Personal note: As an aged man of seventy one years old, I reflect on life. Marriage and family have been a blessing. Teaching in the Mennonite school system has been an honor. Having a clean heart is not the product of my strength but the result of God in my life. What I have written will hopefully bless other young men to make choices that will produce a legacy of integrity and honor for the glory of God for many generations.
I grew up going to public school and participating in athletics and music. I was exposed to much sin and girls who were very available, yet I stayed away from those things.
Very few share the same journey, and that is why I refused to share my story for many years. Recently, a counselor friend and I were talking. She said, “Frank, do you know that you are abnormal?” It does seem like my life is an anomaly, but is it too different to be considered? This is the testimony of what God has done in my life.
My first exposure to porn
My first exposure with porn happened at public school when I was eleven years old. Several boys were huddled over something on the playground. I looked. There were pictures of naked people. I had never seen pictures like that before and no one had warned me about them.
God spoke to me at that moment, “Frank, you should not look at things like that.” I walked away and have not looked back. Porn is not part of my life. It has never been a part of my life. When I see it, it does not stay in my mind. How can it become so addicting? I really do not know. With so much blessing and hunger for knowledge and for God, I cannot really understand how it can be so addicting.
There are no images of porn in my mind. Do I see porn on occasion? Yes. Does it remain in my mind? No. Sometimes I wonder how long the images that I encounter in places of business will remain in my mind – typically in less than a day, the images are gone. How is that possible? It is possible because I do not entertain the images. Psalm 101 says that sin will not cling to me if I hate the sin. If we do not entertain the images, they will not cling to our minds to become problems later.
My personal experience
I respect and protect girls and women in every way and every day. Girls are so very beautiful. I am spell-bound and mesmerized by their beauty. The Creator’s beauty evokes awe in me but never produces lust. My mind never imagines sexual activity with their bodies. I never joined the discussion about girls’ bodies that I heard among the men at school and at church. God made me a man to respect and protect the women and girls in my life and to never exploit them with words or with actions.
I started dating at age sixteen. That may sound a bit young today but it was an amazing experience. Two young people can respect and bless each other with Godly friendship and grow together as healthy Christians.
Lust is an experience that I have not known. Why should I lust? It is enough for me to admire and appreciate the beauty that the Creator has placed in girls and women. To lust is to contaminate the experience of admiration and reduce it to unacceptable impulses. In public school sports and music there was always exposure to immodesty and sinful language and behavior. God spared me from that by bringing Godly girls into my life – girls who exemplified holy and healthy living and whose friendships could be trusted, admired, appreciated, respected, and enjoyed.
For all of its promises, the purity culture has done us no favors, but has only taken us deeper into clandestine, ungodly actions. To tell young men that their passions are a source of problem when they desperately need those passions to carry them through the difficulties of life is destructive. To tell young ladies that their bodies are a cause of making men lust is to make the girls fear their own persons and make them responsible for the moral integrity of the men.
To ignore the way God made us and think that is the answer? Sorry. It did not work. Porn is more prevalent than ever in our circles and now the girls are doing porn also. We were sold a bill of goods that could never deliver anything good and has produced nothing good.
A message of victory
Victory is possible! Godly music, the Holy Spirit, and Scripture are such powerful agencies of victory. Godly music is so cleansing. The Holy Spirit is so powerful. Jesus countered temptation with Scripture. If He needed to do that, how much more do we need to do that?
Romans 8, Psalm 101, II Timothy 1:7, John 15 are such cleansing passages. The incredible and life-changing power of the Word of God is never really realized in the lives of most people. Why not?
If and since Romans 8 is true, then the Spirit of life and power control my life with the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. Raising Jesus from the dead required war with the spirits of darkness. That same war happens in our hearts and will be won by the side to which we give the power.
God has not given us the spirit of fear but He has given us the Spirit of love, power, and clear thinking from a healthy mind. Unfruitful branches of the vine will be removed and discarded. Fruitful branches will be pruned so they produce more fruit.
Jesus and porn
Can you really imagine Jesus looking at porn or looking and thinking lustfully about a girl? If you are His disciple, controlled by the Holy Spirit, then you cannot imagine or do that either.
Memories persist in many people’s minds – images with emotional content burn themselves into memories. God can and will restore if people are truly repentant and leave their sinful ways and replace the sinful memories with the Word of God which will wash hearts and minds clean. Jesus said, “You are clean through the Word which I have spoken to you.”
A new normal
Before marriage I did not participate in sexual behaviors – not with my body and not with anyone else’s body. As one fellow counselor told me, “Do you realize that you are abnormal?”
What is normal? Who sets the standards for “normal”? Those standards are changing with the technological advances in communication and information transfer. Those advances are proving to be a challenge for which the church is not prepared.
In a recent discussion with an official from the Children and Youth Agency, three areas were mentioned where Anabaptist youth are struggling.
- They do not see the connection between cause and effect –that ideas and actions have consequences.
- They accept instant gratification as normal to life.
- They have not developed internal controls of their personal life.
Until we begin to raise our children to accept responsibility for life of self and others, we will continue on the current path of failure and struggle. Victory is possible. It is Christ in you, the hope of glory! Realizing that this life is preparation for eternity, we press on to the high calling of life in Christ Jesus. We have the power available to us, but we have choices to make. We can make them for God or for ourselves. Which will it be for you?
|Frank Reed is a seventy-one year old farmer/teacher from Manheim, PA. He and Lois have three daughters and two sons. They have seventeen grandchildren. Many of their years have been invested in studying and teaching in various aspects of Mennonite education. Their family enjoys reading and being together as a family as time and distance permits. Church History and Mennonite History have been some of their favorite studies. Interacting with youth is schools has been a rewarding way of life for them.|