While teaching at a men’s retreat, a standoffish young single challenged me with a purity question, “There are so many things in the Bible we don’t observe any longer. I mean, we don’t circumcise, or observe the Law, so why should sex be any different? If my girlfriend and I love each other, have safe sex, and plan to get married anyway, give me one good reason why we should wait until marriage other than ‘because the Bible says so.’”
I guess he thought he’d heard it all before. But my response floored him, “Because you don’t want your soul trained to disdain married sex.”
He looked staggered, “What? What do you mean?”
I asked him a few questions, “Have you ever heard married couples lament, ‘Sex was better before we got married’? Or heard of them talk about trying to ‘rekindle the flame’ or ‘spice up their sex life’?”
“I guess so.”
“Here’s the problem,” I went on, “Lust is a spiritual force that we experience in our emotions. Lust exists in all sex outside of marriage and in pornography. And if you have sex outside of marriage, you are literally training your soul to think that it should feel lust whenever engaging in any sexual activity.
The problem is that there’s no lust in marriage–at least there shouldn’t be. I first realized this as soon as my wife and I got married. We had waited to ‘go all the way,’ but regularly crossed the line into arousal and lust’s territory before marriage. On our wedding night, my wife said something interesting that I had also been thinking, ‘It doesn’t feel like we just had sex.’
What were we experiencing? For the first time in our lives, we entered into sexual activity without the presence of lust–but our souls had been trained incorrectly by the world’s system. We had to unlearn what the enemy had taught us so that we can experience the great intimacy and sex life we have now.”
God’s Design Does Not Fit Inside the World’s System
I coach a lot of men and talk to many when I teach at conferences. I literally can’t count the number of men who still believe the lies of lust and are trying to force a greater covenant into the world’s system.
- “If only my sex life was meeting all my needs.”
- “My wife isn’t sexual enough.”
- “We don’t have sex enough.”
God created sex for His purposes; but the devil perverted it and misconstrued its purpose. We’ve been led to think that sex is a leisure activity–merely a fun thing to do with an exciting climax. Even though God wants it to be amazing and fulfilling, its primary purpose is to manifest love between a man and a wife and unify them in body and soul.
Lust runs contrary to this entire purpose. Lust is always self-centered. Lust steals. Love gives. Lust leaves you feeling empty and wanting more. Love makes you feel whole, accepted, and fulfilled.
We Often Leave Lust in Our Relationships
As a newly married man still trained in lust, I remember believing the lie that my sexual “needs” weren’t being met. I thought the answer was to have more sex and kinkier sex. I didn’t know what the answer was, but there was just something missing.
What was the problem? My soul had been wrongly trained by lust. Sex is not a need. Love, however, is a need of the soul. The problem was that my wrongly trained soul had believed that if I had more sex, it would fill that screaming love need of my heart. Nothing could be further from the truth. My wife tried and tried to meet what I thought I needed and be my “perfect woman.” But the more sex we had, the more it actually destroyed our intimacy. More wasn’t working for either of us, because more wasn’t what my soul really needed.
Without realizing it, we had fallen into the world’s system. We weren’t experiencing lust, but we hadn’t changed gears into love–so we were doubly dissatisfied. This is the point where many married couples will often re-introduce lust into the bedroom. If more isn’t the answer, what will fill the void? Will dirtier, kinkier sex and role play do it? Will the acting out of lust-filled fantasies bring about the answer?
I needed to experience sex and sexuality as God designed it. I needed an experience that filled my heart and soul with greater love and appreciation for my wife. My wife and I needed to learn to make love–not merely to have sex. We needed to be able to express our love, acceptance, enjoyment, and respect for one another and express that in the act of love making. When we started doing this, something amazing happened: I finally realized I didn’t need more sex or kinkier sex or for my wife to be anything other than who God made her. My “love tank” was getting filled up. The expression of love creates exponential, mutual fulfillment.
God wants His children to have amazing sex lives full of passion, romance, true intimacy, friendship, and so much more. He wants to be at the center of it all. Have you ever considered that sex was the first commandment God gave, the first sacrament? When we have communion at church, God is at the center of it. But when it comes to sex, most married couples, if they are honest, leave God in the hallway when they close the bedroom door. We miss experiencing His joy, pride, and blessing of this first Holy Communion. Many Christians settle for a lust-trained pursuit of worldly gratification when there is so much more.
How Pornography Trains Us to Lust
Pornography is a very dangerous soul-trainer. So many men who come to our ministry lament and share things like, “My wife just doesn’t ‘do it’ for me.”
Did you know that God designed sex in such a way that it creates emotional, neuro-chemical, and spiritual bonds between the couple? This is why the Bible says that when a man leaves his father and mother, the two become one. During intercourse, the brain releases a myriad of chemicals that serve as “spiritual bonding agents.” Sexual activity, good or bad, releases large doses of the same hormones into our system that emotionally bond a mother to her baby during feedings. Other neuro-chemicals released literally help your brain imprint on the other person–creating “snapshots” of the person you’ve been with that form bonds of attraction.
Essentially, sex is designed to help you grow in both physical attraction and emotional connection to the one you are with. This is why the Bible also says, unfortunately, that anyone who sleeps with a prostitute is “joined” to her. This joining isn’t just a scare tactic that some churchy person imagined–it is a literal, physical, neuro-chemical joining that we have to break agreement with if we’ve allowed it in our hearts. But in a proper, healthy context, God uses this chemical component to sex as an amazing tool that draws us to both the inner and outward beauty of our wives.
Pornography is so dangerous because it uses the chemical component of sex against us while also reinforcing the soul-training of lust. It trains our brain to bond with and fixate upon people and body types that aren’t our wife. All the while, lust drives our soul into a frenzy that strengthens the emotional connection to what we’ve been watching.
Lust Trains Us to Focus Primarily on the Outward Appearance
What’s more, lust trains us to look primarily on the outward appearance and idolize beauty stereotypes and certain physical traits. Contrast this with God’s plan that helps us appreciate both the inner beauty and the physical beauty of an individual.
Did you know that what you call “attractive” or “beautiful” is largely taught by culture? Culture tells us what we should find beautiful in every show, movie, and magazine.
As a young man, I learned this cultural inculcation to be subjective truth in the most unlikely setting. While working at a restaurant in college, my coworkers and I would typically go out after work. Our friend, Dozie, was a handsome immigrant from Nigeria with a very different, culturally learned, standard of beauty. Night after night at the bars, Dozie would hit on women that our culture, simply put, would have told us were physically ugly. Tim, one of my co-workers, decided to “do Dozie a favor” and give him some very ungodly advice, “Dozie, you are a good looking guy with a great figure. You can do way better than the women you hit on every night.”
I’ll never forget Dozie’s response, “You don’t understand, the women I meet at the bars here would be supermodels in my country. Back home, I wouldn’t have a chance with any of these women. But here, I meet the most beautiful women who feel like they are thrown away by society. To me, they are the most beautiful women in the whole bar; and I can help them feel like the most beautiful woman in the world.”
Our country’s culture and media had put a label on their appearance: ugly. His country put a label on their apperance: beautiful. Who was right? The answer: neither.
Tim and Dozie were both operating out of a culturally learned definition of physical beauty. But what if God called Dozie to marry a thin, Americanized-beauty wife while he had these culturally learned ideals from his country of what beauty should be? He could be married to an American supermodel and think she’s ugly if he doesn’t un-learn what his culture taught him of beauty.
God didn’t design beauty as a one-size-fits-all template. He’s the Master Artisan. Each one of us is a unique, one-of-a-kind masterpiece that bears the Master’s mark.
We all must un-learn what culture has taught us about beauty and what lust has reinforced. God designed our spirit, soul, and body’s neuro-chemistry to “train” our beauty definition according to what our spouse looks like. In this way, our love and appreciation for them only grows. This births true intimacy: where every part of the person is loved, enjoyed and accepted.
A Clean Canvas
If you have believed any of lust’s lies or any wrong things about your own or someone else’s beauty, take a moment now and repent. Ask God to restore your innocence and purity. Ask Him to help you break every agreement with the things pornography has taught you to believe about what makes “good sex.” Spend some time with God and let Him put new thoughts in your mind and lay a foundation that is blessed and healthy.
Pornography lies to us and steals from us in many more ways. We may have heart wounds that keep us stuck in lies and sin. If you would like to learn more about these topics or you need help finding real freedom from lust and a porn addiction, check out “The Mighty Man Manual.” It may be an excellent tool for your journey to freedom