Archive for the ‘lust’ Tag

LOOK BUT… ACTUALLY, DON’T EVEN LOOK!

Who am I to give advice?? Well, I’m a married 30-year old chap which, in CCB’s evening congregation, pretty much puts me among the wise old heads. What’s more – I am someone who has by necessity put a long time and a substantial amount of effort into figuring out quite how it works being a man of God in a culture redolent with female flesh. In short; I, like so many others I’m sure, for a long time felt guilty about EVERYTHING and thus gave up on myself as a hopeless case, becoming a guilty prisoner to lust in all its myriad forms. I so wish someone had given me some honest-to-goodness decent advice on the issue. As it was, I felt so alone and helpless that I felt sure there was a demonic element in my inability to remain oblivious to the feminine allure as revealed around us in a thousand daily forms. I honestly believed I was possessed… turns out I was simply male.

So – first and foremost – as a heterosexual youngish man in the West, let me make clear that of which I am convinced: you can not and, barring some special gifting I am yet to encounter, will not remain oblivious to the physical charms of the fairer species. We are not wired that way. Of all God’s beautiful creation, the part of it we are most likely to appreciate is the female form. God intended and created it thus.  

And yet… whilst that realisation should serve as something of a relief, I’m afraid that’s as far as the allowance goes. We are fallen creatures in a fallen world. What’s more, due to the particular and extreme manifestations of sexual sin in our particular culture, we have each been further damaged by a visual and anecdotal over-familiarity with that which should have been kept hidden until marriage; female nudity and sexual behaviour, down to the act itself and beyond. We are therefore not to be trusted when it comes to keeping such observations of women sexless and pure. Anything beyond that initial recognition has to be subject to the greatest self-control and, in the case of the married man and the random stranger, ruled out entirely. In fact, the initial recognition must serve as our alarm bell. To let our eyes drift downwards at that point – not cool. To store the image for later lustful access – not cool. To later click through internet sites pursuing other such fine specimens of the gender – not cool.

Perks and others refer to this as the ‘second look’ approach, meaning that, whilst we may not be able to help the first glance we stumble upon, we very much stand accountable in going back for a second lingering helping. In simple terms, she isn’t yours. She is, in all probability, somebody else’s – or will be. In implicating her in your adultery (going by Jesus’s definition of the term) you are dishonouring her and the man she goes home to. As an engaged ‘semi-Christian’ I caused my wife-to-be a great deal of hurt, and effectively held up our wedding by a year, in admitting the mess I had become on this issue. I’ll say it again – I felt guilty for everything, including my being tempted in the first place. I therefore gave up on myself and ended up no longer trying. I hate to think of it – I was a secretive furtive pervert increasingly unable to look the girl I loved in the eye. There was a way out of the black hole – through honest communication, repentance and discipline that the world deems unfashionable and unnecessary. But the trap is always only one step backwards and I truly want Christian brothers to be ruthless with themselves in ensuring they do better.

There’s plenty I don’t know. If I was a single man reading this I’d be thinking that it’s all very well for me to write this knowing I share a bed with a beautiful woman – but how exactly are the unmarried meant to get relief? Truth is I don’t really know what to advise so I won’t claim otherwise. However, I do know that we must be distinctive and we must haul ourselves out of the gutter – the church is full of ineffective men rendered so because they are in chains of guilt and secrecy over lust. The answer is not to legitimise lust, but to hold one another to account. And by looking a woman in the eyes rather than anywhere else we will make ourselves so distinctive – we’ll be saying we value them for something more than what they offer sexually. As a teacher of teenagers I can assure you that will be different and valuable. As I’ve stated before, we are raising a generation of boys who routinely have hardcore degrading sex on their mobile phones from the age of 13 and they struggle to see girls in any other light. We must, for their sakes and our own, be different.

PS I was going to write about masturbation but the Lord stayed my hand. Ho ho…

PPS Any girls reading this – sorry… but I bet you read to the end!

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20 OBSERVATIONS ABOUT 2009 SO FAR…

My year thus far. It starts quite negatively, but persist – it ends quite cheery!!

1. TUMOUR: My wife’s benign brain tumour is clearly the biggest news of the year thus far. It is horrible and scary considering brain surgery… Even so, it is with far more than token acknowledgement that I claim that God WILL use this for the good. I have already seen it in terms of the strengthening of our marriage, the strengthening of friendships, the strengthening of trust in Him. Even so, I really wish it wasn’t happening! (Sorry God…)

2. HEALING: A big challenge to us as UK evangelicals. It is the gut reaction of those in our church to pray for my wife’s ‘strength’ (generally spiritual), rather than for her ‘healing’. To some Christians this would seem bizarre. We are so keen not to give false expectations to believers, to stray into ‘wealth & health’ territory or to see Christianity as initiation into the Magic Circle. But are we exhibiting too little faith? James 5 states that ‘prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well’… but also of ‘patience in the face of suffering’, so we’ll see… I’d be grateful if you’d join me in praying that the tumour would indeed shrink.

3. ANKLE: This takes me to my own ‘suffering’. Less worrisome than the above, to be sure, but my unhealing ankle ligament damage, sustained before Christmas, has significantly impacted upon my year thus far. No more chats with Tom en route to the weekly football; no more joining my wife for weekend runs; no more active lifestyle at all in fact… I pray that I too am learning patience, but if so it’s sub-conscious!!

4. 30th BIRTHDAY: Maybe it’s all tied up in this! Five years ago my ankle would have healed. Of that I’m sure. I guess these things can no longer be taken so for granted. Me being me, my birthday has unleashed a dizzying bout of self-analysis. Society says stay young, but I crave maturity, responsibility and progress, albeit whilst still being mistaken for a sixth-former at school! God has been kind to me – I have a saving faith, a wife, a home I own and a career, so I could face this artificial landmark with a certain calm. Not to say I won’t moan about these very blessings! Read on…

5. CAREER: Tumour aside, the worst thing about the year thus far has been the continuation of the annual saga entitled ‘Andy fails to get a new job’. I fear I must learn not to uphold myself by worldly standards. I’d better not, because the sad truth is I have made remarkably little progress as a teacher, whether by promotion or by moving to a better school. I know I have the potential to do more, and that I am a better teacher than some above me. But God wants me where I am for now, so I’d better get on with it!

6. THE FLAT: And as for this… it’s hard to explain how negative I feel about our material home. The next item (Debt) will be largely explained by having bought a flat – having been forced to have it damp-proofed, double-glazed, having bought the freehold and done the bathroom… only to be told that we need new floors, new plastering and that, even with all that, the flat has devalued since we bought it. We don’t have funds or practical skills (at all!). I would love to host more and to stop fretting about where this home-owning saga takes us. 2009 has not gone well in this respect!

7. DEBT: This is the shame I bear. We have been unwise at times. Savings don’t exist. Debt is significant. In this current climate it’s horrible because you’re always one redundancy or vengeful credit card company away from disaster. True faith in God is required, as well as gratitude for all we have (and it’s a lot!), but I would love to be debt-free.

8. ECCLESIASTES: Reading this in my Quiet Times was fascinating. What’s it doing there? It is so deeply cynical and depressed in tone that even the NIV Study Notes don’t seem to have a clue what to do with it much of the time! But that said, I found it massively heartening. Hope placed in anything other than Christ is ultimately ‘meaningless’. This is the alternative – and we have the answer to it!

9. JOY: As seen for much of the above, I am a real worrier (and moaner) – increasingly so as I leave my youth behind! I have a wife who can take it personally and so I need not to let it become my norm. I have begun forcing myself to acknowledge those things I am grateful for each day. Largely by…

10. DIARISATION: If it’s not enough that I record minutely my Quiet Time content and blog my every other thought, I have this year begun keeping a record of what I did each day, perhaps to enforce some accountability in not wasting my time. I want to ensure I’m seeing friends, going places… and to be able to thank God for those recorded daily blessings! It works as I’m normally grateful for most of what I’ve written down. Lets look at a couple…

11. MOVIES: I won’t say much, as when I blogged about it no-one read! My wife and I have long since been movie addicts. The surprise has been that, as I try to watch them more with God-goggles on, I find I’ve been enjoying them more! I do like to consider character motives and lessons learned… seeing how a worldview compares with our own. Turns out God isn’t a kill-joy after all!

12. FOOD: Thank God that my wife has developed a passion for working her way through the latest Jamie Oliver cook-book! Now here’s a discovery – my spiritual regime very much benefits from a general sense of physical well-being. Attempts to eat my 5-a-day, particularly with an increased fruit intake, and to eat decent satisfying meals have resulted in me feeling far more ready to do something fruitful (ha!) with my days. I have more energy and a sharper focus for sure.

13. THE SPIRITUAL ‘REGIME’: The biggest difference in my year. On the plus side it has been enormously beneficial. I have instilled a lot more discipline in 2009. I am working to devised plans regarding the gospel-exposure of my non-Christian friends, have subscribed to Christian blogs, have given more time to Quiet Times and have listened to a sermon a day on the way to work. But there’s a major down-side. I am utterly routine dependent. As shown by the snow days, it utterly falls apart without that set window before work and the journey there. Too many of my good habits, behaviour-wise, are caught up in this dependence.

14. LUST: I remain a keen admirer of the female form. The impulse is correct. But not acting upon that impulse in a sinful fashion continues to be the biggest challenge faced by the Christian bloke, particularly within a society determined to rub our faces in it. To be frank, half of my routine is designed to prevent me from fixating upon sex and the allure of the fairer species. God certainly designed me to be a married man…

15. VS THE ATHEISTS: Remember this? (Read here) What fun it was – and great encouragement. Christianity is robust enough to withstand rigorous intellectual to & fro. I will certainly return for another bout before the year is done!

16. CHRISTIANITY EXPLORED: This deliberately follows the last point. I now view my Adventures in the Blogosphere against the atheist fraternity as being God’s training for me leading a ‘guest’ group over the Christianity Explored programme currently running at CCB in lieu of ‘normal’ church. Questions have arisen of all shapes & sizes. Some I’ve dealt with well, some badly… but I have rarely met the entirely unexpected. I feel like I rehearsed… It’s been great to directly espouse the virtue of the gospel each week… Church shouldn’t be a hiding place after all!

17. BLOG: And of course there’s been this! It’s a strange old business – the time I have spent writing these thousands of words – for an audience often smaller than you could possibly imagine! Why not just e-mail those few I know are reading? Why write at all? Well it’s good to have a reason to set out thoughts – it’s good to challenge myself to see how the events of my life and the world around me come under my walk with God. If no-one at all was reading I would still have benefitted from committing to this blog. But that’s not to say I’d carry on doing it! So please keep reading!! And maybe, just maybe, I’ll discover one day in the next world that I wrote something God used for someone I don’t even know… That is always the tantalising possibility in the anonymity of cyber-space…

18. WASTING TIME: I need to do some marking! I’m not going to concoct artificial points just to get it to 20!

19. OR AM I? It would seem so…

20. THE END… Well done for making it this far down the post!