Editor’s Note: This blog is the first of a two part series discussing how to fight Wanton, how to counsel others who are in the grasp of Wanton, and application points for the believer.
WATCH OUT! Wanton wants to woo you from the path of purity to the brink of utter ruin (Prov 5). Who is Wanton that we should watch out for her? She is the common temptation that targets the everyday person even as she lays her traps in seeking to ensnare pastors, politicians, and presidents. In his journey to the Celestial City in John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian is overjoyed to meet up with Faithful. As they recount their pilgrimage, Christian says “let’s talk about matters of more immediate concern to our lives.” Faithful thus replies that he encountered “someone whose name was Wanton; she made every effort to allure and ensnare me… you cannot imagine what a seductive tongue she has. She pressured me severely to turn aside with her, promising me all kinds of pleasure and contentment.”1
So who is Wanton? By definition, she is the sexually immodest or promiscuous woman. She is boisterous, strategically presenting herself publicly through billboards and movie theaters and privately through personal interactions, television, and the internet. If the statistics are correct, Wanton is very effective at what she does!
- Porn sites receive more regular traffic than Netflix, Amazon, & Twitter combined each month. (HuffPost)
- Thirty-five percent of all internet downloads are porn-related. (WebRoot)
- Thirty-four percent of internet users have been exposed to unwanted porn via ads, pop-ups, etc. (WebRoot)
- Porn increased marital infidelity by 300 percent. (WebRoot)
- At least 30 percent of all data transferred across the internet is porn-related. (HuffPost)2
While God said, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled” (Heb 13:4), Wanton says “Let God’s gifts be enjoyed by all — whenever, however, and with whoever you please.” Certainly our culture is heavily influenced by Wanton, but what about the church?
An article, entitled “The End of Absolutes: America’s New Moral Code,” claims that 40% of practicing Christians believe “any kind of sexual expression between two consenting adults is acceptable.”3 Such statistics indicate that Wanton is having her way with many professing Christians. And thus “America’s New Moral Code” looks an awfully lot like the book of Judges — “where everyone did what was right in their own eyes.”
In his book Sexual Brokenness and the Hope of the Gospel, Russell Moore wrote:
The devil has no shortage of tools for destroying lives. And in today’s culture, one of his most effective tools is a distorted view of sexuality. The wreckage of such a view is everywhere: A marriage is broken by infidelity. A child is abused by a relative. A pastor is forced from his ministry due to a pornography addiction. A college student thinks back on her one-night stand with deep regret and a wounded heart. Such scenes are all too common. Perhaps no other human desire has been so distorted by our culture as sex. To borrow an illustration from C. S. Lewis, sexual desire has become like a piano key that is played at all the wrong times. Though God designed it for beautiful melodies, it has instead soured the music.4
Wanton seeks to take that which God has created as good and distort it for the purpose of our destruction. To that end, Peter wrote “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul” (1 Pet 2:11).
Indeed it is a war against the soul, and thus the closing admonition of Paul in Ephesians 6:11 is to “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” One of the devil’s sinister schemes is to entice the flesh with sexual sin. Paul is very much aware that God united us with Christ that “we should be holy and blameless before him” (Eph 1:4), so the practical outworking of this great gospel truth means we are to be controlled by the love of Christ rather than captivated by Wanton (2 Cor 5:14-15).
So what are we to do when Wanton pressures us severely to turn aside with her, promising all kinds of pleasure and contentment? How do we counsel others who are in the grasp of Wanton? In Ephesians 5:1-6, Paul addresses the believers in Ephesus to be set apart from a society of rampant sexual immorality.
The EXHORTATION to Christians.
Ephesians 5:1 says, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.” God is holy and our calling is to be “imitators of God.” That means that through our union with Christ we are to follow him that by his grace and for his glory we become increasingly like him in how we live (2 Cor 3:18)! Once, in casual talk after a Sunday morning service, I was informed by a friend that one of my children had developed facial expressions much like my own. I forgot to ask if that was a good or bad thing! Yet it is always a good thing when others see we are God’s beloved children because our character, our conduct, and our conversation increasingly reflect that of our Heavenly Father (Jn 13:35). The exhortation to be imitators of God in Ephesians 5:1 is then exemplified in the person and work of Christ in Ephesians 5:2.
The EXAMPLE of Christ.
Ephesians 5:2 says, “And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Using the word “walk,” Paul shows us in Ephesians 4 & 5 what a gospel-driven life looks like: Christ! In order to imitate God, we should “walk in love” (Eph 5:2-6), “walk in the light” (Eph 5:15-21), and “walk in wisdom” (Eph 5:15-21).
Christ alone has displayed the perfection of the Father before us (Jn 14:9) in being love, light, and wisdom. Thus, if we are to be “imitators of God,” we must fix our eyes upon Christ. In using the words, “as Christ,” Paul puts forth Christ as the supreme example of love — Whom we are to imitate!
In stark contrast to Christ and biblical love, Wanton is characterized by lust. Lust looks for what I can get whereas love looks for what I can give. Lust entices us toward self-indulgence at the expense of others, whereas love compels us to self-sacrifice for the good of others. Christ’s love was a living, giving, forgiving love focused on the glory of God in doing others spiritual good (Mk 10:45; Gal 2:20; Eph 1:7).
Having stated that to “imitate God” is to look to Christ and love as he has first loved us, Paul then states in Ephesians 5:3-5a that imitating God means not partnering with anything that Wanton represents.
The next post in this series discusses the main ideas of an evil to avoid and the ending to consider.
- John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress, Faithfully retold by Cheryl Ford. (Tyndale House Publishers, 2016), 73-74.
- Fight the New Drug, “18 Shocking Stats About The Porn Industry And Its Underage Consumers,” September 5, 2017. Article located at https://fightthenewdrug.org/10-porn-stats-that-will-blow-your-mind/
- https://barna.org/research/culture-media/research-release/americas-new-moral-code?utm_source= Barna+Update+List&utm_campaign=c2ba84b47f-NewMoralCode_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0 _8560a0e52e-c2ba84b47f-172161001&mc_cid=c2ba84b47f&mc_eid=59e80514b0#.V0XmJlc02qB
- Russell Moore, Sexual Brokenness and the Hope of the Gospel. (Leland House Press, 2014), cover.
Bryan Gaines is Pastor of Family Discipleship at Grace Community Church in Glen Rose, Texas. He regularly teaches classes to encourage and equip parents, works in the Student Ministry, leads an adult Care Group, and oversees Grace Preschool. Bryan also leads Grace Biblical Counseling, LLC. He is certified biblical counselor with the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC, formerly NANC).
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