It has never been more difficult to flee sexual immorality and pursue holiness.
We live in an age of unprecedented access to sexual temptation. Previous generations faced adultery, prostitution, and brothels. But not every person had a brothel in their pocket. Our society’s obsession with sex, coupled with the technologies that make pornography so accessible, make it more challenging than it’s ever been.
The result is that our families, our churches, and our society are being devastated by a pornography epidemic.
In More than a Battle, pastor and author Joe Rigney offers hope for Christian men who are seeking to live with integrity and faithfulness in the face of the sexual temptation around them. Drawing on the Scriptures, his personal experience, and his pastoral counseling, Rigney frames the struggle with lust beneath the banner of Galatians 5:16: “Walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”
The struggle with lust is a fierce battle, an enslaving addiction, and a deep brokenness. Rigney shows us that through the gospel it is the Holy Spirit that gives us victory, sets us free, and heals our wounds.
Why did you write this book? What inspired you to write this book?
For the last 15 years, I’ve mentored and counseled various men through the different layers of struggle surrounding pornography. As a part of that counseling, I drew on my own experience during my teenage and college years, various books that I’ve read, and different counselors that have helped me. I realized that my approach was somewhat eclectic in that I approached the struggle as a battle against sin, with a significant bodily dimension and a deep emotional dimension. That eclectic combination came through when I would lead seminars at my church, and the fruitfulness of that approach in both helping men gain victory and in equipping them to help others led me to think that there was room for a biblically-rooted yet practical book on this topic.
For whom did you write this book?
I have two audiences in the book: men who struggle with pornography, and the men who want to help them. This is not mainly a book for individuals who want to struggle alone. My conviction is that hidden sins wreck Christians because they’re hidden. My hope is that the book sparks robust communities that can deal openly and honestly and hopefully about this ever-present struggle.
Why is this an important topic right now?
We live in an age of unprecedented access to sexual sin. Of course, sexual temptation itself is as old as dirt. Debauchery, immorality, and temptation have been around since the fall of man. But they haven’t always been so easy to access. Victorians may have had to face brothels. Now everyone has a brothel in their pocket. Our society’s obsession with sex, coupled with the technologies that make pornography so accessible, means it’s never been more difficult to flee sexual immorality and pursue holiness. The result is that our families, our churches, and our society are being devastated by a pornography epidemic. That’s why the book is needed.
What can pastors and leaders in the church do to join Christian men in fighting this battle against sexual sin?
I have a two-fold conviction on this question. First, pastors are absolutely necessary to help men address the issue. And second, given the scale of the problem, they won’t be able to do it alone. So I want to give pastors a simple and practical tool to help raise up godly men in their churches who will be able to help others. The sort of book that you can give to the men in your church to work through together and to foster the kind of honesty that will be necessary to reveal and then kill this sin that is wrecking so many lives.
When you look at the statistics on frequent porn users, specifically males, it’s tempting to justify it as a normal behavior that all males do. Talk about what God’s word says about sexual sin and how that relates to the way Christians should view it.
The Bible uses violent language to describe how we should relate to all of our sin, and especially to sexual sin. “Put [it] to death” (Col. 3:5–6; Rom. 8:13); “gouge it out” (Matt. 5:29); “cut it off” (Matt. 5:30); “flee sexual immorality!” (1 Cor. 6:18; 2 Tim. 2:22). These are words of violence and intensity that remind us that we can’t make peace with our sin because the Holy Spirit will never make peace with our sin. And so I want to take this sin as seriously as the Bible takes it. But I also want to approach killing this sin wisely. Lust is frequently bound up with all sorts of other issues: anxiety, pressure, stress, habits formed when you were a kid, emotional needs, anger, insecurity, and so forth. And so we need to kill the sin, and we need to be wise about who we go about it.
How does this book offer hope to Christian men who are trying to fight sexual temptation?
Part of the answer is my own story in God’s deliverance of me from lust toward the end of my college career. I hope that that story gives hope. But the deeper answer is that the only ultimate hope for deliverance comes from a deep work of grace in the soul. We need to know that God is for us, and not against us, because of who Jesus is and what he’s done. And then from God’s glad-hearted approval, we seek to walk according to his Spirit, so that we don’t gratify our fleshly desires. Our ultimate hope is that the same God who forgives our sins is with us to kill our sins and heal our brokenness.
What do you hope readers will do or take away after reading this book?
I hope they come away with a fresh resolve to wisely take the right measures to put lust to death. And I hope they come away with a community of men around them who are committed to holiness and walking by the Spirit. And I hope that these communities of men will be able to shepherd the next generation in their churches so that our sons (and daughters) don’t have to live in the wreckage wrought by the sexual revolution. We are great sinners. And Christ is a great Savior.