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Archive for the ‘Sexuality’ Category

7 Things to Remember About Sex

SOURCE:  Family Life Ministry/Bob Lepine

Your spouse approaches intimacy much differently than you.

It’s no surprise that many husbands and wives think differently about sex. And these differences can easily become a source of conflict in marriage.

With that in mind, I want to suggest seven things men need to remember about sex and seven things wives need to keep in mind as well:

What husbands should remember about sex

1. Hollywood sex is made up. It’s a fantasy. The people in romantic scenes in movies are actors. Don’t try to measure your marital sex against what you see in a romantic film.

2. Sex is probably (but not necessarily) a lower priority for your wife than it is for you. Are you as committed to meeting her needs and desires as you’d like her to be with your desire for sex? Could you even name her top three relationship needs? Here is one of them …

3. Your wife needs a safe and secure relationship. In order for her to engage in sex with heart and mind and body, she needs to know that you will be there for her, that you are committed to her, and that she is your one and only.

4. Your wife wants to have sex with a companion, not with someone who simply shares her mailing address. If you’re not spending time having fun together in all kinds of settings, she’s going to be less motivated to be with you sexually.

5. You don’t need to have an affair to be an unfaithful husband. Whether you look at pornography or at other women, the Bible makes it clear that any lust for a woman who is not your wife is adultery.

6. There is no secret formula to arousal. If you think you have found a secret formula, and you attempt to repeat the recipe, your wife will change the secret. Women don’t want to be figured out. They also don’t want to be manipulated.

7. Your wife is insecure about her physical beauty. She sees all the flaws. Watch what you say to her.

What wives should remember about sex

1. Sex is God’s idea. He created it and gave it as a good gift to husbands and wives in marriage. It is a key part of His plan for how we become one in marriage.

2. For most men, sex is a big deal—and it’s not because men are perverted or ungodly. God delights when a husband and wife enjoy marital intimacy.

3. How you respond to your husband when he initiates sex is critical. To be uninterested can communicate a lack of respect and honor for him. I’m not saying you need to say yes every time he initiates. But when you say no, explain why in a way that still affirms your desire for him.

4. Sex is a marital discipline. It’s a part of how we serve each other in marriage. It is wrong for a wife to use sex as a reward or a lack of sex as punishment. The Bible clearly teaches that husbands and wives are not to deprive each other in this area.

5. Men are visually oriented. No matter how you see yourself, he is stimulated by sight. Again, God is the One who made men with a desire to see women naked. And the only legitimate way for your husband to satisfy this God-given desire is for you to let him see you naked.

6. Men in romance novels and soap operas are made up. The strong, sensitive, caring men portrayed in most romance novels are fictional characters. No husband can live up to the near perfection an author presents.

7. Creativity is good. The Bible says that the marriage bed is undefiled. This means that a husband and wife have freedom to explore what brings them pleasure and enjoyment in the sexual arena of marriage. Neither of you should be pressured to do something you’re uncomfortable with in the sexual relationship. But passion can be stirred by variety and creativity in the sexual relationship.

How to Ruin Your Sex Life in 10 Easy Steps

Sex can be uncomfortable for married couples to talk about. Quite frankly, it’s uncomfortable to write about as well!

But haven’t you found that the hard-to-talk-about stuff is what really needs discussion?

In our current culture, there’s a lot of conversation centered on having a “great” sex life. Pick up any copy of CosmopolitanGQ, or similar magazines, and you can read all the different ways you could be having sex, where you should be having sex, and even more ways to “spice up” your sex life. (I’m not even sure everything they mention is legal in all 50 states.)

But one thing these articles rarely touch on is how easy it is to ruin your sex life.

It’s true. While we have to put some effort into maintaining a great (or even good) sex life, it takes little energy, time, or even thought to take your bedroom romps from great to nonexistent.

In fact, you could be ruining your sexual intimacy right now and have no idea. Scary, huh?

Here are 10 easy ways to ruin your sex life. No crazy tricks, literally zero effort required. And please, feel free to embrace the sarcasm.

1. Let the kids sleep in the middle.

Not just during the occasional thunderstorm. I mean any time those sweet little faces want to snuggle up with mom and dad for the night.

Besides, you did purchase the king-size bed. You’ll find a time/place for sex later. You said “I do” forever, but the kids are only little for so long, right?

2. Forget foreplay.

You’ve already given her the look. The one that says with no uncertainty that it’s time to head to the bedroom.

Yes, she was in the middle of washing the dishes, but you’re ready to go. Your spouse should be, too. Isn’t that foreplay? Besides, it’s already 10:30 p.m. and the alarm’s set for 5 a.m. Who has time for this?

3. Prioritize your hobbies above your spouse.

After all the hours you put in at work (or home with the kids), you deserve time to yourself on the weekends. You’re not saying video games/golf/girls night is more important than time with your spouse, it’s just more relaxing. And you need regular time doing these things to be a better partner, anyway.

4. Don’t engage in conversation with your spouse.

It’s been a long day, and it takes too much energy to engage in a lengthy discussion. Please, can we just relax and turn the TV on already? Better yet, escape into social media. Knowing what’s going on in everyone else’s lives helps distract you from your own.

5. Use pornography.

At least you aren’t having an actual affair. Sometimes pornography even helps get you in the mood, right? At least that’s what you’ve heard.

If videos aren’t your thing, ladies, grab the latest copy of one of the Shades of Grey books. Word porn works well, too.

6. Fantasize about someone else.

He’ll never know you’re really thinking about Justin Timberlake. Unless you accidentally say his name. (Make a mental note about that.)

Fellas, as long as you don’t tell your wife you’re thinking about the waitress from the other night, no harm done.  Surely, all these fantasies are a harmless way to escape the issues at home. Again, at least you aren’t having an affair.

7. Flirt openly.

With anyone other than your spouse, that is. But it’s not really flirting if you have no intentions to actually have an affair, right? It’s fun and harmless. Besides, it feels good to know someone thinks you’re witty and interesting.

8. Criticize or nag your spouse.

Seriously, what does she do all day? Not laundry, apparently. She always asks what you’re thinking, so tell her.

And you’ve repeatedly told him you need some help around the house. So it should be no surprise you just yelled “Help me!” at him for the fifth time today.

9. Don’t take on your spouse’s burdens.

Sure, they might be overwhelmed, depressed, or stressed out. So are you. You have plenty on your own plate, thank you very much.

10. Don’t talk about your sexual relationship.

Ever. It’s awkward. Some things are just best left unsaid. As long as you’re having sex sometimes you’re doing okay, right?

Right?

Porn Is Not Harmless. It’s Cruel.

SOURCE:  Justin Holcomb

There’s a myth that porn is harmless. “It’s just a few consenting adults, doing what they want with their own bodies,” the thinking goes.

But this simply isn’t true. In reality, pornography is deeply involved in the exploitation of women and children, and it’s destructive to its consumers. Porn is much more than an individual decision—it’s part of a system that preys on women and children, and its viewers are participating in, contributing to, and being shaped by that destructive, enslaving system.

1. Porn fuels the sex trade.

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery, and it’s the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world. Sex trafficking is one of the most profitable forms of trafficking and involves many kinds of sexual exploitation, such as prostitution, pornography, bride trafficking, and the commercial sexual abuse of children. According to the United Nations, sex trafficking brings in an estimated $32 billion a year worldwide. In the United States, sex trafficking brings in $9.5 billion annually. Those numbers are incredible. I’ve written about the sex trade before.

The primary way porn fuels the sex trade is by building the demand. After all, the sex trade consists of supply and demand. The supply is women and children either forced into exploitation at home or lured away from their homes with promises of jobs, travel, and a better life. The average age of girls who enter street prostitution is between 12 and 14—even younger in some developing countries. Traffickers coerce women and children through a variety of recruitment techniques to enter the commercial sex industry in strip clubs, street-based prostitution, and escort services. Thousands of children and women are victimized in this way each year.

The trafficking industry wouldn’t exist without demand.  According to researcher Andrea Bertone, the demand consists of men who feed a “patriarchal world system” that preys on women and children.

2. Porn shapes sexual desires.

Pornography shapes the appetites of men, women, and children to accept and even enjoy the exploitation of women. As Robert Jensen observes:

There are a few basic themes in pornography: (1) All women at all times want sex from all men; (2) women enjoy all the sexual acts that men perform or demand, and; (3) any woman who does not at first realize this can be easily turned with a little force.

It’s important to note that porn isn’t just a “men’s issue,” as 28 percent of people admitting to internet sexual addiction are women. Approximately 9 out of 10 children between the ages of 8 and 16 have viewed porn on the internet. The average age of first internet exposure to porn is 11, and in most cases is unintentional. The largest consumer of internet pornography is 12– to 17-year-old boys.

Porn teaches its consumers that women exist for the pleasure of men and that their purpose is to be degraded and dehumanized for men’s excitement—and that they like it, even if they pretend not to. But this is part of the lie: Countless women in porn are there against their will and are being exploited. According to Jensen, “There is evidence that force and coercion are sometimes used to secure women’s participation . . . that psychological and physical damage is common and that heavy alcohol and drug use are routine.”

3. Porn exploits child sexual abuse victims.

Mary Anne Layden, director of the Center for Cognitive Therapy at the University of Pennsylvania, reports that most women involved in the sex industry are adult survivors of sexual abuse. Research indicates that the number is between 60 percent to 80 percent.

Simply put, most women in the porn industry are adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, and porn perpetuates their exploitation. Additionally, 20 percent of all internet pornography involves children.

4. Porn supports ‘rape culture.’

The physical, emotional, and psychological damage to the women and children in porn is heartbreaking, but equally insidious is porn’s effect on men and society by normalizing the degradation and dehumanization of women. Jensen explains, “As pornography has become more acceptable, both legally and culturally, the level of brutality toward, and degradation of, women has intensified.”

The prevalence of porn means people are becoming desensitized to it, and are seeking out ever harsher, more violent, and degrading images. Even the porn industry is shocked by how much violence the fans want. As one pornography director put it, “People just want it harder, harder, and harder . . . what are you gonna do next?”

Robin Morgan’s phrase “pornography is the theory, rape is the practice” captures the link between the production and consumption of pornography and violence against women and children. The point isn’t that porn causes all viewers to sexually abuse others, but that it creates what some researches call “rape culture” by normalizing, legitimizing, and condoning violence against women and children.

5. Porn hijacks children’s sexuality.

Gail Dines, author of Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality, explains the implications of porn: “We are now bringing up a generation of boys on cruel, violent porn. . . . Given what we know about how images affect people, this is going to have a profound influence on their sexuality, behavior and attitudes toward women.”

Mary Anne Layden argues: “There is evidence that the prevalence of pornography in the lives of many children and adolescents is far more significant than most adults realize, that pornography is deforming the healthy sexual development of these young viewers, and that it is used to exploit children and adolescents.”

6. Porn limits men.

While porn is not just a “men’s issue,” it remains a pervasively male problem. William Struthers, a bio-psychologist, explains the effects on men: “Men seem to be wired in such a way that pornography hijacks the proper functioning of their brains and has a long-lasting effect on their thoughts and lives.”

Porn limits male self-expression and has proven to be psychologically detrimental to some viewers. Frequent pornographic stimulus changes the neurological makeup in the brain—it actually rewires the viewer’s brain.

Everyone in the supply chain, from production to consumption, is participating in the economic juggernaut that is the porn industry, whether they realize it or not. And many of them are unaware of the harm being done to themselves and others. This industry fuels the global sex trade, builds the demand for exploitation, severely distorts sexuality, exploits abuse victims, and normalizes the degradation of women and children.

That’s why porn is much more than a private, individual decision.

Marriage: Scheduling Intimacy

Putting sex on the calendar makes it a date to remember!

(by Jill Savage)

The young mom on the other end of the phone poured out her frustrations. She desired sex, but her husband could care less. As the parents of five, all under the age of six, they rarely found time for each other outside the bedroom, let alone inside. She confessed that she felt they were more like roommates than lovers. I listened with understanding. As a mother of five myself, I know the struggle of keeping our family marriage-centered, not child-centered. I know the difficulties in finding time for just the two of us. And I know the challenge of differing sexual drives.

When she finally paused to catch her breath, I explained some of the strategies Mark and I found to keep our marriage a priority. We talked about creative date ideas, inexpensive childcare options, and the importance of connecting on a daily basis. I asked her if she and her husband ever considered scheduling their sex life. She responded with an awkward silence.

Finally, she laughed and said, “You’re kidding, right? Sex is supposed to be spontaneous. Nobody schedules sex.” Pencil it in-in code!

For 22 years of marriage, Mark and I have been at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to our sex drives. Mark thinks about sex once every 17 seconds. I think about it once every 17 days. And this wasn’t our only marital challenge. Eventually, we found ourselves in a marriage counselor’s office.

Our differing sex drives were just one issue of many in our hurting relationship. During that healing season, we learned some new strategies for communication, conflict resolution, and compromise concerning our sexual differences. That’s when we first discovered the concept of scheduling sex.

At first, just like that young mom, we couldn’t get past the misconception that sex isn’t something to be scheduled. Who says sex should always be spontaneous? Movies, television shows, magazine articles, and romance novels, that’s who! If we’re not careful, we begin to use the media to determine what’s “right” or “normal.” But then, we’re using the wrong measuring stick. We can’t allow our culture or the media to set direction for our relationship. Instead, we need to apply our God-given creativity to find the time and set the strategies to make our sex life within marriage work. Once we were able to grasp that scheduling sex wasn’t such a crazy idea, we put it into place within our partnership. Today, we’re still amazed at the transformation it brings to our physical relationship.

How does planned lovemaking benefit a marriage?

Consider these advantages:

It eliminates “The Ask”

In most marriages, one partner possesses a higher desire than the other and requests sex more often, while his or her partner rarely asks for physical intimacy. For the spouse with a higher desire, the fear of rejection often sets in. One becomes weary of having to ask, or even beg, for sex on a regular basis.

When a couple can agree upon a basic schedule for sex in marriage, it takes the guesswork out. While this still leaves room for occasional spontaneity, it reassures the higher-sex-drive mate that it will happen, and not only that-they know when! Usually, the schedule is less often than the partner with a higher desire would want and more frequent than the partner with a lesser desire may want. Instead, it’s meeting on middle ground.

It increases desire

For the partner with a diminished desire, scheduling sex engages the brain, the largest sex organ in the human body. The brain needs to be clued to prepare the body for a sexual response. Most people who have a lower sexual drive simply don’t think about sex very often. Scheduling jumpstarts this process.

Once sex is on the calendar, it provides a reminder to think about sex, prepares us mentally for being together physically, and primes us to “get in the mood.”

When I complained to a friend about having trouble getting in the mood, she said, “Jill, you’re trying to go from making meatloaf to making love in 30 seconds flat? You can’t do that. You have to have a strategy for going from point A to point B.”

Rarely does the partner with an increased desire need to get “in the mood.” In contrast, the partner with a lesser desire may need to work at it. When sex is on the calendar, though, it serves as a prompt to set strategies in motion. Scheduling sex reminds spouses that they’re working together toward the goal of intimacy, valuing their appointed rendezvous, and doing whatever it takes to make it happen.

It increases anticipation

When lovemaking is kept on the front-burner, it builds anticipation. Both husband and wife begin to prepare for their marital recreation.

Have you ever thought of sex as recreation? It is! God gave us the gift of sex as a form of recreation in our marriage. It’s our own private playground where God intends for us to enjoy physical pleasure.

When sex is on the schedule, we enjoy planning our time together, because we both hold the same goal. We can even become a lifelong learner of giving pleasure to each other. Keeping a couple of Christian sexual technique books on the shelf may develop us into connoisseurs of giving physical pleasure to each other, and it builds anticipation as we think about the next time we’ll be together.

It allows for prime-time planning

He prefers nighttime when he can be romantic. She prefers daytime when she’s not so tired. They decide that twice a week lovemaking is on their calendar-Tuesday at noon (he comes home for lunch and she arranges a sitter for the kids) and Friday at night (after a warm bath and an evening of watching a movie together or going out on a date). This schedule worked well for one couple we mentored.

Most couples not only differ in their desires concerning frequency of sex, but also in the atmosphere that’s conducive to sex. Some struggle with making love anytime children are in the vicinity. Others prefer a certain time of the day. When you put your lovemaking on the calendar, you can work to accommodate those likes/dislikes to meet the needs of both.

It helps couples prepare physically

I used to tease my husband that once we got on a lovemaking schedule, it sure took the pressure off shaving my legs every day! On a serious side, there’s value in preparing yourself physically to make love to your mate. A hot bath or shower, a freshly-shaved body, and some great-smelling lotion often relax us for physical intimacy. It also builds anticipation as you prepare to be with your spouse.

If weariness keeps you from being excited about sex, an early evening nap may be just the key if lovemaking is on the agenda that night. Since some of the guesswork is out of the mix, we can prepare not only mentally, but physically.

It builds trust

If we’re going to commit to lovemaking on a regular basis, we need to honor our word and agreement. When we honor our word, it builds trust and deepens intimacy. On the rare occasion that something prevents your regularly scheduled lovemaking, spouses need to communicate their value of sexual intimacy so they can make alternate plans to meet those physical and emotional needs. This is the key to successfully calendaring your intimacy.

Several weeks after that initial conversation, I spoke with that young mom. Her voice held enthusiasm I hadn’t heard before. I asked her how things were going, and she indicated that she and her husband were working on some new ways to energize and invest in their marriage.

She concluded by saying, “Now don’t bother calling Friday around noon, because no one is going to answer the phone!” I knew that she learned the same secret we learned years ago. While spontaneous sex may have its place in life, scheduling sex always has its place on our calendar!

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Jill Savage (www.jillsavage.org/) serves as the executive director of Hearts at Home (www.hearts-at-home.org). She is the author of four books including Is There Really Sex After Kids? (Zondervan)

Protecting Your Son From Aggressive Girls

SOURCE:  Dennis Rainey/Family Life

We’re seeing a surge in girls taking the initiative with guys at younger and younger ages, and aggressively attempting to lure them into sexual activity.

These experiences led to my book, Interviewing Your Daughter’s Date, which was published in 2007. I received a lot of positive feedback from appreciative dads, but I also got something that I didn’t expect. Quite a few parents contacted me to say, “I really appreciate the helpful advice for raising daughters, but we really need something to help our sons deal with aggressive girls in this sexually-saturated culture.”

Read this mother’s frustration:

I have a very outgoing, charming, attractive 15-year-old son. I have literally been chasing the girls away from the door ever since the seventh grade. The phone calls, identified by caller ID, were left for the answering machine to answer. The aggressiveness and promiscuity of young girls nowadays is beyond words. Their dress is so alluring and inviting to a young man, what’s a guy to do? Moreover, what’s a mom to do?

Another mother wrote after hearing the FamilyLife Today® broadcast we did on my book:

After listening to your “Interviewing Your Daughter’s Date” program today, I’m wondering if you have been on a high school or junior high campus recently. While I agree with your points today, I have a seventh grade son. Let me tell you that the girls are relentless. So aggressive. He’s at a Christian school, and this is a problem. I can only imagine what it may be like elsewhere. Please address this issue.

Back when I was growing up, there were some girls who were called “boy crazy,” but very few were as forward and aggressive as what we’re seeing today. Based on my conversation with parents, and what I’ve seen through research on the internet, I think parents are facing some serious challenges. We’re seeing more girls taking the initiative with guys at younger and younger ages and aggressively attempting to lure them into sexual activity. As I’ve done research on the issue, parents are telling me about groups of girls getting together and targeting young men.

Of course, I’m not talking about all young ladies. But the situation has changed enough in recent years that we need to ask: How can we prepare our teenage sons for dealing with the attention and temptation being thrown at them by some sexually aggressive girls?

What in the world is happening?

What is going on in the hearts of some young girls that causes them to be so assertive? I think there are several reasons for what we are seeing:

First, the culture is supporting it. Movies, television shows, commercials, magazines, books … they all glamorize sex and intimacy and the right of young women to go after whatever it is they think will make them happy.

Second, we have a whole generation of young men who are confused in their own sexual identity. Are they supposed to be sensitive or aggressive? Leaders or helpers? Many young men today are not being taught how to treat a young lady with nobility, dignity, and respect. Many are growing up without a father or male figure to provide guidance. As a result, some of these young men have no idea how they should expect to be treated by a real young lady.

Third, the breakdown of the family has resulted in a whole generation of daughters who have been abandoned. And in the absence of a healthy, emotional attachment to their fathers and mothers, they’re trying to fill their emotional gas tanks with the opposite sex.

Finally, there’s little or no preparation for adolescence occurring among parents of preteens or early teens. This may be the core problem. When you ask parents of preteens how many of them would like their children to have the same experience they had in adolescence, there aren’t many hands that go up. But those same parents often become increasingly detached as their children move into the adolescent years.

Teenagers need training to understand the culture, peer pressure, what’s happening in them with their hormones, and what’s happening with the opposite sex. That’s why we have resources like Passport2Purity®—to help parents ground their children in the Scripture that anchors their hearts to withstand the winds of culture and peer pressure.

Protecting your boys

There are six assumptions you need to make in training and educating your sons in how to handle aggressive girls:

Assumption #1: Young boys are clueless about a lot of what is going on around them. They need to be prepared for the reality of today’s world, and this preparation needs to start while they are still boys. This is why I’d suggest that mothers and fathers talk with their 10- to 12-year-old sons about how they relate to the opposite sex before they face the temptation. There’s a much greater probability of success if you can have these conversations before the hormones hit.

Assumption #2: Aggressive girls will likely come into your son’s life. The problem is that most parents won’t know it, because teenage boys don’t talk about anything. But it could be taking place in your son’s life and he’s just not letting you know, so you have to pursue him in the process.

Assumption #3: You, as a parent, need a proactive plan. That plan will involve fathers and sons, but …

Assumption #4: Moms, that plan needs to involve you. You know how girls think and you can help your son understand girls in ways that a father can’t.

Assumption #5: With a son, this instruction, teaching, and call to accountability doesn’t end with the adolescent years. It continues on into adulthood. (And in my opinion, it doesn’t stop after they get married.) Why? Because there are women who are still preying upon men who are married, and every man needs an older man in his life who is asking him “Remember those conversations we had, Son? You’re a married man now, but that does not exempt you from temptation. How are you doing with that?”

Assumption #6: Your son needs a call to manhood. Ultimately, the call to a young man is to step up and become a noble man, a moral man, a spiritual man, God’s man. You’re going to call your sons as they move through adolescence to step up to maturity and step up to real manhood. And to do that, they need a mother and a father repetitively teaching Scripture and encouraging them as they do take these steps toward maturity.

I think one of the finest illustrations of this is in Proverbs, chapters 5-7. In this passage, the writer was reflecting back on conversations he had with his son about aggressive women. And over and over he basically says, “Listen, my son. Hear my warnings. Embrace what I say, because it’s important.”

The writer concludes the whole passage by saying, “Don’t fool around with her, Son. Don’t go near her. Because she runs a halfway house to hell, and she has your grave clothes and your coffin, Son. Heads up. This is dangerous stuff we’re talking about here” (my paraphrase of Proverbs 7:24-27).

One other Scripture your son should be familiar with, and commit to memory, is 2 Timothy 2:22: “Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”

That passage is equally helpful for young men and young women. And while we’re on the subject, what if you have daughters; how do you keep them from being drawn into this culture of aggressive girls?

Training your daughters

If you are raising a daughter, there are at least four things you should consider:

1. Equip your daughter with a biblical, healthy, God-centered perspective of her sexuality. She needs to understand how her clothes and her behavior affect boys. When girls are too flirty or too friendly with the opposite sex, they need to be told. If you witness this kind of behavior, rehearse it and relive it later on and talk about what it does to guys. Explain what is appropriate in terms of a friendly relationship between a young lady and a young man. This needs to be done without being rude, but we cannot let our daughters get away with being overly friendly or overly aggressive.

2. Moms, model what you teach to your daughters. You need to dress appropriately, the way you would want your teenage daughters to dress when they’ve matured. There is a mixed signal that is sent when a mom is telling her daughter to dress conservatively, but her own clothes call too much attention to her body.

3. Dads, actively love your daughters. Give your daughter words of affection, warm hugs, and gentle kisses that let her know that she’s sweet, you’re her daddy, and that no matter how big she gets and how mature she is, you’re never going to stop giving her those words and those hugs. No matter how threatening that may be as your daughter matures, you need to let her know that there’s a wholesome love through words and affection that occurs within a God-centered family.

4. Appropriately correct inappropriate behavior. Pray about how you should instruct her, help her, and correct her. Then begin to train her as to what is appropriate and what isn’t. This could be everything from how she looks at guys, to the makeup she wears, to the clothing she wears.

One of the most important things I did with our daughters was to go shopping with them. It was important for two reasons: First, it showed me how difficult it was for them to find appropriate clothing that is modest and fashionable; and second, it allowed me to give my approval or disapproval before the purchase was made.

Whether you’re a mom or dad, and whether you’re raising boys or girls, your children need your love and guidance as never before. They need to be loved when they don’t believe in themselves. They need to be clothed in wisdom that morally protects them like armor.

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For more help on this topic, order Dennis Rainey’s book  Aggressive Girls, Clueless Boys: 7 Conversations You Must Have with Your Son.

Chastity by C.S. Lewis

SOURCE:  Taken from the book by  C. S. Lewis/Mere Christianity

We must now consider Christian morality as regards sex, what Christians call the virtue of chastity…..

Chastity is the most unpopular of the Christian virtues. There is no getting away from it: the old Christian rule is, “Either marriage, with complete faithfulness to your partner, or else total abstinence.” Now this is so difficult and so contrary to our instincts, that obviously either Christianity is wrong or our sexual instinct, as it now is, has gone wrong. One or the other. Of course, being a Christian, I think it is the instinct which has gone wrong.

But I have other reasons for thinking so. The biological purpose of sex is children, just as the biological purpose of eating is to repair the body. Now if we eat whenever we feel inclined and just as much as we want, it is quite true that most of us will eat too much: but not terrifically too much. One man may eat enough for two, but he does not eat enough for ten. The appetite goes a little beyond its biological purpose, but not enormously. But if a healthy young man indulged his sexual appetite whenever he felt inclined, and if each act produced a baby, then in ten years he might easily populate a small village. This appetite is in ludicrous and preposterous excess of its function.

Or take it another way. You can get a large audience together for a strip-tease act–that is, to watch a girl undress on the stage. Now suppose you came to a country where you could fill a theatre by simply bringing a covered plate on to the stage and then slowly lifting the cover so as to let everyone see, just before the lights went out, that it contained a mutton chop or a bit of bacon, would you not think that in that country something had gone wrong with the appetite for food? And would not anyone who had grown up in a different world think there was something equally queer about the state of the sex instinct among us?

One critic said that if he found a country in which such strip-tease acts with food were popular, he would conclude that the people of that country were starving. He means, of course, to imply that such things as the strip-tease act resulted not from sexual corruption but from sexual starvation. I agree with him that if, in some strange land, we found that similar acts with mutton chops were popular, one of the possible explanations which would occur to me would be famine. But the next step would be to test our hypothesis by finding out whether, in fact, much or little food was being consumed in that country. If the evidence showed that a good deal was being eaten, then of course we should have to abandon the hypothesis of starvation and try to think of another one. In the same way, before accepting sexual starvation as the cause of the strip-tease, we should have to look for evidence that there is in fact more sexual abstinence in our age than in those ages when things like the strip-tease were unknown. But surely there is no such evidence. Contraceptives have made sexual indulgence far less costly within marriage and far safer outside it than ever before, and public opinion is less hostile to illicit unions and even to perversion than it has been since Pagan times. Nor is the hypothesis of “starvation” the only one
we can imagine. Everyone knows that the sexual appetite, like our other appetites, grows by indulgence. Starving men may think much about food, but so do gluttons; the gorged, as well as the famished, like titillations.

Here is a third point. You find very few people who want to eat things that really are not food or to do other things with food instead of eating it. In other words, perversions of the food appetite are rare. But perversions of the sex instinct are numerous, hard to cure, and frightful. I am sorry to have to go into all these details, but I must. The reason why I must is that you and I, for the last twenty years, have been fed all day long on good solid lies about sex. We have been told, till one is sick of hearing it, that sexual desire is in the same state as any of our other natural desires and that if only we abandon the silly old Victorian idea of hushing it up, everything in the garden will be lovely. It is not true. The moment you look at the facts, and away from the propaganda, you see that it is not.

They tell you sex has become a mess because it was hushed up. But for the last twenty years it has not been hushed up. It has been chattered about all day long. Yet it is still in a mess. If hushing up had been the cause of the trouble, ventilation would have set it right. But it has not. I think it is the other way round. I think the human race originally hushed it up because it had become such a mess. Modern people are always saying, “Sex is nothing to be ashamed of.” They may mean two things. They may mean “There is nothing to be ashamed of in the fact that the human race reproduces itself in a certain way, nor in the fact that it gives pleasure.” If they mean that, they are right. Christianity says the same.

It is not the thing, nor the pleasure, that is the trouble. The old Christian teachers said that if man had never fallen, sexual pleasure, instead of being less than it is now, would actually have been greater. I know some muddle-headed Christians have talked as if Christianity thought that sex, or the body, or pleasure were bad in themselves. But they were wrong. Christianity is almost the only one of the great religions which thoroughly approves of the body–which believes that matter is good, that God Himself once took on a human body, that some kind of body is going to be given to us even in Heaven and is going to be an essential part of our happiness, our beauty, and our energy. Christianity has glorified marriage more than any other
religion: and nearly all the greatest love poetry in the world has been produced by Christians. If anyone says that sex, in itself, is bad, Christianity contradicts him at once. But, of course, when people say, “Sex is nothing to be ashamed of,” they may mean “the state into which the sexual instinct has now got is nothing to be ashamed of.” If they mean that, I think they are wrong. I think it is everything to be ashamed of.

There is nothing to be ashamed of in enjoying your food: there would be everything to be ashamed of if half the world made food the main interest of their lives and spent their time looking at pictures of food and dribbling and smacking their lips. I do not say you and I are individually responsible for the present situation. Our ancestors have handed over to us organisms which are warped in this respect: and we grow up surrounded by propaganda in favor of unchastity. There are people who want to keep our sex instinct inflamed in order to make money out of us. Because, of course, a man with an obsession is a man who has very little sales-resistance. God knows our situation; He will not judge us as if we had no difficulties to overcome.

What matters is the sincerity and perseverance of our will to overcome them. Before we can be cured we must want to be cured. Those who really wish for help will get it; but for many modern people even the wish is difficult. It is easy to think that we want something when we do not really want it. A famous Christian long ago told us that when he was a young man he prayed constantly for chastity; but years later he realized that while his lips had been saying, “Oh Lord, make me chaste,” his heart had been secretly adding, “But please don’t do it just yet.” This may happen in prayers for other virtues too; but there are three reasons why it is now especially difficult for us to desire–let alone to achieve–complete chastity.

In the first place our warped natures, the devils who tempt us, and all the contemporary propaganda for lust, combine to make us feel that the desires we are resisting are so “natural, so “healthy,” and so reasonable, that it is almost perverse and abnormal to resist them. Poster after poster, film after film, novel after novel, associate the idea of sexual indulgence with the ideas of health, normality, youth, frankness, and good humor. Now this association is a lie. Like all powerful lies, it is based on a truth–the truth, acknowledged above, that sex in itself (apart from the excess and obsessions that have grown round it) is “normal” and “healthy” and all the rest of it. The lie consists in the suggestion that any sexual act to which you are tempted at the moment is also healthy and normal. Now this, on any conceivable view, and quite apart from Christianity, must be nonsense. Surrender to all our desires obviously leads to impotence, disease, jealousies, lies, concealment, and everything that is the reverse of health, good humor, and frankness. For any happiness, even in this world, quite a lot of restraint is going to be necessary; so the claim made by every desire, when it is strong, to be healthy and reasonable, counts for nothing. Every sane and civilized man must have some set of principles by which he chooses to reject some of his desires and to permit others. One man does this on Christian principles, another on hygienic principles, another on sociological principles. The real conflict is not between Christianity and “nature,” but between Christian principle and other principles in the control of “nature.” For “nature” (in the use of natural desire) will have to be controlled anyway, unless you are going to ruin your whole life. The Christian principles are, admittedly, stricter than the others; but then we think you will get help towards obeying them which you will not get towards obeying the others.

In the second place, many people are deterred from seriously attempting Christian chastity because they think (before trying) that it is impossible. But when a thing has to be attempted, one must never think about possibility or impossibility. Faced with an optional question in an examination paper, one considers whether one can do it or not: faced with a compulsory question, one must do the best one can. You may get some marks for a very imperfect answer: you will certainly get none for leaving the question alone. Not only in examinations but in war, in mountain climbing, in learning to skate, or swim, or ride a bicycle, even in fastening a stiff collar with cold fingers, people quite often do what seemed impossible before they did it. It is wonderful what you can do when you have to.

We may, indeed, be sure that perfect chastity–like perfect charity–will not be attained by any merely human efforts. You must ask for God’s help. Even when you have done so, it may seem to you for a long time that no help, or less help than you need, is being given. Never mind. After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up, and try again. Very often what God first helps us towards is not the virtue itself but just this power of always trying again. For however important chastity (or courage, or truthfulness, or any other virtue) may be, this process trains us in habits of the soul which are more important still. It cures our illusions about ourselves and teaches us to depend on God. We learn, on the one hand, that we cannot trust ourselves even in our best moments, and, on the other, that we need not despair even in our worst, for our failures are forgiven. The only fatal thing is to sit down content with anything less than perfection.

Finally, though I have had to speak at some length about sex, I want to make it as clear as I possibly can that the center of Christian morality is not here. If anyone thinks that Christians regard unchastity as the supreme vice, he is quite wrong. The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are least bad of all sins. All the worst pleasures are spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronizing and spoiling sport, and back-biting: the pleasures of power, of hatred. For there are two things inside me, competing with the Human self which I must try to become. They are the Animal self, and the Diabolical self. The Diabolical self is the worse of the two. That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better to be neither.

Mere Christianity, 1945

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Sensual Temptation: RUN!

SOURCE:  Chuck Swindoll/Insight for Living

Run for Your Life!

The appeal of sensual lust works like a magnet, drawing two “sudden and fierce” forces toward each other—inner desire and an outer bait.

Let’s face it, you can’t escape the bait if you live in the real world. In fact, even if you somehow manage to shut yourself away from the real world, your mind will not let you escape the outer bait. But keep in mind that there is no sin in the bait. The sin is in the bite. When the lust of another tempts you to give in to your own lust, so much so that your resistance weakens, you have been enticed. You have given in to the lure of temptation. The secret of victory is modeled beautifully by Joseph. He refused to weaken. He continued to resist.

Potiphar’s wife dropped the bait day after day after day. And each time Joseph refused to take it. “No, no, no!” he replied. Not only did he not listen to her, it got to where he did not even want to be near her. She was not safe to be around.

Joseph had rebuffed her time and time again, refusing to yield to her advances. Finally, she set a trap for him.

Joseph had come into the house to do his work one day. He noticed the house was quiet. There were no servants nearby. She was alone with Joseph in the house, and she again made her move. Only this time she would not take no for an answer. She went beyond verbal advances and physically grabbed hold of Joseph. She held on so tightly that when he jerked away from her and dashed out into the street, he left his outer robe in her hands.

What a clear image! What a practical spotlight on truth from Joseph’s life. What strong biblical counsel.

Whenever the New Testament lingers on the subject of sensual temptation, it gives us one command: RUN!

It does not tell us to reason with it. It does not tell us to think about it and claim verses. It tells us to FLEE!

I have discovered you cannot yield to sensuality if you’re running away from it. So? Run for your life! Get out of there! If you try to reason with lust or play around with sensual thoughts, you will finally yield. You can’t fight it.

That’s why the Spirit of God forcefully commands, “Run!”

 

Female Sex Addict: Not an Oxymoron

SOURCE:  Katelyn Beaty/Christianity Today

Biblical scholars have yet to determine if the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11) was a sex addict. But Nashville-based clinical therapist Marnie Ferree says the woman’s shame and social status make her an apt archetype for women struggling with sex addiction. For one, women sex addicts often face a double dose of shame because they believe they as women aren’t supposed to have sexual sin. And because the number of female addicts is relatively small (expert Patrick Carnes estimates 3 percent of the U.S. population, with male addicts composing 8 percent), few books and recovery groups are available. “I tell some of my colleagues, such as Mark Laaser, ‘you wrote a great book, but the pronouns are wrong,’ ” says Ferree.

Thankfully, the story of the adulterous woman in John’s gospel reminds sex addicts that not even their deepest secret is outside Christ’s healing touch. Ferree knows this from personal experience, because she is a recovering sex addict—something she hid for 20 years until an HPV diagnosis in 1990 brought it to light and kick-started her recovery. Today, alongside her husband of 29 years, Ferree runs Bethesda Workshops, which aims to provide “Christian treatment for sex addiction recovery.” Their dramatic story appears in No Stones: Women Redeemed from Sexual Addiction, Ferree’s immensely practical, deeply biblical book for female sex addicts, out this month from InterVarsity Press. Ferree spoke recently with Her.meneutics editor Katelyn Beaty.

What is sex addiction? How is it different from, say, porn addiction?

There’s no difference between porn addiction and sex addiction. Sex addiction is an umbrella term; the particular form of acting out, whether it’s pornography, affairs, sex chat rooms, prostitutes, picking up people in bars, is immaterial. These are all just one manifestation.

The main characteristics of sex addiction (and any addiction, for that matter) are

Obsession: the behavior becomes the organizing principle of life. The addict is obsessed with acting out, trying to hide the acting out, and figuring out when she can act out again.

Compulsion: continuing behavior in spite of your best efforts to stop. You keep doing what you don’t want to do.

Continuing despite adverse consequences: you continue behavior that clearly isn’t in your best interest. You pay a price for your behavior (in terms of relationships, jobs, shame) and yet you keep doing it.

Several times you describe female sex addiction as an intimacy disorder: the search for “love, touch, affirmation, affection, and approval.” Is male sex addiction also at root an intimacy disorder?

Yes, absolutely.

Doesn’t that challenge some assumptions about male sex addicts, that what they seek is the physical sexual release?

To be clear, there’s no doubt that [the desire for physical sex] is a powerful force, and some women really just like sex. And some men really just like sex. And it’s still bigger than that. That’s where the Christian framework differs from our clinical colleagues and the professional associations that deal with this issue, because for a Christian, genital-based sex is not enough. Even if it’s just with your husband, God longs for us to have so much more than genital-based sex. That one-flesh union is spiritual and emotional and [about] companionship and fun and recreation, and God longs for us to have so much more than orgasms. So even someone who has a higher sex drive than others—and there is some validity to that concept, they are wired differently—but still on a continuum, it’s a pretty narrow one. It’s not nearly that wide of a continuum.

At many points in No Stones, the language of addiction reminded me of alcoholism. How does sex addiction compare with other addictions?

Many addictionists consider sex addiction, along with food addiction, a core addiction. They are core because they are central to who we are and to survival. Obviously you can never drink alcohol or smoke a cigarette, and you’ll be fine. But you do have to eat, and we’re made as sexual beings—that doesn’t mean we have to have sex, but sexuality is part of who we are and our automatic nervous system response. That makes recovery from either one of those significantly harder. A sex addict is, neurochemically speaking, constantly carrying within her own body her drug.

Is sex addiction best understood as sin or as a neurological disease?

The answer is yes. Unquestionably this is sinful behavior. There’s no getting around that or trying to make excuses. And it does follow a disease model in terms of having predictable neurochemistry involved, predictable withdrawal involved, and being progressive without intervention.

In terms of the mental illness category, sex addiction is what’s known as an attachment disorder. Attachment describes a person’s experience with early caregivers and how well the child “attaches” to her parents. When parents aren’t attuned to the child’s needs, when they fail to make eye contact with her, when they don’t touch her affectionately, when they don’t respond to her verbal cues—the child doesn’t bond adequately with her parents. She doesn’t develop the sense that the world is a safe place and others will be there for her and take care of her needs. These early experiences (especially those before age 5) imprint the child emotionally and even neurochemically. Sex addiction is rooted in attachment failures, which is why it’s often described as an intimacy disorder. A woman doesn’t learn from her parents about healthy intimacy, and she tries to fill that in unhealthy ways.

How would you advise a single Christian sex addict to proceed in recovery?

Bless her heart. It is hard. I think obviously to proceed in integrity and holiness, I think to really focus on her healthy relationships, and they can be of opposite gender, but to be certain about what’s driving them and what the foundation is. And I think to embrace her sexuality, and by that I mean to be very aware of and in touch with her feminine side, whether that’s her appearance or her creative side or her athletic side. To really be a whole person and not just focus on “Well I’ve gotta find a man.”

What do sex addicts need most from the people who love them?

They need loved ones to educate themselves about sex addiction, especially about women. They need to understand the extraordinary challenge that the female sex addict is facing. Second, female sex addicts need their loved ones to be working on themselves. My husband would say that he enabled me for years by his passivity. I’m still totally responsible for what I did, but it sure would have helped had he been healthy enough to put his foot down and say, “I am not going to live with a wife who is unfaithful to me.” That’s what I mean by doing their own work: setting healthy boundaries, learning themselves how to address their own attachments and the impact they have had in their own life.

Is It True That Jesus Never Addressed Same-Sex Marriage?

SOURCE:  Family Life/Daniel Akin

According to the Scriptures, Jesus spoke clearly about sex and marriage, and about issues of the heart.

Today it is popular among those promoting same-sex marriage to say that Jesus never addressed the issue, that He was silent on the subject.

Those who affirm the historical and traditional understanding of marriage between a man and woman often are admonished to go and read the Bible more carefully. If we do so, we are told, we will see that Jesus never addressed the issue. So, the question that I want to raise is, “Is this assertion correct?” Is it indeed a fact that Jesus never addresses the issue of same-sex marriage?

When one goes to the Gospels to see exactly what Jesus did say, one will discover that He addressed very clearly both the issues of sex and marriage. He addresses both their use and misuse. And, as He speaks to both subjects, He makes it plain that issues of the heart are of critical importance.

What did Jesus say about sex?

Jesus believed that sex is a good gift from a great God. He also believed that sex was a good gift to be enjoyed within a monogamous, heterosexual covenant of marriage. On this He is crystal clear. In Mark 7 Jesus addresses the fact that all sin is ultimately an issue of the heart. Jesus was never after behavioral modification. Jesus was always after heart transformation. Change the heart and you truly change the person.

Thus, when He lists a catalog of sins in Mark 7:21-22, He makes it clear that all of these sins are ultimately matters of the heart. It is the idols of the heart that Jesus is out to eradicate. Among those sins of the heart that often give way to sinful actions He would include both sexual immorality and adultery (Mark 7:21). The phrase “sexual immorality,” in a biblical context, would speak of any sexual behavior outside the covenant of marriage between a man and woman.

Therefore, Jesus viewed premarital sex, adultery, and homosexual behavior as sinful. And He knew that the cure for each is a transformation of the heart made possible by the good news of the gospel. The gospel changes us so that now we are enabled to do not what we want, but what God wants. Here we find real freedom and joy.

What about the issue of marriage?

Is it truly the case that Jesus never spoke to the issue in terms of gender? The answer is a simple no. He gives His perspective on this when He addresses the issue in Matthew 19:4-6. There, speaking to the institution of marriage, Jesus is clear when He says, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

That Jesus was committed to heterosexual marriage could not be more evident. A man is to leave his parents and be joined to a woman who becomes his wife. This is heterosexual marriage. That He also was committed to the permanence and fidelity of marriage is clear as well.

So how might we sum up the issue?

First, Jesus came to deliver all people from all sin. Such sin, He was convinced, originated in and was ultimately a matter of the heart.

Second, Jesus made it clear that sex is a good gift from a great God, and this good gift is to be enjoyed within heterosexual covenantal marriage. It is simply undeniable that Jesus assumed heterosexual marriage as God’s design and plan.

Third, Jesus sees all sexual activity outside this covenant as sinful.

Fourth, it is a very dangerous and illegitimate interpretive strategy to bracket the words of Jesus and read into them the meaning you would like to find. We must not isolate Jesus from His affirmation of the Old Testament as the Word of God nor divorce Him from His first century Jewish context.

The hope found in Jesus

Fifth, and this is really good news, Jesus loves both the heterosexual sinner and the homosexual sinner and promises free forgiveness and complete deliverance to each and everyone who comes to Him.

John 8 tells the story of a woman caught in adultery. The religious legalists want to stone her, but Jesus intervenes and prevents her murder. He then looks upon the woman and, with grace and tenderness, tells her that He does not condemn her.

Then He says to her, “go and sin no more.” In Matthew 11:28 Jesus speaks to every one of us weighed down under the terrible weight and burden of sin. Listen to these tender words of the Savior, “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

This is the hope that is found in Jesus. This is the hope found in the gospel. Whether one is guilty of heterosexual or homosexual sin, one will find grace, forgiveness, and freedom at the foot of the cross where the ground is always level.

When I came to fully trust Jesus as my Lord and Savior at the age of 20, I determined that I wanted to think like Jesus and live like Jesus for the rest of my life. When it comes to sex I want to think like Jesus. When it comes to marriage I want to think like Jesus.

That means I will affirm covenantal heterosexual marriage. It also means loving each and every person regardless of his or her lifestyle choices. It means, as His representative, proclaiming His gospel and extending the transforming grace of the gospel to others that takes us where we are, but wonderfully and amazingly, does not leave us there. That is a hope and a promise that followers of Jesus gladly extend to everyone, because we have been recipients of that same amazing grace.

Does the Bible Say Much About Homosexuality?

SOURCE:  Kevin DeYoung/Family Life

Some suggest that Christians talk too much about something the Bible hardly addresses.  But the Scriptures are clear and consistent on this issue.

The first step in delegitimizing what the Bible says about homosexuality is to suggest that the Bible hardly says anything about homosexuality. In one sense this is true. The Bible is a big book, and the rightness or wrongness of homosexual practice is not at the center of it. If you read through the 1,189 chapters in the Bible and the more than 30,000 verses, you’ll find only a dozen or so passages that deal explicitly with homosexuality.

So does this mean the traditional view of marriage is based on nothing more than a few fragments? Is it fair to say that just six or seven passages have for centuries prevented those engaged in homosexual activity from finding acceptance in the church? Are denominations and families and friendships and organizations and institutions being torn apart because of a small handful of disputed texts concerning a minor issue about which Jesus never even said anything?

Or to ask the question another way: If the Bible says so little about homosexuality, why do Christians insist on talking about it so much?

Let me make six points by way of response.

1. We need to remember that this controversy was not dreamed up by evangelical Christians.

The reason there is so much discussion about issues like abortion, euthanasia, and same-sex marriage is because many have sought to legalize and legitimize actions that were, until 50 years ago, considered immoral and illegal. When it comes to the cultural flash points of our day, it hardly seems wise to avoid talking about what everyone else is talking about.

2. The reason the Bible says comparatively little about homosexuality is because it was a comparatively uncontroversial sin among ancient Jews and Christians.

There is no evidence that ancient Judaism or early Christianity tolerated any expression of homosexual activity. The Bible says a lot about idolatry, religious hypocrisy, economic injustice, and pagan worship because these were common sins for God’s people in both testaments. The Bible talks about bestiality even less than it talks about homosexuality, but that doesn’t make bestiality an insignificant issue—or incest or child abuse or 50 other sins the Bible barely addresses. Counting up the number of verses on any particular topic is not the best way to determine the seriousness of the sin involved.

3. Having said all that, it’s not like the Bible is silent on the issue of homosexual behavior.

It’s explicitly condemned in the Mosaic law (Leviticus) and used as a vivid example of human rebellion in Paul’s most important letter (Romans). It’s listed among a host of other serious vices in two different epistles (1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy). It’s one of the reasons God destroyed the most infamous cities in the Bible (Sodom and Gomorrah). And that’s not even mentioning all the texts about marriage in Genesis, in Proverbs, in Song of Solomon, in Malachi, in Matthew, and in Ephesians.

4. Furthermore, there is nothing ambiguous about the biblical witness concerning homosexual behavior.

Even many revisionist scholars acknowledge that the Bible is uniformly negative toward same-sex activity. The gay Dutch scholar Pim Pronk, after admitting that many Christians are eager to see homosexuality supported by the Bible, states plainly, “In this case that support is lacking.” Although he doesn’t think moral positions must be dependent on the Bible (which is why he can support homosexual behavior), as a scholar he recognizes that “wherever homosexual intercourse is mentioned in Scripture, it is condemned.”

5. It cannot be overstated how seriously the Bible treats the sin of sexual immorality.

Sexual immorality is precisely the sort of sin that characterizes those who will not enter the kingdom of heaven.  There are at least eight vice lists in the New Testament (Mark  7:21-22; Romans 1:24-31; 13:13; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21; Colossians 3:5-9; 1 Timothy 1:9-10; Revelation 21:8), and sexual immorality is included in every one of these. In fact, in seven of the eight lists there are multiple references to sexual immorality (e.g., impurity, sensuality, orgies, men who practice homosexuality), and in most of the passages some kind of sexual immorality heads the lists. You would be hard-pressed to find a sin more frequently, more uniformly, and more seriously condemned in the New Testament than sexual sin.

6. To insist that Jesus never said anything about homosexuality is not really accurate.

Not only did He explicitly reaffirm the creation account of marriage as the one-flesh union of a man and a  woman (Matthew 19:4-6; Mark 10:6-9); He condemned the sin of porneia (Mark 7:21), a broad word encompassing every kind of sexual sin. The leading New Testament lexicon defines porneia as “unlawful sexual intercourse, prostitution, unchastity, fornication.” Likewise, New Testament scholar James Edwards states that porneia “can be found in Greek literature with reference to a variety of illicit sexual practices, including adultery, fornication, prostitution, and homosexuality. In the Old Testament it occurs for any sexual practice outside marriage between a man and a woman that is prohibited by the Torah.”

Jesus didn’t have to give a special sermon on homosexuality because all of His listeners understood that same-sex behavior was prohibited in the Pentateuch and reckoned as one of the many expressions of sexual sin (porneia) off limits for the Jews. Besides all this, there’s no reason to treat Jesus’ words (all of which were recorded by someone other than Jesus) as more authoritative than the rest of the Bible. He affirmed the abiding authority of the Old Testament (Matt. 5:17-18) and understood that His disciples would fill out the true meaning of His person and work (John 14:25-26; 16:12-15; cf. Luke 24:48-49; Acts 1:1-2).

We cannot count same-sex behavior as an indifferent matter. Of course, homosexuality isn’t the only sin in the world, nor is it the most critical one to address in many church contexts. But if 1 Corinthians 6 is right, it’s not an overstatement to say that solemnizing same-sex sexual behavior—like supporting any form of sexual immorality—runs the risk of leading people to hell.

Scripture often warns us—and in the severest terms—against finding our sexual identity apart from Christ and against pursuing sexual practice inconsistent with being in Christ (whether that’s homosexual sin, or, much more frequently, heterosexual sin). When we tolerate the doctrine which affirms homosexual behavior, we are tolerating a doctrine which leads people further from God. This is not the mission Jesus gave His disciples when He told them to teach the nations everything He commanded.

The biblical teaching is consistent and unambiguous: Homosexual activity is not God’s will for His people. Silence in the face of such clarity is not prudence, and hesitation in light of such frequency is not patience. The Bible says more than enough about homosexual practice for us to say something, too.

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Adapted excerpt from What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality? Copyright © 2015 Kevin DeYoung. Published by Crossway.

 

Talking to Your Children About Transgender Issues

SOURCE:  Jeff Johnston/Focus on the Family

Many were surprised when Bruce Jenner started appearing in public with long hair, wearing a dress and then announced his decision to “transition into a woman.” Jenner was an Olympic Decathlon gold medalist, a hero and role model for many in the ’70’s and ’80’s. Yet, now we learn that all along, he believed he was a woman. Photos of Jenner recently published in Vanity Fair magazine were even more shocking.

When confusing events like this are broadcast throughout the culture, Focus on the Family is asked a lot of questions. And we know parents get asked questions, too:

  • Daddy, why does that man want to be a lady?
  • Mom, what does “transgender” mean?
  • Can a boy turn into a girl?
  • Mommy, I’m a girl, but will I ever change into a boy?

Transgenderism — also called “gender dysphoria,” “gender confusion” or “gender identity disorder” — is tough enough for adults to understand. So when our children encounter these gender-confusing messages, what do we say? Most importantly, how do we help them develop a biblical, Christian perspective on this issue?

Focus on the Family wants to help parents navigate this topic, so here are some helpful guidelines and suggestions for addressing transgender issues with your children:

Keep It Simple

Relax. As a parent, you are the authority in your child’s life; but you don’t have to be an expert on every issue — including this one. And even the “experts” really don’t understand this issue. A few years ago, a gay identified psychiatrist was asked about gender confusion and responded, “The truth is we actually don’t know what it is. Is it a mental disorder or does the cause of gender dysphoria lie somewhere else?”    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/08/22/transgender-primer-manning/2687869/

So don’t think you have to understand everything about transgenderism or tell your children everything you know. Here are a few simple truths to communicate:

  • God made humans male and female.
  • Individuals are born either male or female.
  • Some people get hurt and confused, and they don’t like the way God made them.
  • As a result, some people wish they were the opposite sex.
  • Nobody can really change from one sex to the other.

Keep It a Dialogue

Use occasions such as this to connect with your children. Find out what they are learning, where they learned it and what they are thinking. Ask questions, such as:

  • Where did you see that?
  • Where did you hear that word?
  • Why do you think God made both boys and girls?
  • What do you think “transgender” means?
  • Do you think a boy can really turn into a girl?

This isn’t an inquisition but an opportunity to get to know your child better. So keep your tone conversational and friendly.

Older children and teens may have more questions, so we have a list of helpful resources at the end of this article. You might want to read some of these additional resources first, then read and discuss them with an older child.

Keep It Truthful

If you don’t know the answer to a child’s question, say so. Then tell your child you’ll look for an answer. Let’s say your son asks, “Why does he want to be a lady?” The real answer, if we’re honest, is “I don’t know.” None of us know all of the pain and false beliefs in the lives and hearts of persons who struggle with transgender issues.

Nevertheless, Scripture is clear about certain things, and those are what you can communicate to your children:

  • God made us in His image — male and female.
  • Sin entered the world and spoiled everything, including how we see ourselves.
  • God loves us and sent us Son to save us.

God wants us to live in truth about how He created us and who we are. We know God is powerful to save and transform lives — including the gender-confused. Tell your children this truth.

Keep It Kind

God has a deep love for sexually and relationally broken men and women — including those struggling with gender identity issues. These struggles are complicated and touch on deep aspects of our sexuality and being. The topic can provoke some to laughter or mockery, so work to maintain God’s heart for the gender-confused. He loves them with an everlasting lovejust as He loves each of us.

Your children will be watching you for cues about how to respond to gender identity disorder. Pray for God’s heart and for the ability to convey this to your children. Tone and attitude are as important as your words:

  • God loves all of us.
  • God loves men who wish they were women, as well as women who think they are men.
  • We may disagree with someone’s beliefs and choices; however, we can still be kind and loving.
  • We can pray for those who are gender-confused.

Keep It Affirming

When children see a transgender person on the news or on the street, they may feel curious, alarmed, confused or afraid. So when they ask questions about it, they’re not just asking for details about transgenderism. They’re also asking for comfort and affirmation. As a parent, you can respond positively:

  • I’m so glad God made you a girl!
  • I’m happy you’re my child and that you’re a boy.
  • What’s good about being a girl?
  • What’s good about being a boy?

Ask the Lord for wisdom and creativity for how best to affirm your sons in their masculinity and your daughters in their femininity.

Bruce Jenner: “Call me Caitlyn” Dear Bruce: “I Can’t”

SOURCE:  Joe Dallas

I know what you’re asking, and with respect and sadness, I’ve got to say no.

Jenner as Woman

We know you feel that you’ve always been a woman in a man’s body – we saw the interviews and the magazine covers – and we’ve been anticipating photogenic proof of your new identity for months now. Well, as of today, the cat’s out of the bag. Your upcoming Vanity Fair cover shot’s gone viral, and there you are, posed and dressed as a female, saying “Call me Caitlyn.”

But honestly, Bruce, I can’t. If you really don’t care for your prior name, then I could call you other things. Like Accomplished, for sure, and Beloved of God. I’d also go with Valued, as one of the millions Christ died for; Intelligent, from all I’ve seen and heard; and Gifted (there’s a no-brainer!) both in athletics and articulation. I’ll gladly call you all of those, because they fit. But calling you Caitlyn isn’t an option, because I believe that to do so is to join you in a well-orchestrated delusion. I guess to your thinking, Caitlyn’s the real you. But to mine, she’s a
real myth.

Not that you care, and why should you? You’re an icon with a dazzling Olympic resume; I’m an unknown blogger who cheered you on decades ago and today has an opinion contrary to yours. But it’s an opinion shared by millions who hold the old-fashion notion that the sex we’re given at birth is a permanent assignment, not open to renegotiation or refashioning. So speaking as one of many who’ve admired you deeply, but are now bewildered and distressed over your high-profile transition, let me respond to your public request.

I Can’t Because We’re Planned —
The child you were born as became a man who’s trying to become a woman, but who began, in fact, as a boy. And that was no accident.

One of the first things said about any newborn human is a sexual identification – “It’s a boy!”, or, “It’s a girl!” That’s instinctive; nobody teaches us to say that, yet we do because the sex we’re born with is something we both acknowledge
and celebrate.

But more than that, it’s a primary characteristic; a divine and critical distinctive, endowed on each of us by a Creator who knows beforehand who and what we’ll be. (Jeremiah 1:5) And that “what” is foreordained for life.

It’s part of the distinction God Himself created from the beginning, a male/female distinction He placed such high value on when He said, in essence, that the human experience would be incomplete without it. (Genesis 2:18) So the body we’re given at birth, including its male or female status, matters hugely. It’s foreknown, assigned, immutable. Attempting to change it is not only impossible; it’s an affront to the Designer’s competence and selection.

You’ve publicly said, “Bruce lived a lie every day,” and for you to say such a thing, you must really have felt your manhood was, in fact, a falsehood. But isn’t it possible, and really more feasible, to instead see it as an endowment which, for reasons we may not understand, you never felt comfortable with? To my thinking, the lie was the discomfort, not the endowment. Rejecting that very thing which identified you from the womb is what seems to be the ultimate in dishonesty.

— and I Can’t Because What’s Planned Overrides our Passions
I’ll be the first to admit I don’t relate to the transgender experience. I’ve never wished to be anything but male, so I won’t pretend I know what your struggle’s been like in that regard.

And yet, I kinda get it. Because I know what it’s like having people tell you that you are what you are, and that you cannot change what you are, even if you feel you must. That much I understand, because, somewhat like you, I’ve been told I couldn’t change the unchangeable.

31 years ago I repented of homosexual behavior and disowned the identification of “gay.” Three years later I married. Old friends told me I couldn’t change what I was, that my marriage would be a sham, that it would never last, that I was deluded. That was 28 years ago, and both my marriage and the family it produced, though very imperfect, is just about everything to me. It’s certainly more than I ever thought I’d have.

So I get it. I appreciate the need to stand your ground, even when everyone seems to be saying it’s quicksand. But how, really, do we determine the difference?
I think it gets down to how we got here, and Who arranged it. If we as people just happened – no Creator; no plan – then what we feel is the final determinant.

But if we’re created beings, then what matters is not so much what we feel we are, but what our Creator says we are. And conformity to His plan, evidenced both by the sex He assigned us and the standards He’s commissioned us in Scripture, takes priority over what we feel, no matter how passionate and deeply ingrained the feelings may be.

Look at it another way. If I said that all my life I’ve felt like Napoleon Bonaparte, despite all physical and factual evidence to the contrary, and that I was therefore going to modify my body to look like his, you’d logically tell me that my problem was my feelings, not my body. If I protested by saying that I felt Joe Dallas was a lie and Napoleon was the truth, you’d perhaps appreciate how passionately I felt, but you’d still conclude (again, logically) that the problem was my feeling, or my self-concept, or my identity. But not my body. You’d encourage me to see my false belief as a thing to resist rather than indulge. And surely, were I to say, “Call me Napoleon”, you’d pass.

Which is why I, and countless others, will also pass on your request to be called Caitlyn. Because no matter how artfully you reconfigure your male body, it will remain, at best, a re-configured male body. Never female; always the sex you were assigned. And that both bothers and even frightens us, because there are those who made the same decision, came to regret it, and found themselves horribly disillusioned because the drastic move they undertook to solve their conflict didn’t solve it at all.

But who knows where all this is going? There are others who’ve made the decision you made, regretted it, but then reversed it as best they could, finding peace with God and themselves in the process. My fervent prayer is that you become one of them, reclaiming the man you were meant to be while renouncing the falsehood of a woman who – again, with all due respect – I firmly believe you can never become.

“As soon as the Vanity Fair cover comes out I’m free,” you recently said.

Well, God love ya, Bruce, I see it another way. I think your belief in Caitlyn is the vanity. And I hope and trust that as soon as that vanity comes out, and in its place Christ comes in and reigns, then and only then will the myth be put to rest. And that’s when the man so many of us miss will find himself to be truly free.

God’s will be done. We sincerely wish you the best.

 

FIVE QUESTIONS FOR CHRISTIANS WHO BELIEVE THE BIBLE SUPPORTS GAY MARRIAGE

SOURCE:  Kevin DeYoung/The Gospel Coalition

So you’ve become convinced that the Bible supports gay marriage.

You’ve studied the issue, read some books, looked at the relevant Bible passages and concluded that Scripture does not prohibit same-sex intercourse so long as it takes place in the context of a loving, monogamous, lifelong covenanted relationship. You still love Jesus. You still believe the Bible. In fact, you would argue that it’s because you love Jesus andbecause you believe the Bible that you now embrace gay marriage as a God-sanctioned good.

As far as you are concerned, you haven’t rejected your evangelical faith. You haven’t turned your back on God. You haven’t become a moral relativist. You’ve never suggested anything goes when it comes to sexual behavior. In most things, you tend to be quite conservative. You affirm the family, and you believe in the permanence of marriage. But now you’ve simply come to the conclusion that two men or two women should be able to enter into the institution of marriage–both as a legal right and as a biblically faithful expression of one’s sexuality.

Setting aside the issue of biblical interpretation for the moment, let me ask five questions.

1. On what basis do you still insist that marriage must be monogamous?

Presumably, you do not see any normative significance in God creating the first human pair male and female (Gen. 2:23-25; Matt. 19:4-6). Paul’s language about each man having his own wife and each woman her own husband cannot be taken too literally without falling back into the exclusivity of heterosexual marriage (1 Cor. 7:2). The two coming together as one so they might produce godly offspring doesn’t work with gay marriage either (Mal. 2:15). So why monogamy? Jesus never spoke explicitly against polygamy. The New Testament writers only knew of exploitative polygamy, the kind tied to conquest, greed, and subjugation. If they had known of voluntary, committed, loving polyamorous relationships, who’s to think they wouldn’t have approved?

These aren’t merely rhetorical questions. The issue is legitimate: if 3 or 13 or 30 people really love each other, why shouldn’t they have a right to be married? And for that matter, why not a brother and a sister, or two sisters, or a mother and son, or father and son, or any other combination of two or more persons who love each other. Once we’ve accepted the logic that for love to be validated it must be expressed sexually and that those engaged in consensual sexual activity cannot be denied the “right” of marriage, we have opened a Pandora’s box of marital permutations that cannot be shut.

2. Will you maintain the same biblical sexual ethic in the church now that you think the church should solemnize gay marriages?

After assailing the conservative church for ignoring the issue of divorce, will you exercise church discipline when gay marriages fall apart? Will you preach abstinence before marriage for all single persons, no matter their orientation? If nothing has really changed except that you now understand the Bible to be approving of same-sex intercourse in committed lifelong relationships,we should expect loud voices in the near future denouncing the infidelity rampant in homosexual relationships. Surely, those who support gay marriage out of “evangelical” principles, will be quick to find fault with the notion that the male-male marriages most likely to survive are those with a flexible understanding that other partners may come and go. According to one study researched and written by two homosexual authors, of 156 homosexual couples studied, only seven had maintained sexual fidelity, and of the hundred that had been together for more than five years, none had remained faithful (cited by Satinover, 55). In the rush to support committed, lifelong, monogamous same-sex relationships, it’s worth asking whether those supporters–especially the Christians among them–will, in fact, insist on a lifelong, monogamous commitment.

3. Are you prepared to say moms and dads are interchangeable?

It is a safe assumption that those in favor of gay marriage are likely to support gay and lesbian couples adopting children or giving birth to children through artificial insemination. What is sanctioned, therefore, is a family unit where children grow up de facto without one birth parent. This means not simply that some children, through the unfortunate circumstances of life, may grow up without a mom and dad, but that the church will positively bless and encourage the family type that will deprive children of either a mother or a father. So are mothers indispensable? Is another dad the same as a mom? No matter how many decent, capable homosexual couples we may know, are we confident that as a general rule there is nothing significant to be gained by growing up with a mother and a father?

4. What will you say about anal intercourse?

The answer is probably “nothing.” But if you feel strongly about the dangers of tobacco or fuss over the negative affects of carbs, cholesterol, gmo’s, sugar, gluten, trans fats, and hydrogenated soybean oil may have on your health, how can you not speak out about the serious risks associated with male-male intercourse. How is it loving to celebrate what we know to be a singularly unhealthy lifestyle? According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, the risk of anal cancer increases 4000 percent among those who engage in anal intercourse. Anal sex increases the risk of a long list of health problems, including “rectal prolapse, perforation that can go septic, chlamydia, cyrptosporidosis, giardiasis, genital herpes, genital warts, isosporiasis, microsporidiosis, gonorrhea, viral hepatitis B and C, and syphilis” (quoted in Reilly, 55). And this is to say nothing of the higher rates of HIV and other health concerns with disproportionate affects on the homosexual community.

5. How have all Christians at all times and in all places interpreted the Bible so wrongly for so long?

Christians misread their Bibles all the time. The church must always be reformed according to the word of God. Sometimes biblical truth rests with a small minority. Sometimes the truth is buried in relative obscurity for generations. But when we must believe that the Bible has been misunderstood by virtually every Christian in every part of the world for the last two thousand years, it ought to give us pause. From the Jewish world in the Old and New Testaments to the early church to the Middle Ages to the Reformation and into the 20th century, the church has understood the Bible to teach that engaging in homosexuality activity was among the worst sins a person could commit. As the late Louis Crompton, a gay man and pioneer in queer studies, explained:

Some interpreters, seeking to mitigate Paul’s harshness, have read the passage [in Romans 1] as condemning not homosexuals generally but only heterosexual men and women who experimented with homosexuality. According to this interpretation, Paul’s words were not directed at “bona fide” homosexuals in committed relationships. But such a reading, however well-intentioned, seems strained and unhistorical. Nowhere does Paul or any other Jewish writer of this period imply the least acceptance of same-sex relations under any circumstances. The idea that homosexuals might be redeemed by mutual devotion would have been wholly foreign to Paul or any Jew or early Christian. (Homosexuality and Civilization, 114).

The church has been of one mind on this issue for nearly two millennia. Are you prepared to jeopardize the catholicity of the church and convince yourself that everyone misunderstood the Bible until the 1960s? On such a critical matter, it’s important we think through the implications of our position, especially if it means consigning to the bin of bigotry almost every Christian who has ever lived.

No One Is Born Gay

SOURCE:  Charisma News/Dr. Michael Brown

If there were reputable scientific evidence that some people were born homosexual, I would have no problem accepting this. After all, my theology tells me that as human beings, we are all created in God’s image and yet we are a fallen race, and so all of us carry aspects of that fallen nature to the core of our being, and that could theoretically include homosexuality.

But the fact is that there is simply no reputable scientific evidence that anyone is born gay.

As stated by gay activist and history professor John D’Emilio, “‘Born gay’ is an idea with a large constituency, LGBT and otherwise. It’s an idea designed to allay the ingrained fears of a homophobic society and the internalized fears of gays, lesbians and bisexuals. What’s most amazing to me about the ‘born gay’ phenomenon is that the scientific evidence for it is thin as a reed, yet it doesn’t matter. It’s an idea with such social utility that one doesn’t need much evidence in order to make it attractive and credible.”

In other words, because the “born gay” idea has proved so useful, the fact that there’s virtually no scientific support for the theory hardly matters. It’s an idea that has worked wonders for gay activists and their allies.

As noted years ago by gay scientist Simon LeVay, “There [was] a survey in The New York Times that broke down people on the basis of whether they thought gays and lesbians were born that way or whether it was a lifestyle choice. Across the board, those who thought gays and lesbians were born that way were more liberal and gay friendly.”

And so, the argument goes, “If I’m born this way, how can my attractions be wrong? And if I’m born this way, how can you expect me to change?”

Of course, even if no one is born gay, that doesn’t mean that homosexual attractions are not deeply rooted. In most cases, those feelings are very deeply rooted to the point that many gay men and women truly believe they were born gay.

And even if no one is born gay, that doesn’t mean that homosexual attractions are easily changed. In most cases, they are not.

But why base a so-called civil-rights movement on lies? Why not tell the truth?

One of the most gay-friendly professional organizations in our country is the American Psychological Association, and yet even the APA states that, “There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation.”

Similarly, in England, the pro-gay Royal College of Psychiatrists recently backtracked on an earlier statement that homosexuality was biologically determined, now saying that “sexual orientation is determined by a combination of biological and postnatal environmental factors.” And while they stated clearly their belief that homosexuality was not a mental disorder and that it should be accepted, they added, “It is not the case that sexual orientation is immutable or might not vary to some extent in a person’s life.”

That’s why psychiatrist Nathaniel S. Lehrman, former chairperson of the Task Force on Religion and Mental Health said in 2005, “Researchers now openly admit that after searching for more than 20 years, they are still unable to find the ‘gay gene'” (in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons).

Why then do we constantly hear about people being born gay? First, it has worked wonders for gay activism; second, many gays and lesbians believe it to be true, since as far back as they can remember, they felt that they were different.

But political expediency and personal feelings do not change the facts, and those facts remain the same: There is no clear scientific evidence that anyone is born gay

According to lesbian researcher Lisa Diamond, “The queer community has been obsessed with cultivating the idea that we all have fixed sexual identities. We’ve crafted terrific narratives and political platforms based on the notions that all gays are ‘born that way.’ But what if sexuality is more complex? What if biology actually intersects with environment, time, culture and context? Could we possibly be more fluid than we’ve supposed?”

Camille Paglia, a social critic, academic, feminist and lesbian, was even more blunt, famously stating in her book Vamps and Tramps, “Our sexual bodies were designed for reproduction. … No one is born gay. The idea is ridiculous … homosexuality is an adaptation, not an inborn trait.”

Paglia also asked, “Is the gay identity so fragile that it cannot bear the thought that some people may not wish to be gay? Sexuality is highly fluid, and reversals are theoretically possible.”

Remarkably, when a school chaplain in Tasmania, Australia, posted Paglia’s opinion on social media, there was an outcry against him, causing him to issue a public apology: “I’ve made a mistake and learnt from it. I’m deeply sorry for any offence I’ve caused. I was very careless in posting that image for discussion. I will work with my employers to ensure there is no repeat.”

Despite this apology, he was still fired—and the organization he worked for was Christian! That is how toxic today’s climate has become, and yet this chaplain simply posted the accurate reflections of a lesbian academic. How could this be considered hateful or bigoted?

Again, this does not mean that same-sex attractions and desires are not deeply rooted in some people’s lives, nor does it mean that they chose to be gay. (You can choose to act on your attractions but that doesn’t mean you chose to have the attractions.)

It simply means that one of the major gay-activist talking points, one that has even infiltrated parts of the church, is based on lies, not truth.

It’s time we speak the truth in love.  Lies never help anyone in the long run.

Making Sexual Advances Toward Another is OK…IF…

SOURCE: Taken from an article by  Family Life/Barbara Rainey

The Power of a Woman

I have come out to meet you, to seek your presence earnestly, and I have found you. I have spread my couch with coverings, with colored linens of Egypt.
Proverbs 7:15-16

Few things are more abhorrent to me than seeing women make sexual advances toward married men, either on television or in real life. We should recoil at this kind of behavior. But just because flirtation is often corrupt doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with making sexual advances toward one married man — the one you’re already married to.

I believe we can learn something from the powerful woman described in Proverbs 5–7. Although she is an adulteress and would not typically be seen as a positive role model, perhaps there is a pure use of this power when these tactics are directed toward a woman’s own husband.

For example:

  • Her lips “drip honey” and are “smoother than oil” (Proverbs 5:3). There was a time during the dating season when gentle, soothing speech came easily. But now in marriage, it’s all too easy to gripe and complain. Words are powerful. Use yours well, and you’ll melt him like butter.
  • “She seizes him and kisses him” (Proverbs 7:13). What would be the look on your man’s face if, when you first saw him at the end of a day, you grabbed him around the shoulders and really planted one on him? There’s not a man alive who wouldn’t wonder what you’d had for lunch that day — and who wouldn’t hope you’ll have it again tomorrow.
  • She captures him “with her eyelids” (Proverbs 6:25). We wives can tend to get sloppy with our appearance around the house. That’s understandable. But every once in a while, make sure you look good when he comes home. Really good. Use your eyes to engage him. “Capture” him with your physical attractiveness.

A wife who understands her allure as a woman is protecting her husband from temptation. She’s like a magnet, drawing him home from the seductions of his day.

She’s got power. And she knows how to use it.

Pray that God will never let Satan, who knows how to twist it, steal the joy of sexual attraction and romance from you.

Moral Decisions: Triggers

SOURCE:  Living Free/David E. Longacre

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.” Proverbs 3:5-6 MSG

The sin of proximity is not the same for everyone. What may constitute an occasion for sin for one person may not tempt another.

We all have our triggers that, if pulled, will likely lead us to acting out our sexual impulses.

We need to learn to avoid these sin traps. Doing this requires making decisions and taking action before we are confronted with the situations that tempt our weaknesses. If we can recognize these occasions for sin and learn how to avoid them, we will have greater victory against the sin.

Above all, we must recognize that we need God’s help in avoiding and overcoming sin. We don’t have the strength or the wisdom to avoid temptation on our own. But if we truly desire to do what is right and trust God to help us, he will. His Word promises that he will “keep us on track.”

Trust him … listen to him … obey him … and he will make all things possible.

Father, I really want to do what is right. I realize now, however, that I can’t do it on my own. Forgive me for my failures. Teach me how to avoid circumstances and people and things that would entice me to sin. Give me the strength to stay away. Help me to live in a way that pleases you. In Jesus’ name …

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These thoughts were drawn from …


Crossroads: Choosing the Road to Sexual Purity
by David E. Longacre.

Sexual Sin: Be Cautious & Active

SOURCE:  David Longacre/Living Free

“All of you must keep awake (give strict attention, be cautious and active) and watch and pray, that you may not come into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41 AMP

Are you immune to the temptation of sexual sin?

The truth is, we all have boundaries that, if crossed, can result in the loss of self-control.

The sin of proximity happens when we allow ourselves to be enticed to sin by not avoiding events, people, places, objects or anything else that we know will likely stir up lustful thoughts in our minds. Some would describe the sin of proximity as allowing ourselves to come into contact with the occasion for sin.

When we commit a sin of proximity, what we are doing is setting the stage for overt sin to occur. We are prone to lie to ourselves that what we are doing will not have consequences. We think we can play around the edges of sin without actually acting it out. This thinking is self-deceptive because sin has great power and, if entertained, can overwhelm us.

Avoiding the people or events or things that may tempt us to sexual sin is vital to overcoming sexual addiction or to avoid entering into any kind of sexual sin. We must remember, however, that there is no “formula for success” in this path—otherwise we would trust the formula and not God.

The rules are only tools to enable us to better love Jesus. The real key is to stay in fellowship with Him—to “give strict attention, be cautious and active … and watch and pray.”

Father, I know that only as I stay in close fellowship with you—through prayer and through your Word—will I be able to resist the temptations that come my way. I thank you for your love. Please give me the wisdom and strength to avoid situations and relationships that may entice me to sin. In Jesus’ name …

—————————————————————————————————————————


These thoughts were drawn from …

Crossroads: Choosing the Road to Sexual Purity by David E. Longacre. Crossroads deals with choosing the road to sexual purity.

Sexual Addiction: The Way Out of the Web

SOURCE:  Adapted from an article by June Hunt/AACC

The mind of every addict is programmed with faulty beliefs. (Our beliefs determine our thoughts, behaviors and our addictions, including what we think about our own value, our relationships and our sexuality.) If we have faulty thinking, we have faulty conclusions, which lead to faulty behavior. Thus, to win the battle over any addictive behavior, the mind must be trained to think strategically … accurately … victoriously. Jesus made this point succinctly by explaining, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).

[One our resources includes] a section titled, “HOW TO TARGET A TRANSFORMED LIFE” and makes the following points:

– Don’t focus on the negative. Every time you focus on quitting an obsession, you want it all the more.

– If your target is what you shouldn’t do, you will be pulled more powerfully to do it. For example, “I need to quit thinking about sex … I won’t rent X-rated movies … I shouldn’t call the sex chat line.”1 Corinthians 15:56 says, “… the power of sin is the law.”

Instead of what strugglers shouldn’t do, I counsel them to focus on the positive. Just as the archer focuses on a target, strugglers should set their sights on:

1. A New Purpose – “I’ll do whatever it takes to be conformed to the character of Christ.” Repeat this six times. Romans 8:29 says, we are “… predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.” So the next time temptation begins its seductive pull inside, let this be your focus: “I want to reflect the character of Christ through what I see and do.”

2. A New Priority – “I’ll do whatever it takes to line up my thinking with God’s thinking.” Realize the clarity of Romans 12:2: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” To experience a transformed life, you must line up your thinking with God’s thinking. Ultimately, to have the blessing of God, do nothing that violates the Word of God.

3. A New Plan – “I’ll do whatever it takes to do the new plan in Christ’s strength, not my strength.”Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” God would never tell His children to stop lusting without giving them the power to stop.

From the beginning, God created the concept of sexual intimacy to be a blessing when expressed within the context of a committed covenant marriage. And because the Lord is all powerful, He can replace even the most harmful passions with new healthy ones. That’s His specialty.

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Adapted from: Sexual Addiction: The Way Out of the Web, by June Hunt. © HOPE FOR THE HEART.

Sexual Addiction: Help for Female Sex Addicts

SOURCE:  Rob Jackson, MS, LPC, LMHC, NCC

While sex addiction affects both males and females, the challenges faced by female addicts are greater.

Sex addiction is never really about sex, but about a hungry heart that craves intimacy. Sex is merely the vehicle that a person uses to find nurture and acceptance. This is the same mechanism of action at work in alcohol, drug, and other addictions.

While sex addiction affects both males and females, the challenges faced by female addicts are greater. As a foundation to understanding the unique plight of female sex addicts, a better understanding of sex addiction in general will be helpful.

Understanding sex addiction
Research varies on the prevalence of sex addiction and it is difficult to state with certainty that one gender has a higher incidence of sex addiction than the other does. Estimates of sex addiction range from three to ten percent within the general population. Dr. Patrick Carnes’ research has indicated that approximately 20% of those seeking help for sex addiction are female. This male female ratio is consistent with that found among recovering alcoholics.

Some of the factors that push sex addiction include the need to medicate emotional pain or escape an unsatisfactory situation, and the impulsive or even compulsive quest to satisfy unmet emotional needs. In short, sex addiction is best viewed as an attachment or intimacy disorder.

Regardless of gender, sex addicts are prone to multiple addictions and typically come from severely dysfunctional families. This is not always the case, however. In the majority of cases, at least one other member of the family has an addiction as well. Multiple addictions occur when an addict is addicted to sex and at least one other thing. For females, eating disorders are common, as is chemical dependency, and compulsions for work, spending, and gambling.

Women continue to be underrepresented in health and addiction studies. Many individuals, both professionals and non professionals, assume sex addiction is for men only. Research demonstrates that the majority of abuse survivors are female, making them more susceptible to addiction. Sadly, however, many females will go undiagnosed and often treatment of past sex abuse will be too limited to prevent later sex addiction. Even if counselors recognize that females can be sexually addicted, they may fail to recognize the feminine nuances that typically define female sex addiction.

The impact of childhood sexual abuse
A high correlation exists between childhood abuse and sex addiction in adulthood. Varieties of abuse include verbal, emotional, physical, sexual, and spiritual abuse. Each of these types of abuse can be either obvious or hidden. For example, obvious verbal abuse involves the misuse of words, tone, and volume. A hidden type of verbal abuse is the failure to affirm someone with words of love and encouragement. More often than not, two or more types of abuse have occurred in the developmental history of sex addiction. When one considers the need for intimacy to be the primary motivator of a human being, it’s easy to see how abuse of any type undermines this core need and damages one’s ability to foster healthy attachment to others.

The double edge of females’ need for relationship
Females are generally more relational and nurturing than males. Their roles develop from playing dolls and babysitting to bearing and caring for children of their own. Even as wives and adult daughters, most women continue to provide the larger portion of nurture found in family life. This feminine giving of self is a godly attribute when done in a healthy, balanced way. The greater reception to relationship, however, can be both blessing and curse if the female’s trust in others has been violated by one or more forms of abuse. The hunger to connect remains, but it becomes combined with fear and mistrust. A false self may emerge as the female inadvertently seeks to protect herself from further exploitation. Left to her own fallen human nature, an exploited female may to seek to protect herself psychologically with various defenses and manipulations – both sexual and non-sexual. It’s not difficult to understand how a sexually wounded female might want to regain the innocence that was stolen from her during a vulnerable moment.

Without treatment and a safe recovery path, an exploited female may inadvertently use her sexuality either to punish men or herself. Sadly, the untreated sex abuse survivor often maintains distorted thoughts of how she and the perpetrator share blame for the abuse. The seductive survivor can be motivated to get even by enticing men. The closet female sex addict riddled with shame and self-contempt may punish herself by seeking to meet sexual needs privately and compulsively versus investing in an intimate relationship with her husband. Alternatively, she may starve herself sexually. Whatever the behavior, either obvious or hidden, it remains “the tip of the iceberg” where inner motivations laced with anger often remain a profound mystery for the addict and those who love her.

It is important to note that while all traumatic experiences affect us negatively, those involving abuse during childhood deeply affect the way we navigate life as adults. If you have suffered abuse in your past, please consider seeking out the professional treatment of a trained Christian counselor who specializes in this issue. Fear of disturbing old wounds may initially keep you from seeking out such help. Understand, however, that healing and resolving the wounds of your past will open up opportunities to live a healthier and happier life and will go a long way to preventing these damaged emotions and behaviors from being passed down to your children.

Unique challenges for the female sex addict

Gateways
For the last 50 years, our culture has promoted a heightened sexuality where children, particularly girls, are hyper eroticized with seductive fashions designed for adults. Particularly immodest clothing—or clothing designed to drawn unnecessary attention to the body—alters how a young girl views herself and presents herself to others. In turn, fashion also alters how others react to her. The culture’s emphasis on seductive media and casual sex, typified by the magazines in supermarket checkout lanes, can also serve as gateways to sex addiction.

The responsibility to identify this cultural trap rests with parents, but it’s not easy to wage an effective defense against the onslaught of sexualized media messages. The best defense begins in early childhood where both parents maintain an ongoing dialogue with their child about the blessings and responsibilities of sexuality. When parents approach this topic relationally during early childhood development, children are spiritually and emotionally empowered to make better choices as adolescents and adults.

Double Standards
Female addicts often suffer a greater social stigma and inner shame than do male addicts. Society promotes the stereotypes of “boys will be boys” and “good girls don’t,” even while grooming females to play the coy seductress. Female addicts may compartmentalize their sexually addicted self from the roles of wife, mother, and Sunday school teacher. This type of denial, duplicity, or splitting off only serves to strengthen the addiction, given the secrecy of a double life.

As Christians, we recognize that before God “there is neither …male nor female” (Galatians 3:28), thus double standards don’t exist within the mind of God. In His great compassion, God hates sin (not the sinner) and the traumatic effect it has on His children. The promotion of godly living for both males and females will pave the road to equal treatment and respect.

Special Considerations for Female Sex Addicts

The nuances of female sex addiction can perhaps best be explained by looking at the body, mind, and spirit connection.

The Body Physically and physiologically, males and females are obviously different. The less obvious factors encompassed in the physicality of being female include a woman’s innate desire to look attractive and her more complicated sexual arousal and release. When too great an emphasis is given to the body because of the culture, exploitation, or addiction, the balance of the inner woman is disturbed.

The Mind Mentally and emotionally, females are typically aroused in different ways than males. Where men tend to be visual and have greater interests in a woman’s body, or sadly, just parts of her body, women tend to remain relational – even in their attraction and arousal. For example, gateways for feminine arousal will often include ambience or environmental setting, the personality traits of the man, and how he seems to nurture her with attention. These factors are often exploited in soap operas, romance novels, and other things traditionally targeted to females.

The Spirit While both sexes suffered spiritual damage from the fall of humanity, the consequences for males and females are different. One consequence for females is that the woman’s “desire will be for (her) husband” (Genesis 3:10). This may account for greater vulnerability in females. Their hearts are turned more to their masculine counterparts, than, perhaps, men’s are toward women. This vulnerability is not inherently bad, but it can foster a heightened need for masculine approval.

The Recovery Goal
Ultimately, the recovery goal of a female sex addict is not unlike that of the male addict, but her journey differs from that of men. She must learn to harmonize her body, mind, and spirit in a way that affirms God’s design. In her feminine spirit, she is unique and her personality bears the creativity of God. Supports for her will include personal accountability, professional counseling, and participation in the community of faith and in recovery groups if available. Like the male addict, the female must get beneath the behavior in order to heal distorted thoughts, damaged emotions, and a wounded spirit.

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Rob Jackson is a Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice who specializes in intimacy disorders, including sex addiction and codependency.

Sexual Addiction: NOT just for MEN ONLY!!

SOURCE:  Marnie Ferree

Women and Sexual Addiction

While most people tend to assume that sexual addiction is a problem only for men, the evidence suggests the contrary. Addictions, all addictions, are pretty much equal opportunity diseases. And sexual addiction is no exception.

Marnie Ferree is a pioneer in the treatment of female sex and relationship addicts. This article is material taken from a workshop she gave recently in Seattle. Sex is the fastest growing addiction in this country. And it is, I believe, the addiction of choice among Christians. Because of the immediacy, availability and affordability of the Internet, more and more Christians find themselves struggling with sexual addiction. A third of the participants who come to the workshops we do for male sexual addicts are involved in some kind of church ministry. Men who would not be caught dead going into a liquor store, or gambling or using any kind of illegal drugs, can—within the privacy of their own home—be sexually involved with people on the Internet. It is an incredible problem.

I don’t know if you have a picture in your mind of what a sexual addict looks like. I would be even more surprised if you had a picture of what a female sexual addict looks like.

There are, however, many of us. And all of us must deal with the enormous shame connected with sexual addiction. Today, if someone said in a social setting—even in a Christian social setting—”I’m a recovering alcoholic,” I think many people might respond with: “Good for you. You’ve admitted you have a problem. You’re doing something about it. You’re getting help.” We have an element of respect for someone who admits to being a recovering alcoholic. But if you say, “I’m a recovering sex addict,” you will still experience enormous amounts of shame and very little understanding.

There was a time when alcoholism was thought to be only a male problem. Surely women didn’t struggle like this. But we know today, of course, that females have about the same incidence of alcoholism as do males. It is probably about the same in the area of sexual addiction. If the shame associated with sexual addiction is great, the shame associated with being a female sex addict is even greater.

Sexual addiction is not, of course, a new problem. I’m not going to suggest that the Apostle Paul was a sex addict. But he certainly understood powerlessness and unmanageability. When you read what he says in Romans 7 about the struggle between the flesh and the desire to do good—this is a man who knew what it was like to feel powerless, a man who kept doing what he did not want to do. That is the essence of all addictions.

Sin or Disease?

I’m asked often, “Is sexual addiction a sin, or is it a disease?” The answer is yes. It is both. Undeniably the kinds of behaviors we are going to be talking about are sinful. The affairs that I was involved in, the great promiscuity that I was involved in before my marriage, these are unquestionably sin. And they are also part of a disease called addiction.

Sometimes people come to a Christian pastor or counselor looking for help with sexual addiction and they get an answer like this: “Pray more, go to church more, read your Bible more. Be more committed. Be more [whatever].” I don’t want to be misunderstood. I believe in the power of prayer. I believe in reading the Bible. I believe in being connected with other Christians and going to church. And I believe in surrendering to Christ. So I’m not minimizing the importance of these things. But these things in and of themselves will not help with the disease of addiction. Believe me, people who struggle with sexual addictions have prayed. They have tried to surrender their will to God. They have tried to get connected at church. And it has not helped. Putting a kind of spiritual Band-Aid on this problem is not going to be helpful. It is going to be harmful, because it will contribute to the hopelessness that people feel. Suppose you tell someone to “just pray more,” and they take your advice and pray more, and it doesn’t help. Then what? It will add to their despair. And few things are more powerful fuel for addictions than despair.

So what is the solution?

Sexual addiction is a multifaceted disease, and it requires a multifaceted solution. There is a physiological aspect to the problem. We know that there is a neurochemical component to sex addiction. The neurochemical changes that happen in your brain when you engage in sexual activity are closely related to the changes that take place in your brain when you take crack cocaine. So there is a physiological, biological base to this addiction. There is also an emotional component to this addiction. The shame that the addicted person feels is overwhelming. There is a mental component. There is a relationship component. And there is a spiritual component. All these components need to be addressed if the addicted person is to experience healing.

Characteristics of Addiction

Let’s look at some of the characteristics of sexual addiction.  There are four components that make any addiction an addiction.

First, there has to be a compulsion. I can’t stop. I keep doing what I don’t want to do. I’m powerless to stop. You will always hear addicts say, “I know what I’m doing is wrong; I want to stop, but I can’t.” That was certainly true for me. I was raised in a pastor’s home. I went to church all my life. I knew that the affairs I was involved in were wrong. I felt incredible shame about the affairs. I wanted to stop. I had chosen to stop many times. But I could not.

A second key component of any addiction is obsession. It’s all I can think about. It’s like a blanket that covers me. I’m spending so much time being sexual, recovering from being sexual, figuring out how to hide the fact that I’ve been sexual, planning my next sexual or relationship encounter. It’s like a little bird sitting on your shoulder; it’s always, always, always with you. Either as guilt and shame or the planning or the preparation. Some part is always with you.

The third main hallmark of an addiction is continuing in spite of negative consequences.

Because of my promiscuity and sexual behaviors I was diagnosed with cervical cancer caused by a sexually transmitted disease. I had three major surgeries within a year. I literally almost died because of massive hemorrhaging resulting from the first surgery. But even that was not enough; I still could not stop. I lost one marriage because of my sexual acting out. I married very young for all kinds of unhealthy reasons. I was unfaithful in that marriage. The truth is that he was happy to get rid of me. And I was happy to get rid of him because he was determined to fix me and I was angry about that. But I still could not stop. I married a second time and had a fairly long period of sobriety—or rather at least a fairly long period of the absence of acting out. But I was not in recovery. When the stresses of life hit again, I returned to acting out. I knew intellectually, This is going to mess up my life. I had been there once before. I’d had one divorce because of this behavior. I can tell that things aren’t going well here. They are not going well in our marriage. They are not going well for our children. We had two very young children who were already very angry and impaired by being part of an addicted family. And then the health consequences began to hit. I knew this was not working for me. And yet I could not stop. When we continue in spite of adverse consequences, that is a clear sign of addiction.

The last main characteristic of addiction is tolerance.

The idea of tolerance is borrowed from our understanding of chemical dependency. We understand that, for a person who does not usually drink, a glass of wine will make you feel however it makes you feel. Tomorrow a glass of wine will make you feel about the same. And the next day maybe the same. But it won’t take very long before that one glass of wine will no longer give you the same kind of feeling that it once did. It might take two glasses, or three. That same phenomenon happens around our sexual activity. There is a tolerance component to the process. Part of the tolerance effect is a purely neurochemical, physiological change in the brain. We are up against our own brain chemistry. That’s one aspect of the problem. But we addicts are also often adrenaline junkies. We are in this for the high. So if the high of one kind of behavior isn’t enough, then either it will take more and more of that same kind of behavior or it will take going on to other, higher risk behaviors to get the same effect. The disease progresses either to more and more of the same behavior or to higher risk behaviors.

There are other characteristics to all addictions. All addictions lead to an unmanageable life. It is a progressive or degenerative process. Addictions are used to escape feelings. What an addiction does is alter our moods.

Addictions are often fueled by a sense of entitlement. I think about a pastor who is overworked and underpaid. There are so many demands on his life, he’s fighting with the deacon board, nobody understands him, and he is not appreciated the way he should be. Eventually he asks himself, Who is meeting my needs? I deserve something. That is a typical way for addicts to think. No one is meeting my needs. I’ll just have to do it myself. That’s what I mean by entitlement. I deserve this.

Addictions are also often used by addicts as a reward. Sexual addicts experience sex as the answer to everything. If I feel overworked or lonely or sad, sex can make me feel better. If I feel happy and things are wonderful, what’s the best way to celebrate? Sex. It’s the answer to everything. It can medicate the kind of entitlement, anger and loneliness that we experience or it can serve as a reward.

Finally, addictions, and certainly sexual addiction, can create a feeling of power. This is particularly true for women who are sexually addicted. There is an incredible feeling of power involved. In our culture we learn that a woman’s core worth in the world is her sexuality. We use sex to sell everything from cars to dishwashing liquid to carpets. Everything you can imagine. Those cultural messages are very powerful. So particularly for women who are sex addicts there is a big power component at work.

The Link Between Abuse and Addiction

The roots of sexual addiction are often found in childhood abuse—physical, emotional, spiritual or sexual. One out of three women and one out of six men will experience some kind of overt sexual abuse before the age of eighteen.

My susceptibility to sexual addiction is deeply rooted in my experience of childhood abuse and neglect. My mother died when I was three. My father was a pastor whose duties kept him absent from our home a great deal of the time. He spoke somewhere seven nights out of seven for the entirety of my childhood. And I felt very lonely. When I was five a twenty-year-old man, a deacon in the church, came into my life as a substitute father figure. He took me roller-skating every Saturday morning for years. He encouraged my writing. He would read to me and spend an enormous amount of time with me. From the age of five to the age of twenty, when I left my father’s home to be married, he abused me sexually. I never thought of it as sexual abuse. He never hurt me physically. He never coerced me physically. He loved me—I thought. I loved him—I knew. We had a relationship.

The level of sexual activity did not escalate to intercourse until I was fifteen years old. Well, by fifteen—remember I was a good preacher’s daughter—I knew that was wrong. In my limited understanding I had consented to this relationship with a man who at that time would have been over thirty. The only way I could explain those experiences was, I must be a whore. I know this is wrong. I know I’m not supposed to do it. From the age of five he began to sexualize me, training me to respond to him sexually. But my experience was that it was all my fault. It was only many years later when I was in counseling that I began to see that, of course, it was sexual abuse. Even the nongenital behaviors starting at age five were clearly sexual abuse.

The wounds of sexual abuse are profound. It is my conviction that until we face clearly the wounds of childhood abuse we will not be helpful to sexual addicts whose struggles are rooted in abuse. We know that eighty-one percent of sexual addicts, both men and women, are adult sexual trauma survivors—untreated trauma survivors. It is critical to understand this link between sexually abusive experiences and sexual addiction.

It is also important to emphasize that the experience of abandonment in childhood can be as problematic as the experience of abuse. I have worked with some sex addicts who are not sexual trauma survivors, but I have never worked with a sex addict who is not a survivor of childhood abandonment. After my mother died my father buried his grief in his work addiction. It was this abandonment that set me up for the sexual abuse. Physical abandonment—through death, as in my case, or through the work addiction of a parent, or through divorce—is only one kind of abandonment. Sexual abandonment—the lack of appropriate information and appropriate modeling of sexual closeness—can also cause problems. If parents display no appropriate affection around their children, there is a neglect. I have had many women tell me of the shock of their first menstruation. No one had bothered to tell them basic information about their sexuality. That’s sexual abandonment. Spiritual abandonment can also be a factor. We seem to model rules-based spirituality. But many people have never had grace-based spirituality modeled for them in their family. That’s a kind of spiritual abandonment. These kinds of experiences give us some very unhealthy core beliefs that, in turn, prepare us for the addictive process.

Let me say something briefly abut the core beliefs of addicts and how they are connected to neglect, abandonment and abuse.

The first core belief of sexual addicts is, I am a horrible, terrible person. When we are abandoned or abused, that is what we conclude. I thought, If I had been a better little girl, my mom would not have died. Or, for sure, If I had been a better little girl my dad would have wanted to spend some time with me. If you add on top of this the sexual abuse I experienced, what can a child conclude other than, I am a horrible person.

The second core belief shared by all sexual addicts is, No one will meet my needs.

Is it any surprise that a child who experiences abandonment comes to this conclusion? The people that I should be able to trust and depend on are not there for me. The third core belief is this: Sex is my most important need. Again, the connection between sexual abuse and sexual addiction is profound. When we are sexualized at an early age and experience all the confusion around that abuse, we inappropriately sexualize love, touch, nurture and affection. Everything really important in life becomes sexualized. We come to believe that love or relationship is our most important need.

Finally, sex addicts believe this: If you really knew me, you would leave me. There is this front that I present to the world, and maybe it looks really good on the outside, but it’s not what is on my inside. If you knew me, you would leave. These core beliefs, often impacting us on an unconscious level, set us up for addictions of all kinds.

Healing from Sex Addiction

There are a number of key ingredients that make recovery possible. I’ll discuss just a few.

Fellowship.Fellowship is the antidote to trauma and the key to long-term recovery. We cannot recover in isolation. God made us for fellowship. We were wounded in relationships, and we have to heal in relationships. Fellowship is also the antidote to lust. Healthy fellowship is what will help us become free from lust.

Accountability. It’s not enough to just have fellowship. We can have fellowship that does not involve accountability, and that’s not going to solve the problem. We need people who know our story and who will hold us accountable for the rituals as well as for the acting out. In my opinion, Twelve Step programs are the best place to find the right mix of fellowship and accountability. When I walk into a Twelve Step group and say, “Hi, my name is Marnie, and I’m a grateful, recovering sexaholic,” I am home. I know these people understand. They have been there themselves. And I know that we can provide for each other the fellowship and accountability we need. I won’t preach the whole sermon, but I believe that Christ intended churches to operate a whole lot more like Twelve Step groups. They need to be places where it’s okay to be real, okay to have problems. Places where you don’t have to have all your problems fixed before you feel at home.

Counseling. The Twelve Steps lead us through a methodical process that focuses on our addictive behaviors and on the defects of character that underlie our addictive behaviors. But the Twelve Steps, as wonderful and useful as they are, will not adequately address all the problems of abuse and abandonment that are at the root of sexual addiction. That’s not their goal. The goal of Twelve Step programs is sobriety. And sobriety gives us an opportunity to work on the other problems that have led to our addictions or that accompany our addictions.

For example, sexual addicts, in addition to being addicted to sex, are also often depressed. And that’s a problem for which counseling and medications can be very helpful. In the Christian community we do not hesitate to treat most medical problems. It bothers me that in the Christian community we so often experience resistance to the treatments and medication that have been shown to be helpful for depression. We don’t tell an insulin-dependent diabetic, “Just pray more and you’ll feel better. You don’t need the insulin.” But people who are depressed do hear people say things just like that. Depression is a medical illness. It often requires medication in addition to counseling in order to be helpful. Counseling and medication can play an important part in the recovery process. Sometimes intensive workshops or inpatient programs can also be helpful. For some people an intensive treatment program is essential for recovery, and almost all sex addicts can be helped by having an intensive jump-start to the recovery process.

Courage. Recovery requires courage. It is a difficult journey—and one that is not undertaken lightly or easily. In the Twelve Step community we say that recovery is simple but it is not easy. It will cost a lot. For many of us giving up an addiction feels like death. It is our addiction that has helped us cope with the wounds of abuse and abandonment. When we have no other, healthier coping skills, becoming abstinent from our addictions can be an absolutely terrifying, incredibly painful process. That’s another reason why the fellowship and accountability is so important. Without support we will inevitably retreat into “safer” territory.

Grace. The experience of grace is central to the recovery process. I know clearly when I first felt grace. It was when I was in the middle of getting a divorce from my first husband. I was a full-blown sex addict. My life was totally out of control. And it was the first time in my life that I felt suicidal. Some people that I worked with—people that I didn’t know well at all—saw my distress. It wasn’t really because of the divorce. The real pain and despair I was experiencing came from the shame I experienced from the religious community of my father, the pastor. I was disowned. And shamed. I had sweet church people coming to my home at ten o’clock at night and at seven o’clock in the morning to tell me I was going to hell for divorcing my husband. I was distraught about that as much as I was about anything else. These friends put me in their car and took me to a Christian counselor. I assume that they had arranged this ahead of time, since he was available to see me. They walked me in and introduced me to this man, and then they left. I was not comfortable in that office. I did not want to be there. He said something like, “What can I do for you?” And I unleashed on him a long speech complete with some pretty salty adjectives about what I thought about Christians and what I thought about pastors. I let him have it. I said I didn’t care anything about his blankety-blank whatever. But, I said, if you can stop me from killing myself I’ll give you ten minutes.

You know what he said? “Okay.” Just “Okay.” No moralizing. No lectures on right and wrong. Right then I felt grace for the first time in my life. I let this man know just a little about who I really was. At that moment I was a really, really angry person. But he accepted me without judgment. I only met with him a few times; I wasn’t ready yet to do the hard work I needed to do. So my life continued in the pattern of acting out for another twelve years after that. But I think he saved my life that day. With a single word he showed me more of the grace of God than I had experienced before. That helped me to believe twelve years later that it just might be possible for a counselor to help me. It helped me to return to that kind of resource when I was ready and able to do so.

When we experience grace, instead of the preoccupation and fantasy that drives the addictive process, we develop a vision for a different kind of life. Part of recovery is recovering a graced vision for our lives. We need a vision of a life of sobriety, a life in recovery. We need to be able to envision a life truly connected to God in a deep spirituality. And to envision ourselves and our families living a healthy life. Instead of the unhealthy rituals that lead to acting out, we need a vision of healthy rituals and disciplines in our lives. Prayer, meditation and Bible study are healthy disciplines. To be a part of a community of faith or a support group is a healthy discipline. These kinds of healthy disciplines can support healthy choices. Instead of despair, we need a vision of joy. That’s what recovery is about.

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Marnie Ferree offers individual and couples counseling through the Woodmont Hills Counseling Center in Nashville, Tennessee (www.woodmont.org).

Is my marriage healthy even if we’re not having sex?

SOURCE:  Dr. Jennifer Landa as reported on FoxNews.com  (Published September 22, 2014)

The way I see it, if you’re not having sex in your marriage anymore, there’s a problem.

I know, not only because of the many patients who have told me about their issues, but because I have experienced it myself. I’ll say it again: Busy or not busy, when sex is gone from an intimate relationship, it’s a problem you’re either experiencing— or it’s one in the making.

Of course, there are real and important reasons why couples stop having sex, often temporarily: after the birth of a baby, while caring for aging or sick parents, acute job stress, or a diagnosis or treatment for cancer or another condition—anything that throws you off your rhythm. And that’s totally normal and should be expected. But when it continues to just not happen, and you find yourself looking for excuses to rationalize it rather than make a change, then it’s an issue you must face or risk damaging your marriage. And barring physical or medical causes, a sexless married life signals deep issues brewing.

I see women every day in my hormone practice who aren’t having sex with their husbands and they come to me desperately seeking answers for their low libido. First I run a full panel of hormone tests, and many times I do find that they’re suffering from an imbalance that would cause low sex drive— but even once we fix that, some of them still don’t feel desire for their mates. When I dig a bit deeper, they finally admit that they feel unhappy or unsettled in their relationships. Hidden resentments, one partner feeling rejected by the other, one partner bearing a lot of financial burden, or a lack of trust can all get in the way of hitting the sheets.

If you don’t address these issues head on, you can bet that the lack of sexual intimacy they set off will quickly become self-perpetuating. Research proves that the absence of touch and arousal creates both physical and emotional distance between you and your spouse. Couples who report having little to no sex have lower levels of marital satisfaction than those who get busy regularly.

As I said, I experienced this in my own relationship a few years ago, and I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure my marriage would last. I was stressed, and felt anything but sexy, and the less intimate we were, the less connected we felt— and on and on. Together we turned it around, but not by waiting for the mood to strike, but by making sex a priority (and also by addressing my own lagging energy issues, which I’ll tell you about another time). Today, we’re committed to keeping the spark alive. Just last week when we realized we’d both been traveling on business a lot and hadn’t had any sex in weeks, we got right to it!

There are plenty of other reasons to focus on this, rather than brush it under the rug: Because a sexless and unsatisfying marriage leaves you or your partner open to getting your needs met elsewhere; because you want to model a positive, engaged relationship for your children if you have them; and because doing so truly is its own reward. You will feel better— trust me.

Where do you start? Right here:

1. Observe your daily habits. For example, do you binge on Netflix in the evenings instead of spending some time connecting to each other? You can’t change what you don’t see, so take some time to observe what it is you’re doing, what habits are in place, and what you may be avoiding in your daily life together.
2. Engage in non-sexual, loving touch more frequently. Get physically closer to your spouse by reaching out and holding his hand when you normally wouldn’t, or smiling and locking eyes with him before you head out for work in the morning. These subtle, affectionate cues will help re-establish your connection and set the stage for more earth shattering moments later on.
3. Recall sexier times. Did you once enjoy a particular kind of kiss, back rubs or bathing together? Let your partner know what you miss about your romantic past. Then take the pressure off by telling your mate that you want to initiate some physical contact again and thought you could do fill-in-the-blank tonight.
4. Flirt. Send your wife a text about how sexy she looks today, or shoot your hubby an e-mail about how impressed you were that he got the kids fed, dressed, and out the door this morning. Flirting can take many forms!
5. Talk to a pro. When and if you’ve tried everything, it may be high time to consult a qualified third party to intercede. Find a skilled marital therapist who can help you uncover and work through your issues. It will not only help bring buried issues standing in the way of sex to the surface; it will likely help save your marriage.

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Dr. Jennifer Landa is Chief Medical Officer of BodyLogicMD, the nation’s largest franchise of physicians specializing in bioidentical hormone therapy. Dr. Jen spent 10 years as a traditional OB-GYN, and then became board-certified in regenerative medicine, with an emphasis on bio-identical hormones, preventative medicine and nutrition. She is the author of “The Sex Drive Solution for Women.”  Learn more about her programs at www.jenlandamd.com

If Sexual Orientation Change Therapy Is “Harmful,” What About Drug Rehab?!?

SOURCE:  Peter Sprigg, Family Research Council

Robin Williams, Rehab, and Reorientation

 

Robin Williams, the brilliantly talented comedian and actor, was found dead in his California home on August 11, the victim of an apparent suicide.

News coverage of his death reviewed his eclectic career, from the 1970’s TV hit Mork and Mindy to his Oscar for Good Will Hunting.

However, the media also reviewed his long history of drug and alcohol abuse. That began during his early days of television stardom. Williams reportedly gave up cocaine and alcohol, though, after his friend John Belushi died of an overdose and Williams became a father.

Williams spoke candidly about his addictions in a 2010 interview with the British newspaper The Guardian while on a publicity tour for his film World’s Greatest Dad (in which, ironically, he played a writer who fakes a suicide note and journal and attributes them to his late son).

Apparently, Williams quit alcohol and drugs cold turkey in the early ’80’s, without any professional therapeutic intervention. He reported that he stayed sober for twenty years, but then began drinking again while working on location in a remote town in Alaska. After three years of drinking, a “family intervention” persuaded Williams to enter “rehab” (residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation) at the Hazelden Addiction Treatment Center near Newberg, Oregon, where he stayed for two months. After that, Williams told The Guardian, he continued to attend meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous every week.

Then just last month, news broke that Williams had again returned to rehab, this time at a Hazelden center in Minnesota. A spokesman for Williams said that he had not relapsed into substance abuse, but was “simply taking the opportunity to fine-tune and focus on his continued commitment [to sobriety], of which he remains extremely proud.” That was onJuly 1 – but six weeks later, he was dead.

In the wake of Williams’ suicide, many TV commentators and friends of the late star talked about the challenges of mental illness (Williams suffered from depression), addictions – and rehab. I saw comedian Andy Dick say, “I’ve been to rehab seventeen times.”

In light of this history, I have only one question for socially liberal political activists – why aren’t you trying to outlaw rehab?

I ask the question because such activists are trying to ban a form of mental health treatment – not drug and alcohol rehabilitation, but “sexual orientation change efforts” (“SOCE”), also known as “sexual reorientation therapy.” Such therapy involves assisting people with unwanted same-sex attractions to overcome them.

Why would someone want to change their sexual orientation? Some such individuals are simply disillusioned by their experiences in homosexual relationships. Some have legitimate concern about the well-documented health problems associated with homosexual conduct (especially among men), such as high rates of sexually transmitted diseases, of which HIV/AIDS is only one example. Others may seek help in conforming their behavior and lifestyle to the teaching of the religious faith to which they are committed. Some may aspire to a traditional family life, raising children in a home with both their mother and father present.

Whatever the motivation, there are those who have simply made a choice to walk away from the homosexual lifestyle, without clinical help – much like how Robin Williams simply stopped using drugs and alcohol in the 1980’s. Others have sought professional help, perhaps at the urging of family members, in the form of “sexual reorientation therapy” – much like when Williams entered a formal alcohol rehab program in 2006. Whether simply through personal development, religious counseling, or with the help of a licensed or unlicensed counselor, thousands (if not millions) of people have experienced significant changes in one or more of the elements of their sexual orientation (attractions, behavior, or self-identification).

Homosexual groups, however, have successfully pressured professional organizations such as the American Psychological Association to discourage such therapy. More recently, following an example set in California, legislators in several states have introduced bills to forbid licensed mental health counselors from engaging in SOCE with minors at all. Meanwhile in New Jersey (which already passed such a ban), the Southern Poverty Law Center has sued even unlicensed SOCE providers, charging them with “consumer fraud.”

Critics of reorientation therapy make two charges – that it is ineffective, and that it is harmful. But they support these charges only by holding such therapies to a standard of “effectiveness” and “safety” that is impossible forany mental health treatment to meet.

Some (but not all) clients of reorientation therapy testify to a complete transformation from homosexual to heterosexual, experiencing a change in their identity, behavior, and attractions. Others may change their identity, control their behavior, and begin to experience heterosexual attractions, but still experience occasional homosexual attractions as well. Still others may change identity and behavior, but continue to struggle with primarily homosexual attractions. Some clients change little with respect to their sexuality, but still find the therapy beneficial in exploring their feelings, family dynamics, etc. Some may seem to achieve significant changes for a period of time, but then suffer relapse. And finally, a few may simply experience little substantial change.

This range of outcomes is no different from any other form of mental health treatment – such as drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Yet critics of reorientation therapy claim that “it doesn’t work” because the proportion of clients who achieve complete transformation on a permanent basis is less than 100%. Can rehab live up to this standard?

There is actually no scientific evidence that reorientation therapy is more harmful than helpful. There are, however, anecdotal accounts of people who claim they found it harmful, or who had negative experiences after such therapy, such as depression or even suicide. However, mere chronological correlation is not scientific proof of causation – any more than Robin Williams’ suicide was “caused” by his recent return to rehab.

The real reason why homosexual activists object to reorientation therapy has nothing to do with science or mental health. Instead, it has everything to do with politics and ideology. If it is tolerable for some people to try to change from “gay” to straight – and for others to help them with the process – that might imply that it is tolerable to believe that there is something wrong with homosexuality itself. For ideological reasons, that is a belief that homosexual activists want stamped out at all costs.

If we were to apply the same standards to drug and alcohol rehabilitation that the homosexual activists want to apply to reorientation therapy, why not ban rehab? After all, since some people go to rehab and still suffer relapses afterwards, rehab is clearly “ineffective.” Robin Williams actually went to rehab, and shortly thereafter took his own life. Does that not clearly indicate that rehab is not only ineffective, but downright harmful? In addition, there are surely people who consume alcohol or use illicit drugs but are still able to function and make productive contributions to society – so there is obviously nothing inherently wrong with alcohol or drugs. Allowing people who struggle with their alcohol or drug use to seek professional help to discontinue them implies there is something wrong with them – thus reinforcing the unfair social stigma which attaches to people who use alcohol and drugs. And surely “family intervention” to force someone into rehab is a violation of their personal autonomy. In light of all these concerns, how can we allow the fraud of “rehab” to continue?

This kind of reasoning, of course, would be clearly absurd. There is no kind of mental health counseling that can guarantee it will substantially change the lives of 100% of its clients for the better. Those who do experience improvement may still struggle with temptation (hence the weekly AA meetings for support). Even among those who succeed in rehab, there can be no guarantee that none of them will, at some time in the future, relapse into the problems which caused them to enter treatment in the first place. Furthermore, the fact that a negative outcome (like suicide) follows a treatment like rehab chronologically does not mean that the treatment caused the negative outcome. It is far more likely that an underlying pathology (in Robin Williams’ case, depression) was the cause of both his substance abuse (which led him to rehab) and his suicide.

It would be absurd to ban rehab because it doesn’t work for everyone; doesn’t work 100% by eliminating all temptation; isn’t always permanent; is sometimes undertaken because of family pressure; or because bad things may happen afterwards. It would be equally absurd to ban rehab in order to protect the self-esteem of people who do not consider their alcohol or drug use to be a problem.

But the argument that we should ban sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) is equally absurd – because it relies on all the same fallacious arguments.

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(This is a reprint of an article written by Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council a Washington, DC based policy organization. Peter is a long time Alliance organization member and a great writer and researcher on family related policy matters.)

5 Reasons the Scriptures Say Sex Should Occur Only in Marriage

SOURCE:  Adapted from an article by Bob Lepine/Family Life Ministry

Here are five reasons why a sexual relationship should occur within the confines of marriage:

1.  Sex is meant to strengthen the marriage bond.  In marriage we enter into a covenant relationship with one another.  This covenant mirrors God’s covenant.  During the wedding ceremony we vow to remain committed “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer … till death do us part.”  These promises echo the promise God makes to us when He adopts us into His family and unites Himself to us in Christ.  He has said that He will never leave us or forsake us.

God wants the husband and wife to be one. The recurring, ongoing participation in sex is the instrument that God uses so that we can experience a closer, richer, deeper relationship with one another.  When sex happens outside of the safe haven of a committed, loving covenant relationship—what used to be called “the bonds of matrimony” —you may still experience physical pleasure, but there will be an emptiness in your soul. There is something missing. There is a shallowness to the sexuality that we experience apart from a lifelong covenant.

2. God wants to teach us more about the relationship between the Father, the Son, and the Spirit in the Trinity.  There is oneness within the Trinity—there are three persons, but they are one. In marriage, there are two persons, but they become one. In marriage we learn something about the intimacy that God enjoys within the context of the Trinity—the intimacy that the Father has with the Son, and the Son with the Spirit, and the Spirit with the Father and the Son.

3. God also wants to give us a picture of Christ’s relationship with the Church.(Ephesians 5:22-33).  In some mysterious way, the husband and wife relationship—and our sexuality—is tied to that picture.

4. A sexual relationship in marriage teaches us something about the nature of real love—God’s love.  Over a lifetime in marriage, we learn that in order for our sexuality to be expressed in the way that God intends it, the sexuality needs to be unselfish. Both husband and wife must be committed to pleasing each other and meeting each other’s needs.

5. It is best for the offspring of our sexual union to grow up in a home governed by a covenant relationship between a husband and a wife who love one another and are committed to each other.  If a child is growing up in a setting where there is one parent or where two parents are not bound together in covenant love with one another, that child is missing something.

Consider this:  If our sexual relationship is this powerful and this important, is it any wonder that Satan would take delight in trying to undermine, pervert, and destroy our human sexuality?  Is it any wonder that sex is so huge, so pervasive in our culture—and that the temptation to operate independently of God’s plan is so powerful?

Sex: There Is Another Way

SOURCE:   Sasha Bogursky/Fox News

TV host Megan Alexander: Why I saved myself for marriage

In a world where sex sells, CBS host Megan Alexander’s decision to save herself for marriage stands out. The “Inside Edition” correspondent sat down with FOX411 to talk about why marriage still matters and how she stood up for her beliefs and said no to premarital sex.

“Sex is everywhere, it sells,” Alexander told FOX411. “It’s on magazine covers, it’s in television shows, it’s in movies and I think its pretty unusual when someone speaks out about waiting for marriage in the entertainment industry.”

For Alexander, the decision to abstain from premarital sex was an easy one. Growing up in a Christian home and claiming her faith for herself in the 7th grade, the Seattle native always stood strong in her beliefs.

“I claimed my faith for myself in about junior high,” she revealed. Her parents sent her to a Christian summer camp where she was able to explore her faith on her own for the first time. “I think we should never just do what our parents tell us to do. We should find our faith and claim it for ourselves. So I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior in about 7th grade and made that decision myself and that’s been the best thing I’ve ever did.”

Alexander wanted to help others find their faith, especially young people who are bombarded with sex every day in the media. That’s why she penned an article for WHOAwomen Magazine about dating, relationships and sex.

“I decided to speak out, because I feel like young people today, specifically teenagers and millennials in their 20s and 30s, there’s so much pressure to just get involved [physically] and to think that that’s normal,” she said. “I wanted people to know, hey there’s another option. This is the option that I chose and it can work for you too.”

While Alexander’s decision worked for her, it’s not right for everyone, she said. But she wanted to provide an alternative view of sex in a world where sex before marriage is almost expected.

“I certainly wish it was a little better represented in television and movies and they gave us a couple different scenarios instead of just the one of jump into bed immediately,” she said. “I want to encourage the next generation to take their time, to value their bodies and to realize that it’s okay to wait if you want to. And for me, it worked out great and I believe that other people need to hear that message and know that it’s just fine to take their time.”

Waiting to have sex isn’t easy, said the “Inside Edition” correspondent. She credits good friends, strong family support and her faith with keeping her strong before getting married. Not to mention her busy career.

“I think family is important, family support, good friends are important, obviously my faith, I believe it’s God’s best design for us,” she explained of her decision. “And I had goals and dreams and stayed busy. I tell people I was too busy in my teens and in my twenties chasing my career to get in trouble with boys.”

Alexander always knew she would stay a virgin until her wedding night and her husband Brian Cournoyer respected her decision.

“Because we were friends before and [Cournoyer] knew what I stood for, what I was all about, what I believed in and I did of him,” said Alexander. “I knew that he was a Christian, I knew that he found his faith later in life, but I knew that that was also important to him.”

After friendship turned into romance, Alexander and Cournoyer sat down to discuss the physical boundaries in their budding relationship.

“We really had a good friendship first,” she said. “I say that we never really had that awkward first date because we were always really good friends. But I do remember us saying, okay now that we’re dating, let’s set our boundaries.”

God is a Fun God: He Created Sex for Enjoyment in Marriage

SOURCE:  Jimmy Evans/MarriageToday

Sex brings more pleasure and satisfaction to marriage than anything else. And sex causes more disagreements and frustration in marriage than anything else.

Sex is one of the main reasons we get married…and sexual problems are one of the main reasons people get divorced.

When I talk about sex to married couples, I like to refer to it as both a thermostat and a thermometer. In your home, you control the temperature by turning the thermostat up or down. Sex heats up a marriage. It makes it better.

Sex can also be a marriage thermometer: it tells the temperature. If the sex is bad or infrequent, then a married couple probably isn’t communicating well. You may have stress, or unresolved anger, or a host of other issues. Poor sex is a symptom of these problems.

I believe there are three truths that we need to understand about sex.

The first is that God created sex for pleasure and lifelong enjoyment. Our God is a fun God! He wants us to enjoy sex in marriage. So a married couple’s sex life not only can make their marriage better, but can also reveal whether or not they have problems. What kind of sex life do you and your spouse have? What does it reveal about your marriage?

The second is that God gave us sexual boundaries to protect us. Just like vehicles come with an owner’s manual that tells us what not to do, God gave us sex but set parameters for it. Things like adultery, fornication, incest, and lust—the Bible says these things are wrong.

No one gets mad because their owner’s manual says to put oil in their Fords every few thousand miles. No one says, “Ford Motor Company doesn’t want me to have any fun!” Ford wants us to treat the car right so we can enjoy it.

God is the same with sex. His rules aren’t to keep us from having fun, but from getting hurt. He wants our bodies to be places of pleasure and delight for our spouses…but for no one else.

The third truth I believe about sex is that God created our sexual differences to make marriage more fulfilling and dynamic. Men and women are very different sexually. For men, sex stimulates our emotions. For women, emotions stimulate sex. We’re two halves of a whole.

A woman becomes more sexual as her husband becomes more romantic and emotional. At the same time, men tend to open up more emotionally when their wives become more sexual. It all works together.

Because sex is so important, I tell couples that there are five basic ingredients of a healthy sex life. Husbands and wives should:

  1. Commit to meeting their spouse’s sexual needs.
  2. Communicate their sexual needs to their spouse.
  3. Commit to sexual purity (thoughts and actions) to protect the integrity of their marriage.
  4. Be honest and accountable about temptations that can hurt a marriage.
  5. Refuse to be close friends with those who violate the marriage covenant.

Those ingredients will keep a couple’s sex life active, fulfilling, and healthy.

God created sex in marriage to be an Eden of pleasure and delight. Embrace it. Talk about it. Pursue it within the safe boundaries of your marriage. And most of all, enjoy it together.

We’re ALL Sexually Broken

SOURCE:  Bob Lepine/Family Life

[This is the second article in a three-part series on God’s design for sexuality. Click here to read part one, and click here to read part three.]

I was born in 1956, two days after Elvis recorded “Heartbreak Hotel” in Nashville.  By the time I became a teenager, America had experienced a huge cultural revolution.  That revolution affected fashion, hairstyles, and the music we listened to.  But maybe the most significant aspect of that cultural revolution was the impact it had on how we look at sex and morality.

Teenagers in the ’60s had a sure way to know if something was right or wrong: If their parents were for it, it was wrong. My generation saw life differently. We believed that we knew better than our parents about life.

Sexual sin was not new in the ’60s. People have been sinning with their bodies since the beginning of time.  What was new a generation ago was that we didn’t call it sin anymore. All of a sudden there were no taboos. Suddenly, the idea that sex before marriage or sex outside of marriage was wrong started to evaporate. Sex anytime was groovy; it was natural.  If you can’t be with the one you love, we were told, love the one you’re with.

Several decades have passed since the sexual revolution. We now live in a culture where sexual sin is celebrated. It’s normalized. It’s made to look attractive and glamorous. The temptation to sexual sin is more intense than it’s ever been. It is more constant. It’s more accessible than ever. All around you are people—even Christians—who are disregarding God’s design for sexual purity.

The culture tells us that we should be liberated and free about sexuality—that those who follow biblical standards are uptight and repressed.  You may think, “I don’t want to be repressed. Why should I obey God in this area?”

Here’s why:  Because God, who created you, has designed sex as a good gift and a blessing if you enjoy it as He intended.

When you pull sex out of its original design, you will do damage to your soul.  It will degrade you, it will cheapen you, it will wound you.  It will rob you of a sense of who you are.

Naked and unashamed

In the first article of this series, I looked at the creation account in Genesis and what it tells us about God’s purposes for marriage and sexuality.  Genesis 2 ends with a glorious declaration that the husband and wife come together and become one flesh.  Then it says, “The man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”  The man and woman were transparent with each other and with God; they felt safe and protected.  Nothing was broken. Yet.

But look what happens in Genesis 3, as the man and the woman succumb to the serpent’s temptation and declare their independence from God: “Then the eyes of both were opened and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths” (verse 7).

What God had brought together—the pinnacle of His creative work—joining the man and the woman together in marriage and uniting them in one flesh—now began to unravel. Suddenly there was shame, and the shame was directly related to their sexuality in their marital union.

It’s important for us to recognize that our enemy’s first point of attack was the marriage of Adam and Eve.  He divided them, and the first thing they realized after their rebellion was that what God had made perfect had now become damaged.

Usually we call this story the “the fall.”  I think the term is too passive.  Adam and Eve did more than fall.  They rebelled.  They committed divine treason. They declared their independence and rejected their Creator.

And here is what we need to understand: This rebellion continues to have an impact on all of creation. It has left every human being broken. And that brokenness has affected every aspect of creation, including our sexuality.

Here’s the bottom line: Because of our rebellion against God, all of us have some type of disordered and ungodly sexual desire.

All in the same boat

Before sin came into the world, there was no lust. Adam never lusted. There was no adultery. There was no fornication. There was no pornography. There was no homosexuality.  But when sin came into the world, sex was broken.

Your disordered sexual desire may be different than mine, but we’re all in the same boat.  Sexual brokenness may manifest itself as sexual selfishness, where sex is used as a way to control or manipulate someone else. It may be sexual indifference in marriage—a lack of desire to be intimate with the spouse God has given you.  It can be the desire to watch movies or television shows that stir up lustful, sexual passion inside of you. These are all ways that broken people demonstrate their ongoing rebellion against God’s design for human sexuality.

Men and women who continually seek sexual conquest are manifesting their sexual brokenness and rebellion.  We see it in solo sex, in the widespread use of pornography, and in any variety of sexual addictions, or anonymous sex, or homosexuality, or other activities that reveal just how deeply broken and rebellious we are in this area.

Any time you engage in any kind of passion-stirring sexual behavior outside of marriage, you are declaring to God that you are going your own way.  God tells us, “Look, I’ve got a gift for you. But it is a good gift only within these boundaries.”  But we say, “No, I want to use it over here!”  What we’re really saying to God is, “I know better than You.”

If it’s broken, can we fix it?

There are three important points to understand here:

First, just because sexual brokenness is part of our fallen nature, this does not give us an excuse for engaging in sinful behavior.  You can’t say, “I’m broken in this area, so I’m not responsible.”  As with any other sinful behavior, we have a choice about our actions.

Second, we can’t “fix” our brokenness on our own.  Healing can only occur through the saving grace of Christ.  Forgiveness and salvation are possible only through Him.  Only He can cure our rebellious nature.

Finally, as we live daily with sexual brokenness, we must keep short accounts with God and repeatedly repent of sin and reaffirm our belief in the gospel.  First John 1:9 tells us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  This is not a one-time cleansing; because we sin regularly, we must repent regularly.

The longing of your soul

Our souls crave the intimacy and the rightness of the sexual experience God created us for, but we settle for cheap substitutes. And in the end those substitutes always disappoint, because they fall short of what God intended.

What’s most important is being in a right relationship with God, where He satisfies the longing of our souls, and provides the sanctifying grace that we need.  Only as we yield to Him and trust Him will we recognize the goodness of His gift of sex.

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This article is adapted from a message Bob Lepine delivered at Redeemer Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. 

Homosexuality: The REAL Issue is Holiness

SOURCE:  Desiring God

Same-Sex Attraction and the Wait for Change

Few concepts are more foreign to our culture than waiting. Now you can take a picture of a check with your phone and deposit it instantly into your bank account without even leaving your Lay-Z-Boy. “Instant,” it seems, has become the new “relatively quick.”

This has been highlighted in my own life as I have wrestled with the issue of change in regard to my same-sex attraction (SSA). When I began counseling several years ago, I thought that if I followed a set of prescribed steps, then my attractions would switch from males to females. However, after seven months of hard work, I began to become disillusioned and depressed because that didn’t happen. Why wasn’t change happening like I thought it would?

Then one day it hit me. I realized that heterosexuality is not my ultimate goal — holiness is. And my holiness is not ultimately contingent on the reversal of my attractions. Once this became clear, I began to view change differently.

Change Not Promised

The reversal of my orientation is a type of change that is not guaranteed in this life. God never promised me that he would remove my SSA. I am reminded of Paul praying three times to the Lord in 2 Corinthians 12 that the thorn in his flesh would be taken away. And what did God say? “My grace is enough” (2 Corinthians 12:9). God decides which thorns stay and which thorns he will remove, for his glory. Even though SSA is a particularly painful thorn to bear, I have no guarantee one way or the other.

In fact, promising orientation change can be quite harmful. In reality, there is no set of prescribed steps that will definitively lead to a reversal in attraction, and this type of thinking can make orientation change into an idol that must be achieved or all is lost. If my hope rested in becoming straight, then I would have no ground for hope at all.

This Change Guaranteed

However, make no mistake, change is guaranteed. What happens when I dethrone heterosexuality as my ultimate goal and replace it with holiness? What happens when I cling to Jesus, trust the promises in his word, and fight the fight of faith by his Spirit? I change! This (often painfully) slow process is called sanctification, and sanctification is a type of change that is inevitable for all true Christians.

And here’s the thing: my sanctification here on earth may or may not include a change in my attractions. In conforming me into the image of Christ, God may see fit to leave my orientation unchanged until the day I die, for the purpose of my ultimate holiness. My SSA might be one of the “thorns” that he leaves to increase my faith and display his power and grace in my life.

Groaning, Waiting, Hoping

This is where waiting comes in. I want to be “fixed” now, to stop warring against my flesh and become like Christ. The waiting is so hard! Thankfully, the Bible tells me how to deal with the waiting. As I experience the groanings in this body, I have great grounds for hope.

I hope in my full, final, ultimate adoption as a son of God, which will include the redemption of my body (Romans 8:23). And I need to hope because it isn’t here yet. After all, “hope that is seen [present right now, immediately, instantly) is no hope at all. For who hopes for what he sees?” (Romans 8:24).

Indeed, instead of “fix me now,” the Bible gives me this: “But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:25). No matter how acutely I feel the brokenness of my body, and my already-but-not-yet adoption as a son of God through Christ, I must wait for my full redemption with patience — even when I can deposit a check from my La-Z-Boy.

In discussing the hollow promise of orientation change, Wesley Hill, who experiences SSA, says this: “Suffice it to say, I think the real spiritual and theological danger of this kind of ‘victorious Christian living’ talk is an avoidance of the ‘state of being on the way.’ It’s an expectation that the kingdom of God should be here fully now, without our having to endure its slow, mysterious, paradoxical unfolding until the return of Christ.”

So instead of snapping a picture of my check, I need to be content with being in the car “on the way” to the bank.

Worth the Wait

Believe me, it is really hard. But the reality is that “on the way” is where I experience God. For now, it’s in the pain and the groaning and the fighting for contentment that God reveals himself, and changes me, and strips away my idols, and gives me more of him, and prepares me for an eternity of enjoying him without the pain.

It’s on the ride in the car that I see the beautiful countryside, and the majestic mountains, and the stunning sunset that I wouldn’t have seen if I were magically transported to my final destination, breathtaking as that final destination will be. The waiting is where I am sanctified, conformed into the image of Jesus, and readied for delighting in him when I see him face to face (2 Corinthians 3:18).

My orientation may not change in this life, but complete sanctification is coming (1 Thessalonians 5:23–24). It isn’t here yet. But that, I think, I can wait for.

Why You Give in to Sexual Sin

SOURCE:  John Piper/Desiring God

Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. . . . Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. (Psalm 51:8, 12)

Why isn’t he [David]  crying out for sexual restraint? Why isn’t he praying for men to hold him accountable? Why isn’t he praying for protected eyes and sex-free thoughts? In this psalm of confession and repentance after essentially raping Bathsheba, you would expect David to ask for something like that.

The reason is that he knows that sexual sin is a symptom, not the disease.

People give way to sexual sin because they don’t have the fullness of joy and gladness in Christ. Their spirits are not steadfast and firm and established. They waver. They are enticed, and they give way because God does not have the place in our feelings and thoughts that he should.

David knew this about himself.

It’s true about us too.

David is showing us, by the way he prays, what the real need is for those who sin sexually — joy in God.

This is profound wisdom for us.

Every husband who wants to improve his sex life should learn to spell!

SOURCE:  Sam Black/Covenant Eyes

The Path to True Intimacy and Better Sex

Typically, guys spell intimacy S-E-X, said Dr. Dan Erickson. It’s not entirely our fault. Our sexualized culture has encouraged the misspelling, and it has distorted the definition too. Intimacy in our culture often describes a “what,” Erickson said, whether it is sex, intimate encounters, intimate clothing, or an intimate evening. The list goes on.

But intimacy is not about a “what,” it is about a “who,” he said. Intimacy is better spelled “in-to-me-see.” The point is to look into another person and invite them to look into you. Intimacy can be found in deep platonic relationships, and in marriage intimacy allows a husband and wife to open their hearts and minds to each other. Intimacy is a free gift that you give and receive.

“It’s amazing what that will do for your life,” said Cathy Erickson, Dan’s wife. “Men, if you are intimate, and loving, and caring for your wife, you will get all the sex you need.”

Intimacy Requires Your Time

Intimacy didn’t come easily to the Ericksons’ marriage. They had been married 19 years when Dan was inspired by a sermon to ask Cathy to rate their marriage on a scale of 1 to 10. He approached the question with bubbly enthusiasm while she stood in the kitchen cleaning after Sunday lunch.

“I said, ‘What marriage? You really have to be here to have a marriage,’” Cathy recalled. “That was kind of a shock to him.”

Dan had looked at himself as a driven and accomplished man. He had earned his master’s and doctoral degrees, and was the executive pastor of a Phoenix, Arizona, church that drew 3,500 people on Sunday and which boasted the largest Christian school in the state. He coached his kids’ teams and served in the community. He sought to win the hearts and admiration of everyone…except his wife.

His time had been given elsewhere and he had defined intimacy with his wife as sex.

For years afterward, Dan said he did not preach on how to have a good marriage, because he knew he had to figure it out for himself and develop that deep level of intimacy in his own marriage. Today, Dan and Cathy provide seminars across the nation to share their story and paths to a rich marriage.

Intimacy Isn’t Sex

A common refrain is that men give love to get sex and women gives sex to get love. Any marriage based on that equation will suffer, and both parties will be disappointed.

True intimacy allows open communication, it invites a person to see you as you are, warts and all, and it means that you will be vulnerable to each other. True intimacy comes with trust, time, and confidence in the relationship. It is about giving and sacrificing for your spouse, putting their emotional needs ahead of your own, and seeking ways to show love without expecting something in return. The aim is to make your spouse feel treasured, respected, and loved without hidden motivations.

During a period of physical problems with his heart Dan was unable to have sex and discovered not less but even greater intimacy with his wife. He often asks guys if they could be more intimate with their wives if they were physically unable to have sex.

That concept sounds foreign to many men, because we need to change our view of intimacy, said Dr. Brad Miller of Restoration Counseling Service. “True intimacy can be emotional, spiritual, or physical, but rarely sexual,” he said. “True intimacy seeks to answer: ‘How can I know you better?,’ ‘How can I meet your needs?,’ and ‘What can I do for you?’”

“Intimacy in marriage is the duct tape that steadfastly binds a husband and wife together, even when it feels like things around them are falling apart,” Miller writes. “Additionally, it is this same intimacy that glues an elderly couple together in ways that defy our cultural mindset, even to the point of one spouse selflessly insisting on caring for the other who is handicapped by a debilitating mental or physical disability.”

Building Greater Intimacy

Though there are others, Erickson encourages people to include four ingredients in their recipes for intimacy.

1. Affection and caring. Non-sexual touching, hugs, and kisses are important. If your wife anticipates you want sex when you hug or kiss her, you have a problem that needs time and trust to correct. Also, pray for each other. Take time for each other, and show each other love and respect.

2. Vulnerable communication. Marriage should be a place where spouses can share anything, including their childhood, their pain, their crazy dreams, their disappointments, their hopes, and anything else in safety. Safe and vulnerable communication is non-judgmental and one spouse shouldn’t be trying to “fix” the other.

Listen more and listen well. God gave you one mouth and two ears, so use them accordingly.

3. Mutual living. Intimacy includes a desire for spouses to be together and share their experiences and daily life. Certainly, everyone needs time for solitude or personal hobbies, but there should be an intentional pursuit of enjoying time together. Often love and affection are measured in both the quality and the quantity of time you give.

4. Mutual giving. Do you look for ways to please your wife? For instance, Dan took over doing the laundry and washes the dishes and cleans up after meals. Do you seek ways to relieve her stress, to serve her, and make her feel special? Plan special dates with her, and let her know ahead of time so that she can be ready.

Finally, God will make you a better spouse if you are open to his Word and instruction.

“A couple’s marriage is a reflection of their intimate relationship with God,” Erickson said. “The more intimate their relationship with God, the more intimate they become with each other, and the more intimate they are with each other, the more intimate they can be with God.”

Homosexuality: What Do We Mean When We Talk About Change?

SOURCE:  Jeff Johnston/CitizenLink

[The Counseling Moment Editor’s Note:  This article was originally published on 13 June 2008.]

Freedom from Male Homosexuality

Over 30 years ago, Exodus International was formed as a coalition of Christian ministries proclaiming freedom for men and women struggling with homosexuality. Slowly Exodus grew and was joined by other groups that were formed to help people steward their sexuality and behavior according to God’s created intent, including Homosexuals Anonymous, Courage (Roman Catholic), NARTH (National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality), JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality), Evergreen (Mormon) and others. As individuals in these groups shared their personal stories of change, churches, denominations and other ministries – such as Focus on the Family – came alongside, and the news of “change” for those with same-sex attractions was broadcast more widely.

Both inside and outside these organizations, there was – and continues to be – much discussion about what “change” means. Does it mean that someone who has experienced same-sex attractions never has these feelings or temptations again? Does change just mean that a person only changes his or her behavior? Does change mean that a person shifts from same-sex attractions to opposite-sex attractions? Or are those who claim to have changed simply suppressing these feelings and living in self-denial? And how does one measure change?

This article attempts to articulate some answers to these important questions – both for those who struggle with same-sex attractions and for those who want to know more about the very real changes that God can bring into a person’s life. It will focus on the issue of male homosexuality – realizing that men and women are very different and that lesbianism differs from male homosexuality in significant ways, including how the change process often transpires. The insights I offer come from the combination of my own personal experience with change in the arena of same-sex attractions and over fifteen years of ministry experience helping others who seek to steward their sexuality in accordance with their ethical and moral values.

Male homosexuality is like any other sexual sin or temptation that a person may struggle with. Given that God works with us as individuals, there is no “formula” for the change process, nor is there typically instant freedom. Not surprisingly, each person’s path to liberty will be different.

Moreover, same-sex attractions do not change by direct action against them. In other words, they don’t go away just because a person “tries really hard” not to have them or “prays really hard” that they’ll go away. This is because same-sex attractions are almost invariably rooted in deeper issues – developing over time as a person grows up and including profound aspects of the person’s body, mind, spirit and heart. Thus, given that humans are complex beings – and human sexuality is especially complex – dealing with same-sex attraction is usually not a simple or easy undertaking.

The good news is that homosexual attractions and temptations do change, dissipate and even disappear for many men – as they cooperate with God in the process of becoming more like Jesus. However, there are a number of aspects to the process of change, and it will look different for everybody, with no guarantee that one’s homosexual attractions will completely transform into exclusive heterosexual attractions. This reality should not be surprising to Christians given that Scripture teaches that all believers will continue to experience struggles and temptations throughout the course of their lives – the ongoing battle between the sin nature described as the “old man” and the “new man” that we are in Christ.

Having said this, here are some areas where change has happened for many:

Change in behavior

For many men, this is of paramount concern. Some homosexual strugglers have struggled with fantasy, looking at pornography, masturbation and/or sexual activity with people of the same sex for years. Each time a person behaves in these ways, thoughts, feelings and actions are rehearsed in the body and in the brain. And these thoughts, feelings, and actions become more ingrained, more habitual. An individual might have dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of these experiences. Changing behavior is never easy – and requires time, effort, motivation, support from friends and family, and the empowerment of God’s Holy Spirit. It also takes replacing old habits with new ones. Recall that the Apostle Paul repeatedly calls us to “put off” the old and “put on” the new. While some pro-gay activists scoff at behavior change, men seeking to follow Christ know that these efforts – though difficult – can be real and significant. (1)

Change in motivation

It takes strong motivation to change. Many men are initially motivated to seek change from homosexuality by fear, shame or guilt.  Others are motivated by the desire for marriage and family, the desire to follow what the Bible says about God’s design for us, or the desire to follow the Church’s teaching. Some are motivated by dissatisfaction with their gay relationships and experiences. Others are motivated by love for truth or love for God. While conviction about sin is good, self-loathing and immobilizing shame are not. Shifting to positive, productive motivations is a big change for many men. The stronger the motivation and the deeper the commitment, the more likely that change will take place. God is powerful enough to change our sinful and self-centered desires, to give us the motivation to change, and to empower our wills to stay committed to Him.  Over time, and especially as we learn to receive God’s grace, many men notice a significant change in their motivations – from initial fear and shame to a love for God and desire to follow Him.  (2)

Change in identity

Many people believe that they were born gay – that being gay is the essence of who they are. This is what is known as the “essentialist” view of the origins of same-sex attractions. In contrast to this worldly view on sexuality, the Bible says that we humans are made male and female in the image of God – reflecting a heterosexual intent in our design – and that homosexual temptations do not define anyone. Thus informed by Scripture, the man who wants to change will start thinking about himself differently – as part of fallen humanity, as a sinner in need of a Savior, as a redeemed child of God, as a man.  He will ask God to change his self-image, from the world’s view to a biblical view. Homosexual strugglers are not a separate class or essence of humanity, and the man who seeks change will stop thinking of himself as essentially different from other men. He must embrace healthy, God-given and God-ordained sexual identity and masculinity.

Homosexuals Anonymous (HA) is a Christ-centered fourteen-step program that illustrates this shift in identity that must take place. It is different from many other “step” programs in that the struggler does not identify himself by his sin. Here’s how HA articulates change in identity in steps five and six: “We came to perceive that we had accepted a lie about ourselves, an illusion that had trapped us in a false identity. We learned to claim our true reality that as humankind, we are part of God’s heterosexual creation and that God calls us to rediscover that identity in Him through Jesus Christ, as our faith perceives Him.” (3)  Many men who come out of homosexuality do not think of themselves as “gay” or even “ex-gay” any more.  They are sons, fathers, friends, husbands – men.

Change in attitude

Men who struggle with homosexual behavior often feel victimized and rejected. This may have been true. But the gospel calls us to forgive and to release others from our judgment. The struggler often needs to feel the pain and hurt of wounds from the past, and then learn to give that pain and wounding to Jesus, who bore our grief and wounds on the cross. We either let Christ carry our grief and wounding, or we continue to carry them ourselves. Here, God also empowers us to live with a positive attitude:  not complaining, but giving thanks; not bitter, but loving; not angry, but forgiving; not grumbling, but praising. Cultivating these attitudes takes time, confession, prayer, effort, help from God, and help from others – including pastoral or professional counseling.  While this healing process can be very challenging to walk through, the end result can be joy, growth, and new life. (4)

Change in relationships with men and women

Anyone who struggles with same-sex attractions will have to examine his relationships. This kind of thoughtful moral inventory will often involve confession and the willingness to grow, mature and cultivate new actions. Here are a few of the relational sins – often connected with the homosexual struggle – where God will empower change:

Lust – desiring to use another man for one’s own pleasure and fulfillment;
Envy – wanting to own another’s masculinity, wanting to possess another person’s attributes;
Contempt – looking down on “straight” men or women, despising men who are unattractive, old, or effeminate, or fearing and hating women;
Control – wanting to control another’s behavior, affections, time, or thoughts; and,
Lying – not telling the truth about what one thinks or feels in order to maintain a relationship, not being honest about thoughts, feelings, behaviors or attitudes.

A man wrestling with homosexuality must also begin to develop healthy, non-sexual relationships with other men in the Body of Christ – learning to be a man amongst men. Specifically, learning to navigate uncomfortable or challenging situations in relationships is significant. And developing healthy relationships and good relational skills will often help same-sex attractions dissipate or lessen their impact and control over a person. God uses relationships in the Church to bring transformation, growth and healing.

Change in relationship with God

God longs to be in a deep relationship with each of us. But many of us view God as distant, angry, uninvolved or uncaring. We often don’t know how to connect with Him or how to hear the leading of His voice. Part of the Christian journey involves learning how to strip away the barriers to connecting with God. False beliefs about God must be identified and confessed, and we must be open to experiencing His love and grace. Men struggling with same-sex attractions often have deep hurts and wounds. Coming to God as a loving Father allows Him to begin to bring healing to those hurts and wounds – in His time and in His way.

Change in homosexual attractions

For many, same-sex attractions do change dramatically, and attractions for women develop. In his book, Desires in Conflict, Joe Dallas describes the reasonable expectations that many have experienced:

o change in behavior;
o change in frequency of homosexual attractions;
o change in intensity of homosexual attractions; and,
o change in perspective – homosexuality is no longer a life-consuming or dominating issue.

He goes on to write that many men also move into healthy other-sex relating.  (5)  Although not everyone experiences this type of change, it doesn’t mean that it can not happen or hasn’t happened for many. There are myriad testimonies of men who have moved out of homosexual behavior and into healthy God-honoring heterosexual relationships.  (6)

Many men – myself included – have struggled with same-sex attractions and, through relationship with Jesus Christ, have found release and freedom from these attractions.  Paul writes to the Corinthians to remind them that some of them used to be caught in homosexual behavior, but that they have been washed – cleansed and forgiven of past sins; sanctified – cooperating with God in the transformation process; and justified – no longer under condemnation for sin (I Cor. 6:9-11). And just as the men of Corinth found freedom from homosexuality, so, too, are many men today finding freedom and lasting change in their lives.

Living in line with God’s standards is not necessarily easy. But it is immensely fulfilling and brings great rewards. Frederica Matthewes-Green, author and commentator, reminds the church to intercede on behalf of those struggling with same-sex attractions. She writes:

Those who struggle with such passions need our prayers. For some, persistence and prayer will lead to reorientation, while for others, there will be the difficult lifelong discipline of celibacy. As tough as this sounds, it’s not impossible, and it’s not unusual. Christianity has always required celibacy of unmarried heterosexual believers, which all of us were at some point and many of us may be again. This isn’t something we demand of homosexuals without being willing to shoulder the burden ourselves. On the path of celibacy homosexuals will find a crowd of heterosexuals going back two thousand years:  never-married Christians, those widowed or divorced, those caring for seriously ill spouses. We know it’s tough, and we know where to find help:  sixteen hundred years ago St. John Chrysostom wrote, “Even if lust makes imperious demands, if you occupy its territory with the fear of God, you have stayed its frenzy.” (7)

[Jeff Johnston is a research analyst for CitizenLink, an affiliate of Focus on the Family. ]

Endnotes:

(1) See, for example, Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart, NavPress, 2002, and Dr. Jeffrey Satinover, Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth, Baker Books, 1996.

(2) See Joe Dallas, Desires in Conflict, Harvest House, 2003.

(3) http://www.ha-fs.org/The_14_Steps

(4) See, for example, Leanne Payne, The Broken Image, Baker BookHouse, 1981, andRestoring the Christian Soul, Baker BookHouse, 1991.

(5) Ibid, chapter 2.

(6) See the Exodus web site, Real Stories – Men, http://exodus.to/content/blogcategory/20/149/ andhttp://www.stonewallrevisited.com/menus/pages.html for some encouraging examples.

(7) “Facing the Homosexual Void,” Touchstone, July/August, 1998,http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=11-04-029-f

A guide to what’s allowed in the bedroom

SOURCE:  Louis and Melissa McBurney

Christian Sex Rules

When it comes to sex, most married Christians just do what works for them. If they have been blessed enough to have discovered something that brings satisfaction, pleasure, closeness, and climax, they most likely will continue that practice.

However, some are plagued with guilt because they wonder if what they’re doing is sinful.

[We] receive many, many questions from Christian couples who want to know what is and what is not okay to do sexually. Unfortunately, churches tend to ignore this issue, small groups usually don’t talk about sex, and most Christian books deal with more “spiritual” ideas.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a list of sexual practices categorized by “sinful” or “okay”? Is there such a list? Would everyone agree with the list? Is there a solution to this dilemma?

We think the answers to those questions are: yes, no, no, and probably not—in that order.

We’d really like to create such a list that could settle once and forever the niggling doubts about sexual practices. But that’s not possible.

Different communities of Christians have different understandings about sexual practices that are based on a few general biblical principles. No list would be accepted by all Christians. Still, we do want to provide some guidelines that we hope will help you enjoy the gift of your sexuality to the fullest. That’s what we’re convinced God wants for each of his children.

We doubt that God’s surprised by the intensity of our sexual desire or of its fulfillment. Seeing us enjoy the passion and pleasure seems to fit with his creative nature. There are some definite boundaries, however, that were identified through his Word. These are established to protect and enhance the maximum enjoyment of the gift. We think it’s like our giving our kids bicycles. We’d teach them the safety rules right away so they could delight in the ride without being run over by a car on a busy street.

First, we’d like to point out the obvious—the Bible is not a manual on sexual technique. We’ve heard some people say that Song of Solomon describes acceptable sexual positions and behavior. We see it as a poetic love song that clearly embraces the joy of sexual play. We don’t think it is an attempt to outline any specific sexual practices.

Second, we want to emphasize again that there are some specific sexual behaviors that are forbidden in scriptures. Adultery, that is having sexual intercourse with another person’s spouse or a partner other than your own spouse, is a sin. Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, deepens the importance of marital faithfulness by extending the prohibition of infidelity to include a lustful thought life as well as the physical act of intercourse. Looking into our minds and hearts is an important principle for safeguarding the delights of intimacy.

Scripture is also clear about the evil of fornication—premarital sexual intercourse—which most of our culture accepts as normal and irresistible. We see many couples suffering from the consequences of their early promiscuity. The “sexual freedom” of our time isn’t free and usually carries some pretty heavy costs.

The Bible also lists other practices that are “abominations” to God (Le v. 18, Rom. 1:21-32, I Thess. 4:1-8, and I Cor. 6:12-20). These include homosexuality, bestiality, and incest.

And last, there is a vast array of possible sexual practices for married couples that are not mentioned at all in Scripture (we can find no reference to Internet pornography, vibrators, or videos). So, since we aren’t likely to find a definitive answer, the best we can do is find the principles God has given us and apply them to the cultural setting we’re living in. As we look for those you may not be surprised to find that we’re not much different in the twenty-first century than how mankind has been since creation. We have the same anatomical equipment, the same physiologic hormones, the same mental capacity for lust and fantasy, and the same relational needs that have always driven men and women to seek sexual pleasure and intimacy. As Ecclesiastes says, “there is nothing new under the sun,” except maybe the vast array of new toys.

Exclusivity

Many studies have confirmed what biblical commandments imply. That is that becoming one flesh with one partner provides the best setting for satisfying sexual intimacy. Sex is neither a spectator sport for group indulgence nor an event to test a person’s ability to score with multiple partners. Casual sex as a way to prove one’s prowess or simply achieve physiologic relief of sexual tension only confirms that his or her ability to copulate is intact. Although providing some pleasure, it fails to meet the deeper need for intimacy that sex was designed to give.

A couple in a long-term committed relationship enters into a more secure and trusting territory with each sexual encounter. In that bed sex can truly become “making love” rather than just having sex. Multiple partners create mistrust, performance anxiety, and comparison evaluations that are barriers to the deepest levels of intimacy.

Mutuality

It is obvious to most couples early on that men and women are significantly different in their sexual interests and drives. Men usually have a desire for more frequent sex and greater variety in forms of sexual play. Women usually want more emotional connectedness through tender touch and conversation and prefer more consistent love-making technique. These differences often lead to tension over positions for intercourse, frequency of sex, and experimentation with different sources of stimulation.

This creates enormous opportunity for a couple to develop mutual submissiveness in their relationship. Each individual will have ways to show respect and give a meaningful gift of love to his or her mate. We feel that giving that respect to each other is a huge way to guide your choices of sexual play in the direction of genuinely mature love.

Doing only what is mutually agreeable sexually means that each partner will make sacrifices for the sake of intimacy. A wife may give herself more frequently or try a variety of sexual experiences that go beyond her comfort zone. A husband may relinquish some sexual fantasy or adjust his demands for intercourse twice a day just to show love to his mate. Those exercises in personal restraint are not easy, but help build the oneness of intimacy.

Specific behaviors that often fit this criteria are oral sex, rear-entry vaginal penetration, initiation of sexual activity, positions for intercourse, and mutual masturbation. We find no scriptural injunction against any of these or of frequency of intercourse. The Old Testament command of not having intercourse during a woman’s menstrual period does seem to have the medical benefit of avoiding some infectious processes. Paul’s admonition in I Corinthians not to withhold sex except by mutual consent seems to fit with this general principle of mutuality. It acknowledges the legitimacy of sexual desire and reinforces the boundary of sex within marriage.

Pleasurability

Sexual play should be enjoyable!

If an activity you’re doing doesn’t bring enjoyment to both partners it will cause resentment and distance between you. That’s not part of the design for “becoming one flesh.” It may be that some forms of your sexual play create pain for one or both of you. That should be evaluated medically. If something is creating discomfort, it is probably treatable (such as vaginitis or painful erections). This can certainly produce barriers to intimacy.

At times couples may want to explore the areas of sado-masochistic sex or bondage fantasies. We feel that these behaviors move sex out of the arena of selfless love into that of power or domination fantasies. In those neighborhoods sex becomes an invasive, controlling behavior in which one person is violated. That is a sexual perversion and is likely to create shame, humiliation, and ultimate devaluation of one (or both) partners. When domination is a necessary ingredient for sexual pleasure there tends to be development of tolerance to the level of excitation. Hence increasing levels of the stimulation are required for the same sense of gratification. This is seen in its extreme in pornography that includes rape and even murder as forms of sexual stimulation.

Relationality

Duh! You might think. Well, of course, sexual intimacy includes a strong relational component.

Unfortunately, that ain’t necessarily so.

One of the most destructive forces we’re seeing these days is the increasing frequency of sexual addictive disorders. When having sexual release becomes an addiction driven to levels of compulsive behavior, the relationship with a marriage partner may be replaced with various stimuli that are essentially fantasy based. We have seen men deeply hooked on Internet pornography (or other forms). They are compulsively driven to increasing exposure to pornographic stimulation and masturbatory release of sexual tension. We have seen women equally hooked on romance novels or chat-room sex talk for sexual release. These disorders displace the relational dimension of sexuality.

Marital sex, if maintained at all, takes place mechanically with mental fantasies from the artificial relationships providing the only sexual stimulation. That robs marriage of the most crucial part of intimacy—the blend of relational and sexual connectedness.

The use of pornographic films from whatever source introduces this possible danger into your sexuality. Explicit sexual materials can provide sexual excitement and arousal, but that form of stimulation may erode your enjoyment of each other. Those images may also create a basic sense of dissatisfaction with yourselves since most couples don’t maintain or ever achieve the sensual appearance of porn actors and models. The whole industry is based on illusions and those lies can lead to death of your relationship as well as your sexual satisfaction.

Perpetuating Genital Union

We delight in sexual playfulness and creative ways to pleasure one another, but unless it is not physically possible for a couple, we think nothing you do should completely replace genital union. The symbolism of having the embrace of vagina to penis and total giving of the erect penis to the welcoming vaginal canal is a recurring reminder that we were created for each other. The intimacy of that connectedness should awaken our most primitive desire for oneness. To enjoy sexual release in that most passionate form of embrace welds us into oneness like few other experiences.

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Melissa and Louis McBurney, M.D., Real Sex columnists for Marriage Partnership, are marriage therapists and co-founders of Marble Retreat in Marble, Colorado, where they counsel clergy couples.

How Should We Respond to Those Struggling With Homosexuality?

SOURCE:  RICHIE HUGHES/Charisma Magazine

When my brother—a fifth-generation preacher’s son—came out of the closet, I encountered one of the church’s biggest dilemmas of our time: How should we
respond to those who struggle with homosexuality?

The day was supposed to be the greatest of my life. I was 29, getting married and had arrived at a local eatery to meet my brother, Eddie, and ask him to be my best man. I couldn’t wait to see his reaction when I invited him to be the most important person in my wedding other than my incredible bride-to-be.

His reply changed my life forever. Thankfully he didn’t decline with a “No.” But neither was his answer a hearty, “Oh, yeah! Congratulations, bro!” Instead, my only brother’s reply was a tearful, “Richie … I’m gay.”

What? That definitely wasn’t the response I expected. My thoughts raced: That’s simply not possible! No way! How could a family like ours, so deeply rooted in church, have a member who isn’t following suit, who isn’t living the same lifestyle we’ve always lived?

You see, I’m a fifth-generation ordained minister. In my family, leading churches and doing ministry is a part of our heritage. But in a split second, one of the biggest issues of our time had hit home (literally) for my family and me. This person—my brother—became what many other Christians thought of as our dirty little secret.

Looking back to that moment 10 years ago, it’s easy to see that a lot has changed in the way society views homosexuality. States have legalized gay marriage. It seems that in every election this issue is on the ballot in California and other states, and probably will be until same-sex marriage is fully legalized.

But a decade ago, things were different. Through his series of poor choices, Eddie eventually contracted AIDS. When I learned about his condition, I was confident there would be a medical solution.

This is the 21st century, I thought. Unlike 20 or so years ago, there are medications that help control the virus now. My brother can live a productive life, and all should be great. Right?

It didn’t happen that way for my family.

A Dream Comes True

Fortunately, Eddie was welcomed into the L.A. Dream Center. Matthew Barnett, the center’s pastor, and his team ministered to him in a way he had never seen before. The Dream Center staff loved him, celebrated his creativity and didn’t judge him. My brother experienced the love of Jesus and, as a result, accepted His grace and forgiveness.

I’ll never forget his phone calls. He’d say: “Richie, God is so awesome. He doesn’t care what I’ve done. He loves me just the way I am.”

You see, it took a church—a group of Christians who loved Eddie just the way he was—to reach him for Jesus. The Dream Center team did not tell him: “Clean yourself up. Stop doing this and never say that or go there again, and we might let you come to our church.”

No, they said: “Come as you are. You are welcomed, loved and celebrated here.” My brother saw Christ in the people of that church. But I don’t think he would have seen Him at every church. (Would he have seen Him at yours?)

Church Attitudes 

Because my family had never discussed AIDS or thought it would touch us directly, and because I’d never been part of a small group at church where it was addressed, I was totally unequipped to deal with it.

How about you? Would you be ready for it? How about your church? Is homosexuality discussed openly? Most churches overlook it or ignore it. Worse, they are afraid to make an effort to understand how we should love others as God has commanded.

Wouldn’t God want us to pursue the gay community like we would any other people group? Wouldn’t He want us to go after them for Jesus with the same tenacity we pursue the family units we perceive are perfectly intact and capable of raising our churches’ monthly giving?

We should lead the way in welcoming gay attendees into the faith. We should assist them in their journey with God and in pursuing Him more deeply.

During my time as the executive pastor of Free Chapel in Orange Co., Calif., I vividly remember the debates and friction caused by Proposition 8 (the state’s same-sex marriage amendment). Tension in and out of the churches in California was at an all-time high.

Our strategy at Free Chapel for diffusing the tension was to invite and welcome homosexuals into our church body. Many ministries joined together and strategized on how to reach out to this community in love, while others regretfully chose the other path of exclusion.

This issue and so many others can be summed up like this: Until something attacks your family, it isn’t likely to be at the forefront of your concerns. But when it does, then it becomes real in your life, and your opinion about it changes.

How Did Our Story End?

My family lived through this HIV attack on my brother. We watched an incredibly talented and intelligent young man lose the physical battle. My brother passed away as a result of HIV at age 28.

My perspective toward the gay community was changed by my undying love for my brother. His life and struggles taught me to love in ways I never knew before.

Do I have any doubt about his eternity? No. One choice secured his eternity in Christ and removed past transgressions, just like it has for me—the guy who has just written a Christian inspirational book, who blogs and who stands in the pulpit of a great church on Sundays.

God doesn’t play favorites, and we can’t earn His favor with our good deeds. Since God is “no respecter of persons” (see Acts 10:34-35), my brother and I will one day reunite with my sister, who also passed away at much too early an age. My brother was gloriously saved, and through his life we’ve learned more about the Father’s love.

I have so much respect for the way Eddie lived his final months just waiting to meet his Savior face to face. He lived in almost total seclusion his last few months. It was his way of resisting the temptations that were on the other side of his apartment door. His flesh wasn’t strong enough to be out in public without wanting to participate in some of the things that took his life, so he stayed indoors and protected his eternity. How many of us could do the same to avoid our area of temptation?

What We Must Do

Chances are, you or someone close to you has a loved one who is living a homosexual life. God wants you to love them unconditionally. Here are three simple ways we all can do this.

1. Show them Jesus. Please love them, welcome them and minister to them. A church and its people “loved” my brother back into a relationship with Jesus that ultimately secured his destiny into heaven!

2. Get real about sin. Let’s realize that we all have a natural inclination to certain things that challenge our walk with God. On the sin scale, is homosexual fornication different than heterosexual fornication? No. Yet do we condone heterosexual fornication more readily than homosexual fornication? I would say most of us do. Sin is sin, wrong is wrong, and any sin breaks God’s heart.

3. Pour on the grace. Make no mistake; we are to follow the Bible in its entirety. The instruction manual is clear, and we are to resist all temptations. But we all fall from time to time (see 1 John 2:1-2). Even though Peter denied Christ three times (and yes, he walked on water with Jesus), he was not disqualified from a wonderful purpose. It was Peter who was used to preach on the day of Pentecost. God gave him a place to fit in.

My plea to the body of Christ is before you judge or form an opinion, before you shun or disqualify one of God’s own children, think about this: Where would this person fit in to Jesus’ group?

I’ve served as a church leader at many churches and heard every reason for why “We can’t let this or that happen, pastor!” But I know this as Eddie’s brother: If we had created a place for him to serve, to use his gifts and talents, and to be celebrated, he might still be with us today. Just maybe part of God’s plan for my brother was to open our eyes to his dilemma.

When looking at the gay and lesbian community, there are many factors that churches and organizations should research and understand. But when it’s all said and done, I hope our conclusion is one of love, compassion and an attempt to show Jesus to any and all who are outside the body of Christ, for any reason.

We must go after the Eddies of the world for Jesus. In doing so I believe we can make a difference to a community of people—and make them God’s people.


Richie Hughes is an agent/manager for authors and music artists, and an in-demand speaker for churches and businesses. He is the former executive pastor of Free Chapel church, pastored by Jentezen Franklin. His latest book, Start Here, Go Anywhere, released in August. For more information, visit richiehughes.org.

Romantic Differences

SOURCE:  Adapted from an article by by Barbara Rainey/Family Life Ministry

The Same, Only Different

Male and female created he them.

Genesis 1:27

Dennis and I received a cute email about the romantic differences between men and women. It began by asking, “How do you romance a woman?”

Answer: “Wine her, dine her, call her, cuddle with her, surprise her, compliment her hair, shop with her, listen to her talk, buy flowers, hold her hand, write love letters, and be willing to go to the end of the earth and back again for her.” I could go along with that.

But when it asked the same question the other way–“How do you romance a man?”–the answer was much more brief and to the point.

Answer: “Arrive naked. Bring food.”

Ahhh . . . men.

But in a way, this blending of our romantic differences is similar to how you make a good salad dressing.

Oil and vinegar are about as dissimilar as condiments get. The only thing they have in common is that they are liquids. Other than that, they’re night and day. Oil is smooth; vinegar is sharp. Oil is thick; vinegar is thin. Left alone in the same bottle, the two will always migrate to opposite ends and remain there forever–unless shaken.

Interestingly, however, even after the bottle has been shaken, the two ingredients retain their unique identities. And yet they complement each other in a savory unity. Together, they serve as a zesty finish to an otherwise bland mix of lettuces.

And so it is in marriage.

No matter how many times a husband and wife come together, they always remain unique. He will always think like a man; she, like a woman. And although their innate design will never change, they can better understand each other and move to love one another with compassion, knowing that in so doing, they create a savory blend of romantic intrigue.

Pray for patient understanding and for new ways of embracing and loving this wonderful person you married.

Children: The Biggest “Need Machines”

SOURCE:  Adapted from an article by Barbara Rainey/Family Life Ministry

Need Machines

Over our doors are all choice fruits, both new and old, which I have saved up for you, my beloved.

Song of Solomon 7:13

Without question, the biggest deterrent to romance for moms is children.

These sweet, precious, innocent little ones given to us by God are also self-centered, untrained, unending “need machines” who can suck the life out of our marriage. They often leave us feeling like the mother who said, “It’s ironic. Romance gave us our children, and children ended our romance.”

But motherhood can simply be a tempting excuse for giving up sex.

Caught up in her day-in-day-out responsibilities, a mother can experience a slow shift in loyalty from husband to children. She thinks the needs of her children, since they are so helpless and formative, are more important than the needs of her husband. After all, he’s an adult.

True. And yet one reason why this reasoning is faulty–one reason why it’s easy for us to have little sympathy for our husband’s sexual needs–is that we as women are able to experience our femaleness simply by nurturing our children. We feel fully alive as women when we’re caring for them (that is, when we’re not totally exhausted!). We feel a deep, innate sense of well-being and fulfillment; it is an indescribable privilege that brings us profound satisfaction. It’s what we were made to do.

But it’s only part of being a woman. God didn’t create you with the capacity and compulsion to nurture just for the sake of your children. He also meant for you to nurture life in your husband. Maintaining this balance is one of the biggest challenges of the parenting years; your children need to see Dad and Mom in love.

Nurturing life in your husband may not be as automatic as it is with your children, but it is no less important. God will help you balance the needs of both husband and children when you depend upon Him.

Pray for God’s wisdom in balancing life’s demands.

Letting Go of Lust

Why willpower alone is not enough

Source:  Discipleship Journal

The young man looks at the pile of work on his desk and takes a deep breath. With dread, he thinks about the deadline that looms on Friday. The pressing tyranny of so many things to do day after day has begun to wear on him.

As he heads to the kitchenette for another cup of coffee, a coworker steps out of her cubicle in front of him. He notices her clothes, or more specifically, how they fit her. In an instant, his thoughts race into forbidden territory as his glance sweeps over Marcia’s body.

“Morning, Sam,” Marcia says with a friendly smile.

“Morning, Marcia,” Sam replies according to script, unable to look her in the eyes.

Sam and Marcia discuss the morning’s non-news, the mundane stuff of casual conversations between coworkers. Almost unconsciously he watches her as she turns to leave the kitchenette.

As soon as she disappears around the corner, Sam realizes he’s fallen again.

Despite his pleas to God and his vows to try harder, to do better, still his eyes wander. Like Peter after the cock crowed, Sam is filled with remorse. Back at his desk, he quietly pleads, “Forgive me, Lord.” But he neither feels forgiven nor has much time to think about it as he picks up the next invoice to record in the ledger.

Anatomy of Lust

Many sincere followers of Christ struggle with lust. What, exactly, is lust?

Webster’s defines it as an “unusually intense or unbridled sexual desire.” In Ephesians, Paul says that lust characterizes those without Christ:

They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.

—Eph. 4:18–19

Paul also wrote, “All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts” (Eph. 2:3).

These passages paint a dark picture of the person trapped in lust.

Though Paul was talking about unbelievers, when believers give in to lust regularly, our souls are similarly darkened. We grow insensitive to sin and increasingly pursue fleshly gratification. Lust promises satisfaction but never delivers. Instead, we’re left with a driving hunger for more.

People who struggle with lust may be tempted to wonder, Is obedience in this area of my life really possible? This has been a pressing question for me. I’ve had seasons of consistent obedience as well as failure. I wish I could say that I have “arrived” when it comes to defeating this demon. But I have not discovered the silver bullet that will permanently vanquish lust from my heart, mind, and eyes.

However, I have begun to see that dealing with lust demands a deeper examination of the core beliefs from which our sinful choices spring. We can make important behavioral changes—such as memorizing Scripture and seeking accountability—but still fail to look carefully at what’s really going on in our hearts. To experience lasting change, we must recognize that sexual sin springs from wrong beliefs about God, about others, and about what will ultimately satisfy our longing.

Unmasking Unbelief

What drives us to choose something that so consistently fails to satisfy, something that heaps debilitating shame upon our lives?

God has created us with a natural desire to experience intimacy. Lust is a debased form of this desire to connect with others. We want other people to understand what’s going on inside us. Lust, however, mistakenly elevates the sexual component of intimacy. It twists and warps our hearts into the tragic belief that sexuality—and fantasy—is the chief means to that end.

Lust also reveals a stunted belief in God’s goodness and His ability to meet our needs.

Throughout the Bible, God has promised to fill, satisfy, and sustain us.

Isaiah 51:12 says, “I, even I, am he who comforts you.”

Zephaniah 3:17 describes God’s passion for us in poetic terms: “He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”

David spoke of God’s love for him: “Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you . . . My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods” (Ps. 63:3, 5).

In Ps. 16:11, David also said, “You will fill me with joy in your presence.”

Finally, Isaiah wrote about how God has designed our relationship with Him to quench our deepest thirsts. “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation” (Is. 12:3).

The New Testament echoes the Old in the ways it describes God’s promise to satisfy us. Jesus said, “Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (Jn. 4:14). Paul wrote, “And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19, NRSV). Paul repeatedly described believers as heirs to the inexhaustible riches of a Father God who loves us passionately. We are children of the King!

And yet we sometimes choose to live as paupers, rooting around desperately in the trash instead of dining on the rich fare He offers His children at His table. If we capitulate to the siren song of the flesh, distortions and lies creep into our thinking in subtle ways. Enticing but life-sapping alternatives to His goodness always crouch in the shadows of the soul, seeking to seduce our heart’s attention. Whether we realize it or not, we begin to rationalize our sin.

We may think, I’ve sought to serve Him with all my heart for many years, but still He hasn’t brought me a life partner. It doesn’t matter if I indulge this lustful thought a bit. God knows I’m a sexual being. I deserve a bit of comfort.

Instead of recognizing our sin for what it is, we come to see it as a right. We squint at God, viewing Him as a stingy miser who has established unreasonable laws to keep us from what we think will satisfy us. Lust is born the moment we choose to meet our needs our way instead of trusting God to be true to what He’s promised.

Maybe we don’t vocalize those thoughts. But when we choose lust, our actions uncover what we believe. We have essentially said to God, “I really don’t believe You can satisfy my deepest needs, and I’m tired of waiting. I am going to have what I want, on my terms, right now, and I’m not willing to wait for You to fulfill my desires in Your time.” Lust, then, is the wicked child of unbelief.

That’s why willpower alone can never be the ultimate solution to the battles we wage against the lusts of our flesh.

I may vow, “I’m never going to do that again.” But that momentary intention does not get at the root of the problem: my unbelief in God’s goodness.

Instead, I must recognize that one key to resisting lust’s lies is learning to go to the Father and praying in faith, “Lord, You have said that You delight in me, that You love me, that You want to comfort and fill me with Yourself. You have said that You alone are life and that Your love is better than anything we might experience in this life, including sex and my fantasies about it. Father, help me to trust You in this moment of temptation. I believe in Your ability to fill and satisfy me.”

Peter said that if we take God at His word, we will experience freedom from the shackles of sin and we will know Him intimately. “He has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (2 Pet. 1:4).

Seeing Better

In Shakespeare’s play King Lear, a once proud and noble king slowly goes insane, slipping into deep paranoia about those close to him. One of Lear’s friends admonishes him, “See better, Lear.” Like the senile Lear, we, too, need to see better. Not only does lust reveal unbelief, but it also demonstrates that I see others only as objects of gratification, not as individuals whom God has lovingly created in His image.

How can we begin to see people as God sees them?

By allowing Scripture to saturate our hearts. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, God’s Word will transform our perspective. As we read and meditate upon it, we see what He values and discover how He wants us to relate to others. He uses His Word to rewire our perspective on reality, giving us new eyes to “see better.”

All of Scripture pours forth God’s love for each individual. A couple of passages, however, stand out regarding the way we see people. One important thing to reflect upon is that every person has been made in God’s image (see Gen. 1:27). David describes God’s craftsmanship in Ps. 139:13–16:

You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful . . . My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.

Every person has tremendous dignity and worth simply by virtue of being created lovingly by God. We can begin to combat lust by asking God to help us remember and believe, deep in our hearts, that each individual is a unique and wondrous creation who bears His image. When I lust after a woman, I do violence to her dignity by failing to see her as a whole person and respect her as an image bearer of our God. Over the last couple of years, this truth has significantly changed the way I see people.

Another passage is one of the most familiar commands in the Bible: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” (Mt. 7:12). As a man, I’ve rarely been on the receiving end of lustful glances. However, one experience showed me how ugly, how selfish, how disgusting my lust is.

On a weekend trip to Santa Fe with one of my best friends and his wife, we discovered a club that featured a different kind of music every night. We enjoyed a delightful evening of jazz and returned the next night to see what else was on tap.

When we walked in, I noticed that everyone sitting at the bar was male. My friend whispered to me, “This feels weird.” He was right. Several male couples openly expressed their affection for one another on the dance floor. Recognition dawned: It was gay night.

By the time my friend and I turned to leave, three men at the bar were openly sizing us up. No veil of shame or embarrassment cloaked their hungry eyes. I remember how disgusting it felt to be seen as a steak on a platter. Almost immediately, however, a familiar voice said, “Adam, how often do you do the same thing?”

I try to remember that sense of violation. I try to remember because it’s not the way I want to be treated, nor is it the way I want to regard any woman. By God’s help and power, I am learning to see better.

Intimacy and Community

Earlier I commented that lust is a misguided attempt to meet our legitimate needs for intimacy. We may think the key to escaping lust’s tenacious grip is paying more attention to private spiritual disciplines. While this is important, I believe another crucial component is often overlooked. Those who struggle with lust must experience wholesome intimacy within the context of a loving community. We need to be with others who love us deeply, yet not sexually. We need to receive their affirmation, their affection, their love, and their touch.

Genuine community is built upon a willingness to take off our masks in front of others. Though we need to be careful to do this in appropriate settings, such as in a small group or even with one other person, it’s critically important that someone knows who we really are.

Moving toward that kind of honesty is never easy, even if someone else has taken the risk first. But often, we will have to be the one who steps forward, takes the risk, and talks openly about our sin.

Proverbs 28:13 describes the healing process that takes place when we confess our struggles to an accepting community of believing friends: “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” I’ve sometimes failed to live up to the standards of purity God commands of us. Each time, I experience a tortuous descent into self-loathing, a crippling burden to bear alone.

Even after I’ve confessed my sin to God, I can only find complete freedom from my shame by confessing the whole truth about my choices to several men I trust. In doing so, I’ve never failed to experience the mercy about which the writer of Proverbs speaks.

The freedom and healing in confession come from knowing that others have glimpsed the dark places in our hearts yet accept and love us anyway. God graciously uses other believers as vessels of His mercy and grace, reminding us through them that forgiveness is real, that it is our birthright as His sons and daughters.

Hope for the Battle

When we find ourselves giving in again to lust, we need to look beyond the behavior itself to what’s going on in our hearts. Lust is a clue that something about the way we’re approaching life is not right.

If you’re wrestling with this sin, consider how you’re seeing God and others. Do you believe God is capable of meeting your needs? Are you carving out time to know Him in increasing intimacy through His Word and prayer? How are you looking at other people? Are you seeing them as image bearers of God or treating them as objects? Are you sharing your heart with others, letting them see your struggle, and receiving the gift of their prayers and willingness to listen? Or are you in hiding?

Paul’s promises about God’s work in my life give me hope for this ongoing battle. “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6). “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Phil. 2:13). By His grace, I recognize His tremendous Father-love for me more each day. As I do so, His eyes become mine, and I see other people from His redemptive, life-giving perspective, instead of viewing them through the warped lenses of lust.

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