“I thought that when I got married, this lust problem would go away.”
That thought process is echoed in many of the testimonies of the men who come through Pure Life Ministries. It is not uncommon for people who find themselves in bondage to lust to think that marriage is the solution to their problem. Their logic is simple: “Since I have a sex problem, if I could get into a marital relationship where I can have sex often without guilt or shame, my issue would be solved.” While this line of thinking may seem to be accurate, it is based on a faulty perception of lust.
Many sex addicts incorrectly view their struggle as a sex problem. Those who are single often tend to view marriage as the “easy-button” fix for their issue. Due to the fact that they are unable to satisfy their lust in a healthy way, they assume that, if only they were married, then they could get free. But the truth is that lust isn’t a sex problem; it’s a sin problem. And the only way to conquer sin is through repentance.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:27-28: “You have heard it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (NASB) Jesus takes this Old Testament commandment that focused on the outward action of adultery and focuses in on the very root of the issue. See, long before an adulterous act is committed, a person’s heart is already given over to lust. Adultery is only the outward manifestation of the sinful lust of the heart. The same can be said of any type of outward sexual sin. Before sin finds manifestation in someone’s life, it has already taken root in their hearts. In another passage, Jesus repeats this thought when He says, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts--murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” (Matthew 15:19 NIV) The Bible is quite clear: sexual lust is a sin problem, and it is found in a person’s heart.
While marriage may provide an opportunity to have sexual relations without the guilt that accompanies masturbation or fornication, it doesn’t fix heart issues. Unfortunately, many find that truth out the hard way. After the excitement of the wedding and the honeymoon die off, they find that their lust is just as active as before they walked down the aisle. Their fantasy life is still thriving and they long for more than healthy marital relations can offer. They have created an appetite for sexual perversion that will not simply disappear because they have tied the knot. If it were true that marriage was enough to fix the problem, pornography and adulterous affairs would be rare. But as we all know, these issues are all too common in our day. At the heart of lust is covetousness. Rex Andrews described it as, “taking virtue from someone that doesn’t belong to them.” Marital intercourse— which is a blessing from God when it occurs in a pure love relationship—will not satisfy that longing for forbidden fruit in a lustful person’s fantasies.
I fell for this lie myself. After having met my wife, a wonderful Christian woman, I assured myself that my days of bondage to pornography were behind me. But it was not long into the marriage that I found my lust problem had followed me to the altar. No matter how sincere I was when I recited my vows, that commitment alone was not enough to set me free. I wound up wasting many precious years of marriage in secret bondage, unable to escape the misery of sexual addiction.
Modern-day psychologists scoff at the idea of calling sexual addictions sinful, yet there is a liberating aspect of calling sin by its name. The very fact that it is sin means that a way of escape has been provided. I thank God for the power of true repentance and the cross of Christ! It was only the Lord that could accomplish the needed work in my heart, bringing me into freedom. There is hope for those who are in bondage today. That hope cannot be found in a spouse or in a marriage, but it lies in finding true heart repentance. The same power that raised Christ from the dead is available to those who will turn to Jesus with all of their hearts and allow Him to change them from the inside out. I thank God that He is still in the business not only of setting men and women free from sexual sin, but also that He is able to resurrect the marriages that have been affected by it.
This is the beauty of Pure Life Ministries. Through the residential program, OCAH, prison ministry and many other avenues, men and women are finding the true freedom they have longed for in a true relationship with Jesus Christ. I can testify that I truly cannot imagine where I would be today if it were not for the process that the Lord brought me through in the residential program of Pure Life Ministries. It was there that the Lord showed me that my only hope was in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! And now I am free to enjoy my marriage the way God intended it to be.
Dustin Renz is a graduate of Pure Life Ministries and currently the Associate Pastor of Kettering Assembly of God in Ohio. He is the founder of Make Way Ministries and the author of Pile of Masks: Exposing Christian Hypocrisy. Dustin has a passion to see the Body of Christ awaken, mature and arise to its full potential in these last days.
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