In light of the heart-rending revelations of sexual assault sweeping our nation this fall, it seemed an ideal time to trot this old post back out.
I’m no better.
I have, in the past, engaged in sexual sin. That I’ve never actually touched a woman or behaved like the celebrities currently under society’s microscope? That’s irrelevant. 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. Praise be to him. And only him.
It is from this freedom that I write to you, young men of God, for you on my heart, and I want you warned.
I’m no stranger to locker room talk. I spent four years in the Air Force, where I spent time in dormitories, hangars, and launch trucks with rough, hard-living men.
Some things don’t necessarily stick. F-bombs roll off my back now; I barely notice.
But their degrading talk of women – the graphic descriptions of pornographic material, the exploits they carried out in college, their contempt for their wives – has been harder to forget. I remain a virgin, but my ears aren’t. I learned way more about the birds and the bees in that truck than I should have. Then it was three years teaching at a rural high school, where the kids had been raised rough and their tongues rougher. Even they knew more about sex than I (and they weren’t afraid to share, even if it cost them a detention). I’m sincerely glad that the blood of Christ and the passing of time are cleansing those memories.
Now, as a youth leader, I’ve been charged with helping to train young men of God, and part of that is instilling respect for your sisters in Christ.
Does respect sound boring?
It’s not. It is a campaign.
You must be set against the world from an early age, for the world does not play nice. It all may start subtly, a quiet normalization of the sexually charged talk about women. The camaraderie of men in a “safe environment” can grab at you like a riptide, pulling on you before you realize it, especially in a new setting – a new sports team, a new college, a new job where you need to make inroads. Loneliness only intensifies the pull.
It’s harmless, you might hear, because of course those guys would “never” actually do anything to the women they know. Why make a big deal of talk, they may ask? Especially if it takes place outside the hearing of any women (insert joke about tree falling in the woods here)?
The Word shatters the apathy with its answer.
If Jesus tells us that even anger towards your brother is no less destructive than murder (Matthew 5:21-22)…
If Jesus tells us that even looking at a woman lustfully is the same in his eyes as adultery (Matthew 5:27-28)……
If Jesus tells us that what comes from within is what defiles a man (Matthew 15:18-20)…
…then our words have no place in God’s universe.
There is a vast operation underway 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. (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?
We shall not.
… Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity. (1 Timothy 5:2)
Timothy was a young man, tender-hearted, possibly feeling out of his depth as pastor of the Ephesus church. Paul assigned him a dizzying standard: absolute purity. It was a standard that would cost him:
…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. But Paul knew immorality would cost him more. So he charged him, without apology, with a high but holy calling.
Was this standard unfair? No. It was an honor. 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 dissipation in that launch truck wrought a cost upon me. I was mocked, dismissed with a chuckle and a shake of the head. We all know virgins have a stigma in the world.
But I fought. As the jokes rolled on, I fought the corners of my mouth as they tried to raise themselves into an accommodating tweak. Every day. Sometimes I faltered, to the grief of God. But I kept fighting.
I do not say this to brag – merely to offer hope that victory is possible. God can master us, if we let him.
Locker room talk is Satanic. There’s just no other word for it. Look around you at the hearts of women, at the state of marriage in this world. It all looks like Mordor. Desolation everywhere. Did you think locker room talk plays no part in this? Whether it ever permutes into actual sexual assault or not, this talk is unjust, destructive, and sickening in God’s eyes.
I have known young men who brought courage, character, and conviction into their locker rooms. They became leaders there. Sure, they paid a price at first. But they also shone. Do the same. Quietly, grudgingly, but undoubtedly, the world will see you shine, and it will draw them towards Christ.
Let us instead be defenders of our sisters. Let us pay the price in their defense. You want to play the knight? Be prepared to bleed.