Stay Away from the Edge

In a previous post I talked about the Damage of Sexual Promiscuity—more specifically, the “imprinting” that happens during a person’s initial sexual experiences.

People have read the article or have heard me talk about his and contact me after they realize they have been improperly “imprinted” on—especially through lust-filled, elicit sex and the use of pornography and masturbation—and they want to know if and how it can be reversed or erased. They wonder if it’s possible to go back to a clean slate–kind of like the old Etch-a-Sketch toy where you could turn the knobs and a little line would appear on the screen so you could draw pictures. Then when you wanted to start over, you just tipped the thing upside down and shook it to make all the lines disappear—all was erased and you would have the blank screen again. They ask if it’s possible to get back to the blank screen when it comes to sex.

This was the case with a young man I recently heard from through my radio show. He was one of those people, like so many, that had been affected by his early exploits with lust-filled sex. Since then he had gone on to be a born-again believer, who loves God and is doing all he can to live for Jesus. He wrote to me explaining that he and his wonderful wife of ten years were having some issues. He was still struggling with the desires and “pictures” in his head after all this time and wanted to recreate those things of the past to make their sex life more interesting. That is the power of sexual imprinting.

His wife did not have those types of early experiences, was much more conservative in her approach to sex, and uncomfortable with what her husband wanted.  He didn’t force her into anything, but felt the pull to go back and relive those things that were so very exciting in his past.  There was frustration and tension between them because of this and he wanted to know how to fix it. This young man—as many people wonder—wanted to know “how far” he could go and still have it be “ok”. Where was the line on what constituted lust? My advice to people who are struggling with this is to stay as far away from the line as you can. Be very deliberate to avoid anything of the lust-filled nature and aim to be as conservative as possible. You won’t get free if you just “cut back” or keep “toeing the line”; you need to stop it all together to break this.

It reminds me about a story of a wealthy man back in the horse and buggy days who was looking to hire a carriage driver. There were three candidates and he asked all three of them the same question: How close to the edge of the cliff can you drive and not go over the edge? The first guy said he could get within two inches and not lose the carriage. The second guy said he could get within a half inch. But the third man wisely said, “I stay as far away from the edge as possible.” He’s the one who got the job and was thinking the right way. Why take the risk? Why push the boundaries? Why do something if it makes the passenger nervous and uncomfortable just so you can have the thrill?!

It’s not about how much you can “get away with”. You need to steer clear, learn to key off your spouse and do what she likes. You must not make it about all the things that are a part of pornography and the promiscuity of your past, rather make it about pleasing her.  Men should be lovers to women in the first place. It’s not about what she does to you. Pornography has turned men into selfish pigs who have lost the art of making love to a woman. People who struggle with this can be changed through prayer and with God’s help, but they must be very deliberate.  The bible tells us we will be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We need to change the way we think so that sex isn’t about being selfish and your spouse isn’t there just for you to be satisfied.

If you are “bored” or find that sex is a “drag”, try doing a sex fast for a week or two—maybe even a month if need be. This goes for both men and women—it’s not as common or talked about as frequently, but women can and do have the same issues with lust.  Allow your desire to build during that time and concentrate on only your husband or wife. No porn, no masturbating—think only of him or her, focus on that one man or that one woman. Give them your time and attention;  flirt with each other to  let the sexual tension build until you can retrain yourself to respond only to your spouse without needing all the other garbage to arouse and satisfy you. It will change your life and set you free.

Know that “kind of” staying away from the lust or “cutting back” won’t do it. You need to stop it. For men and women who are Christians, nothing is more miserable than being stuck in a lustful world you know you shouldn’t be in.  Dangling dangerously close to the precipice doesn’t work…be like the wise carriage driver and stay as far away from the edge of the cliff as possible.

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40 Responses to “Stay Away from the Edge”

  1. Leanne says:

    It isn’t just what husbands want to engage in with their wives after their promiscuous behaviours that is unacceptable. It is also that some husbands lose interest all together in their wives as the images they have continually looked at have taken over the desire in their minds that was God given for their spouse and is now offered to a false person, image, or picture. I am speaking from experience. It is extremely difficult for a wife to feel genuinely desired by her husband when she knows his energies have not been towards her.

  2. Frank says:

    Mark, i was wondering if you have your articles and other posts (research articles)that you refer to in your radio programs, available somewhere on your website so i can share them with others. I do not use facebook because i’m a missionary working in sensitive areas so i don’t want my name found when googled.

  3. marlene madriles says:

    Pator Gunger,
    Hi, hope all is well.
    Have you ever thought of doing your marriage seminars in spanish. I just attended your seminar in Roswell, NM, but went alone because my husband does understand English however at alot slower level and I do mean slower. I truly beleive that Hispanic (Mexican Men) could use a lot of the information you provide.
    God Bless You,

  4. Abbey says:

    Thank you for this website. I think I was led to it. I’v been strongling with masturbation & now I have a site to help me out of it. Thank you.

      • Kevin says:

        The Manly Man Conferences have been great. I could only attend Manly Man II because of family birthdays. Although I look forward to future conferences. It is a rare thing to find men to be on the same page on these topics. Does Mark look for other like minded people outside his friends or are the people he has speak come from people he meets while doing his seminars?

        One person I found recently with a very similar message is Steve Harvey. He also does a relationship segment on his radio show called “Strawberry Letter”

  5. Mike says:

    Very good explanation of the problem except your “fasting” for a couple of weeks or month. What of those where that is for either partner, the norm? 4, 6, 8+ weeks? When being “nice to the girl” just gets you a bigger “honey do” list because you’re being nicer and doing more things? Or being nice to him results in his taking more time for TV, golf, fishing…whatever? How does the left out spouse resolve this vicious cycle? Or should he or she just resolve that once every month or so should be sufficient? I think it was Dr. Phil who said a healthy sex life in marriage accounts for 10% of your overall happiness while a bad one accounts for 90% of your misery.

  6. larry w. angus says:

    I have your dvd’s of teen sex and the men’s conference #1.I feel that i know you even though we have not met. you have been in jackson mich a couple of times for a marriage seminar. You are doing an excellent job.
    I am 65 and deeply involved in our youth ministry- being a former teacher at jackson n.w. h.s an a former wrestling coach.I have 2 grown boys of 39 and 36. But I have another son of sorts-no biological kindship that i have adopted as my 3rd son. His mom and dad went to brazil as missionarys and his dad took off with a brazialian woman. He was in my 8th grade sunday school class. i took him hunting and fishing back then. now he is in his 10 year teaching at columbia central high school.
    He just shared with me last week of his dependence on pronography and wants me to keep him acountable.I guess he started this in college. He just got married 2 years ago. This is causing a bit of trouble in his marraige.
    Your comments today was quite fitting for this issue. I have emailed him today and signed him up for your future publications.
    please send him your comments about this issue that you sent me today. Thanks- ( Send to
    thank you Mark Larry

  7. Norm says:

    Thanks, Mark, for the great article. I struggled with pornography and masturbation (in secrecy) for many years while being married to a wonderful wife. The Holy Spirit finally convicted of this sinful lifestyle, I confessed to my wife and asked God to “reprogram” my mind. Here is how God changed my life.
    First, my wife stood next to me. Yes, she was rightfully upset but she wanted to see me through this. She still loved me.
    Second, I admitted my problem to other Christian brothers and obtained their accountability. Together we went through a study called “Every Man’s Battle” which opened my eyes. We openly share our struggles – even today.
    Third, I avoid environments that could make me stumble such as staying up when my wife has already gone to bed and racy TV shows. The cable TV was shut off and the internet access is now limited. We go to bed at the same time now!
    Fourth, my life priority is now on (1) God, (2) my wife, (3) my family, (4) my church family and then (5) me. Before this, I was #1.
    It has been over 6 years since this was put into place. Today, I can ONLY get sexually aroused by thinking about or being with my wife. Yes, the images are still there but my mental scrapbook is being rewritten with God’s hand through my wife’s love. I am truly blessed.
    Grace and Peace.

  8. Sam says:

    What can a woman do when her husband enjoys arousing her physically and loves her physical reactions, but she longs for emotional intimacy? I feel like a whore, and I do not know how to enjoy the physical pleasure of sex without an emotional connection beforehand or after. We have spoken about this, but he has not been able to understand that sex often — usually — leaves me feeling empty and used. How can I help a man who is almost completely physical learn to be intimate? I’ve read all the books and articles. When we tried to have date nights, he didn’t know what that meant. Literally, he asked how to plan and execute a date. He was not being obtuse. He has Asperger’s.

    • Christa says:

      Dear Sam,

      I’m a woman who has Asperger’s (mild). I have a very loving husband who taught me how to experience love. It was an emotion I didn’t know before I learned it from him. He has a lot of patience and I know he knows about things I don’t know yet. We are together for 21 years now and I’m still surprised with ‘normal’ social issues that are so-not-normal to me. He has guided me through this for all those years now, and we are frequently laughing about my interpretation of the world. I know this is not a specific reaction to your question, but maybe it gives you some information about what has worked for us.

      Love (yes!) from Europe.

      • Jehanne says:

        Hi, there is a website on “aspergers marriage” and books written to help with exactly what you are talking about. Most counsellors can’t help as they have no idea what you are dealing with. Like all relationships it takes two to make it work but a more concientious effort from the one who has aspergers is necessary and acceptance of their diagnosis.

  9. Margaret says:

    Thanks for the words above. I have learned to retrain my thoughts of lust and wishful daydreaming and as a “fruit” have found a deeper love for my husband (even tho’ he still needs to change!!! — I’m kidding — half-kidding). On a separate note: my 22 y/o daughter is recently married and both have recently declared they no longer believe in God (they say are “smarter” than that)– they have not had premarital counseling (they are “smarter than that too) — do you have a DVD or other resource that you would recommend that’s not overtly Christian? Blessings through the holy-days!

  10. Steve Shown says:

    As a recovering “sex addict,” I agree with the “Stay Away from the edge” blog post completely. What works for me is abstince from the lust industry, accepting God’s forgiveness and some intervals between relations with my wife.

    Thank you and I’ll see you in Napa, CA

  11. Dan M says:

    Conservative sex? What a bore you are Mark! Without lust there is no good sex. Are you one of those people who thinks there should be no lustful pleasure in making love with the one you love? You sound rather prudish and backwards!

    • Cindy says:

      You misunderstand. Lust is defined as an emotional feeling of intense desire in the body. Lusting after your beloved is not the lust Mark says to avoid. He is always clearly against lusting after the wrong. There is nothing prudish and backwards about that.

  12. Tricia Cochee says:

    I appreciate your comments. I wrote about this from a different perspective in my upcoming book, “Touch, The Language of Massage, How To Speak It”. As a former massage therapist and wholistic health educator, I know that the body is like a sponge, keeping memories of both good and bad experiences. It is kept not just as an imprint in the brain but an imprint in the body as well. So we need to take into account the “body memory” as well when people are in “mental” therapy, that they should be receiving “physical” therapy as well to heal themseleves. The body and the mind truly work together or against each other. When they work together that is true integrity.

  13. Violet says:

    That’s good advice, and the only thing that has helped in getting away from the soul-killing creepiness that used to fill my fantasy life when I was lonesome. Unfortunately, I still am not sure what I can safely try to train my desires TO at the moment, since I have no firm evidence that anyone will ever marry me. Sometimes I think about my opposite-gendered friend in a lustful context and then squeak with joy when he shows possible evidence of returning my attraction, but I have serious doubts that it’s ethical or respectful to use him in that manner. I know I wouldn’t like it if a random person decided to use me in all their honeymoon fantasies without my even promising them a honeymoon. Heh, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to turn this into a whine about my (non-)relationship problems.

  14. Vicki DUlebohn says:

    This gives a different perspective to an upcoming surgery. I need a hysterectomy so sex will be off limits for a few weeks. We can consider it a sex fast and plan for the first weekend when I get the okay from the doctor…hummmm… Love your show.

  15. Colleen B says:

    I would love to pin this article for future reference, but you can only pin something on pinterest if it includes a photo or video. Well, I actually just learned you can do it another way but it isn’t easy. Can you please investigate this and start to include a picture on your articles so we can easily share it with others? Thanks!

  16. Dave says:

    An old Southernism – even if you don’t get in the mud puddle, you get too closer you’re bound to get splashed.

  17. Ken says:

    I have gained much insight from your lectures. Been divorced many years, exwife was “sex-aholic” If I meet with the right woman, your lectures have provided a much greater understanding for a succesfull relationship.

  18. Scott says:

    Being one of those males who have been exposed to, involved in and lusted after adventurous sex I married a woman that was much more reserved and I was with her seventeen years and she never would completely satify my urges which weren’t preverted she just didn’t like it. Once divorsed it was Katie Bar the Door and luckly I never got something I didn’t want. I didn’t really get into porn until I got my computer hooked up to help my current wife with her issues. Porn can and will destroy your sex life the brain wasn’t made to have the chemical releases that porn brings all the time.

    Best thing I can tell you once you been exposed is to pray and ask the Lord to “Weed the garden of my mind” pull out thoses images and experieces, and He can and will. Best advice “Don’t”.

    I guess the bible is right about being a virgin when you get married then you can learn each other together without any undue expectations.

  19. David W says:

    Freedom from those images only comes with replacing them with the images of your wife. Dr Doug Weiss, a Christian Counselor who specializes in Sex Addiction/Issues, recommends the following rules to reprogram and replace a man’s imprinting…

    Lights on, eyes open, nurturing conversation…

    You can use your mental images if you’re looking at her, seeing her and talking to her. In time, this practice during intimacy will replace the lust-based memories of the past.

    It can be done, but for Christian men, keeping the secret is the most dangerous part. James 5:16 is the most freeing element of this issue in my experience. When it comes to lust and lust-based memories, your mind is a dangerous neighborhood and you can’t go there alone. You need freedom in Christ and confession with other men to help the healing process as you reprogram you mind to imprint on your wife.

  20. Cindy says:

    This is a great article. We don’t hear much on the how to’s, but your ministry is great for practical help. Keep up the good work!

  21. Judy says:

    We use some of your ideas in our counseling at the pregnancy center. So much easier than figuring it out for ourselves. You have the authority already established and the humor helps drive points home. Thanks for all the effort you put into your messages.

  22. WindWalker says:

    This is all understandable however, what does one do when both spouses have been sexually, physically & verbally abused as children and promiscuity. So from the beginning sexual imprinting was ALL wrong. We did not have sex before we got married but did walk too close to the edge. We have only been married 3 years now and I (the wife) have been having problems desiring sex and struggling with even wanting or enjoying my husband’s touch in a sexual manner. We don’t have sex often and definitely not as often as my husband would like so the fast thing is not really working in my case. However, I have to say he is extremely understanding and does not force me. I don’t like feeling this way but don’t know what to do to fix the root of the problem. What is a girl to do?? WindWalker

  23. slim shady says:

    Couldn’t of said it better. This is why I don’t have cable and if it wasn’t for my 13 year old daughter, I probably would not have a TV. We tend to be selfish and “want what we want” as though we live in a “Burger King” society. Anyway, enjoy the articles. My wonderful wife and I love your Sunday show and think your doing a great job!!!! Keep up the good work.

  24. Rick Petty says:

    My observations;
    Satan always uses our eyes as a net to catch our attention. He knows that we covet what we see. He’ll walk attractive, well built females, who enjoy being approved of, in front of a man…as bait. The woman thoroughly enjoys being noticed and approved of, even though she was built by the Lord. The man wants to fill his eyes and feel a nudge (men will understand) from his alternate brain. Usually an inner voice will whisper,
    ” Hey pilot, did you see that one? ”

    I found success by initiating soft inner prayer for those tools that the enemy totes in front on me. I pray for their souls and then thank the Lord for His delightful handiwork. I think I was originally hoping to reduce the enemies attempts, but instead it seemsd as though he is searching for my theshhold of sexual indulgence. In the mean time, I get to spread the power of prayer their way and briefly enjoy some of God’s greatest creations as I quietly give thanks for His ability to create beauty. Most of the time I just whisper/pray, “Thanks Lord, truly nice work creating her.”

    For the record, I do not search attractive women out, I stay away from the edge. The enemy brings them to me. They desire my approval because the Lord has created me very well, Thanks Lord!

    Just for fun!
    I shared this idea with a friend of mine a few years ago and he immediately suggested that I include unattractive women to my prayers as well. I told him that I would be happy to split up the prayer responsibility with him evenly. I said that I will pray for all the attractive women and I suggested that he pray for all the ugly ones :) I have not heard from him in some time now?


  25. gwen says:

    i am a victim of this problem & it has ruined the closeness of a 30 year marriage. Mark, please keep warning young men of the consequences of this behavior. God Bless You

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