Part 1 of 2
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. – Galatians 5:19 – 25 (English Standard Version)
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. – Galatians 6:7, 8 (English Standard Version)
What are the powerful tendencies that put men at a powerful disadvantage when it comes to sexual temptation and lust?
- we tend to have a strong and regular sex drive
- we tend to be rebellious by nature
- we tend to receive sexual gratification by visual stimulation
And as guys we also tend to forget the distinction between temptation and sin. Being tempted doesn’t mean your are guilty of sinning. Jesus was tempted but He didn’t sin . . .
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. – Hebrew 4:15 (English Standard Version)
Being sexually attracted to another person is not the same as “committing adultery in your heart” (see Matthew 5:28). We have to act upon the temptation (mentally or physically), in order for it to become sin.
God understands our struggles. All Christians have to deal with inappropriate sexual feelings and attractions. Those who are battling same-sex sexual attractions are not unique; we don’t belong in a different subclass than the rest of the church. As with anyone else, we can choose whether thoughts and temptations will become sin . . .
But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. – James 1:14, 15 (New American Standard Bible)
If I feed the temptation, it will grow into lust (which is the desire to have what is not rightfully mine). Some have suggested that one of two attitudes (oftentimes both) are present within us before we give into lust:
- self-pity (“It isn’t fair to deny myself a little sexual pleasure.”) and/or
- pride (“I deserve and have earned the right to have some sexual pleasure.”)
Another point: As guys we tend to equate lust with sexual desire. They are not the same. We can feel sexual desire at any time. Lust occurs when we decide to take our sexual desire and apply to it specific images, fantasies or memories.
Oftentimes our battle with lust depends on how we respond when temptation first hits us. If we are going to be serious with God in developing a healthy and authentic sexuality as men, let’s prayerfully consider these seven points. . .
1. Even though we have a natural, basic sex drive, the more we indulge in it, the more it grows. Of course there will be times when the sex drive will be naturally persistent and unrelenting. Yet we have to make firm and clear decisions about what movies, television shows, videos, magazines and websites we use and the type of people we spend our time with. The more you deny the impure sexual inputs and fantasies, the more the sex drive will return to its normal size.
2. Do whatever it takes to intentionally and effectively discipline your mind, heart, eyes and body (2 Corinthians 10:3 – 5; 1 Corinthians 13; Job 31:1; 1 Corinthians 9:24 – 27). There is nothing wrong with appreciating beauty. It’s okay if you’re a guy and you find another guy physically attractive. It’s okay to admire his masculinity, his temperament or his personality. We will have an affinity with some people because for some reason, we click (if not, how could we ever develop friendships). It’s perfectly normal to share the same interests, experiences and have a mutual understanding of each other that can’t be easily explained.
However, there is a difference between appreciating beauty, having sexual feelings, and undressing someone in your mind. Learn to control yourself so those feelings don’t grow into lustful passion, intentions and behaviors.
- Specifically take written notes of the things, people and situations that tempt you personally.
- Devise a written game plan on how you will realistically and firmly handle the temptations when they come.
- Write down the detailed steps and intentionally carry them out. Literally flee from the temptation.
- Get blocks and filters for provocative websites, emails and blogs (or have Internet service removed if necessary).
- The same with the television. Change the channel, block problematic channels/programs and/or ditch the cable.
- Train your eyes and mind to automatically move away from a person’s attractive body. Don’t stare and gaze.
- Avoid spending idle time alone while being naked.
- Enlist the help and prayers of mature, sincere and supportive friends who will encourage you to be sexually pure.
- Avoid people and places that tempt you (you know who and where!)
When leading a healthy spiritual life – surrendering to God, self-control, prayer, putting to death fleshly (sinful) desires and self-denial are all necessary (Romans 8:1 – 14).
3. Be introspective. Begin to assess and understand the underlying roots of your attraction to other men. Examine your fears, needs, motivations and desires. Author Mike Haley suggests this exercise:
- Take a sheet of paper and write down all the things you don’t like about yourself (don’t limit yourself to physical attributes).
- When you’re done, set the paper aside.
- With another sheet of paper, think of the men that you find attractive and write down all those things that you are specifically drawn to (again don’t limit yourself to just physical attributes).
- Compare the two lists. What conclusions can you draw?
4. Repression vs Replacement. How many times have you been told to “just pray more” or “quote an appropriate verse of Scripture when you are tempted”? These spiritual strategies are effective for the moment but repression techniques are not a long-term solution. Please understand I am not trying to minimize the importance of God’s Word. But to conquer ingrained thought patterns, we have to deal with the underlying emotional and spiritual needs that are feeding them.
We must go deeper, below the surface. The lies of our past must be replaced with the truth of God’s Word. How do we do that? Here are some suggestions . . .
- Diligent study and application of Biblical principles in our daily lives can be very effective. We can’t be lazy and haphazard. Meditate on how you can translate spiritual knowledge into practical and life-changing actions. No one else can do this for you. When you need help (we all need help), seek the assistance and perspective of spiritually mature men. Find and emulate men who have gone down a similar path and are authentic in living their faith.
- Let your worldview evolve into an outlook and reality that reflects God’s truth (not the distortions of society).
- Humanize the object of your desire. Learn to replace sexual feelings for men with a healthy, brotherly love, respect and appreciation for them.
- Cultivate a more godly view of yourself as a man.
5. Actions and attitudes have consequences. If you are a teenager or in your early twenties, be wise and don’t be fooled! For better or worse, the sexual decisions, habits and memories of your young life will carry over into adulthood.
For example, if you are into habitual masturbation and pornography at age 14, they are highly likely to be problematic for you and your relationships at ages 24, 34 and 54. You may receive forgiveness and cleansing from God, but you won’t be exempt from the consequences of poor and wrong choices (such as scarred emotions and relationships, diseases, lost opportunities, wasted time and money, etc.)
6. I challenge you to stand up and be a real man. I am not talking about the stereotypical, “tough guy” image of a man’s man. I challenge you to be a real man of honor, honesty, character, integrity, conviction, discipline and humility.
Boys and “men” who are eager to prove their manhood by their sexual virility and sexual conquests only prove their immaturity, weakness, instability and lack of self-confidence. A real man acknowledges that there are principles and truths bigger than him and he is willing to humble himself before his God for help and strength.
7. Lastly, it is not uncommon to find homosexual desires, lusts and behaviors actually increasing as you sort through and explore your feelings and motivations. This is not surprising, since gay lust is where so many of us find comfort when we’re frightened and uncomfortable. Changing behaviors, reactions, thoughts, feelings and belief systems are anxiety-provoking (even terrifying) for many people with homosexual attractions.
In conclusion, we can lust after many things. Long-term victory will come when we grow in our relationship with the Lord such that, consistently, our desire for Him overrides every other desire. It’s not easy. But it is worth it, isn’t it?
This is a general overview of this subject. I could have included much more. In Part 2, we will discuss pornography and masturbation. However, I am interested in your thoughts and perspective. We all could learn from and encourage each other. If I could ask two questions related to this post, they would be . . .
(1) What are some of your triggers to temptation? Such as certain holidays, certain seasons of the year, your emotional and physical state or vulnerabilities, feelings, fetishes/partialisms. Maybe there’s a spiritual origin?
(2) What are (or could be) your preventive strategies? How do you take control of yourself and your environment? What tricks or plans of action work for you?
Your comments for both questions are welcomed below.
Thanks for reading and thanks for sharing.
Click Here to read Part 2: Pornography & Masturbation
© Darrell Martin and SameSexAttractions.wordpress.com, 2012.
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