The ongoing barrage of sex scandals by public personalities is, in my view, the byproduct of our sex-crazed culture.
by Michael Anthony
I love music – all kinds from all over the world. And, I love guitar. One of my hopes is that God will grant me the blessing of developing my guitar chops, for his glory, during the millennial kingdom and beyond. There’s a current song that’s become incredibly popular that I, like the masses, absolutely love. It’s got a great hook, a catchy groove, and lyrics that I, as a believer, can actually sing aloud (when I’m alone, of course). The other day I had the chance to see the music video for the song – and it wrecked not only my impression of the song, but also required some recovery work between Jesus and me.
The video, unlike the lyrics, is so completely sexualized that there is now no way for me to hear the song without the video imagery also playing in my mind. Some things you just can’t “unsee.” Such is life in our heavily sexualized society. Everything points to sex, is marketed by sex, and is designed to make us think that sex should be the ultimate objective night and day. The ongoing barrage of sex scandals by public personalities is, in my view, the byproduct of our sex-crazed culture. We’re witnessing the boiling over of a cauldron that’s been simmering for many, many years.
What’s someone who really wants to follow Jesus Christ to do? How can we survive – and thrive – when something other than Jesus Christ is constantly presented as the center of everything?
The first thing we can do is follow Job’s example, to make a covenant with our eyes not to look lustfully at someone (Job 31:1). This applies not only in real time interactions, but especially in regard to television, tablets, computers and mobile devices. While Job’s concern was with women, his approach can be embraced by women toward men as well. And, if you struggle with same sex attraction, you’re not exempt from God’s call to refrain from lust. The same Holy Spirit who empowers a married man or woman to remain faithful to Jesus (and their spouse) will enable anyone to remain faithful to Jesus. None of us can justify an “I just can’t help it” attitude. With God, we can resist lust in all its forms.
To be honest, I haven’t been successful with enforcing Job’s commitment with my own eyes. But I can tell you that every time I broke that commitment, it only led me to want to look in the wrong direction more and more. In other words, what we don’t reign in can end up mastering us. I’ve learned that I actually can control what I look at – and when I do, every time, it improves my willpower to look to Christ and not the things that would draw me away. The more you look away, the more you can look away. Here, it’s important to remember that success breeds success. Try it, and you’ll see.
The second thing we can do is understand that sex, while a very important part of life (God created sex and sexuality), it’s not the totality of life. If you are in a relationship, look for ways to appreciate the other things God gifted that person with apart than their sex appeal. Are they smart, wise, funny, thoughtful, selfless, compassionate or creative? Train yourself to not only refrain from looking lustfully at others, but to also look for other things to appreciate. Train yourself to do this with all people. It will open up a wonderful world of fresh insights as you realize how amazing our God is, that he created people in his image – and that his image has so may wonderful aspects to it that reach far beyond sex and sexuality.
Finally, (re)discover the lost art of listening as a vital component of communication. It’s served me well to remember that when I speak, I learn little – but when I listen, I almost always learn something. The words of James 1:19 help me a great deal when I interact with people: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (NIV). To help me remember this vital, relationship-building passage, I have abbreviated it as “quick, slow, slow.” When talking with someone, I’ll often recall those three words, and they help me remember James 1:19.
God gave me twice as many ears as a mouth for good reason. When I speak half as much as I listen, I find that I can learn things, appreciate people, and become less self-centered.
Don’t you think it’s time to appreciate that there are many more aspects to being human than just sex and sexuality? That’s the God’s honest truth – and when we embrace it, our relationships with people will positively change.
Michael Anthony is the author of the book A Call For Courage: Living With Power, Truth, and Love In An Age of Intolerance and Fear, a speaker and blogger (CourageMatters.com), and lead pastor of Grace Fellowship in York, Pa. His opinions expressed in this piece are his own.