On Sexual Immorality, Temptation, and Marriage
Where God Has Provided the Cure, Only Fools Seek Another
If I were a drug dealer and I set up shop outside a rehab facility, you would be rightly disgusted with my actions. Naturally, the drug users themselves would bear some responsibility — guilt for sin always rests with the sinner — but you would undoubtedly seek to stop the distribution of drugs and punish those responsible. If you have neither empathy nor sympathy for the addict, then change the hypothetical to the peddling of some harmful substance to children. The point is the exploitation of the vulnerable is morally reprehensible. And yet this natural sympathy often stops short of many who truly need it. I did not idly select drug users as my example. It is often those who can be branded as somehow 'deserving' (even if only in part) their fate who are denied sympathy, or aid. Perhaps we need a modern copybook, to include: There but for the grace of God go I.
Need I lose a limb to empathize with or seek to aid the paraplegic? Need I lose an eye to care for the blind? Were Lutherans of sound mind wrong to create materials and schools for the mentally disabled? As a male, am I precluded from sympathizing with the woman who has miscarried? Christ, Who shared none of our moral weakness, yet sympathized with our fallen state.
Among those who are frequently denied any sympathy are young men — and this is all the more true when the problem in question affects primarily young men or when young men themselves can be, in some way, blamed for the problem. Young men are harmed in countless ways by our decadent and decaying society, but chief among these harms is the pernicious evil of pornography and its consequences. Compare the drug addict: The bio- and neuro-chemical processes that make pornography addictive for men are stronger than those that make (certain) drugs highly addictive — and this holds psychologically as well. Further, men bear no moral responsibility for this addiction beyond the general guilt of original sin, as men are born with and, more or less, designed for this addiction. It is the male libido that drives family formation, ensures there will be future generations, and sustains civilization. This is built into male physiology and psychology, and women simply do not — cannot — truly understand it. When young men are told simply be be celibate and to ignore all the temptations, they are being given advice roughly as useful as telling someone to eat nothing to lose weight. In a very real sense, those advocating celibacy as a 'cure' are simply confessing that they are Gnostics who deny the reality of the flesh.
Men are programmed to enjoy the naked female form. This is something that can be suppressed even less easily than the other appetites. Man is an animal, and the libido is among the strongest of the animal drives — it even competes with the self-preservation instinct. It is harmful, Gnostic, blasphemous nonsense to tell young men simply to 'control themselves'. How late must the average marriage age for men creep before we address the problem? What percentage of men must never marry before we admit our system is not merely broken but actively and intentionally destructive? Men were not designed to deal with the number and the intensity of temptations in our society. Even for those men who do not find themselves falling into bed with any of the hordes of slatternly women who now populate our society, there are still the overwhelming number of temptations to commit other (if lesser) sexual sins. Young women (and even some older women), today, dress as if they are unaware of the word "modesty", or, if they are aware of the existence of the word, then they are ignorant of its definition, or, if they are aware of its definition, then they are indifferent to God's commands. I have seen in church — to say nothing of summer camps, the beach, et cetera — parts of women that should be seen by no man other than their husband (and maybe their doctor). Women, today, walk down the street in attire that would have been scandalous outside — or even inside — the bedroom only decades ago. And these are only the real-world temptations men must endure practically daily. The Internet has created an all-new and heretofore unprecedented set of temptations. Where our ancestors would have seen a thousand or so (more for those who travelled or lived in large cities) fully clothed women in their lifetimes. I — or virtually any other man on the face of the Earth — could see that many fully nude women in the space of a single afternoon, if I were so inclined — and that without even leaving the house. The scope, scale, degree, depth, and pervasiveness of these temptations is simply not fully appreciated by most — and is incomprehensible, totally alien to women. Young men cannot stand up under this burden.
To make matters worse, there are essentially no voices of reason in this space. Most people tell young men to simply give in to the temptations — Satan occupies most of the field. Worse still, the only other voice most young men hear is condemnation — much from women who are supposedly part of the church — when they do fall to temptation. These Feminist harpies and other miscreants who would gleefully condemn young men for falling victim to a system designed to destroy them are serving Satan in their attempts to extinguish smoldering wicks and snap bruised reeds. So many of these young men have all but given in to despair — they hear the voice of the Law and know that they are sinners — they need the Gospel, not vitriol, hate, and attacks.
Some — again, Feminists and other miscreants — will appeal to the Sermon on the Mount (as if they even know the source) and imply or even outright state that young men should blind or otherwise maim themselves to reduce (for surely it will not eliminate) temptation — and it seems clear many who make such comments would thoroughly enjoy it if young men took them literally. Such commentators are, of course, demons and not Christians. For now, we will leave aside their eisegesis; instead, we will highlight that the Sermon on the Mount is not among the sedes doctrinae for this issue, but Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:5, and 1 Corinthians 7:2 (and many others) are.
Pastors, I address you directly, now: Are you helping or harming the young men entrusted to your care? If you are lax, God will require the blood of His sheep from your hand (Ezekiel 33). Are you but one voice in the chorus of condemnation? or are you speaking the truth of Scripture and soothing troubled consciences? Scripture gives one cure for sexual temptation: marriage (1 Corinthians 7:2). If you are advancing other 'solutions', then you are calling God a liar, denying the Word, and abusing your office. You will answer one day for your actions and for your inaction (James 3:1). How many young men and women have you encouraged to marry? How many have you instructed about marriage? Do you praise and advocate marriage in your sermons and studies? Are you working with the older women (Titus 2:3–5) and the elders in your congregation (and those in nearby congregations) to facilitate marriages? Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
Sin is virtually never a personal matter; it is a private and a public matter, an individual and a corporate matter. Young men bear the brunt of much of the judgement that has fallen upon our nation and our country because of our rampant, unrepentant sin. God certainly punishes individuals (Nadab, Abihu), but He also punishes families (David), clans (Abiram), and even nations (Ham, the Canaanites). That young men suffer the greater consequences does not mean they have committed the greater sins (cf. John 9:1–7).
- To the young men who struggle with these sins: May God strengthen you. Pray and resist the temptations; God is faithful (1 Corinthians 10:13), and you are forgiven (Hebrews 9:24–28) — all your sins are forgiven (Ephesians 1:3–10).
- To pastors: Do your duty.
- To those who gleefully attack young men and rejoice in their suffering: May God strike you. May God render you deaf, blind, and dumb — may your evil cost you your hands, your eyes, and your tongue.
- To all: The days are coming when the evil will receive their rewards — see that you are not numbered among them.
Soli Deo Gloria.
Unless you are a Libertarian, in which case you should be imprisoned. ↩︎
If you do not like children, then I suggest you look into the weight of millstones. ↩︎
At least the attractive ones (i.e., the ones who actually look female). ↩︎
And yet inexplicably do not remain silent (see, e.g., 1 Timothy 2:11–15). ↩︎
Many of you would do well to reread the Large Catechism, with particular attention paid to the section on the Sixth Commandment: "Not only this, but we must also resist temptation, offer protection, and rescue honor wherever there is danger and need. We must give help and counsel, so as to maintain our neighbor’s honor. For whenever you abandon this effort when you could resist unchastity, or whenever you overlook it as if it did not concern you, you are as truly guilty of adultery as the one doing the deed." ↩︎
And let me be entirely clear: If you had no hand in arranging the marriage itself and merely counselled the couple after the fact, then you get no credit. ↩︎