I stumbled upon this article while researching some missionary data, and it was like a godsend, giving some unbelievably clear insight into the plans of the enemy for God’s trained ministers.
Mind you, this is not available online. I took the liberty of typing out every single word because I thought it was that worth it!
“In reflection, I can only conclude that God’s chosen servants are very special targets of sexual temptation..”
The Tiger of Lust
By Phil Parshall
One terribly bleak day in Bangladesh where my wife, Julie, and I were serving as missionaries, we received word of the spiritual defeat of the man who led me to Christ, ordained me, and pastored a church which generously supported us. This outstanding soul winning and president of a very large Bible college divorced his wife and married one of his students who was 30 years his junior.
Not too long after that, my wife’s spiritual mentor commenced a sexual affair with a married mother of two young children. The church where he was an associate pastor became suspicious and hired a detective to put him under surveillance. Within a short time he was confronted with indisputable proof of his promiscuity. He then resigned his church position, divorced his wife, and latter married a woman who was not the same person as was the object of his initial adulterous affair.
Such is the “spiritual heritage” of my wife and myself. These two occurences have been the most traumatic spiritual experiences in our 38 years while on the mission field. But by no means are these isolated incidents. I have known evangelical missionaries who were adulterous, homosexual, or addicted to pornography. In reflection, I can only conclude that God’s chosen servants are very special targets of sexual temptation. In recent years, our cloistered existence has been bombarded with a level of fleshly enticement that has been overwhelming.
Easy access to pornography, immoral motives, and in the internet have dented the armor of the pulpit as well as the pew. Battle-fatigued men of God have begun the insidious slide downward without even being overtly aware of how, when, and where it all began.
This slide is described in James 1:14-15, “But each is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” The process of temptation becoming lust, which births sin and results in spiritual death, is well known to thousands of Christian leaders. I have sought to describe this fleshly syndrome in terms of a graph which can assist married Christian men to identify clearly the stages of sexual enticement. It is obvious that the sequence will vary in many instances. But, in a general way, the downward path to moral ruin can be illustrated as seen in this graph.
Level one is a normal bilateral sociological function. Men are placed in close proximity to women in every sector of society. It is only natural to find another person’s personality pleasing and enjoyable. But it is at this point the Tiger of Lust begins lurking in the shadows.
The next two levels, unfortunately, are closely interlinked. To look appreciatively upon God’s unique creation is not only natural but universal. But this look so easily becomes perverted and undergoes a metamorphosis into lust. The Christian is beginning to confront an all-out-attack on the very core of his spirituality. Victorious Christians are the ones who wage the most serious and successful battles for holy thoughts at levels two and three.
Level four becomes personal. Lust can be more easily shake off if it is only direct toward a body and not a mind. Emotional desire sets a stage for a compromise of marital exclusiveness. Something internal seems to be wildly raging out of control. Misery as well as excitement vie for center stage. A lifetime of stable moral values cries out for reinforcement. Yet the flesh tantalizes and prods one to move closer and closer toward the precipice. Rationalization sets in. It becomes ever so difficult to turn back.
Levels five and six are outworkings of a premeditated decision to move forward. The die is cast. Promiscuity is reinforced by physical presence, casual at first, and then my mutual arrangement. This is followed by the first touch of lust. The body pulsates with new life and thrilling sensation. Sensuality is all-embracing. Not only the body, the brain also has been seduced. In the euphoric glow in the flesh, Jesus Christ has been thrust aside into the darkness of a total eclipse.
The eighth level of ongoing and total deceit with one’s wife is one of the saddest aspects of moral failure. Self-destruction is a premeditated choice of personal anarchy. But to reject the love and beauty of a wife once loved is cruelty in its rarest form. It digs a furrow deep into the soul.
Level nine. The Tiger has come out of the shadows and now boldly stalks its prey. It is is moving in for the final assault. The sought one is tired and confused. Capitulation, without due consideration to consequence seems the only way of release. The pace of flight slackens and the Tiger draws nearer…and nearer…and nearer.
Level ten. The strong, gnashing teeth of the devourer closes tightly around the conquered one. At first, a feeble attempt at resistance…then quiet acquiescence. All that is seen is a barren, God-forsaken wasteland with a majestic Tiger standing regally astride the fallen warrior. All that is heard is the roar of Satan’s victory amidst the deafening silence of the cosmos.
How does the Christian avoid such a terrible scenario of spiritual suicide? The secret lies in recognizing two realities. The first is how horrible the end of sexual sin inevitably will be. The second is the urgency of stopping the process of defeat at the earlest instance. Level two should be the red flag to the sensitive Christian. Anything further can be self-perpetuating, and is fraught with disastrous consequence. A popular contemporary teaching is restoration theology. Christ forgives and Christ forgets. Without denying the broad perimeters of the restoring grace of our Lord, I personally would prefer to emphasize God’s protective mercy which will keep me from a sin so powerful that it can destroy not only me but also those whom I love most.
Prevention is always to be preferred than treatment. The two greatest deterrents to immorality are a warm, vital, ongoing relationship with Jesus Christ, and a sparkling, joyful, sustained love affair with one’s wife. With this focus in life, there can be assurance that the Tiger of Lust will yet be tamed.
Parshall, Phil. “The Tiger of Lust.” The Last Frontier – Essays on Muslim Evangelism. Quezon City: Open Doors with Brother Andrew, 2000. 291-94.