The Only Thing Between You and Sex
- by Jason B. Illian Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2005 11 Nov
I was finishing some research the other day when I received a pop–up ad on my computer—"Hot, sexy Russian girls waiting to meet you." I stared at it for a second. My heart said one thing. My flesh said another. After what seemed like forever, I closed the ad and walked away from the computer, sweating but safe.
I knew I shouldn't check to see what Rachaela the Ukrainian Temptress had for me, but I sure wanted to. The only roadblock between me and a lustful fling in cyberspace was one very tangible, balding, concerned friend—my accountability partner. I couldn't bear the thought of facing him if I gave in to my temptation.?
By God's design, we're physical beings. As physical beings, we have sexual urges and that's no sin. But how we handle our sexual temptations—pornography issues, emotional barriers, and lust—is critically important. Some people think we ought to seclude ourselves from our culture and pray for God to take away our fleshly desires, but that isn't a biblical perspective. Our sexual experience is part of what makes us human, and God said we're "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14). We shouldn't pray for God to take away our sexual desires. Instead, we should heed Paul's wise advice and take steps to make sure we aren't mastered by them (1 Corinthians 6:12).
There's a time and place for sex—it just isn't during dating. As a single Christian male, I think I speak for most of us men when I say that controlling our lustful and sexual motives is one of the most difficult things to do. I'd rather run into a gun fight wielding a Swiss army knife than battle my sexual desires. You can only take so many cold showers and long runs—after that, you have to sweat it out like an icicle in the desert.
God has given us many tools—the Bible, the Holy Spirit, prayer, the church, etc.—to help us in our sexual struggles, but none more tangible and powerful than one another. Men need other men. When Jesus sent the disciples into a dangerous world to preach the gospel, he said, "Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic" (Luke 9:3). But he sent them two–by–two. He knew they needed one another for guidance, support, and encouragement. He knew that we needed accountability.
If you think about it, all of our great heroes had an accountability partner with whom to share both the joys and sorrows of life. They all went two–by–two. Batman had Robin. Gilligan had the Skipper. Even the Lone Ranger wasn't alone; he had Tonto. We've always known two are better than one and that "a chord of three strands is not easily broken" (Ecclesiastes 4:12). God is always with us, but sometimes we don't feel his physical presence. Having a fellow soldier by our side helps give us perspective and balance.
In every romantic relationship I've experienced, there have been moments when I was spiritually and emotionally weak … weak enough to have sex. When I was engaged, I shared a bed with my fiancéfrom time to time, thinking I could handle just sleeping in the same bed together. I was foolish. I got to the point that I wanted her body—only her body. It was only by God's grace that I didn't lose my virginity. I was without accountability, and my unchecked attitudes and actions eventually led to the demise of our relationship. Had there been an older and wiser man there to guide me, I may have avoided great emotional pain.
It's taken me 30 difficult years to learn it, but I now have a gentleman in my life whom I'm blessed to call my accountability partner—a man I loving refer to as "Yoda." Sharing a similar background in both ministry and business, he's about 10 years older than me and 50 years wiser. You need a Yoda as well. When you seek out someone to train you in the Jedi way, there are three abilities you should look for:
1. Availability—You need someone who's willing to be available to you at all times. Some of the greatest sexual struggles occur at night and on the weekends. A good accountability partner will keep his cell phone and running shoes next to the bed to be ready at a moment's notice.
Not only will he be there in case of emergency, but he'll also schedule a regular time to talk with you every two to three weeks. You can have weekly meetings if you're working through intense issues, but I've found getting together or talking on the phone every other week is sometimes more effective. One of my friends bought his girlfriend some sexy lingerie for her birthday, only to return it a few days later after meeting with his accountability partner. His partner told him there would be a potential time for that sort of gift, just not yet.
It's worth noting that both my and my friend's accountability partners are male. There's a reason for that. Men need other men for accountability, just as women need other women. Men have better insights about how the male mind works and understand the challenges of being male. It's the same with women. If you try to cross gender lines, there's a good chance you'll end up with an accountability partner who doesn't understand your struggles. What's even more threatening is that you may build an inappropriate emotional bond with this person or even become intimately involved.
2. Reliability—You need to enlist a man who's reliable, a distinguished gentleman of integrity who's above reproach. Your first instinct may be to ask a family member or your best friend to hold you accountable, but I'd advise otherwise. Our family and friends are often too close to our situations to give an unbiased perspective. Moreover, they often don't want to hurt our feelings or damage the relationship. If you and your brother are accountability partners and vehemently disagree on an issue, Thanksgiving dinner is going to get awkward real quick.
If at all possible, choose a discerning peer or a wiser, older gentleman who's not in your immediate circle of friends. If you know somebody at church or respect a Christian businessman in your community, ask if he'd be willing to walk with you. Someone who's at arm's length is more likely to tell you the truth about your situation, even if it hurts your feelings. If you have a good accountability partner, you'll hear what you want to hear about 50% of the time. The other 50% of the time he'll tell you what you need to hear.
There's wisdom in asking someone who's older and more experienced to hold you accountable. An old Chinese proverb notes, "The best way to figure out what is down the road of life is to ask those coming back." We're bound to make mistakes in relationships, but they don't have to be the same mistakes or to the same magnitude as those who have walked before us. We've ALL failed in relationships to different degrees. Once he provides forgiveness, Christ isn't so concerned with what you've done in the past as he is with what you'll do in the future. Walk with a man who's a few steps ahead of you in life so he can point out the potholes.
3. Vulnerability—It's absolutely critical to have an accountability partner with whom you can bear your soul. You need to be able to tackle exceptionally sensitive issues, whether they're lustful thoughts or actions, without feeling judged. Find a gentleman who's not hesitant to ask you questions such as, "How are you doing physically with your girlfriend?" and "Have you viewed any pornography lately?" Compassionate and empathetic, a good accountability partner will also share some of his previous and present struggles so you don't feel like the only one fighting the battle.
As men, it's not as natural for us to seek out help or to admit vulnerability, but it's an essential part of being a godly man. It's when we admit we're weak that God can pour his supernatural power into us. Finding the right person to spend the rest of your life with can be an emotional and spiritual battle. Don't go into it until you know that trusted friend has your back.
I can't begin to stress how important it is to have at least one other person who not only shares in your struggles, but also celebrates in your victories. It makes life all the sweeter. It's often hard to determine what to do in certain dating and sexual situations, because we're part of the equation. Your accountability partner can be your unbiased set of eyes, helping you along the way.
Men need other men. If the Creator of the Universe chose 12 other men to walk with him through his ups and downs, why should you be any different?
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