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.

Let Us Err on the Side of Faith

This is written by a personal friend who goes by Okie61. He wrote this short, but profound piece for his family and he was gracious enough to share it with us all.

My Family:

By nature Christians try to err on the side of caution when it comes to doing anything that could offend God or other Christians. When we talk about any concept of covering the human body, most Christians would be even quicker than normal to abandon dialogue and state that ‘erring on the side of caution’ is the only prudent course of action.

But when it comes to depending on the power of Jesus’ blood, isn’t erring on the side of caution also erring on the side of little faith? When considering the power of Christ’s sacrifice to save us, is it wise to err on the side of the argument that judges His perfect gift as being…well…not quite as powerful as Adam’s sin?

God created man and woman with the intent that they walk naked with Him in the cool of the morning. God didn’t do that with a child’s innocence. He authored their perfect life with an intellect we cannot fathom, nor should we question. When God acts, He acts with perfect reason.

God knew man would fail, and God knew that an ultimate sacrifice would be required to forgive man’s sin and restore man to God’s plan. Did God author the sacrifice of His only begotten son so that it would not completely cover Adam’s sin? No. In fact, God used the perfect sacrifice of his only begotten Son so everyone would understand that there was no sacrifice more perfect, more powerful, or more complete. As Christ said, “It is finished.” (John 19:30)

Sadly, the issue of naturism does cause many Christians to waver in their awe of the power of Jesus’ blood. The worldly view of the naked human form is so steeped into our culture that most Christians mistakenly consider that Christ’s sacrifice falls short of atoning for Adam’s sin. It is Satan’s lie that makes people consider that Christ’s sacrifice wasn’t entirely perfect or complete. Isn’t it an insult to underestimate the power of God? Isn’t that what Peter did when he attempted to walk on the sea to meet Christ? Didn’t that lack of faith by Peter sadden our Savior? Didn’t Christ portray Peter’s lack of faith as a weakness? “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (Matt. 14:30)

  1. Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.
  2. Looking unto Jesus the author and FINISHER of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, DESPISING the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Note that Jesus is the author and FINISHER of our faith. He didn’t start it and leave something to be completed later. We are buried in Christ’s death, and we are raised in his resurrection. His blood gives us the power to crucify the lusts that at one time made us sin at seeing the human form— made in His perfect image. Not only does it give us that power, it gives us the responsibility to wash our hearts clean in that sacred blood.

I believe anything less is denying the power of the blood, which washed a wretch like me white as snow. It. Is. Finished.

Your loving dad.

The Sign of Circumcision

When you hear the word “sign” you get the impression that you should to take note of whatever it is that is being called a sign. In fact, most signs are visible, otherwise how are they to be seen and understood?

It’s a terrible analogy but imagine driving high speed on a country road and you see a sign with a cloth draped over it obscuring the message it contains. You wonder what it was trying to convey, and as you are free falling to certain death, you realize it must’ve said “Bridge Out!” OK, I warned you that this would be a stretch, but if there are dangers present on a road you would want a sign to also warn you! Signs communicate all sorts of truths and provide direction and understanding for greater purposes than the sign itself. 

We don’t give much thought to the “sign” of circumcision today, do we? Let’s start contemplating this sign of the Covenant through this “part 1” video:

There’s a lot more to cover, which is why we made a two part video. The question, though, is why did God make such a sign? Maybe you can add your thoughts in the comments. With hyper-privacy and prudish thinking today, we can’t really fathom this being a visible sign, but it certainly was in those days. Maybe the only place today where this would be visible would be the gym (interestingly enough that word comes from the Greek word for naked), but even then, people don’t walk around exposed very often, even in the dressing room! In Bible times, however, you would know for sure who was and wasn’t circumcised. Watch “part 2” for more of which you may not have considered:

The issue of circumcision caused some drama in the New Testament era. Did Gentiles need to be circumcised after conversion to Christianity? It sparked quite the debate as a new issue that was never pondered before. The Judaizers seemed to think they should be circumcised. What did Paul have to say about it? And again, how did people even know who was and who wasn’t in the first place? The answer is nudity was much more commonplace then, and not a taboo like it is today.

Have you thought about this?

Now this last observation is sobering. Our Lord was crucified naked. They cast lots for his clothes. Early art depicted this, but censored art gave way to the loin cloth making the image less shameful and grotesque. Our Lord endured the cross, scorning its shame (Hebrews 12:2)- the shame is not in the nudity, but rather in the complete subjugation and forceful nature of having been tortured. However, our Lord declared, “No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily (John 10:18 NLT).” He bore the shame of a lowly criminal’s death by his own volition. 

Pilate hung the sign above Jesus that read, “King of the Jews.” Everyone could see that he was not a Roman. He was in fact a Jew. This, not because of the sign above his head, but also because of the sign of the Covenant on his body, which was then broken for us. He gave us another sign- the bread and the cup, that we might remember the new covenant and proclaim his death every time we eat and drink of it until he comes (1 Corinthians 11:26). 

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

What about priestly garments?

“Holy” simply means set apart. When God chose for himself a people, it was for the purpose of setting them apart, but not so they would feel special or superior, but rather to be a light for the nations (Isaiah 60:3).

This is why God had for the nation of Israel clear distinctions between them and the surrounding countries or people groups (or they were supposed to have them). They were to be different. The whole world could be known for one way of being, but God’s people were to be holy and set apart. When they let their light shine before others, the hope would be that the others would see their good deeds and glorify the father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

What does this have to do with Christian naturism? It is context for a discussion regarding the priestly garments God instructed to be worn. It helps set up this video…

It really doesn’t have anything to do with Christian naturism at all. It’s simply another objection that is raised when prudish Christians struggle to see the freedom we enjoy as permissible or beneficial. As with the other objections, a careful study of the text will exonerate Christian naturists from any guilt on their part for living “as God intended.” The perceived guilt is instead projected onto them, coming from a mind that has not been renewed on issues of the body. A friend pointed out in a youtube comment on one of these videos that those who make objections need “reNude” minds!

As the video points out, the issue isn’t the sight of simple nudity. Otherwise why would the priests be stripped bare to be ceremonially washed in front of the whole assembly?

The issue here was one of differentiation. Israel was to be an example of not just morality, but overall goodness. This is the reason idolatry was such an offense toward the Lord. When all the surrounding nations practiced sexual immorality as a part of their religious worship, God in no uncertain terms said, “Not so with you.” The invention of undergarments that went from the waist to the thigh would make it impossible to emulate and practice the pagan rituals that were commonplace in that time.

God wanted a marked difference between those who were his people and those who are on the outside looking in. He still wants that today. It’s a sad shame we often take our cues from the culture around us, instead of the other way around. We have a way that is more “holy.” I don’t use that term to sound religiously better than or holier than thou. God is still calling us to treat others with the respect and dignity they deserve as being made in His image. It’s time we opt for this higher view.

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

Save your money, sanity, and dignity!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THIS OR THAT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clothe the Naked

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

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

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

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

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

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

See all “Objections” series blogs and videos here.

Noah and the Curse

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

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

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

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

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

On page 192 he says:

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

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

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

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

Blind and Naked

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

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

Laodicea was renowned for three main industries:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nudity Equals Lust?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seeing as God Sees

“…the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7b ESV)

This verse is more true than we think it is. We do not see people as God sees them. In the context of 1 Samuel 16, you have a perfect example of this being played out. The singer Ray Boltz described it this way in his song:

One by one,
Jesse’s sons stood before the prophet,
Their father knew a king would soon be found,
Each one passed except the last,
No one thought to call him,
For surely he would never wear a crown.
But when others see a shepherd boy,
God may see a king

How does this play out in real life? We are conditioned by the world around us to see through the lenses of the world. It’s oftentimes a harsh, petty, shallow, and judgmental world. Snap judgments are made instantaneously, many times based on how someone is dressed or other superficial details we observe. We are unaware of how prone we are to agree with the standards of the environment we live in. God calls us to be aliens in a foriegn land (1 Peter 2:11). Being holy as God is holy means being set apart (1 Peter 1:16).

The whole goal of Christianity is to become more Christ-like. Philippians 2 begins this way: “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ… then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:1-5 NIV) The context continues showing how Jesus lowered himself, not considering equality with God as something to be grasped, but instead emptied himself, and gave himself for others. John 15:13 ESV  states that “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Furthermore, we see this beautiful example and exhortation in 1 John 3:16 NIV- “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”

True love is extending one’s self to serve others. I see the spousal love analogy (of a man giving himself in love to his bride) as a beautiful picture or image of how Christ gave of himself and sacrificed for his bride. He even said, “This is my body, which is for you…” (1 Corinthians 11:24). Your highest calling as a Christian (how Jesus summarized both the Law and the Prophets) is to love God with everything and then love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:30-31). How can we do this effectively? One thing we need to do is to stop seeing others the way the world does, and instead start seeing them the way God does.

Brandon Heath was on to something when he penned the words of his song:

Give me Your eyes for just one second
Give me Your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missin’
Give Your love for humanity
Give me Your arms for the broken-hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me Your eyes so I can see

One last beautiful example is from Genesis 16. Abram and barren Sarai are trying to take God’s promise of being the fathers of a great nation into their own hands. They convince their slave Hagar to conceive a child for Abram. When she is pregnant, Sarai begins to mistreat her, to the point that she runs away. In the wilderness, exposed and vulnerable to the elements, the angel of the Lord comes to comfort her. He tells her to go back, and promises Ishmael (when born) will also have a great number of descendants as well. Verses 13-14 are often glossed over, but they contain the point I am trying to make.

“She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi (meaning well of the Living One who sees me.); it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.” (Genesis 16:13-14 NIV)

Hagar was a slave woman, forced to conceive a child for her master, mistreated by her mistress to the point that she would run away to the desert to die. This is a person that the world has chewed up and spit out, so to speak. But God saw her. It affected her so profoundly that when others would turn a blind eye, God would see her. 

One of humanity’s greatest needs is to love and be loved and to be seen (noticed, valued and appreciated). Steve Pokorny writes about having your vision redeemed (See book Redeemed Vision). His thesis is that we live in a pornified culture and are blinded by several messages the world bombards us with, that contradict the truth of how God sees us and others. Like the blind man in Mark 10:51, we too should cry out, “Master, Let me receive my sight.”

My mother knows that I am a naturist. The other day, she heard me preach in church about how I overcame the problem of lust in my heart and mind. We spoke a little more afterward about our plans for vacation in a naturist park, where we will gather with many other Christians and have daily times of worship and devotional thoughts and incredible fellowship. “And you’re all naked? How can you do that? You say there’s no lust? I can’t wrap my head around it.” she would say. I replied, “I know. That’s the problem.” This way of seeing others is crucial not just in naturism, although it was naturism that was a catalyst for my change in thinking about a great number of things. You have to see others the way God sees them (Imago Dei, made in his own image). He loves them. He doesn’t lust. You also can’t lust after someone and be loving (serving) them at the same time. 

Sadly, my mom went on to say that she doesn’t even like to see her own body, and called it ugly. This breaks my heart. Because I know that when God sees her, he sees a beautiful person, survivor of breast cancer with a mastectomy, a work of art not just on the outside, but also on the inside. God sees the whole person for who they are and what value they bring to humanity. I see my mom the way God sees her. I only wish she could see herself that way. It’s the way I look at everyone now. I know I’m not God, but should that stop me from trying to be more like Him?