The second book in Dr. Mark Laaser’s Men of Valor series, Taking Every Thought Captive, hovers around a big challenge for guys: developing a godly thought life.
The author definitely deals with curbing immoral sexual thoughts in the book, but he’s quick to point out that our minds can be overrun by many types of thoughts. Thoughts about power, prestige, success and money can also take root in our hearts and lead us down the wrong path.
Listen to Jeff Fisher’s Interview with Dr. Laaser
Part 3: Taking Every Thought Captive (11:58)
Short-Term Strategies vs. Long-Term Solutions
The first three chapters are packed with practical ways to start working on our thought life. Most of these strategies come from Alcoholics Anonymous: avoiding triggers, the 3-second rule, make phone calls, distraction, and meditation. These strategies are behavioral, though. The author is quick to mention:
“These behavioral approaches to taking thoughts captive are only the first step. Behavioral solutions are only short-term strategies, not long-term solutions.” (15)
The rest of the book focuses on long-term solutions. I think the greatest value of the book is found here. Chapters 4 and 5 help the reader learn to take his fantasies captive by identifying them, looking for the hurts and needs that drive them, and surrendering them to Christ. Chapter 6 explains that our behaviors need to be motivated by vision, not fantasy, and shows us how to recognize the difference:
Fantasy = Mental pictures of what you think will meet your desires
Vision = God’s picture based on your calling (115-116)
Brain Chemistry and Brain Care
I appreciate the simple explanation the author gives in Chapter 3 of the chemicals released by an addictive substance.
Dopamine – The “feel-good” chemical. Released with arousal and sexual pleasure.
Oxytocin – The “bonding” chemical. Released when non-sexual or sexual touch happens. Gives a feeling of well-being and connection.
Catecholamines – The “euphoria” chemicals, often compared to the high that comes from heroin. There is also a calming experience that comes with these chemicals.
Sexual pleasure brings the widest release of these chemicals—fantastic for a marriage, but incredibly destructive outside of the marriage context.
Most surprising to me, was the amount of time the author writes about brain health. He shares from his experiences with Dr. Daniel Amen, a specialist in brain diagnosis and treatment. The author believes a person’s mental health can be a factor in taking one’s thoughts captive. The author never blamed mental illness or distracted from the healing power of God in writing this chapter.
The reader is encouraged to pay attention to his mental health and brain chemistry by getting help from a medical professional, having the right medications, and paying attention to his diet.
The author believes a person will be able to glorify God better and work on his thought life when his brain is healthy.
Is it Really Possible to Take My Thoughts Captive?
For me, as a recovering sexual addict, this was the book I needed most for my own purity journey. I’ll be leading our Saturday morning sexual addiction support group through Taking Every Thought Captive first. Many in our group are developing good strategies to deal with our bad sexual behaviors, but our biggest battles are fought in our mind.
Many men I’ve talked with don’t believe they can have pure minds—not really. If they can stop looking at porn or masturbating, they feel like they’ve reached a major milestone—and they have! But their impure thoughts are too much to get under control.
Taking Every Thought Captive offers men hope that a healthy thought life is possible and teaches men how to reach the deep places to make it happen.