By Stephen Arterburn

Perhaps you can identify with what happened to me. I was raised in a Christian home. We lived next door to my grandfather, whose name I carry. Grandpa and I had a special relationship. For reasons I still don’t understand, my parents allowed me to visit him without being supervised.

It was on one of those visits, at the tender age of 4, that I first encountered pornography.

The World Has Warped How We See Women

On the wall of Grandpa’s office, along with many other photos and drawings of naked women, hung the first Playboy centerfold. It featured Marilyn Monroe and was taken from the first edition of Playboy, published in 1953. That day, when I was only 4, one of the men I loved best taught me that women were merely objects for pleasure.

The women in those pictures were not equal to men. They existed only for our gratification. That is what my grandfather taught me, and that is what the world around me reinforced. It would take me half a lifetime to unlearn those pornographically induced lessons that created superficial connections and painful relationships with women.

God Has Called Us to Better Things

I share this story because no matter where you are on your journey to becoming a mature and godly man, I have most likely been there. I am grateful to have found the way out and to have found the path to becoming a real man of God.

In searching for that path, I have discovered a verse in the Bible that provides a lifetime of wisdom from God and protection from Satan’s lies. If you accept Christ as your Savior, then follow this verse. You will have an extremely good chance of living a life of virtue as a godly man who loves God and others well.

This verse is 2 Timothy 2:22: “Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts” (NLT).

Porn Is Only Part of the Problem

If the latest statistics are true, and I believe they are, over 60% of Christian men are struggling with pornography. A Christian man should not look at pornography, of course, but stopping, while a good start, is not enough. This is about more than just pornography. It is about running from anything that stirs up lust or anything that could be said to “energize” lust and desire within you. That includes your best friend’s wife, the female down the hall you try to connect with “un-accidentally” every day, or a movie, or anything else that you would not want your wife, girlfriend, mother, daughter, or son to see you watch.

Stopping is a good first step, but it is far from enough. Stopping does not produce virtue in a man. You have to run from inappropriate images and connections and pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. When you pursue those things you are going after the pure gold of character and virtue. Pursuing “fool’s gold,” or the things, that arouse your lust, may look very appealing, but these are things Satan will use to make a total fool out of you.

The Key to Winning the Battle

Pursuing godliness means going after God’s standard, which means not only doing better than you used to or doing really great, but living the life of holiness God has called you and me to live. If you have ever tried living out of and into this standard of holiness, you know it is impossible to do alone. It is a never-ending battle, and winning it takes brothers who will come alongside you as fellow strugglers. You need the companionship of pure-hearted men who are in pursuit of our Lord and in pursuit of fulfilling Christ’s directive to love others well.

This is one of the biggest reasons why Promise Keepers and the opportunity it provides to build relationships with other godly men is so important. My prayer for you is that you will use the wisdom and direction of this powerful verse to cultivate a life of virtue that honors God, yourself and all those who are counting on you to do the right thing.

Stephen Arterburn is the founder and chairman of New Life Ministries and host of the #1 nationally syndicated Christian counseling talk show, New Life Live! He is also a keynote speaker at Promise Keepers’ 2020 men’s conference. A well-known public speaker, Stephen is also a bestselling author of many books, including Every Man’s Battle. Stephen and his family live in Carmel, Indiana, where he serves as teaching pastor of Northview Church. We’re excited that Stephen will be a platform speaker at Promise Keepers’ 2020 Conference. Need help? Call 800-NEWLIFE.

 

Don’t miss Part 2 to this series on sexual purity by Dr. Sheri Keffer.