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 10:4-5)
I can remember laying in bed one night shortly after Karin and I had been married. Thoughts came roaring back from things I had looked at as a teenager. I emphasize this to students all the time that they don’t realize how those images are stuck in our subconscious. I began to pray to God that He would help me see them for what they were. Instantly it was like a scene out of Indiana Jones when they open the Ark of the Covenant. The once seemingly beautiful images turned demonic. Their faces were contorted and filled with evil. I can actually still recall those images as well!
I’m sure that we as individuals don’t think about sex anymore than past generations. But, there is no denying that access to graphic sex and soft porn has never been easier. We live in a hyper-sexualized culture. Everything from advertising water to clothing has sex appeal. There is sexually suggestive material on what was once considered untouchable programs from Disney to Nickelodeon. If you have basic cable then all bets are off on what you can see as networks continue to push farther and farther. This makes it an even bigger challenge for people to stay pure in their relationships with others as well as their relationship with God.
But, in this post I want to address one aspect of sexuality from a Christian perspective: sexual fantasies. This is one way people escape reality and can close themselves off from what they truly desire-intimacy. I believe there are millions held in bondage to their sexual appetite. Ironically instead of filling their need for intimacy it leaves them alone and feeling even more isolated.
Sexual fantasies are not something that would ever be exposed and can certainly never be regulated. They are private thoughts and can vary from individual to individual. We have all heard, seen and read about the very deviant types of fantasies. But, not every fantasy involves something deviant- sometimes it’s “just” another person, sometimes it involves a risque act. There are more and more stores opening that cater to helping people realize their various fantasies. The sexual fantasy business is a multi-billion dollar industry that has as it’s one goal to make money. Never fool yourself into thinking that they care about making you happy. In fact, they are betting you will be left unsatisfied and come back for more.
Amazon reports that the largest e-book downloads are erotic fantasy books. They give several reasons for this trend but the biggest is that they are often free or the least inexpensive books. People feel a certain anonymity to downloading these books onto their tablets and e-readers. They can read them in private and let their imaginations run wild. After all “no harm, no foul”.
Chances are either you or someone you know struggles with sexual fantasies. There are certainly resources to help you such as www.xxxchurch.com But, I want to give some practical advise in this post that will help you begin to demolish that stronghold.
First let’s establish what would be a spiritual stronghold. According to the passage in 2 corinthians it is something that has set itself up against the knowledge of God. It has been given a place of power over us and authority that we submit to it’s will rather than to God’s. We can no longer cosistently obey God’s word in this area. A stronghold of this type is something that we no longer have control of but it literally controls us.
Many times a stronghold starts with a lie. The thought is “no one will know. no one will ever find this out!”. But, once we give in to that thought then the very first thing we think is “everyone will find out about this”. We vow that was the last time and we have learned our lesson. The problem is when no one actually does find out and we are drawn to that particular activity again. We start to think about how we got away with it last time so why should this time be any different. And, now the stronghold continues to grow each time we give in. It becomes easier each time to justify it and to become numb to the guilt.
The first thing I would recommend is to find someone with whom you can be brutally honest. Someone that won’t flinch or condemn you. There are friendships like this out there. If you are married then that is the first place to start. The smallest secrets can cause the greatest damage in relationships. I have seen marriages break up over years of hidden lies. The fear that your spouse will leave you if you tell them the truth should not compare to the reality that your spouse will probably leave anyway if they discover your lies.
If you are not married then pray that God would show you the person to whom you can confide. This might be an older mentor, a long time friend or someone you’ve just known casually to this point. I would caution you to be discerning in sharing your most private secrets with casual acquaintances though. If they are shared with the wrong person or at the wrong time it can actually cause irreparable damage to a relationship. But, shared with the right person at the right time it can bring healing and restoration.
My college roommantes and I could have these conversations pretty regularly. The thing we were lacking though a lot of times would be the second thing I would recommend- accountability. It’s great to be able to talk about your stronghold but it is another thing all together to have someone ask you blunt questions and hold your feet to the fire. This is not meant to be comfortable but it must be done consistently. And, only by being honest can you start to break this stronghold down.
Next, you should separate yourself from whatever might be tempting you. It might seem silly to someone looking from the outside- it might be a magazine subscription, movie channels, music or even an e-book. When Karin and I moved into the home we live in now the cable company messed up our order and gave us every channel- and I mean every channel. I chose not to watch TV at all and went upstairs with her at night. I called the cable company as soon as possible and asked them to cut it off right away.The more difficult we make something to access the easier it will be to resist.
Fourth, we need to make every thought captive to Christ. If you’ve ever seen the show cops then you know people rarely ever just surrender. They see the lights and make a run for it. That’s why we watch it isn’t it? It’s work for the cops to subdue and capture someone. Our thoughts are the same way. Our thoughts will not naturally submit to the authority of Christ and it is especially true for a stronghold. “The mind of the sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God” romans 8:6-8 But, our weapons to knock them down are not natural but spiritual.
Some of the weapons at our disposal are fasting, prayer and of course scripture. The stronghold starts with a lie and can be brought down by focusing our thoughts and hearts on truth. There are lots of scripture that focus on our identity and freedom as believers. One practical way to focus your mind on scripture is write down scripture and keep them over your TV or computer. That way it’s a reminder of God’s truth and gives you another opportunity to subdue your thougths.
I want to wrap this up by saying that out of control sexual fantasies are just the symptom of a deeper brokenness. Whether it comes from loneliness, stress, insecurity or something else completely you should know that there is healing and freedom available to you. You might already know this but continue to choose bondage. My prayer for you is that God would open your eyes and break your chains. I pray that He will soften your heart and you will know His forgiveness.
As I’ve mentioned before- this will not separate you from God anymore than any other sin. You are no less loved because of this stronghold than you will be when or if you overcome it. You are filled with the power and Spirit of God and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. We can cry out the song of victory “Where, O death is thy victory? Where, O death is thy sting? The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law. But, thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 corinthians 15:55-56