In the past couple of years I have read several books written for men to address the issue of sexual purity. I have found these books useful to varying degrees. The solutions that authors suggest to deal with this issue—which, as far as I know, is common to all men—vary greatly. Some books forbid men to engage in even a single look at an attractive woman to whom a man is not married. Some books teach a process of "bouncing" the eyes whereby men learn to avert their gaze from any feminine beauty other than the one to whom they are married. Some teach what is little more than the repetition of mantras—a Bible verse a man can repeat when he sees an attractive woman.
Hedges, by Jerry Jenkins, does not fit any of those categories.
Jenkins, best known as half of the writing team which brought the world the Left Behind series, is a gifted writer. His book is fun, easy-to-read and will connect with the average man. The book is premised on Paul’s admonition to Timothy, found in 2 Timothy 2:22 that he "flee youthful lusts." Jenkins tells us that this verse teaches that "We are to run. To flee. To get out. To get away." (page 45). He believes that God does not give victory over lust in the same way he allows victory over other sins, such as temper, greed and pride. While we can learn to avoid stealing, gossip and lying, Jenkins contends that no man will avoid a peek at pornography if he was convinced that no one would find out.
And this is where his book varies from the rest of the seventy or eighty titles on the bookstore shelves that share this theme. All the other books (or at least all the ones that I have read) teach that men can gain a victory over this sin. The problem is, that many of them teach technique that in reality tries to convince us that we can win the victory if only we repeat the proper Bible verses and learn to bounce our eyes.
Jenkins' solution to sexual temptation is to realize that we cannot avoid being tempted, to learn to appreciate beauty, and to plant hedges around us to guard against sexual sin. He teaches that the first look is not sinful. There is nothing inherently evil in a man looking at a woman and appreciating her beauty.
I know that some people may laugh at my notion of looking at women to appreciate God's creativity and would accuse me of inventing a spiritual reason to leer. I maintain that after years of steeling myself to avert my eyes from something made attractive by God, developing an appreciation for it is far healthier. Clearly it would be wrong to gawk and dwell upon some stranger’s beauty, especially when I have vowed before God and man to put my wife ahead of all others. Dianna knows that I am attracted to pretty women (she is one, after all). She also knows that I know they are off-limits and that even entertaining a lustful thought is wrong... My gaze doesn’t linger and my thoughts stay in check." (page 50)
Thus the first look, a glance which appreciates a form God made deliberately to appeal to men, is fine. It is the second look, designed to soak in details and provoke lustful thoughts, that is forbidden.