Many enjoy summer with barbecues and trips to the pool, lake, or beach. Unfortunately, during this time of year many show up to swim dressed immodestly. Such immodesty creates a struggle for many seeking sexual purity. We may choose to decry immodest swimming apparel, but the reality is that outside of our own homes and families there is not much we can do about it. That means that we will have to take responsibility for our own eyes and hearts as we venture out to swim this summer. Here are five suggestions to help us stay pure while many are wearing provocative attire near the water.
1. Don’t Go
One suggestion is not to go to the pool, lake, or beach where others will be dressed immodestly. For some, the temptation to lust will be too overpowering and should be avoided. The suggestion to avoid such temptation may sound ridiculous to some. What is summer without the water? The beach? But this suggestion is not mine. Jesus thought of it long before I did. “If your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. it is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire” (Matthew 18:9). Jesus’ words here are very candid instruction indicating that it is better to be pure than to be by the pool.
Many will not have to take such radical measures. Such people will find it possible to be near the scantily-clad bodies of people near the water, but they will need to get ready before they do it. This will at least mean that we need to pray. Prayer should be part of our preparation of heading to the lake every bit as much as buying sunscreen. We should pray for a heart of purity before we head out and we should be ready to depend on God in prayer while there. The immediacy of prayer means that we can call out to God in the moment of temptation and receive his help right when we need it (Hebrews 4:16).
3. Memorize and Meditate
In addition to prayer we can also prepare our hearts for the pool by memorizing and meditating on Scripture—”I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). The passages you select might be focused on purity, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality” (1 Thessalonians 4:3). Or the passage may be focused on some other glorious truth of Scripture that redirects your heart towards the things of God, Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible” (Colossians 1:15-16). It really doesn’t matter as long as you are taking your thoughts captive to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
4. Stay Focused
While you’re out swimming stay focused. For me, I never have an occasion to be swimming without my wife and children, and so staying focused means two things. First, I keep my gaze fixed on my family. I look at my wife or my kids. I work to avoid looking around at other people. Second, I stay focused on my work as a husband and father and work to serve my family. I focus on trying to play with my kids, talk with my wife, keep everyone safe, and do what I can to help everyone enjoy their time. I find this helps keeps my eyes and heart focused where they should be.
When all else fails . . . sing. So many people I know find that when they are really tempted they can break the back of sin and temptation by singing songs that redirect their attention to the Lord. In God’s world he causes music to be one of the main ways we treasure Christ and the Word (Colossians 3:16). Songs like Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, It Is Well with My Soul, and Before the Throne of God Above are all songs that I sing to help orient my heart to Jesus. You don’t have to be live in concert in front of everyone at the beach. You can sing silently and it will still work.
My prayer is that in God’s kindness you would spend as much energy during the summer months fighting for purity as you do having a blast by the water.