Recently I decided to get serious with my diet and exercise so I joined a gym and purchased an intense, muscle-building training plan online. As the excitement grows for me to finally get myself in shape, start eating right, and show off my huge biceps to my wife, I’m reminded of the struggles I’ve had in my life when it comes to sticking to a workout and diet plan. Ever since I graduated from college in 2000, I have been in and out of the gym, never really able to stick to a plan and really get in shape and don’t even get my started on my diet. When I was working out regularly, I would still be eating junk. In fact, I actually used to order Chipotle while on the treadmill so I could pig out when I was done with my cardio!
In order to set myself up for success in my workout and diet plan, it’s vitally important that I eliminate as many obstacles to my success as possible. For example, anything that distracts me from going to the gym is a hindrance to my fitness plan and anything that tempts me to eat like a fat kid gets in the way of my dieting plans.
As men of integrity the same thing applies to our journey of sexual purity. I Corinthians 6:8 says “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.“ The Bible doesn’t say, “It’s perfectly fine to be around sexual immorality as long as you just don’t look. In fact, go to a strip club and just keep your eyes closed. ” Absolutely not! It tells us to run. Do whatever is necessary to stay away from sexual immorality. So just like my workout and diet plan, our sexual purity plan has to help set us up for success or else we’ll find ourselves right back at the same place we were before.
Setting ourselves up for success means that we need to identify some triggers that can hinder our progress. I’ve listed out a few things that are known to trip men up as they strive for purity. There are many possible triggers and a lot them depend on the person’s own struggles and temptations. I would encourage you to read this list and be completely honest with yourself about which ones apply to you. If you’d like to add any other possible triggers, please comment below and give us your ideas.
Possible Obstacles To Your Purity
One of the reasons I cut television out of my life a couple years ago was because I saw what I was watching as a threat to my purity. As each season passes, TV shows become more and more geared towards sexuality, profanity and overall vulgarity. This is in an attempt to reach the masses, but what it does is push men (and women) deeper into a cycle of lust, objectification and an unrealistic view of how the world really is.
Now I’m not saying that staying away from television is for everyone. I realize there are still good things on TV and if you’re serious about maintaining your purity, you can put measures in place to not get caught up in that world. For example, you can record with a DVR and fast forward through commercials. A lot of television advertising is geared towards sex and skipping over commercials will help guard your eyes from seeing something that would threaten your purity. There are many ways to avoid cutting out television and maintaining your purity but it takes a commitment to putting up boundaries and making sure you stick to them.
Movies are another threat that sneaks up on you. How many times have you been sitting in a movie and out of nowhere there’s completely unnecessary nudity. You may think nothing of it, but you just took that in and that becomes a threat to your sexual integrity.
My wife and I still watch movies from time to time, but I don’t watch a single movie without checking the IMDB parent guide first. This is a very valuable resource that allows you to screen a movie before choosing to watch it. All you do is either get the IMDB app or go to IMDB’s website and type in the movie you’d like to see. Scroll down to the Parent Guide and it breaks down the movie by sex and nudity, violence and gore, profanity, alcohol and drug use, and frightening/intense scenes. Whether you’re by yourself, with your wife, with your kids, or with your friends, it’s a great resource to help set you up for success.
This is a big one. Social media is one of the biggest threats to our sexual purity. Every day we are constantly consuming photos, videos, and short blurbs that quickly pass in and out of our lives. The problem is that we can’t control other people’s judgment when it comes to posting online. When we log on to look at our feed without setting up any boundaries, we are essentially playing russian roulette with our purity.
The good news is that there are many ways to guard yourself against inappropriate material on your social media feed. All social media platforms have this awesome feature that allows you to unfollow or unfriend people! I encourage you to use it … and use it often! Don’t worry about what other people may think of you if you unfriend/unfollow them. Your integrity as a man is so much more important that that person’s acceptance. In fact, I’ve had to unfriend many people simply because they don’t exercise good judgment when posting online. I don’t judge them in any way. I just know that I’ve come way too far to expose myself to anything that could damage that progress.
I am a huge advocate for health and fitness and I believe that everybody should have a consistent workout routine to take care of the body God has given us. However, some women have a tendency to expose too much of God’s gift while at the gym. Take into consideration the raised testosterone levels while working out and you have a recipe for lust. Most men are very visual and don’t put any thought into the things that are consumed visually and how that information affects the heart.
There are a few solutions to this obstacle. If you must workout around women in short shorts and sports bras (which I definitely don’t recommend),don’t look at them! Just put on some headphones and keep your head down. However the best solution would be to find a gym or workout facility that’s exclusively or mainly men. I recently joined a gym that’s open 24 hours and it’s great because there isn’t a soul in the gym after 7pm. So I go there to workout in the evening and I’m alone 90% of the time. This is a huge relief because I need to workout but I also recognize the threat of working out in a busy gym.
Magazine covers in the store have one job and that’s to sell magazines. How do they sell magazines? You guessed it … SEX! When you’re in the grocery store, you are surrounded by magazines and compromising images. The only solution to this threat is to not look in the direction of those magazines and bounce your eyes any time you come across one.
Being home alone
If you’ve every struggled with pornography, you know the incredible temptations that can come with an empty house. Our wives are sort of an unintentional barrier to slipping into temptation. When that barrier is removed, we are left with our integrity. Integrity is how you conduct yourself when nobody else is watching. All of these measures I’m recommending are meant to help build integrity and guide you toward leading yourself well.
If you find yourself tempted to stray while home alone, I recommend calling your accountability partner. Never do this alone! Reach out to the person(s) you trust to help keep you on track. It’s always important to recognize how your mind works when temptation is staring you in the face. What works for you and what causes you to struggle even more? For example if you find that keeping busy protects you from temptation, then find things that occupy your mind like hanging out with friends, or going to a coffee shop and reading. Maybe you find that it helps to do mindless activity so your mind will be at rest. If that’s the case then find a good (clean) movie, make some popcorn and get comfy on the couch or catch up on some sleep.
The workplace is an unavoidable obstacle to your purity. How many times have affairs began at work? How many times have men flirted with their co-workers when their wives and children were at home completely unaware? One of the most important things you can do on a daily basis is put healthy boundaries in place at work. What do healthy boundaries look like? They can differ for many people, but making sure that you are never in a compromising situation should be at the heart of every decision you make during social time at work. Besides your family, you spend the most time with people at work therefore it’s vital that you guard yourself from anything that puts your purity in jeopardy.
One of the things I recommend doing is never present yourself as a “shoulder to lean on” for the opposite sex. You should never talk about personal issues with members of the opposite sex at work. Affairs never just happen. They begin by two people talking and developing a friendship. When they’re not aware of what’s going on, the relationship begins to deepen and before they know it, they are discussing intimate details about their lives and that puts them in a very compromising position.
All of these measure are meant to lead you into a place of purity and integrity in your life. I encourage you to read through them, meditate on them and pray about them. Pray that God reveals to you the best way to handle these situations and guard your integrity. Comment below with any thoughts. I would love to hear what works for you and what you think about this post.