Monday, April 21, 2008

Sexual Temptation

I preached on Lust yesterday, from Matthew 5:27-30. A difficult topic to discuss because of how pervasive the problem is. I knew that if God didn't give us grace and were to knock off every person in the room who'd ever lusted, I would've been preaching to an empty room...

Catch that?

All of us struggle/have struggled with lust in our past (even the preacher). It's hard for both men and women to live sexually pure lives in this sexually twisted culture. But the culture lies; what we're told will satisfy doesn't and what we're told is 'boring' (marital faithfulness) actually leads to fulfillment. A survey recently revealed that the most sexually satisfied people are married couples in their 50s. Faithfulness works!

While mowing the lawn yesterday, I heard a great podcast from Gateway Community Church about sex. It was a series entitled Sex in the City. As I was mowing, I was thinking "why hadn't I heard this before this morning." The pastor made a great comment, "lust is different than sex. A man can be completely sexually fulfilled but still tempted to lust." That's completely true in my life. Erin and I have a wonderful sex life and yet I still have to guard myself against the temptation to lust. I'm a man, I'll always have the temptation. But with the power of the Resurrection, I can be more than just "normal."

After the message, I had a guy share his story with me. While he said it was okay to use his name, I'm choosing to keep it private. Believe me, I respect this guy a ton. And even more so after he got so honest with me and said I could share his story. So here's what he had to say:

For me, sexual temptation is like a deep slimy pit. I stood on the outside of it, looking in, and it looked fun and harmless. Once I jumped in, I couldn't get out. I tried and tried. I knew I was in the wrong place but I coudn't get out. Every once in a while I would get so disgusted or ashamed at myself, I would start to make a little headway in escaping. However, before I would know it, I would fall back to the bottom. Sometimes I would think about giving up trying to get out. However, a combination of your preaching, God's voice in my head and a podcast kept me going. The podcast talked about what the story of your life is. I didn't want my story to be involving my kids or wife saying, "He was a good guy, but that time I caught him looking at THAT on the computer, that really changed my level of respect for him." Then I wandered into a honest men's accountability group. They don't work for everyone, but for me, the change was instant. I didn't want to have to look the guys in the face and tell them that I fell flat on my face.
Now, I have climbed the ladder out of the hole and can see out of the top. I have pushed the sexual temptation monster out of my way and I can see all the other hurdles and holes in my life. I don't want to fall back into the sexual temptation hole because I am not sure I will be able to find the ladder again. Really, I don't know the formula for getting out of the hole. I had been trying for over a decade with utter failure at every turn. My best guess is it was a combination of a high level of desire to get out along with peep pressure with a lot of God's grace. Anyway, my life has changed and I really don't want to go back to where I was before.

CHRIST IS RISEN! Now go get accountable!!!


DoulosXristou said...

So . . . is it possible for a man to lust after his spouse? And if so, is it wrong?


P.S. I wanted you to know that your preaching has inspired me to take up SOAPing . . .

. . . I figured how else am I going to get fed ;-).

Donnie Miller said...

I'm not sure, but considering the selfish, me-first nature of lust it seems that lust wouldn't be normal for a healthy married sexual relationship. Maybe if the relationship was really sick and the husband was forcing things upon his wife that he enjoyed but repulsed her, then maybe that would be lust.

I'm glad you've finally found a way to get some spiritual food. No way anything healthy could come from my preaching. Seriously though, I'm glad to hear you're SOAPing.

Daniel said...

So you're saying that lust isn't so much about desire but about self-gratification that usually involves objectification.

Throughout high school, I heard a lot of youth messages about this passage and lust. Every time I thought about lust, it was like they were saying that if you look at that girl and think about the fun things that may ensue were you two together intimately, then you're lusting after her in your heart and therefore committing adultery in your heart.

So how about this then?

There is a large difference between desiring to be physically intimate with my girlfriend, and lusting after her.

Though we cannot consummate the physical aspects of our relationship until we are married, there's nothing wrong with looking on her with desire.

The problem is when she becomes an object for me, instead of a person with me.

Additionally, so long as we're not talking about actions, there is nothing morally wrong with having the thoughts and desires now that I WILL have when we are married, provided those thoughts and desires are appropriate even in marriage.

*no less confused*

Donnie Miller said...

I think there's a big difference between noticing a woman's beauty and thinking about "fun things" (depending upon what you mean by "fun things").
I'll admit from my own relationship with Erin that when I knew we were going to get married, it was hard not to think about the stuff we'd be able to do when we got married. I'm not saying I ran all these fantasies through my head but I knew that she was the one I'd be able to have a sexual relationship with and I was really looking forward to it.
I'll say though, that the best advice I've ever gotten was from my RE at MNU. He said we need to be careful in where we allow our minds to go, even in thinking about our future sexual partner, because unless we've learned to discipline our mind, after we're married we'll be tempted (and already conditioned in a way) to imagine sexual escapades with ladies other than our wives. The need for self-discipline doesn't go out the window when we get married, it actually becomes more important.
That would be my caution for you. I'd say that what you described in your comment seems to be a healthy acceptance of desire and the realization of the future fulfillment of that desire.
Believe me - it's worth the wait!!
When the time finally comes, you'll be glad you disciplined yourself until the appropriate time.