Book(s) Review: Hide or Seek, by John Freeman; Sexual Sanity For Men, by David White

Review
10.30.2018

In our sexually charged, pornified world, I see sexual wholeness as a “mission-critical” objective for my congregation—for both men and women.

As a pastor, I have the responsibility of leading men, in particular, who walk into my study on a journey toward sexual wholeness. They need to experience the power of the gospel to heal their brokenness and to apply Scripture to this area of their lives. Then they become more effective ministers of the gospel to others.

As I’ve traveled this path with men, I’ve found Harvest USA’s Hide OR Seek: When Men Get Real with God About Sex (by John Freeman) and Sexual Sanity for Men: Re-Creating Your Mind in a Crazy Culture (by David White) to be invaluable resources. These books approach areas of sexual brokenness candidly and graciously while pointing men to the Bible and to Jesus Christ as the only one capable of satisfying them. They are powerful tool—particularly when used with others in the context of the local church.

WHY THEY’RE USEFUL

Lying just beneath the surface of our hearts is an often unconscious desire for the sexually illicit and explicit. Many of us carry the shame and sorrow of memories of failed purity. And this is where these books are so useful. They’ve helped me learn how to identify the warning signs of uncontrolled desire, what God’s Word says to those oppressed by misplaced affections, and how churches can help strugglers recalibrate their recalcitrant hearts. As a pastor who faces many challenging counseling issues, books like these are invaluable.

Though I recommend both resources without reservation, I find myself regularly returning to two quotes in particular. The first challenges sexual strugglers who base their confidence in their own self-righteous attempts to stay pure rather than on Christ. Freeman writes,

Most of us have that slink-back mentality toward God and not an attitude of faith and repentance. Strugglers, especially those who have not come into the light with God or other people, don’t usually rush into God’s presence. We wait . . . and wait . . . and wait, until the opportune time. We wait until we “feel” better, until we think we have the right words, until we’ve worked up our courage, until we convince ourselves that this time was the last time we’d fail like that, until we’ve put enough distance between us and our last acting-out event, whatever form it may have taken. We wait until we’ve appropriately punished ourselves in a variety of ways. But, the truth is that there’s usually no repentance in any of that. It’s primarily a form of penance and reparation. And, that means that there’s little of the gospel in it.[1]

Even as Christians, we gravitate toward a cycle penance and self-atonement. But it will never work. When we’re full of unbelief, when we refuse to believe that God is enough, he calls us to himself. So, in 1 John 1:7, God offers us a formula of sorts when the Scripture says,

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

Honest confession leads to fellowship and freedom from sin. John helps us see that the “gospel is all about seeing what happens when you quit hiding [sin] and start to discover the love of the Savior for you— in the mess!”[2]

But what about those who seem incapable of reorienting their misplaced affections? Or, on the other hand, those who are white-knuckling it and trying to endure until heaven? White offers insight:

We are men who have been slaves to our appetites. When we’re honest, we acknowledge that we’re characterized by weakness and folly. We’ve been utterly confounded by our inability to stop doing things we don’t want to keep doing. Yet when we begin to improve, we often grow proud. We actually begin to pat ourselves on the back because we no longer masturbate daily (or multiple times a day), that we haven’t picked up a prostitute recently, that we’ve been staying away from the rest areas. [3]

Too often men live “failure-filled, shame-filled, and guilt-ridden lives. Reticent to admit [their] sexual temptations and struggles, [they] hope will somehow just all go away.” [4] White helps us see that recurring patterns of sexual sin are intimately wed to pride. Because we hate to see how bad we truly are and we want to be better, we take pride in modest gains and, therefore, put ourselves in grave danger.

The first step to take in defeating pride is to find someone you trust from your church and share with him what’s going. As Ed Welch says, “Though we might think that real helps comes through dramatic and new insights, most help tends to come in more ordinary ways. It comes through our personal engagement with each other, our attention to Christ, and prayer.” [5]

HOW TO USE THEM

What’s the best way to use these two resources? For those wrestling with how to go public with their sexual struggles or for pastors contemplating how to establish such small groups, I recommend Freeman’s book. For those entrenched in cycles of sexual addiction or seeking to lead groups focused on sexual purity, I recommend White’s. I’ve found much fruit in my own ministry and in the lives of those in my congregation from using these resources in the above manners.

The pervasive and oppressive nature of sexual brokenness is wreaking havoc in our culture. More than ever, local churches need trusted partners who will help them in their work of mending lives with the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Harvest USA is that partner: Christ-centered, church-focused, and committed to the authority and power of Scripture.

These books move beyond mere surface matters to the chronic sin patterns endemic to all human hearts. Sexual wholeness is vital to healing, and these resources will help pastors better structure small groups in ways that facilitate a more open and safe place for people to come and share their experiences and struggles.


[1] John Freeman, Hide OR Seek: When Men Get Real with God About Sex (Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2014), 91.

[2] Ibid., xvii.

[3] David White, Sexual Sanity for Men: Re-Creating Your Mind in a Crazy Culture (Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2012), 236.

[4] Freeman, Hide OR Seek, 8.

[5] Edward T. Welch, Caring for One Another: 8 Ways to Cultivate Meaningful Relationships (Wheaton: Crossway, 2018), 43.