My husband is a poet at heart. He wooed me with his words. Then we got married, and I think too much and talk too much, so I’m always spinning his wheels concerning our faith and how it relates to the “issues” of the world.
One issue we have addressed is the challenges that men face with the images that are brought before their eyes. I recently visited the book store with my daughter, and in the check-out isle was a rack full of magazines covered by scandalously dressed women. The girl on the cover of Rolling Stone wore short shorts while riding a rocket – no pun intended there. It is horrible that sex has been dwindled to a cheap marketing tool to hook our men (and increasingly our women also) into a slow spiral of death. This reminds us all the more of the need to keep our hearts in check!
Here, my husband shares his heart:
I think I have an idea of what David was thinking right after his son died because of David’s sin of sleeping with Bathsheba and then murdering her husband, “Man, I wish I had plucked my eyes out.” As Sampson was being blinded by the Philistines, I’m sure he was thinking, “God, I should have plucked my eyes out before I met Delilah.” I think Shechem would have plucked out his eyes if he had known that a glance of Dinah would have lead to his death, along with the death of 2999 others. If Eve could turn back the hands of time, I think she would have plucked her eyes out before the devil convinced her to first look at the Tree of Good and Evil. If it were possible, I think Ham would have plucked out his eyes before walking into his father, Noah’s tent and seeing his nakedness causing Canaan and the Canaanites to forever be cursed.
I can go on and on with examples in the scriptures of those that would have traded an eye or two for their fate. Still, I am finding that as Christians, we somehow don’t get it. The eye is a dangerous thing; it is a distraction, a hindrance, and portal to wickedness and sin. With the eye we covet our neighbor’s money, her clothing, and his cars. With the eye we lust after another’s spouse, their celebrity, their prominence.
With our eyes we see past the grace of God and the blessings that He has bestowed upon us and deem those things unfit and lacking. We blame the society, we blame the television, and we blame our environment, but what we should focus on is our heart. Jesus states in Mark 7:22-23:
“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within and defile a man.”
So we must train our hearts first by studying the Bible and shielding our eyes from those things that draw us away from Him. “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” -2Titus 2:22. I know this may sound outlandish to some, but Jesus says “And if your right eye causes you to sin chop it off and throw it away! It is better to lose one part of your body to be thrown into hell.”
Lastly, we must make a choice. We must decide if our goal is to serve God and whether we believe His word or not. If I asked David, Sampson, Eve, Ham, or Shechem, I think they would caution us to the dangers of our eyes. I have decided to pluck out my eye (not literally of course). I hope that other men and women will join me. God is worthy of my obedience and my faithfulness for he is faithful to us. My eye is not worth my soul!
How can we help each other keep our hearts in check?
© Natasha S. Robinson 2011
8 thoughts on “HOT TOPIC: Into a Man’s Heart – Lust of the Eyes”
I got ready to post a reply, and then I wiped it out. . . and then I realized that Satan wants to keep us feeling like we can’t be bold in confronting this type of sin that so many people think “doesn’t hurt anybody else”. That’s a lie. We need to make sure our friends understand that it’s a lie, and we need to pray that our eyes are opened to seeing the ones who are hurting because of our sinfulness.
When we don’t see the hurting, we tend not to care about our sins in this area. So along with your husband’s great suggestion to study the Word and making the choice to “shield the eyes”, perhaps choosing to minister to those hurt by such sins (particularly sexual sins) may also be of benefit in keeping us in check. When we realize how many innocents are being devastated by these sins, we are confronted with the horrific consequences of our own sins.
Adding another comment because all my time vacuuming, haha, affords me thinking time! It’s kind of long. . .
While I do think holding one another accountable for “lust of the eyes” sin can be helpful, sometimes group commiseration leads to trying to solve the problem by looking for who/what is to blame instead of being tough about accountability to God. Individuals must be willing to accept that he/she alone is responsible for his/her choices. . . it’s not because of the magazines on the rack, the entertainment available, or because one’s spouse is witholding relations. It’s the individual’s choice to flee or keep company with evil. Natasha, your husband states this in his last paragraph. . . that it’s about choices. I agree with him.
But within the church, because we seem worried about egos instead of mostly concerning ourselves with souls, there is a problematic timidity in confronting and WARNING individuals about the dangers of such lustful sin. We’ve heard the sermons on David and Bathsheba too many times that it may seem trite and doesn’t appear to apply to us personally.
Let’s cut to the chase: lust tends to belong mostly (but not solely) to males. If that isn’t the case, then why are there books like _Every Man’s Battle_ being devoured in small groups across the country the past decade? I will say that it is my personal opinion (opinion) that male leadership is particularly sensitive to male pride, and because the predominant leadership is male, there is a strange, protective sensitivity towards men. . . a tiptoe-ing in confronting them with the devastations of their lustfulness or sexual sin.
If the women of the church became unguarded in their conversations and in speaking out about the hurts they’ve experienced with regards to this particular type of sin, it would be quite devastating to male leadership and the idea that men are supposed to be leaders. Women would certainly quit following such folly. I do not suggest that women do this very speaking out, but I would suggest that men need to see just how dire the situation is and let it motivate them to be righteous and pure. The future is at stake. Men can be healed through Christ, but we seem to be ignoring, in our churches, that women are sitting in long-suffering silence with the hurts that have been brought to them by man’s tendency towards lust. If this ignoring continues, the pressure cooker is going to blow. Men must wake up and be confronted with boldness.
I do not want to seem lacking in compassion. I want to see men and women helped, and I think a good place to start is in a Christian fellowship.
Somewhere in NC, there is a Christian counselor who will offer no coping strategies for the porn addict because the CHRISTIAN counselor doesn’t believe it’s abnormal for a man to devour such material. (This happened to a relative of mine, no kidding.)
And when we bring study materials into our church that seem to place blame on wives for their husbands’ dalliances with lust, what are we saying? (The _His Needs, Her Needs_ author blames Tiger Woods’s wife for not being available to him sexually AND the author states on his website that he believes “unconditional love ruins marriages. His quote.)
There is a tremendous movement online amongst evangelical male preachers heaping the burden of saving men from their lack of sexual control onto women by telling them it is the wife’s fault for her husband’s straying for one reason or another.
An excellent place to start to help people keep their hearts in check, I think, is to teach about sex and marriage from a very clear and strong Biblical standpoint. We cannot assume that any adult individual, no matter how old, sitting in our Christian fellowship already has a clear understanding of God’s design for sex and marriage. What the Bible has to say, when taught clearly and boldly, on the matter is pretty powerful stuff that will cause a sincere individual to think twice on the matter of “lust of the eyes”.
Women cannot speak to men in such a bold, serious, tough way about the matter. If we are to stop this “slow spiral of death”, it must be men confronting one another boldly, seriously and toughly on the matter. Especially if they want to be leaders.
Increasingly, I am disillusioned by the situation, but I know I shouldn’t be. There is nothing new under the sun, and we were not promised that the situation would improve until His return. Men and women will continue to battle sin or succumb to it. We must choose to be soldiers to or be consumed. I am sorry if this comes off as rant, and I certainly don’t mean to be offensive. I truly want to see people made whole by Christ.
Emily, this is a critical issue that we should all be thinking about as Christians. Men and women certainly need “safe places” to articulate their struggles. I agree that the conversation should also extend to include accountability and challenge the individual believer concerning the matters of their heart. Christ has the ability to deliver us from all sin, yet Satan is ready to bring the temptation at every corner. We don’t only want people who are broken over their sin; we want them free. I am thankful for your passion to see the family thrive in Christ Jesus! Love, Natasha
My husband and I were talking about this need for accountability and Christian “safe places” over this matter. We thought of at least a handful of men we know who avoid men’s small bible study groups. One guy we know well-meaningly got involved in a group at his church, and four meetings later, he dropped out and never went back. He was deeply disturbed by the confessions he heard. He had joined to study the Bible, not to attend a counseling session. It changed how he interacted with and respected the men, sadly. Certainly we are all sinners, but the situation was not uplifting at all. And such confessions and struggles need to be handled in such a way that they do destroy a church body. Yes, people need “safe places”, but in an advertised “small group Bible study” may not be the wisest place. . . We are not all meant to hear one another’s confessions. Not everyone is called to listen to and counsel the confessions of others. Isn’t this one of the reasons behind the Reformation?
I think that small Bible study groups could be complementary to private accountability/church discipline groups. Bible study groups can cover the Biblical understanding perspective on these issues without personal sin sharing while allowing elective private accountability groups to deal with the struggles on the personal level. Also, it’s my observation that the people who volunteer to lead small groups tend to believe their position is “teaching” in nature, and many of them are not prepared or trained to “counsel” peers or others within the church. Accountability group leaders and peers need serious training with adherence to certain orderly procedures and expectations. In the mix, there must be an understanding of Biblical church discipline. . . something that is missing and that many leaders avoid for fear of “running people off”.
I don’t mean this to sound grim, but it is a little late in the game to put bandaids on the bleeding that has been caused by the rapid ascension of pornographic culture. The church that does not already have a strong working strategy for dealing with this is at least a decade behind in coping with it.
I am merely a woman in the church, and I can tell you that what I have to say has had little effect on male leadership in dealing with issues related to marriage, sex and sin. I know you sense my frustration, and I prayerfully persevere in hoping that a strong man in my own church will stand up and apply pressure to this bleeding that is more tourniquet than bandaid.
Emily, there is certainly a difference between Bible Study and Small Group Fellowship. The church should clearly identify the difference between the two so that folks know what to expect and that they know what they are signing up for. Both ministries meet a critical need – the first, Bible study, addresses the importance of knowing God, developing theology, and understanding clear biblical principles and how we live those out in our lives. Small groups can provide fellowship, but if that is all that is offered, I do believe they can miss other important elements of intercessory prayer and accountability, just to name a couple.
There are a lot of problems that lead to some of the issues that you addressed here. The level of commitment of church members is one of the problems. If there are not enough people who are clear concerning their spiritual gifts AND who are willing to work or operate in them, that’s a problem. What normally happens is that the church has very many pew warmers and few consistent and reliable volunteers, so they will often take any regular attend who volunteers to lead a small group for example. So we often have people who should not be ministering in that capacity leading others. (I could probably write an entire blog post on this topic.) I agreed wholeheartedly that the church should be training all of its leaders (paid staff and volunteers), but unfortunately that is oftentimes not a reality and many can get hurt in the process.
In situations like these we should all focus and consider what God would have us to do to address these issues in a productive and loving manner.
Brief comment I love this statement: “God is worthy of my obedience and my faithfulness for he is faithful to us. My eye is not worth my soul!”
So true. I just like to ask Who do you want to serve God or Man?
We have to keep our priorities in check and not allow Satan to come in and throw us off track. When he sees that we are God-focused he will use whatever and whoever he can to throw us off track. God is worth recognizing Satan and his tatics and then go in the reverse direction.
Amen, Renee. Part of the problem is that some people do not realize when they are being attacked by the enemy; they don’t recognize Satan when he shows up in subtle ways especially in the various sins that are so prevalent in our society. It is so very important that we recognize the spiritual warfare in progress…that is half that battle – we must watch and pray.
In reply to Emily’s first post, I so agree with you. That is why I have started an organization to help teens realize that Satan is after their viriginity. I want to encourage them to stand firm and follow God’s word while instilling other personal goals.