Sexual temptation is one of the most potent challenges young men face.
This was true in ancient Israel. It’s true in 21st America.
Unique to our culture, however, is the time span between puberty and marriage.
In ancient Israel, young men were often married at 16.
The average today is 28.
Depending on when puberty starts in boys, that leaves a 16-to-20 year window open for sexual sin to creep in.
Our Culture and Sexual Temptation
To make matters worse, our culture views sexual sin as, well, an unsexy myth. In fact, to remain a virgin until you are married is not only sappy, but anachronistic.
What’s also unique to our culture is the proliferation of pornography, the rising skirt line and the plummeting neck line.
Opportunities to sin sexually abound.
So what’s a young man [what’s any man to do!?] who wants to guard his heart and virginity against sexual temptation to do?
In his book God, Marriage, and Family [a book worth buying, reading, re-reading and teaching to every single and married man you know] Andreas J. Kostenberger gives eight suggestions on how to safely resist sexual temptation.
Here they are summarized:
One of the best prayers to pray: “Lord, deliver me!” Prayers of desperation are acceptable. As is the confession that you cannot resist temptation in your own strength. Moreover, pray at all times [not just during temptation].
2. Grow in God’s Knowledge
When faced with temptation, Jesus demonstrated that he knew God’s word. In the same way, the word of God must live in young men and that in Christ they have overcome evil.
3. Develop Self-control
Self-control develops as the first two points are practiced over a long period of time. Self-control is a sign of maturity and a desire for a pure heart. Self-control is a main theme in Proverbs. Study it.
4. Seek Like-Minded Believers
One of the best ways to guard against sexual temptation and pursue a virtue like self-control is to spend time in the company of strong believers.
5. Recognize Temptation Is Not Sin
Jesus was tempted in every way, but did not sin. If young men can see that temptation itself is not sin, then they safely back away without feeling like they already sinned. Of course, the ability to tell the difference improves over time.
6. Seek Forgiveness When We Do Sin
God’s grace doesn’t give us liberty to sin. No. It gives us liberty to confess when we do sin [instead of being immobilized by guilt] and experience God’s full forgiveness.
7. Avoid Female Paranoia
First century rabbis taught young men to avoid women. Reversing that, Paul taught Timothy to respect women by treating them as sisters and mothers in all purity.
8. Regard Your Power to Resist Temptation with Suspicion
We live in a culture that promotes self-sufficiency. That’s dangerous on many spiritual levels, notably the will to control our passions. Don’t trust yourself when it comes resisting sexual temptation. Instead, lean on God.
This isn’t an exhaustive list. So what other ideas can you suggest? What strategies did you employ in your own experience to guard against sexual temptation–whether young or old?
Granted, this list isn’t for young men only. It’s for men of all ages. [And women. Women struggle with sexual sin, too!] As I’m told by a few men who are 60 and older, the ability to sin sexually may flag, but the temptation never does.
And by the way, one of the best ways to avoid sexual temptation is to do as Joseph did when Potiphar’s wife came on to him–run.