The BCC Author Interview Q & A with Heath Lambert
As part of our BCC vision, we want to help you to get to know gifted Christian authors and their books. This week we’re highlighting Heath Lambert as he talks about his new book, Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace.
BCC: “What are your hopes for the book? Who is its message for?”
HL: “Finally Free is for two kinds of people. In the first place, it is for anyone struggling with pornography. People trapped in the clutches of pornography, by definition, don’t know how to get out on their own—and often don’t know where to look for help. This book is meant to be a grace-motivated and practically-relevant guide for how to find freedom from its grip. In the second place, this book is for anyone who wants to help a person who is struggling with pornography. People who are trapped in pornography are usually surrounded by people who love them and have no idea how to help. I wrote this book for gospel-ministers and lay people who want to walk with struggling people down the path toward freedom.
I hope that this book will be a game-changer. I have prayed that it would be the beginning of a great work God would do to create a church that is defined by purity and freedom from pornography. The gospel is God’s power and I’m praying that God would use this book to connect people living in the darkness of porn to the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
BCC: “How does the focus of this book reflect the victories you have seen in your counseling ministry?”
HL: “One of the things that I make clear in Finally Free is that this is a book that has been field-tested. The biblical strategies I share are ones that I have seen work in the lives of countless people over the last ten years. One of the great joys of my life is to know many men who once were defined by pornography and now are defined by the freedom they know in Christ. I wrote this book to share that freedom with as many men as possible.”
BCC: “While we know there are some excellent resources already available, where do you think some resources on the same subject fail primarily? How is Finally Free different from those?”
HL: “I think some resources fail in three main areas. First, they fail in being gospel-centered. So many books are full of guilt motivation: ‘If you don’t quit looking at porn you’ll get fired, or your kids will hate you, or your wife will think you’re a pervert.’ Those things might be true, but they lead to a very corrupt motivation for change that I talk about in the book. Finally Free is full of grace motivation. I want to encourage people to change because of who Jesus is, what he has done for sinners, and the power he makes available to anyone who has a problem with pornography.
Second, some other resources on pornography fail to be practical. We must talk about the gospel—that is essential. Another essential is to show how the gospel gets up and walks around the street and has practical implications for men who are really in trouble. I know so many people who love the gospel, but have no idea how to provide practical help to those in the pit of pornography. Finally Free is intensely practical and shows how gospel-belief and gospel-behavior go together to lead to gospel-change.
Third, some other resources make change difficult by using graphic sexual language in their discussions of pornography. I believe I have read every Christian book on pornography and some of the most popular ones employ graphic descriptions of pornographic images, provide the names of women starring in pornography, and even provide the names of websites and magazines where pornography can be found. This is shameful. I have counseled men who have read these books whose graphic descriptions introduced these men to more sources of pornography. My book is a frank discussion of pornography, but it avoids any kind of impure speech and graphic descriptions of sexual acts. It is impossible to get to purity by walking a path of impurity, and so my book is very different than a lot of books in this way.”
BCC: “You say in the first chapter that too often Christians have a lot to say about grace but don’t experience it much. Can you explain that? How does the experience of grace relate to the message of Finally Free?”
HL: “I hear people talk all the time about how important it is to believe the gospel, but don’t seem to talk that much about how belief in the gospel results in a change of behavior. The Bible makes clear that belief in Jesus leads to obedience (John 14:15; Romans 1:5, 16:26; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17). That means if we who talk about the gospel don’t know how to show how it grows into relevant and practical change in areas where we struggle, then our presentation of the gospel is not as biblical as it ought to be.
Because I love the gospel, I want to show how it leads to real and vibrant change. Every page of Finally Free is concerned to show how the profundities of the gospel lead to practical benefits in the struggle against pornography.”
BCC: “The chapters follow your presentation of eight grace-grounded strategies for fighting pornography. Can you give examples of how these strategies flow from grace, such as ‘using gratitude’?”
HL: “I show in the book that one of the fundamental problems of people who look at pornography is that they are ungrateful. In their lust they overlook the good things God has given them in search of things he has not provided. This means that men who look at porn need to be more grateful. The problem is that sinful people can’t be grateful on their own. They need gospel grace. So I try to show that though gratitude is essential it is only attainable through God’s forgiving grace, where he forgives us for greedy ingratitude, and his transforming grace, where he changes us and creates genuine thankfulness in his people. That is how I always try to connect grace to the practical strategies in the book.”
BCC: “One strategy that may seem surprising to some readers is ‘using your spouse (or your singleness) to fight pornography.’ Can you explain what you mean and don’t mean by involving a spouse in the battle against pornography?”
HL: “Well, one of the things I make clear that you should NOT do is involve your wife in the accountability part of your struggle with pornography. This changes the terms of a marriage in a damaging way. A wife needs to be a wife, not a private investigator examining her husband’s Internet history. I spend a lot of time in the book explaining how a wife can have confidence that her husband is experiencing genuine change while also drawing near to him as a wife.
What I do mean by using a wife in the struggle is what Proverbs 5 teaches. In that passage of Divinely-inspired wisdom God provides a true strategy for how men can turn from faithless sex with a forbidden woman to faithful sex with their wonderful wife. This one is a wonderful strategy because it provides practical ways that a man can turn a fixation with pornography into delight in the wife God has given to him.”
BCC: “Can you give an introduction to the idea you discuss in chapter one about Christians’ need to change the default result of moral failure from that of mental punishment? What is a biblical alternative?”
HL: “I identify ‘mental punishments’ as one of the more typical ways that men respond to the moral failure of pornography. After they look at pornography so many men just chew themselves up preaching at themselves about how awful they are. The problem with this response is that it is self-centered rather than Christ-centered and it doesn’t help men have a transaction with the gospel.
The solution to mental punishments is repentance, where men confess their sins to Jesus. In such a confession they state what they did and ask for Jesus’ grace to forgive them. This is what the Bible commends because it gets us outside of ourselves, thinking about who Jesus is, and connecting us to his resources that alone lead to change.”
BCC: “Thank you for crafting this gospel-centered book that provides a great example of highlighting ‘gospel indicatives’ and ‘gospel imperatives’ so that the gospel is applied to life.”