A Washing Machine Revelation

By John Figleaf

We hated our washing machine from the very first day we bought it over seven years ago. It frustrated my wife intensely, which caused me to dislike it very much also. After all, “if Mama ain’t happy – then nobody’s happy!” After my wife’s disabilities increased and I had to take over the laundry, I begin to literally hate this machine that would never seem to work like I wanted it to. It would tangle clothes, go off balance, and often sit and go into “sensing mode” for no apparent reason. From the very first day I began to curse that machine calling it all kinds of derogatory names and even kicking it and pounding on it with my fists! I’m really not a violent guy, but this was a bit of a phobia I had towards it – for seven long years!

Recently, after a really frustrating day with the dang thing, I finally had it and was going to get a new one. This one was going to the junkyard – that is until I looked at the prices of new ones! Yikes! Even the cheap ones are expensive! Ok, now I’m looking with a new mindset of perhaps living with this monster of a machine a bit longer.

I don’t know if it was the Holy Spirit or just me in desperation, but a thought came to my mind. John, you’re cursing this machine all this time. Why don’t you try blessing it? Quickly recognizing the biblical truth before me, I right then and there repented for cursing my washing machine and started to call it blessed out loud. I even declared it to be part of the Kingdom of Jesus and is therefore blessed in my household!

Well, wouldn’t you know it – shortly thereafter the Lord opened my eyes to what was wrong with it and how it could be fixed. I say, “opened my eyes” because I literally was blind to a simple method of making it work correctly. I’m a mechanical kind of guy. I should have recognized the problem easily, but I believe my cursing it literally blinded me to the obvious – and blessing it literally opened my eyes to changing this machine from a monster to a very pleasant and useful piece of equipment.

Shortly thereafter, I began to ponder about how this cursing thing had affected my life in various ways. Naturally, I began to review my journey out of lust and pornography into Christian Naturism – and the similarities began popping up all over the place.

  • I was constantly cursing my body.
  • My body was a monster – rarely acting the way I wanted it to. Always going off balance and getting tangled up in stuff it shouldn’t.
  • Just as I would kick and beat on the washing machine, I would abuse my body by looking at porn and doing destructive things with it. It was the same love/hate relationship I had with the washing machine. I had one and had to use it for better or worse.
  • Just like having a phobia about that washing machine, I would look at my body as evil and corrupt and must be dealt with very harshly.
  • I also began to see how many woman could hate their body and call it cursed – hoping to get rid of it and upgrade to a new model!

It wasn’t until I fully realized that my body is blessed because it is the Image of God that I began to be “repaired” and now my body works properly. I call it blessed and it exists in a blessed environment in the Kingdom of Jesus. My being nude is no longer going off balance with lewd. My nudity is no longer tangled up in the spin cycle of the world. The lie that my body is cursed has been washed away! I am clean, whole, and functioning very nicely without clothes. Who needs a washing machine anyway!

The Wife of Your Youth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mud Stained

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

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

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

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

And yet I knew and even preached these verses:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Behold the new!

The Phil you all have come to know in the pages of this blog is not the Phil I spent most of my life married to. When Phil was trapped in the sin of lust, it was evident in his actions and reactions. His reactions many times seemed exaggerated for the situations.  

I remember very early on in our marriage we got into a fight, I don’t remember what the fight was about (probably sex), but Phil got so mad that he punched the wall near our bed and put a fist size hole in it. That hole stayed there until we moved out and our landlord fixed it. That’s not the only hole he’s made as a result of anger. The house we currently live in has a hole in one of the doors. For most of our marriage I lived with the Phil that was angry a lot. 

Let me be clear, I never felt like I or the kids were in danger. He never hurt me (us) physically. There were emotional and mental scars however. There were times when he would make me feel so small. He would attack my ability as a homemaker, as a cook, as a wife and as a mom. Those attacks hurt so badly, but when I would show emotion, he would belittle me for crying. 

I mentioned sex before. That was what most of our fights were about. The infrequency and quality was always the problem, even though in my mind it wasn’t infrequent. I was rarely in the mood for intimacy because I didn’t feel loved or respected and I didn’t respect him. And I was exhausted from basically being a single parent (more on that below). 

I wasn’t the only one who had to deal with his anger though. I was always more concerned for our kids. I would try to shield them when I knew he was upset or I knew he was going to be upset. When he would come home from work,  I would send them to their rooms to play so he could have some peace. There were a few times I would leave the house and take the kids to the park to play if he came home in a particularly bad mood. 

We were in full-time ministry at the time and he worked extra long hours most days.  They were weird hours too as sometimes he would get calls in the middle of the night. There were ministry obligations that had to be taken care of and that took him away from us a lot. Even though this meant I was doing most of the parenting, I was ok with him being away from us. I dreaded him coming home. Even though we were in ministry, we rarely prayed together. As far as I knew, he never prayed for me. We weren’t in the Word together outside of church. We were really just going through the motions of a pastor’s family. We were dying inside. 

I began to find a pattern in his behavior and the Holy Spirit began to reveal to me that his mood was tied to his pornography use. If he started belittling me and yelling at the kids, it was almost guaranteed that he was struggling. I would approach him and ask if he had been having issues. Sometimes he would admit it and sometimes he would deny it. Sometimes I would just come right out and tell him I knew he was looking at porn. I’m grateful for the Holy Spirit’s role in bringing all of this to light and I’m grateful for the role he continues to play in our lives.

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a saint. I definitely contributed to some of the issues we had. I was bitter and angry too, but I dealt with my anger differently. Even though our relationship was pretty unhealthy, there were some moments of good. Some moments of really good. We have lots of home videos and pictures to prove that we really loved each other and that he was a pretty good dad even during those more difficult times. Thankfully, our kids don’t remember very much about angry dad. 

The Lord had been working on Phil for a while, even before naturism. The atmosphere in our home had already begun to shift, but 2 ½ years ago I began to notice an even more drastic shift happening. My first indication that something was different about him was that I began to notice him treating me better. He stopped yelling. He started speaking to me with kindness and genuine interest. I noticed he was more patient with the kids. He was loving on them more. He started asking me how he could pray for me. I didn’t say anything to him about what I was noticing. I think I was afraid of jinxing it. 

Looking back I believe I was able to embrace naturism so quickly because of the changes I had seen in him. Today, I am married to a new man. He has the same name, the same physical DNA, but his spiritual DNA is different. He is the man of God I always wished he would be. Actually he is more than that. I have loved him for a very long time, but my love for him has grown exponentially through everything we’ve been through. The Phil of today is kind, compassionate, understanding, patient, caring, emotionally available and so much more. He encourages me constantly and makes me want to be a better person. I have so much respect for who he is. I am so grateful for him and honestly feel like the luckiest girl in the world! How did I get so blessed??

Today, Phil prays for me regularly. As we are getting ready to sleep he often begins praying for our family or situations we are aware of. We talk through the Scriptures often. He takes care of me so well! Our kids have felt the shift too. It’s been amazing to watch how they have taken notice of the changes in us and have begun to make changes in themselves too. They are making their faith their own and that is such a cool thing to watch in your kids! We’ve gotten to have some really authentic conversations with them and in turn our family has grown much closer to each other. 

Every once in a while a situation will come up that makes my amygdala scream. I’ll expect Phil to act one way and when he doesn’t I’m reminded that the Lord has redeemed him. Phil will remind me in these moments that he isn’t that man anymore. The Lord has done an amazing work in Phil’s life and in mine and we feel so blessed to experience this life together! 

I don’t look at that hole in the door anymore with contempt. Today I look at it and I’m grateful that the man that made that hole has been made new. 

Isaiah 43:19, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

Revelation 21:5, “He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'”

Review of “Surfing for God”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Great quote!

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

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

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

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

And a heart that lusts after another person.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love this. Such a good point!

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

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

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

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

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

See, this is all excellent!

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

Page 43 · Location 918: As if Jesus’ impassioned discussion with the religious rulekeepers were not enough, He went on to utter His harshest words yet, to those who believed that God should be impressed with their moral performances. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. . . . First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean” (Matt. 23: 25–26).

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

Such good insights!

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

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

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

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

Preach.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Haha, yep, we’re tracking together here!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s right.

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

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

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

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

Yes, yes, yes!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…Finally, we must pronounce the truth.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amen, and I could say much more about this!

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

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

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

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

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

I know what did work for me without any qualifiers.

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

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

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

I can relate to this. This WAS me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hence the name of the book.

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

I’ll Never Agree

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Review of “Clean”

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

(See other book reviews here.)

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

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

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

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

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

True. Was certainly the case with me. WAS.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Men who protect have a plan.” Page 59

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How’s that working for us?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ridiculous!

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

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

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

Also very good stuff.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pretty good section here in the book!

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

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

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

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

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

Chain Breakers

My personal friend R. B. Mears just released his book “Chain Breakers – A Novel about the Naked Truth” on Amazon Kindle. I was excited to read it, and it proved to be quite an entertaining ride. The story follows the protagonist, Matt, as he discovers a powerful truth most in the world and (especially in Christian circles) are completely unaware exists.

You can read the author’s description of the book below. It shows most of the plot, so nothing I have to say will be a spoiler. What I appreciated from this book was the innocence and childlike wonder that it portrays. Older characters are reawakened to simpler times when there was more freedom and less shame. Religious minds are educated about the way prudish thinking can trace its origins way back at the beginning in Genesis 3. Genesis 1 and 2 is a much better place to be and the situations in this story are very eden-like. Naturists know that even after the fall, this existence isn’t out of reach or beyond belief. This book isn’t shy about speaking of the way Satan has blinded so many as ruler of the world. (That’s a chapter in my upcoming book as well, so I was happy to see this largely ignored concept portrayed repeatedly.)

It’s fun, insightful, and inspiring. It motivates me to be even more bold in my outspokenness as to the effectiveness of Naturism to fix many problems that abound in society faster than anything. The proliferation of pornography and the abundance of body shame and low self-esteem are easily done away with through the tenants and beliefs of naturism. Young kids take center stage in this story teaching grownups what God can do through his power if we would but humble ourselves and believe.

The one phrase that came to my mind as I read the book was “unbelievably believable.” There are many scenarios and encounters that result in immediate transformation. Even the author writes the “unbelievableness” factor into dialogue in a couple of instances. It seems too good to be true and far-fetched. However, as a Christian naturist myself, I found the stories of instant night and day changes believable. That’s really what happened with me, so it was a joy to relive that through these many characters over and over.

Get the book here!

Mear’s tale of toughness, boldness, courage, and sensitivity will make your heart happy if you are one who has been freed from chains that held you back. If you are a in a bondage as you read, it is my friend’s prayer and ours as well, that you would be made free through the naked truth.

The name “Chain Breakers” is not just a neat club name and mission statement. It is also an homage to the oft stated resource of MyChainsAreGone.org, which we highly recommend. Fun fact: Aching for Eden is also mentioned in the story!

I recommend “Chain Breakers” to young people and adults as well, who are open minded enough to have faith like a child to reclaim the innocence and wonder of our created state.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

Caleb held up a hand. “If you could, would you want to see porn right now?” Matt and Ben stopped their frisbee catch, and both looked at Sam. He shook his head and looked at each of them for a moment. “No. I really wouldn’t. It’d seem kind of gross right now.” Ben threw a look at Sam. “Praise God from whom all blessings flow!” (p. 42)

“I’ve found that only 1% to 3% of a populace will be those who seek the truth and embrace it. In philosophy, it’s almost a given that if you find yourself in agreement with the vast majority of people, you’re on the wrong side of an issue. The problem is, most people look to the crowd to decide what to believe, who to like, and even who to vote for.” Sam looked serious. “I’d rather be right than be popular. (p. 52)

his mom said. “Everything I’ve ever been taught screams that it was wrong, but I realize now the Bible had no issue with what we did. A year ago we both would have thought all that nakedness would’ve left our boys scarred. The truth is, they both seem like it was the best thing ever for them. Sam has changed so much I’d swear he’d been abducted by aliens if I didn’t know better.” Sam gave a short laugh. “I feel a lot different too, mom.” (p. 67)

…if your brother is teaching you kids about this, he needs to learn he’s playing with fire. Being naked in mixed company is the sort of thing that causes lust and sexual problems.” Matt realized the man was trying to make a point. “And wearing clothing all the time would fix that problem?” The man nodded, trying to sound authoritative. “Of course. That’s why we have to wear proper clothing.” Matt smiled. “No. Wearing clothes is surrendering to sin. Christ dying on the cross is the only thing that gives us the ability to crucify our sinful nature. We can rely on the blood of Christ to keep us from sin. My friends and I chose to circumcise our hearts, and because of that, we see one another innocently when we’re naked, as God intended us to do.” The man looked down on Matt. “Well, you’re still young enough not to be tempted by lust, but it will cause problems when you’re older.” Ben moved forward. “You’re wrong. My brother is seventeen, and we both used to look at hardcore pornography all the time. I know what lust is, what it feels like, and what it can do to your soul. My brother and I started going naked in our everyday lives to face the sinful nature and make it flee in God’s name. We learned a lot about it on a website called MyChainsAreGone.org. Because of that, porn is disgusting to my brother and me now. Look it up on that website and see for yourself.” The man looked completely confused. (p. 130)

Grandpa said. “It was a bit different then. Things were hard, but we boys had fun. This river was a lively place back then.” “Did you and your friends skinny-dip back then?” “Well, we didn’t call it that,” Grandpa chuckled. “We just called it swimming. No one had a swimsuit like boys do today.” “Were you just that poor?” “Well, we were poor, all right, but even the wealthy boys swam naked in the river. I expect a boy swimming in shorts back then would’ve been laughed at.” “What if people saw you?” Chris asked. Grandpa chuckled. “Son, everyone saw us. No one cared, and we sure didn’t. We weren’t bashful like boys are today. If someone had seen us and acted shocked, we all would’ve just laughed.” “That’s hard to imagine,” Chris said. “Not really,” Grandpa said. “If you had been raised with us, you would’ve gotten over your shame pretty fast. In a way, I feel sorry for your generation because you can’t experience that. I think you’d feel a lot different about yourself if you did.” (p. 146)

“I didn’t mean to make everyone mad,” Ryan said. Sam smiled disarmingly. “We’re okay, Ryan. That type of thinking just really seems sick to us now that we’re away from it. It has a pull on you now, but you can escape that pull the same way we did. You can be a part of this club and be accepted, but you have to practice innocent naturism.” “The de-scummification process has begun,” Mike said. (p. 215)

“The issue about clothing is the same. Most Christians have been tricked into thinking the body is evil, and throw away freedom of the body. They cover it in shame. Today the view of the body is owned by Satan. It’s almost like he has the copyright. God’s followers won’t even talk about the body in a normal way. If a kid is curious about God’s most wonderful creation, he has to go to Satan’s realm to see the body. Satan uses that power to destroy lives with his porn and sex outside of marriage. Modern Christianity has given Satan this power. (p. 248)

The truth is that Almighty God Himself is the author of mixed, innocent nudity. God proclaimed it as good. It was Satan who taught man to be fearful of being seen naked. “Satan didn’t like seeing God walk with man in the cool of the morning. Satan hated that Man was made in God’s image, and didn’t want to see it displayed. Now the question for all of you is this: Adam sinned, and brought us all into sin. But Jesus gave Himself to save us and undo what Adam did and more. (p. 267)

I just don’t get it. Why is it so important for everyone to be naked?” “Like I was telling you,” Matt said, “it isn’t important to be naked. It’s important to be able to be naked. It’s all about strengthening the connections between your body, mind, and spirit. If those connections are strong, your whole being gets stronger, and your connection to God can grow.” (p. 289)

“Okay, you say you’d give anything. What if it costs you or your parents nothing. No money at all, no work, and only fun? What if all you had to give up was the shame, fear, and self-hatred you’re feeling now?” “And clothes,” Ben said laughing. “You’d have to wear the clothes God made for you.” (p. 300)

“Today, you’ve all seen a great deal of evidence that what these young people have done is a good thing. The world will now do everything it can to shame you out of supporting it. You all have decisions to make about how you’ll handle this. (p. 328)

Here is the author’s description of the novel:

It is Matt West’s 14th birthday, and in a tense moment Matt finds himself rescuing another teen trapped and hanging by his legs from the sharp barbed wire on top of the stadium fence. Matt helps the boy escape, but the victim’s shorts remain hopelessly bound in the barbed wire, and the boy he rescues falls to the ground naked. Kids are gathering.

In a moment that changes his life, Matt hands the injured boy his own shorts — leaving himself completely naked. Matt refuses to hide, and defiantly stares back as a kid he doesn’t like videos him. Things seemed even worse when the sheriff pulls up and his 14-year-old daughter — who Matt knows — sees him naked.

Matt becomes a hero to his family and the first responders for his self-sacrifice, yet when the video goes viral on a pornographic web site Matt suddenly learns who his true friends are, and that pornography is a horrible plague for teens and young adults everywhere.

Matt’s friends learn of a web site called MyChainsAreGone.org that helps them defeat the effect of pornography in their lives. Together they skinny-dip in an old farm pond and learn that simple, innocent nudity is a powerful tool to fight the errors of modern Christian purity thinking of the body. As they study the Bible, they face temptation and sweep it out of their lives. The teens form a club called the Chain Breakers that helps other teens in their church and town escape the porn cycle and live free. As their church is split by their understanding, an old preacher explains they have learned a truth as old as the Bible itself, and that God can use their innocent naturism.

The families of these brave young men and women get organized, and a whole new Christian ministry of healing is formed. Read along as the Chain Breakers change lives, have fun, and learn about real freedom.

If you are struggling with the effects of pornography in your life or the life of someone you love, this book has been written to help you understand you can once again have the mind of a child when it comes to lust, worldly thinking, and porn. You can join a Christian Naturist movement that has accepted the power of Christ’s sacrifice to heal the mind that has been so damaged by Satan’s lies.

Addiction or Compulsion?

You often hear of porn issues in terms of being an addiction. Is it really an actual addiction, or is it a compulsion? Or is this merely an exercise in semantics? Does the distinction even matter? Let’s explore.

The case for it being an addiction naturally lies in the fact that it’s highly addictive. In fact, science seems to show that the bonding or imprinting that occurs through pornography is stronger than most drugs in many ways. Steve Pokorny’s book, “Renewed Vision” recounts much of the research on the science behind these questions. He states on page 13, “The chemical reactions set off when a person uses pornography are similar to those that occur when a person uses cocaine. Yet unlike cocaine, a porn user does not need a physical substance to get their high; he (or she) can simply use pornified images to set off a chemical cocktail in their brain and body.” In chapter 3, Pokorny delves into the ways dopamine, norepinephrine, testosterone, oxytocin, vasopressin, and serotonin all come into play in various ways that both hijack and damage the brain. They created strong attachments and dependencies that cause a craving for more. On page 85 of “Clean” by Douglas Weiss (which we shall review thoroughly very soon) he puts it this way, “Your brain is the pleasure center for your body, especially when you have a sexual release. When you release sexually, your brain receives the chemical mother lode of endogenous opiates. These opiates are the single highest chemical reward for anything you can ever do. You can run and work out, but sex is by far the biggest chemical high we get in life.”

What differentiates frequent porn use and actual drugs is the physical dependency. If you are coming off of drugs, your body will go through withdrawal. Coming off of porn also has its own version of detox, yet as stated, no physical substance is needed; it’s primarily mental. In my case, the “addiction” practically vanished overnight.

Quoted in Pokorny’s work are various studies that lobby for “compulsion” as the best classification for an attachment to pornography. Data does not seem to support that the problem is truly addictive. Page 81 tells of a study that was done to measure the late positive potential (LPP) which involves the brain science of emotions. Whereas with a drug addict’s drug of choice, there is a radical increase in these LPP levels, the research found a decrease in LPP levels when viewing sexual images compared to non-sexual images. The lead author of the the study, Dr. Nicole Prause, said “…it would seem advisable to drop the “addiction’ label when talking about people who are having issues regulating their porn use because it does not appear to be accurate.” However, the disclaimer is made that previous research using the term “addiction” should not be discounted. That said, there are many studies in secular spaces, like “Fight the new drug” that show how pornography is one of the most “addictive” “drugs” out there due to their accessibility and affordability and its effect on the brain.

Pokorny states on page 81-82, “As I have seen with some of my clients, many people who are hooked on pornography have a deep-seated belief that they can never be free. They have been programmed to believe that all they’re really capable of is ‘white-knuckling’ the issue and counting the days before their next fall.”

I asked a young man who said he was addicted to porn the following questions, as he was trying the same tired old solutions with no real success. I asked: Do you want to be addicted to porn a year from now? Did you want to be addicted a year ago? I didn’t want to be for 20 years, but I was, until I wasn’t. Almost instantly and effortlessly, I got to where I wasn’t, and I’m still not and I don’t ever see myself going back to that state again. Insanity has been said to be doing the same things and expecting a different result. If you are caught in an endless cycle, it’s insane to stay there and not try something new and outside the box!

For me, the point isn’t so much whether you call it an addiction or a compulsion. The fact is it was a problem. It limited my effectiveness and worse yet it hurt my family. As the father of boys, how could I expect them not to be a statistic when I was a statistic? It was like an addiction and it was a compulsion. When I did the regularly prescribed “Christian” ways of dealing with porn, I got the results you can expect— seasons of “victory” numbered in days, weeks, months, years if lucky, but always with a struggle. Since changing the compulsion and the motivation and my own desire, I haven’t had an issue and I don’t need to be counting either days or years! No more chips every month. No accountability necessary. No filter software or internet blockers. There’s no need for any of that.

Is Jesus cruel? It seems awfully cruel to make 50% of the general population out to be a constant threat of provoking men’s lust. Talk about cruel and unusual punishment! (Now I know men aren’t in danger. If anyone is in danger, it’s the women who have to deal with men who think there is only a carnal response available to them.)

Does this idea of God jive with scripture? Not in the slightest! Matthew 11:28-30 ESV says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” The ever-present vigilance required to avoid the opportunity for lust when it’s virtually everywhere is not a light and easy burden. I know because I carried it for 20 years. Removing the expectation to lust makes all the difference and exchanges feelings of dread for the joyous living of every moment previously lost.

I made this meme the other day which shows the difference I feel every day. Praise the Lord for a better way!

Our former pastor was once talking about how men are hardwired to respond with automatic sexual arousal at the sight of flesh, and my wife snapped back at him, “No, you’re wrong! That’s what both the world and the church tell us all the time, but it’s not true. I know men who don’t respond like that.” When I believed as this pastor does, I would respond to visual stimuli in like manner. After rejecting that lie, the compulsion is gone and so is the addictive behavior.

Quotes from Kindle

A reader of this blog who goes by Arid Lasso has been creating these memes out of reading that he is doing. The books he is citing in these are books we have also recommended on our own resources page. I will share some of these a few of my own comments about the quotes. These and future memes our friend will create will also be featured in a collection on our memes page.

I think the first part of this quote would go unchallenged by most. Yes, we should view others incarnationally as sacred embodiments of God’s image, physical temples for His Holy Spirt, fleshly expressions of souls Christ died for. This bit gets mostly affirmed by the majority of Christians. But then the second part of the quote becomes unthinkable to the very people who embrace the first part. If the first part is true, then it should liberate us both from prudery’s impure thinking about the unclad human body and from pornography’s misuse of human nudity for self-gratification. So where is the disconnect? It’s an if then statement. If this is true, then this also is logically true. However, there is a cognitive dissonance in the porno-prudish mindset. Once that is broken, the logic flows and the liberation occurs.

This reaffirms what I was just saying. The logic has to be solid. The “inborn” response to nudity as bad is a mental glitch whose neural pathways must be remapped. This is what happened with me, and the former lie I had believed so long vanished for good. Reject that very body taboo and there is no need to defend a lie any longer. Everything changes, and our response to nudity does not cause uncontrollable lusts, but instead praise of the Creator and love for a fellow image bearer.

Our search must be a search for the truth. There can only be one truth if it is indeed truth. Our enemy is described in John 8:44 (NIV) this way: “He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Contrast that with a verse just a few verses prior to this: “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32 NIV)

When you look, it’s so easy to see the devastating effects of this form of thinking that is the default way of thinking. Religiously reinforced. While my main bondage was porn and lust, my wife’s bondage was body shame. We both needed deliverance. A redeemed view of the body as the image of God changed us both. These types of bondages in others are now so apparent to us, and it saddens us that, like in our case, years will be wasted without a liberating knowledge of the truth. There is freedom for those brave enough to seek it.

This is what happened to me. Purity culture may have had the best of intentions, but we instead have reaped the consequences of such training and conditioning. The attempts to curb impure thoughts through hyper modesty and covering up have been tried and found wanting. To say they’ve failed at restoring one’s sexual brokenness is an understatement. You say there has to be a better way. I say there is!

This quote is especially fitting at Christmas time, which is around the time you’re reading this if you follow the blog every week. Our Lord was made flesh and dwelt among us. The idea that flesh is bad and spirit is good is a gnostic heresy. While we can give mental ascent to this statement, and agree the heresy is wrong, we miss the fact that we live as though it is true. We decry heresy in one breath and embrace the heresy’s claim in actuality. Spirit good, body bad never ends well. Which is why Satan planted that idea from the very start.

This is one of those arguments that “textiles” don’t know how to handle. That exception and that of doctors and nurses really ought to have the whole house of cards come crashing down. Mrs. Phil delved into this type of reasoning of making exceptions to a non-existent rule in this article entitled, “It should be that easy!

I’m more and more convinced that legalists do not know they are legalists. I see legalism everywhere and those who hold legalistic views are often oblivious to that fact. Can well-intentioned individuals trying to honor God and please Him be in such grave error by doing so that it’s actually rebellion? I believe they not only can but do. They may do so unwittingly or because they learned to do it. That was pretty much my experience. I just finished Watchman Nee’s classic book, “The Normal Christian Life.” It is an amazing work and in it he says Romans 6 is about freedom from sin, and Romans 7 is about freedom from the Law. He argues that deliverance from sin is not enough, but that we also need deliverance from the Law. This is a light bulb type of revelation that many need to internalize!

Those in the church that would accuse Christian naturists of false teaching, are actually the ones guilty of promoting and perpetuating false teaching. Many are afraid to even broach the subject. More and more people are speaking out against the purity culture message, but they stop short of the full application of their new reasoning. They reject the blame game, and take responsibility for their own lust, but continue to be squeamish when it comes to nudity. Again, this gnostic heresy that gets played out in our modern times is the root of all that dehumanizes. Those humans who bear God’s image (and that’s all of us) are a blend of flesh and spirit that is complexly and perfectly intertwined. We cannot separate the two. What is done in the flesh is also done in the spirit. And what is done in the spirit is also done in the flesh. Can we be whole persons? Can we maintain purity in both aspects of Imago Dei: body and soul? Not likely if we persist in an attitude that holds as “bad” what God made as “very good.” Let’s stop avoiding the real issues, and stop trying to “cover up” the problem!