I’m no better.
I have, in the past, engaged in sexual sin. That it was not as open, egregious, or law-pushing as Donald Trump’s recently revealed sin (which I will not repeat here) is irrelevant to God. A glance is evil in his sight. Stark reality, no? Yet that is the clear message of Jesus.
But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:28)
We cannot boast of “lesser sin”. We can only repent and strive.
Fortunately, God and I are winning. At this moment, lust is being held at bay in my life through his power, and I am enjoying the freedom and joy of knowing that I’m on his ordained track. Praise be to him. And only him.
It is from this freedom that I write to you, young men of God. For you must hear something.
As a youth leader, I have striven to help raise young men of God like you. Among the qualities I’m charged to engender is respect for your sisters in Christ. This means setting you against the world with blunt warnings from an early age, for the world does not play nice. You are on my heart, and I want you warned. You men of the kingdom need to know that the world will tempt you. Peer pressure, rationalization, even bullying when you don’t play along…the world will throw in everything but the kitchen sink.
And sadly, one of the defining traits of this world’s moral decay is so-called “locker room talk” – crass, sexually charged talk of women among male circles.
I am no stranger to locker room talk. I spent four years in the Air Force, where I spent time in dormitories, hangars, and launch trucks getting inundated with filthy speech of all sorts. Not even remotely could I claim to have virgin ears today. Some things don’t necessarily stick. F-bombs roll off my back now; I barely notice. But the degrading talk of women – the graphic descriptions of pornographic material, the exploits other men carried out in high school, their contempt for their wives – has been harder to forget. I remain a virgin, but I learned way more about the birds and the bees from those men than I should have. After that, it was three years teaching at a rural high school, where the kids had been raised rough and their tongues rougher. They knew more about sex than I did. And they weren’t afraid to share, even if it cost them a detention.
I’m sincerely glad that the blood of Christ and years’ worth of passing time have mostly cleansed those memories. I’ve worked hard for that. By God’s grace, I look forward to relearning it all from my future wife, in a pure and far more truthful way, on our wedding night.
But the stunning thing, and the trap that nobody warned me about?
Not all women despise this behavior.
Through it all, there were women who tolerated it, laughed, even joined in.
I want you young men to hear this. You will be tempted to join in. The camaraderie of men in a “safe environment” can grab at you like a riptide, pulling on you before you realize it. This is especially true in a new setting – a new sports team, a new college, a new job where you’re trying to (or need to) make inroads. The loneliness intensifies the pull. And this is all on top of your normal sexual curiosity and your desire to express it somehow, even if just through words. Your flesh will seek an excuse.
And sometimes, horribly, awfully, women themselves will provide it. They will make it seem okay; it will all feel validated by the presence of women who don’t care. They will shrug, chuckle, mutter about “boys being boys”. They might even join in, a very weird “one of the guys” mentality.
I’m not sure why. Some of them are raised in homes where this kind of talk was commonplace, and they’ve been Stockholmed into seeing it as normal. Some of them just want to fit in, like you. Some of them feel helpless, intimidated, and outnumbered. So they say nothing. I saw that particular look in the faces of many a female student.
Regardless of the reason, the fact that 50 Shades of Grey sold so well is clear proof that not all is as it should be in the department of female dignity.
It’s a vast operation in the spiritual realm. A coordinated effort by our Enemy to destroy the very image of God in the world.
“Now his heart for revenge is to assault beauty. He destroys it in the natural world wherever he can. Strip mines, oil spills, fires, Chernobyl. He wreaks destruction on the glory of God in the earth like a psychopath committed to destroying great works of art.
But most of all, he hates Eve. Because she is captivating, uniquely glorious, and he cannot be. She is the incarnation of the Beauty of God. More than anything else in all creation, she embodies the glory of God. She allures the world of God. He hates it with a jealousy we can only imagine.
And there is more. The evil one also hates Eve because she gives life. Women give birth, not men. Women nourish life. And they also bring life into the world soulfully, relationally, spiritually – in everything they touch.” (John and Stasi Eldredge, Captivating)
Shall we dirty and sully this reflection of God, young Christian men? Would we tarnish it, treat it as an object for our fulfillment, callously ignore the heart and soul of these precious sisters with whom we have been gifted?
Even if they themselves do not see their value?
We shall not.
Do not rebuke an older man, but appeal to him as to a father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity. (1 Timothy 5:1-2)
Timothy was a young man, just like us, when Paul wrote to him. Tender-hearted, and possibly feeling a little bit out of his depth as pastor of the church at Ephesus. Yet Paul wrote to him with a difficult standard: absolute purity. It was a standard that would cost him, both in his own spiritual life (for merit never comes from laziness) and in the eyes of the world:
…they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. (1 Peter 4:4-5)
Purity would cost him. Yet Paul knew failure to pursue purity would cost him more. So he charged him with a high but holy calling.
Was this high standard unfair? No. It was an honor, and frankly, a necessity. We cannot be party to the activities of the enemy. The beauty of woman is under assault, and so is our righteousness as men. The days are short. Life and death are on the tongue.
My refusal to leap into the flood of dissipation in that launch truck wrought a cost upon me. I was mocked, dismissed with a chuckle and a shake of the head, thought of as naive. It made that job tough sometimes. Virgins have a stigma in the world; we all know that. Since those men were all older than me, and my spiritual support system thousands of miles away, it was tempting to think that I was the one in the wrong, that I was being silly, or maybe judgmental, certainly missing out.
But I fought. As the jokes rolled on, I fought the corners of my mouth as they tried to raise themselves in an accommodating tweak. Every day. Sometimes I faltered, to the grief of God. But I kept fighting.
Today, those corners don’t fight. God has mastered them.
I do not say this to brag. I say this merely to offer hope that this battle can be won. God can master us, if we let him.
Young Christian men, I’m going to be blunt, because you’re men and you can handle it. Locker room talk is Satanic. There’s just no other word for it. It is unjust, destructive, and sickening in the eyes of God. That women allow or condone it, for whatever reason, is irrelevant. We’re not taking our cues from them. The Bible remains true and clear. We are defenders of the sisters God has blessed us with. Let us pay the price in their defense.
I pray today that God will imbue you with courage, character, and conviction to jettison filthy language and vile thoughts from your minds and hearts. I have known young men who did. They became leaders in their locker room. Sure, they paid a price at first. But they also discovered that the world will also respect character. Quietly, grudgingly, but undoubtedly. They will see the light you shine, and it will draw them towards Christ.
Be that light, young men of God.