As men, we are wired differently from women. Not a huge revelation, right? But one of the significant ways we are wired differently is with regard to triggering of sexual arousal. Men are triggered sexually by sight, and women by touch. Men are sight-stimulated, and women are touch-stimulated. This is not to say that there is no component of sight or touch for the other gender, but there is a reason for this fact. This is God’s design so that men are initiators and women are responders.
The downside of that is that as men in our culture, we are constantly bombarded with sexual images from media whether on TV, in movies, in print, and online, and in real life at the gym, on the street, in the office, and at the mall. It’s impossible to pull up an article online about a pro football game last Sunday without getting inundated by pop-ups of the latest escapades by scantily-clad starlets and images of supermodels frolicking on the beach. It is also impossible to keep from encountering attractive women who enjoy dressing provocatively.
What’s a man to do? The first thing to remember is that there is a difference between temptation and sin. We are not responsible for the former; only the latter. As my former pastor, Skip Heitzig, used to say: “You can’t stop a bird from flying over your head, but you can stop it from building a nest in your hair.” I will be more specific: We have 3 seconds to look. After that, a different motive is in play.
How many men wish they had been diligent about protecting themselves, their wife, their marriage from the dire consequences of sexual sin and experience broken marriages, broken families, and broken relationships with children? While we don’t bear responsibility for temptation, we do bear responsibility for sin in our lives. There are some common sense ways to take a proactive approach to defeating the constant bombardment of temptation. It starts out with relationships.
First, be on a trajectory of growth in your personal relationship with God. It’s easy. Spend time with Him, and you will become closer to Him. Isn’t this the way it is in any relationship? Having a regular quiet time is essential, even if it’s just 15 minutes per day. Set aside the same time, the same place at least six days a week for some prayer and reading of your Bible. Remember, Christianity is not a religion; it is a personal relationship. Relationships thrive on attention. Your personal relationship with God will strengthen, guard, and instruct you.
Second, after your relationship with God, your wife is your most important relationship. Having open, transparent, honest, and, above all, vulnerable communication with your wife is important. God placed her in your life for accountability, help, comfort, and intimacy. An open, loving relationship with your wife facilitates growth in both of you. Being vulnerable with your wife and helping her to understand your struggles and needs is your best hedge against sexual sin. For instance, it is important to inform your wife if you feel that another woman in your world is trying to get inappropropriately close to you.
Third, have mature, honest, open relationships with a couple of other Christian men. It may take some doing to find them, but always have a couple of safe accountability partners. Find a couple of men that will meet with you one-on-one every two or three weeks and ask the hard questions and be vulnerable with you as well. Hearing about someone else’s struggles, strategies, and victories is important. You don’t have to be a lone ranger Christian.
Fourth, use common sense. The Bible talks about “not having the appearance of sin” in our lives. Why? It is because right after the appearance of sin is usually when the sin actually happens. This bit of wisdom is meant to protect us. When we get married, we give up the right to hang out alone with our female friends. This means “hanging out” online also. This goes for coworkers or professional colleagues as well. There is safety in numbers. Go have lunch with TWO other female coworkers or friends. This will keep the conversation where it should be. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Be alert to any woman who wants to talk about her relationship negatively or about the problems she is having with her boyfriend or husband. My reply is always: “Don’t you have a girlfriend or sister you can talk to about that?” Also be on guard about a woman asking questions about your marriage or any topic that could be used to put a wedge between you and your wife. Keep this boundary firm. These types of discussions are the infancy of an emotional affair, and we all know how quickly those turn south…literally.
With some diligence and a little common sense, you will be able to avoid sexual sin. You do have an enemy that works persistently for your fall, but remember, He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world!