WARNING: This post is not for the faint of heart. It expands on some of the core moral issues with our society today, and expounds on some of our cultural (and in some circles, even religious) taboo involving the topic of sexual morality. Material contents include discussions regarding lust, sexuality, pornography, and masturbation from the male perspective. Be forewarned before proceeding.
It has been said that of Christian young adult males, 90-something percent of them struggle with, or have struggled with, pornography and masturbation. The joke is that the other 10% are lying.
The underlying fact is that lust consumes our society today, and unless you’re gifted with celibacy, in our world the Christ-follower finds extreme difficulty in living a life free of sexual impurity and lust.
God sets the highest standard of perfection for sexual purity in the lives of those that follow him:
For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor – 1 Thes. 4:3-4
Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart – 2 Tim. 2:22
But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints – Eph. 5:3
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’ – 1 Pet. 1:14-16
God expects nothing less from His children than purity and perfection in our sexual lives. We are called to forsake it all for the greater worth of knowing Christ. And in the world that we live in today, a society saturated with lust and glorifies sex without its proper context, Joshua Harris emphasizes that we need a proper view of God and His perfect, divine plan for sex as found in His Word in order to differentiate healthy sexual drives from the overpowering lust found around us.
When God first created man in Genesis, He created a “helper suitable for him” (Gen. 2:18), from which came woman. And from that true story, the purpose for which relationships and sex is revealed to be to God’s ultimate glory. Would sex be so desirable and enjoyable in marriage if it weren’t for the sex drives we’ve been given in our singleness?
But sexual desires and intercourse must be done and enjoyed in its proper context, for without doing so we ruin God’s perfect plan for it and defile our own body, the temple of God’s indwelling spirit (1 Cor. 6:19-20). There is no way we can serve God faithfully and live in complete devotion to Him when we allow ourselves to be joined to sin in physical bondage to the lusts of the flesh.
And although most of the time men, and men only, struggle sexually in pornography and masturbation, Harris writes that women experience lust in its own manifestations in their lives. When ladies dress immodestly or long after half-naked male models, it’s accepted by society (even Christians don’t look too downwardly upon it) but it’s nothing short of lust and sin for the females. Although it’s definitely not as much of a struggle for the girls as sexual purity is for men, it’s still vastly prevalent and, like all sin, must be destroyed for the sake of holiness (Matt. 5:48).
But Harris doesn’t leave us hanging with simply the destructive nature of sinful lust and the reasons why we need to repent of it. Sex Is Not the Problem (Lust Is) offers practical advice and instruction for us as believers to fight against one of the most generally accepted, highly valued, and strongly condoned characteristics of our perverted society. Guarding our eyes from any hint of immorality and purifying our minds with Scripture allows us to set our minds on the things above, rather than things of the flesh. And when we finally do meet our spouses, ready to consummate our marriages, we can do so in the beautiful design of sex as God, the creator of sexual intimacy has ordained and intended for it.
Additionally, Sex Is Not the Problem (Lust Is) arms us with several resources for us to fight lust and sin at its heart. With Biblically-founded principles and grace-centered truths, Harris paints the wonderful illustration of how drives and desires for sexual intimacy should be, despite the sin that we may have been entangled in the past, and the hope for future grace in our own marriages. For every Christian seriously desiring to live in purity and holiness for the sake of the further glory of the matchless name of Christ, this book is a must-read.