A Peculiarly Male Problem

Steve Arterburn

Although pornographic consumption is on the rise among females, it’s still considered’and has historically been’a male problem. But because consumption of pornography is recognized as largely a male issue, and because it usually begins in adolescence, many adults have become increasingly inclined to tell boys that what they’re doing is normal. That satisfying their curiosity with pornography, and gratifying their hormonal urges, is a natural right of passage to manhood. This is exceedingly dangerous counsel.

 

Based upon my counseling experience, I believe the pornography has trapped more young men, and haunted them throughout their adult lives, than any other problem.

 

Don’t misunderstand me. Not all men who struggle with pornography are sexual addicts. However, that’s no cause whatsoever to minimize the issue. If you become accustomed to the world of pornographic fantasy you’re at great risk to do great damage.

 

Eventually it will ruin your relationship with God, your feeling of self-worth, your ability to relate to women, and it can potentially destroy your marriage. But even if your marriage does stay intact, pornography steadily and surely steals the potential for true intimacy with your wife. True, you’re present in body, but your mind is somewhere else’entertaining thoughts and fantasies of other women who, in their own tragic way, have also been victimized by the pornographic industry. Wake up, men: fantasizing over pornographic images is neither natural nor trivial.  

When Doubt Invades The Heart

Bob Damrau

There are two universal qualities that are foundational to this week’s topic. First, every man having been made in God’s image and likeness is a person of dignity.  Then God spoke to Adam and said, ‘Every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat(Genesis 2:16-17). Adam then made a character choice. Today, it is our’s.

Second, every man since Adam (except one) is a person of depravity, i.e., we sometimes make wrong choices. The third chapter of Genesis informs us that ‘he ate.’ When Adam saw his wife being deceived and that she broke God’s law he had no confidence that the goodness of God would resolve the mess Eve had created. After all, forgiveness was never required up to that point in time. So, Adam attempted to solve this new problem by joining his wife in sin. Eve doubted that God was good. Adam doubted that God was good enough. That active disposition to abuse freedom in a self-centered manner has been passed along to you and me.

VERTICAL DOUBT

A client once said to me, ‘God seems far away.’ This man had lost his job and his house. His wife’s physical health was deteriorating and his own emotional health was marked by depression. Antidepressant medication didn’t seem to help. He doubted God and was angry at Him because of what he perceived as His mistreatment of him. All this, in his eyes, deprived his life of meaning.

When we perceive God as malevolent and unpredictable’despite everything His revelation in the Lord Jesus tells us’we can become sick in mind, emotions and body. When the trials of life seem to strengthen our doubts, we tend to take control in an effort to make up for what is thought to be God’s lack of goodness or greatness. We shift our trust from Him to someone or something less.

HORIZONTAL DOUBT

When doubt invades the heart it affects each of us at the relational level. The fall brought about a reversal of man’s rule over the earth to the point that it fights back with thorns. Man’s task went from trimming and dressing the garden, to toiling against the soil in order to eke out an existence. Whenever we give up on this task, the impact of the reversal becomes evident. Instead of subduing the earth, we allow the environment to dictate our behaviors.

A core desire in every man is to pursue and deeply impact a woman. Coexisting with this desire is the core reality that our drive to initiate leaves us at great risk of exposing our inability to fully understand a woman. We doubt ourselves. We tend to feel inadequate. Our thoughts reflect a shameful self-image as we think, ‘I don’t have what it takes to love a woman.’ In his book, Inside Out, Dr. Larry Crabb says, ‘The problem (men face) is threatened sexuality, an inevitable consequence of moving away from God. The symptom of the problem is sinful sexual expression. The function of the symptom is to provide a counterfeit, momentary sense of maleness . . . (but) that, too, is sinful.’ It appears easier to pursue a fantasy and maintain a false intimacy, while the genuine article seems to evade us.

OVERCOMING DOUBT

There are two more universal qualities that are germane to this discussion.
First, every man is a dependent person. Our first, ever, problem is recorded in Genesis 2:18, when God, Himself, said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone.’ We need one another in order to survive in a place that can not fulfill our deepest needs. You don’t have to, nor are you required to go it alone. Get healthy and stay connected.

Second, every man is a person of duty. ‘God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it(Genesis 2:15).

We are designed to serve Someone greater than ourselves. When we do not come to grips with this characteristic, our behaviors often reflect our depravity. Some call this a worship disorder.

Until we are adequately connected to God and others, we will try to preserve our fragile self-image, but when the focus of our love is only inward, we can not adequately build the relationships our hearts long for. Love God with your whole heart and others from your heart, and doubt will diminish.

Understanding Your Wife’s Heart: Part 1

New Life Ministries

Your wife can be your ‘comrade in arms’ if she understands the battle for sexual purity and the road you have chosen for sexual integrity. Because male sexual impurity can be unsettling, even shocking, to women, we’ve included this section of interviews with women regarding Every Man’s Battle to give you awareness of how to relate better to your wife and communicate with her in your struggle to be and stay free. Be aware there’s a natural tug-of-war in the hearts of women between pity and disgust, between mercy and judgment.

Cathy: ‘I did not know the depth that men would go and the risk they would take to satisfy their desires. I was unaware of how intense these temptations are and how much defense a man must muster to avoid stepping over God’s boundaries.’

Fawn: ‘I was surprised to learn that Christian men have this problem even after they’re married. I found the intensity of the problem to be shocking.’

Andrea: (From talking with her father and different guys she dated, she knew men were easily attracted visually. But she never realized the major extent of their struggle until she met her future husband.) ‘At the time, he was my closest friend in the youth group, but we were not romantically inclined. He did feel safe enough with me to share his problem with pornography. It was quite a battle for him, as he had first been exposed to it in third grade. I was a little amazed by it all because, although I was attracted to guys by their looks during my dating years, the physical attraction I felt was nothing compared to what a man feels when looking at a woman.’

 Brenda: ”It affects my trust in men, knowing that pastors and deacons could have this problem. I don’t like it that men lustfully take advantage of women in their thoughts, although I realize that women can be largely to blame because of what they wear. It’s at least some comfort to know that many men have this problem.’

How much mercy can be found in a woman’s heart when she looks upon this problem? Not surprisingly, it depends upon her husband’s situation.

Ellen: After hearing about this, I was surprised that married men would have so much trouble. I feel very sorry for them. When I asked my own husband about it, he was honest with me that he had some struggles, and at first I was hurt. Then I just felt thankful that he would share with me. He hasn’t had a major problem in this area, for which I’m thankful.’

Cathy: ‘My husband is regularly bombarded with sexy images, and I was pleased with his honesty regarding that. I want to know the temptation he faces. It will only help me be more sympathetic to his plight. I didn’t feel betrayed because he’s proven faithful in this battle. Other women are not so lucky.’

What about women whose husbands have been losing big in the battle?

Deena: ‘When my husband and I talked about this, he was honest and I was very angry with him. I was hurt. I felt deeply betrayed because I’d been dieting and working out to keep my weight down so that I would always look nice to him. I couldn’t figure out why he still needed to look at other women.’

Women told us that they struggle between pity and anger. Their feelings may ebb and flow with the tide of their husband’s battle. Encourage your wife to pray for you.

For more help on this subject see, Every Man’s Battle.
If you have already attended Every Man’s Battle, bless your wife by attending our couples program at our next New Life Weekend.