As I introduce my new website, I am sharing a series of award-winning articles written over the years. This article won a $1000 Award of Outstanding Merit from the Amy Foundation in May of 2001 and was published in The Moultrie Observer in 2000.
“Time Magazine” recently reported that the Guinness Book of World Records has awarded Danni Ashe the award for being the Most Downloaded Woman. If that term is not in your vocabulary, then most likely you don’t own or use a computer and you may not be aware of how rampant computer pornography has become. Danni, who poses nude, has been downloaded seven million times onto the computers of others.
At one time pornography was mostly limited to a few magazines that stores kept hidden behind the counter. My introduction to a “girly magazine” occurred when I was a teenager. I was away from home with several friends and our 4-H Club leader on the campus of Auburn University where we were attending district-level competitions. One of my older friends shoplifted a “Playboy” magazine from the campus bookstore. If the Guinness Book of World Records had been notified, we might have gotten the record for the most times one “Playboy” magazine was passed around in a 24-hour period.
It’s easy to make light of such experiences and simply say, “Boys will be boys.” However, such an attitude is a slippery slope to being ensnared by one of Satan’s oldest traps. This trap of lust is now as big and as widespread as ever. Americans are spending about $12 billion a year on pornography. Sex is the Web’s top moneymaker. It’s estimated that one in five hits on the World Wide Web are sex-related.
It’s a fact that men enjoy looking at beautiful women. Likewise, a woman can have her head turned by a handsome man. God created us to be attracted to one another. God created us as sexual beings and intended that we enjoy sexual pleasure within the context of marriage. Unfortunately, this plan of God is trampled by the lifestyles of many people, including those in the entertainment industry.
One research project revealed that 93% of the 10,000 sexual situations on television each year involve unmarried people. Even worse is the fact that nearly 50% of American teenagers believe TV accurately portrays the consequences of sex outside of marriage. Media such as this have contributed to the lowering of standards of what is considered to be an acceptable sexual relationship in our society.
Sexual temptations are everywhere but they are nothing new. Our society is not the only one to have struggled with this issue. The people of Corinth were having problems with sexual immorality so the Apostle Paul included these instructions in one of his letters to them:
“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” (I Cur 6:18-20) NIV
Monitoring what we see is a discipline that will serve us well. Lust is a slippery slope to many sexual sins. If we can honor God by keeping tempting images away from our eyes and inappropriate speech with sexual overtones from coming out of our mouths, we will do a lot to defuse the explosive nature of lust.
It is important to remember that nothing can eradicate temptation and temptation is not sin. It’s the snare beyond temptation that we need to avoid. The Apostle Paul said to the Corinthians:
“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” ( I Cor 10:13) NIV
Think of the heartache Samson would have spared himself had he fled the seductive arms of Delilah and not revealed to her the secret of his power. Think of the heartache King David would have spared himself, Bathsheba, Uriah, and the nation of Israel had he not called Bathsheba to the palace after seeing her from the roof, bathing nearby. Think of the heartache President Clinton and Monica Lewinski would have spared themselves, their families, and this nation had they not crossed the line of what constitutes an appropriate relationship.
We must never think we are immune from being affected by the lustful desires of our hearts. None of us are immune. Being away from his wife and family for weeks and months at a time, Billy Graham made a vow that he would never put himself in a situation where he would be alone with a woman. He would not even ride in a car alone with his secretary. Even though we cannot avoid all temptation, it is a wise defense not to place ourselves in situations that are going to be tempting.
A wealthy couple desired to employ a chauffeur. The lady of the house advertised, the applicants were screened, and four suitable candidates were brought before her for the final selection. She called the prospective chauffeurs to her balcony and pointed out a brick wall alongside the driveway. Then she asked the men, “How close do you think you could come to that wall without scratching my car?” The first man felt he could drive within a foot of the wall without damaging the car. The second felt sure he could come within six inches. The third believed he could get within three inches. The fourth candidate said, “I do not know how close I could come to the wall without damaging your car. Instead, I would try to stay as far away from that wall as I could.”
Staying away from “the wall” is a good plan for anyone seeking to establish boundaries that can keep one sexually pure. Recognize lust for what it is — a sinful desire of the flesh that leads one further and further away from the holiness of God. Like a moth attracted to a flame, lust will pull a person closer and closer to a moment which will give pleasure at first but will eventually produce destruction.