Job 31:1 – “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman.” (NLT)
I was a young adult – and probably 10 years into a serious pursuit of my own personal mental sexual purity with God’s help – when a friend in my accountability group pointed out this verse to me. I had read the Book of Job several times before in my life, but as it sometimes goes, I had never really caught this verse before. But that night in accountability group, it was like a big flashing light was shining out of the Word! God was awakening a new approach to personal mental and sexual holiness in me.
Job 31:1 – “I made a solemn pact with myself never to undress a girl with my eyes.” (MSG)
Our group was doing a study of the book Every Young Man’s Battle by Stephen Arterburn. In his book, Arterburn teaches a technique called “bouncing your eyes”. The idea is that the moment your eyes land on a desirable image (or a real-life sighting) of a woman, you train yourself to “bounce” your eyes away into a different direction.
If you just happen to see a salacious billboard on the highway, or a woman in a bikini walking by on the beach, it’s not that first glance where sin happens. It’s in the lingering gaze or in the second glance. Therefore you have to make a covenant with your eyes! You have to train yourself to “bounce” your eyes away from that first sighting, and not look back until the billboard or bikini is out of view.
Job 31:1 – “I have made a covenant with my eyes; why then should I look upon a young woman?” (NKJV)
“But I’m not undressing her with my eyes – I’m just admiring her beauty – God’s handiwork, right?! Why can’t I just do that?” That’s a dangerous road down a slippery slope. The question is not “how close can I come to sin without actually sinning?” It’s “how far away can I stay?!”
In this instance, I rephrase the question in this way: rather than asking “what harm can come from looking?”, I should be asking myself, “what good can come from it?” The answer: NONE.
Yes, it is technically possible to “just” admire her beautiful hair, or her lovely smile – without actually lusting after her – but honestly, what good would come from that?
Best-case scenario, you dodge a bullet, and nothing happens. Phwew! Russian roulette! Worst-case scenario, you plunge down an uncontrollable slide toward fully-engaged lustful thinking.
Even if you do manage to look upon her without lusting, what happens is an insidious seed gets planted in your mind. You may not have “lusted” after this woman that you were “just admiring as God’s handiwork”, but you have planted a seed of discontent with what you currently have in your bride (if you’re married or engaged), or in your singleness.
In either case, you begin to allow yourself to have a woman – who is not your wife – begin to take on the affections of your heart and the desires of your mind (and body) – even if just ever-so-slightly. And that is a very dangerous game to start playing – even if you feel you’re in “the safe zone” of just admiring someone’s “pretty hair” or “lovely smile”…
With this topic, it can be so easy to become bogged down by our failures. In the next post, I’ll share about the importance of celebrating our victories over lust – no matter how small and insignificant they may seem!