In my days as a youth pastor, the most frequent question I was asked about by mothers of boys was, “How do I help my son deal with lust?”
This question was frequently asked by the moms who were single. Dad had bailed on the family, so I can’t really imagine how difficult and awkward it would have been for those moms to breach the subject with their sons. If you are that mom, my heart goes out to you. Truly.
Even if you live in a happy marriage and you have a husband who can help you navigate those seas, there is something I must plead with you to understand about my gender: Lust will always be a struggle for us.
Like any sin of the flesh, lust is a symptom of a larger problem. That problem is when we have tried to replace the satisfaction of God with the satisfaction of something temporary. In this life, that never goes away, regardless of the symptom.
I will be candid with you, friends. I can lose patience with women who say things like, “Well you just need to think of those women you are looking at as someone’s daughter.”
I can assure you that we try that. We try everything. The truth is, like any sin you struggle with yourself, it’s not as easy as just saying, “Go away.”
I want to sigh in exasperation and walk away when I see/hear that occur.
There’s a better way to do this.
King David wrote Psalm 57 while he was being pursued by evil men (a situation he frequently found himself in). It is a desperate cry for help from a wounded soul. In verse 8, though, it turns a corner. He calls out, “Awake, my glory!”
The Hebrew word for glory is kavod, which means courage and honor. Whenever it shows up in Scripture, and especially when it is being used by David, it’s in the context of him describing something that exists within him that the Lord can awaken.
So from that we can draw the conclusion that there is something intrinsic in our DNA as wired by the Creator that gives us the strength, courage, and honor we need to overcome sin. But it’s dormant without the Lord awakening it and filling it with…Himself.
As he grows into a man, your son will need to pray some version of that prayer that David prayed. He will need to not only ask the Lord to save his soul, but also ask that the Lord would fill him, daily, with strength and courage. And he will need to understand that it is not about beating lust into submission, but replacing it with something so much better.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do for your son (or husband for that matter) in this area is find out what not to do.
Do not #1
Do not condemn him.
He already hates himself for it, deep inside. I assure you. Even if he pretends that he doesn’t. I have known despair in my own life when it comes to dealing with lust. Every friend I have would admit to the same. We love our wives desperately, and yet that dragon lurks below the surface ready to flare up at any moment.
Do not #2
Do not freak out.
I have never met the man who didn’t struggle with lust at some point in his life, and nearly all that I know admit that it never fully leaves them. It’s normal. Terrible, but normal. Flying off the handle with anger helps no one. Neither does being timid about addressing it. Go for it. But do it in a way that is as understanding as you can muster.
Those were some heavy “do not’s.” So here’s a “do.”
Do pray that God will awaken your son’s kavod, his honor and glory as a man, and that he will be drawn to what the Lord has for him beyond temporary, fleeting pleasure.
When your son lives with his kavod awakened, he will do hard things with joy. He will dare. He will seek healthy and just battle in the name of his God. He will be a sacrificial and fiercely loving husband. He will live as though he has been captivated by an honor-driven adventure that the greatest video game cannot match.
And lust will become something that dims over time, increasingly replaced by things eternal and honorable.
I hope this didn’t come across too harsh. It was not the intent. I simply see a generation of young men who are hurting, bombarded with sexual excess in the culture as never before, and many of the “answers” Christians give are doing more harm than good.
To change it, we must see glory awakened inside of hearts.