Letter to a Young Single Man


I have been thinking about you and putting myself in your shoes. You need to know how similar our backgrounds and personalities are. There is hope in learning your problem is a sin identified in the Bible because then you have a solution. Jesus died to rescue us from sin. I do think the primary reason for the conflict with your parents and depression is because of your undisciplined personal life. God designed you with a conscience in your soul that works like the nerves in your body. There is a warning signal when things are not right.

It is this idea of discipline that I want to address with you. Generally speaking, this is the time of your life that you become what you will be for the rest of your life. That is why the way you respond to the biblical counsel you get now is vital.

I know all too well that sexual temptation is intense when a man is 19. I want to help you fight that battle. I think the combination of unfulfilled desires and a lot of disposable time is dangerous. The abundance of impure images available to your eyes or already in your mind are like gas on the fire.

Paul warned Timothy: “Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” He also said, “train yourself to be godly.”

In those areas where you have behaved sinfully you need to humbly repent before God and those you have wronged. Then you need to establish some good habits to keep you from going back down the same road. Paul calls it "putting off" and "putting on." Would you consider a challenge to let me help you set some goals during this year you are taking off of school?

Some ideas to consider:
  1. Beyond your regular (and indispensable) devotional time, develop a list of Christian non-fiction books you know would be a challenge to read, but also good for you. Set aside twenty minutes each day (even during lunch breaks) to work that goal. It might even make people ask questions if you are reading a Christian book. I recommend you start with Desiring God by John Piper and Passion and Purity by Elizabeth Elliot.
  2. Talk to your pastor about finding a place of ministry at your church to pour many hours into (college ministry, teaching kids, doing research for your pastor, starting something new or making something old better). Whether you realize it or not, you have a lot of valuable time on your hands because you are single and not in school. To use it for selfish ends primarily playing video games or watching movies is a tragic waste of a precious gift God gave you. Jesus died to rescue us from selfish living.
  3. Develop goals for your money (like saving for a house or land) and get yourself on a disciplined budget. My forced savings plan I started when I was in my twenties is why my wife and I were able to come up with a significant down payment for our house.
  4. Find recreation that requires something of you. When it does not consume you, recreation can be productive. I have observed that men who are passive in their free time are typically passive with the rest of their lives. Working hard is good, but so is playing hard. Hunting, fishing, running, weight lifting, and making things with your hands are worthy things to keep you engaged during free time.
  5. Make out 3x5 cards with Scripture verses pertinent to your current temptations. Take a few minutes every day to review them all. You will be surprised how quickly you start calling to mind what God says when you need it most. Start with 1 Corinthians 10:13, 31; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-12.
Every one of these pieces of homework could be simply an outward diversion unless they are driven by the highest motivation: a love for your Master. He is worthy of a disciplined life.


  1. In my teens/20's [I am now 55] looking at 'those magazines' would push me into thoughts attitudes that made it so difficult to see God in my life. Now with the explosion of internet stuff, I honestly do not know how young men can handle themselves without STRICT guidelines and honesty among friends of what they view. My prayers are with you.

  2. You are correct about the explosion of availability of illicit material online. You are also correct that accountability is vital to help people restrain their passions. It is becoming increasingly clear to me, however, that we conquer lust when we learn to worship biblically. A complete re-aligning of loyalties is the only way to escape bondage to sin. If Jesus Christ really is satisfying and if he really is the King, those who follow him have a sure refuge even when their accountability partners are dropping the ball. Meditating on the attributes of God (such as those described in Tozer's "The Knowledge of the Holy") is more than an academic pursuit.


What do you think?