Read our other “Tactic” articles below!
Tactics: Waging Wise Warfare for Your Sexual Purity – A New Series
Tactic #1: Fight From Your Justification, Not For It
Tactic #2: Recognize that Your Soul is at Stake
Tactic #3: Don’t Despise God’s Good Gift
Tactic #4: Anticipate the Battle
Tactic #5: Anticipate Progress
Tactic #6: Prioritize Bible Reading, Meditation, and Prayer
Tactic #7: Go to Jesus When You Fall
One of Paul’s intensely practical solutions for a man battling lust is his exhortation to get married. In a chapter where he highlights singleness as a spiritual gift and commends it as a lifestyle particularly suited for ministry, he first notes that, due to temptation to sexual immorality, every man should have his own wife, and married couples should seek regularly to fulfill their spouse’s sexual desires (1 Cor 7:2-4). Singleness certainly is not for everyone, nor is it likely for the majority of Christians. It is a gift that most will not possess (1 Cor 7:6-7). The normal state for most people is marriage, not singleness.
One way to determine whether a man has the gift of singleness is to assess if he has strong desire to be married and fulfill his desire for sexual intimacy with a woman. A desire for sexual fulfillment shouldn’t be the only reason to pursue marriage, but it is the impetus God has placed in most people to get them moving toward it. If a man senses this passion for sexual intimacy, he should make deliberate movements toward marriage.
It’s possible, however, that a man may mistakenly conclude he has the gift of singleness because he doesn’t currently have a strong passion to fulfill his sexual desires. Whenever I’ve encountered this kind of self-evaluation, it is rarely the case that the man who reports he is “content” being single is walking in sexual purity. Often, the man who purports to be satisfied with his singleness is allegedly “content” because he is fulfilling his sexual desires illicitly, usually through pornography and self-gratification.
A prerequisite to determining whether you have the gift of singleness, therefore, is some measure of growing sexual purity in your life. If you can say, after a season of sexual purity, that you still don’t have strong desires for sexual intimacy and marriage, you should consider if God has granted you the gift of singleness to be used for his glory (see 1 Cor 7:32-35).
Your current battle with temptations to lust, however, is a good sign that you should seek marriage. In God’s wisdom, he has placed within men strong sexual desires to motivate us to grow up, get a job, order our lives, and get married. Granted, many men skip these intermediate steps and simply fulfill their sexual desires with a girlfriend or get married without much thought about their own maturity and other important preconditions to tying the knot. For Christian men, neither immorality or hasty nuptials are the answer. Rather, followers of Christ should use their current sexual desires as a God-given signal to start preparing for marriage.
Although sexual purity is one reason why a person should seek marriage, it is also required that a man exhibit some measure of growing sexual holiness in his life prior to seeking a wife. Given what I just said about sexual desire being the impetus to marriage, this comment about demonstrating some amount of sexual purity may sound slightly contradictory. Rest assured, it isn’t. A man caught in the snare of regular pornography use and self-gratification is not ready to be married. Using pornography for personal sexual satisfaction is as close to fornication as one can get without committing the physical act with another person. It’s no wonder that the word pornography is derived from the Greek word, pornea, a word often translated in Scripture as “sexual immorality” (Matt 5:32; 15:19; Mark 7:21; 1 Cor 5:1; 1 Cor 6:18). This area of a man’s life needs attention and growth before he is ready to be joined to a wife.
Furthermore, a man whose mind is flooded with pornographic images will be disabled from interacting with women in a healthy, God-honoring way. Nor will he be able to lead a woman in Christ-exalting holiness because he will be weighed down by the burden of his own sin and scourge of a guilty conscience. Lust wages war against the soul (1 Pet 2:13), which means it also robs men of godly ambition, our passion for edifying conversation, our zeal to lead, our ability to recognize true beauty, and a host of other wholesome, God-given capacities. A man addicted to pornography is in no place to lead a woman in a Christ-centered relationship.
The prospect of marriage, therefore, should be a strong incentive to start dealing ruthlessly with lust. A man does not, however, need to be walking in flawless perfection before he can start seeking a wife—Paul’s statement about a couple’s lack of self-control as an indication they should get married tells us that perfection in this area is not required to qualify one for marriage (1 Cor 7:8-9). But, due to pornography’s powerfully addictive and soul-warping effects, it is best, in my judgment, to make sure this sin is brought well under control before a man starts pursuing a wife. Making use of these tactics within the context of your local church are a great place to start.