When someone takes me out to dinner, I’m very mindful of how I decide what to order. We all love to eat and have to eat to live…but there is always a cost associated with our meals. A good tactic I typically implement is to allow my host to order first. I’m more inclined to get a soft drink if they get a soda or sweet tea. If they get water with lemon, I mirror that frugal and healthier decision.
A Free Meal Matters
On the other hand, if someone gives me a gift card with a larger balance to pay for the tip, I know the bill is being paid in full, and my personal bank account is protected. I order whatever I want at that moment, knowing that shrimp costs more. I would not normally splurge that way if I were paying, but my bill is covered. So, I get the shrimp! Can I get a witness?
There is one problem with this mindset in recovery when it comes to our sobriety. If I am not careful, I will apply this to my walk with Jesus. I know that my sin has been paid for. Grace is God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. I understand that because of Jesus, my past failure has been separated from me as far as the East is from the West (Psalm 103:12)…but that doesn’t give me the freedom to “order” whatever I want from the menu of life if I am walking in authentic sobriety.
Paul teaches us under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that “everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.” (1 Cor. 10:23). Shrimp tastes great (especially when the bill is paid). Still, it tends to have negative consequences for my digestion process. – It messes with my insides.
Which Menu Are We Ordering From?
The question for today is the following: What does Sexual Sobriety look like? I would suggest it is NOT just abstaining from acting out by watching porn. Sexual Sobriety is more than deleting the account and removing the dating/hook-up app from your smartphone. It is NOT simply avoiding the internet completely or never being alone with a person of the opposite sex other than your spouse. Sexual Sobriety is ordering from a completely different menu because we recognize that sexual immorality is a sin that, when committed, is self-sabotage against our bodies and affects us at the very core of who we are. (1 Cor. 6:18)
A Dry Drunk?
A “Dry Drunk” is described as someone who is technically sober but still exhibits many of the negative behaviors they had while still being active in their addiction. If an alcoholic can be technically “sober” by not consuming the substance and yet also be considered a “dry drunk” because they are still constantly agitated, still angry at the world, and still recognizably depressed… then we have a challenge to face in regards to sexual sobriety. If a person might be labeled a “dry drunk” when they are still a ticking time bomb quickly set off because of one small negative circumstance, then… I would suggest that the same trap is set for anyone trying to maintain sexual sobriety.
Returning to the restaurant analogy, we need to be aware of who is paying the bill regarding our sexual sobriety. Jesus preached a counter-cultural message when he said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28) That changes the game.
This statement, communicated by the creator of everything, makes sexual sobriety a heart issue, not just a behavioral modification. Jesus then gets graphic in his following statements and teaches that we should rip out the areas of our lives that make our hearts stumble this way. Although an alcoholic indeed has no business in a bar, and a man who struggles with sexual addiction should never get his wings at Hooters, no matter how good the sauce may be…sexual sobriety means more than simple abstinence. That is worth repeating…Sexual sobriety is more than simple abstinence from a maladaptive coping mechanism. It’s also a posture of our heart.
Sexual Sobriety Is More Than Simple Abstinence
Without a vision for our lives, we will cast off restraint. (Proverbs 29:18) My sexual sobriety means my heart is full of vision for not just my purity and refraining from acting out. Sexual sobriety means my heart is pointed towards my spouse and the family God has blessed me with. Even single people should be praying with a vision for their future spouse. I have vision that changes my heart and focuses and refocuses my life. I am not just filtering what comes in my eye gates (Proverbs 30:17)…sexual sobriety is having a vision for my children, being calm when they are not refusing ever to raise my voice in the home, and consistently being patient no matter what kind of day I have experienced.
Anger, frustration, impatience, and a lack of joy or enthusiasm for the good life God has blessed us with are all indicators that sobriety is at risk. Those are warning signals that our hearts are under attack, so our sobriety is under assault.
Sexual sobriety is so much more than an internet filter, clicking off a page with something questionable, or looking away when someone in a public space is dressed provocatively. Coupling those important behavioral disciplines with caring for and developing purity in our hearts.
My bill was paid at such a high price. That bill was paid while I was yet a sinner. That makes my heart want to order from a completely different menu when considering what sexual sobriety looks like.