Every Man's Battleby Fred Stoeker, Stephen Arterburn
Length: Approximately 8 hours.
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Men are bombarded daily with all manner of images that try to entice us into sexual sin, from movies to magazines to billboards and everything in between. Sadly, many of us fall into these sins and feel trapped, but Every Man’s Battle shows us that we don’t have to remain there.
Who should read this?
As the name of the book suggests, it is geared towards men. More specifically, it is geared towards married men. While it does give some advice to single men, there is a book (by the same authors) called “Every Young Man’s Battle” that is geared towards teens and college-aged single men. That said, I would not discourage anyone of the male gender from reading this book, regardless of age or marital status.
The authors of this book come from a variety of backgrounds, but they do have a few things in common. First, they are all men. Second, they have all battled – and achieved victory over – sexual sins that their maleness makes them prone to. They write in a way that will resonate with every man who reads it. They employ humor where appropriate while maintaining a serious demeanor regarding the severity and consequences of sin.
The book is structured in a way that follows a logical progression: first, we realize where we are – that is, lost in sin; second, how we got to where we are at; third, making the choice to fight for victory over our sin; fourth, how to actually achieve victory. This is helpful because we need to recognize where we are before we can clearly see how we got here, and knowing the path into sin helps us find the path out.
In our modern culture, images that entice men into sexual sin abound. For years they have been found in pornographic magazines, tempting men at the newsstand. Now, however, a quick internet search can bring up any type of imagine a man might want to look at, and it can be done from the palm of your hand thanks to modern technology like smartphones.
Worse still, we are bombarded by sensual images against our will. If you have ever driven down the interstate and seen scantily-clad women on billboards, you know exactly what I’m talking about. This does not even account for the living, breathing women that surround us, who may not realize how the way they dress affects us, or who may be dressing a certain way for precisely that reason. This does not, however, remove our responsibility to avoid sexual sin.
Visually driven creatures that we are, however, we often fail. Some may feel that their failures – eying a beautiful woman in a bikini on the beach, for example – are nothing to stress about, nothing sinful, but Jesus says otherwise. Others recognize the depths of their sin, but they feel they have no control over their eye that keeps bouncing to look at every new jogger running past. Still others have become so desensitized that they do not realize the effects caused by watching the R-rated movies, perhaps even watching with their spouse. All of these are sinful, but the good news is that each can be overcome.
As previously mentioned, the authors first make sure readers are on the same page about where we are and explaining how we got here. To do so, they share their own stories as well as the stories of some others they have worked with over the years. (They continue to share such stories throughout the entirety of the book.) These stories range from looking at lingerie models in department store newspaper inserts to a fender bender caused by an author eying a jogger on the Pacific Coast Highway.
After knowing where we are and how we got here, we have to decide that we want to have victory, and then we learn how to actually achieve victory. As with any sin, we can only choose victory in a manner that will actually be effective when we hate the sin more than we love the high we get out of the sin. Once we get to that point, though, the choice becomes easy, and victory is within reach.
Achieving victory is divided into three parts: eyes, mind, and heart. Victory with the eyes focuses on our tendency to glance or even stare at that which tempts us, knowingly or unknowingly. Victory with the mind focuses on our tendency to fantasize about sexual things in a way that is lustful and sinful. Victory with the heart focuses on teaching men to love their wives (rending this section of limited use to single men) in the way that God intended.
I really enjoyed reading this book because of the humor, and also because I related easily with many of the men whose stories are related within. I knew long before I got to the section on achieving victory that, if these men achieved it, then I could to, because, quite frankly, some of them have delved quite deeply into sin and escaped.
That said, I am not a married man, and so portions of this book do not apply directly to me at this point in my life, including the section on victory with the heart. As such, I fully intend to re-read this book periodically to ensure I continue to live my life free of these sins and to apply the principles contained within as they become applicable to my life.
Being written by several men about a topic aimed at men, it really cannot be argued that the authors do not know what they are talking about. Each of them has battled the temptations they are writing about, and they have achieved victory, so they know that the victory they are writing about is not some hypothetical achievement that we can hope for, but it is something that can certainly be achieved.
Additionally, the authors’ arguments are firmly rooted in Scripture. They don’t beat down the door with an overwhelming number of Scripture verses, but they do give a handful that drive the point home. Some may say that this is a weakness, because we are to base everything we do and believe on Scripture, but I think that saying more with less, even when quoting Scripture, can sometimes be more powerful, because if it appears even once in Scripture, then it is the Word of God and is to be obeyed.
The biggest flaw that I saw while reading this book was that the authors occasionally went into too much description when talking about stories from their own past. If I am trying to learn how to break sinful habits relating to lust, I do not particularly care to read much about how a particular jogger looks. It would suffice to say that the person in question was attractive. The minds of readers will fill in details on their own, anyway, so giving anything more to go on is just overkill.
A secondary flaw is simply in the fact that the book does not really give any indication that it is targeted at married men, and I am not entirely sure it was initially meant to be geared in that direction. It is, after all, Every Man’s Battle, not just some men’s battle or married men’s battle. As the book progresses, though, it gives more and more advice that is very clearly aimed at married men. The entire section on victory with the heart is about loving your wife properly, something a single man simply cannot do (although he can and should prepare to do so by following after Christ and training himself in godliness).
Given the pervasiveness of lust and sexual sin in our culture, it should not come as a surprise to anyone that books such as this can readily be found. Even non-Christian versions can be found in almost any major bookstore.
What I think sets this book apart is that it doesn’t just illustrate the need for change (anyone with a Bible and the ability to read can do that) and then give a charge for more prayer (the book actually talks about how one author’s prayers, in general, were ineffective because of his sexual sin) and legalistic action that doesn’t get to the root of the issue, but rather, it gives a course of action that avoids legalism and can be easily followed by the average man.
- “After five years in California, I found myself with four ‘steady’ girlfriends simultaneously. I was sleeping with three of them and was essentially engaged to marry two of them. None knew of the others.”-p.14
- “The sin remained because I’d never really changed, never rejected sexual sin, never escaped sexual slavery. I’d merely exchanged masters.”-p.20
- “The question I should have been asking was, How holy can I be?”-p.50
- “To varying degrees, each of us became ensnared by these choices, but we can overcome this affliction. Far too often, however, we ignore our own responsibility in this.”-p.91
- “But since impurity is a habit, it can be changed. You have hope, because if it lives like a habit, it can die like a habit.”-p.106