Jesus Christ
Growth in Character: Sexual Purity

Sexual stimulation is all around us in most, if not all, cultures. I struggle with it as you do and hope this page will be helpful to you in gaining victory.


God's Good Gift: Sex, like fire and water, in God's intended context of marriage is a wonderful gift and great blessing.  We can affirm and thank God for the beauty and diversity of creation as male and female. At the same time we must recognize and reject distortion of God's good gifts where distortion is likely to occur. Satan is the master of distortion and deception.


Sex, like fire and water, in the wrong context can destroy us - our relationships, our marriage, our self-image and more. Pornography (literally, 'images of prostitutes') in particular stimulates sin and must be recognized to be of the same root, and producing the same fruit, as the sin itself. In addition, pornography is addicting - as addicting or more addicting than hard drugs - as indicated by physical changes to the brain which result.

When our four sons were in their teens I prepared and shared this PP with them to help them take seriously the danger of pornography.


The reasons for containing sex in marriage are offered in "Singles & Sex" (Dean Sherman) here.

The Foundational Question: How then can we best overcome inappropriate sexual stimulation?


Here are some responses I commend to you:


1.  First, some common sense practices which can help avoid unnecessary struggle:

  • Eyes and heart: When unexpected sexual stimulation occurs, avert your eyes and heart. For a man, this stimulation is generally initially visual and mental. For this reason, when our eye falls on an image which has, for us, sexual power - whether human, print, or digital - the best response is to move our eye to another focus - once or many times - and to think about about what we are now looking at rather than what we were looking at. Initially this practice is conscious and deliberate and may feel contrived. Success is when doing so by choice become a habit a higher percentage of time than it is by choice.

  • Higher risk locations: We know some locations, parts of town and web sites have higher incidents of sexual temptation than others and we can these places. For instance, long ago I learned to avoid the magazine section in a drugstore on my way to the prescription counter. Most men could cite many other examples. The point is simply to avoid places and circumstances where you know sexual stimulation will tempt you. This is an extension of the principle of averting eyes and heart.

  • Travel: Don't be unnecessarily alone away from the routine and accountability of your home, family and friends or spend undue time where no one knows you. Temptation can be greater in these settings. Travel alone can of course not be avoided. Simply knowing the dangers can be helpful in itself, being more ready to apply the above actions.

  • Take decisive action: There are times when the best common sense action is to get up and walk away, turn your attention to a healthy relationship or constructive task. My experience has taught me not to reflect unduly on this option but to act on it when needed in a way more like a knee-jerk reaction.

  • The key is then to nip the temptation in the bud - the earlier the better.

2.  We cannot however eliminate all sexual temptation. When tempted, tell yourself the truth in three areas.

  • Know that you are being tempted and the cost of surrender. Tell yourself the truth. (A reminder)

  • Know that there is a way of escape. Scripture's encouragement is that: "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to us all. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it." (1 Corinthians 10:13)

  • Know that you have the authority not to sin:

Jesus said: "I have overcome the world" (John 16:33)

Scripture further reminds us that "though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corinthians 10: 3-5)

3.  Assert yourself strongly in the Lord...

  • Say 'no' and 'yes' - say it aloud if need be - 'no' to the pollution of your soul and to the final outcome to which the enemy of your soul desires to take you; 'yes' to Christ the saviour and shepherd of your soul and to heaven where He is leading you.

  • Resist the enemy of your soul. You can speak directly: "Satan, in the name of Jesus Christ who rose from the dead and overcame you, I rebuke you and command you to leave me now..."

  • Before resisting the enemy, it is good practice to take away the ground on which he makes his claim on us by repentance. Before address the enemy, it is good to address the Lord: "I confess my weakness and need of You. I repent of my sin and declare that I don't want to yield to sexual temptation, now or ever. Protect me from the wiles of the evil one. Strengthen me against him. In the name of Christ, Amen"

4.  What about masturbation?

Dr. James Dobson, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, once said, "In polls, 99% of men acknowledge the use of masturbation. The other 1% is probably lying." Given the release of sexual tension from masturbation which helps reduce the temptation to act on inappropriate sexual stimulation in more dangerous and harmful ways, there are several provisos to be added.


Masturbation should not be used:

with pornography or other means of increasing sexual desire since its purpose is to reduce rather than increase sexual tension

in marriage since marriage is God's gift in which sexual expression is rightly to be enjoyed.

when desired. Self-discipline must always be in place and frequency limited with ongoing effort to decrease frequency.

5.  If you fall or fail:

  • Confess your failure to yourself, to Christ and if need be to the person you've sinned against.

  • Receive forgiveness from Christ, yourself and if need be from the person you've sinned against

  • Don't withdraw from the Lord in shame. Let Him judge to purify you now rather than on the final day of accountability. Return immediately to spiritual disciplines, community, the scriptures and prayer.

  • Ask for the help of a trusted friend or counsellor to speak into your life and strategy for sexual purity. Invite this or another person into an accountability relationship in which simple hard questions are asked.

  • Don't give up. Christ will help you overcome temptation and grow in purity.

  • Victory may come incrementally or suddenly, but it will come.

These principles are true for singles, married persons or for those, married or single, who struggle with same-gender attraction. For additional perspective on the latter, please click here. For other resources and encouragement, please search the internet for materials on 'sexual purity.'