Sunday, December 13, 2009

Catch a Tiger By the Tail 2

Well well. Good start Tiger. He has given up golf for a little while. This sounds like a man who is serious. There is another rumour out there that he spent up to $60,000 a weekend and was supplied with numerous women for his pleasure. It sounds like ancient Rome. An athlete of huge renown on and off the field!

Still, it is a good start to put his wife and family first (at last), and seek help. I am sure the notion of "sexual addiction" will now emerge. It is hard to know what to make of sexual addiction. Some write it off as an excuse for lust. Others acknowledge it as an illness. I would imagine that it is truly an issue for some. Anything can become an addiction if we allow it to flourish in our lives and take over. Things like eating and sex are so basic to being human, that undoubtedly they can overtake us.

We Christian men have to watch this seriously (and some women I presume). We are all prone to sexual desire. Sexual desire is not a wrong thing, it is a gift of the creator, essential to the marriage unit, which lies at the heart of God's plan for humanity (Gen 2:24). Sexual gratification, like excessive eating (alcohol and drugs for that matter), can easily become a means to meet emotional need. Like all addictions, it can only be satisfied with more.

Many young men start with porn, fantasy and masturbation, with feeding their desires with treating women as objects, dehumanising them, violated their image-bearing nature, and seeing them as merely a means of self-satisfaction. Walking down this path is dangerous. It inevitably leads to a desire for more, something different. At its heart is self-centredness, placing one's own gratification above others. In this sexually promiscuous society this can go in any number of directions whether it be multiple partners, prostitution even sexual abuse of others. For many it does not go that far, but the truth is that they live out their lust, if in secret.

Today men who take seriously the Scriptures need to be utterly controlled. If we set out on a path of determination here, we can gain control, and this can become habitual. The converse is to make a habit of sexual lust, and this is dangerous. Our sexual drive can easily become an untamable tiger (pardon the pun).

Before coming to Christ I was very flawed in this area. Since coming to Christ I found myself with a renewed power to overcome. It was not all that easy, but God has been good. Here are some thoughts:

1. Look women in the eye, do not see them as objects for sexual gratification. See them as blessed image bearers.
2. Remember that when you treat them as sexual objects, you are violating your relationship with Christ (union with Christ) and the Spirit (Temple), you are violating their creator, you are violating their humanity, you are violating your own humanity, and you are in sin in so many ways (check out 1 Cor 6 here).
3. "Keep your hand off it." Make it a rule to do this. This is not always easy, but you can train yourself in self-control. It can become a habit.
4. Find alternative ways of expressing your physicality. Physical exercise is critical here. Use up that energy on the field, in the gym, etc.
5. Focus on worship of God, serving him and others, and not on self-gratification. Living to see others cherished will see you well whether married or single. I am told there is nothing less attractive to a woman than a man who is self-absorbed.
6. Keep humble in the area of sexuality. Never think you are there and it is in control. Live dependent. Sexual desire has a habit of sneaking up on you.
7. Deal with issues quickly. If you find yourself attracted, don't pretend it is not an issue. Confess it and seek God's strength. Ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit.
8. Get help if you can't overcome. Stage one is a friend of the same gender, prayer and accountability. Stage two is help from a professional. Often sexual desire is linked to other emotional deficits which will need dealing with to be resolved. 
9. If you get married, see sex not as a means of your own gratification, but hers. Make it your goal to ensure that she is satisfied.
10. Don't think marriage solves it all. There will be times in your marriage where you will have to practice celibacy for health or other reasons. Get used to it, it is part of being human.
11. Determine from this point on to be celibate if single, no matter what it takes. If you are married, make a commitment to never put yourself at risk, where you will be in a position to be vulnerable. Take note of the example of Joseph and the injunction "flee immorality."

It is possible to train yourself in self-discipline here. It works if you persevere. If you feed it, it will become obsessive and demonic.

Let's not fall into the tiger trap.