Once again this post concerns general sexual purity, so I believe that it is generally useful for everyone no matter what their relationship status might be.
Well after writing last week’s post on sexual purity, during the past week I found myself commenting on allegations of sexual assault made against a famous entertainer. So on my Facebook wall, there was one post linking to last week’s article, another post referring to the extreme weather conditions in a certain part of the world, and then there was this post talking about those allegations of sexual assault. It took a while for it to hit home, but when it did, the (almost) juxtaposition of these two posts talking in their different ways about sexual impurity and its possible consequences struck me quite forcibly. I hope that it would never have been true for me, nor of anyone who might be reading this post, but that alleged sexual misconduct, if true, could be the result if someone starts off on a path of pornography or fantasies, and is unwilling or unable to stop themselves before reaching out to act out their desires on real tangible human beings rather than images on a screen. Because the person accused is also very famous, then there are also issues of money and power involved in these particular allegations, which would thankfully not be true of most other people in most other situations.
And then so many people commented on the Facebook post about the allegations. And I also commented extensively in response to other people’s comments, and there I was analysing the whole thing hypothetically… But then the irony of the situation finally struck…and I realised that I personally have to do whatever it takes…absolutely whatever it takes to make sure that my heart is totally cleansed and sparkling clean regarding sexual purity, and on an ongoing basis too.
This is not by any means the first time that this has occurred to me. Actually, countless times I have made up my mind: “Lord I have to live in purity for You!” And I have also spent countless hours trying to think of a successful strategy for pursuing mental purity. Please believe me that I am not exaggerating in this. Over the course of more than a decade I have prayed endlessly. I have fasted many times. I have spoken out the Bible endlessly! To be honest, I am very grateful for doing that, because I believe that all of that effort has contributed to this current understanding which will hopefully, finally win the day.
In my last post, I referred to being kinda half-hearted in trying to embrace mental purity. Will anyone else understand what I mean when I talk of being sincerely insincere? On one hand I do sincerely want to be totally holy for God. I sincerely want to pursue God and God’s truth in every way. I sincerely want to totally characterised by holiness and purity in every way. This is who I am in every way. This is the person I first chose to be many many years ago, and every single day of my life I continue to commit to being and remaining this person. And yet, when “push” has come to “shove” regarding this matter of mental purity, or the thoughts I cultivate in my heart, so many times my determination has been found lacking and I have all too easily released myself to fantasies.
As things stand, I am unspeakably happy and grateful that with the exception of “that dance” this has not crossed over into physical sin. I think that in God’s eyes these sins whether mental or physical are the same and carry the same weight. However from a human point of view, physical sin carries physical risks and physical consequences. But then the point from looking at these famous entertainers is that after a while when your heart is so consumed and eaten up by these illicit desires, you might not be able to restrain yourself from reaching out and physically enacting those mental desires.
So anyway, the conclusion is that I encourage everyone, as I encourage myself, to resolve to do whatever it takes to be free from this sin, before it has a chance to grow up and totally swallow everything that you are, everything that you wish to be, and everything that you love.
In my last post I kinda hinted that I might allow a small level of “I’m only human” tolerance to the sin of cultivating sexual fantasies. But in the light of that Facebook discussion it became so clear that I have to embrace a zero tolerance approach. My mind has to be completely pure, and I have to deal with it as a matter of priority. Once again, this is not about guilt or condemnation towards myself or other people.
In my last post, I kinda blamed my own failings on the fact that I am not yet married. And yet, even as I wrote it, I was thinking that this is probably quite naive, isn’t it?!
I am sure I know with utter certainty that many many married men struggle away, and so do many married women. This is the lie that the devil tells us, that we can’t help it, it is because we are single – and through that we are lured into cultivating this habit, which then becomes a stronghold in our life that we continue to struggle to overcome even after we get married.
Change of Mindset.
The single most important thing I think, that I have learned while writing all the posts on this blog, is that marriage is all about serving your spouse and loving him unconditionally. This includes sex. Previously, I had somehow managed to embrace the thinking that marriage was all about finally seeing all my own needs being met, whether those would be emotional needs, or my extensive needs for deep prolonged hugs, or sex too. Obviously I genuinely planned to serve him too. However, unsurprisingly, my thinking was always more fully animated when looking forward to how my own needs would be met.
A right? A need? A desire?
Not a right
From all the very unholy books that I have allowed myself to read, I have managed to absorb the thinking that this kind of sexual expression is a fundamental human right. Now as a good Christian, I have at least managed to apply the proviso that it is my right which I can only lay claim to in marriage. So in the many times I’ve thought about it I’ll be allowing myself to meditate upon this as my full right but which “has to be denied until marriage.” But then, here is the painful realisation that I finally have to embrace. This is not my right at all. It is never anyone’s right. Because love is all about giving rather than grabbing, it is a means to serve your husband, and then to gratefully accept whatever he might offer you in return. This is so deeply shocking, as it completely contradicts all that I have eagerly allowed myself to believe about sex. And it completely inverts my expectations of marriage. And yet this is the only possible mindset that we can allow ourselves to cultivate about this. Any other mindset has the potential to lead to something awful, like the allegations that are constantly swirling around the media, if not about this famous face then about the next one.
I am not sure whether I want Huggie-Wuggie to be reading this. Most of me does not want him to be reading this supremely embarrassing confession. But then there is a small part of me that hopes that he is after all reading this, for the sake of creating understanding between us. And then, on thinking more about it, if this post was to be read by only one person in the whole world, surely my future husband should be that person?!
All told, I think that a change of mindset is deeply important for the sake of overcoming this sin. So then, the hope is that whenever the temptation asserts itself, whether before marriage or during it, to think of this or anything else as my right which I can demand from my husband, or to think of it as a right to look forward to, then I will be able to correct myself, and assert the real truth: in marriage I have no rights. It is all service. No matter how much I might want to believe otherwise, this is the truth that I have got to embrace in my thinking.
Yes, I guess it is generally acceptable to think of sex as a need. However this is a need that requires someone else to cooperate willingly. No matter how much we might genuinely need this, we cannot force the cooperation of a would-be sexual partner. This is why I think it is most useful not to think of it as a need at all, but only ever as a service to our spouses. Something that I am going to try to do is to offer it up to God whenever I feel hormonal etc, the same way I currently do with hugs. I guess the difference is that dreaming about hugs does not constitute sin.
The point is that I believe that we should do whatever it takes to be free. So these then are the main “ingredients” for this, I believe:
1. A new mindset: Sex is never a right, but as with everything else in marriage, it is a service that we offer to our spouses, and hope to also receive in turn. As for being a need, I guess we can pray to God for patience to endure while our needs are not being met, even while we are also praying that the needs will be met.
2. Divine determination
Crying out to God that He will empower us with His own determination to be pure before Him. The Bible says that it is God who works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure (Philippians 2v13). So this is crying out to God that He will give us both the “willing” and also the “doing”.
3. Cultivating Pure thoughts
This involves deliberately filling my heart with passages of Scripture. The Bible says that the Word of God (that is, the words of the Bible itself) is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword (Hebrews 4v12). Bible Scriptures are not mere words. Rather the power of God Himself is contained within each verse. Whenever we sow the word of God into our hearts, then it can bear fruit of holiness and righteousness in our lives.
4. Uprooting unholy fantasies
Some fantasies have become so deeply entrenched in my own heart that they need to be forcibly uprooted from my thinking. This is not only about sexual fantasies but also includes other things that I am struggling with such as anger. However it definitely does also include sexual fantasies. This is going to take lots of determined prayer and fasting.
This is already quite a long post so I am going to leave it here. I do hope to write further on this topic, talking about practical steps which I hope that other people will find useful.
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Photo of Bible Text from Pixabay