This series is about all the things pastors aren’t supposed to say. It is expressing the really deep, hidden sins of my life. These posts might make you uncomfortable if you believe that pastors are somehow superhuman. But if you are willing to accept that I am a sinful, broken human being whom God loves and uses despite me, then maybe you will be encouraged and edified by them.
The Sins of Youth
It is my considered opinion that any man who tells you he is not tempted to look lustfully at other women is either a liar or a homosexual. You can take that or leave it, but I have yet to see any evidence to the contrary.
My personal struggles with lust are public knowledge. I don’t go to beaches or workout in places where women might be unnecessarily inappropriately clad. (Does wearing skin tight clothing actually make it any easier to work out? If so, how do guys manage to do it wearing shorts and a t-shirt?)
My teen years were filled with an obsession with women. If I could obtain proper pornography, I would. If I could not, my imagination and abilities allowed me to create drawings and stories to feed the desires. On more than one occasion, my parents found my creations. One time, my father commented to me, “Son, I’ve seen a lot of smut, but this is beyond anything I’ve ever heard of.”
I’m no psychologist, but having had some discussions with other guys on the topic, I’m fairly certain my obsession went beyond a healthy male sex drive.
And although I am a believer and a pastor, the things that entered my mind never leave. All those feelings and desires lurk on the edge of consciousness. The only answer to them is a healthy, Christ-centered sexuality.
Learning to Love
There might be a lot of reasons that I developed this obsession, but my point in this post is not to dwell on sin. Instead, I want to point out how such unhealthy obsessions are actually a sinful twisting of what is right and good.
God created man and woman to be united sexually. The Hebrew words for “male and female” in Genesis 1: 27 are overtly sexual in nature. The word for female literally means “pierced one.” The passage we read in weddings about “cleaving” to your wife is not just holding hands. The union of man and woman was meant from the beginning. We are sexual creatures.
When sin entered the equation, the first knowledge of it that man and woman had was their nakedness. Their greatest glory (Genesis 2:24-25) became their first shame (Genesis 3:7). You might say that the first place sin attacked was the marriage bed, which was created to be a place of create naked honesty – physically, emotionally and spiritually. This is why, in Christ, the marriage bed, becomes undefiled (Hebrews 13:4).
To mortify these desires, I had to first recognize the beauty that was being corrupted by sin. That was the easy part. Then I needed to free that beauty from the entanglement of sin, and let it blossom in my marriage. That took a long time, and is still an ongoing process.
(It is my considered opinion that anyone who thinks he has mastered any aspect of sexuality is deluded.)
Love and lust are not competing values. Lust is the twisting of love. Lust defines relationships by sex. Love defines sex by relationship. (I discussed this when I gave an overview of the thinking and life of Peter Abelard.)
I’m not going to say I have overcome lust – because lust has no existence if it is not the twisting of love, and love can always be twisted by sin. Instead, I do my best through the Spirit’s guidance to destroy and starve that twisting and focus on the good and pure sexuality that God created me to enjoy in the monogamous, eternal thing we call marriage.