Brothers in Arms, fighting for Purity
This is a topic that many in the Church
seem to not want to talk about. Sex and lust are topics that people are often
only willing to address in a context that allows them to distance themselves
from admitting to the fact that it is a sin that they will have to deal with in
their own lives. Lust is an issue, but Pride is often the real enemy. It is
difficult to have to admit that we are human, and that we have genitals, (along
with a pulse) and all of the realities that come with these facts. For those of
you who are biologists, I think that Pride can be related to the HIV virus, and
person's sex drive can be related to a common fungus. If we have Pride (HIV),
and this sin has been allowed to grow in our person, then even something that
God created to be "very good", such as basic fungal spores (a pulse),
can kill you, because you have no defense. In the same way, a sex drive is a
very good thing, but if we have too much Pride in our lives, then a Godly
desire for sexual closeness with a spouse (or future spouse) can turn into
something evil - Lust. I am here arguing that Lust is often not the root of the
problem, the root of the problem is having too much pride to admit our human
weakness to ourselves, and to our "Brothers in Arms".
American society has a very twisted view of the human body, sexuality, and purity. As my Grandma says "People need to learn to behave like ladies and gentlemen." What really amazes me is that our society somehow manages to have a perverse, and an overly prude view of sexuality and the human form at the same time. On one hand, we have blatantly pornographic magazines at the checkout line (let's be honest, that's porn). On the other hand if someone were to walk into a supermarket dressed like these people they would probably (hopefully) get arrested, even something close to this would be a violation of social expectations.
I think that this is all summarized in the Ken Doll. Picture Ken (Or G.I. Joe) naked for a minute. For the most part the anatomy is made to resemble that of a grown man's body (albeit idealized). Of course the family Jewels are left out, because we are trying to preserve the innocence of our six-year-old girls... I think. Why G.I. Joe is treated the same way, I honestly don't know. The unfortunate (somewhat pathetic) thing is that society and sometimes the Church tries to pretend that GI Joe is the way that things really are, and tries to ignore this point of weakness in a man's body, and men try to ignore this point of weakness in their soul.
Now we are really starting to get to the Truth that needs to be understood by men in the Church if we are going to continue to lead her.
"Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall."
- 1 Corinthians 10:12
There is something that I have noticed about men that I think is very important. If we look at a man's body, in youthful prime, and he is a fairly physically active man, we will see a reasonably strong, solid design. Let’s take a moment to appreciate the gift that God has given to man. When God created Adam, He gave Adam a body that is pretty much covered in muscle and capable of taking care of the tasks that God lay before him. God gave Adam muscle that was designed to take a beating. If you or I were to punch him in the chest, let’s face it he would not be crying about it. Adam’s body is solid, and strong all over, or is it? In one part of Adam’s body he is soft and vulnerable, and I think God did that on purpose. This was the part of Adam that God gave him to be able to intimately connect with his wife, Eve. In the part where a man is most vulnerable physically, it is also the place where he is most vulnerable spiritually.
Because men are the way that God designed them to be, pride and lust are sins that he is particularly vulnerable to. Sex is like kryptonite for men. When we are tempted, we are very weak to falling into lust, and to falling into bed with the wrong person. I say “person” here instead of woman, because like it or not, there are times where men are tempted by other men, and if this is the case, then it must be recognized. I think that it would be reasonable to quote 1 Corinthians 10:12 here about five times, but I am not going to do that. Spiritual warfare is spiritual warfare, and the devil will try to get us in the ways that we least expect it, and if not us, then our brother will be attacked. Same-sex lust is just as real as any other sin, and I have had people that I was close with go live in the gay lifestyle, and I am still praying for them to come back. I have also known men who had no prior inclination tell me that they have “experimented” with varying reactions to the situation, which shows that falling into bed where we least expected it is not impossible. I did not intend to talk about homosexual temptation this much, however I think that it is something that needs to be addressed. This is a very real sin that people struggle with, just like people struggle with alcohol or gambling. I personally do not believe in categorizing my brother into “homosexual” or “heterosexual” categories, because these categories are simply not valid. When the Bible translates the term “Homosexual” from the Greek, the emphasis is on the act, not on the temptation to act. Whether my brother struggles with same-sex lust, or with looking at females in the wrong way, or if he struggles with gambling, he is still my brother, and I recognize (it needs to be recognized) that nothing can change his place in my heart. There is an entire section on this web site specifically relating to same-sex lust and temptation, however if I am going to address the issue of purity, I am not going to sugar-coat it by leaving out this topic, because then I am just paying lip-service to being serious about purity, and loving our brethren no matter what they are struggling with in life, and not actually doing it.
Back to what I was saying about sexual lust being like kryptonite to men. This is an area where men are specifically weak. Admitting to our brother that we are tempted by lust is like admitting to our brother that we have a heartbeat. That said lust is a perversion of the gift that God gave us. Even though this is an area where all men are weak, men have an innate desire to be strong all the time. We want to be powerful and independent. Being seen as a weakling is one of the biggest fears that the male gender has to face. Being vulnerable to our brothers is one of the hardest things that men will have to do in their entire lives. Whether we like it or not, the reality is that we are vulnerable in this area. It may be embarrassing, and it may not be fun, but if we are going to be the men that Christ calls us to be, then we need to be willing to be vulnerable to our brother. When I struggle, and talk to my brothers about it, I feel completely naked and exposed (which based on my comparison here between the physical and the spiritual makes sense).
Awhile back I was going to a men’s Bible study. While I was there we went around the room and the men in that room were each relating one after another how they had had some serious stumbles that week. This one guy mentioned that he had been on the computer at two in the morning a few days before looking at porn – there was a definite pattern with this group of guys. I decided to offer the guy some advice and explained to him that he should not be on the computer at 2 in the morning. I told him about how my friend Tim had explained to me that when men get tired, that is when they are the weakest. I also asked him if he had X3Watch installed on his computer. Surprisingly, he did not know what that was. It is difficult to explain the entire conversation here, but I was very respectful and appropriate, and just truthfully told the guy that if he wants to be free he is going to have to stay off of the computer late at night, and also he is going to have to get accountable.
Long story short, I was kicked out of the group a few weeks later. Even though there was nothing out of line about my actions, they had to come up with excuses for themselves to justify getting rid of me. These included saying that I had distracted the group one week when I got up to go use the bathroom (the study was two hours long). I had just quietly gotten up to go use the bathroom, and after I did my business I quietly came back downstairs. This is not a reason to kick someone out of a Bible study, this is an excuse when you have no reason. They never actually gave me a reason for being kicked out, besides saying that my “presence was very, very, very distracting” – notice that they never mentioned a single action to me that was out of line, they just said that my “presence” was distracting.
Since I had a friend going to this same Bible study, I found out about the bathroom complaints, and was able to discern (from what God told me in prayer) that the reason that they did not want me there is because they were convicted by the things I was saying. Since I was doing better than they were in the lust department (how much better is not necessary) they were convicted by my presence.
Later I was praying to God, because being kicked out of a Bible Study hurt. This was before my friend clued me in. God assured me and told me to let it go, and reminded me that vengeance was His. The next day my friend clued me in, and told me that the group we were meeting with no longer existed.
Even though I was doing everything that I was supposed to be doing, it is still not fun to be rejected by other people. Ultimately I have a story about how I was kicked out of a Bible study for not looking at enough porn, but this still hurts.
Wrapping things up, I want to send out a special thank you to somebody. My friend John prayed with me a few months back when I was being tempted. It was springtime, and the girls were dressing the way that girls who don’t know the Lord do in spring. It was hitting me pretty hard, so I talked with my friend John about it, and he prayed with me. I cannot remember looking twice at a girl all Spring. Prayer works and is very powerful.
As men, we need to be strong with our brothers. They can’t do it on their own, and we can’t do it on our own.
Galatians 6: 1-10
Bear One Another's Burdens
1Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.
2Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
3For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
4But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another.
5For each one will bear his own load.
6The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him.
7Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.
8For 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.
9Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.
10So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.
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