I used to view lust like an ugly garden snake, lurking behind bushes to snare the unsuspecting. I was always surprised to learn that so-and-so was battling a pornography addiction, or such-and-such friend read those kind of novels, or sweet Lucy-Sue from our youth group was texting…wait, what kind of pictures?
Then life happened. And with it came exposure…to people, and college, and dating, and marriage, and ministry. Gradually, my ability to be surprised eroded entirely. And I was glad. Because when a timid teenage girl sat down to confide in me, I could confidently promise, “You can tell me anything. I won’t judge. Trust me, I’ve heard it all.” I preferred this un-shockable version of myself because she had far more compassion and humility than the naive girl I’d left behind.
The only problem was, the “new me” began to teem with doubt. Somewhere along my road to awareness, the sneaky little garden snake had morphed into Godzilla, and try as I might, I couldn’t muster much hope for those struggling with sexual sin.
Then one day this summer I found Heath Lambert’s new book Finally Free sitting on our doorstep in an Amazon package. The book is specifically geared toward breaking free from pornography, and my husband (who’s counseled several men battling porn) planned to read it with a friend as a ministry resource.
“You want to read it, too?” Clint asked when he caught me perusing the back cover.
I shook my head. “Nah, how’s a book about porn going to help me?”
But one boring evening when Clint was completely engrossed in some theology blog, I picked it up again. “Wow,” I said, twenty minutes later. “This book is incredible.”
“I know,” Clint remarked without looking up from his iPad.
“Do you know what I’m reading?”
“Yup,” he said.
What the Book is About
Like most Christians, I’ve put in my due time with purity books, especially as a teenager. But what makes Finally Free different is its approach. So many books about purity enlist outward techniques as tools in the war against lust. But Lambert’s book enlists one far mightier tool: the gospel of Christ.
I know what you’re thinking: impractical. Actually, it’s just the opposite. Chapter one teaches that grace is the foundation in the fight against pornography. While most people recognize the importance of forgiving grace, Lambert points out that there is also a deep need for transforming grace. In the remaining chapters, he explains eight essential strategies for fighting pornography, each rooted and saturated in Scripture. To win the battle against porn, Christians must use sorrow, accountability, radical measures, confession, their spouse (or singleness), humility, gratitude, and a dynamic relationship with Jesus. Each chapter covers one of these principles, faithfully tied back to the need for forgiving and transforming grace as the power behind the principle.
Why You Ought to Read It (Even if You’re a Girl)
We all know girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice. We smell better than boys, organize our stuff better, and certainly don’t struggle with pornography, right? Maybe. But sugar and spice notwithstanding, you and I have been touched by the Fall. Whether we realize it or not, sin has marred virtually every aspect of our lives, including our understanding of sexuality. So the first reason you ought to read this book is…
Because everyone battles lust to some degree.
You can apply 95% of this book to your life if you simply substitute the concept of “pornography” with the concept of “lust.” For instance, pretend you struggle with watching romantic movies that make you discontent in your marriage. Yearning for somebody else’s love story is a form of lust. For the sake of brevity let’s just call it “fantasizing.” Now consider this excerpt from chapter 8, and substitute “porn” for “fantasizing”:
“If you struggle with porn, one of your greatest needs is to grow in the grace of gratitude. Porn is only consumed by thankless people. The desire for porn is a desire to escape from what the Lord has given you into a fake universe full of things you do not have and will never have. Porn is the trading of gratitude for greed. Porn trades joy in the reality God has graced you with for greed in the counterfeit world he has not. Defeating porn requires a grateful consideration of God’s good gifts to you.”
Do you see how easily (and powerfully) the principle of gratitude applies to the temptation to fantasize? In fact, you could take almost any sin stronghold, sexual or otherwise, and bear fruit from the principles in this book. But another reason you ought to read it is…
Because you know (or will know) someone broken by pornography.
The greatest thing this book did for me was restore my hope. It made me see that lust may be Godzilla, re-orienting our world in the wake of its destruction, but the gospel of Christ is mightier still. If you know someone struggling with pornography, especially if it’s a spouse, this book can give you great insight into the battle so that you know how to partner with him. (There is also an appendix specifically written for families of men struggling with porn.) It will also equip you to engage in the war against pornography that may one day threaten your own son. Or the teenagers in your church. Or your best friend’s husband.
As believers, we are called to engage the culture with a biblical perspective on all aspects of life. Before reading this book I lacked that perspective on lust, and as a result I approached it with a multitude of wrong attitudes: self-righteousness, pride, fear, doubt, and discouragement. But with Heath Lambert’s help…or more accurately, Scripture’s help…I now look at this mighty beast with two new attitudes: FAITH and HOPE.