Holding hands across the table, the newlywed couple was ready to celebrate their first Valentine’s Day in love as husband and wife. Everything was going great until the woman in the red dress strolled past the table. Temptation. The husband struggles to maintain his actions but he gives in and allows his eyes to follow her as she walks to her table.
Completely startled, this new bride has tears stinging at the corners of her eyes. She thinks to herself, “It’s Valentine’s Day and I can’t believe he is doing this!”. She quickly brushes her emotions aside and vows that nothing else will spoil this beautiful night.
About an hour later, just as they were getting ready to take to the dance floor, the husband excuses himself. In disbelief, his wife watches as he goes out of his way to walk past the woman in the red dress’ table. Lust.
The undeniable grip of lust had its way with him and surely this was not the first time.
With this, the damage was done. Her heart was crushed. The remainder of the evening was plagued with the memories of this young husband’s wandering eyes.
The Problem with Lust
Some may argue, “What’s the big deal? It was only a glance.” But for this wife, and countless other wives around the world, they are hit with the realization that maybe they are not enough. As situations like this continue throughout a lifetime, the damage to the relationship will likely become catastrophic.
Even if the couple stays together, if lust and sexual sin are not dealt with properly, the relationship will always be void of trust and true intimacy.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines lust as “usually intense or unbridled sexual desire”. The roots of lust usually begin on a small scale. If left unchecked, they can grow to an addiction level.
Lust has been around since the beginning. Adam and Eve allowed their “appetite” to lead them into the original sin. And David lusted after Bathsheba, causing a host of life problems for all involved. David’s sin even cost him the life of his son.
Many who struggle with lust can track those roots back to their teen years.
The Critical Teen Years
For most, the teen years offer a time of self-exploration as sexual maturity occurs. These are critical years where healthy habits are formed and a positive body image is developed.
At increasing levels, more and more teens are struggling in this area. Today’s media is constantly unleashing an arsenal attack of sexuality, perversion, and judgment. Television shows often exemplify that only perfection can succeed, and often set an unattainable standard for which teens attempt to live by. Movies, magazines, and music are constantly putting sexually explicit content as the main focal point. And social media promotes the “selfie”, where everyone appears to have their lives together and in perfect order. This often causes individuals to envy or lust after another person and their life. It leaves little, if any, room to recognize that everyone has imperfections or past hurts.
Self-esteem is typically a huge struggle throughout the teenage years. Too often, individuals tend to seek out the validation of their peers. This can lead to depression, addiction, or extreme measures being taken in an effort to fit in.
As adults, we must recognize that it is our responsibility to train up our children. It is our job to regularly discuss healthy sexuality and other issues that our kids are facing. And it’s never too early to begin those conversations. Remember, the world is greatly influencing the development of our children’s arousal template. We must become a voice of reason and discernment, and live a life that sets a positive example to this generation.
Understand that simple, yet risque, advertisements can sometimes be enough to spark the roots of lust. These can take hold and often develop into more serious problems down the road. They can also spark curiosity.
If a child does not have an open relationship with a parent, they may instead turn to the internet for answers to their questions. Even without searching for anything explicit, a child can be introduced to pornography. The Barna Group reports that 85% of teens and young adults who have viewed pornography did so using online videos.
Yes, we know that the internet can be a great source of information and entertainment. However, we also want to caution parents that guarding your children against the potential harm is vital.
“The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the treacherous are taken captive by lust.” – Proverbs 11:6 ESV
If a porn habit is kindled during teen development, it often evolves into a more serious problem in the young adult years. It often becomes a routine way to handle one’s sexual appetite or to medicate stress found in daily life. Pornography can also pose intimacy challenges as a person looks for their marriage partner, as their bodies and minds have been trained to respond to images on a screen.
In Love, The Early Married Years
During early married years, a time that can be initially sexually fulfilling, if the appetite is already there for the pornographic ‘hit’, the relationship can quickly begin to unravel. It might appear as though the seemingly harmless ‘roots’ planted during the teen years were cut. But all of a sudden, greater problems begin to plague the marital bed. Some men encourage their wives to watch porn with them, but it continues to cycle and degrades the relationship. Porn then becomes a gap-filler and ends up lessening intimacy between husband and wife, taking even greater form as an addiction.
Often what becomes a small crutch in the early years becomes a huge life-altering struggle down the road. The roots of lust start small yet run deep.
Breaking the Cycle
Because our culture has started buying into the belief that porn isn’t that much of a problem, and is actually encouraged, it can be hard for a person who is struggling to understand that sin is at fault. Working through to the root of the problem is essential to the core: pornography use is a sin.
1 Thessalonians 4:4 (NIV) says, “that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God.”
Acknowledging that the porn habit is indeed sin is the first step to freedom. Working to unpack the reasons why it became a habit in the first place and better understanding the freedom that can be found in Christ to undo strongholds is key. For many who struggle with sexual sin, they will recognize that the roots took hold in their adolescent years as the result of abuse, rejection, neglect, or other varying forms of trauma.
Very few can break the cycle of porn addiction on their own. Installing porn blocker software like Covenant Eyes and NetNanny is one of the first steps to building accountability and earning back the trust of your loved ones. But installing accountability software is not going to be enough. This is a fight that you cannot win in isolation. The community will be essential to your recovery.
Don’t Fight Alone
More than one million men around the world have let their love = action and started their journey to a life free from porn through the use of the Conquer Series. The Conquer Series is a riveting video study that combines both Scripture and Science to help men seeking to break free from the grip of sexual sin. Each video will provide information on the brain, the importance of renewing the mind in Christ, and practical tips that will help you find your identity in Christ.
Many churches around the world now offer a Conquer Group for men. In some locations, the Conquer Series has been used with women and couples as well.
If you’re ready to take the steps necessary to restore intimacy with God and your spouse, you will need to deal with every element of sexual sin – including lust. Invest in yourself, your marriage, your family, and your church – order the Conquer Series today!
The Conquer Series is a powerful cinematic 12-disc DVD series which is helping over 1 million men conquer porn and walk in freedom.