In previous articles on the subject of biblical masculinity I have set forth some of the basic truths about what it means to be man. Now I want to apply those principles to some of the different relationships and circumstances in which a man must show himself to be a man.
The first is in the sphere of his sexuality. I treat this first because it is in this area that the man of God faces one of the most serious threats, if not the most serious threat, to his manhood today. The devil and the world are making an all-out assault upon the Christian man by tempting him with a polluted, perverted sexuality. This makes it urgent that we address the sanctified sexuality of the godly man.
It is easy to think that male sexuality is inherently depraved. When we consider the sexual filth promoted by the world and our own struggles with sexual sin, we assume that there is only one conclusion: our sexual natures are intrinsically evil.
But this is not true. Our sexual natures are not a consequence of the Fall, as if Adam received a sexual nature only after he ate of the forbidden fruit. In the beginning God made Adam (and then Eve) with a sexual nature. This is implied in the Bible when it says, “…male and female created he them” (Gen. 1:27). This is made explicit later when we read of God joining Adam and Eve together in the first marriage: “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed” (Gen. 2:25). One aspect of Adam’s being fearfully and wonderfully made is that he possessed a sexual nature with a sex drive, and this is something over which the Creator declared: “It [is] very good” (Gen. 1:31).
Even after the fall into sin, the Bible does not condemn sexuality as such. Rather, it is celebrated in its proper place. In Proverbs 5 a father urges his son, “Drink waters out of thine own cistern” (v. 15) and, “Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth…let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love” (vv. 18-19). Hebrews 13:4 says, “Marriage is honourable in all, and the marriage bed undefiled.” All one has to do is read the book of Song of Solomon to see that having a sexual nature is not something inherently shameful.
This means that the Christian young man does not have to be ashamed of his sexuality, as if it is some disgusting disease with which he is contaminated. He does not have to be embarrassed that he feels an attraction to a Christian young woman, that he expresses a desire to date and to marry.
Though our sexuality is not inherently sinful, that sexual nature now after the Fall is so often directed into sinful channels. Rather than being expressed in a holy, God-glorifying manner, it is pressed into the service of sin and self.
This was the case with Adam. After he ate of the fruit, the first thing we read afterwards is the perversion of his sexual nature: “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons” (Gen. 3:7). Adam’s sexual nature was pressed into the service of sin.
And the same is true for us as redeemed men of God. So often our sexual natures are expressed sinfully. One of the ways that this often shows itself is in in a kind of hyper-sexuality. According to certain experts, men think about sex every seven seconds. I am not convinced that is true of every man, but the point is that men think about sex. A lot. And too often their thinking and desiring is not sanctified.
We do not receive any help from the world. The world—and the devil working behind the scenes—is doing all it can to further promote sexual sin among Christian men. Their corrupt sexual ethic confronts us at every turn. Seemingly, wherever we go and wherever we look we are bombarded with things designed to stir up sinful, sexual lusts.
Some of the worst culprits are the movies and TV shows of the world, easily accessible today through streaming services such as Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, and so on. If the advertisements are any indication, for any movie or show to be successful it has to have a steady stream of sexual scenes. I am told that one of the most popular series (Game of Thrones) is filled with every kind of sexual perversity. Watching these things does nothing to promote holy sexuality in the man of God.
Some of the other culprits are the books, magazines, and music of the world. Much of the literature written today includes explicit descriptions of sexual sin that are intended to arouse. It is no surprise that one of the most popular book series of late (50 Shades of Grey) is a celebration of sexual sin. The magazine racks at the grocery store are filled with glossy covers promoting fornication. Almost every genre of music (yes, country music included) promotes the world’s ideal of “love,” which is nothing but selfish lust.
And then there is the tremendous evil of pornography. Many books could be written about this important subject, but in the little space here I want to mention just a few key points.
Pornography is a powerful temptation for men. This is not to say that it is only a temptation for men and not for women; there are many women who struggle with pornography as well. But it is an evil that has a powerful pull on men. Perhaps this is the case because men are, generally speaking, very visual. But whatever the reason, there is no denying that this is a grave threat to men. If the statistics can be believed (and there is no reason to think that they cannot be), then many Christian men are ensnared in this awful bondage.
Part of the danger of pornography today is the fact that it is so easily accessible. When our fathers and grandfathers were growing up, they had to go to quite some lengths to get their hands on a Playboy magazine. But today those same images are just a click or swipe away. From the privacy of one’s bedroom or car, he can use his phone to access an endless supply of pornographic images and videos.
The effect of such an enslavement to pornography on the minds of men is terrifying. Studies have shown that pornography addiction has an effect on the makeup of a man’s mind. The use of pornography desensitizes him. Having indulged in these things so often, what used to bother him no longer does. The use of pornography affects the way he thinks about beauty. Beauty is the sum total of a woman’s physical characteristics. The use of pornography affects his view of women. They become merely sex objects meant for his sexual gratification. With a conscience so seared, he may demand of women that they do the things he has seen the women on the Internet do.
If there happens to be a red-blooded man out there who thinks this is not a grave threat to his soul, let him meditate on these words: “For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her” (Prov. 7:26).
The calling for men is that they channel their sexual natures within the bounds that God has set in His Word. This means that the married man will direct the whole of his sexuality—including both body and mind—toward his wife. And this means for the single man that he will refrain from all sexual activity. God wills that all of his sons either enter into marriage as virgins or live their whole life as a virgin. The single man will not only preserve his virginity, but he will also avoid anything that may lead to or arouse sexual sin.
The calling of the Word of God to single men can be put simply: “Flee fornication” (I Cor. 6:18a). Do not in pride think that you can stand up to these temptations without falling. Allowing yourself to remain in tempting situations only feeds your old man and makes him stronger. The way of conquering these temptations is by cowardice. You turn and you run from anything that is remotely connected to sexual sin.
Lest the single man think this to be too strict, be reminded of the powerful Word of God in Ephesian 5:3: “But fornication, and all uncleanness…let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints.” The idea is not that we may not talk about these sins so that they are never mentioned. The point is that these sins should be so far removed from us that there is not even the suspicion of committing them.
It is important that we say something here about what is a sensitive and oft-neglected subject: masturbation, that is, sexual gratification of self.
There are many, including some Christians, who say that masturbation is legitimate for the unmarried man (and even for the married man). They say it is a purely natural and physical act, a harmless activity without serious repercussions. They claim that it is even a necessary activity in order for the man to have relief of sexual tension. They argue that to forbid this as sin is only to heap unnecessary guilt on the man who does so.
The truth of the matter is that this is sin. For one thing, it is the height of ignorance to argue that this is a purely physical act. I have an extremely difficult time imagining a man engaging in this activity without his mind being filled with thoughts and images of a woman. And for the single man, this means he is engaging in a sexual activity in his mind with a woman who is not his wife. This is sin.
In addition, masturbation is sin because it is an act of selfishness. The world views sex in terms of self-gratification. But the Word of God teaches something far different. According to the Bible, sexual activity is an act of selfless giving to one’s spouse. “Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence [give conjugal rights]: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife” (I Cor. 7:3-4). Masturbation is self-sex, and its focus is purely selfish. This is sin.
Let the man of God confess this sin before God and seek forgiveness. And let him hear again the Word of God calling him to sexual purity: Let sexual sin not be once named among you!
In this important area of biblical manhood, it is important that we look to the Son of Man, the man Christ Jesus. By this I do not mean that we look to Jesus merely as an example to follow, even though He is our example of true manhood. We look to Him in faith as our Savior.
How comforting it is to know: “[W]e have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” He was tempted in all points like as we are! Including sexual temptations! He knows the struggles we men have in this regard. And thus he is able to help us: “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor [help] them that are tempted” (Heb. 2:18).
Young men, remember that in Christ there is forgiveness for sin, including the shameful, sexual sins that we have committed. And remember that in Him there is the strength and grace daily to fight against these temptations. As powerful as the sexual temptations are, their power is nothing compared to the power of the cross of our Savior.