By Alicia Doyle

The Writer
Specializing in Good News
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Church to give men a program on purity

Ventura County Star

Hoping to enable men to live more pure lives, leaders of a Newbury Park church will host a program designed to show men how to honor women and to repel temptations the leaders see as denigrating females, such as pornography.

Presented by Pure Life Ministries, the Men of Purity Weekend is scheduled in two parts, on Friday evening and on Jan. 12, at Newbury Park's EVFree Church.

The event aims to bring men into the presence of God and equip them with divine answers, said keynote speaker Justin Carabello, director of program development at Pure Life Ministries.

The Men of Purity Weekend began in 2001, when Pure Life Ministries saw the need for an event that would afford a chance to address sexual immorality in society in general and particularly in the church, Carabello said.

For him, the weekend will provide an opportunity to share challenges he personally has faced and overcome.

"I've come out of my own 13-year battle with sexual sin and for the past nine years, because of the grace and mercy of God, have lived victorious over those temptations," said Carabello, who came to Pure Life after losing his wife and his teaching job because of his self-professed addiction to women in massage parlors and escort services. Now, Carabello said, he understands what it's like to be bound by sin, and what it takes to live a life of freedom.

"Because of that, I am able to connect with the men on a very real and down-to-earth level and offer them answers that have worked in my own life," Carabello said.

A main aspect of the event will involve going to Scripture for answers, he emphasized.

"This isn't an event that's based on some techniques that are going to help make some behavioral changes in men's lives," Carabello said. "It's based on the Holy Scriptures, which when applied have the power to completely transform a man's life.

"This event isn't about passing on some information. It's a time for men to come in direct contact with the presence and power of God."

Specific strategies

The weekend will address issues of sexuality and pornography in today's society, and offer specific strategies for men to repel and overcome the temptations to participate in this sexual sin, said Ben Griffes of Thousand Oaks, director of men's ministries at EVFree Church.

"This is unique because it is led by a man who understands what it is like to be addicted to sexual sin, speaks in relevant terms how we men can avoid falling into the trap of sexual sin (and) will challenge us men to live more holy lives and learn how to honor and protect the women in our lives," Griffes said.

This is particularly vital in a time when pornography and the sex-driven media culture objectifies women, Carabello said.

"Just take a look at all your major women's magazines," he said. "The message is, Hey gals, your body is the most important thing you possess.'

"Well, that's a lie and the Christian faith highly esteems women and places them in a very honorable role in the fabric of society and family," he said. "Because our culture has taught our men to see women for what they can get out of them, we're going to focus on turning that around."

An honorable man looks at a woman as someone to esteem, to value, to give to, to cherish and to protect, Carabello stressed. "He places her concerns and interests above his in his relationship with her. The cultivation of this perspective is a byproduct of the message we'll be bringing to the men who attend the event."

Rejecting the sexualization

Griffes added that if Christian men cannot honor and respect women by rejecting the sexualization of women in today's society, there will continue to be a downward spiral of moral degradation now affecting today's youth.

"Young men must learn how to stand fast against the daily temptations of indulging in sexual fantasy, and their fathers and other important men in their life need to learn how to teach them to be purer in their walk with God," Griffes said. "Participants can expect to come away with a greater awareness of how our society views women, how pervasive it is in our own lives, and some strategies for handling one's own personal sexual temptations."

Designed for "the average guy in church," the event is not geared specifically toward men with serious problems, though it will be a catalyst to change for those who are struggling, Carabello said.

"Since we all have to live with the reality of sexual temptation, the event is aimed at men in general," he said.

For those who are struggling with sexual sin, he said he expects this to be an event that will bring them to a place of repentance and a new start.

"It won't be a cure-all, but it will be an opportunity for a new beginning," he said. "For those who are not in habitual sin but are dealing with the reality of the culture, they'll walk away better equipped to live above it, to please God with their lives."

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