I, Pastor Joseph, received this letter from a brother in Christ who wanted to share his battle with and victory over sexual immorality and lust while calling both men and women to join in with this battle. I believe this heartfelt letter should move us to a love for God’s design for sex and for personal holiness. I hope that men will be encouraged in their battle with temptation and I pray that women will be convicted to love modesty and chastity because they love God and love their neighbor.
Dear Brothers and sisters in Christ,
“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me”.
I was born with a sin nature, a son of Adam. The first recollection I have of sexual immorality springing forth in my life I recall like it was yesterday. At around 8 years old I became aware that there was something “different” about men and women as a teenage girl who enjoyed sunbathing in her brown and tan bikini for all the little neighborhood boys to watch caught my attention one summer. At the time I didn't know what it was about her, but knew there was something there to be conquered, something I desired. As I grew older, my innocent curiosity grew, and I received a typical Southern Baptist education regarding relationships between men and women: I was taught that sex was a big NO. There was no explanation that a healthy sexual relationship between a husband and wife was how God designed men and women. Sex was painted as off limits, taboo, and dirty. Guess how this reprobate young boy came to view sex in that environment? As this dirty, dark venture to be engaged in as an act of defiance.
Fast forward about 4 or 5 years. Spending the night at a friends house, I enjoyed my first beer, and my first glimpse of what would be recognized as hardcore pornography. 30 years later, I can still recall the scene that played out in my friends living-room on his big screen TV. I was lost, and the years of innuendo, sexually suggestive entertainment, and ignorant wonder exploded with that one glance. My sexual desires found an outlet that would dominate my thoughts and physical existence for decades.
“But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death”. Though temptations were everywhere, I had no one and nothing to blame but myself and my own sinful desires. I was now firmly planted on this path. Do not fool yourself into thinking that since no smut magazines, pornographic dvds, or garbage over the internet comes into your home, that you have created a safe space, free from sexual perversion. All forms of media and entertainment are filled with what 20 years ago would have been called pornographic. Even more than that, the men in your life are quite adept at finding sexual stimulus wherever their eyes roam, hidden away in their minds. Your husbands, sons, and brothers are oftentimes incapable, and willfully incompetent to discern this sin. God created men with a desire for sex. When utilized in accordance with God's created order, one man one woman, in a monogamous relationship as husband and wife, this sexual appetite can be used for good, God's glory. But venturing outside of this design has horrific consequences.
In High school I found myself looking for teenage girls that would be the women found in the average smut magazine. I had a small collection of porn of my own by this time, which fueled my increasingly perverse desires. Friends viewed by my parents as “good” boys helped fuel this downward spiral. Bad company corrupts good morals….unfortunately I had no good morals to begin with, because I was a lost little boy, yet was considered to be a “good person” by most.
Two years into my stint in the military, my porn collection and appetite had grown to a footlocker full of sexual immorality, and had expanded to strip clubs and prostitution. I was totally in bondage to my sexual sin, yet didn't even realize it. A contributing factor was the increasing amount of young women who found liberty in their sexuality, displaying it for all to see, and oftentimes all too willing to assist a lost, sin ravaged soul down the broad road to destruction. Ladies, each of us will have to stand before God on judgement day and give an account. Men before God giving an account for their lusts, and women giving an account for their contributions to it. Men must be self controlled, a fruit of the spirit, but lest you think women bear no responsibility, please consider Proverbs 7.
My time after the military was no different, but a new wrinkle was added to the mix: marriage. By this time, I came to realize that my sexual appetite dominated me, but felt powerless to stop. Every. Single. Woman I saw and met became sex objects in my mind. Looking back, deep inside I hoped that marriage would save me. That I would marry this woman, and she would finally satisfy every wicked lust I had. What I had looked to for peace, marriage, became an object of resentment which wound up fueling even more sexual immorality. Jesus said if you even lust with a woman in your heart, you are guilty of adultery. My sin had moved from mental adultery to full blown, out in the open for everyone to see, depravity. Five years in, my marriage was in shambles. My cold dead heart was destroying the woman I promised to love till death do we part. Looking back, it was only God’s grace that kept us together.
I continued to into a spiral of pornography and drunkenness, attempting to fill my life with a myriad of “manly” activities to hide my growing effeminacies and mountain of sin. Around 11 years into my marriage, I found myself tired of running from God, knew I was a hopeless sinner, and knew I had nowhere else to go. I believe it was sometime that year that God opened my eyes, helped me see my sin and its end, and I cried out to Him for mercy. Help Me! And He answered. Forgive Me! And He did.
Yet the porn persisted. I came to realize that while it was true that i was saved and forgiven, I had to join Job in making a covenant with my eyes not to look upon a young woman. I had to be like David and allow no worthless thing come before my eyes. For most of my life i had been the foolish young man walking past the door of the adulteress woman, foolishly believing that I could toy with hot coals and not get burned. “It's just one glance, just one TV show, just one click of the mouse”. God called me to another path. A path of warfare. Putting your sin to death is the name of the game. Cutting off hands, plucking out eyes, and doing so in the power of the Holy Spirit is the only hope for men and boys trapped in this sin. God transformed, and is still renewing my mind day by day to realize that sex, like every good and perfect gift, is from God. He has taught me that it is our sin soaked hearts which pervert this good thing He has given us. Men must take responsibility for their sin. They must own the desires of their heart, and obey God's command to flee sexual immorality. Ladies, your husbands, brothers, friends, and sons are weaker, and more susceptible to sexual sin than you can imagine. As if our own sinful flesh isn't enough, men and boys contend with Satan's lies which say “God is withholding good from you”, and a world full of women who have been influenced by the scourge of feminism. Sisters, we need your help. Help us to love our wives. Help us to love our sisters in Christ. Help us not have to avert our eyes in church. An aspect of this sin involves not causing another to stumble. Your language, eyes, and dress can all be contributors to sexual immorality, however, this does not negate the responsibility of men and boys to guard their hearts and eyes from sexual perversion. Ladies, a call for you to live and dress modestly, isn't a call for you to live as prudes, in bondage to men who cannot control their passions, but rather a call for you to reserve your sexuality for the man blessed to be your husband. There is nothing more beautiful than a Christian woman exercising her Christian liberty by seeing that she is not a cause for stumbling among her brothers. Christian women, we do need help. We are called to turn back those stumbling to the slaughter, to bear one another’s burdens, and I can assure you, those trapped in this sin, struggling with it, and waging open warfare against it, are in danger of stumbling to the slaughter and carry a tremendous burden hidden by shame, guilt, and pride. The men in every area of your life need your help.
“Your lust isn't my problem” you may be tempted to say.
What about your son or husband?
“I have liberty to dress in a way that I deem moderate”. Fair enough.
Does this liberty give you license to sin?
“Why this message, in this format, at this time”?
Because brothers and sisters, the Church of Jesus Christ is being ravaged by sexual sin, and it often seems that it's only “those other people” who are impacted. We cringe at the thought of God's created order being subverted by female “pastors”. We scoff at those who would twist scripture and hold up homosexual behavior as a healthy alternative lifestyle. We become righteously indignant at the fornication and adultery that has divided churches and destroyed lives. We herald the gospel of Jesus Christ as the hope for those trapped in these sins. We champion repentance, and demand accountability of all involved. But when it comes to the sin of lust, which often takes place in the dark recesses of one's own mind, we often say “deal with it. I cannot help the fact that my presence and how I carry myself leads you to sin. Get your lust under control”. These men cannot without the gospel. They cannot without the church living out their lives in a manner worthy of their calling. We are called to bear with one another's burdens, to lay down our lives for one another, to consider others more highly than ourselves. We don't give a pass to sin, we make war with the sword of the spirit, with genuine Christian love not afraid of getting dirty, with men and women saying together #metoo. We are all sin sick sinners in need of a savior. I am a sinner saved by the grace of God, and I want to see men and women flourish in the way God has created them, in the place God has called them.
I made a post after the kentucky derby that caught the ire of several people online. The offending post said "At the Kentucky Derby, woman after woman came to the track drunk and half naked. I wonder how many left saying #Metoo" This blog is an attempt to explain what I mean about lust and immodesty.
Matthew 18:7 “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!
Everyone is responsible for their own sin but one way we can sin is by causing a temptation to others. We are not Islands unto ourselves. Our sin impacts others tempting them to sin and their sin will impact us. This absolves no one of their own sin. Lust and immodesty feed each other.
Men (and women) will be held responsible for their lust. Men must fight it especially in our current culture where temptation abounds. This is a battle where the main weapons are prayer, bible meditation, and retreat. Flee temptation men. Don't think that you just are supposed to grin and bear it. Joseph did not just grin and bear with Potiphar's wife. He fled. I have read some things online that have made it seem like you are a weak and unspiritual man if you can't just stare at immodestly dressed women all day and bear the temptation. There is nothing weak or unspiritual about fleeing the temptation. You may have to do a lot of eye bouncing, a lot of leaving certain areas, and a lot of repentance. But fight lust you must. You cannot blame others for your sin.
Women (and men) will be held responsible for providing a temptation to others by their vanity and immodesty. When you dress immodestly (whether its for vain reasons or out of selfish desire for comfort) you are the one from whom temptation comes. There has been a lot of talk online that men just need to fight lust and women can do whatever they want without any regard for their brothers or sisters. You don't get to be an Island unto yourselves. Your actions have consequences. Satan is a tempter and an accuser. Many women want to be just like him. You dress in a way that any person with common sense knows will draw attention and then you want to accuse someone when that attention comes. You fish with certain bait and act surprised when you catch the type of fish you baited for.
Read this part very carefully : Women should never ever be abused. Children are unable to give permission for child abuse and they are unable to tempt an adult. No abuser can say that the person they abused was asking for it. No abuser can blame another person for their crime. Child abusers and rapists should be given the death penalty.
Yet there is such a there is such a thing as foolishness. If I live in an area where there are a lot of break-ins and I leave my doors unlocked at night and my valuables laying around and I am robbed, I am not guilty of the theft but I am guilty of being a fool. My foolishness has consequences. I may even be guilty of having been a temptation to the robber if I were advertising that my valuables were wide open.
In a similar manner, women can be fools and tempters by how they dress or the situations they put themselves in. For example, going to the Kentucky derby half naked and getting drunk with men especially unregenerate men is a very foolish thing to do indeed. You don't get to act a fool and then proclaim complete innocence afterwards.
Now listen, there are women who dress modestly and scumbag men will still harass them. There are women who were not acting foolish and yet were still abused. Someone can have the best security system on their home and still be robbed. In those cases, wisdom was followed and yet God still allowed evil to occur. Women do not need to beat themselves up thinking over and over again what they could have done differently.
The bible teaches that if we train up our children in the way they should go when they are old they will not depart from it. This is wisdom and yet there are times when a child is reared in wisdom and yet they do depart from the way. The promises of wisdom are axiomatic promises. They are not magic levers where you pull the right lever and push the right buttons and nothing bad ever happens. But since there are children who do grow up and leave the faith, does this mean that we should throw out biblical instruction and train up our children without the fear of the Lord. No, that would be foolish and it most likely would result in worse consequences.
In the same way, since men may still lust if you dress modestly does this mean you should say I will wear whatever and its all on them? Does this mean you should just be a tempter since men may lust anyways? Absolutely not. Be wise and not a fool. Look to God's word for wisdom. Modesty is a love God and love your neighbor thing. Immodesty not only is a temptation to your neighbor but it is an affront to God because at its heart is pride and idolatry. God is opposed to the proud.
1 Peter 3: Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; 4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. 5 For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; 6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.
Do what is right without fear.