There are many men out there who do not want to look at pornography, do not want to lust over women they see throughout their day, and want to treasure their wives in every way they can. I am one of these men.
But the decision to do or not do these things is not like deciding which pair of underwear to put on in the morning, or what to have for breakfast. The reality is, we have been conditioned to lust. Our wiring has been messed with and reconstructed so that we view women in a very different way than God intended us to.
We can “bounce our eyes” all day long, but they continue to come back to the objects of their fancy.
We are not innocent bystanders to this. It’s something we allowed ourselves to get entangled into one way or another. But entangled we remain, well past when we wanted to be. Some of us have gotten out of the thick of the battle. The actual consumption of pornography itself. But like a bad tattoo, the marks of lust remain, long after we made the decision to part ways.
The problem with strategies like training yourself to “bounce your eyes” and having accountability partners ask you about your behavior is that they are focused on just that: behavior. Behavior management has never led anyone to true freedom. What good is it if I’ve whipped myself into not looking at pornography anymore, but my heart still longs desperately for it? What good is it if I can look at the clouds when a pretty girl in a tight dress walks by me on the street, but everything in me longs to gaze? Has anything actually changed about what I think and believe about women? If I bounce my eyes and push that sexual energy toward my wife instead, is she not simply becoming my living pornography? A simple means to an end of selfishly satisfying my sex drive?
What I am saying is that the solution to lust lies much deeper than what lies on the surface. If we only deal with the surface symptoms, we’ll never truly root out the disease. I know because I’ve tried and I’ve seen the long term results. And they aren’t pretty.
The key to lasting sexual purity is to understand that lustful thoughts about women turn them into something that isn’t human. A question that’s been very helpful to me in my walk with Christ on many levels is to ask, “Why did God create this person?” When it comes to the women I would be lusting over, the answer is obviously not so I can consume them and turn them into objects.
A lustful mindset about women trains us to be attracted to someone based on their exterior skin, rather than their interior humanity.
The solution to this is to see the full humanity in every woman you see.
Not so you can become attracted to them, but so that you can break down the many illusions and deceptions of lust and extramarital attraction.
Just like I talked about in yesterday’s post about Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition cover model Kate Upton feeling terrible about herself that men turned her into a toy, the solution to breaking down the illusions of lust is to see that women are not “sex beings”, they are human beings! Seems so simple and obvious, yet it is the exact opposite of what our hyper-sexualized culture communicates to men (and is also a trap that many women fall into: thinking that sexuality is their only ticket to acceptance, attention, and love).
The reason men become discontent in their marriages is because their wives become too human. The quirks, weaknesses, personality flaws, limitations, insecurities, fears, and struggles that we all have come out and suddenly we feel like we got a lot more than we bargained for. Meanwhile, there is an all-you-can-eat buffet of women out there who seem to have never-ending sex drives, none of these flaws, and are presenting themselves to you as if their only reason for existence was to make you happy.
But we can learn to see past these things and see who these women really are. (Their motivation for presenting themselves this way? Money, attention, insecurity, coercion, force, to name a few.) They really are humans. Just like your wife. Just like your mom. Just like your daughter. And just like you. They have all of the complicated pieces of being human, you just don’t get to see it.
This is where the true liberation comes from. When I stop identifying women as sex-beings and see them as human beings, I also get to see my wife in a whole new way. Rather than seeing her as the sex object God gave me to fulfill my sex drive (honestly what some sexual purity strategies teach, not so directly of course!), I see her as a beautiful person. A person whose attractiveness comes from all the ways God has fearfully and wonderfully made her, not just from her skin. It redefines what attractiveness is. I redeems what humanity is. A human is not skin. A human is a person.
Women are human beings, not sex beings.
See past the makeup, the lighting, the airbrushing, the PhotoShopping, the posing, the seductive face, and the shrunken wardrobe. See past it to see what God sees: a daughter. Someone who needs love. The true love of God to fill up their insecurities and give them the approval they are so desperately seeking.
Love God by loving others.
No matter how “pretty” my daughter ever gets, I never have to worry about lusting over her. Why? Because I love her too much as a person. Her skin is not who she is. She is who she is. And this has been conditioned and engrained in me since I have the privilege of raising her from infancy. She is a precious human being and will always be a precious human being to me.
And the same is true of the woman who walks by me on the street, or the woman who poses on the cover of a swimsuit magazine. They aren’t my daughters, but they are someone’s daughter. And most importantly, they are my Heavenly Father’s daughters, whether they’ve accepted and experienced this truth or not. I know this truth, and I am called as a Christ-follower to live this truth.
Seeing people the way God intended, not the way they present themselves.