Being successful in any area of life has a lot to do with the environment we put ourselves in, and the fight for purity is no exception. If you continually compromise in the area of lust, the reason why may be that you’re setting yourself up for failure. Paul Washer talks about this principle from a Biblical standpoint. The Apostle Paul said to “Flee youthful lusts.” To flee means to escape a compromising situation. It may mean not going over to your girlfriend’s apartment after dinner or not being alone in private with a woman you are attracted to. These type of precautions sound insane to some people–but they are usually people who don’t care about purity to begin with. If we’re honest, we know that we are likely to err when they’re not taken seriously.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go on dates or interact with members of the opposite sex. What it does mean is be strategic and use common sense when out in public and when in the privacy of your own home. In the Lord’s prayer, Jesus said “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.Chinese General Sun Tzu, The Art of War (6th century BC)
Interviewer: Speaking strong words like that, and I believe they’re words that need to be spoken. But we often see people who say these strong things obviously and fall into temptation. We’ve seen the fall of great people. When you travel–and you travel a lot–God calls people to have clean hands and a pure heart. As much as we are grateful your preaching ministry, we know that you are a man who still has a sinful nature. As you travel and in your every day life, and with the missionaries you have at Heart Cry, what measures do you put in place to protect us from our own sinful nature. What things do you do and what standards do you expect when you use the term beyond reproach?
Washer: Well, let me say this. There is a very wise man who said “no” to his teenage son going out kind of on a date with a girl by himself. Someone said to him–he’s a pastor–“What’s wrong with you? Don’t you trust your son?” And he said “Of course not. I don’t trust my son. I don’t trust his father.”
The point that he’s making here, this is not about me as an elder man restraining my son from doing something I would do. I wouldn’t even do what you’re asking me to allow my son to do. As you notice, when I was in Holland last year, I was traveling with a companion. With a young man from our ministry. And what was the purpose of that? Did I need someone doing internet for me? Did I need someone opening doors or carrying luggage? Absolutely not. He had one purpose, and that purpose was told to him by me. It was told to him by the leaders of our mission–the elders, everything else. You go there, you do not let Paul Washer out of your sight. You watch him like a hawk. You don’t let anybody get close to him, especially of the opposite sex in any sort of setting that could be dangerous.
Here’s the thing. When it comes to immorality. Especially sexual immorality–this is what you need to understand. The Bible tells us in Ephesians 6 that we are in a spiritual battle, and literally we are in a fight in hand-to-hand combat with the devil. I mean wrestle, face-to-face, hand-to-hand combat with the devil. But when Paul talks to Timothy about youthful lusts of sexual immorality, he says “Run.” He doesn’t say fight it, he doesn’t say fight against it, wrestle against it. He says “Run.” And what he’s saying is basically this. I don’t care who you are, and I don’t care who you think you or–or how spiritual you believe yourself to be. If you are with someone with the opposite sex that you are attracted to. If you are with them long enough in a setting alone, you are going to commit sexual immorality. It’s not a question of “if”, it’s only a question of “when.” It is. It is a question of “when.”
Interviewer: There are also a lot of people who would love to pin that charge against you because they’re so annoyed by your preaching.
Washer: Exactly, and we’re aware of that. Look what we do to our children. We wonder why do the Christian children–children from Christian households. Children that seem to walk with the Lord, and I’m talking about teenagers. Why do they fall into sexual immorality? Look what we’re doing to them, we’re feeding them to the devil. First of all, we allow things to enter our homes via media, that 40 years ago at least in my country would have been illegal. I mean it’s pornographic. So we allow that to come into our home. Then we allow teenagers, 16 year-old–even younger–15, 14 to go out together and be alone.
Let’s say that I go to Denmark and you’ve got me staying at a little hotel that also has a little kitchen. It’s like a little apartment–you’re letting me stay there a week while I teach there in Denmark. Well one day you come over to pick me up in your car and you just walk in and you see me there baking cookies with a single lady of my age from Denmark. We’re in there in the kitchen making cookies, laughing, having a good time. If you’re a man of God, you’re going to cancel the meetings immediately. Just because of that I’m not going to be preaching now. And you’re going to look at me and say “Are you out of your mind?” You’re in this apartment alone with a woman that’s not your wife in a foreign country far away from your wife.
And I’d say “Yeah, but we’re just making cookies. What’s the big deal?” “Are you crazy? You’re alone with a woman.” Now I’m 47 years old. I have a lot more to lose than a teenager. If I fall into immorality, I could lose my wife, my children, my ministry, and all the missionaries that we support are probably going to lose their support. I’ve got a lot more to lose than a 16 year-old. So it’s insane for me to put myself in a situation like that. How insane is it for us to put young people together in a situation like that? Whether it be alone in a car or wherever. Sooner or later they’re going to fall.
I had a young seminary student come to me years ago. Godly–he was the real deal. And he came to me and he was weeping. And I said–he was a real man’s man so I was really disturbed–“What’s going on?” “Brother Paul, I just can’t take it anymore.” I said “What?” He said “Me and my girlfriend, [who was also just honest, wanted to serve the Lord with all her heart] we pray, we fast, we read the word together. But every once in a while when we are alone together, we haven’t fallen in that we’ve had intercourse or anything like that. But we have done things that afterwards we have been so ashamed of. It’s about to destroy our relationship, and it’s about to destroy my ministry.”
Now it wasn’t frequent, but it happened enough to really just set him aside. I said “Well, what do your counselors tell you?” Well, they tell me this is a tough time, she’s my fiance. We’re not married yet and we’re attracted to each other, and we need to pray and read the word and things like that. You go back and tell your counselors to stop counseling because they’re fools. And if you want to, use my name. I said “Young man, listen. They’re telling you to get as spiritual as possible so that when you violate God’s principles you won’t fall.
Now that doesn’t make a lot of sense.” I said “Young man, God tells you not to be alone with her in any situation that might lead to you falling. She should not be over at your apartment. You should not be over at her apartment unless she’s visiting with her mom and dad or some other godly people. You should not be alone because if you are alone long enough, you will fall.”
And so that’s the whole point. We’re trying to get godly enough so that when we violate biblical principles we don’t fall. And that’s not going to happen.