“Treat…younger women as sisters, with absolute purity” (1 Timothy 5:1-2).
Imagine for a moment a typical college man. Let’s call him Bill. Bill is into the college social scene. He sees himself as a skin-wrapped package of salivary glands, taste buds, and sex drives. So how does Bill occupy his time with this self-perception? By eating and chasing girls. He eats anything and everything in sight regardless of its nutritional value. He chases just about anything in a skirt, but he has a special gleam in his eye for luscious-looking Susie, the cheerleader.
Bill was chasing sweet little Susie around the campus one day when the track coach noticed him. “Hey, this kid can really run!” When the coach finally caught up with Bill he said, “Why don’t you come out for the track team?”
“Naw,” Bill answered, watching for Susie out of the corner of his eye. “I’m too busy.”
But the coach wasn’t about to take “naw” for an answer. He finally convinced Bill at least to give track a try.
So Bill started working out with the track team and discovered that he really could run. He changed his eating and sleeping habits and his skills improved further. He started winning some races and posting some excellent times for his event.
Finally Bill was invited to the big race at the state tournament. He arrived at the track early to stretch and warm up. Then, only a few minutes before his event, guess who showed up: sweet little Susie, looking more beautiful and desirable than ever. She pranced up to Bill in a scanty outfit that accentuated her finer physical features. In her hands was a sumptuous slice of apple pie with several scoops of ice cream piled on the top of it.
“I’ve missed you, Bill,” she sang sweetly. “If you come with me now, you can have all this and me too.”
“No way, Susie,” Bill responded.
“Why not?” Susie pouted.
“Because I’m a runner.”
What is different about Bill? What happened to his drives and glands? He is still the same guy who could pack away three burgers, two bags of fries and a quart of Pepsi without batting an eye. He is still the same guy who was just itching to get close to beautiful Susie. His understanding of himself has changed, though. He no longer sees himself primarily as a bundle of physical urges, but as a disciplined runner. He came to the tournament to run a race. That was his purpose, and Susie’s suggestion was at cross-purposes with why he was there and how he perceived himself.1
This story from Neil Anderson’s book, Victory Over the Darkness, shows the power of what the apostle Paul called, “…being transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Rom. 12:2). As we have previously discussed, the current methodologies for dealing with sexual bondage have been unsuccessful. Not only do these methods have faulty foundations, but they also have faulty end-goals.
For many men, if they could be freed of the lustful thoughts that grip their minds and walk uprightly, they would be thrilled. Yet this stops far short of God’s desire. God’s ultimate aim is not just that we stop lusting, but that He conforms us into the image of His Son (see Rom. 8:29). He plans on making us just like Jesus. “Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6 NLT).
God is not simply focused on getting men to stop masturbating; His goal is that we would be just like Jesus. It is with this in mind that we must renew our minds to have the same goal as God. If we are to be like Jesus, we must examine how Jesus viewed women. Jesus treated all women as sisters or as mothers. Remember how Jesus graciously spoke with the woman at the well in John 4. Even though she had a negative sexual reputation in that region, Jesus spoke so kindly to her that she brought the whole town out to meet Him. Jesus did not run away from her because she was too sexual and tempting. He instead approached her with a heart of love, honor, and compassion, knowing that this precious woman was made in the image of God. (This is exactly how the Holy Spirit moved me to interact with the woman in the gym in Chapter 10.)
Every woman has been created in the image of God and, therefore, is worthy of love, honor, and respect. The apostle Paul told Timothy to treat older women as mothers and younger women as sisters. This is not only applicable to women inside the Church. This is the same type of respect that we must exercise at all times toward all women.
Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity (1 Timothy 5:1-2).
I would go so far as to say that there is no such thing as a whore, slut, or prostitute. Although some women may consider themselves to be these people and even live that way, Jesus interacted with everyone on the basis of their creation.
All women were created in the image of God and, therefore, deserve love, honor, and respect. These women are our sisters or our mothers and should be viewed accordingly (even when they don’t see themselves correctly).
In a natural, healthy family, it is never acceptable to sexually violate your sister or mother. According to Paul, all women are either “my sister or my mother,” and incest is unacceptable in the family of God. (The obvious exception is when we marry; these women become our wives, and the paradigm shifts.) When the mind is renewed to perceive all women as either our sisters or our mothers, then sexual immorality will cease being the major problem it has been.
Consider the following scenario. You are watching a movie and the lead actress begins to disrobe for a sex scene. How you respond? Do you simply shield your eyes and try not to be tempted, or does your heart fill with compassion toward your sister created in the image of God because she is about to defile herself? Does your heart break for your sister and all the pain that she must be in that she would allow herself to be used in such vile ways? Do you focus on trying not to be tempted, or does a spirit of prayer rise up within you as you cry out for the healing of your sister? (It is also important to mention that I do not condone watching movies where women are disrobing, yet many can relate to the question of how to respond in this situation.)
Perhaps you are going through the checkout at the grocery store and the magazine covers are splashed with lewd photos of women. Are you trying to fight off the tempting thoughts, or has your mind been renewed to being like Christ’s? If your mind has been renewed, then you would not be focused on yourself and the temptation. You would be focused on the heart of God, which aches for His daughters (your sisters) who are being injured and defiled. With a renewed mind, you see those cover models as your sisters, and your heart breaks for them. They are not the enemy that is tempting you, and you are not in a fight with them.
If we can begin to see women as sisters who are being abused, hurt, harmed, kidnapped, and killed by the sex industry worldwide, we would see that the issue is not just whether we masturbate or not. Masturbating is selfish, but trying to stop lusting solely for the purpose of our own freedom can also be selfish. The issue is that either we are working with God to bring those women into freedom, or we are participating with the demonic spirits who are running the annual $57 billion sex trade. If we are to truly align ourselves with the heart of God and live like Jesus, then whenever temptation rears its head, we will not simply try to avoid sin, but we will begin to cry out for our sisters in bondage.
Many Christian authors who have written about men’s sexual purity speak of women in a negative tone. They state that the Christian man is in a battle against all those tempting women out there. Although that may be how it feels at times, it is never the truth. This is actually an inferior understanding. The ultimate truth is that we are powerful and called to be like Christ. Women are not the enemy; women are our sisters, and they need our help.
Have you ever considered that those women who are tempting you are in just as much bondage to sexual sin as you are? And whether you can hear them voice it or not, they desperately want their freedom and healing as well.
I would like to suggest something better than men gathering in dank church basements and declaring that they are sex addicts week after week. How about if a group of men struggling with sexual bondage started to meet across the street from a strip club and cry out in prayer on a weekly basis, praying for their sisters in bondage? Those dear women are lost in darkness; they don’t know that God loves them. They feel too hated and dirty to come to church, and they need our prayers. And in the process of meeting to pray for those sisters, God’s heart of love for those women would transform the men themselves.
Those women are not the enemy. Porn stars, prostitutes, and strippers are your sisters, and they are hurting. They don’t just need Christian men to stop looking at them; they need Christian men to cry out in prayer for them. When was the last time that you heard a Christian leader call people to pray for these dear sisters? I have spent 28 years in church, and never have I heard a leader pray over them. Perhaps the reason that the Church has been failing so badly in the battle against sexual temptation is because we have been living on the defensive rather than aligning with the heart of God, living on the offensive, and becoming prayer warriors and protective brothers. This is a call to arms; we must live on the offensive and not the defensive.
God intends for you to be just like Jesus, but satan intends for you to be just like him. While satan wants you to see your sisters as mere objects of pleasure, God wants you to see them as your sisters. You are called as the protective brother who will cry out in prayer and come to their rescue. Satan wants your eyes to be filled with burning lust. God intends for you to be just like Jesus and to have fire in your eyes, so that you would burn with eyes of love.
I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to His feet and with a golden sash around His chest. The hair on His head was white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In His right hand He held seven stars, and coming out of His mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance (Revelation 1:12-16).
This is the picture that the Scripture gives us of Jesus after His resurrection—as He is in His victory. And as we already discussed, John, the man who also saw and recorded this revelation of Jesus, wrote: “Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17 NKJV). We are called to be just like Jesus; as He is, so are we in this world! His eyes of love burn with the fire of Heaven. Thus, our eyes are meant to burn with love just like His!
The battle with sexual sin has been lost because we have been exchanging one selfish focus for another. The Church has traded the selfish focus of lust for a self-focused search for personal freedom. Personal freedom will be found when we focus on freedom for others.
When you see a beautiful and possibly tempting woman, immediately switch your focus to praying protection over her. Don’t turn inward and battle temptation; turn outward and place yourself in prayer as a protector. This identity shift will renew your mind and bring personal freedom as an inadvertent by-product.
Let me illustrate what I am talking about. You are at the mall with your friends, and it seems like everywhere you look you see beautiful women dressed in overly sexualized outfits.
Basically there are two ways for you to respond:
Option #1: You feel your conscience begin to condemn you, so you immediately begin an inward battle: “I can’t look. I have to ‘bounce my eyes’; I have to ‘protect my eye-gate.’” Before long your day at the mall basically stinks, because you are fighting this inward battle the whole time. Eventually you just feel like: I hate going to the mall (or the beach or the gym or even church) because of all these hot, tempting women.
Option #2: While you notice that the mall is filled with beautiful women, you are also aware that you are a powerful, self-controlled, and valuable man of God. You do not choose option one, which would move you into an inward fight against temptation while your conscience condemns you. Instead, you are grieved in your heart that these ladies don’t understand their value. (That is the heart of Jesus operating within you. If a beautiful woman understood her value, she wouldn’t need to dress whorishly to try to gain value in the eyes of strangers.) Rather than spending your day fighting an inward battle, every time you see a beautiful woman, your heart responds, “Lord, thank You for creating such beauty. I ask that You would show my sister her inherent value and protect her from those who would steal that value from her. Amen.” Once you fully grasp the truth of your identity, you will be able to relate to others according to their identity in God.
This renewing of the mind will not come in a moment. It must be put into practice, even daily, until you have altered your heart and mind, received a revelation, and are walking out a new identity. I have crafted a declaration that is used the same way that some individuals pray Psalm 91 or Psalm 23—as a way of renewing their minds to a specific truth. Here is the declaration that I use:
I declare freedom over every young woman trapped in the bonds of the sex industry. I pray for healing and restoration to your soul; that the shattered pieces of your heart would be put back together.
Please forgive me for the times I have failed to protect and respect you; and especially for the times that I have directly dishonored you. I do not view you the way the world tells me to. You are beautiful, holy, and worthy of protecting. There is a perfect heavenly Father who wants you to feel His love, protection and purity. And as your brother, I will always love, honor and respect you.
Your beauty is meant for your family; therefore I appreciate what God has created, but I will not linger. I pray over my descendants that they will also view you in this way. I choose to operate in love and self-control; therefore I fix my eyes upon Jesus. He is my joy and my salvation. He will strengthen and renew my mind and spirit. He will be my comforter when I am sad, hurt, or lonely. I turn to Him!
The Last Mile
Since my readers are coming from a variety of experiences, it is a challenge to relate to each and every personal experience. However, no matter where you start in your journey from bondage to sexual purity, you will find that there are degrees of bondage that are left behind. For example, one reader may be struggling not to go to a strip club tonight; another may be struggling not to look at Internet porn; and yet another may be trying not to dwell on memories of an old flame. And while most Christian leaders teach against sexual impurity, they usually stop short of dealing with “the last mile.”
A friend of mine described it this way:
The hardest part for me is what I call “the last mile”…where it’s no longer about looking at porn or masturbating, but the little things that from the outside appear innocent, but in your heart you know the motives are not pure. Things like looking at a girl’s Facebook profile just because she is hot. My wife could be in the same room and probably not notice, but the hidden motives behind that click are still the same as when it was pornographic images; it is still usury. It’s so much easier to rationalize that click when it’s seemingly innocent and you have excuses like “oh she is just an old friend from high school.” But I don’t want to give the enemy any foothold in my life, not even my pinky toe nail.
The fact is that men will always notice beautiful women; God made those beautiful women and gave men the ability to visually appreciate that beauty. That alone is not sinful. The fact that you notice and appreciate beautiful women is not a bad thing. You have crossed the line into dangerous territory once you become selfish with what you are seeing.
As I stated earlier, men are destined by God to be protectors of beauty—whether in regard to nature, infants, art, health, or women. The influence of evolutionary thinking has caused many men to view themselves as animalistic in nature—that a man is simply nothing more than a highly evolved beast driven by sexual impulses.
Yet the Bible shows us that God created man to govern, cultivate, manage, protect, and expand the Garden of Eden. We need to realign our perspective to see that Adam was not put in The Garden to selfishly strip-mine the land of all of its inherent goodness. Adam was put on Earth as a protector, not as a predator. Predators steal, kill, and destroy beauty, whereas protectors value, appreciate, and respect beauty.
Imagine the following scenario with me. A man taught to be a beauty-predator is suddenly let loose in an art museum. He is overwhelmed by all the beauty that surrounds him, and because he has been bred a certain way, the only thing that he knows to do is to greedily snatch as many paintings as he can from the walls around him.
By contrast, a man who has been trained to be a protector (such as the museum security guard) will see the same beauty and acknowledge it. The difference is in the identities of the men: the predator is compelled to steal beauty for his selfish purposes, whereas the protector will appreciate the beauty, but leave it on the wall and protect it from predators.
When we see beauty, we must maintain our identity. We are not predators, but rather protectors of beauty. When we maintain our identity, we are able to see beautiful women as more than simply physical beings. We can appreciate the fact that they are people who need to be loved and protected to the core of their beings. Then we will value them as God values them.
This is how we run “the last mile.”
Using the previous prayer example, craft a prayer of your own and carry it with you. Now put it to action. Tomorrow, place five pennies in your right pants pocket. Throughout the day, pray through your crafted prayer. Every time you pray it, move one penny to your left pocket. Your goal is to move all five pennies each day. Change frequency as needed.
If you find that you have been drawn back and tempted by the thought of a particular old girlfriend or a certain porn star or Hollywood actress, I suggest specifically targeting that person with your prayers. It is hard to know what spiritual connections have taken place through the past sins, but you are in the place now where you can release spiritual blessing and protection over your sisters everywhere. Now go for it!
When you encounter a beautiful woman, you must be prepared. It is time to stop being ashamed of the beauty that others carry. You will encounter beautiful women every day for the rest of your life, so just accept that fact and get over it. It is time to practice how to think when encountering beauty in a woman.
1. Acknowledge her beauty.
2. Take a moment and actually look at the beautiful woman.
3. Thank God for creating such beauty.
4. Ask the Lord for a deeper revelation about her being your sister.
5. Remind yourself that you are called as a protector.
6. Ponder what protecting her means and how you should view her.
7. Don’t allow shame to wash over you; you are not a predator (don’t listen to satan’s lies).
8. Pray over her—that she would be protected, respected, and valued.
For practicality, over time I have whittled these eight steps down into one simple step. When I see a beautiful woman, I simply say in my heart, “I bless you in Jesus’ name. Lord, I ask You to protect her and show her the inherent value she carries.”
All copies of Eyes of Honor ordered in April, 2013 will be signed by Jonathan Welton
As always, share this article far and wide
Click here to sign up for the weekly blog