A 49 year old man catches glances of an 18 year old store assistant three times a week as he completes his shopping after work. Having only ever attracted her father’s negative attention she takes notice. They’re only ‘glances’ but somehow she likes the visual attention of this man well old enough to be her father; this is not lost on the man--at times, as he leaves the store, he can’t get her out of his head.
Pretty innocent situation? Hardly. For every one of these situations that might end in a lust-fuelled affair, there are thousands that go absolutely nowhere but the mind, and insidiously toward the corruption of the heart. And I’m sure almost no person is exempt.
Perhaps men are more motivated by the physical, whilst women are more captivated by the care and attention a man might show them. Either way, there’s a way into the heart of any person, whether it’s right or wrong. The power of sex does not discriminate.
If the man profiled above doesn’t watch himself he could end up fabricating something in his mind and heart that not only transgresses the girl, but undermines his own level of self-control; a moral spiralling effect is then set in motion.
This is the danger in even soft porn. I’m not just talking about Playboy magazines. Some of the ‘everyday’ magazines like People have just as much erotic material in them; and then there’s the internet. It’s just so available these days.
So, what to do? The key is to not look i.e. to never act on the impulse to look, and to train ourselves into this behaviour as a default, using the powerful will of the mind. Also, we can only gain power over these situations if they’re acknowledged and confessed and discussed. This is why an accountability partner is crucial; this person does not need to play a formal role. They’re just someone detached and trustworthy; someone we can be brutally transparent with.
The Message paraphrase of the Bible has Jesus saying, “Don’t think you’ve preserved your virtue simply by staying out of bed. Your heart can be corrupted by lust even quicker than your body. Those leering looks you think nobody notices--they also corrupt.” (Matthew 5:27-28, italics in original.)
Further along, Jesus tells us how important it is to not act on the temptation to leer. Using the power of the will we decide to stop and go in the opposite direction, no matter how much we feel we’re missing out; no matter how good it seems to feel.
Not one of us is beyond sexual temptation. And this is the best defence; awareness of the fact. Try converting your noticed attraction of the opposite sex by seeing them as your sister or brother or daughter or son--someone who needs your platonic friendship and that’s all. Try to see them as a unique being, yet no more special than the next person. They’re someone you’re allowed to like as a friend.
And this is the real power of God manifest in us; when we can gain victory over our fleshiest desire and make our behaviour right and virtuous, we gain freedom--the truth sets us free (John 8:32). We can at last truly admire every single person--as a child of God--regardless of gender or attraction.
The paradox is the victory over self is conditional and only temporary. We must be ever vigilant. When we draw close to God he will draw close to us (James 4:8).
Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved.