I grew up in a deer hunting family. From about June 1st through mid-November, all we thought about was the upcoming whitetail season. We went to the shooting range to practice. We spent weekends scouting public and private land for deer and deer signs. We cleaned and fine tuned our gear. Bathroom reading was hunting magazines and sportsman’s catalogs. And the first crisp day of the New York fall felt like Christmas Eve. We knew deer season was just around the corner.
Spending hours on end, sometimes from pre-dawn until dusk, watching deer and other wildlife moving through the forest and along edges of corn fields, you learn a bit of basic biology. It doesn’t take too long to realize that sex and food drive just about every decision wild animals make. Most animals will take huge risks to obtain food, leaving the cover of trees and exposing themselves to predators. And the males lose all sense of discretion when it’s time to mate. Have you ever noticed that the males are often the most ornately decorated? Male birds are often colorful and loud compared to the female who is usually drab and shy. All to get the girl.
While many Christians like to point out examples of animals that mate for life, like bald eagles, most wildlife is driven to procreate as often and with as many mates as possible. During the rut, whitetail bucks throw caution completely to the wind to mate with as many does as possible. They become so single-minded that they’ll sometimes walk right past a hunter’s blind without even noticing.
I’ve heard the argument that the male sex drive is perfectly natural and shouldn’t be curtailed or restrained in any way. In this view, we should accept polygamy as normal and pornography as an acceptable outlet. But our biology does not determine our morality. (Read that last statement again, slowly.) If scientists one day find an “anger gene” or an “alcoholic gene”, do we justify violent or addictive behaviors? Neither can we point to genetics or instinct to justify how we handle our sex drive. As human beings, created in God’s image, we must remember that we have been made more than natural.
While the culture may say sex is not a big deal, and while our basic biology may cry out to satisfy our sex drive, God’s plan for us is self-control, monogamy, and purity.
Ephesians 5:3 says, “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality…”
I think we can all figure out what “not even a hint” means. But what exactly constitutes “sexual immorality”? I don’t think anyone can precisely define every last act that would be considered sexually immoral – that’s going to have to be between you, your spouse, and God. But I like how Arterburn and Stoeker define sexual purity: “You are sexually pure when no sexual gratification comes from anyone or anything but your spouse.”1
Yikes! That’s a pretty tall order when you think about it. That definition says that our purity is not just about who we have intercourse with, but also includes any sexual gratification we receive.
That may seem like an awfully restrictive definition of purity, but I think it is right on target with the teachings of Jesus. In His famous Sermon on the Mount, where He turns upside down all of the Pharisees’ legalism, Jesus addresses sexual purity.
You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:27-28
While an alpha male might rationalize satisfying all of his sexual urges, the Man of God submits to God’s plan for his sexuality. And God’s plan centers on your spouse and no one else.
Questions for thought
Besides your spouse, where else do you find sexual gratification or arousal? Movies, TV, catalogs?
What role does the internet play in your sexual purity?
Has sexual purity come between you and your spouse? Between you and God?
Lord, you are the creator of our sex drive and you know what a challenge it can be for us to keep it in check. Yet you call us to lives of obedience to your plan. Fill us with conviction to seek out sexual gratification only from the one lifelong mate you give to us. Teach us the virtues of submission to you, fidelity to our spouse, and self-control in all things. Amen.
1 Every Man’s Battle, Arterburn and Stoeker, 2000.
* If you are among the millions of men (or women) that struggle with sexual temptation, don’t wait to get help. Find a good book to start with. Talk with a friend or pastor. See a counselor. And if you’re unmarried and struggling, don’t expect marriage to fix it. Get help now so that you can go into your future marriage with purity and the tools to stay that way.