One of my favourite TV programs was “To Catch a Predator.” It was a reality show made in conjunction with law enforcement agents to track and arrest paedophiles. Undercover agents would set up profiles of underage girls or boys on social networking sites and enter chat rooms to chat with unsuspecting adults. These conversations are often sexual in nature and the culprits are lured to meet the decoy at a specified location.
When the visitor meets the decoy at the location, she (or he) finds a reason to leave the room, then the anchor of the program, Chris Hansen, enters the room, quizzes the paedophile and reads out some of the sexually graphic portions of the chat to make him aware that his online chats were recorded.
Finally, the camera crew enters the room and the pervert is arrested. At that point, you would see the level of shame and degradation that sexual sins bring into people’s lives.
Most of these perverts are not your average gangsters on the street. Those caught included a criminal investigator, a successful businessman, a Jewish rabbi, a Nickelodeon video editor, a male school teacher and even a lawyer (who subsequently committed suicide). One, a Christian sergeant, went on his knees and apologised for his acts, yet he was later re-arrested for exposing himself to an underage girl at a pool.
There are many respectable Christian men and women – both young and old – who are also caught up in unclean sexual habits. They know it’s wrong, they try to stop it, but they keep falling into it. A letter to a newspaper columnist reads:
“I’m 60, a Christian and well respected. I look very innocent but no [one] knows that I can ask about 5 girls to come and have fun with me in bed. I have prayed asking God to deliver me from this ungodly act but I cannot stop. Sometimes, I set a day to stop so that I can make heaven but soon I will see another girl and would talk to her again…”
Most of the time when issues of sexual depravity like these come up, there are Afro-jingoists who quickly position Africa as a bastion of moral values (which incidentally always begins and ends with sex) as against the “morally eroded West,” but the reality is, sexual perversion is rife everywhere.
The Medical Research Council reports that 500,000 rapes are committed annually in South Africa. 25 per cent of South African men have raped someone; 23.2 per cent men have raped more than 2 women while 7.7 per cent have raped more than 10 women or girls. The report indicated that these rapists were more likely to have had more than 20 sex partners including sex with a prostitute.
Referring to the booming strip club business in Nigeria, a reporter says “their existence, no doubt, has given rise to another dimension in the sex trade.” During a visit to one, he “observed that while the majority of the guests were paying attention to the erotic gyrations of a dancer on stage, a few others were busy having sex with some of the girls in an adjoining room.”
Internet porn is another giant. PUNCH news (December 1, 2015) reported that Nigerians visit more pornography websites than education-related ones. A certain porn site had an 113th position while a popular Nigerian university ranked 133rd on Alexa ratings. Recent Google trends also show that words like “gay sex pics” and “anal sex pics” were mostly searched from Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria and Pakistan among others.
In spite of our ultra religious environment, sex is being thrown at us everywhere – whether through the printed page, fashion, movies, adverts and music with sexually debased lyrics.
The Centre for Research on Health and Care, in a study reveals that “a high exposure to lyrics describing degrading sex in popular music was independently associated with higher levels of sexual behaviour”. Sex, which ought to be pure and spiritually bonding within marriage, has been warped by hell and crudely distorted even by the very words used to refer to sexual intercourse and the sexual organs.
This is why as Christians, instead of joining the ranks of the hypocritical religious crowd who call for the execution of all sinners, or of cultural romantics who dream for a return to an African society where everyone wore a chastity belt, we have an obligation to reach out to people trapped in sexual sins and “proclaim liberty to the captives” (Lk. 4:18).
What is a snare?
A snare is a trap often used for catching birds or mammals. The Bible speaks about the “snares of death” (Ps. 91:3), “the snare of the devil” (1Tim. 6:9) and a table (or food) being made a snare (Rom. 11:9). Snares can also have prison houses (Is. 4:22).
A person can be sexually ensnared, in which case he is trapped in a sexual sin he can’t seem to escape from in spite of all his effort. It becomes a yoke that restricts one’s progress spiritually, mentally, financially, or socially in a divine direction. For example, a man wrote:
“I am 29 and can’t explain what is happening to me. From 2012 till date. I have slept with over 1,000 prostitutes. This is beyond me … I have fasted and prayed about this but no avail. This affects my finances and relationship with other girls. I need help what do I do?”
Every snare has its “attraction.” In the same vein, sexual sins have a temporary “benefit” they seem to offer – otherwise, no one would be ensnared by them. But the moment the trap closes, the “benefits” loses its zing. Like a woman wrote on Daily Post recently:
“I work with a private establishment … My boss is a married man and he sleeps with me at will. He [is only] nice to me when he wants to ask me for sex. Sometimes, he doesn’t even ask me, he will just visit me. No matter how much I resist him, all he wants is to have me laid and the moment he is [done], he dresses up and leaves.”
That is a sexual snare. Some women encourage office romance with the rationale that it will bring promotion, a higher pay or love. These “rationalizations” are mental snares – false reasoning that blinds people from the consequences of wrong decisions. They are strongholds that lure people into acts they end up regretting.
I saw this comment on a popular Nigerian blog:
“I’m a guy. I have slept with countless men. I really want to stop it but don’t know how to. It started when I was in [the] university. I was so broke and men kept disturbing me after I met one. He introduced me to a lot of his friends, that’s how all the rich men want me … I allowed them [to have sex with] me. That’s how I paid my bills. Now I really want to stop it because I’m working and I don’t need their help again.”
His snare was: “Just do it and get some money,” whereas he was entangling himself in a horrible sexual bondage. When people say things like “the Bible’s view of sex is outdated or impractical,” I’m alert to the mental trap they might be labouring under.
The Bible’s view is relevant because it addresses sexual sins which are still prevalent in modern society. It also teaches that sexual sins defile our body and presenting our bodies “as a living sacrifice” to God is our “appropriate way of worship” (Rom. 12:2).
Some mental snares are reinforced by culture. For instance, many males are raised with messages that indirectly damage their masculinity. We are told that women exist only for our pleasure, hence having multiple partners and sexually “conquering” women is a way to win their respect. The girl child can also be raised to see her body as tools to get whatever she wants instead of using her God-given brain to positively impact the world.
A common mental snare that keeps Christians in sexual sins is: “I can’t quit it.” It’s a lie of the enemy planted in people’s minds to keep them bound. Some in the early Church also once indulged in sexual sins, but became “washed and made holy” and “received God’s approval” (1Cor. 6:11). The God who delivered them from their sins has not changed. Sadly, many Christians are perpetually ensnared by sexual sins because :
1. They have misplaced motives. Most people don’t make any effort to quit sexual habits unless it’s threatening their lives, families or reputation. Many are also trying to fight it not because they love God or want to please Him, but because they are in a serious romantic relationship or are financially independent.
So a good question to start with is: Why do I want to quit this habit? Is it because it’s a sin against God that will take me to hell, or because I want to maintain a good public status? When Joseph was faced with a sexual temptation, his resistance was not because of STDs or a cultural taboo, but to “do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” (Gen. 39:9). If your motive is lacking the God factor, it’s impure and misplaced.
2. Many are looking for a fast and cheap victory. They endlessly run from one prayer mountain to another, or from one deliverance minister to the next because they want fast solutions to a deeply rooted problem. It doesn’t always work that way. Christianity ain’t no magic.
Each time people say “I’ve prayed and fasted and it won’t go” I feel like telling them this: Prayer and fasting are not the silver bullets to all spiritual problems. After the fasting and prayer, did you deal with the flesh and apply personal discipline? How fervent is your personal prayer life? Do you regularly read and meditate on Scripture? Are you born again? There are many folks who fast and pray and have gone through many deliverance sessions over a sexual sin who aren’t Biblically saved and can’t even explain what the term means!
When we become saved, we sell ourselves to Christ and become His property. We no longer belong to ourselves. We are to become “dead to sin but alive to God” (Rom. 6:11). We become “crucified with Christ” and “make no provision for the flesh to fulfill” its lusts (Gal. 2:20, Rom. 13:14).
This self-crucifixion is more harder (and takes more time) than casting out demons and sadly, many people don’t want to take this difficult path, so they conclude they have “tried everything” and it didn’t work. God doesn’t operate a fast food joint or some 20 naira sales. Spiritual victories are not cheap; they come with much sacrifice.
3. Many haven’t dealt with the spiritual root of the sexual sin. Until you address the roots of a sexual problem, you can’t overcome it. Some people are under demonic control and can’t exercise self-restrain. Until they admit that and deal with it, they can’t be free.
Some are being externally oppressed by a demonic strongman. He follows and monitors them like security guard. He brings them porn they can’t resist; a randy boss they can’t reject; a sexual offer they can’t refuse; a sexual dream that pollutes their mind – especially when they try to become serious with their spiritual walk. They must be bound and dislodged in the name of Jesus Christ (Luke 11:21-22).
4. Many Christians still love their chains. They want to eat their cakes and have it. They want to be free from the oppression and crushing guilt but still want to keep visiting sites where they meet more sex partners. They hate the acts but they still feed their minds with erotic stories and risqué TV shows or view things that re-kindles their lusts.
It’s not enough for us to love good, we must also hate evil as well (Heb. 1:9). David said “I will set before my eyes no vile thing. The deeds of faithless men I hate: they will not cling to me” (Ps. 101:3). You can’t hate evil and be entertained or thrilled by it. If it is your right hand that makes you stumble, cut it off (Matt. 5:30). That means, if a job, situation, friendship or entertainment makes you stumble into sexual sin give it up. When you hate a habit and you strive against it, it will wither. But if you keep feeding it, it will get stronger and pull you down.
I won’t dispute the fact that some people have been helped by psychotherapy, but even if man-made methods can help, the Holy Spirit can help far better. If you are already saved, you need to mortify the deeds of the flesh by drawing on the power of Christ. Be grounded in God’s Word and whenever the vile thoughts come to your mind, rebuke and demolish them with the Word (2 Cor. 10:4).