Woefully Inadequate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deal with lustful thoughts? How about eliminating them?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Lust is sexual desire out of control.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can lie and fake it.

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

Thank you.

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

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

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

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

“He said, ‘I had a broken mind.’”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No, no, no!!

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

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

“[Miguel’s] own intentional plan…”

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

“Confess to everyone you can—”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“When you fail—and you will—”

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

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

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


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


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

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

See more posts on lust by clicking here.

Reflections on the Journey

It’s been 2 years since the crazy day in October when Phil told me he was a Christian naturist. Lately I’ve been reflecting on all that the last two years have held for us. Looking back, I’m blown away by the transformation that God has done, not only in our individual lives, but also the transformation that has taken place in our marriage, in our family, and in our spiritual lives. God has taken us on quite the spiritual ride!

This morning I was preparing dinner. Baking bread and putting soup in the crockpot. Since I wasn’t cooking bacon, I did all of this nude. I began remembering a time when I was uncomfortable being nude alone! Yes, really! Shortly after our talk in October 2019, Phil encouraged me to try to get comfortable being nude at home. I thought it was so weird! What if someone came to the door?? I remember the first time I opened the blinds in my laundry room and let the sun shine in (we have high windows and I am short so there was no chance anyone would see me). The sun felt so good!

Phil and I were laying in bed a couple nights ago unwinding before sleep. We have an open door policy at our house now. If the door is open or unlocked you are welcome to come in. If it is locked, go away. The other night, Phil and I reflected on what it was like at the beginning. I was terrified to be nude in front of our kids. I was afraid it would scar them for life! I remember sitting in our room in November of 2019 and Phil encouraging me to just go to the kitchen and get a drink while the kids were watching TV in the living room. I remember crying worrying about it. I remember our now 17 year old walking in our room while I was under the blanket and asking, “Are you naked?”. When I responded yes, instead of hugging me good night, he rolled his eyes and huffed and went upstairs. I was devastated! I remember having conversations with each of our boys telling them why we were changing our minds about the body and why we felt it was ok for us to walk around our house nude. They all understood. I remember the slow progress we made with them. Our daughter was still young enough that she didn’t have an issue with it at all. We have come a long way! Our children wander in and out of our room nightly now.- just to chill or to talk. They are no longer phased by our nudity. It’s normal for them. None of them are walking around the house nude, but I consider it a win that they are seeing the body as normal.

They are no longer phased by our nudity. It’s normal for them.

I remember our first trip to the naturist park in the middle of December. It had snowed the day before and we were praying for the sun to be out. God is so good and the sun was shining and it was a balmy 46 degrees Fahrenheit. The closer we got, the more nervous I became and started to wonder if we were doing the right thing. When we arrived we were met by the nicest man ever! He knew I was nervous and never pressured me to do anything I wasn’t comfortable with. On top of that he was (and is) a Jesus follower and I was so grateful for that! Even though we didn’t see many people that day, I am so grateful for the interaction and conversation we had with that man. I am convinced that the Lord used him to help me! I remember walking along one of the trails that day with nothing but my furry boots on and even with the cold temperature, we stayed on the trail for an hour before retreating to the hot tub. I remember feeling the sun on my whole body for the first time. I will never forget the feeling of freedom and the closeness I felt with God that day!

I will never forget the feeling of freedom and the closeness I felt with God that day!

I remember jumping into the deep end with our naturist marriage retreat and how weirdly natural it felt to be with these fellow believers who also were enjoying letting the bodies God gave us breathe. Those people are amazing parts of my spiritual family now. I remember my first time on the nude beach and how awesome it felt to play in the waves and lay on the sand.

I remember all of the times we have been to the park and all the new friends we have made and all the fun. All the deep spiritual conversations we’ve had and all the encouragement given. When we aren’t there, we long to return.

God took something that was meant for evil (a pornography addiction) and turned it into good using naturism. That’s what God does if we will let him. If we will get out of the way and listen to the Lord, he will open new doors for us. He will show us his love and grace in ways we never could have imagined! I’m so grateful that he had prepared my heart and mind, even when I didn’t know it was happening, to be able to embrace my husband and this journey. Even though I’ve been a Christian since I was 7, God used naturism to start me on a new spiritual path. I was stagnant and stale and really dry bones, but God challenged me in my thinking, starting here and it continues. Are you up for the challenge?

Save your money, sanity, and dignity!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THIS OR THAT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To Be Nude is Enough

The following is a guest post by a reader of this blog who is now a friend we have met in person. We’ll call him John Figleaf here. We appreciate his vulnerability in his testimony and are thankful he is sharing this piece with us on this blog.

I finally realize that all I really longed for was to be nude – and accepted in it. It’s been a lifelong journey of dealing with sexual frustration as a human male. Part of that journey was as a young Catholic, another part as an agnostic, and the last part as a loved son of Father God.

My young formative years were filled with all of the expected religious shame associated with my body – confessing sins that were not really sins at all but just a youthful discovery of how my body worked. Other unfortunate incidents brought a genuine shame from acts that were instilled in me from others and brought a very real measure of sexual confusion.

Later years shaped all of that sexual confusion and frustration into a heavy burden of addiction that seemed impossible to remove. When I became a genuine follower of Jesus at the age of twenty-nine, the Lord instantly delivered me from a horrible alcohol addiction. But for many years I wondered why Father God didn’t heal my sexual frustrations and deliver me from its associated addictions.

For many years I wondered why Father God didn’t heal my sexual frustrations and deliver me from its associated addictions.

Sexual lust was always looking for a way to be satisfied in my life, but the flesh is NEVER satisfied. Fortunately I was able to keep limits on the addiction and always remained physically faithful to my wife, but the love-hate relationship with pornography is always destructive. Realizing I could not break free (in spite of trying all of the religious tactics), I began to acquiesce by looking for the “good” porn. I even ended up on a so-called Christian website where contributors would write articles and stories of their marital sexual lives. Eventually I realized that it was still lust filled exploitation by confused followers of Jesus.

Throughout many of these years I also approached my life issues like King Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes. Trying everything and searching for wisdom and understanding. I began to open myself up completely to Father God as described in Hebrews 4:13 – “but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account.” As I began to share all the gory details of my sexual life with Father God I began to notice a pattern of restoration and freedom beginning to evolve.

This eventually led me to an understanding of Naturism. Sometimes non-Christians have a much better understanding of certain aspects of life than “religious” believers. And that is certainly true of Naturism. I discovered I had much to learn from them and began to devour everything “Naturism” in blogs, podcasts, and books.

Then the Lord took me one step further in understanding the joy and special freedom from a Christian Naturism perspective. To understand the naked human body as the image and likeness of God with no shame attached to it was a special revelation from my Father. It was one of those things that moved from the head to the heart. The glory of the body was now viewed through this revelation with a deep appreciation for His very special creation.

When the Lord delivered me from my alcohol addiction I did not drink for thirty years. And then one day I asked the Lord if I could enjoy a cold beer or glass of wine without it destroying me again. And his answer was yes – I was free from my “wrong perception and use” of alcoholic beverages. So for several years now that has become an added enjoyment in my life.

I mention this because I’ve discovered that my life-long sexual dysfunction was simply having a wrong perception and use of it. Through Naturism and really knowing the body as the image of God, I am able to enjoy it without lust, shame, or addiction.

Through Naturism, and even more specifically Christian Naturism, I am now sexually at peace within myself – and just to be nude is enough.

Nudity Equals Lust?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I used to…

I used to think the human body when undressed was lewd, obscene, and shameful. Nakedness was linked to sexuality in my mind.

I used to think Scripture condemned nudity after the fall.

I used to think that nudity is only OK in the context of marriage and it’s for your spouse’s eyes only.

I used to make exceptions in this black and white thinking when it comes to doctors and other professions that are used to non-sexual nudity.

I used to become aroused when I would see nudity in movies or entertainment, or worse when I would seek it out online. I was not “exposed” to non-sexual nudity.

Nudity used to be a perpetual stumbling block to me. Every woman was a temptation.

I used to believe that lust was every man’s battle. It seemed impossible to “cure.”

I used to be ashamed of my habits and compulsiveness. This secret sin was a millstone around my neck. I confessed to a few people, but nothing the best-selling Christian books recommended would help.

I used to think nudism was a form of pornography.

I used to think Christian naturists must be perverts trying to justify all sorts of evil intentions.

I, like so many other Christians, was ignorant of any sort of Theology of the Body.

I used to believe that God made clothes and mandated them for moral reasons.

I used to ignore the many instances of co-ed public nudity that took place in Bible times.

I never wondered how people knew who was circumcised in Bible times. How did this “private” state cause people to judge each other?

I used to see the world through shallow eyes. While at times I resisted these trends, in essence I still agreed with the overly sexualized culture as to what beauty standards should be.

I used to long for the freedom and oneness with God and his creation that Christian naturists professed, but could not fathom that being Christian and a naturist could be reconciled with my faith.

I used to know people need the hope and love of Jesus, and that I could be an example of a sinner saved by grace, but I lived in a bubble and was hardly ever around unchurched people. I knew the need to “be a witness,” but lacked the opportunity to do so.

I used to believe “purity culture’s” definition of “modesty” should be taught and embraced. I placed blame for temptation on others instead of taking responsibility for myself.

I now see the human body as the pinnacle of God’s creation, made very good from the start, and worthy of honor and respect.

I now have studied this topic and cannot find any prohibition in Scripture.

I now see nudity as one of the purest forms of the invisible image of God made visible.

I now see those exempt are actually on to something, and instead the rules I used to abide by are not ideal. Nakedness need not be purely sexual.

I now am only ever aroused by my wife. I absolutely love this change, and obviously, so does my wife! I now hate seeing anything that is suggestive or objectifying.

Nudity is no longer a stumbling block and there is no longer any temptation. Praise God!!!

I now know that’s a lie, and Jesus is powerful enough to redeem and heal this and any impurity.

I am now proud to say that by God’s grace I am healthy and whole and completely free from the problems that plagued me. It saddens me greatly to see so many men without hope of true victory.

I now know nudism is the antitheses of porn.

I now know Christian naturists are the complete opposite of those wrong assumptions.

I now see Theology of the Body as extremely valuable for any believer and sorely lacking in Christendom.

I now know that Adam and Eve invented clothes and were influenced by the serpent to do so.

I now see these instances everywhere (prophets, even Jesus) and baptisms through the 4th century.

I have now researched Greco-Roman co-ed bathhouses and gymnasiums (the word gymno meaning bare or naked).

I now see all human beings as beautifully and wonderfully created in the image of God. I am repelled by judgmental attitudes and take a stand against body shame of any form.

I now know my faith is intact and congruent with who I am. Christian naturism has enhanced my relationship with God and others in many amazing ways. I was just too scared to see it due to my conditioning.

I now see that the church has such a negative connotation among many people. And yet, those who would never darken the door of a church are open to spiritual conversations, especially when they see a Christian who breaks the mold.

I now see that form of “modesty” being far from the original intent and one that oppresses and can even be a source of pride. One can be modest totally naked and likewise immodest with clothes on.

These are my thoughts. Instead of living with regrets, I have not only hope for the future, but also joy in the present.

Instead of living with regrets, I have not only hope for the future, but also joy in the present.

While mine is a male perspective, I find it very useful to feature a women’s perspective. Mrs. Phil has shared this point of view in her articles. For this post, I also wanted to include some words from a naturist lady friend of ours. Her opinions are insightful as well, and worth repeating here in conclusion:


Before: I used to think the body was sexual and had to be covered up.  

After: now I’ve realized that the body just is a body. It’s my earthly covering and it’s glorious. Nudity doesn’t have to be and shouldn’t be sexual!

Before: I used to think women looked better than me. That I never measured up, that I’m not as pretty as, not as skinny as, etc. Trying to look perfect is just exhausting!  

After: After going to my 1st Naturist resort, I realized that all well-endowed women have breasts that hang like bananas or like grapes on a vine (Why do we even say the word sag? It’s so negative.) I realized I’m not the only one with cellulite and imperfections. I am still beautiful even if I’m overweight, have cellulite and a little too much cushion!

This one is very personal to me and touches my heart!

Before: I believed that it was okay for a man to be shirtless but not acceptable for a woman to be topless because of the thought that breasts are sexual and need to be covered unless breastfeeding.

After: I realized that we both have nipples and that our (women’s) breasts are just plumper and prettier! LOL

Europe really has this right because they have topless beaches. Why should I not be allowed to be topless at a beach when a man is topless too? We have the same nipples but just because my breasts are bigger it’s not allowed?!?

An observation…  

Before: I tend to only wear makeup when going to a special event. Usually I’m barefaced with just lipstick and blush.  Lipstick makes me happy!  

I could never compete with or look as *pretty* as someone with a lot of eye makeup. Obviously, a canvas with lots of colors and designs is looked upon more favorably than a canvas with two splashes of color.

After: After going to Naturist resorts, I found more women who embraced their natural beauty like me. It’s very refreshing to be around women like me! We were all on the same playing field, not that it’s a competition and I’m not comparing myself to others. It’s nice just to see the real person, not the fancy makeup! To see their natural beauty!

Before: In the textile world, I’m considered chunky and never get asked out.

After: At a Naturist resort, people get to see my natural beauty and my glowing personality. People want to be around me and think I’m attractive! (I’m not tooting my own horn, but sharing my experience. I believe God made us beautiful and I celebrate and acknowledge that!)

If I led a Marriage Retreat

If I led a marriage retreat, what follows is what I would want to say and do. It’s not what I would actually do, but it’s what I would want to try out and see how many lives and marriages would benefit from it.

We would gather in a conference room as is typically done. Then my wife and I would announce we’d be right back to begin and exit briefly. Moments later, we come back and stand in the front of the room, stark naked. Jaws would drop, eyes would be shielded, and tensions would rise immediately. If not thrown out by this point, I would begin to diffuse the situation. Here’s what I would say:

This will be the most unorthodox and possibly life-changing marriage retreat you’ll ever encounter. The most memorable one for sure! In case you haven’t noticed by now, my wife and I, your leaders for this weekend, are completely naked and exposed. And yet you are all still alive! Relax, no one is going to die. Just imagine that we are some painting in a museum or a sculpture, and you’ll be fine, I promise. We will be sharing our story honestly with you which also makes us even more vulnerable than we already are!

Before we do that, can I make a few observations? Normally we separate men and women to talk of sensitive information apart from one another. This is usually done after the ice has been broken with some sort of game. I’d say the ice is broken already, and it hasn’t done much good to be separate to talk about intimate issues in the past, so while we’re being open and transparent, let’s all stay together and talk very frankly with each other.

My wife and I are naked, and we are unashamed, just like Adam and Eve were described in Genesis 2:25. This is why my wife and I like to refer to the very comfortable-for-us state of undress not so much as nude, but rather “as God intended.”

Like Job said in Job 1:21: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return.” Is there a textile industry in heaven? Fashions? Brands? Models? I seriously doubt it! I hope not! So if this is the way we are born, and it’s what heaven will be like, why not start getting ready for it?

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking this was God’s ideal before sin. And now that we are on this side of the fall, it’s all changed, and we can’t regain that innocence. Some might even accuse me of immanentizing the eschaton (look it up!). I mean, Jesus did teach us to pray in Matthew 6 saying, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”! And we all usually try to improve things here on earth, bringing a bit of heaven on earth. That’s not a bad thing. There is enough hell on earth as it is!

You may also be thinking that God invented clothes when he made them skins. But no, Adam and Eve invented clothes when they sewed together fig leaves. God’s skin aprons improved their fig leaf invention, and set them up to have protection and warmth in a new harsh environment outside of Eden. This was an act of grace.

You may think they covered themselves out of shame. You’ve heard this a million times and you agree with that notion. But the text says they hid because they were afraid (Genesis 3:10). Shame is not mentioned, except for the fact that they were naked without shame (Genesis 2:25). They were married. Did they suddenly have to cover up in front of one another? No one else was around! In fact, God asks them in Genesis 3:11, “Who told you that you were naked?” Who is the only other character in the Garden? The serpent– the one who hates the image of God, and has used this type of brokenness to his advantage and our detriment ever since the beginning.

We can do this debate thing and present arguments for all the objections that certainly are rising up in you right now. We can talk about the commonplace of nakedness in Bible times, the euphemisms used in the Bible to denote sexual acts over simple nakedness, the universal practice of nude baptism for centuries, and much much more. Many books have been written on the topic. But I have a greater goal in mind for this moment. This is not why you are here. The fact is, you are married. And if you’re anything like us or most of the Christians I know, there are some common misconceptions about the body as the image of God that you may be believing that are hurting your relationship. These are very serious matters and get overlooked in our churches. Some of you guys are caught up in pornography and feelings of lust as you objectify other women. You know it’s not God-honoring, you don’t even like it, but you don’t know how to stop. It makes your wife feel terrible about herself. Some of you ladies won’t even undress in front of your husbands with the lights on. You are both accosted by baggage that stems from issues regarding your bodies and sexuality. Like gnostic heretics of old, you tend to view the body with a dualistic split, the body as bad and the spirit as good, and you wish you could unify the two so they can be intertwined as a whole and call it good.

Well, you can! And that would be correct. That’s what God did. In Genesis 1:31, after God created woman he called the crowning glory of his creation “very good.” And I don’t think God is one to change his mind on something of such great importance! The godly and holistic approach is to not separate body from the soul, from the whole person. When you separate body from soul, we have a name for that – death. Bodies are not bad in and of themselves. What you do with your body may be wrong, a twisted distortion of what God intended for good. But your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Therefore honor God with your bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

This woman you see before you in all her glory, is beautiful, is she not? Well, she didn’t believe she was for over 20 years of her life! That’s tragic. What’s even more sad is that it’s typical, and it grieves the very heart of God. You are all made in God’s image, imago Dei, and precious to Him, and fearfully and wonderfully made. As for me and my house, we now see beauty in everyone, as we see others as God sees them. We should not take our cues from Hollywood or from a sex-crazed culture with their phony and shallow definition of beauty, or their ideas about sexuality. You are beautiful… full stop! Body acceptance is extremely important, and a spiritual issue in your Creator’s eyes. Be body positive with yourself and others. Be body friendly to yourself. Love yourself, the someBODY who God made you to be. You were bought with a price, and that price was Jesus’ own life (see 1 Corinthians 6:20). Christopher West points out that if you are punched in the face, you don’t make a property damage claim, but rather a personal assault claim. Our bodies are an intrical part of who we are as persons. It’s part of our personhood. When we divorce body from soul, it becomes less important what we do to or with our bodies. I’m convinced and convicted that we have gotten this all wrong. There is a hole in our theology, to quote a friend. We should treat our bodies and other people’s bodies as more sacred. The answer to our struggles is not to reject the body, but to redeem our bodies.

Ladies, some of you are like my wife, who thought that to despise her body was a mark of humility. It’s not. It just isn’t. Humility isn’t hating yourself. It’s thinking rightly about yourself. God said to love your neighbor as yourself. Hating your body isn’t noble and it spits in the face of your maker. You can’t love others well if you don’t love yourself in a holy way.

Our culture tries hard to send my wife and your wife messages all day, every day, on how they need to work hard to be more attractive. The standard is young skinny, airbrushed, and photoshopped models. It’s not even real! An impossible standard, and not true or natural beauty in my opinion. In fact, I tell my wife all the time, “You are the standard by which all beauty is measured.” Does she have stretch marks? Yes, she’s had four babies. That’s beautiful. Does she carry more weight? Have cellulite? Yes, and that’s ok. Even the model is insecure about some body part. We all have the same parts. Some parts are bigger, some are smaller, some sag, others don’t. It doesn’t matter! We are beautiful as the pinnacle of God’s creation and vary in our beauty the way that no two trees are alike. I love that!

What else do you notice? She is not just a collection of body parts. She has a heart. She is my wife and your friend. But if you were to objectify her, reducing her to an object or a piece of meat, that would be demeaning, but typical in our sex-obsessed culture. She doesn’t have to be naked for you to do that! In fact, now that she is and leaves nothing to the imagination, the simple and natural beauty kind of loses its allure to be sexualized doesn’t it? 

Plus she’s not up here in any sort of seductive pose or inviting you in with her eyes or expressions or anything. She is simply being, a human being. And you guys, being in a public setting are honoring her, and respecting her and not resorting to any animalistic behavior even though there is a naked woman who is not your wife right in front of you in person. Perhaps if she was a stranger, not a friend, and on a screen, and you were not in public, but in complete privacy, the story would be different. What’s up with that? 

My story is that I was addicted to porn. It was a struggle, I thought it would go away when I got married. It didn’t. I was in church leadership and I had this gnawing problem in secret. I tried all the things they say to do, even accountability. But it doesn’t work, none of it does. You can cheat it if your mind is depraved enough. If you don’t address the root of the issue, it’s only better temporarily on the surface. You can brush cobwebs back, but unless you kill the spider, you’ll deal with cobwebs forever. The only thing that works was being made free in Christ. The truth set me free, not for a brief and momentary victory, but a forever change. I don’t think the same way anymore. My mind has been renewed. I can appreciate beauty as a creation of God, an icon of his image, but no longer reducing it down to an idol for self-gratification. Romans 1 describes those with a depraved mind as exchanging the truth of God for a lie, and worshipping and serving created things rather than the Creator. We can’t lust and worship at the same time!

I don’t bounce my eyes when I see a beautiful sunset! I praise God for it. What boggles minds is that I can look upon a clothed or even a naked woman, without lust in my heart. Like a former alcoholic who can walk down the liquor aisle at the super market without any temptation, I have no desire to cheapen God’s gift or disrespect another human being, most importantly my own wife. 

We act as though lust is the only sin that Jesus cannot help us overcome this side of heaven. We throw up our hands and say it’s a fallen world, so don’t even try. But we don’t do that with any other sin! We renew our minds and God does the work for us without our help.

Or you can choose to stay in bondage. You say it will always be a struggle, and it will be. You make extra rules God never imposed to serve as safeguards, and just like with every rule ever made, it gets broken. Thank God for grace and a better way forward!

Now having been surprised into freedom, as this woman’s husband, I’ve committed to her that only she would be responsible for causing me to become aroused. This may vary from person to person, but I determined that I will not masturbate. This amazing woman, who I love and with whom I have a deep relationship, she has a direct role in every one of my sexual responses. I have this not as a rule that I must abide by, and struggle every day to maintain. No, it’s actually a joy to live by that commitment. As I said, that didn’t used to be the case at all. I cheaply would give away my release of personal gratification to many other strangers on screens because of looking lustfully at them. Jesus (in Matthew 5) would call that adultery. I cheated on her. Never in person, but it’s still cheating! I’m done trying to justify it. Jesus was right. It’s not a victimless act! It hurt this woman. It hurt me too. It made me less of a husband, father, and leader. I decided I didn’t want to be an adulterer any longer.

I decided to reject the lies that as men we are wired to be visual and to react sexually (either in thought or deed) whenever I see exposed skin. We have been conditioned by our society and if we are being honest our teaching in the church supports these worldly views, which are dehumanizing at the core. It’s an old gnostic heresy, thought to be done away with, but it’s alive and well in this room today.

Puritan and Victorian attempts at modesty aim to cover up what is deemed a temptation. But the truth is, whatever is covered is automatically objectified.  Imagine if we had a body taboo for elbows! We’d suddenly treat elbows as if they were seductive and ask women to cover up their elbows so we could control ourselves. That’s crazy! We can control ourselves without your help. Some of you ladies are well intentioned, but dressing modestly can become a prideful way to try and take the place of Jesus. Jesus doesn’t need your arbitrary dress code standards to make men pure. Only men can control their thoughts. But if we tell men, that every man battles impure thoughts every day, they will battle impure thoughts every day! And then they’ll lose and blame the woman for not dressing appropriately enough to meet some arbitrary standard!

Cultures that commonly expose the breast, have an innocence about it and don’t sexualize it or fantasize about it. It’s a problem in OUR thinking and in OUR conditioning.

The sight of someone (who is naked or clothed) does not cause you to lust. That’s a lie that needs to be completely rejected. By that logic, we would have to conclude that the sight of banks causes greed, or the sight of bakeries causes gluttony. We better take down all the signage and cover those places under a large tarp! Or do our actions regarding their visual stimuli actually matter more than the supposed temptation they produce? James actually says each man is tempted, not by God or anyone other than himself and his own lust (my paraphrase of James 1:12-15).

Bathsheba is often blamed for David’s sin of adultery because she was bathing on the roof in full view of David. This was common. Bathing on the roof or in the river in mixed company was standard operating procedure in those days. David is the guilty party here. He saw and wanted to take what wasn’t his for his own satisfaction. That’s why the prophet Nathan strongly rebuked David and called Bathsheba an innocent lamb (see 2 Samuel 11 and 12).

Guys, some of you need to take a hard look at yourselves, and how you view women. Take note throughout the course of one day, how many times you objectify other women and have thoughts of lust or coveting. Then you need to think about renewing your mind on the whole way you view all of it, the way you are right now with my wife here. You are honoring her and respecting her as made in the image of God and worthy of dignity on the merits of that fact alone. She is my wife, and you are respecting that fact too in my presence and in the presence of your wife. Your wife is beautiful too, but I don’t want her, because she’s yours, and I have all I need right here.

My wife doesn’t have to “put out” enough to “protect” me and help me stay pure. That’s my job. If I was going on a business trip, bless her heart, she’d make sure to have sex with me the night before. She learned this at various marriage retreats. The problem is, that fix (sex not for relationship, but out of duty) is only good for about 20 minutes, if your mind is depraved enough! Now that I’ve renewed my mind, I don’t need “protective” sex to remain pure. And it’s so easy now that I changed the way I think on these things.

I’m sure your minds are blown! I can’t read your minds, but I’m guessing this isn’t what you expected for this marriage retreat. I hope it challenges you to make changes and helps more than any other instruction we could have brought.

Our best advice for any marriage is to start sleeping naked, both of you. It’s incredible! And pajamas are really weird. You’ll have health benefits and feel closer together if you’ll do it. What about the kids? Don’t worry about that. In fact this is one of the best way to porn-proof your kids. I wish we had done this when they were younger.

Hey, I know it was so awkward when we came out here like this. A few people went storming out of here, and I bet this struck a real nerve with them and maybe you too. But as time has gone by, is it a little less awkward? Did you even forget we were naked as you listened to our story? Continuing to talk frankly, if some of you guys with conditioned reactions that immediately equate nudity with sex got tight in the pants at first, I bet by now you’ve relaxed, as the non-sexual brand of nudity has been normalized for you.

You know, if you all chose to get naked right now like we are, without the shame society imprints on us, many untruths would become demystified. There are ideas we hold as true that need to be challenged and then disregarded. I’m sure if we all were undressed, you’d gain a confidence you didn’t know you had, and you’d start to worry less about things that really don’t matter. Our conversation would improve and we’d share deeper insights from the heart with each other. We’d realize how much we hide behind our clothing and our fake personas. We’d be more real and authentic.

This is how God sees us. We don’t have to dress to impress, and nothing we can put on would even accomplish anything to that effect. Hebrews 4:13 says everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give an account. I love the old hymn: when he shall come with trumpet sound, oh may I then in him be found. Dressed in his righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne.

I would not be doing my job well today if I didn’t share what the Bible says we should clothe ourselves in. It does command us to put on certain clothing:

  • We are to be clothed in power from on high (Luke 24:49)
  • Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 13:14)
  • The perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable (1 Corinthians 15:53-54
  • We groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling (2 Corinthians 5:2-4)
  • All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ (Galatians 3:26-27)
  • Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience (Colossians 3:12)
  • Dress with decency and propriety (1 Timothy 2:9-10)
  • Let your adornment be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God (1 Peter 5:5)
  • To her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine line is the righteous acts of the saints (Revelation 19:8)

Notice these are all attributes and are more important to God than any threads we could wear to cover our skin. The clothing we are commanded to wear is symbolic, metaphorical, attitudes, decent qualities, good deeds, virtues, and Christ himself.

This is the true sense of modesty! Modesty really means a holy humility. Modesty is an attitude, not a dress code. David Hatton says, “For centuries, modesty was understood in those same terms, until the Victorian era gave the word a new meaning to match its prudish view of the body. In spite of this altered definition, the older meaning was retained as late as 1828, when Webster’s Dictionary continued to define modesty with no mention of clothing’s ability to produce a modest condition in the way it hid the body.”

Friends, we must not approach the word of God solely from a perspective tainted by cultural bias. The world around us is hyper sex-crazed with their cheap version of sexuailty that is far from God’s ideal based in a loving, committed relationship of marriage. The church often is hyper-prude in it’s ideas and methods for curbing any sort of impurity. Again, Hatton explains, “both views promote an unholy, God-dishonoring treatment of the human body based on exactly the same vain imagination. Prudery hides the body, calling the Creator’s design a lustful indecency. Pornography flaunts it, using prudery’s definition to turn the beauty of God’s handiwork into a stimulus for impure sexual thoughts. Both these ways of treating the body are an unnatural, unrealistic abuse. Though they seem to be opposite, they are conceptually identical. Both are ungodly, and both are based on a dysfunctional view of humanity’s physical embodiment. Wherever a wholesome, godly view of the naked human body is rejected and a shameful, obscene view is embraced, the resultant religious zeal of prudery inevitably plunges a society into the hellish depravity of pornography.”

If we could leave you with a gift that would revolutionize your marriage, bring you closer together, closer to your Creator, and closer to fellow image-bears around you, it’d be a wholesome and godly view of the body. That and a renewed mind. If you trust us and resonate with what we are saying, try it for yourselves. Your body acceptance and confidence will rise to new heights and your temptation for impropriety will vanish overnight. We love the Lord, and we love each of you. It’s up to you if you want to research for yourself the ideas we’ve expounded on today that perhaps have gone against everything you’ve ever heard your whole life. That’s how it was for us, but we studied and prayed and are so glad to have been shown a better way. We pray that you don’t reject it outright, but that you would consider everything we’ve shared, and that ultimately it will bless your lives, your faith, and your marriage and family life.

Don’t Look Here!

(The problem of lust, part 2)

There’s a theme park that has an iconic building with a small hole in the exterior wall. Above the hole are the words with an arrow pointing to it saying, “Don’t look here!” Of course, that’s exactly what everyone does. You look in the hole and there is some creepy picture or something. I don’t even remember what’s in there, but it’s funny anyway!

It’s true of human nature that when you make a rule you get almost nothing but infractions! Take this sign as another prime example. This poor “No target shooting” sign has been nothing but a target for shooting! And this bird pictured atop a “no birds” sign is not unlike the behavior of its human counterparts.

Let’s keep thinking along these lines for closer examination. The prohibition era made liquor illegal, but did nothing to curb the drinking problem. It gave rise to the black market and launched many homemade moonshine operations.

Andrew Farley has a book called “The Naked Gospel” (not a naturism book) that points out the futility of the law to save one’s soul. Yes, we say only Jesus saves, but then we try to go back to a pseudo law-based form of Christianity. It’s not working very well! I heard Farley use this illustration in a message the other day: the law is like a mirror. It points out problem areas like a mirror would show we need to care for our teeth. The mirror will not fix anything, it will only show where our needs are. You don’t chip off a piece of the mirror and use it on your teeth. That’s not why it’s made!

I saw this quote the other day by David A. Holland in “Praying Grace” that was quite insightful: “Adam and Eve’s labor to create fig leaf garments to cover their shame represents mankind’s very first religious work. Cain’s rejected offering was the second (and that rejection led to the first murderous rage.) From the Tower of Babel, to the meticulous rules and regulations of the Pharisees, to all of the world religions, right up to our modern day– fallen man’s impulse has been to work or earn our way back into the Garden of Eden.”

I used to suffer from a problem with porn. Of course that was because I had a problem with lust. This developed in part because of youth groups and other Christian guys telling me that we all had this problem and needed to work hard to fight against it. The very prohibitions and warnings made me curious and wanting to see for myself how bad porn really was. I realize I can’t blame anyone else for my own behavior. James 1:14 (KJV) says, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” This is true, however, the “laws” against such actions, were a factor for creating the very problem with lust which they intended to prevent. We are already programmed in our culture to respond sexually to the sight of bare skin. The church in its teaching (though well meaning) reinforces these ideas and makes it seem as that’s the only “natural” way for men to respond.

So that’s how I responded. I did not like porn, but I couldn’t ever quite shed it from my life. I knew it wasn’t good for me or my relationship with my wife. But even that knowledge and the “rules” did nothing to stay my desire. It was like Romans 7:7-8 (KJV) “I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence.” And a few verses later, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15 NIV) I was indeed asking the final question in this passage, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” (Romans 7:24 NIV) I felt like a dog returning to its vomit. I felt so much guilt and shame. I felt like I was a disappointment to God. As a result, I hated the body God gave me because of my actions toward it and the impure thoughts in my head. I wondered why most of the Christian men I know also expressed this lifelong struggle?

The solution seemed to be more will power and more rules to safeguard against the power of lust working against us. Like the Pharisees, we’ve added more regulations to God’s ideals and created man-made traditions and “solutions” that have solved nothing. Also, like with the Pharisees, the law becomes a breeding ground for hypocrisy. “These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.” (Colossians 2:23 ESV)

Indeed it’s as futile as wiping away a spider web. It won’t solve your problem if the spider is still alive. They will surely reappear. Man-made attempts at defeating porn may wipe away the webs, but the spider of lust is at the ready to come right back unless you kill it.

Then something surprising and unexpected occurred. I saw that naturists had an aversion to porn. They were adamant that nudity does not equal porn. It seemed they had a greater respect for the body then everyone else. They were also less judgmental towards others than most Christians, who should excel in these virtues. Even Christians were naturists and held the body and everyBODY in a sort of holy esteem that is more biblical than our present day dualistic views, where we see the world through spirit=good and body=bad lenses.

Could it be that some people don’t fall into lust at the sight of nudity? Or are their hearts hardened? No, from what I’ve observed firsthand, these people are more passionate about the Lord than the average church goer. This baffled me, but I was so drawn by it. What’s the worst that could happen? I gave this lifestyle a try, and found those claims to be true. There’s an innocent beauty in these people. They are not perverted. The way I used to be was perverted (at least on the inside). Now that way of thinking has completely vanished as my mind has been renewed.

Is my conscience seared? Am I desensitized? No, the body is simply demystified for me. It’s lost its allure. I no longer fixate on body parts that our culture has deemed purely sexual. Do we not all have the same parts? Is the body only for sex? Isn’t there more to a person than their body?

Jesus said in Matthew 5:28, “If your eye causes you to sin gouge it out.” What if it doesn’t? I reject the notion that my eye will cause me to sin. This seems unbelievable to those in the church because they teach it’s an automatic reaction, so we need to avoid any sight of anything that could be tempting. They haven’t worked through their own views of the body, not realizing that they are projecting their own impure thoughts onto everyone else. They would rather have a set of rules and follow them as best as they can. They would rather cover up the women with phony and arbitrary modesty standards that do nothing to curb men’s lustful thoughts. It only serves to excuse their behavior and place blame on the clothing choices of others instead of taking responsibility for their own thought life.

Lust is not a sight problem, it is a heart problem. As Jesus himself declares in Mark 7:21 (NIV), “For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come.” 

I’m done with all that! I’d rather focus on relationship with the Lord instead of rule keeping. I’d rather please him out of my own desire, not as an obligation. It’s better to let Christ rule, instead of being bound by rules. There is a big difference there! He’s taken away the guilt and shame that used to hover over me unrelenting. He’s made me free because I have believed the truth (John 8:32), and that freedom is a gift that I do not take for granted. As Galatians 5:1 (NIV), “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

The compulsion I could never seem to control is gone for good, and so is the bondage that came with it.

Porn is the last thing I want to see now. My mind has been renewed and transformed (Romans 12:1-2). I don’t objectify others. Instead, I see everyone as a beautiful creation of God, worthy of respect as a fellow image bearer. I would never be in the healthy place I find myself through a system of rules. It’s a rejection of culture, tradition, an embracing of God’s truth, and a desire to live righteously out of gratitude that has made all the difference. The Lord is gracious to me, and I’m happy to honor him and others around me. I no longer serve the Lord with a double mind out of guilt and shame. Now I serve him out of a heart of joy. Relationship will always yield much better results than rules ever could obtain for us. 

Ending this addiction was so easy, I could hardly believe it.  That’s because God did the work, and I stopped trying. Indeed I was surprised into freedom!

It should be that easy!

For the last year, I’ve played out in my head scenarios where people who would strongly disagree with our way of thinking would find out about our participation in naturism. At the moment many areas of our life would be negatively affected if this were to happen. If I’m being totally honest (naked and vulnerable), the fear of this happening at times causes me to reconsider the whole thing. It’s during those times of fear that I find it helpful to play out these interactions to remind me why we are resolute in our conviction about the body as the image of God.

With the amount of knowledge we now have as a result of our study, if we were to sit down with someone to explain, it could take hours or even days to share everything we would want to. This is one of the reasons we started this blog, to have both information and our thoughts in one place.

As I’ve imagined these conversations, the explanations really boil down to this: Is SEEING a naked body sin? Clearly, the answer is no. If it were, mothers would be sinning every time they change their toddler’s clothes. Doctors would be sinning at a woman’s yearly exam. A husband and wife would be sinning when they enjoy sex naked together. Ultimately, even Jesus would have sinned as nakedness was commonplace in his time. And when God told Isaiah to preach naked for three years, he would have been commanding him to sin. And there are a host of other examples. Some would call these exceptions to the rule, but how can there be exceptions when there is no rule?

Once a person’s mind has been renewed in their way of thinking about the body, the SEEING of a naked body should not be a big deal or cause any lustful thoughts, and in turn, sin. Having been conditioned by our culture, our enemy, and even the church, those who do not share our convictions expect to have lustful thoughts at the sight of nudity and therefore do. I even had a conversation with a pastor who told me that men are hardwired to have a sexual reaction at the sight of too much skin. It was at this point in the conversation that I felt the need to stick up for all the men I know now who are able to be around many nude women and have no sexual reaction or thoughts of lust. God did not just create men as visual creatures, able to appreciate the sight of beauty. We are all drawn to both strength and beauty, but the sight and simple admiration of the nude human form of a man or woman need not trigger us into sexual desire. Aaron Frost takes this idea to the extreme when he writes in his book, Christian Body, Modesty and the Bible, “Some people assume we are biologically hardwired to respond sexually to nudity, but later generations of Pavlov’s dogs might as easily assume that all dogs are instinctively hard-wired to drool at the sound of a bell even though that would be false. To assume that nudity causes lust, is like assuming that the bells cause drooling.”

So while it should be this easy, it’s not. The way the church views the body is the same way pornographers and Hollywood does. Why are we in agreement on this?? When God created Adam and Eve he called it “very good”. Did God change his mind about the body when sin entered the world? Of course not! Over time, the interpretation of this Scripture has been skewed so that the intended meaning has been lost. We have come up with our own thoughts as to why God made skins for Adam and Eve before sending them out of the Garden. We assume it to cover their nakedness because now all of the sudden, the sight of the human form of course was a sin. (I hope you sense my sarcasm) This is a man made thought. Never in Scripture is this said or implied. What is said however, is a strong warning against making more of the traditions of men than the actual words of God.

Mark 7:6-9 (NIV)

“He replied, ‘Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:

“‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’
You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”
And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!”

Just a few verses later, Jesus makes the point that it is not what goes into a man that defiles him, but what comes out of a person that defiles him. In other words, it’s not the seeing that is the sin, but how one reacts to the seeing. If the heart is pure and the mind renewed, seeing a nude form will not cause sin to take place. If no sin is taking place while participating in naturism, then why should anyone have a problem with it?

It should be that easy!

Open letter to Christian leaders

First of all, you have a very difficult and often thankless job, so I want to thank you for your dedication and ministry. I know what it’s like and I can attest to the fact that it’s not easy, but it’s an important responsibility we have. To best serve those under our care as undershepherds, we need to be spiritually fed and above reproach ourselves.

You don’t need any statistics to know that pornography is a huge problem and not just outside the church. Within our congregations are many men (and some women as well) who seek out pornography to try to fill a void in their life. Knowing it’s not God-honoring, and trying to quit, they are trapped by the allure and subject to it’s bondage. Many also are addicted and feel they will never find freedom. Even church leaders are not immune. Because of their position they are scared to be open and honest about it. I know because this once described me.

Our attempts at curbing this issue while noble are weak at best. Especially if we ourselves are also struggling, how do we expect to help anyone else? Calling it “every man’s battle” is simply admitting defeat! Conventional Christian wisdom on the matter places the burden of the task on the powerlessness of man-made tactics. They perpetuate guilt and shame rather than providing a way forward to a new form of thinking which brings sustained and perpetual freedom from bondage. This is God’s work, which is done without our help or cooperation.

  • No amount of confession, accountability or software will cause a man to not look lustfully at a woman if he is intent on doing so. There are always ways to get around it. You can always fake it. 
  • No amount of promises made at an inspiring conference will stop a man from his own evil desires and impure motives. 
  • No amount of pancake breakfasts will help him resist the constant struggle of objectifying other people.
  • No amount of self-imposed modesty will help a man change his thought life. It’s prideful to think that way, as if Jesus’ work on the cross was not enough to save a man’s soul. This is the practical application of this thinking: Since Jesus isn’t powerful enough to change your animalistic behavior, we need to set an arbitrary length of skirt or “proper” coverage of shoulders or chest to help you out!

The church tries to address this issue but fails as its methods are ineffective. They are like treating a virus with a band aid and do nothing to address the root issue of the problem. In fact, one of the factors for my interest in pornography came from how youth groups talked about it. Instead of preventing me from seeking it out, it got me curious about it.

My point, coming from my own experience and that of many others, is that the heart and the mind of the individual need to change (be renewed) for a lasting transformation to occur. 

It angered me so much the other day to see a program being offered to pastors with porn problems for $199. The true and lasting solution should be and IS free! It doesn’t cost the price of internet filters and accountability software (that can always be circumvented anyway). It is not a man-made attempt to work harder or do better through will power. It does not thrive on guilt and shame. It is not confession-based to another human. It is solely a work of God, and he does it without my help.

This vice does not need to be every man’s battle. Nor do we need to bounce our eyes at the sight of anything that can become a trigger for actions that dishonor God and others. Temptation is all around us, but it doesn’t have to be temptation. James 1:14 (KJV) is quick to point out that, “every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” Temptation isn’t the fault of who you lust after. You and your heart are the only one to blame.

The goal of a recovering alcoholic should be to be able to go to the grocery store and walk down the liquor aisle without a single urge or desire to indulge. Likewise, someone who has been conditioned to respond in lustful ways needs to change his/her mind, with God’s help in order to have lasting freedom from bondage.

Should we hide and cover the cupcakes so as not to cause someone with a gluttony problem to sin? Do we need to ban money or close banks for those overcome by greed? Lust seems to be one of the few sins we practically label as hopeless to overcome in a fallen world. With everything else, it is assumed that we can grow, mature spiritually, and conquer with God’s help.

Let’s take this concept to an extreme. Imagine you and your wife (if you are married) are having a dinner party with your best friends. Then all of a sudden everyone’s clothes disappear and everyone is completely naked (inexplicably). Aside from the initial shock and possible embarrassment, would you be able to control yourself around your friend’s wife? Or would the animalistic urges kick in and it becomes an all out orgy? I’m thinking that after a few minutes of awkwardness, everyone may carry on as normal and no one would cross any moral lines. Why? Because you have a healthy respect for one another and a love and deep friendship. It would be wrong to act on any impure thoughts in this non-sexual setting. Why is it any different with a stranger in a picture or a video online? When it’s a person on a screen, where we don’t have that relationship built or a mutual friendship, and we act out sexually, we excuse it as a natural urge. See the problem?

Jesus said in Matthew 5 that anyone who looks lustfully at another woman had already committed adultery in his heart. He did not say seeing a woman was sin, otherwise men would be sinning all the time. This would be cruel on God’s part! He said looking with lustful (coveting) intent is the sin. 

According to Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc., lust means, “to have an eager, passionate, and especially an inordinate or sinful desire, as for the gratification of the sexual appetite or of covetousness.”

This is desiring that person in a way that isn’t rightfully your place to enjoy. God meant for sexual expression to be in context of a married relationship. Looking lustfully is equating a person who is not your spouse as a piece of meat, a collection of body parts that you are objectifying, selfishly for your own gratification. This can occur with full nudity, partial nudity, or a fully dressed person! You are making a fantasy relationship or escapade with your impure thoughts, as if they were true. 

Pope John Paul II is one of the few theologians in history to address the evident gap in our theology with his “theology of the body.” He has posed many great truths and one of my favorite quotes of his is this: “Immodesty is present only when nakedness plays a negative role with regard to the value of the person, when its aim is to arouse concupiscence, as a result of which the person is put in the position of an object for enjoyment.” (John Paul II [Karol Wojtyla]. Love and Responsibility. Rev. ed. Trans. H.T. Willetts. New York: Farrar, 1981.)

This can be illustrated with David and Bathsheba. Bathsheba was bathing on the rooftop like many people did in those days. It was commonplace. David, with the highest point in the city could see many people bathing, but with this one, he had to have her in a sexual conquest, even committing murder to cover it up. David was the guilty man according to the prophet Nathan. Bathsheba was the innocent lamb. So why do we place the blame on the ladies, saying they should not tempt men with how they dress? It’s not logical or right.

Jesus also said in Mark 7 that nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them. He continues saying for it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, adultery, lewdness, envy and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.

This also indicates that the mere sight of someone is not the sin, but rather thinking improperly about that person, is the sin. We need to worry less about what visual stimuli we receive and more about how we think about it!

I write passionately about this because of my own story of failure after failure. I won’t go into all of it suffice to say that I battled the ongoing mystique and pull of pornography for over two decades. I tried everything with varying degrees of success, but never finding full freedom and a clear conscience before God and my wife. I thought I’d never grow out of it and it would always be a constant struggle. 

“That’s someone’s daughter” which you often hear as advice against this type of behavior didn’t ever stop me even though I have a daughter of my own. My mind was messed up and not renewed. My view of the body was skewed and distorted, as it is with so many today. As Titus 1:15 says, “To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled.” This was me, WAS, being the operative word.

There needed to be a renewal of the mind in terms of how I viewed the body (Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 4:22-24). For too long, I allowed the way the world views people and their bodies to influence my own view. The worldly view is not God-honoring or holy. It agrees with the pornographers in its shallow view of what is and isn’t attractive and how sexualized we are today. The religious notion is to agree with pornographers (yes, you read that right) that “nude is lewd” and react to the opposite extreme of puritanical prudery. This body=bad, spirit=good is a dualism that the Bible does not teach. Rather it is gnostic heresy, and it damages our cause to maintain purity. As Colossians 2:23 (ESV) points out, “These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.” Pornography and prudery feed off each other in a vicious cycle, giving the other what it is missing- a godly view that honors, both the body and the someBODY who dwells in it.

Our enemy, the ancient serpent, has been crafty since the beginning. He hates the image of God (Imago Dei) reflected in humankind as much as he hates the God they represent. He adamantly attacks this whole concept and seems to be winning! What God crafted as his most precious masterpiece, Satan has twisted and distorted to the point that it no longer is seen in the same way. Like a priceless work of art, crumbled up, it needs to be rediscovered for its natural and pure beauty. It can, however, be restored as Jesus’ wounds heal our wounds and he makes all things new again (Isaiah 53:5; Revelation 21:5).

The enemy is deceiving the whole world as he has from the beginning. We’ve been conditioned in many ways by society and by evil itself. For me, I agreed with several lies:

  1. When I see a woman I find attractive (nude, scantily clad, or fully clothed), because I’m wired as a visual person, I can’t help myself but respond with a sort of sexual fantasy and lustful thoughts. (Like Pavlov’s dogs or something!)
  2. This is bad, but it’s the way everyone is and there’s nothing I can really do about it. I’ll never be free.

I’m sure there were many more agreements made, but the point is the lies took precedent over the truth. I lived as though the lies were true. Jesus said in John 8:32, “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 

True repentance according to the meaning of the greek word refers to a changing of the mind. I changed my mind about all of this, which seemed counterintuitive at the time, because I was so depraved in my thinking (Romans 1:18-32). I started to see humankind as the pinnacle of God’s creation, made in His own image. I saw the body, not as lewd, dirty or obscene, but as beautiful and holy, worthy of respect and honor. I also saw other people for who they are, all fearfully and wonderfully made. I appreciated the diversity of God’s design of people as the crowning glory of his awesome creation, more grand than the most magnificent sunset. I no longer “worshipped” created things rather than the Creator as does an idolater (Romans 1:25; Ephesians 5:5). I focused on the whole person, not just certain parts (that in our society get extra attention). Arousal took its rightful place as belonging only to my wife based on our deep relationship.

Once I made the switch in my mind, it was smooth sailing. I was amazed. What I never thought possible was not only possible, but easy. As stated, I rejected the lies, and God did the rest. This constant issue of 20 years simply vanished. I felt different. It wasn’t like moments of “victory” before where there was still a struggle and then I inevitably would fall off the wagon with a binge. This is true freedom, and it’s incredible! I then came across the “My Chains are Gone” website which confirmed everything I had experienced. If you have tried everything and nothing works to rid yourself of these thoughts and habits, read through www.mychainsaregone.org.

This nagging, but ever-present problem was affecting me in many ways. Without it, I’m a better minister, but more importantly a better husband. And being the father of sons, I’m no longer impotent to help them with these issues. The cycle is broken, praise God!

What am I asking of you? First of all, if you yourself are struggling, take another hard look at my testimony and ask yourself if you are believing some of the same lies. Where are you missing God’s truth that’s been staring us in the face ever since the beginning? Secondly, maybe you are blessed to not be affected by this vice, but think about how you teach on this subject and what message you are sending, especially to young people? Does it agree with society’s view or worse our true enemy’s view of human beings and their bodies? Are you relying on man-made methods that fall short of true and full redemption as it relates to lustful attitudes and actions?

My hope and prayer is that this blesses you, and you experience the joy and closeness to God and others that I have found since embracing this more healthy, natural, and godly way of thinking.

Respectfully,

A co-laborer in the Lord, Phil O.

P.S. For a printable pdf of this letter click here.

Image credit: V0034184 In the Garden of Eden, while the serpent curls around the tr Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org In the Garden of Eden, while the serpent curls around the tree of knowledge, Eve is about to taste the apple. Coloured etching. Published: [n.d.] Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/