The Boys' Growing Up in the Lord

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Question

I am 18 years old, and I have accepted Jesus as my Savior. Lately I have been struggling with viewing photos of men in their underwear, boxers, speedos, etc. I feel convicted afterward, but I keep going back and forth, like it's OK because they are covered but then for a while I will feel it is wrong. I know it's wrong; I just keep having weak points.

I used to view naked men because I was curious what I would look like or I thought they looked funny posing naked and I thought that I could look at them since I am a male -- I know that's wrong.

But I still struggle with men in their underwear. I have read other posts but can't quite seem to find the answer. Would you please tell me why this is wrong and how to stop? I am not a homosexual, and I know that's wrong and against God, and I don't want to ever get to that point.

p.s. Thank you so much for this site! It has helped me a lot. I just need some specific questions answered.


Answer

Let's first make a distinction between happening to see another male inadequately dressed and purposely looking for pictures of men in a state of undress. To understand why, we need to understand what is wrong with nakedness.

The general rule since the fall of man is that a person doesn't expose his genitals to others. We make efforts to keep our privates private. "And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it" (I Corinthians 12:23-24). Of course there will always be times when it can't be avoided; yet, we should make efforts to minimize it. Being seen naked in front of others ought to trigger a sense of shame. "Your nakedness shall be uncovered, yes, your shame will be seen" (Isaiah 47:3).

An example is that of Ham (Genesis 9:20-27). Ham's father, Noah, sinned by making wine and getting drunk. Ham accidentally walked in on Noah while he laid naked in his tent. Rather than be embarrassed by the situation, Ham went to his brothers. We aren't told what he said, but it is likely he thought it was funny that their father was acting so poorly. I want you to particularly note Japheth and Shem's response. "But Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father's nakedness" (Genesis 9:23). I'm sure that over the years there were many occasions when they might have seen their father without clothes. They could have just walked in and covered him up, but they were making a strong point. Their father, because of his drunkenness, was in an embarrassing state and they refused to see their father lowered in their eyes. Thus, they went out of their way to make sure they didn't see Noah uncovered.

Every Christian ought to be conscientious of other people's feelings. If someone else is naked, simply avert your eyes out of respect for them. Hopefully others will do the same for you.

Notice that this changes when you search out images of men wearing little or no clothing. You no longer act as if this is embarrassing to the other person. Instead, the motivation changes. "Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbor, pressing him to your bottle, even to make him drunk, that you may look on his nakedness!" (Habakkuk 2:15). Here the charge is that some were purposely setting out to get other people drunk, knowing that in a drunken state their inhibitions against doing embarrassing things would be lowered. Again, the question you need to consider is why would someone do this.

I believe the answer is that it is sexually stimulating. Voyeurism is when "a person derives sexual pleasure and gratification from looking at the naked bodies and genital organs or observing the sexual acts of others." [Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders]. The person looking does want to have sex with those he is looking at; instead, he finds it sexually stimulating to observe what could be a potentially sexual situation. In other words, it is a form of pornography.

An interesting tidbit about pornography is that a person's imagination is greater than reality. Therefore, images where a person (male or female) is partially clad or where critical elements are not shown are often considered to be more sexy than having everything shown. When something is blocked, the person fills in what he thinks is there from his imagination. Therefore, for many people a partly clad person is seen as more sexy than a picture when nothing is left to the imagination.

Another element is that knowing something is off-limits gives spice to what is being done. People don't typically run around in their underwear, so your sense that this out to be shameful actually makes it more stimulating. "Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant" (Proverbs 9:17).

Therefore, what makes this wrong is that you are looking for sexual stimulation by searching out these types of images. You picked males because you saw this as "safer," since you have no intentions of having sex with another male. However, it isn't safe because it is a pursuit of lust. "For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God" (I Thessalonians 4:3-5).