The first part of this is again, uniquely a “guy article,” but the last part is for members of ‘the female species.’ 😉 And some of the uniquely male parts could be valuable for helping women understand men. A wise friend recently reminded me there are three kinds of people in the world:
1) Those who know that they know (or understand).
2) Those who know that they do not know.
3) Those who do not know that they do not know.
The problem is to distinguish between the “1s” and the “3s” because someone who does not know that he/she does not know will think he/she knows. “Oh, Iiee understand!”
Recall Eggerichs’ “blue and pink sunglasses and hearing aids.” (See October 21, 2018) There is no way in Heaven or hell that I could or will ever understand the experience of carrying another human inside my body. Or of even having that capacity! In the same way, there is no way that a woman can understand the nature of sexual temptations to which a man is subject. I must accept that I was a #3 and now am a #2 regarding carrying a baby, and women must admit they begin as #3s when approaching this subject of masculine temptation. Any other approach is a recipe for frustration, annoyance, and anger.
A man can be a paragon of virtue and he will still have to face temptation just as Jesus did (Matthew 4, Luke 4). However, very few of us men are as pure of motive or determined of purpose as our Lord. There simply are not many Josephs around who would resist an attractive and powerful woman making an appeal for sex (Genesis 39). Fortunately, there are not many “Potiphar’s wives” around either, as women usually have a much smaller appetite for sex that lasts many fewer years.
Keep in mind your attitude as a father toward your children. How far would they have to run to get away from your love and forgiveness? Incarceration or abusive behavior by a son will change the character of the relationship, but it is long hard struggle to actually “divorce” from a father’s love, or from Father’s love. As men, we must allow the mercy of God and His grace to motivate us to living as Jesus lived, that is, in right relatedness to Father and to others around us, even our enemies (February 22, 2015).
The command to love one’s wife as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25), and to love others as well, is contrary to human nature and takes supernatural power. This kind of love constrains a man from feeding on pornography. Treating a woman as an object for one’s own pleasure without considering the effects on the woman is a high point of selfish arrogance. If when you consider viewing porn you remember, even for a moment, that you are looking at someone’s beloved daughter or mother or sister, its power is significantly diminished.
The idea women cannot grasp here (#3s) is the power of sexual urges that is able make a man deny the Presence of the Holy One (August 20, 2016). This is every man’s battle! How many women have sat brokenhearted in a counselor’s office and begged for understanding, “If he loves me . . . how could he look at her like that? how could he care about her? how could he enjoy porn? how could he . . .??? But that understanding will never come because this is a uniquely “blue sunglasses” phenomenon. Sorry, ladies, but even you are not as important to a Christian man as the Lord, and we men seem to be able to ignore Him at times.
However, men, the battle is winnable! A man can reach a point at which he can overcome temptations and there are concrete steps we can take to win. We will always feel the temptation. The birds will always fly overhead, but we can become very proficient at preventing them from nesting. (Another significant “guy phenomenon” is the desire to know what to do. We really like to fix things!) It is important to realize simply praying and reading the Bible, while helpful, is not enough. There are specific mental disciplines, invoked in the Bible, involved in overcoming temptation.
- The first step is recognizing when and where temptation occurs and making a plan to minimize its allure. If you know a lion is roaming about (1 Peter 5:8) you will behave differently. There is an enemy who is watching for an opportunity to trip you up! Read The Screwtape Letters for insight in this.
This could involve getting rid of one’s computer as one brother did. A few years ago, I asked him if he could get email yet and he replied, “No, C.A., I’ll never have a computer again. I won’t have a smart phone that accesses the web. It’s safer for me here.” He knows where his weakness was and rather than risk his spiritual wellness or his relationship with his wife, he will go the rest of the many years ahead of him without something most of us feel is essential. While we may not need as extreme a solution, the idea is to get rid of “every weight and sin that clings so closely” to us (Hebrews 12:1).
- The second step is to set our minds on the Presence of the Lord and whatever positive can replace the temptation (See attached Changing Your Thought Patterns). This calls for taking “every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). One could place a chair in a room for the Lord to make himself aware that Jesus IS there even when he seems alone. Maybe paste of picture of your daughter in a corner of a computer screen or on your smart phone as its opening screen to remind you that every woman you see there is someone’s daughter.
- Third is the long haul! This is the retraining of our mental habits. “Spiritual growth is in large measure patterned on the nature of physical growth . . . There is much in our culture that infiltrates our attitudes unconsciously and makes us expect spiritual formation to happen instantaneously rather than through steady progress.” (Robert Mullholland, Invitation to a Journey) Just as a child does not jump out of a crib and start running marathons, we need patience that the Lord is at work in us (Philippians 1:6) and not become discouraged by recurrent failures (Proverbs 24:16).
Lastly a small word of advice to girls and women, if you have any inclination to help men deal with their uniquely male temptations. Some women dress with intentional provocation and selfish desire to be wanted by any man, and that is “a whole ‘nuther can o’ worms” for another blog. This is not a “blame the victim” viewpoint, but encouragement to consider how you would dress and act around your father, and do so for Father. You want to look nice for dad and want him to admire you, but common sense says you do not dress to tempt him to lust. Many women simply dress and act out of ignorance for how difficult it is for a man to keep his eyes where they belong.
If you have to hold your blouse in when you bend over, change blouses next time or wear something under it. Cover your midriff. Do not wear leggings that show off every dimple of cellulite without some modest cover, and think about how much skin you will show walking up a set of stairs in your skirt or dress (1 Timothy 2:9). Be aware that most men will not admit to feeling tempted, especially in our #MeToo moment, but be cautious in your friendships with men other than your husband, just as you would want him to be cautious in his friendships with other women. This goes especially for working colleagues with whom some spouses spend more time than with their husbands or wives. Remember it is every man’s battle, and some guys do not even want to fight it! Simply become aware of how your attire and actions affect the men around you and dress and act to please your Father.
Steve Perry, Journey, Faithfully with lyrics.