Part three of a three-part series
When it comes to the flames of lust, it’s easy to claim innocence. You don’t watch those movies. You don’t go to those websites. You don’t frequent those clubs. But I have to ask, how do you handle the hot embers tossed your way that are seemingly impossible to avoid? The DVD covers at a movie rental store. The clothing catalogs in the Sunday paper with an assortment of bra-wearing models. A co-worker’s blouse that falls open for a moment.
Not a day went by during my journal experiment that I wasn’t aware of a sexually explicit message, and oftentimes, the images came so fast that I didn’t have time to look away. While it wasn’t possible to fend off every attack, I realized that I could be more strategic and limit my battles. I stopped watching commercials during football games. I quit watching movie trailers for films I never planned to see. I read the ingredients in cereal boxes while waiting in line at the grocery store to avoid the magazine covers.
My journaling experience showed me that I can’t take a passive approach to battling lust. Every morning when I wake up, I have to be prepared and wield several weapons.
During one of my not-so-brilliant college moments, I joined some guys on a camping trip. One evening, we gathered around the campfire and practiced the fine art of tossing hot embers to each other with our bare hands. After a glowing coal was knocked free from the fire, we’d try to palm and release the ember in one fluid motion. Watching the hot rock twist through the air, I wondered, can I catch and toss a hot ember without getting burned?
King Solomon asked a similar question in Proverbs 6 after telling men not to play games with lust: Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched?
When our macho coal-tossing game ended, I had the answer in my hands—burns and blisters.
You can’t catch a hot ember if you’re not looking at it. Look away, and the hot coal falls at your feet. No burns. No chance of scarring your palm like Nazi agent Major Toht in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.
With today’s media choices, sexual images are impossible to avoid. But one of the greatest weapons you can use also takes a great deal of practice: bouncing your eyes off the sexual image. When your eyes spot a risqué ad, commercial, or picture, train your eyes to deflect off the sexualized woman without studying here.
Scripture – The Double-Edged Sword
I worked hard to memorize a passage from Proverbs, and I quoted it to myself whenever I felt a struggle coming. I used it as a war cry to psyche myself for battle, envisioning Mel Gibson as William Wallace in Braveheart shouting to his men as he rode up and down the line:
For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is as bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave. She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths are crooked, but she knows it not. Now then, my sons, listen to me; do not turn aside from what I say. Keep a path far from her. Do not go near the door of her house. (Proverbs 5:3-8)
This may not sound like much of a weapon, but it’s crucial to know the lay of the land and to understand where a combat may take place. Where are enemy troops positioned? Where is the high ground? Where should battles be avoided?
The journal gave me a map to my struggles. Flipping back through its pages, I saw the times, places, and instances I faced a battle with lust. With this knowledge, I can make wiser entertainment choices and limit my battles.
Maybe that means you stop surfing the Internet when you’re home alone. Maybe that means asking your wife to remove the advertisements before reading the Sunday newspaper. Maybe that means you screen movies before going to see them.
It wasn’t easy keeping a nude journal for a month, but it showed me that only playing defense to fend off thousands of digital mistresses every year will wear me down and lead to blindside sacks. I now have a playbook full of offensive strategies. I’m committed to this battle, and every morning I’m putting on my armor. It’s time for war. Will you join me?