Today’s blog is a guest post by Justin Campbell. Justin is a 40 year old single guy living and working in St. Louis. You can read more by him at his blog More Than Don’t Have Sex, where he writes about singleness, Jesus, the church, and how we can all be in it together.
Have you ever tried to fight weeds in your yard? You go out and spray them or pull them. It’s a constant battle. But here’s the truth about the process. The best defense against weeds is more grass. I can pull weeds every year but if I don’t get grass to grow in those spots, next year (or next week) weeds will grow there.
I share this because I think it is a key principle for dealing with sexual immorality and the desire we have that leads us to it. As I shared last week, we first have to have a right view of sex and a right view of desire. But even then we have to figure out how to grow the right desires. In other words we have to let our desire for God trump all other desires. The good news is that we were created for that. The bad news is, it’s a freaking battle.
We can’t get completely focussed on the sin. This is especially true with sexual immorality (fulfilling sexual desire outside the context of marriage). Often we focus on the all of the “don’ts”. Don’t be naked, don’t look at porn, don’t have lustful thoughts, don’t. . . . While we do need to fight this stuff we can’t let our focus be here. Our focus needs to be on Jesus.
I’ve heard it said a lot that, “we as guys will always struggle with lust”. I think that’s a lie straight from hell.
Now if you want to say that I’m always capable of struggling with it, I wholeheartedly agree. But that doesn’t mean I can’t have victory in this area of my life. It’s probably going to be a fight and process (as with most of the sanctification process) but to just surrender to it seems like a terrible idea.
Sexual immorality is a strong, strong temptation. God created sex with the power to help bind two people together for life. God was not playing around here. It is the only sin that Paul literally says to flee from. In other words, don’t play around with it or tough it out – just get the heck away from it. He says all other sin a man commits outside his body, but sexual immorality is against his own body. Paul is saying it affects us in huge ways.
In my opinion there are two principles we have to keep here in order to let the practical stuff work.
First we need to focus on the Lord and his mission. To be honest, when I struggle the least in this area is when I’m focussed on God and mission. When I’m outward focussed, I’m typically not desiring the wrong stuff. When I’m focussed on me and what I feel that day, that’s when I’m in trouble. This by the way is part of (emphasis on part of) what Paul is saying about the call to singleness. It’s not a call to not get married, it’s a call to be so focussed on mission that you are not focussed on sex (which is NOT to say that you won’t ever desire sex).
The second thing we have to do is flee – which means do whatever it takes to not fall into sexual immorality. I’m going to talk about some things that have helped me later on.
Here’s another way to look at it. In the Odyssey, Odysseus is warned about the dangers of the sirens. These were beautiful creatures (think hot models with wings) that sang incredibly powerful and beautiful songs. So much so that sailors followed them to their death on the rocks.
Odysseus comes up with a plan. He gives all his oarsmen wax to put in their ears so that they can’t hear the sirens. He wants to hear it, so he doesn’t use wax, but he has them tie him to the mast. When the boat passes the sirens do their thing. Odysseus goes crazy, demanding that the men cut him free. Following his original orders they don’t and they pass through unharmed.
Now this is great but contrast that with the story of Orpheus and the Argonauts. The Argonauts faced the same danger from the sirens. But Orpheus was a powerful musician who played the most beautiful music possible. When the Argonauts passed by the sirens Orpheus played his music. It was so strong and powerful that it drowned out the songs of the sirens. The Argonauts were able to pass through without the aid of the wax.
Ultimately our desire for God has to trump all other desires.
It is better to tie ourselves to the mast than die on the rocks, but the goal should be to grow so close to Jesus that we are not swayed by the siren’s music.