If you’re looking for a short-but-not-shallow primer on porn and how to escape its power, Sexual Detox is a great place to start. Sexual Detox: A Guide for Guys Who Are Sick of Porn is the first title released by the newly formed CruciformPress and penned by one of its founders, Tim Challies. Forged in the fires of a small group of young men who desire to please God with their sexuality and prepare themselves for the pure joy of marital intimacy, this sharp little book may prove to be a dagger in the heart of porn-addiction for other men of all ages who desire the same. Those young men wrote the foreword to their mentor’s book claiming that they are “convinced that if you are a normal guy with normal guy problems and a normal guy worldview, this book will be helpful for you, as it has been for us.” They go on to say that the book is both realistic and hopeful, claiming that “when we believe in our hearts that the biblical worldview of sexuality is better than our sinful view of sex, we won’t cease to be tempted, but we will stop indulging in sin.”
Here’s a brief overview of the book, chapter-by-chapter:
Chapter One: Reality
Excellent biblical exposure of what pornography is and does: it mocks God’s design for sex, it is violent in nature, and it is progressive in its power to pervert. Having unmasked the monster, Tim then offers hope for freedom through the biblical process of sanctification and the “putting off of old ways and putting on of new . . .” .
Chapter Two: Pornography vs. Marriage
Tim is wise to address the damage done to marriages because porn “is ultimately about self, not union.” Both the single man and married man must understand the power porn has to pervert our relationships with women, beginning with the women closest to us, whether they are aware of the use of porn or not.
Chapter Three: A Theology of Masturbation
This chapter offers a bold analysis of current Christian debate concerning the sinfulness of masturbation. Tim argues that it is indeed a sin. You may not be satisfied with his conclusions (I happen to agree with him), but this is quite a thoughtful analysis for such a short chapter. Here, as in the rest of the book, Tim does a good job of balancing truth and grace.
Chapter Four: Three Gifts of Sex
Some Christians grow up thinking that all sex, not just its abuse, is bad. In this chapter, Challies prescribes the necessary corrective, a short-but-sure biblical understanding of one of God’s greatest gifts.
Chapter Five: Detox in the Bedroom
Again, I’m amazed at how much Challies is able to cover in so few words. This chapter seeks to answer the question, “How should a husband best express his love for his wife sexually?” by understanding what sex is not, what it is, and why there are better questions to ask than what are we allowed to do? By the time I finished this much of the book I was convinced I’d be using this in my premarital discipleship sessions from here on.
Chapter Six: Detox in Your Soul
This final chapter can best be summarized by this quote from page 72:
“No one has ever devised a better method for overcoming sin than that which God articulated through Paul. Standing firm in the gospel and relying on the grace and power of God to make our efforts effective, we must put off that which is of the flesh and in its place put on that which is of the Spirit.”
This chapter offers some practical, biblical ways to put sin to death and to pursue life instead. Here is where the book left me wanting more. I had to keep reminding myself that the book was never intended to answer every question and say all there is to say about the topic. But it’s an excellent place to start and to stir discussion among Christian men. I’d like to see Challies follow this book up with another one that dives deeper into what it means to rely on the power of the gospel to transform men perverted by porn to men who “consider [themselves] dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11).
Other Helpful Features
Two other features make this book even more helpful than it already is:
Think Questions: At the end of each chapter, Tim offers questions for reflection and/or discussion. The questions get at the heart of what each chapter discussed as well as the heart of the reader. These questions convinced me to use this as the next study for my college-age guys group that meets on Sunday nights at my place. These questions will get my guys talking . . . I’m preparing for some late night discussions!
The Cruciform Extra: At the end of the book the publishers have thrown in a little gem from the past to encourage us in our battle against temptation. “Comfort for the Tempted, ” a sermon by C. H. Spurgeon on 1 Corinthians 10:13, is full of gospel-soaked encouragement to fight the lies of lust (and other sins) with the promises of the God. The publishers plan to offer these “extras” in forthcoming books as they find fitting material.
I commend Sexual Detox to you and the Christian men in your life. Add it to your arsenal in your fight against the power of porn.