SELF-CONTROL VS. SEXUAL URGES
In today’s highly sex-saturated culture, two concepts that you’ll never see together, except perhaps as a joke, are “self-control” and “sex.” Even suggesting that people exercise self-control over their natural, God-designed urges is to invite scorn and to be dismissed like someone who believes the earth is flat. We have arrived at that place where “losing control,” “going all the way,” and “getting some” are badges of honor to boast about. But as we’ve already discussed, rarely do we see the tragic consequences of this popular attitude. Fire is great in your fireplace, not when it’s burning your flesh.
Self-control over sexual passion is possible. Your sex drive is not like a wild animal you cannot tame. You can choose to use it as designed or abuse it and, in the process, yourself and your partners.
Self-control begins not just with a reason, but also with a desire. Why should you want to maintain self-control over your sexual passions? People generally restrain their behavior in any area of life to accomplish a greater goal. An athlete pursuing a championship forsakes many of life’s pleasures so his body will work at peak performance. The desire to go for the championship enables the athlete to restrain himself from less worthy activities or pleasures.
God has given each person sexual passion and desire. These desires are felt as strong impulses creating a need or hunger for expression. This normal sex drive is easy to train if a person has the right reasons. If someone is trapped in a burning building, his sexual passions lose their power. While escaping, one doesn’t stop to check the porn collection. Survival is a more urgent need than any sexual urge; in fact, those urges fall away in view of the smoke and flames. When there is a big reason for restraining sexual urges and impulses, self-control is not difficult. If you lack a compelling reason or goal, or if your reason gets polluted over time, self-control is difficult. Like an athlete without a dream for a championship, self-discipline and training lose the power to restrain the desire for lesser pleasures in life.
WHY IS IT SO HARD TO DO THE RIGHT THING?
There are several issues that cause people difficulty in exercising self-control over their sexual urges.
The first issue is a loss of purpose. With no bigger picture in mind, we all tend to live off an immediate gratification principle. Sex is no different except
that living an unrestrained sex life reaps a harvest of broken relationships, destroyed lives, sexual diseases, lost families, and fatherless children. The loss of a life purpose here gives way to major pain.
The second issue deals with emotional pain. Everyone has some emotional pain caused by life experiences. This pain results from many sources outside ourselves, such as parents who divorce, physical or sexual abuse by an older relative, serious accidents like a car wreck, unemployment, or losing a baby to disease. Many people choose not to face these pains. They run from them or medicate with distractions such as alcohol, drugs, sex, TV, sports, food, and video games. Whatever a person uses to run from his pain can become an addiction. The greater the pain, the more likely a person will run from it and develop addictions. These emotional needs, hungers, and pains amplify normal sexual impulses and make the person feel out of control. Sex becomes a drug, a temporary relief that numbs the misery of unhealed emotional wounds.
A third issue that makes sexual self-control difficult is when men view sex as a means to feel like a “real” man. Competence and respect make up the core of a man’s confidence in himself. Men who feel insecure might try sex to boost their sense of masculinity. We’ve all heard in locker rooms and elsewhere that the guy who gets the most women is the “main man.” Why? It falsely proves manliness via expressing power and control over another person. It also carries a sense of “cool,” and to resist “shacking up” is to resist being cool or to invite being called gay, which, even in our politically correct culture, is still a put-down in almost any context.
All of these emotional issues, when connected with normal sexual passions, make sexual urges feel stronger. It is not that sexual urges are too powerful to control, but that emotional reasons have become the primary driver, with sex being used to meet or cope with emotional needs.
HOW TO WIN CONTROL
So how do you exercise sexual self-control? First, you need a BIG reason. The only purpose big and powerful enough to free you from lust and sexual addictions is God’s promise of a huge reward—His truth, love, peace, and purpose for your life. A life that has been touched by Jesus has a big reason and an ability to maintain self-control that is greater than what most people would believe possible.
Keeping that big reason as your life purpose and goal can be difficult when the emotional pain and/or the need to feel like a “real” man causes you to lose your focus. But God did not leave us without His help to accomplish self-control. First, God has provided a means to heal the emotional pains and hurts so that you don’t have to medicate or numb the pain. When you take the hurts to God, He provides His love, mercy, and grace to help you understand and heal. The two tools that God’s Spirit uses for this healing are the Word of God (the Bible), and the loving compassion of His people. In this manner, God provide healing for even the deepest hurts and pains. The apostle Peter wrote, “Cast all your cares on Him, because He cares for you.”
God also provides a sense of worth and self identity for His men by giving them His righteousness and confidence. When you come to God as your Father in heaven, you find that He is waiting to welcome you with open arms. The story of the son who left home, found in Luke 15, tells of a boy who ran to the world and engaged in worldly pursuits and sexual passions, but when he came to his senses he returned home and found his father waiting with open arms. When we know that we have a Father in heaven, who is different from most of our fathers here on earth, we find that there is a masculine love that affirms our masculinity and delivers us from our need to be the “main man.”
God does not leave us powerless in the face of sexual temptations. He gives us His indwelling Spirit, His Word, and His healing mercy so that we can then choose His big powerful reason as our goal and purpose.
When your normal sex drive is combined with powerful emotional needs or issues, sex feels too powerful to control. But when God’s purposes become your BIG reason, then self-control is possible. Sex is bad medicine to medicate or numb your emotional pain. The momentary thrill always gives way to a flood of pain. God gave you your sexual urges as a means of enhancing the loving connection between a husband and wife and creating new life, the next generation of souls. When you commit to that big reason, you will find that God has resources that will enable you to have self-control when you think there is no way.