I'm embarrassed to admit this, but someone needs to hear it🤦🏽♂️:
I had the worst wandering eyes. So much so that while on one of my first dates with my current wife, I was caught checking out the waitress. Of course I denied it! But apparently I didn't even try to hide it. And how could I? I was a young 20-year-old dude in the Marine Corps. I was stationed ON THE BEACH in beautiful Southern California. Plus, every man I ever looked up to told me that I was supposed to check women out.
I got married with every intention of being faithful to my beautiful blonde-haired, blue-eyed woman. And I was faithful. I even stopped flirting with other girls and stopped watching porn. But the wandering eyes thing, man; those I couldn't get under control. So, like many other guys around me, I reasoned "it's okay to look, as long as I don't touch."
This was a habit that I built and strengthened for over 20 years until I caught the heart of Jesus' words in Matthew 5:28:
Everyone who looks at a woman with lustful INTENT has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Now, I know what you're thinking. "Really, Jesus? Isn't that a little extreme? Have you seen a billboard or TV commercial lately?" But guys, there is so much empowerment for us here. This was typical Jesus: coming on the scene to flip this man myth on its head and focus on the matters of the heart. Let me offer some insight.
The Truth About This Man-Myth
When Jesus addresses the intentions and desires of our hearts, He is often dealing with the things that could block our ability to have complete intimacy with God. He knows that if there was anything in our hearts that could separate us from the Father it needed to go. Especially man myths like this one; ones so intertwined with the meaning of masculinity that it hides behind the idea that "this is just the way it is."
I say, "SCREW THAT!"
Even looking at a woman with wrong intentions is a barrier to intimacy between us and God. We can't afford to sell out to cheap misrepresentations of the masculine heart. We have been ushered into a heart-to-heart relationship with the Father! It is from that place that we learn our identities as co-heirs with Christ (see Romans 8:17). This is why there is so much emphasis on the INTENT of our hearts.
Let's Get Practical
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23)
I remember feeling like there was nowhere I could go where I didn't struggle with the desire to look at other women. This ruined my love for the beaches in California. Then it ruined my focus and desire to even be at the gym. Finally, I got to a point that I didn't even want to go to Wal-Mart because of the women that could be there in tiny shorts. But, we are not made to dwell in fear. In fact, the word says this:
God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (1 Tim 1:7)
This was life-altering for me!
God doesn't want us to walk around with horse blinders on. That isn't TRUE purity; it's avoidance. He wants us to live in constant communion with Him and walk around with such an awareness of Him that it causes us to think and see as He does (see John 5:19). Once I understood this, I began the construction of new habits. It began with simple acts like learning to bounce my eyes when I accidentally looked at a woman’s body. I was also intentional about learning to keep my eyes higher and avoid some incidents altogether.
When I got super serious about my purity I trashed all of the movies that had sexual or provocative scenes in them. Yes, that meant hundreds of dollars in the trash- just like that. Since then, I've built the habit of looking up the parent's guide of EVERY movie or show that I watch. It takes all of :20 seconds to do and it has a great return on investment. You simply search the movie on IMdB.com and click on the “Parent’s Guide” tab.
Keeping our hearts with vigilance is about simple acts that on their own may seem insignificant, but as a whole, they form a lifestyle of purity. I want to invite you to share your thoughts on this man myth or ask questions that this blog may have raised.