A Word of Thanks to MCAG
To all the pastors and the team at MCAG, I want to say thank you. It was just over a year ago that I discovered your site, and what I learned there opened my eyes to a whole new way of seeing the human body. So I want to say thank you for having the courage to speak the truth even when it is difficult and can get you ostracized. Thank you for the time spent diligently explaining and expounding the Word of God. The culture, and all too often the church, seem to think that those who speak of the goodness of the body are hiding some secret perversion, though the truth is precisely the opposite. But you spoke truth in spite of what what people might think, and for that I am so thankful. By God’s grace I will also spread the same truth, because it is a message that our churches and our culture desperately need to hear.
Freedom from Porn’s Allure
To all who may be visiting this site, I want to share a bit of how it has helped me. What this site says about being free from the allure of porn has proven true for me. I wanted to wait a year before writing this because everything else I’ve tried in my battle against pornography had worn off after a year (or less), leaving me feeling like more of a failure. But something really is different this time. But I also want to say the impact of this site has actually gone way beyond freedom from allure of pornography. Here is my story. (This is extremely personal, so it needs to stay anonymous.)
I’m in my late 20’s, and have been married to a lovely, intelligent and compassionate woman for the better part of a decade. We had both been raised in good Christian homes. Of course, like most of our generation, we grew up believing that our bodies and sexuality were somehow shameful. Bodies needed to be covered, and conversations about sexuality were basically limited to “don’t do it”. Also like most men of my generation, I found internet pornography during my teen years and it became an ongoing battle and source of guilt. Other than my struggle with pornography, I avoided all the behaviors which our evangelical culture said made us “impure”, and I made it to marriage with my “purity” intact.
Some time before I met her, my future wife had been sexually assaulted by a man with a severe pornography addiction. She was in counseling and on the path toward healing by the time that I came into her life, but there were still significant struggles for us. Yet, through it all, God made it abundantly clear to me that she was the one He had for me. Because of my wife’s experience, I came to hate pornography and all the abuse and evil towards women that it represented and promoted. But the allure was still there, and I was always afraid that one day I was going to go back to it. I relied on internet filters and had no web browser on my smartphone.
Was I Like a Predator?
I had always been told—by both the culture and the church—that men are primarily visual (meaning that what we see controls our sexual response). Because I had been told that men were visual, I had believed that the effects of time, weight gain, or childbirth on my wife’s body could eventually diminish my attraction for her. She had believed that too. Despite my reassurances, she lived with a fear that someday she wouldn’t be pretty enough to hold my attention. Several years ago she gained some extra weight due to a medication and health problems. It seemed odd to me at the time, but my attraction to her didn’t decrease (I know now it’s because we have a loving relationship). However, she really believed that her worth as a woman was tied up in how she looked, and she sometimes felt she no longer deserved to be loved.
I wanted to be nothing like the man who had abused my wife. The way I acted towards her was totally different, yet I noticed there were far too many similarities in the way that I thought about her body. Sometimes when she changed in front of me I would look at her body with what I thought was “healthy” male sexual attraction, and she would say to me “stop! you’re looking at me like a predator!” I was devastated, but I didn’t know what else to do. Wasn’t just seeing her body supposed to be a sexual turn-on for me? I thought that if I didn’t have some sexual response every time I saw her naked, that meant that there was something wrong with her body—or with me. But I knew she was right that there was something subtlety predatory about how I viewed her and her body. She knew how the predator had looked at her, and I surely wanted to be nothing like that! I didn’t know the answer, but I increasingly came to believe that male sexuality—as I had been led to understand it—was deeply incompatible with how a Christian man was supposed to selflessly love his wife.
So with all those interwoven frustrations and confusion, I asked God to change something. I didn’t know what needed to change, I just knew things couldn’t work the way they were then.
God’s Unexpected Answer
God provided an answer in an unexpected place. I was browsing through Podcasts on iTunes, and came across a naturist audio podcast. I admit my initial motives were less than pure, but out of curiosity I listened to one episode. In that podcast I heard an idea that rocked my world: there is such a thing as non-sexual nudity. I knew intuitively that if that statement were true, it would open a door to the answer I was looking for. But I also thought that idea was deeply incompatible with the Bible. I mean, wasn’t nakedness a bad thing in the Bible? Wasn’t a person’s naked body only supposed to be seen by their own spouse because it would tempt all others to sin?
I set out to research this contradiction, and in the search, I found MyChainsAreGone.org. Their arguments presented in the teaching there were logically, exegetically, and theologically sound, yet I had never heard anything like it before. The freedom they spoke of sounded too good to be true, but I knew that if they were right about the body, it changed everything. I studied the Bible very carefully, asked lots of questions, and read a lot of other sources on theology and history. Finally I decided that they were right; God never intended the simple sight of the human form to be a source of sexual temptation. I can’t even express to you how much joy and freedom I have found with this discovery!
The truth on the page The Renewed View was probably the most profound to me personally. What a relief to learn that God intended men to be primarily relational in our sexuality. The “men are visual” idea is actually a very cruel lie, despite the fact that so many well-intentioned Christians have repeated it. It leaves women with fear that each new pound or stretch mark makes them less lovable. It leaves men with a sexual response held captive by how much skin they see, and disconnected from the selfless agape love that should be at the center of how husbands relate to their wives. If men are visual, the way I was taught, we don’t control our sexual response, and thus don’t really own our sexuality. And we cannot truly give what we don’t own. Yet sexuality, as designed by God, is all about giving. So I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that the “men are visual” lie is actually aimed straight at the heart of God’s plan for human sexuality.
My Marriage is Transformed
I can honestly say that things are really different for my wife and me in regard to our relationship and sexuality. We’ve stopped worrying about what we can’t control (i.e. the effects of time on her body), and started focusing on the things we can control: our relationship and love for one another. We’ve both embraced the truth that nudity is not necessarily sexual, and that has given us freedom for a deeper and more genuine love. She will tell you that there is a profound difference in the way I look at her now. She feels much more confident about her body, and knows that her value to me as a woman isn’t tied up in some arbitrary standard for her appearance. The allure of pornography really is gone in my life, and that battle has changed in a way that it never had my entire life.
I think this quote from the page The Right Battle summed it up well:
Gentlemen, stop fighting the beauty of women. Ladies, stop fighting the attractiveness of men. Start fighting your lustful responses.
Learning that the body was made in the Image of God was a massive step toward my freedom. But it also showed me that my own heart was not as pure as I had thought. You see, I had thought that the problem was outside of me, but God showed me the problem was within me. I had thought that I just needed to change my circumstances, but God wanted to change my heart. I had thought purity was simply a matter of avoiding certain sins, but God showed me true purity was actually about learning to see His creation through His eyes. God showed me that my own selfishness and lust ran far deeper than I had realized, but that his transforming grace runs deeper still.
If I could sum up what I’ve learned over the past year, it is this:
Lust takes, love gives. Lust sees another person as means to satisfy ourselves, love earnestly desires what is best for another.
I’ve spent the past year studying what the Bible has to say about the body and sexuality, and what I’ve found is both beautiful and profound. There is more—so much more. I encourage everyone to listen to Pastor David Martin’s talk on The Incarnation – Scene One. MCAG is just an appetizer for what the Bible has to offer in this regard. So my encouragement to all who read this is first to rest in the purity that is accounted to us by faith in Christ. Then learn to live out that purity by embracing truth. Learn truth by studying the Bible, thinking hard, and asking the hard questions… but most of all, through prayer. One of my personal favorite prayers is that of the blind beggar in Luke 18:35-43:
“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me… Lord, I want to see.”