Secret Sexual Sin.
Sexual sin. It is rampant in the world, although the world does not see it as sin. In casual conversation guys at work will mention the porn they were using, or the women they slept with. The world views sexual immorality and sex acts of all kinds as simply a harmless way of pleasing oneself. If it feels good, do it. They say. And this sinful philosophy, while not really stated, is invading in the church. Your son is not immune, your dad is not immune, your husband is not immune, and I am not immune… I am sure that some men are immune, but I have not met them, so I will venture to say that no man is immune. Here are some disturbing statistics about pornography use in the church:
- According to xxxchurch, nearly 70% of Christians struggled with porn in their daily lives in 2007.
- According to blazinggrace.com ,in 2002, 54% of 1,351 pastors surveyed by were viewing porn within that year.
- Most disturbing to me is from a Focus on the Family Poll from 2003: 47% of families claimed pornography to be a problem in their home. How many did not admit it, or do not know about it?
- In his book, “Men’s Secret Wars”, Patrick Means reveals a confidential survey of evangelical pastors and church lay leaders. 64% of these Christian leaders confirm that they are struggling with sexual addiction or sexual compulsion including, but not limited to use of pornography, compulsive masturbation, or other secret sexual activity.
Although, judging from how often we talk about sexual sin, one could erroneously assume that most Christian men are immune to it. We don’t like to talk about it as Christians, it is something that does not typically happen in public so we don’t talk about it…but I will because I have seen it destroy lives, marriages, families and even churches.
The Bible speaks clearly on the topic:
Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. ~ 1 Corinthians 6:18
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5
But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. ~ Matthew 5:28
Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. ~ >Hebrews 13:4
A cursory reading of Proverbs 5-7 shows how damaging sexual immorality is. Sexual sin is so devastating. And it so very easy in our age of digital information. 20 years ago for someone to get their hands on porn they had to make that ever embarrassing purchase of a magazine at the local 7-11 or go into the “backroom” of the local video store and hope not be seen by someone they knew. But now anyone can easily watch porn movies for free on their i-phones in the privacy of their own bedrooms. Prostitution has moved off the streets and onto craigslist, kijiji and dedicated “escort” websites. Instead of cruising in a vehicle for a prostitute, “johns” can now cruise the internet and can choose from a menu of prostitutes and meet them in private, never having to risk being seen driving in the so called “red zones” or visiting a “massage parlour.” You can even have affairs online now, you can read printed pornographic material for free, and no one ever has to know. Right? Then we go to church and read verses like “Create in me a clean heart,” and it just does not jive with how we are living our lives.
Men occasionally ask how they can overcome sexual sin and temptation. Instead of telling you how to overcome them, I will tell you how I overcome sexual temptation These are my 6 things.
- Confess and repent of any sin that is secret sin – not just sexual sin. This is concept that I needed to grasp: I am in Christ, which means that I am forgiven all my sin. That means YOU ARE FORGIVEN ALL YOUR SIN – if you are in Christ. I had to accept that promise from God. I confess my sin to God and those whom I have sinned against, and I repent. To repent means turning from sin and turning to God. And that is where most of us have the problem…we repent but the allure draws us back. And the battle wages on and most of us give up.
- Avoid evil attractions. I do not expose myself to evil attractions. Those things that tempt me to sin. If your computer tempts you to sin – get rid of it or get filtering software like K9, get accountability software like covenant eyes, and have your internet activity reports sent to your pastor, a mature Christian friend and your wife. If money causes you to sin, have all your spending scrutinized by a deacon or your pastor. If being alone causes you to sin, find a mature Christian friend who you can call day or night if your wife is out of town, or if you are out of town on business and so on.
- Feed on the Word of God. David said, “Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin.” Memorize scripture, because scripture is where our Lord speaks to us. If we have it memorized then we have hid it in our hearts and anytime sexual temptation arises, the word of God, which you have hid in your heart, will begin to speak. I started by memorizing psalm 1 and proverbs 7, 1 Corinthians 10:13 and Lords day 1 and 23 of the Heidelberg Catechism.
- Seek accountability and mentorship. I had an “accountability partner,” a peer mentor someone my age who asked me the hard questions, who encouraged and rebuked me; I had a pastor who took me under his wing (and it wasn’t even my own pastor) who mentored me in life, and I have learned to be honest with my wife about my struggles.
- Be an active participant in your sanctification. We are not to be idle or passive in our sanctification. Yes, our sanctification is worked by Him alone, but Jesus told us in Matthew 5:27ff that in response to sin, particularly sexual sin, we are to wage war on it with drastic measures. It is better to cut off your hand and pluck out your eye…sounds pretty severe to me. So pick up that axe and that shovel and start digging to expose the root of the sin. If yours is more than a bad habit, and has become an addiction, you will most likely need professional help or a 12 step group. These are tools that you can use to wage war on sin.
- Ultimately, I had to cultivate a personal relationship with Jesus. You have a personal relationship with him, engage in that, cultivate it. As reformed believers we place so much emphasis on being a part of the covenant that sometimes we forget that we are not just a people of God, but that you and I are personally redeemed by Jesus and have a personal relationship with him. People ask me what has changed in the last 5 or 6 years…I have a personal relationship with my creator now, it is not just head knowledge, it is not just some weepy emotion. Some might ask how to cultivate this relationship – read the Bible! Pray! Oh my friends it is so easy, yet it is so difficult – isn’t it? But it is so very sweet. The most controlling thing in my life now is the love of Jesus Christ. This is not some emotional thing brought on by the latest Matt Redman song. It is the reality of who Jesus is revealed in the Bible. You ask what changed in me. Jesus changed in me.
That is where the battle is won. So many Christians go to church and have only a superficial knowledge of Christ. The most powerful motivation for holiness in my life comes from knowing God, having a real relationship with Jesus. So I implore you… get to know your Savior. Read your Bibles and pray.
If you are struggling with sexual temptation talk to your wife or a mature Christian friend, if you have a problem with sexual sin then please get help before it destroys you, or your marriage, or your family, or your church. If you are not sure if you have an addiction to porn or another form of sexual addiction, I implore you to speak to your pastor, if you are not comfortable with that, feel free to contact me (and you can even remain anonymous) and I will point you to some resources. You do not need to struggle alone, we are the church, the people of God, we are all in Christ and we are called to pray with and support and encourage each other in love. I will pray with you and support you if you are honest about overcoming this sin, and I know other Christians who will as well.