Answers to your questions about . . .
Since 1990, Jim Cecy has been on the front lines of the fight for sexual purity in the Church. The ministry, based in Fresno, California focuses on teaching, discipling and encouraging Christian leaders, particularly in the area of moral purity.
As a pastor, counselor and adjunct seminary professor, Dr. Cecy observed a common deficiency of Christian character among men he was training. In response, he developed a men’s seminar, “Building Personal Purity: Christian Living in an Immoral World,” that deals with their struggles to overcome sexual temptation in a sex-centered society.
Question: Most Christian men would agree with biblical standards of moral behavior. Why are so many still falling prey to sexual misconduct?
Cecy: We seem to spend too much time focusing on the personalities of Christians rather than their character. I define character as what you are on the inside, compared to personality, which is what you show others.
I became so exhausted counseling people who had fallen, I decided to try to develop an approach that is proactive, rather than reactive (like teaching how to kill spiders rather than play with cobwebs). This is what I seek to accomplish through my seminars, focusing not just on outward methodology, but on inward character issues. This includes what the Bible teaches concerning God’s specific design for human sexuality, our abuses of that design for human sexuality, and His specific plan for us to walk in personal holiness as “ambassadors of purity.”
In other words, we need to get back to the basics. God wills that we be pure. God calls us to be pure. God enables us to be pure. The only issue is, do we want to be pure? (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8)
Question: What we are talking about is sexual sin, not sexual temptation, right? We’re all going to be tempted.
Cecy: That’s correct. Temptation is not sin; yielding to it is. Jesus Christ was tempted, but His life was impeccable, He was sinless. James 1:14, 15 clearly describes the deadly progression of how yielding to inward lust results in outward sin, which results in death (the varied consequences of sin). I refer to this as LSD – lust, sin, and death. Just as chemical LSD is a deadly drug, so the LSD of temptation is a deadly process.
Proverbs personifies the tension men face by describing two women vying for our moral attention. One side is Wisdom and Righteousness. She is calling, “Come! Spend the day with me. My pleasures lead to abundant life.” On the other side is Foolishness and Immorality. She, too, is calling, “Come! Spend the day with me.” What she fails to mention is that her pleasures lead to death. Every day of our lives, we must make a choice as to whose voice we will heed.
Question: Do you believe there are unique forces at work in the business world today that have magnified the problem of sexual temptation?
Cecy: In one sense, the so-called “new morality” is just the old immorality with a new name. Every society, since the fall of man, has had to deal with moral decay. In Mark 7:21-23, Jesus said that out of men’s hearts proceed evil thoughts, fornication, adultery and wickedness. Sexual sin is not new to the 90’s. However, if my understanding of 2 Timothy 3:1-5 is correct, things are going to get worse as we draw closer to the return of our Lord. We live in the Information Age, with an ever-widening range of media offering us instant food for our inward cravings for immoral activity. In the past, our society served to discourage the outward expressions of our lust. Today, especially in the business world, immorality is considered “only natural” or unrelated to one’s performance in business.
: There seems to be a lack of understanding about how men and women differ in how they view sex. Women, as well as men, face temptation in the workplace. But is there a difference?
Cecy: Here I must speak in general terms. It has been said that when it comes to sexual response, men are like microwaves and women are like crock-pots. To most men, sex is a physical act enhanced by the emotional. To most women, sex is an emotional act enhanced by the physical.
Regarding how each gender faces temptation, it can also be generally said that most men face their greatest moral danger through “the lust of the eyes” (what he sees) – a woman with just the right amount of this and not too much of that. Most women, on the other hand, face their greatest moral threat through “the lust of the ears” (what they hear) – a man who is verbally affirming, who listens and treats her with respect. At least until he gets what he wants.
Question: Is sexual immorality more than an issue of uncontrolled sexual desires?
Cecy: Absolutely. Immorality is anything that falls short of God’s intended design for human sexuality. The Triune God designed us for oneness with Himself, with other members of the Body of Christ, and with our spouses. In the mathematics of the Godhead, 1+1+1=1. In the mathematics of marriage, 1+1=1. I believe sexual union in marriage is a sacred declaration picturing the oneness of God. However, in the mathematics of a premarital affair, 1+1=2. In the mathematics of an extra-marital affair, 1+1+1=3.
Almighty God didn’t design us for two-ness or three-ness, but for one-ness. The anti-oneness god, the Devil himself, continues today trying hard to destroy the oneness in the Church, and the oneness in marriage by tempting us to engage in sexual immorality, a sin that has annihilated the unity of far too many marriages.
Question: When a man succumbs to sexual immorality, are other non-sexual factors involved, such as pride, mid-life crisis, or other unfulfilled needs?
Cecy: I have compiled a list of 150 reasons given by men who have fallen into immorality. Certainly pornography and other overt sexual stimuli top the list, but a host of other seemingly unrelated factors threw these men into a moral tailspin. Immorality is sometimes the product of the small compromises in any area of a person’s life. Show me a Christian businessman, for example, who has compromised in the areas of abuse of power, mishandling finances, laziness, is under great stress, or walks on the ragged edge of integrity, and I’ll show you a man highly susceptible to the enticements of immorality.
If one puts a grain of sand in the gas tank, it may not cause an immediate problem. But as those grains accumulate, it is just a matter of time before a breakdown occurs. It is critical that we be just as concerned about the subtle grains of compromise as we are about the obvious buckets of immorality.
Question: What guidelines do you suggest for responding properly to sexual temptation?
Cecy: In our seminars we go into great detail regarding the three lines of defense: guarding my mind, guarding my body, and guarding my companions. Sexual sin begins in the mind. Guarding my mind involves protecting my mind from anything that distorts my understanding of God’s design for my sexuality (oneness); feeding my mind with what God says about immorality (scripture memory); purifying my mind by meditating on what God says about Himself; and rehearsing in my mind the devastating results of immorality.
None of us would ever think of turning our church building into a house of prostitution. Should we not be as offended at turning our bodies (the true temple of the Holy Spirit) into houses of immorality? Guarding my body involves regularly presenting myself to God, who has the heavenly title deed to me, and to my spouse, who has the earthly rights to my body. It also involves making a covenant agreement with God concerning every part of my body, and protecting my body from falling into immorality by running from morally dangerous situations.
If God had chosen to answer Cain’s question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” He most certainly would have answered, “Yes!” In this morally bankrupt world, we need each other to keep from falling headlong into the pit of sexual sin. Protecting my companions means sharing responsibility for the personal purity of others, by praying for them and holding them accountable by asking the tough questions.
The above interview appeared in CBMC USA Contact Quarterly Magazine Summer 1994, Vol. 53, No.2, pp 7-9.
© Dr. James M. Cecy. Unauthorized duplication prohibited without written permission.