Every Man’s Battle is the first book I have read in my adult life on the topic of sexual purity. In my teen years I was given books on the topic and I read, enjoyed and learned from them. However, this is the first book I have read on the subject as a married adult. Because I have not done a lot of reading on the subject I am unsure if Every Man’s Battle is a great book that presents ways of escaping a life of sexual temptation, or if it is a book that is deeply and irrevocably flawed.
As I read this book, I found it both interesting and inspiring. Every man can, at least to some extent, identify with the authors as they describe their struggles with sexual temptation. I appreciated their honesty and their desire to speak about topics that many books would avoid. They speak about real, significant sin. Unusually for our culture, they never tried to blame their problems on their parents, their upbringing or on Satan and his demonic forces. They accepted full responsibility for their struggles and sin. Though their pasts may have contributed to their sexual sin, they did not try to pass blame to anyone else.
Some standout quotes from the book are:
‘We have countless churches filled with countless men encumbered by sexual sin, weakened by low-grade sexual fevers — men happy enough to go to Promise Keepers but too sickly to be promise keepers.’ (page 58)
‘God is waiting for you. But He is not waiting by the altar, hoping you’ll drop by and talk for a while.’ He is waiting for you to rise up and engage in the battle. We have power through the Lord to overcome every level of sexual immorality, but if we don’t utilize that power we’ll never break free of the habit.’ (page 92)
The main teaching of this book is the concept of ‘bouncing’ the eyes. What this means is that when a man sees something that is sexually tempting he is to immediately divert his eyes. The authors state that most men, after six weeks of doing this, will make it a habit and will no longer struggle with lust the way they once did. Their eyes will naturally bounce away from objects they once found alluring. When men stop filling their minds with lustful images, they can then learn to control their thoughts and stop the cycle of sexual fantasy. The book closes with a chapter about a man’s responsibility to love and honor his wife, viewing her as the one woman God chose him to spend his life with. It is only when men are free from sexual sin that they can truly honor our wives the way God intends.
At the end of every section of the book is a piece called ‘Heart of a Woman’ where the authors had women read the book and provide their thoughts. The women had many interesting insights, though on the whole they simply expressed an inability to understand the mind of men.
This book obviously has many good things to say. However, I find I am not completely satisfied with it. Primarily I find I am disappointed that the authors have no better solution than bouncing the eyes. I would like to believe that God can truly free men from sexual sin rather than having them lives their lives masking this sin. Perhaps that is simplistic. But can’t God free people from the sin that has bound them? I know none of us will ever be sinless, yet I do believe God can set us free from specific sins. The technique the authors espouse seems to leave God’s power out of the equation.
I also find myself taking offense on behalf of women for much of what the authors teach. For example, they say time and again that men have a 72-hour sexual cycle. Their advice to women is to work with men in this 72-hour cycle. There is very little in the book about building a good sex life where both partners give and receive pleasure. In fact, it seems that the authors believe women are almost asexual and their function in sexual activity is simply to relieve a husband of his sexual burden. On the other hand, the authors present all men as being absolutely controlled by sex. I think this book, when read by women, might really give them an overly-pessimistic view of how men think.
A minor concern I had was the many descriptions of the authors’ lust. Sometimes they would describe things in such detail that I am concerned the descriptions alone could make men think lustful thoughts. The description of the jogger that one of the authors was staring at when he crashed his car is a good example.
In the end I find that I really do need to read more on this subject. I would like to read another book or two about the challenges men face to see if other people offer similar advice (bouncing the eyes) or if there really is another way of being completely freed. I hope to update this review once I have done so.