Sexual Purity: Rethinking Our Ideas, Reformatting Our Approach

I never chose my assignment to help bring a fresh perspective to the sexual purity movement within the body of Christ. It was on the same level as if I, at 61, with an oversized gut, would sign up for a mixed martial arts competition. NO THANKS! I argued when I saw it coming—with my wife  and God. My wife, Ruthie, would inform me, time and again, that God was teaching me these radical ideas about sex so that I could teach others. But I would say to her: “The problem is so big in our world that trying to change it is like trying to empty the ocean with a bucket, and I’m not into putting a target on my back, because what I now believe goes against what others believe!” She would answer me: “But God has given you fresh keys that churches, leaders, counselors, and believers need to know! They will hear you!”

Ruthie won. God won.

But I won, too. No, I’m not kick-boxing, but in the years since To Kill a Lion: Destroying the Power of Lust from the Root was released, I have become much more aware of the increasing need for God’s people to come together and fight the growing tsunami of lust in our world. It is critical that the body of Christ unite to the fight for morality. Through my 15-year journey of discovery, God took me behind the scenes and showed me the real culprit behind our lust crisis: issues of the heart. My journey manifested in a major ministry designed to answer the question men often ask, “I know it’s wrong, but why can’t I stop?” Reliable surveys almost all reveal that over 70% of Christian men struggle with lust. Therefore, it behooves us to take this cry seriously.

In order to maximize our effectiveness, believers need to come together on the following four areas:

Behavior modification vs. heart transformation: Before my sexual journey began I was in the camp of those who tried to help the sexually addicted by challenging them to modify their behavior. This isn’t completely wrong, But the problem is that true behavior modification is a fruit of heart transformation. I proclaim in my book, “You can’t overcome lust by fighting lust!” Does that sound strange? The truth is that the real culprits are the issues of the heart that are driving the drive: rejection, shame, fear, insecurity, low self-worth, identity issues, father wounds, mother wounds, abuse, trauma, and much more. This is why I always tell people that overcoming sexual addiction is a life-transformingprocess. You can wear horse blinders in order to avoid seeing anything that may be a temptation, but the greater victory is in attaining the blinders from within the heart—breaking agreements with emotional and spiritual issues, which Christ died to free us from. We must go to the heart!

Lust vs. Sexuality: I used to be like many guys desiring to walk in sexual purity, those who attempted to battle their God-given sexuality. Often, men will read one of the “it’s wrong, don’t do it” books on sexual addiction and feel as if their God-given sexuality is their enemy. God created people as sexual beings. My sexuality—even my strong sexual nature—is a gift from God. Sexual addiction is not a substance addiction, like the abuse of drugs or alcohol. With a substance addiction one can separate him or herself from the substance (drug or alcohol). Sexual dependency is a process addiction. It involves stewarding or managing something that is God-given, so that it doesn’t become something destructive. Another example is food: We need it, but we all are challenged to watch how much we eat and to make sure what we eat is, actually, good for us. Influencing people to think their sexuality is their enemy is like telling overweight people that all of eating is a sin. Not so! We must not quench what is God-given!

Men vs. Women: My book targets men, but I am awed at how many women have read my book and found help for themselves. Most of what I say in To Kill a Lion applies to women, too. But I admit, before writing my book, I was unaware of how much women also struggle with sexual addiction and a host of other sexually related issues. In our culture, it is far more acceptable for men to struggle with sexual addiction than it is for women. My book is only one of the many self-help books written for male sexual addicts, but far less are the resources are available to help women find freedom from sexual addiction. According to our culture, women are not supposed to be so highly sexual—why, they get headaches at the mere thought of it! This is such a lie! And in as much as the church offers help to men, the same help must be made available to women. There are also a host of double standards that demean women, such as: When men lose their virginity before marriage, they are not as guilty as the women who do the same; women are used merchandise—hopelessly defiled if they lose their virginity before marriage. The truth is that forgiveness and cleansing are for both men and women. If we are to be havens for healing, we must stop elevating sexual sins above the power of the cross. We must address the sexual issues of both men and women!

Shame vs. Grace: Most of us, who grew up in Christianity, are aware of the guilt and shame approach as an attempt to help people walk in purity. It doesn’t work! It only creates what I addressed above—behavior modification. Without heart transformation, it won’t last long. Now, please understand, I am not for letting pedophiles off the hook, or saying, “poor you” to people who abuse others sexually! Everyone is responsible for their own behavior, no matter what the driving force is behind it. But if we are going to help people find the freedom they need, we have to stop injecting condemnation and fear into those struggling with issues of lust. We must point them to the cross of Jesus. He offers forgiveness, healing of the heart, and inner power to conquer the sin that dominates them.

At times, I still can’t help but feel as if I’m emptying the ocean with a bucket—even pertaining to this article and all I could or should have written. The hope is, though, that if we all join together and each one of us grabs a bucket—one without holes—and start emptying, I believe we can do it. Together, we can make a difference. We can truly help to create a culture of purity in this world. We must discard our guilt-and-shame-your-way-out-of-sexual-addiction “help” manuals!

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