This week Pastor Brazell shares two of the tools he teaches the men in his recovery groups.
Tool #1 Learn to see women through the eyes of a protector rather than a consumer.
Think about that statement for a moment. Hear the damage that the enemy has done to how this man saw himself. He saw himself as a man whose only choice, the only reality, the only thing he could do whenever he saw a beautiful woman was go to lust. What I would say is that the vast majority of men that I work with believe that it is somehow impossible to do anything with the image or even a live woman in their presence without going to the place of consumption.
I knew that he was married to a woman for a number of years but his step-daughter was 13 years old when he married this woman through the time when she left the home. He had said that he didn’t think he was capable to looking at any woman without going to lust. I said, “what about your step-daughter? Did you lust after her?”
He immediately bristled, “Well, no. Of course not!” I said, “Well, why not?” He said, “Well, because, I saw her as my daughter and it was my job to protect and care for her.” So I just looked at him and said, “So your brain really is capable of putting women in a category for protection rather than consumption.” You could see the light bulb go off in his head. For the first time he realized that he was capable of seeing a beautiful woman without going to lust.
That evening we at men’s group we talked about that very discussion. You could see the light bulbs going on all across the room in the guys’ heads as they began to think of the different women in their lives who were beautiful, attractive women with whom they did not have problems of lust. One of the common threads that kept coming out was that these were women with whom they had a relationship and they saw themselves in a role of protecting, not consuming.
It is critical for a man to begin to recognize that he is capable of protecting, and then begin to use the discipline of categorizing every woman he encounters into the category of mother, sister, or daughter. That is exactly what Paul describes in I Tim. 5:2. “Treat older women as mothers and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” Let that sink in for a bit.
Unfortunately in Christian circles, they try to get men to deal with lust as if it can be controlled by shackles and chains. If you just clamp the lid down tight enough, then you cannot go there. I am convinced that the answer is in retraining the mind to recognize that we are in relationship with women but that relationship needs to be in the proper perspective. I think that is part of what Paul is saying to Timothy when he says to treat older women as mothers and younger women as sisters with absolute purity.
So I am teaching men to put every woman they come across in the category of sister, mother or daughter. In those categories your brain begins to learn that they are not for consumption. They have been placed in your path and one of your tasks as a man of God is to be a protector of Eve rather than a consumer of Eve. That paradigm shift for men makes a huge difference in the struggle against lust, pornography and sexual addiction.
Tool #2 – Build joy with other men—Our world has little to no understanding of the power and need for authentic male friendship.
When I was working on this slide show for the power point slides I got a graphic illustration of this. I spent 15 minutes looking at hundreds of thumbnail pictures of joy and people happy looking for a picture of men in joy together. This picture is the second picture I saw in 15 minutes of very active searching! The other picture was four men with alcoholic drinks in their hands in a bar. Our world does not associate joy with men’s relationships with one another. There were countless pictures of men with women smiling and many pictures of men with children but very few pictures of men glad to be with other men.
Men come to us and join the group and one of the things I ask them in the intake process is, “So what are your relationships like with other men?” They tell me, “I have work relationships.” Some men have relationships with other men where they do something. They hunt together; they work together on yard projects or something like that. “But do you have any men in your life that you share hard things with? Do you have any men in your life that you know are glad to see you no matter what?” And the answer is almost always “no.”
Another dynamic that we see is that after coming to group for 2-3 months or so a man will just blurt out something to the effect of “I never knew that you could have this kind of friendship in relationship with other men!”
Why is male friendship so critical?—Our world has pressed upon us the belief that the only place men can get joy from as men is from woman. As a result, we have multiple generations of men who are constantly looking to Eve to fill their joy bucket, oblivious to what can grow from other men. Then when you combine this with the twisting of seeing Eve, not for who she is as an individual, but seeing her through the eyes of lust, then you have men who are joy starved. They are not looking to the relationships even with other women for a joy boost and healthy relationship, but they are consuming them.
When you are joy starved and powerless to resist your cravings, you look for something—anything to medicate the pain and shame in your life. That is one of the reasons internet pornography and other forms of sexual acting out are so common and such a powerful draw.
Tool #2 – Build relationships with other men. What men need desperately is to build joy with other men. However, they are often very resistant to that. When I talk about coming to men’s group and build joyful relationships with other men they look at me with a weird look and say, “Why would I want to build joy with these ugly guys?” I tell them, “Because it will change your life.” And the men who jump in and do that find that their lives begin to change in very radical ways.
A number of times guys will shake their head and say, “You know, I would never have thought from the first time I came here, that one day I would look forward to coming.” The most common thing for most men in telling their story is that they sit in the parking lot for 5, 10, and as long as 45 minutes, absolutely scared witless, trying to find the courage to come into the room where they know we would be talking about pornography, masturbation and other sexual issues..
Over time they found that as they entered the community, they started to experience joy. Many of the guys have talked about how men’s group night is now one of the highlights of their week. If you walked into our room and did not hear the content we were talking about, many times you would be surprised because you see guys smiling, and having joy with being with one another.
Other times when we are dealing with really hard stuff, praying over one another, grieving with one another, and what happens in that process is that relationships are formed. Relationships go deep and those deep relationships give the men more strength or joy capacity to deal with the hard things.
These are two of a number of tools Pastor Brazell teaches the men in his groups. We hope these tools will bring new hope to you or someone you know or with whom you work. For other resources Pastor Brazell uses with men’s groups around sexual integrity visit www.newhope4si.com.
May your joy be full!
Chris & Carol
Chris Coursey, MA Theology — Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer, www.thrivetoday.org
Carol Brown, Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive www.fromgodsheart.com
This post is from a talk by Pastor Darrell Brazell of New Hope Fellowship, Lawrence KS given for Pastor’s Weekly Oct. 24, 2013.