Sexual Purity and Our Eyes

While it’s not my favorite book on the topic, Everyman’s Battle is a helpful resource in the fight for sexual purity.  One section I was recently discussing with a friend is especially helpful: training our eyes to avoid impure images and scenes.  Arterburn and Stoeker call it “bouncing” and “starving” the eyes.  What does this mean?  Here’s a summary of their discussion.

Bouncing the eyes is “training your eyes to ‘bounce’ away from sights of pretty women and sensual images.  This is difficult because most men are in the habit of not bouncing the eyes!  “To combat it, you need to build a reflex action by training your eyes to immediately bounce away from the sexual, like the jerk of your hand away from a hot stove.”  The authors say this must be an immediate bounce – not after 10 or 20 seconds!

How do we train our eyes to bounce?  By learning what our greatest weaknesses are in this area (e.g. lingerie advertisements, female joggers in provocative clothing, billboards, TV shows, etc.).  Some of these things we may need to completely avoid (e.g. movies with sex scenes and sexual images, Facebook pages, or websites with impure ads); others images we may just need to learn how to turn away from (e.g. a billboard on the way to work, or magazines in the checkout aisle).

Starving the eyes means eliminating the times we are gratified by sexual images.  Typically men are sexually gratified by images; if we remove those images (by either avoiding them or bouncing our eyes), we starve the impure lust.  For example, if you remove the sketchy movies from your life, or that TV show that shows too much skin, it will help you focus your desires for intimacy on your wife.  The authors talk about cutting out images from our life – and doing it “cold turkey” – which usually has very good results.  Here’s how one author put it:

“Those days [of going cold turkey] revealed to me just how much I’d been stealing from [my wife] by watching sensuous R-rated movies and inspecting the lingerie catalogs.  These things provide far more sexual gratification than we might expect, although Satan would have you think otherwise.”

Men, as you follow Christ and aim for sexual purity, it is a matter of the heart, of course, but it is also a matter of the eyes (Job 31:1)!  If you struggle in this area, I’d recommend grabbing this book (a used copy is under $7.00 on Amazon!) and using it to help you in your walk with the Lord: Everyman’s Battle by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker.  (The above quotes and notes were taken from chapters 11-12).

(As a side, I wrote this post in such a way that it will hopefully not get caught by those web filters we probably should be using!)

shane lems
hammond, wi