Bruce Lengeman. To Kill a Lion: Destroying the Power of Lust from the Root. Apopka, Florida: Certa Publishing (Second Printing), 2010. ISBN: 9780982785874. See here to purchase the book.
A number of men within evangelical Christianity struggle with sexual lust. The lust against which they struggle can take the form of merely looking at an attractive woman and desiring her sexually, but it can also take other forms: sexual obsession, addiction to pornography, lurid fantasies, or adultery. In To Kill a Lion, Bruce Lengeman argues that one should deal with the root causes of sexual lust, rather than simply applying band-aid solutions that do not address the real problem. Lengeman draws from his experiences as a man and as a counselor.
For Lengeman, a number of sexual problems (i.e., sexual obsession, etc.) have their roots in unresolved pain, which can include rejection or painful childhood experiences. Lengeman exhorts men to bring those problems to the foot of the cross to find healing, and also to forgive. In addition, Lengeman challenges men to be active rather than passive in their approach to life, and to seek sexual healing, not primarily to live a happier life, but to become men who can further the Kingdom of God. Lengeman still believes that a proper attitude towards sexuality can lead to a happier life, however, for he calls inappropriate attitudes towards sexuality an “empty bag” that does not satisfy oneself or others, and he contends that a proper approach to sexuality can lead to better sex, which manifests mutual love and intimacy. Other issues that Lengeman discusses include cases in which demons may be involved in encouraging sexual obsession, and ways to understand Jesus’ criticism of lust (Matthew 5:28) that do not contribute to self-condemnation and discouragement.
The book’s strengths were its anecdotes and the author’s compassionate and empathetic tone. I also appreciated Lengeman’s discussions of God’s grace and his view that God is loving.
I would say that this book can set men in the right direction, but that men struggling with sexual desire may need more than this book. Lengeman says that men should repent or take their problems to the foot of the cross, and he offers prayers for that. This can be a long process, however, and men may need more practical steps and guidance than Lengeman provides in the book. Lengeman admits, however, that he could have said more, and that there are numerous books out there about dealing with personal emotional pain. In my opinion, he should have recommended a list of such books at the end.
Lengeman briefly addresses the issue of how single males should approach their own sexuality, since his Christian view is that people should not have sex outside of marriage. Essentially, his solution is for single men to channel their energies into non-sexual pursuits. While I appreciated that Lengeman addressed this issue and even exhorted small groups not to leave out singles in their discussions, I did not find his discussion of this issue to be particularly satisfying. Lengeman stresses that we are sexual beings, but he should have talked more about how this insight pertains to singles.
Lengeman also takes the position that homosexual attraction is often caused by childhood experiences of an absent or distant father and an overbearing mother. Lengeman is entitled to his opinion, and he appeals to anecdotal evidence that there are times when such may be the case. At the same time, there are many psychologists who disagree with such a view, even some prominent evangelicals are saying that homosexuality is an orientation with which some are born, and there are homosexuals who did not grow up with a distant father and an overbearing mother.
I appreciated many of this book’s insights, however.
The publisher sent me a review copy of this book through Bookcrash, in exchange for an honest review.