King David was on his roof and saw a woman bathing. 2 Samuel 11 tells us that David found her “beautiful to behold,” seeing her according to the flesh.
Most of us know how the story goes. David discovered Bathsheba was married, but invited her to the palace anyway. David got her pregnant and then, rather than come clean, he sent her husband, a faithful soldier in his army, in the hottest part of the battle where he would surely be killed. Then David was “free” to take Bathsheba as his wife.
This scandalous story doesn’t end there. God sent Nathan the prophet to not only pronounce God’s judgment on the sin, but also to correct how David saw things. Nathan tells the story of a rich man and a poor man. The poor man had a lamb that he and his children loved, nourished, and cared for as a pet. David, having been a shepherd could, no doubt, relate to this type of affection for a lamb. But the rich man in the story took this lamb, though he had many, and killed it to serve to a guest. Enraged, David demanded that the man make reparations and be put to death.
David, of course, ended up being the rich man of the story. He saw Bathsheba according to the flesh, and God needed to adjust David’s way of seeing through a story he would understand.
You may not connect with the story of a lamb, but God can make the truths become real to each of us in a meaningful way so that we change the way we see. We must begin to look at women and people that we would objectify, not according to the flesh such as to arouse our own lusts; but understand that each individual represents a treasured person. Even if they flaunt their sexuality, they are still someone’s daughter, spouse, or future spouse–the treasured, cherished “lamb” of another. Every person has the God-given right to be seen in this way–even if they are living below their created value.
We Can See People Differently
We have the ability to see differently. We are not victims of what our eyes happen to see. The gospel is far more powerful than that. The Bible says something radical: to the pure, all things are pure (Titus 1:15).
Now, don’t get ahead of me. I’m not saying you can “purely” look at porn. There are lusts we must flee from and places we can’t go. Being “pure” doesn’t make it okay for us to partake in a strip club. Lust is always sin–but in normal, everyday life, we’ve learned to lust rather than walk in purity and see people the way God does.
Did you know that two people can see the same person and have a totally different view of them? Did you know that you can see a beautiful woman and not have to lust?
When we learn how to walk in the Spirit and have God’s thoughts toward others, beauty stops being a threat and becomes something to appreciate and enjoy, just as one admires their own daughter’s or sister’s beauty. My wife and I frequently comment on how adorable or beautiful our daughter is–but there’s not an ounce of lust or fear that either of us could ever be incited to lust after her.
Did you know that we can feel that way about anyone? Does God live in you? Doesn’t the Bible invite us over and over to have His mind, His thoughts, partake of His nature, and walk in His Spirit? Like He did with David, God wants to re-train your mind to see differently so that being in the presence of beauty elicits the proper response that God intended when He created it.
Reclaiming Our Response to Beauty
I’ve heard “purity” teachers say the most ridiculous things as pseudo-godly advice. For example, I actually heard one purity teacher instruct men to pick the cash register line with the ugliest checker to avoid the temptation to lust. What a bunch of ungodly nonsense parading as “Christian wisdom.” What if all the cashiers are pretty? Do you then hide in the coldest part of the freezer section until someone ugly finally comes on their shift? No. We need to change the way we see. The way Christian men have been taught to view and fear beauty for fear of their urges is actually a form of perversion masquerading as “godly wisdom.”
A man walking in purity isn’t threatened by a beautiful person. God created beauty. When we operate normally, we can appreciate beauty without being afraid that we are going to get some “urges” in the presence of beauty. Having a lustful urge when you see beauty is a demonically learned response, not a “natural” one. What is natural for a person, once they are saved, is to think like God.
I promise you that God doesn’t see any of His beautiful daughters and fear that He’s going to get… an urge. I promise you that David, when God changed his heart, didn’t see beautiful women as objects any longer but as cherished lambs.
We need the Spirit to rewrite our responses so that we can be free to see beauty, bless beauty, appreciate beauty, and break the carnal response that has turned something good that God created into a trigger point for lust. We can reclaim our response to beauty so that rather than it being a trigger for evil, it triggers godliness.
Our Responsibility to be Light
I’ve heard a lot of negative talk about the sexually charged, impure nature of our culture. We talk about the difficulty for men to be pure when every billboard and magazine seems to sell sex. I agree that this sexually stimulating culture assaults purity.
But do you know what? This kind of talk can also be a cop-out.
The reason our world and culture is the way it is ultimately falls on our shoulders. The Bible says that we should be the head and not the tail. We can’t blame the devil, women, or Hollywood when Jesus called us to be salt and light in this world. Jesus said,
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Mt. 5:13-16).
Men, I tell you the truth, as surely as light dispels the darkness, if the world is getting darker, it isn’t because someone turned up the darkness, but because the light is getting dimmer. We’ve been looking at the world’s darkness pretending that it isn’t our responsibility to shine like light in dark places and change our culture.
Do you want to know whose fault it is that some women dress the way they do: ours. The responsibility falls on godly men who’ve stopped standing in the place that only we can.
The Importance of Fathers
Even in the natural order of things, there is a blessing that can only be given by a father. My wife struggled with her self-image for most of her teenage life. She told me of a time when just she and her father went out to a diner together and he said something precious and validating about her beauty that forever changed her life.
There’s a young teen who my wife and I call our “adopted teenage daughter.” She calls me her second dad. On one occasion, I saw photos of her in her prom dress and commented on how beautiful she looked. She shared how powerful and validating it was to hear those words from a father figure in her life. It turns out that on prom night, her real father couldn’t be bothered to look away from the game he was watching to validate her. Her mother had fawned over how stunning she looked for hours and even told her father, “Look how beautiful you daughter looks.” But 100 compliments from her mother couldn’t make up for the father’s blessing that didn’t come. She shared how much it hurt that night not hearing praise and validation from her father.
Men, we have an amazing place of power as fathers and men that we’ve forgotten how to fill. Moving in the love and purity of our Heavenly Father amplifies that place of power and blessing even more.
Affirming Beauty from a Pure Heart
Let me tell you how powerful blessings from a pure heart can be. The world fosters selfishness–it takes for its own gain. Women, starving for the true Father’s blessing, try to catch the attention of men. They long to know that they are beautiful and valuable, and more than just eye candy. The world can never give them what their heart longs for. All the flattery of the world can never fill the place that only God can fill.
So when you see that beautiful woman in any walk of life, that sister, that daughter, that checker at the store, think about this: maybe she really needs to know that she’s beautiful and treasured by God.
And men, if we had a pure heart, maybe we’d even be in a position not to run from the fact that we recognize someone’s beauty. And maybe we, with our Father’s heart, could actually be in a position to bless and build her up in a way that has zero lust in it, that validates and heals her beauty wounds without any sleaze, slime, or backhanded flirting motives.
Men, if we don’t, who will? If we don’t raise up Christian men with pure hearts, we’ve left that woman to the world, the wolves, and her own wounds. Then tomorrow, maybe the dress gets shorter. And the day after that, maybe the blouse loses a button. Then on it goes until she starts to get the attention of men–but not the blessing of a father.
If we don’t show her the Father’s heart, her desperate heart may take any attention she can get–even the wrong kind of attention. She will learn to steal from men; and men will learn to steal from her. Then, if we sit back on our high horse and condemn her for being carnal instead of recognizing our responsibility to bring about purity in our culture rather than flee from culture then we’ve lost this fight. We have been given the entire world as our inheritance (Rm. 4:13). We are the salt. We are the light.
Purity cleanses. Purity exposes the darkness of the world. I’ve given many complements that come from a pure heart. You know what? It has never been weird or forced or poorly received. I’ve even told a woman flaunting way too much cleavage that she looked lovely (from a pure heart mind you), but that she didn’t need to show that much cleavage for men to find her attractive. You know what happened? She wasn’t angry or shamed. I blessed her like the Father would have, and she thanked me profusely and buttoned up her shirt. That is the power a pure man can have to change culture.
Purity Is Who We Are
We have been made pure in Christ. We have His Spirit in us. So many men try to become pure rather than learn to connect with the truth of who we already are in Christ. We don’t fight for purity, we fight from purity.
When men come to Mighty Man Ministries, I always tell them that their starting point will determine their finish line. If you are trying to get free or get pure, you’ll never get there. You can’t get what you’ve already received. Christ can’t be sacrificed a second time for you. We need to take hold of who we are in Christ and learn to walk in these truths.
If you’d like more information about purity and walking in real freedom, the Mighty Man Manual may be an excellent guide for you. You can find out more at www.mightymanministries.com