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Soul Mates: Drawn Into the Mystery of the Other – Part 5

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

The Song of Solomon expresses the joys of romance and married love. God loves it when one man and one woman are totally in love with each other. Solomon and Abishag are the main characters, but knowing who is speaking is challenging in this book. There are pre-wedding flashbacks that make it hard to follow sometimes. There are dreams recorded that are interspersed throughout the song. And garden imagery is used to describe some very intimate, sensual topics. There are four places in the Song where either the husband or wife’s features are catalogued and commented on. It usually starts at the head and works down the body. While most of the previous posts in this series have dealt with the man viewing his new bride, this final post has the bride admiring her new husband.

She has to put words to how she feels. He has sung to her. Now, she will sing to him. There is an impulse in ancient love song toward hyperbole, exaggeration for effect. It’s perfectly permissible in a song. There is also a search for superlatives, words and phrases to highlight the value of the one being talked about. She compared her lover to the best things she could possibly think of in her day and time. In our search for superlatives, we might say “You’re astronomical, you’re galactical, you’re cosmic, you’re a star.” But her world was more about beautiful animals, dense forests, precious gems, lovely gardens, appealing smells, and great building materials. I want you to notice how many times his handsomeness and studliness is compared to precious gems or stones or to gold. She is trying to communicate his worth and value and her respect for him.

5:10-16 10 My lover is radiant and ruddy, outstanding among ten thousand.

She thought he was stunning and masculine and he just shined with a great complexion. She admired him. There’s just no rivals, no incoming freshmen who could ever match the handsomeness of her collegiate stud. Out of ten thousand, he’s still the one to beat. You know how hard it would be to find someone in a crowd of ten thousand people. Yet, she did find him and can hardly believe that people like him actually existed. Talk about respect. This guy is one lucky dude. Her facial expression and tone and now her words say that he’s the man she wants.

11 His head is purest gold; his hair is wavy and black as a raven.

This is not literal – a head of gold. He’s just number one in value to her. Gold was not native to Palestine. But it was used lavishly in the construction of important and valuable things, such as the temple. They even made false gods out of it. But she’s not making him a god. She’s not worshipping him. She’s saying that he has a good head on his shoulders. If his head was made out of pure gold, she wouldn’t be any better off. His level-headed approach was worth everything. She’s showing utmost respect for his judgment and his decisions. And when she disagrees, she does so winsomely. That’s how wise and perceptive he was and she was. I take it that he was well read, that he was a good leader, that he was a gentleman, that he was principled and moral, and had the utmost respect for women, especially her. He had the respect of a lot of people, even though he was young. And she just adored his jet black hair, black as a raven. There’s no gray in it. He’s young yet and he’s got a full head of wavy hair, and yet he is so wise.

12 His eyes are like doves by the water streams, washed in milk, mounted like jewels.

She’s just painting a picture with all this, isn’t she? She’s just giddy. He had beautiful eyes that just set perfectly with everything else. One resource said that the color of the dove noted hear would have been a deep blue color. When they would cluster up by a waterfall, the blueness would be set in contrast against the whiteness of the foam. He had gorgeous blue eyes. But they are white like milk. The guy is not a drunk with bloodshot eyes. He’s sober and in his right mind. These eyes are set like a jewel in a ring.

13 His cheeks are like beds of spice yielding perfume. His lips are like lilies dripping with myrrh.

She is moved by his looks, his smell, his kisses. An argument can be made here for good hygiene. Fellows, don’t overlook it. He had great breath. But even more, he said some really nice things to her. The “beds of spices” on his cheek leads me to believe that he’s got a beard. But it’s attractive and well kept. Beards were common in this day. Remember this is the exaggerated language of a girl in love. Beards are beds of spices to the lover. He must have wore great cologne too. Ladies go smell some samples, buy the one that just drives you wild and give it to your husband. He’ll be spraying it all over his body!

14 His arms are rods of gold set with chrysolite.

Chrysolite was a precious stone of some sort. As is the case with all precious stones, its color and rarity made it precious. When you have a precious multicolored stone, it commands a lot of attention because not that many people have them. These stones were used in jewelry or in decoration items or sewn into clothing. They were objects of appeal and beauty in the ancient world. She’s saying this guy is such a rare find. When she looked at him, she just couldn’t believe that he was hers. She loves his arms and hands were considered part of the arm in the ancient world. They are so sexy looking. Gold is actually a soft metal and pliable. When he flexed, it was like the gold just reshaped itself on his arms. He’s well molded. His head was like gold and now his arms are too. She loved his arms, hands, and fingers. You get the feeling that these hands have caressed her many times. She’s studied them. They’ve steadied her in a moment of imbalance on a walk in the Lebanon forests. They caressed her cheek as they have strolled through a garden. They’ve held her strands of hair. They’ve written her love letters. They’ve even been balled up and protected her from some rogue threat. They’ve intertwined with her hands. They tenderly touched her body. They have been used to figure out problems. She’s saying, “He can figure things out with those hands.” Men love to figure things out. If a man can find his way through a jungle with only a tattered map and pocket knife, he feels so alive, affirmed, excited, encouraged.

His body is like polished ivory decorated with sapphires.

Just the plain meaning of this indicates that he’s got a six-pack evidently – a strong torso. I’ve got a six pack. It’s just buried beneath all the polished ivory. A sapphire is a bluish stone and is mentioned frequently in the Bible. If his torso is decorated with these, perhaps she’s seeing the ripples of the six pack. There is also a very good possibility that she is describing his manhood and the male anatomy with the polished ivory tusk like remark and the sapphires. Let the Spirit speak.

15 His legs are pillars of marble set on bases of pure gold. His appearance is like Lebanon, choice as its cedars.

This guy sounds like Conan the Barbarian or Hulk Hogan. He did not have bird-legs. Marble and gold and cedar made great building materials. This guy was one put-together dude. He was tall like a tree in Lebanon. You could build a life on this guy. He was like one of the choicest Cedar trees in the Lebanon forest. They provided great construction materials. You may not love this guy, but you have to respect him. He’s not a loose cannon who is going to go off on someone, but he’s put together and sturdy and demands a certain level of respect.

16 His mouth is sweetness itself; he is altogether lovely. This is my lover, this my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.

She loved the way he talked to her. She loved him for being so much more than a sexual partner. He was a soul mate, a friend. She looks at her imaginary friends and says, “Do you girls see what I mean now.” This guy is one in a million.

This woman loved her man. When a woman loves a man this way, it is not a guarantee that he will never stray, but it captivates his attention like nothing else can. Many men have affairs with women who may be less physically attractive than his wife, but the woman he had the affair with made him feel like a man again.

Remember this is all a song. They didn’t always get it right. But when it was time to write the song about it all, these were the things that they wanted to say. They relished each other and became the closest of friends. Long before they pleasured each other’s bodies, they delighted each other with warm, creative conversation, time spent together, and loving embrace. We don’t know for sure what each of them looked like, but we can’t deny the love with which they were loved. And regardless of what they looked like, that’s what made all of this a beautiful thing. It’s the value of the one loved.

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Soul Mates: Drawn Into the Mystery of the Other – Part 4

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

5 Your two breasts are like two fawns, like twin fawns of a gazelle that browse among the lilies. Solomon was taken in by the beauty of her figure and breasts. The picture is of two young gazelles, affectionate, playful, soft – something that you want to touch and enjoy watching. Fawns are young, sleek and even graceful. But they are also very skittish. If you make a quick movement, they will bolt away in fear. Solomon is saying I want to touch those, but I don’t want to frighten her. He’s being tender. He’s moving slowly and cautiously. I don’t see him aggressively squeezing or violently treating her. It’s so important not to attack your bride.

Are you surprised that the Bible talks about breasts in such an erotic way? God is Holy. He is pure. This can’t be obscene. A man and woman married, madly in love, and having the time of their lives. It’s a playful time, a flirtatious time, a sensual time. If a woman always asks, “Am I beautiful to you? Do you notice me?” a man is always asking not just “Do I have what it takes?” but “Is life with you going to be sexual?” When a wife walks by, it builds sexual tension in the visually oriented male. He notices her curves and shape. And with every passing day since the last intimate encounter, every one of her features become more distinct and attractive to him.

Does your wife feel desired by you and does she feel beautiful to you? If not, why not? The reason she uses all the make-up and accessories is that she wants to stay in your center of vision. Does your husband feel admired, nourished, sexually alive? Why not? Why are you leveraging or holding out on this precious gift of marriage?

6 Until the day breaks and the shadows flee, I will go to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of incense.
Now, in the flow of things, it appears that the mountain of myrrh and the hill of incense refer to the same thing. But what are they referring to? Myrrh and incense were expensive perfumes. Let the spirit speak to you on this one. If I explain this one it may get you and me both in trouble. This is a work of verbal art. There is no sterile medical language to rob it of its eroticism. But there is no crudeness or obscenity to cheapen it. Each word and phrase lets us know that Sol basked in the beauty of it all.

7 All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you.
It seems now, that Solomon takes a step back to get the full picture. It’s like he’s saying, “From head to toe, you are just wonderful.” Of course, her body wasn’t perfect, but it was to him. It’s not so much what she looks like, but how he feels about her. With the exception of the teeth comment and the longer hair which is implied with the goat remark, we have no idea what she physically looks like. It doesn’t matter. What does matter, is how her husband viewed her (Mahaney). Remember it’s a song, poetry. He’s making some poetry. Her body is beautiful to him. He can exaggerate for effect if he wants to. To him, it was a perfect body. It’s perfectly acceptable to exaggerate in a song. Besides great romance is trial and error. Remember, this is a polished song, suitable for publishing. I’m sure Solomon and Abishag made their mistakes. Great romance isn’t about kissing just right or touching just right or a flawless evening. Romance is not reserved for those with flawless bodies. It’s more about fumbling and bumbling around together until you laughingly stumble upon those things that bring the greatest satisfaction and joy to you both. Romance, sex and love should be a no-pressure playground where you cultivate the spirit of playfulness. That’s what I sense in all the Song of Solomon – a spirit of playfulness and fun and joy within a marital context. That’s part of the marital fun. You open the gift of your sexuality together and begin to experiment and play for a lifetime. You give each other respectful signals of what is working and what isn’t and you just keep at it for a lifetime.

To Be Continued

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“I Need a Pornography / Orgasm Fix” – A Look at Cyclical Addiction Triggers

I am going to consult Ricky Chelette for an explanation of how certain things, emotions, or experiences trigger our need for a pornography fix.

1. The first point he makes is about addiction triggers. Though many of you think that what triggers a person is the sight of a good looking man/woman, I think something much deeper is taking place. Most of our triggers fall into one of these broad categories: Health. Hunger. Angry. Lonely. Tired. Stressed. Depressed. Whenever we feel one of these feelings or something closely related to one or more of them, we have the thought of RELIEF. We all want relief from the pain, hurt and stresses of our lives. Archibald Hart asserts that the two major drives that underlie the addictive process are excitement seeking and tension reduction. This is often “set off” by a particular starting stimulus. We can call this the “trigger mechanism” for the addiction. It is the emotion or occurrence that starts a given cycle of addictive behavior.

Let’s imagine that Dave, a fictitious salesman, is generally bored with his job, but he loves to ski. Skiing is the only source of real excitement in Dave’s life; he lives for the snow slopes and dreams about nothing else. Clearly he is an addict because he neglects every other aspect of his life. Now, say it is Friday morning. Dave usually spends Fridays in the office writing up orders and processing his paperwork. This is a part of his job he particularly hates. Every form, letter, and purchase order is like poison to him; he even dislikes touching them. Dave checks his watch. Nine-thirty in the morning. Still six and a half hours to go before quitting time. He tries to concentrate, but the dull routine of his job acts as a stimulus for his addictive need. Boredom is the trigger for his addiction craving. He wants to be on the mountain. He wants to feel the cold chill of the wind and hear the swoosh of the skis. He checks his watch again. Only 9:50. The more bored Dave becomes, the more he craves his skiing fix. It’s going to be a long day!

Trigger mechanisms like Dave’s boredom begin the addictive craving for a given cycle of need. They differ from person to person and from addictive behavior to addictive behavior. Hart offers some additional common triggers: anxiety, isolation, boredom, depression, crises, sense of failure, unmet sexual needs, criticism, selfish needs. There are many other possible triggers for addictive behavior. In fact, anything that threatens failure, rejection, or abandonment can become a stimulus for an addiction cycle. Add to this the personality traits of passivity, under-assertiveness, or dependency, and you have a powerful set of addictive triggers. People often develop a deep desire for instant gratification.

2. The second point Chelette makes is about medication. The way that we find relief is to seek some form of medication. This does not have to be actual medication, though it can be and this is how people get addicted to drugs, but it is medication all the same. It is something that causes us to experience pleasure and relief.

3. The third point he makes is about preparing to medicate. Even the action toward the intended medication, is somewhat medicinal itself. For example: If you are going to do the big M (masturbation) for your medication you might get undressed and lay in bed, or jump in a warm shower. If you are going to cruise P (internet Porn) on the internet you might get into something more comfortable and begin the search process. If you are going to act out with another or “cruise,” you might get cleaned up and put on some alluring clothing or other articles that would give clues to your intent. Basically, you go through some sort of ritual of preparation. It just doesn’t “happen.” However, we have done this ritual so many times that it feels quite automatic–we may not even realize that we are doing it. It is at this stage that most people tell me that they feel as though they really can’t help themselves–“it is like another person has taken over my body and I am just on autopilot.” In many ways, they really are.

4. The fourth point he makes is about going from thought to action. I am convinced that once you move from thought to action, it is very difficult if not nearly impossible to stop the ultimate medication/action from taking place. Yes, of course God could intervene, but He has created us with free will and He rarely interferes with our willful decisions. During this phase of the cycle you are also likely to be producing adrenalin; a very strong chemical that makes a person’s heart rate increase, increases their blood pressure, and gives them a sense of invincibility.

5. The fifth point he makes is the actual follow through on the medicative fix. You carry out your medicative fix by doing the big M or having sex and achieving an orgasm in some way. When you do this, your brain produces a chemical called endorphin. This chemical is extremely strong, some say even ten times stronger than cocaine. Every time you achieve an orgasm or act out in some way to achieve your medication, endorphins are produced and your body responds in a very predictable way. This is why you get that feeling of pleasure, euphoria, or peace when you orgasm (medicate). There are actually chemicals being produced in your brain that make you feel good. The preparation for the orgasm also can produce these chemicals but not in the same quantity or intensity as the orgasm itself.

I want you to think of your brain as a CD. Each time endorphins are produced, you burn another track on that CD. If you keep playing the same tune (producing the same chemical) over a period of months/years, you burn a rut in your CD and it is very, VERY difficult to get out of that rut. It is a universal, psychologically proven fact. We establish pathways in our brain that demand that we do certain things and get our fix. Thus, we continue to the cycle of medicating our hurts. . . However, like every high, it is followed by an equally powerful low. The low begins as the chemicals in our brain are absorbed and assimilated into our bodies. We first begin to feel guilty. You see, what happens with our desire to medicate is that each time we do it, it takes a bit more stimulation to get us to the place that we have the same medicative results. We constantly need more. That is why we spiral into deeper addictions. It draws us in, deeper and deeper, until we reach the black hole–DEATH. James 1 says when sin is complete it will brings forth death: spiritual death, emotional death, and even physical death. The process is gradual most of the time, but it is guaranteed.

How can an addictive process be broken once it has begun? How do we break the cycle of sin in our lives, the need for a ritualized fix? In addition to turning to God, I think that we have to learn how to cope effectively and Biblically with our triggers. This is not easy, but it is possible. Here are some suggestions from Archibald D. Hart.

1. Understand the dynamics of addiction. The greater his or her understanding of the dynamics of the addiction, the greater his or her ability to overcome it.

2. Anticipate the triggers and expose them. Knowing the kind of circumstances that tend to “kick off” addictive behavior means that the addict can either avoid the trigger or formulate a plan for keeping the trigger from “working.” Ask a close friend or spouse to check-in with you when a trigger is going to happen. Sanitize your environment.

3. Addicts need to find alternative ways of responding to their trigger mechanisms. This means learning to deal with need in a more wholesome way. For instance, if boredom is a trigger, the addict needs to learn some way of handling boredom without resorting to the addictive behavior. If the trigger is depression, the addict must seek help in discovering the underlying cause of the depression and overcoming it. Suppressing depression is never a cure — it only prolongs the depression.

4. Last, addicts must seek spiritual and psychological healing. An addiction is a very complex learned response involving the whole person — mind, body, and spirit. The longer one has been controlled by it, the deeper it is entrenched. Lots of hard work is needed to undo these complex connections of thought, nerve, and hormone. I believe that God’s intervention is needed as well, whether He works through a direct miracle or through a more natural healing process.

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The First Great Lie – Atheism | The Second Great Lie – Pornography (Digital Cocaine)

There are two great lies being circulated and believed today. Atheism is the first and foremost lie. While I have no problem with atheists personally, it is preposterous to assert that God does not exist, and then to claim that “I am in a sincere search for truth, and oh, by the way, there’s one area of investigation that is off-limits – God.” Why would anyone assert such a thing, and in effect, walling off an entire field of study that could inform ones search for meaning and truth?

The second great lie that is being swallowed by a culture in moral free fall is pornography and the associated deception it promotes. The belief that a little pornography is harmless actually sets one up to accept the entire package of deceit. “She’s there because she wants to be. Look at how hungry her eyes are; how much she is affirming me as a man.” But in reality, the “she” or “he” is just pixels on a screen or a series of dots on a page, airbrushed and presented as something that will meet our deepest needs of intimacy. She may look hungry for you men, but it’s all a facade.

These beliefs set you up for deception – you start to believe the Lie. Here are the lies about women that pornography tells you (with some help from Sex and Lies, an article by Gene McConnell and Keith Campbell).

Lie # 1: Women are less than human. The women in Playboy magazine are called “bunnies,” making them cute little animals or “playmates,” making them a toy. Porn often refers to women as animals, playthings, or body parts. Some pornography shows only the body and doesn’t show the face at all. The idea that women are real human beings with thoughts and emotions is played down. She’s just a series of body parts.

Lie #2: Women are a “sport.” Some sports magazines have a swimsuit issue. This suggests that women are just some kind of sport. Porn views sex as a game and in a game, you have to win, conquer or score.

Lie #3: Women are property. It’s common to see pictures of the slick car with the sexy girl draped over it. The unspoken message is, “Buy one, and you get them both.” Hard-core porn carries this even further. It displays women like merchandise in a catalogue, exposing them as openly as possible for the customer to look at. It’s not surprising that many young men think that if they have spent some money taking a girl out, they have a right to have sex with her. Porn tells us that women can be bought.

Lie #4: A woman’s value depends on the attractiveness of her body. Overweight or less attractive women are ridiculed in porn. They are called degrading names, simply because they don’t fit into porn’s criteria of the perfect woman. In fact, if someone is attracted to a heavyset woman, porn labels that a fetish, which means sexual obsession or hang-up that isn’t “natural.” Porn doesn’t care about a woman’s mind or personality, only her body.

Lie #5: Women like rape and sexual abuse. “When she says no, she means yes” is a typical porn scenario. Women are shown being raped, fighting and kicking at first, and then starting to like it. Porn eroticizes rape and makes it arousing. Women are shown being tied up, beaten, and humiliated in hundreds of sick ways and finally begging for more. Even while being tortured, the porn actors and actresses have a smile on their face — a look of intense enjoyment. Porn teaches men to enjoy hurting and abusing women for entertainment. Men don’t see them as created in God’s image.

Pornography is a lie people believe. It will not satisfy your sexual drive; it will always ask for more of you. Before long, you will not just have an addiction; the addiction will have you. There are many beautiful wives in Victoria Secret night-ware who fall asleep every night alone because a husband can’t give up his late night pornography habit.

Dr. Victor Cline says that sex and pornography can be a more difficult addiction to break than cocaine. There are five stages of addiction…

1. Early exposure. Most guys who get addicted to porn start early. They see the stuff when they are very young, and it gets its foot in the door. The average age of first exposure is under 10 years of age.

2. Addiction. Later comes addiction. You keep coming back to porn. It becomes a regular part of your life. You’re hooked. You can’t quit.

3. Escalation. After a while, escalation begins. You start to look for more and more graphic porn. You start using porn that would have disgusted you when you started. Now it excites you.

4. Desensitization. Eventually, you start to become numb. Even the most graphic, degrading porn doesn’t excite you anymore. You become desperate to feel the same thrill again but can’t find it.

5. Acting out sexually. At this point, many men make a dangerous jump and start acting out sexually. They move from the paper and plastic and digital images of porn to the real world.

Emily Efurd, a licensed marriage and family counselor who has been working with sex addicts for over a dozen years. Emily offers some bottom line steps to overcoming sex addiction and the lie of pornography:

1. Recognize how you got where you are by examining the small but important choices you have made over time.

2. Confess it all as sin and choose to repent by changing your behavior. Slam the door on your former behaviors.

3. Stop masturbating, which is a type of substance abuse, to pornography. (The brain chemicals activated by arousal and orgasm are a specific chemical substance that can become addictive.) Take all your sexual energy to your spouse.

4. Stop objectifying women as sex objects or body parts and train yourself to see them as real people. For example, look them in the eye and note their eye color; note their hair color. Again, women are image-bearing creations of God. Give them the respect they deserve.

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The Centerfold Syndrome – A Banquet of Glistening Flesh

Steve Arterburn in his co-authored book Everyman’s Battle, shares a personal story.

“In 1983, my wife, Sandy, and I celebrated our first anniversary. One sun-splashed Southern California morning…I hopped in our 1973 Mercedes 450SL, white with a black top… I always loved driving along the…Pacific Coast Highway…

I never intentionally set out to be girl-watching that day, but I spotted her about two hundred yards ahead and to the left. She was jogging toward me along the coastal sidewalk… My eyes locked on to this goddesslike blonde, rivulets of sweat cascading down her tanned body as she ran… Her jogging outfit…was actually a skimpy bikini…

My eyes feasted on this banquet of glistening flesh as she passed on my left, and they continued to follow her lithe figure as she continued jogging southbound. Simply by lustful instinct, as if mesmerized by her gait, I turned my head further and further, craning my neck to capture every possible moment of my mental video camera.

Then blam!… My Mercedes…plowed into a Chevelle that had come to a complete stop in my lane… I got out of the car – embarrassed, humiliated, saturated with guilt, and unable to offer a satisfying explanation. No way would I tell this guy, ‘Well, if you’d seen what I saw, you’d understand.’”

Arterburn is honest. For ten more years, he spinned in the cycle of lust, deceived by its power. But he eventually broke out of the cycle and wrote a book about addictive sex.

Sex is a beautiful thing, but it can get twisted. Addictive sex is done in isolation and is devoid of relationship. Addictive sex is secretive. Addictive sex is devoid of intimacy. Addictive sex is victimizing and women are just objects or body parts. Addictive sex ends in despair. Addictive sex is used to escape pain and problems. Our addiction deceives us. Instead of bringing our sexual energy to our wives, we take it other places, especially in our anonymous place.

To prevent a sad story of deception, to empower men to lead in the church, to enable them to lead in their families and personal lives, Arterburn asserts that we must win the war inside. Thousands have wrecked their lives on the jagged reefs of immorality. This is how it all begins, “I was driving down the road one day…” Or “I was surfing the internet one day…” Or “I saw her at work one day…”

Hungry, angry, lonely, tired, stressed, depressed, frustrated, and sometimes discouraged, the tendency will be to turn to the “banquet of glistening flesh” to get another “chemical pop”, an epinephrine rush, an internal hormonal high, to jolt us out of the boredom of life. But we lose something of our true selves when we seek to fulfill our sexuality on our own terms.

A routine banquet of glistening flesh is not “harmless fun”. In his book, The Centerfold Syndrome, psychologist Gary R. Brooks, Ph.D., identifies five principal symptoms of what he describes as a “pervasive disorder” linked to consumption of soft-core pornography like Playboy and Penthouse. Pornography is not harmless. Here are the symptoms of living with the centerfold syndrome:

1. Voyeurism — An obsession with looking at women rather than interacting with them. Brooks contends that the explosion in glorification and objectification of women’s bodies promotes unreal images of women, and distorts physical reality. Sex without attachment.

2. Objectification — An attitude in which women are objects rated by size, shape and harmony of body parts. Brooks asserts that if a man spends most of his emotional energy on sexual fantasies about inaccessible people, he frequently will not be available for even the most intimate emotional and sexual moments with his partner.

3. Validation — The need to validate masculinity through beautiful women. According to Brooks, the women who meet centerfold standards only retain their power as along as they maintain perfect bodies and the leverage of mystery and unavailability. And the great majority of men who never come close to sex with their dream woman are left feeling cheated or unmanly.

4. Trophyism — The idea that beautiful women are collectibles who show the world who a man is. Brooks asserts that the women’s-bodies-as-trophies mentality, damaging enough in adolescence, becomes even more destructive in adulthood. Furthermore, trophies, once they are won, are supposed to become the property of the winner, a permanent physical symbol of accomplishment and worthiness. This cannot be so with women’s bodies.

5. Fear of true intimacy — Inability to relate to women in an honest and intimate way despite deep loneliness. Pornography pays scant attention to men’s needs for sensuality and intimacy while exalting their sexual needs. Thus, some men develop a preoccupation with sexuality, which powerfully handicaps their capacity for emotionally intimate relationships with men and for nonsexual relationships with women.

Women are beautiful because God made them that way. But they are more than “a banquet of glistening flesh.” If we are going to achieve true intimacy with a woman, then we must understand God’s view of purity. In order to experience sex as God designed it, we need to be walking the road of purity. No matter what you’ve been involved in up to this point, God is ready and waiting to help you get back on that road. To get there, you’ve got to make a serious commitment to restoration and a new view of women. Throw-off the centerfold syndrome. Stop believing the lie it proposes and avoid the unecessary crashes that are sure to happen when women are merely “banquets of glistening flesh.”

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Women – The Climax of Creation (For Men Only)

God made women beautiful. They are the crown of His creation – the one final thing that God made in Genesis. She is a work of art. She is the crescendo. Creation was brought to completion with Eve. God gave Eve a beautiful form and a beautiful spirit. There’s something about her that is mesmerizing. Of course, the Fall has impacted how we see women and how women go about being beautiful, but for the record, women are the climax of a creative Genesis week. They should be adored; but not worshipped.

Jesus makes sure that we should take great care to appreciate, cherish, and value this special climax of creation that belongs to God. Jesus uses extreme and graphic figures of speech to convey this truth.

Matthew 5:27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully [Lustfully is the keyword. Jesus is OK with acknowledging the beauty of a woman; it’s the lusting that He has an issue with.] has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin [or stumble, coming from a word that describes part of a trapping mechanism. If you’re in a trap…], gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.

Jesus uses hyperbole – extreme exaggeration for effect – that is, more is said figuratively than is literally meant.

In a dramatic way, so that you wouldn’t forget it (many men can still quote this part of the Bible, even though they haven’t read it in years), He says “Don’t look lustfully, don’t act, and don’t go there. It’s a trap. Enjoy love and intimacy and appreciate beauty, but do whatever it takes to stay morally clean. Amputate the sources. Cancel subscriptions. Take another route. Put the computer in a public place in the home. Be as drastic as you have to be.”

When you mess with your sexuality, you open Pandora’s Box. I don’t believe Jesus endorsed self-mutilation, but He did believe in self-control. It is better for you to lose one part of your body, and forgo some experiences if that is what it takes, than for your whole body to go into hell (NIV).

Why does Jesus use such extreme and graphic figures of speech in this passage?” He understands what incredible harm can be done in this particular area of life. We hunger and thirst for love and relationship and we go about fulfilling this in all the wrong ways. We live in a world in which people are dying to be loved and don’t know where on earth to find love and intimacy. So what we do is that we confuse sexual fascination and desire with true love and intimacy.

Jesus gets extreme here because we have gotten extreme in what we do with, for and to others and how we view each other, especially how men view women. Jesus gets graphic because we have gotten graphic in our consumption of people. Jesus is not telling us to deny the beauty that God bestowed on a woman at Creation. He’s telling us to cherish the beauty, not consume it.

Randy Rowland argues: Lust is the under functioning of love and sexuality as God intended it to be. “We fear rejection, abandonment, alienation, failure to be lovable and adequate in relationships. The insecurities drive us to what we feel are safer places to explore our sensual and erotic urges. In doing so, we under function. We become less than what God created us for. You see, love and sexuality are meshed together in the context of a committed relationship… Sexual intimacy is a bonding agent (Sins We Love, 173).”

When we are in lust instead of in true love, we consume objects rather than love persons. The focus is entirely on yourself. We fixate and build scenarios in our mind that emerge as fantasy. We look in all the wrong places to feed this displaced sexual urge. In all our attempts, we dehumanize, degrade, and consume what should be loved, cherished and respected. Love gives; lust takes. Love values; lust uses. Love endures; lust subsides. Love is a process; lust is an act. Love is learned; lust is instinctive. Love requires constant attention; lust takes very little effort. Love takes time to develop and mature; lust needs no time to develop. Love requires emotional and spiritual interaction; lust requires only physical interaction. Love deepens a relationship; lust (operating alone) dulls a relationship–and will often end up killing it. It drives you into secrecy and hidden activities and self-absorption and self-hatred. The longer lust takes charge, the greater the loneliness and more extensive the shame.

True love and intimacy is a covenantal promise to understand the depths of another and stand with them for the long haul. Love is about a deep relationship over time. Love seeks the highest good of another. Love always pays a price. Love always costs something. Love is expensive. When you love, benefits accrue to another’s account. Love is for someone else, not for me. Love gives; it doesn’t grab. Love honors; it doesn’t devalue. Love leads to greater openness, enjoys creativity and leads to a bond of closeness. It all results in a very satisfying, guilt-free relationship with a spouse.

So, men, let’s do the honorable thing. Let’s affirm the beauty that God placed in a woman. And, if we are married, let’s focus our attention on the beauty in the One woman that He has allowed us to be with. Your woman doesn’t have to be on the cover of a magazine to make her truly happy. She just wants to know that she would be on “your magazine” and that she is a beautiful person to you.

Give her this gift this holiday season. What a climax!

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Pornography – A Thirsty Person Craving Salt

I like Frederick Buechner’s words: “Lust is the craving for salt of a man who is dying of thirst.” Pornography only creates more thirst, and quenches nothing, damaging our ability to be intimate with anyone. Sex is a beautiful concept. It is sacred; there’s nothing casual about it. But it has been twisted into insatiable thirst.

Even though pornography is not a source of lasting satisfaction, people who view it usually do so because they’re looking to fill a deep intimacy need. Pornography is a cheap substitute for what they’re really seeking — intimacy. And porn just leaves you more thirsty.

For many guys, an image is easier to relate to than a young woman with a heart, mind and emotions. An image has no expectations. You don’t have to impress an image or deal with any of the awkwardness that comes with relating to a real person.

Moving into the context of marriage, sex between a husband and a wife is giving yourself completely to your spouse. Those who masturbate to pornography, are engaging in sex with self. Masturbation is giving nothing. Masturbation can take a man into a fantasy world where he can be with anyone he wants and do anything he wants. That’s why married men can get caught up in pornography; it’s a low risk, self-centered way to get that “chemical pop” or rush. But something is lost, intimacy is lost, when we handle our sexuality in this way.

Pornography viewing can begin with something seemingly harmless: airbrushed photos in a magazine or a click on the Web. Soon you’re desiring more graphic material and falling more often. Pornography, a closet addiction, grabs you when you’re weak and holds you in its clutches. Planting seeds of alienation, it attacks and destroys relationships and robs you of self-respect.

Some things that we need to know before we click on those images and masturbate to pixels on a screen are offered by Steve Arterburn.

1. Attraction to a person of the opposite sex is natural.

2. Sex is exhilarating and it is God-given. God made sex beautiful; we have twisted this gift from God.

3. Sex is a slippery slope. Little compromises turn into bigger compromises.

4. God has sexual standards for His creation. To “lust” for something is to have “an intense desire or need” usually to the point that you’re willing to violate God’s word or use another person for your own gratification. Lust must be gratified now at any cost. Again, I like Frederick Buechner’s words: “Lust is the craving for salt of a man who is dying of thirst.” Lust is never satisfied.

Scripture illustrates this. Genesis 19 records the perversity of Sodom. Judges 16 tells of Samson’s fatal flaw. 2 Samuel 11 tells of David’s voyeuristic rooftop lusting that led to sin. Perhaps, one of the saddest pictures of lust comes from 2 Samuel 13 where Amnon rapes Tamar, his half-sister.

The NT speaks against homosexual relationships (Rom.1), incestuous relationships (1 Cor.5:1,5, 9-11) and immoral relations (1 Thess.4:3-7). Contrast all of this with the story of Joseph in Genesis 39 who showed restraint and control. So lust can be controlled, and Joseph shows us that we have to literally flee in some cases.

5. God’s love endures through our failure to keep His standards.

6. There is a devil and he will exploit this area. Before marriage, Satan does everything he can to get you to have sex with your boy/girlfriend. After marriage, he does everything he can to keep you from having sex with your wife. One of his ploys is pornography. It sets you up for temptation and moral failure. It degrades people, children, and undermines families. It normalizes immorality.

I may be sharing more on this. But for now, get yourself sexually sober, allow God to show you true intimacy, and rebuild your interior life over the holidays. What a great gift to give to those people who you truly want to be intimate with. If you are married, take ALL of your sexual energy to your spouse and recover true intimacy. What a great Christmas present!

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Filed under Atheism, Atheist, Christian Worldview, Christmas, Lust, Masturbation, Pornography, Sex