BY ANDREW KUO
Hypocritical. Closed-minded. Ignorant. Overbearing. Preachy. Chauvinistic. Sexually repressed. Don’t drink. Don’t go to parties. Don’t date. Don’t have sex before marriage. Don’t do this. Don’t do that. Let’s face it: Christianity has a terrible reputation in modern society, especially with the younger generation. Christianity comes off as boring and restrictive and doesn’t make sense to most people. As I was pondering how to explain my views on sexual sin in the context of men, I felt compelled to write about something that would be understood by everyone – Christian and non-Christian.
What do I mean by that?
Simply: the things Christians do don’t make much sense to this world. Christianity is often viewed as a huge set of rules – most commonly known are the Ten Commandments. Some that come to mind are: do not kill, do not steal, honor your father and mother, and so on. The rules don’t stop there, either: the entire book of Leviticus goes on for twenty-seven chapters detailing what to do or what not to do in very specific Old Testament situations. These instructions become even more complicated in the New Testament.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matt. 5:27–28, NASB)
When Jesus says this, there are far-reaching consequences. Even looking at a woman lustfully is sin. It is these very instructions that make Christians the laughingstock of the secular world. The prevailing view in the secular world is to do what makes you feel good. It makes absolutely no sense to repress one’s sexual energy if that makes you happy.
When I shared about how hard it was for me to stop lusting after women when the weather got warmer and when girls started wearing skirts and shorts, I was approached by my friend who is currently atheist, who argued that there is nothing wrong with admiring a woman’s legs and that it is no different than admiring a beautiful face. My friend is a feminist and a woman (just for clarification), so obviously I did not believe that she understood what goes on in my head. As I began my argument, I stated that I would argue from a secular basis (without the use of a Bible) that I could prove the legitimate benefit of not lusting after women. As her opening argument, my friend stated that there was nothing wrong with lust—even so far as fantasizing about having sex with a person in your head. As the debate unfolded and multiple issues surrounding lust were brought up, I realized I could not defend my argument sufficiently on secular grounds. Soon after, she left the debate on that note and remarked: “Have fun sexually repressing yourself.”
That sly remark and the realization that I could not defend my faith without the use of the Bible led me to two conclusions about why I do what I do. More simply put: why I am a follower of Jesus.
To many, following Jesus is a confusing concept. It essentially means becoming free from sin and becoming a slave to the Cross. To illustrate this fact, I will continue by using my previous example of sexual sin. When I vocalized my aversion to lustful thoughts, I was conscious that I might be viewed as a Ned Flanders from The Simpsons – as if I were some sort of brainwashed Christian who ran around like a chicken with no head at the sight of some sexually attractive women. Oh no, skin! Cleavage! Legs! Whatever will I do at the mercy of these beautiful women?! In all seriousness, I wanted to elicit that reaction from others to initiate conversation.
The main point I want to bring up here though, is that society views me as an unhappy, unfulfilled, sexually repressive individual whereas I argue that I experience the most sexual freedom, joy, and contentment in the Cross. When I think about following the instructions that are laid out in Scripture, I do not see a bunch of rules and regulations that hamper me from enjoying life to its fullest – no, I see a big textbook left by the creator of our existence with a big title “How to Get the Most Out of Your Life Here On Earth” and underneath it in smaller print, “Disclaimer: You may choose to follow this or not; the choice is yours.” When I talk about sexual sin, something that is so personal to me – and to all men alike – I am reminded of the freedom granted by Jesus’ death on the Cross. When the Samaritan woman by the well encounters Jesus, he replies:
Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life. (John 4:13–14)
A sexual appetite, among other various desires of our human nature, is something that can never be satisfied; my body tells me I will be satisfied in lusting after women, being physical with them, or even having sexual relations with them. Yet, it is only a temporary contentment. You will drink the water of this earth, and be thirsty again. The beauty of the Cross comes in the fact that God is infinite and so is his Love. With the living water – Jesus – we never have to feel thirsty again. This knowledge leads to so many freedoms, which may appear as being sexually repressed, but really manifests in knowing what will satisfy and what will not. There is no beneficial aspect of lusting after women – as it simply feeds a hunger that will only continue to grow. Similarly, there is a reason why there are commands in the Bible warning us to be wary of obtaining satisfaction from money, power, and other things of this world. Simply put – the things of this world do not satisfy, and they do not last.
Sexual purity is something that even many Christ-followers struggle with. Lust, sexual energy – it just feels so right. How many times do you actually feel satisfied, though? How many times do you have to scratch that itch to feel a temporary relief? How many parties? How many girls? How many kisses? How many orgasms? How many times do you have to watch porn? Is life really just searching for that next thing to instantly gratify your desires?
Through the grace of God, I am glad that I am now free of these sins. It is so easy to be tempted into them, to think that they will provide any sense of contentment with life. There is a true peace from being free from the lustful desires in our hearts. Don’t knock it till you have tried it. That is why I continue to strive for a greater purity in my thoughts and my actions.
Dissatisfaction with life can even go beyond sexual sin; some days I wake up and feel as if I am missing something – someone, in my life. The truth is, though, that nothing – even a beautiful and blessed relationship with another person – can truly satisfy. Yet that doesn’t mean it is wrong to desire that – nor is it wrong to have sexual feelings in the context of marriage. However, if we are looking towards anything of this world for satisfaction, it is something that we won’t find.
It might look funny on the outside when we try to follow all of these rules and regulations – and even stupider when we feel guilty about them. But it all comes from the idea that there is only one true way – not only eternal life, but also true happiness and joy – and that is by following Christ Jesus, our personal Savior and Lord.