Using MAN TEA to Untangle the Lies
Ron and Cheryl had been having an intimacy problem. They hadn’t been close physically for months. Cheryl felt that Ron had been insensitive towards her feelings about the importance of a date night, and Ron felt Cheryl hadn’t understood his sexual needs as a man and had been withholding intimacy from him. Every night Ron would try to move towards Cheryl which always resulted in her bringing up how she wanted to be “dated” first. Ron always had an excuse as to why he’d been too busy or there wasn’t enough money coming in to take her out on a date. Both were at a stalemate and both were withholding from each other.
One day, Ron was on the computer while his wife was out for an evening with the girls. Things started out OK. Ron was a huge Dallas Cowboys fan and was simply looking at their homepage. On the sidebar, Ron noticed a scantily clothed cheerleader. He thought, “Wow, she’s beautiful! I wonder if a woman like that would want me or treat me the way my wife does.”
Before Ron knew what was happening, he tapped the clicker on the mouse and slowly began to be dragged into a dangerous place. Within minutes, Ron wanted to see more of this “beauty”. Before he knew it he’d been clicking on images and videos for two hours. It’s like his mind became totally clouded and he now was openly searching for a way to see more of what he wasn’t getting at home.
What Ron didn’t know was that the images and videos embedded on the pages were like the lions hiding in the long grass waiting to snare Harry. There were other eyes watching both Harry and Ron, but neither could anticipate what potential harm awaited them.
Cheryl was having a great time with the girls. They talked about their kids, their jobs, and of course, relationships. Cheryl knew someone would eventually start asking about how she and Ron were getting along, and then it happened.
“Cheryl, so how are you and Ron doing?”
Cheryl paused, swallowed hard and then replied, “Well, if you like living without being pursued then I guess we’re doing great!” Now all eyes were on Cheryl.
“Cheryl, why are you staying in that relationship if it’s so bad?”
Cheryl responded; “I don’t believe in divorce. I don’t think it’s something God would want. I just wish he’d want to date me”.
About that time Cheryl’s friend, Denise spoke up. “You know what I do when my husband isn’t pursuing or passionate towards me? I go and get a romance novel or rent some steamy video, curl up on the couch and disappear into my own fantasy world. No harm, no foul!”
At the end of the dinner the girls parted ways. Cheryl remembered what Denise had said. She knew going into a fantasy world wasn’t where God wanted her to go, but her emotions were fraught with wanting what she didn’t have and these emotions were coming from thinking that Ron should be doing more to court her.
As she drove past the corner book store she looked at her watch. She still had an hour left before she had to be home. She pulled in the parking lot, grabbed her checkbook and walked into the bookstore. Within twenty minutes she’d found a steamy romance novel and was turning its pages as fast as her fingers could go. “If only my husband could treat me like this”, Cheryl thought.
The enemy now had his claws buried deep into Ron’s and Cheryl’s minds and the lies they’d bought into were dragging them farther away from who they really were. What they were thinking; (Thought) “I deserve better” which was causing unhealthy emotions (Emotion), anger and lust, which now had led to unhealthy actions (Action). If neither Cheryl nor Ron can find reverse, they are heading off a cliff.
While I was having a lunch appointment with a buddy, he brought up the very sensitive topic of pornography. Most of the conversations I have with men around porn are almost always outside the church walls, mostly because of the shame and condemnation religious institutions have attached to that particular sin. He’d been on a fishing trip with a group of guys from our church and they began to discuss this taboo topic.
One of the men had been riding with his wife in their car when she brought up the topic of pornography. You can guess how the conversation went as she started; “I can’t believe that men look at this stuff! They’re pigs. It’s so disgusting. I feel violated when I see images of scantly clothed women on TV and in magazines. It makes me feel ugly and worthless. I can’t compete with those images.”
Then she directed her words towards her husband; “If you want those type of women, you can have them! If I ever catch you looking at that trash, you can just go ahead and pack up your stuff and get out because I won’t put up with it!”
Now, no doubt this is a very sensitive topic and for good reasons. But, if you look closely you’ll see that her emotions were driven by what she was thinking. Look at these two sentences from her tirade; “I feel violated when I see images of beautiful, scantly clothed women on TV and in magazines. It makes me feel ugly and worthless.”
Although we all know that God doesn’t want you staring at porn, his wife was buying in to the idea that only specific women are beautiful. Her disdain was not over the fact that the half-naked women could possibly cause her husband to have a lustful thought, it was over the fact that they made her feel insecure. The wife was (T) thinking that she was less than these other women, (E) emotional because she began to feel insecure, and her (A) actions were to dig into her husband about it like he had done something wrong by using shame and fear to control his behavior. When the enemy started pouring his lies into her Man Tea, the results became toxic.
So, what’s the weapon we can use to reverse his deadly arrows? Take a look at this passage from 2 Corinthians 10:5, it is a key verse to lock and load.
“We demolish arguments and every pretension (claim) that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
The key to that verse is “we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”. This is the beginning of dismantling and demolishing the lies of the one who is trying to kill us. But, as you will see in the next chapter, this is not something we can do alone.
Emotions in and of themselves are not bad. God gave them to us. Those emotions are letting us know if what we are thinking is healthy or unhealthy so we can deal with them.
Let’s look at how Cheryl could have confronted the enemy’s’ lies if she could have detected his hand via unhealthy emotions.
- Step 1) Identify the unhealthy emotion.
Cheryl can do this by taking her Spiritual temperature. She does this by looking at her emotions. She can identify her emotions by putting the words; “I feel” before them. (Example: I feel happy. I feel loved. I feel content.)
Healthy emotions line up with the fruit of the Spirit; “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23)
Unhealthy emotions line up with the deeds of the flesh. Things like fear, worry, doubt, rage, fits of anger, lust, shame, etc… (Example: I feel angry. I feel jealous. I feel anxious. I feel lustful. Galatians 5:19-21)
- Step 2) Identify the unhealthy thought.
How can Cheryl do this? She has to take every thought captive, according to Paul’s words in 2nd Corinthians. If the thoughts she is thinking are causing unhealthy emotions, you can bet that Satan is using his flaming arrows like past and future thinking. “He used to pursue me and that made me feel wanted”. “What if he never treats me the way I want to be treated? Then what?”
Cheryl has to choose to proactively take control of the unhealthy thought and write it down so she can clearly see the thought in front of her. If the thought she is thinking lines up with the deeds of the flesh, she can know with confidence that a lie is twisted up somewhere around the roots of her thoughts. She can identify this lie by moving into Step 3.
- Step 3) Identify the truth.
Cheryl takes the unhealthy thought captive by untwisting the lies she’s buying into by holding them up against the light of God’s Truth. Example Lie: “I would feel better about myself if my husband courted me like he did when we were dating.”
Example Truth: My worth and value has nothing to do with my husband’s opinions of me or whether he moves towards me. I am already deeply loved and 100% complete because Christ dwells in me!”
We know that the enemy loves to use condemnation to make us feel afraid, ashamed, and not good enough. Because those emotions line up with the deeds of the flesh, we would identify the lie we’re buying into by looking at the thought, and replace the unhealthy thought with God’s Truth. “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans:8:1)
- Step 4) Renew your mind. Just identifying the truth isn’t enough; she has to renew her mind with it. Keep writing it down. Memorize it. Put it on her mirror. Whatever it takes!
Romans 12: 2 says that we are to “be transformed by the renewing of our mind.” If she doesn’t do step 4, nothing changes.
Track Cheryl’s Transformation
A great exercise to see the transformation that’s happening through the renewing of her mind is for her to write down the percentage she believes the initial thought to be true. After untwisting her thoughts with God’s Truth and renewing her mind for several days, Cheryl can go back and look at the original thought and write down the percentage she now believes the unhealthy thought to be true. Example: “I should be feeling shame and condemnation after I read that steamy romance novel”.
Her initial thought here might be, “I should feel condemned for lust is a sin.” But there is a huge difference between condemnation and conviction. Condemnation attempts to use shame to promote change, but the only thing it does is leaves the sinner feeling worse about themselves, it attempts to rob us of our identity being “in Christ”. However, conviction is an inner prompting towards obedience through the Holy Spirit. Conviction focuses on God and what he wants, and condemnation focuses on us and how bad we are. The result of conviction is moving towards what God wants. The result of condemnation is moving away from what God wants.
For instance, conviction might lead Cheryl to repent and apologize to make things right with her husband. Condemnation might lead her to act out through overeating, reading more steamy books, or to drink excessively because she feels bad about herself. She does this because she’s trying to relieve the pressure of the thought of being a horrible person. Condemnation is a powerful trick the enemy loves to use because he knows you’ll be prompted towards sin because sin always has an immediate payoff to relieve you of the pressure you are feeling, but it is only a momentary fix that leaves you feeling even more ashamed and condemned.
We have to remember one last thing that is really important about Ron and Cheryl’s situation. While the flaming arrows of doubt were flying at Cheryl, she started to feel angry, unworthy, like she is unappreciated, and every other thought that a wife and mother feels as some point in her marriage. Satan was spitting lies at her as fast as a poison dart frog, and she believed them. So while Cheryl is feeling those emotions, Ron is keeping his in and listening to the inner thoughts that are telling him that he is unattractive. He’s not the young stallion that he once was and that’s why Cheryl isn’t interested in a more sexual relationship. She used to want him all of the time. Back before the kids and when he had more time to go to the gym. He locks those emotions away and decides it’s easier to look at an intangible woman who can’t put him down and won’t make him talk about what he is feeling. If he’d drank a little bit of Man Tea, opened up to his wife and told her how he was feeling, he may have gotten lucky enough to enjoy some alone time with a real person, his wife.