the ravages of sin, we do at least enter into the secure promise of God. Further, just as at the eucharist we enact a foretaste of the heavenly banquet, so too, in naked baptism, we enact in a symbolic washing from head to foot a foretaste of the restoration of the innocence, shamelessness and joy that is only for those who find themselves in the presence of God and without sin.”9

Why have modern scholars ignored this evidence? Why did the pendulum swing so far in the other prudish direction? The influence of Plato and Gnosticism, especially with the desert fathers may have something to do with it. However, that is a topic for another blog post.

In a brilliant book Meeting at the River, part allegory and part autobiography, David Hatton depicts a scene of a group of people of all ages having a baptism service at the river’s edge which then results in bathing and skinny dipping, without a shred of indecency. An elder from the group, the ancient in this vision, comes over to the protagonist who is observing all of this in disbelief. Much of the book is their conversation, which includes these key sentences:

“We came here today to find if you are ready to be healed.” “Healed?” “Delivered from the wall dividing your mind for so long,” he explained. “On one side is a false ‘knowledge,’ a gnosis present since childhood. It tells you that the naked body is an object of indecency and sexual lust. Ever since you arrived here, that portion of your mind resists what has been displayed before your eyes. You were raised to reject it by the obscene view of God’s image learned in your upbringing. This false view of the body has been passed from one generation to the next with a zeal that rivals devotion to Christ Himself. It is the womb from which even more defiling imaginations are conceived and given birth.

“On the other side of that wall, your mind sees these unclothed families in the same way you observe nakedness in caring for mothers or for the sick. Your dismay at watching our baptism ritual came from the defiled side of your thinking. But the side informed by your long years of working with the naked body [as a labor and delivery nurse] began to wish this scene to be just as it seemed—a time of innocent fellowship. Only one of these two perceptions is true, and you already know which one it is.”

…These precious fleshly bodies of your brothers and sisters in Christ are just what they are, and nothing more. Only deceitful imaginations paint them otherwise.10

Whereas a nude baptism in any given church today would prove scandalous, it is not because the bodies are lewd or obscene in and of themselves. It is because our minds are. I had a friend recently say to me, “Isn’t it interesting how the Renewed Mind shows you that thinking on the beauty of the human body is “pure, true, noble, admirable, and excellent?” I’d have to agree with him. Having lived most of my life where the sight of a nude baptism would be a cause for stumbling and bring on all sort of impure thoughts, I never want to go back to that way of thinking! Now, to witness such a nude baptism ceremony would be a joy, because of the joyous occasion of baptism and the purity of heart on display. Nothing more. Nothing less.


1 “Baptism,” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, I,1., p. 415.

2 Robert Robinson, The History of Baptism (From the Press of Lincoln & Edmands, 1817), p. 93.

3 Ibid., p. 94.

4 Bettenson, Henry, ed., The Later Christian Fathers: A Selection from the Writings of the Fathers from St. Cyril of Jerusalem to St. Leo the Great. (London: Oxford University Press) p. 42-44.

5 Cyril of Jerusalem, Saint,” Encyclopedia Britannica Micropedia (15th Ed.). I, 3., p. 61.

6 Quoted in Carnal Knowing—Female Nakedness and Religious Meaning in the Christian West, Margaret R. Miles, Beacon Press, Boston, 1989, p. 33-34.

7 Dix, Rev. Gregory, ed., The Treatise on The Apostolic Tradition of St. Hippolytus of Rome, Bishop and Martyr. (Ridgefield, Connecticut: Morehouse Publishing) p.33-38.

8 Quoted in Carnal Knowing—Female Nakedness and Religious Meaning in the Christian West, Margaret R. Miles, Beacon Press, Boston, 1989, p. 33-34.

9 Michael P. Wilson, “Nakedness, Bodiliness and the New Creation.” https://cnfellowship.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/wilson-2006-modern-believing-2002-reworked.pdf.

10 David L. Hatton, Meeting at the River – A Tale of Naked Truth (David L. Hatton; 2nd edition (August 8, 2013), p. 50

Unpresentable Parts?

If you ask a Bible scholar what 1 Corinthians 12 is about, they are bound to answer something having to do with the analogy of the body as it relates to unity in the Church. That is the undeniable context of this verse in question today. This blog is not Church unity, although that is a topic near to my own heart. It’s a blog about Christian naturism. Sadly, some have used verses 22-23 as an objection against the views of Christian naturists. This is a classic example of proof texting and taking verses out of their clear context.

In fact, those who would say Christian naturists are in error and as a result, you must break fellowship with them, they who maintain this position are in direct violation of the greater message of 1 Corinthians 12. Christian naturists are part (and I’d add a vital part) of the body of Christ, and not to be amputated. There must be no division between Christians with naturist freedom versus other Christians. We are not to say of another believer, “I have no need of you.” In an attempt to project prudish and repressive views onto others, believers attack other believers who hold different convictions and in so doing they commit the sin of divisiveness.

However, that is not the point of this post. Context aside, what is meant by the phrase “unpresentable parts”? That’s what our new video dives into in great detail. Watch the video and the script will be provided at the bottom. I would have to conclude, from all of this, that this verse is no reason to abandon the amazing Eden-like freedom of Christian naturism.

1 Corinthians 12:22-25:

“The parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater care, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.” 

Like many passages in the New Testament, this one is actually a metaphor for unity in the church and for how each person plays a unique part in the makeup of the body of Christ. 

However, as these verses have been wrongly used to shame our physical bodies, let us dig into the idea that some parts of our bodies are “unpresentable.” What do we think these parts are? Our 21st century western perspective would jump to the conclusion that the passage must be speaking of breasts and genitals. 

If we lived in another place or time, however, we might think our ankles or our ears, or even our eyes were “unpresentable,” while having no concern with exposing the entirety of the remainder of our bodies!

The Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary informs us that the phrase “less presentable members” refers to “those limbs which we conceal from sight in accordance with custom, but in the exposure of which there would be no indecency.” 

Heinrich Meyer’s Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament explains that Paul was referring primarily to the inner organs, (the intestines, the brain, the heart) but allows for a reference to the delicate external organs (ears, eyes, genitals) as well. 

Modern pietists might “strain at a gnat,” or hunt for a needle in this haystack to proof-text the idea that some body parts are worse than others, but in this search, they’ll only find acres of hay.

Our true focus should be that God has called the entire body: good [see Genesis 1:31]. 

What, then, does “unpresentable” mean? If one is going out in a sand storm, it is smart to cover one’s face. It is “unpresentable” to the environmental conditions at the time. If you are going into a very cold environment, you will want to cover all of your exposed flesh. In that situation, it is “less presentable.” Our brains, our hearts, our lungs— to each of these, God has given more honor by enclosing them within our bodies. They are “unpresentable,” but “more honorable.” 

It is only our culture, feeding on customs and the passage of time, that has wrongly concluded that our genitalia or areolae are dishonorable and exist in a state of continuous shame.

If we continue to pass down faulty information and myths to our children, these meaningless traditions will continue… until someone asks a simple question: why? 

Before we say “because God said so,” or “because the Bible said so,” we should ask the simple question: Really?

The issue is not that our reproductive organs are inherently bad. Sometimes, they just get in the way! When not being exposed to harsh elements or strapped down because of exercise or work, our vulnerable external body parts are just as beautiful and “presentable” as anything else.

The Christian walk provides life and freedom. Next time you have the opportunity to bare your skin to the sunshine, let it beam! God is smiling on all of your created parts.

Sexual Response & Nakedness

This article first appeared on our friend’s site at www.nakedandunashamed.org. It is reposted here with permission.

In general, the assumption amongst the majority of non-naturists is that the sight of another naked human will cause sexual arousal or lust…especially the sight of a naked woman, by a man.

They say that experience is a great teacher and that if you can use other people’s experience that is even better as it can at times lead to wise decisions without having to make your own bad decisions first.

I’d like to take a few minutes with this article to address what I believe is the big lie that Satan has convinced the non-naturist world. He has convinced people that the sight of the beautiful creature that is the human body, made in the very image of our Creator is somehow shameful, sexual and dirty and will cause a sexual response. I can assure you based on firsthand experience and backed by the principles of the Word of God that the opposite is actually the case.

First, a little common sense…anything that is novel will gain attention. If the sight of a naked person is novel, then it is noticed. Anything that is common is ignored. When a person is only naked for a shower or sex, then nakedness is novel and therefore will garner attention and that can be in the form of a sexual response. When nakedness is common and in a nonsexual context often, then suddenly nakedness is no longer novel and it no longer garners a sexual response.

When a person first begins the journey to the Truth as it relates to the naked human form, they are forced to confront all kinds of mental and spiritual training that they have been subjected to that is contrary to the Bible and to experience. They are confronted with the fact that what they’ve been taught might have been wrong and that is a very discomforting emotion.

For example, when I was growing up I was taught “modesty” from I Timothy as meaning dressed from neck to knee for the ladies and long shorts for the guys at a minimum. It’s what I now refer to as our “Sunday Best”. There was no real Bible standard, it was basically whatever the pastor or church taught was modest, that was what the Bible meant. It was making Scripture conform to the pastor/church teaching rather than the other way around. As an adult when I studied the passage and its actual teaching, what I found that the Bible was actually teaching was the exact opposite of “our Sunday Best.” The real concern was that there were poor ladies in the church with literally nothing to wear and rich ladies in the church with their fancy and expensive clothing. The teaching was for the rich ladies to dress more “modest”…an old fashion word meaning humble. Well, the truth is that the most modest attire was to match the very poorest in the congregation. Notice the teaching went on to say not with braided hair, not with jewelry, etc…in other words “modest” or humble. Not the meaning that the church has ascribed to the Bible, but the correct meaning anyway.

Modesty was basically whatever the pastor or church taught was modest.

So, what does our experience tell us that the church isn’t? My wife and I have been biblical, nonsexual naturists for about the last 20 years now and this is the Truth of what we have found.

  1. The commonplace of nonsexual nakedness has led to a desexualizing of our minds and those around us.

We have visited over 20 family friendly naturist resorts across the country and 3 nude beaches and in every case, we have not seen one instance of sexual response at any of the locations we have visited. In fact, what we have found is that the commonplace of nonsexual nudity has eliminated the sexual response based solely on visual stimulation.

  1. We have seen our minds renewed to the point that we used to think the body was shameful, sexual, and dirty…we now see the body as made in God’s image, beautiful and nonsexual in nature.

We no longer view the naked body the way the world views the naked body, we view the naked body as God views it. Isn’t it odd that the church and Hollywood hold to the same belief regarding the body? Living as a naturist has changed that for us. We no longer see the body sexually…we see the body beautiful. All bodies, in fact…tall or short, skinny, or fat, black, or white. You see…when your mind is renewed you begin to see others as God sees them…not as sexual objects, but as beautiful creations of God…made in His very image.

  1. Sexuality becomes more about the relationship than the superficial.

The typical non-naturist is visually motivated. In fact, we are told by good-willed pastors all across the spectrum of denominations that men are visually motivated, so it’s up to the woman to dress modestly to keep the beast at bay. We are told that this problem is “every man’s battle.” I am here to tell you, that is a lie. It is told by Satan to continue the cycle of try, fail and eventually give up trying when it comes to conquering the addiction to pornography.

I can tell you that men and women have been programmed to think this way, but that the thinking is contrary to how God sees us and how God wants us to see each other. Addiction to pornography is a matter of incorrect thinking and incorrect thinking can be corrected. When a person experiences the commonplace of nonsexual nakedness…again, I said commonplace…they see naked bodies doing normal everyday things like mowing the lawn, doing the dishes, vacuuming the floors, gardening, taking a walk in the woods, swimming, playing volleyball, etc. and instead of a sexual response they now see the body as just that…a body.

Think with me for a moment…if this is you and you are now used to seeing naked people doing normal everyday things all the time with zero sexual context how does that change your thinking? You are no longer a victim of Pavlov’s experiment…you are a victor because you now see people as God sees them. You now see people as the wonderfully made creation that He intended from the very beginning when He made them naked and not ashamed.

You see what we’ve really done by teaching that the image of God is somehow dirty, shameful and sexual is that we have propagated Satan’s lie, rather than the Truth of God’s Word.

• God is the One who created us naked.

• God is the One who said that there was no shame in it. God is the One who called it “very good.”

• God is the One who questioned “who told thee…so we know He didn’t start the lie…someone else did…Satan did.

So, what about sexual relationships with our mates?

We have found that because of our lack of sexual response to visual stimuli that our sexual relationship has moved from the superficial to an emotional response.

Our sexual relationship is based more on our friendship now. Our sexual desire comes out of our spiritual connection.

Our intimacy has deepened as has our relationship and our lovemaking is now way better than it has ever been.

The fact that we are not visually stimulated by a simple naked body has not reduced our sexual response to each other, it has strengthened our sexual relationship and made it more intimate and more connected.

The fact that there is no sexual response at the sight of others naked has increased our trust of one another and therefore our intimacy.

It’s almost like, when you experience life the way God intended…naked and not ashamed that you find that God was right all along, which means that the standard teaching in the church was wrong all along.

This is disappointing and unsettling in the beginning because what you thought was foundational was wrong and now you wonder what else was I taught that was wrong as well. Do not let that uneasy feeling stop you from living the life that God intended for you, just realize that you now believe what God said and not what man/Satan twisted it into.

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.

Save your money, sanity, and dignity!

Since being made free from my bondage to pornography (something I thought might never happen), I’ve been on a mission to help others experience the same kind of breakthrough. 

It grieves my heart (and probably God’s too) that so many are making a buck off of the freedom business. They promise success for a price. I’m convinced now more than ever that the solutions you pay for aren’t solutions at all, you will remain a paying customer or perhaps struggle less but still not be a fully free individual.

I want to be clear. These are good-hearted people honestly wanting to help others. I’m not against having a calling and a ministry and keeping the lights on. I’m even writing a book (very much a labor of love). I will charge a modest price for it, while the blog remains absolutely free. Some of the prices for learning how to break free (courses, coaching, etc.) are ridiculous! And I have a big problem with the software companies and their subscription based accountability. That’s highway robbery.

It’s something that should be free. There’s not a secret formula. No one should get rich off of another person’s misery.

I also have nothing against professional counseling and therapy. It is sometimes needed and can be very helpful. What I am saying is that my experience (and that of many people I’ve come to know) shows an easy path to freedom that shouldn’t and needn’t cost a dime.

So I want you to save your money. At the same time you’ll save your own sanity and restore your dignity in the process. I hate it when something sounds too good to be true. Often those are just scams. I’m aware this sounds a bit like that one of those advertisements, but it isn’t. I would argue that the others (and the examples shown above) are. Why? Because I’ve tried them and came up wanting. They didn’t work. They are man-made strategies that are ineffective. They are behavior based. They are coping mechanisms. We weren’t meant just to cope! Avoidance makes us hyper vigilant and does nothing to solve the root issues. Freedom is not something you can white knuckle and just try hard through your own will power or through accountability. You can’t be guilted or shamed into freedom.

I’ve read more in the last couple of years than I ever have before. I’ve made it a point to read books that I know do not contain the answers they claim to have, just so I can see what is being put out there to try and help people. Even those that say they are different tend to rehash the same tired ideas, and it breaks my heart!

Compared to my own experience, everything that is suggested by conventional Christian wisdom on the subject is entirely too cumbersome and hard work, which leaves you in another type of bondage altogether. It’s not freedom. The authors or “experts” often concede that you will still have triggers and warn against relapses, even if you follow their plan. If you aren’t truly free you can always find ways to cheat the system. Until you’re free, the best of these techniques will continue to disappoint.

Please hear that not everything in these resources is bad. Many are in fact very good, but don’t go far enough in getting you to think differently about the body and your fellow image bearers. Most still have an underlying deep seated dualism that at the core sees the body as bad and the spirit as good. This goes against the correct view of Imago Dei that has our bodies and souls intertwined. The gnostic heresies of old are back with a vengeance, and many are caught unaware.

Many are starting to speak out about the damages done by purity culture and its teachings, which have even left many with actual PTSD! Others go deeper to explore why you have this compulsion in the first place. They say if you go back in your story or history and learn to be kind to yourself, you can start the hard work of recovery. That could be a good exercise, but the fact is we are broken and need to be fixed, restored, dare I say redeemed. It’s my opinion that tragically none of these offer an ideal solution to bring about healing and bringing about complete sexual integrity. They stop shy of the goal, a renewed mind that sees others as God sees them. When you let God do the work, he finishes the job aside from your own efforts. The result will be zero desire for anything that objectifies another person.

While I may do a series of book by book constructive critique posts, I’ll demonstrate my attitude before obtaining freedom of the grip of lust and porn on my heart to the new way that I experience daily life.

THIS OR THAT

I remember the story at the beginning of “Every Man’s Battle” where the author recounts getting in a car wreck because he was looking at a lady jogging while he was driving. That was a wake up call for him, and an effective hook for the book. I could relate to that as I, too, used to typically feast on whatever visual stimuli was available at any moment. It was my automatic because I thought and was told it was every man’s automatic. Now that my mind has been miraculously renewed, I see the world through new eyes. Noticing is not a sin, nor is appreciating beauty; the sin is a lustful intent, coveting what is not yours, and objectifying another human being.

Today, I may notice a woman who has the body most women would dream of having, but what I focus in on is truly intriguing. Maybe she has some fake eyelashes, and out of love and compassion, I pray for her in my head: “Why do you feel the need to wear fake lashes and such heavy make up? You don’t need this stuff to feel secure!” You better believe that’s a whole lot better than the thoughts I used to have.

Then I may see another woman who has a more normal body shape out running, and my heart goes out to her as well: “Good for you for becoming more healthy, but do you know that you are beautiful just the way you are?” No matter what the situation, I see women as whole persons with a life, and a story, and quite possibly one full of insecurities. Honestly, I hate to admit it, but I used to gaze at others with the look of a predator. I wasn’t technically a predator, but every woman was visual prey- not all the time, but often enough! This is how I was conditioned to be, and I hid it well. I didn’t want to be that way. I felt guilty about it, but I didn’t know how to replace that thinking with something better.

It takes both a realization and admission of this depraved reality to get better. Thankfully, having acknowledged that terrible condition, now I see myself as a protector of all women. Temptation used to be literally everywhere. Now temptation in this area is absolutely nowhere. It may seem over simplified, but here’s what I believe. When you really boil things down, a man is either be a predator or a protector. I don’t normally like to be so binary, categorizing people in their thinking as either a one or zero. Life is more nuanced than that. Not everything can be black or white due to various shade of gray. However, at the heart level, I stand by these two distinctions and say a man is either this or that. Even if he is a passive onlooker, that is predatory behavior, because he is not protecting his fellow image bearers. Hear me. This isn’t discounting the strength of women. It’s protecting the dignity that comes with women reflecting one half of the image of God. This isn’t toxic masculinity. It’s simply a call for men to take responsibility and stop the blame game once and for all.

Protect the dignity of the women around you. It’s what God did with Hagar. It’s what Jesus did with the Samaritan woman, the woman caught in adultery (what ever happened to the man?), and Mary Magdalene. The Lord is a protector of people. He comes down hard against those who would use and abuse others.

Stay tuned for more and further exploration of the woefully inadequate solutions the church is proposing today to address this issue.

P.S. Of course, my go to resource to recommend (aside from this blog) is mychainsaregone, and it’s free too!

Clothe the Naked

Jesus tells us we should clothe the naked. How many naked people do you know? Not too many these days. There’s not too much of a lack of clothing anywhere today. Even in some of the most poor areas of the world, you can see t-shirts of the team that lost the Super Bowl which were printed in case they won. The loom (and the fruit of it) has made clothing fairly affordable and extremely accessible. And yet, Jesus tells us to clothe the naked.

How do we apply the words of Jesus today? Some would say a Christian should never go to a nude beach or worse a naturist resort, because Jesus says to clothe the naked. Is that how we should apply it? Here is an article we wrote that examines what clothes Scripture does command. We think it’s worth the read!

For now, watch this short video to see what Jesus means by “Clothe the Naked.”

The video makes it pretty clear that clothe the naked simply means to care for the poor. One verse we didn’t have time to include in the video would be Isaiah Chapter 58:7. It asks “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?” Clothing was handmade and expensive. Like a modern day credit card, your garment was collateral and if you lost it, you’d be cold and night and in abject poverty. You’d sell all you had before loosing your cloak, which was also your blanket.

We need to understand the historical context before we claim the Bible says what we think says. Nowadays clothing has gotten more intricate and fashionable and accessorizing. In fact, when the Bible speaks of modesty, it’s not about covering the body as much as it is avoiding ostentatious dress. Modest fashion, to us, is an oxymoron. More on modesty here.

In summary, clothing the naked, is not so much about nudity as much as it is about kindness, compassion, and loving your neighbor.

See all “Objections” series blogs and videos here.

Noah and the Curse

Does the story of Noah and Ham justify racism and slavery? Many used to think it did. Does it support the prudish view that you are not to see another person naked? Many today think it does. Upon closer examination, however, it does neither.

It comes down, like so many other objections, to simple Hebrew euphemisms. Watch the short video to see the explanation:

A perspective of Michael Heiser’s that I would agree with comes from his “The Naked Bible Podcast” (I love the name, and it’s not even a naturist podcast!) Here is a downloadable transcript. This great episode about this oft misunderstood passage rehashes the scholarly work of Bergsma and Hahn found here.

What IS clear is that there is something way beyond simple nudity at play here. And yet, this remains one of the most common objections of all against the practice of non-sexual social nudity. There’s not much else to say about this that is not covered already by the video or the podcast link.

One other resource that would be beneficial to anyone who brings this story up against Christian naturists would be “Who Said You Were Naked?” by David L. Hatton. While it does not bring up this story, it is a clarion call to those who have had those knee-jerk reactions like this of body shame and porno/prudery in their theological framework to think more deeply and be more body friendly like the God who created us is.

On page 192 he says:

When Gnostic prudery’s enchantment is broken, a mental veil is lifted. The blind legalism of deceptively “opened” eyes is replaced by a human-friendly vision of our incarnate nature. Body shame insulated us from a proper perception of ourselves. Body acceptance mentally restores not only a human-friendly attitude about our embodiment, but a Creator-honoring perspective on His handiwork.

A variety of resources and evidences confirms this awareness. One is a careful, thoughtful review of Scripture itself, but only when done with the culture-tinted spectacles of prudery removed. Then we will see that, unlike today, those in Bible times were familiar with routines that made occasional nudity a normal part of life. A human-friendly rereading of the Bible can also show us how God uses our physical sexuality to symbolize His divine plan for human salvation and how our bodies visually reflect certain divine attributes or convey divine message about Himself.

I agree with Hatton, not only on these points, but also the conviction he has written about– that once you know the truth, you must speak the truth as a way of making restitution for the wrong and harmful interpretations the church has historically baptized as gospel.

See all posts and videos in the “Objections” series here.

Blind and Naked

The book of Revelation was written in Apocalyptic genre. Our bookstores today don’t carry books in that category. There are no Apocalyptic sections or aisles to peruse. The highly symbolic nature of this style of writing is very foreign to us. Revelation also has over 400 allusions to the Old Testament. If we knew our Old Testaments better, our interpretations of this prophetic book would be more in tune with the author’s intent. As always, historical background and grammatical context are key to arriving at a good understanding of the intended meaning of the text. That was our approach to the following video.

I just love the way Jesus knows his original audience and shines a light directly on what needs to be addressed with scathing accuracy. That the World May Know with Ray Vander Laan points out the following details about Laodicea’s history:

Laodicea was renowned for three main industries:

A banking center for the province of Asia Minor, including a gold exchange; The textile center where glossy, black wool was woven into garments called trimata that were prized in the Roman world; The location of a major medical school known worldwide and where an eye salve called Phyrigian powder was made from a local stone.

Revelation 3:14-22 makes a lot more sense when you know these details.

In 60 AD an earthquake destroyed the city. Unlike surrounding cities, Laodicea refused funds from Rome to rebuild the city because they prided themselves on their own wealth. Their banking institution even minted its own coins that said the words, “We did it ourselves.” (See Bema podcast)! In their pride, they confided in themselves leaving little room for God (sounds familiar). They only sore spot was the source of water.

Laodicea was situated between Hierapolis and Colossae. Hierapolis was known for it’s hot mineral water and Colossae had cold spring water. Water had to be piped in from 6 miles to Laodicea. The mix of hot and cold caused the water in this town to be, you guessed it, lukewarm!

All of these facts make Jesus’ words sting all the more. In this passage, Jesus is not saying that nudity is a sin. Far from it. He’s comparing and contrasting several areas to point out the spiritual need of the people. They aren’t rich, they’re poor, spiritually. They aren’t healing blindness, they ARE blind, spiritually. They don’t have luxurious black wool garments, they are naked and need white clothes (Lookup Revelation 19:8 to see how the text itself interprets the fine linen we are to wear). Compare and contrast.

Some people insist on reading Revelation literally. Others spiritualize everything allegorically. I choose to read it naturally. If it’s a symbol (commonly known as one) let it be a symbol. If it’s a literal reference, let it be one. You can’t read all of Revelation literally. Otherwise (just one example) the flat earthers may be right about the four corners of the earth (Rev. 7:1)! We know that to be an expression meant to convey the idea of the whole world. That one is obvious. Psalm 50:10 is an example outside of Revelation showing how numbers need to be weighed, not measured. God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. What about hill #1001? Does he cease to own the cattle from then on? Or is all the earth the Lord’s and everything in it?

A strict literal reading might in some small way seem to indicate that nakedness is shameful. However, this is not the natural reading of the passage. The poverty and destitution associated with nakedness, before the invention of the loom, is what was shameful. Is being poor or blind a sin? No. Those are the other word pictures given in context. The point isn’t to show these pitiful conditions as sinful in and of themselves. The point was to show that when you trust in yourself and try to prove you have no need for God, you are actually to be pitied for your spiritual condition of weakness.

There is great danger in pride and self-confidence. Let’s not let that also define how we approach sacred texts, ignoring all the clues left to help us interpret Jesus’ words correctly.

Nudity Equals Lust?

All of the videos in the Common Objections series are important to me at a personal level. This is because they reflect they very way that I used to think. I’m certainly not the only one. They are common. I learned them from others. I was conditioned to think in a way that was prudish at worst or close minded at best. This strict upbringing meant to keep me away from lustful attitudes had the very opposite effect on me. These videos exhibit my new learning and what to me (and many others) is a better way of thinking. The lust issue goes away when a new and wholesome way of thinking emerges.

I have written about lust and my dealings with it and how I have overcome this sin at length on various posts. Here are the search results of all the articles tagged with the keyword of “lust.” This video is a short summary of both the problem and the solution:

I’m convinced that the solution to the problem of lust is to see others as God sees them. Last week’s article was about that, in case you missed it. The opposite of lust is love. You can’t be loving others and lusting after them at the same time. I think a big problem growing up with “purity culture” was that the church told us (in not so many words) that we would struggle big time with lust. If you believed that was true, it would become your reality. It was for me. I wrote the following into a sermon and I stand by it today:

I used to have a problem with lust. I’m ashamed to admit it, but it’s true. Lots of statistics would say that half of us men right here have the very same problem. It’s no surprise to hear that Catholic priests report this as the most common sin by far in the confessional. Popular Christian books say that it’s every man’s battle. And while I don’t agree with that notion now, I do think it WILL be a battle for you as long as you THINK that it will be. It doesn’t have to be. I once thought it was. I thought I’d struggle with this issue until the day I die. And I would have, if I had left it up to me, myself, and I.  As long as it was ME fighting this war by my own strength, I’d be doomed to fail. I can only have so much willpower. I can do ALL the things the quote unquote experts tell me to do and still be one trigger away from failing again.

It’s defeatist to say all men are visual and can’t help themselves, they’ll always fight this impulse and compulsion. God helped me reject those lies and trust Jesus to be powerful enough to deal with this sin as he does any other sin! When you give it to God, he helps you see other people as he sees them, not like the world sees them, and that changes everything. 

Let me put it this way. Do you struggle with the command not to murder your brother? Jesus tells us not to do that. If you’re like me, that’s an easy commandment to keep, because you have no desire to kill your brother (hopefully!). Jesus also says not to look at a woman with lustful intent. He says that’s adultery of the heart. When it comes to this, we often throw our hands in the air and say it’s hard, if not impossible to do. But it’s not! It’s actually easy! You can let God redeem your mind on this issue like any other issue and the desire will be removed from you. Praise God, I can thankfully tell you that I have no desire to lust after another woman, or even after my wife. Lust is selfish, and the opposite of love, so I don’t even want to lust after my wife. Let me be very blunt, I would rather die than objectify another human being!

Yes, I have other sin to deal with, but this particular sin that used to be a big struggle is over and done, I mean mortified and put to death! And it wasn’t willpower or software or accountability or trying really hard or anything I could do depending on my own power that killed this particular sin at the root. It was God! You have to let God kill the spider, not just brush away the cobwebs of lust prevention as they will surely grow back as long as the spider lives. You can bounce your eyes to death, and try to avoid all temptation, but you can’t. Or you can let God deal honestly with you at the core, the real problem- the issue, not the symptoms. All that is recommended to us by experts to deal with lust is as Dallas Willard calls it “sin management.” They are only coping mechanisms. But we weren’t meant just to cope in life. We’re meant to be responsible for our actions and to love others as God does. The trick was letting God do his work in my heart and mind to completely remove the desire to even be tempted in the first place. Charles Spurgeon said, “The swine rolls in the mire with delight, but the sheep abhors it… He is a new creature in Christ Jesus, and sin is destroyed in its energetic influence over his life.”

I stopped depending on my own understanding. I even stopped depending on the leading experts and what they say to do or not to do. It was complete and total dependence on God to change the way I think, to renew my mind. He did it, without my help. He’s powerful enough to do just that. Now I can thank him for the incredible transformation in my life.

When there’s a real transformation or metamorphosis, a butterfly can’t go back to being a worm (or caterpillar). It can only pretend to be one again and crawl around on the ground again instead of flying. Isaac Watts wrote the hymn “At the Cross” where the first verse says: Alas! and did my Savior bleed and did my Sov’reign die? Would He devote that sacred head for such a worm as I? People have been offended by that language or “such a worm as I” – they’ve changed the hymn to say “such a one as I” so as not to be so strong. I say keep it as Isaac Watts wrote it! I was a worm! I had this sin that I tried to shake on my own over and over and couldn’t do it. And then I’d hear at every marriage retreat and men’s conference that just about everyone else struggles with this too. They say “boys will be boys,” but I have boys I’m trying to raise to be different. God changed me from worm to butterfly with his power, reconditioning me to see others differently. And now I can’t and won’t go back to how I was before. I can’t go back! It’s so much better to fly than to go around on my belly like the cursed serpent in the garden in Genesis 3. That’s low and it’s dirty. It’s a curse. It’s bondage! God does not want us to stay that way. It’s so much better and it’s God’s intent to let your heart soar. God’s ways are truly better than any man-made strategy, plan, or tradition, or method of sin management. Now, having surrendered it fully to God, purity is easy, and it’s out of pure joy that I keep Jesus’ command.

One question I got was over the bit about not lusting after my wife. I do desire her, more than anything! However I do not want my desire for her to be lust– I want it to be love, and it is, and it’s amazing! I think that will be a whole topic for another blog someday. For more on the difference between lust and admiring God’s created beauty in people see this fascinating piece (What A Beautiful Tree! Is That Lust?) from Fig Leaf Forum’s website.

I don’t love who I’ve been in regard to lust, but it’s still a good quote!

See all the “Objections” series blogs and videos here.