It is tragic and heartbreaking to see the rise in incidences of sexual impropriety and immorality today, ranging from voyeurism, sexting, sexual grooming, power abuses for sexual favours, molestations in public places, porn addictions, sex chat rooms to marital infidelities.
What accounts for this?
Likely various factors, among which includes the deliberate sexualisation of human society and continuing sexual objectification of women which is being conveniently and aggressively propagated through the widespread usage of smartphones and the insidious “attractions” in the 4 As of internet pornography.
Given my involvement in men’s ministries over the years, I was invited to share some practical handles which have helped me and many other men in guarding against sexual temptations.
But first, two humble words of caution.
Handles are only as good as the way we use them. And even when we use such handles, there are no guarantees of a sure win against every sexual battle we will face as men.
Truth be told, we face a ferocious and seasoned enemy. Moreover, a man’s heart is deceitful above all else and desperately sick (Jeremiah 17:9), with its tendencies towards darkness, deceit and a double life (Psalm 51:3-5).
It is when we think we are strongest that we are most vulnerable.
Hence we can never be overly confident of victory each time we battle. Perhaps it is best too that we are not so, for it is when we think we are strongest that we are most vulnerable (1 Corinthians 10:12).
Ultimately, we are men with feet of clay. As such, we can only look to God for His grace to grant us the victory whenever we face each battle, and His mercies when we fall and fail (Proverbs 24:16).
For easy remembrance, I have listed eight practical areas for us to consider, to help us as men in our guard against sexual temptations. They form the word BROTHERS!
Every man needs a brotherhood (at least one brother!) with whom we can feel safe and be willing to be meaningfully accountable to.
Do we have such a brother, one we can call at 2am? Scripture warns us in Ecclesiastes 4:12:
“For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.”
At our men’s ministry, we encourage men to find a brotherhood by having a SAFE place at our platforms.
(R)elationships with our wife and other women
Do we have healthy, meaningful relationships with our wife and other women?
If we are relationally challenged, we need to humbly admit this, seek help and learn how to cultivate healthy relationships with the women around us.
For single men, we must recognise that suffering from low self-esteem, confusion over our identity and experiences of relational rejections can drive us to subtly seek “revenge” or superficial solace in pornography or other forms of sexual gratification.
I would encourage us to keep focusing on building our identity in Christ and prayerfully seek out a loving godly mentor or older brother who can guide, encourage and affirm us in such a journey.
And for those of us already married, let’s work on having a regular, healthy and satisfying sex life with only our spouse (1 Corinthians 7:2-5). If we are struggling here, don’t be afraid to seek help and have honest conversations with our spouse.
Beware an idle mind and an idle life! There is truth in the old saying: “Clean Bible, dirty life. Dirty Bible, clean life!”
Intentionally occupy ourselves meaningfully. Keep a regular devotional life and a healthy prayer and thought life (Philippians 4:8).
As Paul reminds us, discipline is key to godliness (1 Timothy 4:7-8). Be purposefully busy serving in church and serving others; burden yourself with what is on God’s heart.
Also, cultivate wholesome pursuits such as regularly exercising, acquiring a new skill or knowledge, building healthy friendships and exploring new hobbies.
Each of us have triggers that render us especially vulnerable to sexual temptations!
Below is a HALT-BS framework that may help us to identify them. If it sounds coincidentally like “stop your BS” (excuse the crudity!), it is intended to be so to help us remember.
Some brief comments here: Underlying anger are often frustrations or pains, hence the attraction to porn which immediately “medicates”! Once we recognise these underlying causes, we can seek longer term, healthier biblical solutions to deal with our anger.
Regarding success, porn can sometimes become a “reward” we entitle ourselves to. Could it be that we don’t have friends who care enough about our successes enough to celebrate them with us? If this be so, this may be indicative of a relational deficit we are painfully suffering in our lives that is the real issue that really needs to be addressed.
Other triggers would be knowing our temptation chain such as how watching a movie with an arousing scene could open us to sexual temptation. Once we become aware of such patterns, we can then deal with the temptation sooner rather than later.
As an old piece of advice goes: “To avoid falling off a cliff, don’t walk right near its edge.” Instead, build your protective fences far from the edge – have healthier safety margins!
As men tend to be sexually aroused visually, a practical application of making “a covenant with one’s eyes” (Job 31:1) might be to close them if we know that our eyes have a habit of roving to where they should not go.
“To avoid falling off a cliff, don’t walk right near its edge.”
I found this simple to do when riding on an MRT train, for example, by closing my eyes while enjoying worship songs, listening to a sermon or an audio Bible reading on my phone.
As an aside, such negative triggers often also require relief. Physical exercise, which releases endorphins within us making us feel better, can be a healthy way to facilitate this.
Two key lies men often believe about porn are: ” I can handle this sin” and “This sin is quite harmless”.
Yet, we need to be brutally honest with ourselves that it is sin when we yield to sexual temptations (try justifying porn given what Christ said in Matthew 5:27-28), that we really cannot fight sin alone, and that sinful sexual pleasures ultimately harm us!
Hence, ruthlessly discipline yourself. For example, stay out of places such as dubious night spots and massage parlours. The biblical exhortation here is to flee (1 Corinthians 6:18) – don’t even think or try to rationalise it.
Breakthrough begins and sin loses its grip when darkness is courageously brought into the light.
Increasing neurological research shows that regular porn use creates neural pathways over time, resulting in addiction – porn messes up our brains!
And porn is certainly not harmless. It can and will destroy all our key relationships with God, our spouse and other sisters. And if left rampant, it will ruin our careers, marriage, family, finances and health.
If we are struggling with porn, stop the denial! Start the confession to your spiritual elders and some brothers whom you can trust.
Breakthrough begins and sin loses its grip when darkness is courageously brought into the light (Ephesians 5:11-13). Seek help by having loving accountability and prayer partners. We need the empowering of a spiritual community here!
We need to have emergency buttons we can press when we need help.
While I am thankful more men are learning to share when they have fallen, I have been encouraging men to take the next proactive step by finding brothers we can have urgent SOS calls with when we are feeling vulnerable.
For instance, this may be when we are anticipating or entering a HALT-BS zone so that we can be prayed for immediately (Matthew 26:41).
Don’t just work and work, and serve and serve in ministry. We all need sufficient rest. Remember, the Sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments.
So keep the Sabbath and engage in healthy recreational activities that help us to rest, relax and enjoy life (Ecclesiastes 2:24)!
We must build safety nets for ourselves. The key is to give others the permission to check in with us as well as to journey with others in sexual purity.
I have found software like Accountable2You to be helpful. This gives real-time alerts to your accountability partners when you are visiting websites that have sexual content.
You can also try StayFocusd, which works on Chrome browsers and allows you to block certain websites.
There are even tools that can help us to lock our phones or shut down our internet access by a certain time every night, and online programmes (there is a very impactful series called “Conquer” available here) that can guide us and facilitate our walk with other brothers in cultivating sexual purity.
Finally, while BROTHERS can help us, our ultimate focus must be on God! It is really God who must be our greatest and surest guard.
We are most effectively guarded when we keep returning to our identity as God’s men, finding our security in Christ, taking up our God-given responsibilities, walking with integrity, being accountable to a spiritual brotherhood and living our destiny in God for His glory.
Such a journey requires brokenness before a Holy God, living in daily repentance and believing in the victory we have in Christ.
So let us humbly look to His word to ground and guide us daily, earnestly seeking His Spirit to empower us continually as we journey through life as a band of brothers in Christ.
This article is part of an ongoing series called How Not To Fall, which offers practical advice on how Christians can avoid falling into sexual temptation.
- Do you have a brother (or brothers) whom you can feel safe confiding in and be accountable to?
- How are you relating to other women? Do you have healthy relationships with them?
- What are some possible triggers that can leave you particularly vulnerable to sexual temptation?