Last week I ended with a challenge for men to examine their hearts in regard to their love for Christ, hatred of sin, and desire to gain victory over lust. This week I will offer a few practical suggestions which have helped me as I fight against the temptation to lust at the beach/pool. I do not give these as legalistic rules, but offer them as suggestions for men who are serious about living the Gospel at the beach, for men who want to honor their God and their wives, for men who want to keep the mission of God at the forefront of their minds and not some strange woman’s cleavage.
1. Do not wear sunglasses. Let me give you a maxim that I have learned by experience and observation: Most perverts wear sunglasses to the beach (NOTICE that I did not say: everyone who wears sunglasses is a pervert). It does not take a young man long to discover that if he wears sunglasses to the beach, no one can see his eyes. When you are wearing sunglasses, you can point your face in one direction while your eyes are actually in a different direction. If you struggle with lust (i.e. if you are a man), this poses a huge problem. It basically frees you to lust all you want without being “busted” by anyone. It is so easy for a man to sit in his chair and act like he is reading a book, all the while his eyes are actually glued to the beautiful woman sunbathing in front of him. Take his sunglasses off and see how that works! But someone might raise the objection, “The sun hurts my eyes so I need to wear my sunglasses.” To this objection, I would simply quote Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:29–30 (see previous post). Which is better: to have the sun hurt your eyes a little bit or to lust in your heart? I think the answer is clear! Trust me: your eyes will eventually adjust! You may have to walk around all day squinting…but better to squint than to lust.
2. Lust after your wife. Typically, we think that lust is wrong altogether, and for the most part it is, but have you ever thought about lusting after your wife? Simply put, lust is an intense sexual desire. Such intense desire is completely appropriate when directed toward your wife as long as you are consistently loving her as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25-33). In other words, lusting after your wife is only appropriate within the context of a Christ-centered marriage. Shame on the man who treats his wife disrespectfully and unloving all the time and only uses her as a sex object. I like to think of this principle in relation to Paul’s analogy of putting off the old man and putting on the new man (Ephesians 4:22-32). Instead of lusting after another woman at the beach (sinful), we should intentionally direct our sexual attention toward our wives. How many of our wives would love to see our eyes locked in on them at the beach instead of having to watch us like hawks because they know that our eyes are prone to wander to other women. Tell your wife how beautiful she is, touch her, kiss her, stare at her, wink at her, through your actions make her feel far superior to every other woman on the beach. Make your wife the object of your sexual desires and your next trip to the beach might be the best trip you have ever had!! Let me reiterate: I am not saying that our wives should be treated as sex objects, nor should we ever make them feel that way. A wife who knows her husband loves her deeply feels secure and confident when he expresses his sexual desires toward her.
3. Ask someone to watch your eyes. Now we are stepping into the realm of accountability. Let’s face it, we are wicked people and unless we take drastic steps, we are prone to give into our evil desires. Enlist someone to watch your eyes when you are at the beach/pool. It could be your wife, a friend, or another family member (probably not a good idea to ask your children). If you know that someone is going to be periodically checking your eyes, you will be much less likely to let them roam. In fact, your wife may already be doing this and you may not even know it. I recall an instance a few years ago when I was in my backyard working and one of our neighbors walked over to talk to Maisy (who was helping her daddy). This neighbor happened to be a teenage girl who was dressed like a street corner prostitute; it was obvious that she was vying for my eyes. I just kept working away and by the grace of God, did not look at her. Later that evening, I said something to my wife about the incident and she responded by saying, “I know. I was watching you.” I cannot express how crushed I would have been had I looked at that girl lustfully. I can’t imagine the pain my wife would have experienced if she had witnessed me lusting after another woman. If you care about your wife and her honor at all, ask her to watch your eyes at the beach. I promise you…the temptation to lust will have much less bite!
4. Turn your back to possible temptations. In many situations at the beach, one of the easiest “outs” is simply to turn your back to the temptation. As a father of three young children, I find that most of the time when I am at the beach I am playing in the water or at the surface of the water in the sand. When I am playing with my kids, I have two options: 1) face the water with my back to all the sunbathers or 2) face the sunbathers and expose myself to possible temptations. In this scenario, the answer is easy…just keep your back turned to the sunbathers. I could think of 20 other scenarios at the beach, but the solution to each one is the same: position yourself so that possible temptations are behind you. God did not give us eyes in the back of our head for a reason…so point the back of your head in the right direction!
5. Look for opportunities to share the Gospel. As disciples of Christ, we are called to both live the Gospel and to proclaim the Gospel. We should view our beach/pool trips as opportunities to share the Gospel with those who are without Christ and without hope. Such a desire goes a long way in curbing our sinful desire to lust. If the Gospel is at the forefront of our mind, we are a lot less likely to do things that would contradict the very message we seek to proclaim. Instead of looking at half naked women, we will look for those who are desperately in need of a Savior. So, next time you go to the beach, ask the Lord to give you opportunities to share his great love and when he provides them, seize them for his glory!