Bob: Sexual confusion is nothing new in the 21st century. It’s been around for millennia. In fact, author, David White, says that, for as long as there have been fathers and sons, there have needed to be candid conversations about how you handle your sexuality, as a man.
David: I think of a beautiful passage in Proverbs 7, where the father warns his son about the adulteress and is really straight-up with him about what she’s offering to him—how good it looks. You know, there’s almost a sense of, “Why would you not go for this experience?” but he talks him all the way through. The conclusion is: “This is going to lead to death. Look at this guy. He was like an ox being led to the slaughter.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, July 24th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. David White joins us today to talk about how we cultivate a heart of purity in a culture that’s gone crazy about sex. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. May be providential—what we’re going to be talking about, here, today—because I’m getting ready to have just a short road trip with one of my sons—one of my unmarried sons—but soon-to-be-married son. And I’m just—as I was thinking about what we’re talking about, I thought, “We should probably have some dialogue about some of the traps that are ahead for him,” because you often think, “Once I get to marriage, the traps go away because then”—
Dennis: It’s like temptations stop, at that point.
Bob: —“because sexual fulfillment will be there and available to me.”
Dennis: Well, we have the author of Sexual Sanity for Men. David White joins us again on FamilyLife Today. David, welcome back.
David: Thank you.
Dennis: David is the Men’s Ministry Coordinator for Harvest USA, which ministers to both sexually-broken men and women in a number of cities across the country. He is married to Jennifer. He’s created a book, here, that is both a devotional, a mentor’s guide, and a small group study that men can use to get free of this.
Bob’s about to go on this trip with his son—what coaching would you give him, knowing what you know, kind of from your ministry—and your ministry is unique because you are looking at kind of the dark side of how men have been sexually-abused, have used sex as an addiction or an idol in their lives—what would you encourage Bob to say to his son about how to view sex after he gets married?
David: Yes. That’s a great question. There’s such an importance for your son to live chastely now because he’s going to have to continue to live chastely in marriage. He’ll be able to have sex but not all the time. You know, marriage will not be the cornucopia of sexual delight that he may be hoping. There is still going to be self-control necessary in marriage.
So many singles need to unlearn their expectations and realize the only how-to passage, I’m aware of, in Scripture is First Corinthians 7—that basically teaches sex isn’t about your own satisfaction. It’s about pleasing your spouse.
David: So, it really is about moving toward his spouse in love, serving her—not the way the world paints sexuality—which is, “It’s all about you.”
Dennis: So, the sacrifice he’s practicing, as a single man, hopefully, will be the same self-sacrifice he’ll practice later on, as a married man.
Bob: Well, we’ve already talked this week about the fact that all of us are sexually- broken people. So, every married man is dealing with his own sexual brokenness. That’s going to leak through, in a variety of ways, in a marriage relationship. What seemed to be a gravitational pull, toward one another, prior to marriage, can sometimes—it’s like somebody flipped the magnet. You’re shocked by it, in marriage, finding that: “I thought this was going to be easy. This is much harder than I thought it was going to be.”
David: Yes, I sat with a man—just a few weeks ago—who is in his 50’s—been married for a couple of decades—and was talking to me about his frustrations in his sex life and saying, “Well, it was supposed to be easy.” I said, “Where did you hear that?”
David: “Who told you it was supposed to be easy? No, it takes work.” And that’s where—I even have some concern with some of the ways we teach abstinence to kids because we tell them, “Oh, if you just wait until marriage, your honeymoon is going to be incredible!” Well, no. Your honeymoon—it’ll be very sweet. There’s going to be things that are going to be wonderful. It’s also going to be a little awkward and clunky.
It’s kind of like we want to co-op the world’s ways and the world’s message: “If you just wait, it’ll be awesome when you get to that moment.” No, no, no. God’s way is: “Give it years. Give it decades. Keep growing in love for each other. Keep growing emotionally and spiritually together. Eventually, you’ll start to see the glory that I have for you in this.” It’s completely opposite.
Dennis: You use a story or a word picture of a snake and a mouse to counsel someone who feels defeated by recurring sexual sin. Share that with our audience.
David: Well, I was having breakfast with a man once. He shared this chilling tale of his college days, when he owned a snake. It was—feeding time was always a big deal on his dorm floor. They would section off an area and drop a mouse in with the snake. The mouse would immediately know the snake was there—start running the perimeter, desperate to escape—and then, finally, realize there’s no way out. He would come and stand, trembling, in front of the snake, waiting for the strike to come.
I’m sitting there, saying: “You know, I’m trying to eat my eggs here. What are you doing telling me this over breakfast?” But he said to me: “I am that mouse. When it comes to sexual sin, I am that mouse.” And the thing that hit me was the promise, from Genesis 3, that one was going to come to crush the head of the serpent—that, in your temptations, you are never left alone to face them alone.
Dennis: You don’t have to go stand and just say: “I’m going to cave in. I’m going to give in.”
Dennis: He came to liberate you.
David: Yes, absolutely.
Bob: The only way the mouse is safe in the cage is if somebody kills the snake.
Bob: You know?
Dennis: Oh, yes.
Bob: But that’s the point you are making. Somebody has killed the snake. Now, a guy will hear me say that and go, “Okay; so, if Jesus has killed the snake, why do I still find myself being swallowed up by my sin?”
David: Yes, there is a—you know, we love to run to the passage in First Corinthians 10 that says, “Temptation is common to man; and in every temptation, there is a way of escape.” We like to stop there. We picture it as, “There is a bull charging—let me find the hole in the fence and escape.”
David: “Let me get choppered out of here.”
Bob: “If I just try hard enough, I’m out of here.”
David: Right. And the verse goes on to say, “so that you can bear up”—so that you can stand under it, so that you can stay on your feet. And the reality is you still need to stay there with the bull; but the ultimate Matador, with the sword, comes in the middle and saves you in the midst of that. The bottom line is we want obedience to be easy, and there is always a way in which it’s going to feel like death.
That brings us back to where we started the conversation about your son. The lie is, “I go to sexual sin because of my hormones.” You know: “I just don’t have an outlet. So, once I get married, it won’t be a problem.” We go to sexual sin when life isn’t working the way we want, and we are trying to find some escape from our life—some way of comforting ourselves. Marriage has a way of turning up pressure, as you guys know. So, it doesn’t make sexual sin easier; it can, in some ways, make it harder.
Bob: So, the guy, who is listening right now—who, last night, after everybody was in bed, just surfed for a while and went some places—that, this morning, he got up and said, “I shouldn’t have done that.” He felt bad—he felt guilty, “I’m not going to do that again.” But he knows that he’s got this pattern: He quits for a while, and he’s back. He quits for a while, and he’s back. He goes: “I run around for a while. Then, I go and stand in front of the snake.” How do you help this guy get free?
Dennis: What you’re really asking there, Bob, is, “Why do we do what we do?”
Bob: Yes. Good point.
Dennis: Okay. He has an illustration in the book that I want you to share because I think this really will help a lot of guys unlock and understand why they really do what they do.
David: So, the example we use, as a ministry at Harvest USA, is what we call the Tree Model. It’s based off of biblical passages—like Psalm 1, that talk about “a tree planted by streams of living water”—by passages, like Jesus saying, “A tree is known by its fruit,” —that our behaviors, our words—all of those things come out of our heart. The point of the model is that we live out of a worldview.
So, all of us—if you are a Christian, you’ve got an Orthodox statement of faith. We have some differences and what not, but most of us would agree on the same—you know—the basic points; but we don’t always live out of what I call our official theology. We have a functional theology that is often at work. That’s really what we need to start targeting—where our functional theology comes to the fore. There are lots of pieces that go together that form this worldview—this functional theology.
Bob: And is the worldview—is that the tree you’re talking about?
David: Yes, the trunk of the tree is the worldview. That’s, ultimately, what produces the fruit. So many times, what we go after is behaviorism. We try to change specific behaviors, but we don’t start addressing the beliefs that are behind those behaviors. So, here would be an example—working with a man, who is in danger of losing his job. Okay. He, often—when he can’t sleep at night, because his mind is racing about what’s going on—he’s tempted to go look at pornography online. The prayer is: “Lord, I don’t want to look at porn. I don’t want to look at porn.” He ends up in this white-knuckling, “Help me not sin!”
What we need to realize is the bigger issue is the fear of the future—the sense of insecurity, the loss of identity—all of these things that can come with losing a job. That’s the conversation he needs to have with his loving, Heavenly Father and not just worrying about not acting out. Until we start seeing those beliefs that are going on—the fears, the insecurities, the frustrations—we aren’t actually having the conversations with God we need to have.
Bob: It’s really asking the question, “Why do I think this is going to be a satisfying experience?” Whatever the sexual sin is—“What is it in me that believes that this is going to be something that I’m going to find delight in?” Well, we know that there is some level of physical delight. There’s some level of neuro-chemical delight going on when we’re exposed to sexual stimulation; but what we forget is that the pleasure that is sin for a season has a fruit behind it that is a bitter fruit; right?
David: Yes. There is always sowing and reaping going on with our lives. You know, you sow at a different season; and then, you reap later what is going to happen.
Dennis: Back to the tree model—I want you to explain kind of the different components that are in that model. You’ve got the soil, the roots, the fruit, the seeds, and the shoot. Explain, “What’s the soil?”—what’s that all about?
David: Okay. So, the soil is all the aspects of life that are outside of your control. As we all know, there’s a whole lot of life that is outside of our control that impacts us. So, we help men think through issues in their family of origin, growing up. We have men consider how their personality and gifts impact their view of the world and how they’ve been responded to by others.
Dennis: They might have been sexually-abused as a boy—that’d be a part of the soil; right?
David: Sure. Abuse is a significant, significant factor—the culture that they were raised in—the expectations of: “What does it mean to be a man? What does it mean to be male?” All of these things impact how you view yourself, how you view the world. We want to talk through, with them, particularly, how they view God because all of us have come to conclusions, out of the experience of our lives.
Another aspect of the model is that, within this soil of a world that has so much outside of your control, the seed is the human heart, that is planted in that soil. From a biblical standpoint, our heart is fallen. It’s not neutral. You know, it doesn’t turn to God on its own. So, we end up making choices to satisfy ourselves the best we can from the soil that we are planted in.
Dennis: So, the seed starts to grow and sinks roots into where we’ve come from—and something—outside of who God is—that’s not going to be a good result.
David: Exactly. And that’s where we end up with a functional theology—that for most of us, after we come to faith and we understand the Gospel, there is still—really deep in our understanding of life—a very different belief system going on. So, it’s starting to identify that—that enables me to turn, ultimately, away from my sins.
I want to help men begin to think through: “What are the triggers in their lives? What are the situations that make them anxious or frustrated? What are the memories that are filled with lots of pain?”—for them to begin to understand: “When life hits them a certain way / when their wife makes a comment—it triggers something in them from ten years ago.” They need to start realizing: “Wait a minute! This is not about my wife.”
I love that you guys start the—at least, you used to—the Weekend to Remembers® with, “Your spouse is not your enemy.”
David: You know because so often we’re bringing so much baggage to the table that we’re not even hearing right what is being said.
Bob: I have a friend of mine, who, for years, was an alcoholic—got sober, thankfully, now, 35 years ago. One of the things he said to me—he said, “I learned, going to AA meetings, that there is acronym they use that’s HALT—that you are vulnerable when you are hungry, or angry, or lonely, or tired.” I thought, “That is helpful.”
I can look at my own life and see that when I’m weak, when I’m vulnerable, I am more susceptible to temptation—to giving in. Is that too simplistic to say, “It’s when you’re hungry, angry, lonely, tired,”—am I still not looking deep enough; do you think?
David: Well, I think all those current circumstances matter. So, I think that is, for any of us—that can be a part of it. You know, absolutely. Hungry, angry, lonely, tired applies to all of us. And there are—I guess there are deeper aspects, as well.
Dennis: I can imagine there is a mom or dad listening to this conversation, and they are thinking about their kids. You know, I’ve got 19 grandkids. I mean, they are scattered from age—well, let’s see. It’s about—I think the youngest is a little over one, and the oldest is thirteen.
Dennis: And I can imagine my kids, thinking about raising these kids in this culture; and they are wondering, “There’s a lot, outside of my control, as I raise these kids, that could happen to them.”
Dennis: How would you coach parents, then, not just merely to protect their kids from all the evil—because they need to do that—but what else do they need to provide for children today in the midst of this soil of this culture?
David: Sure. Parents really need to be proactive, Dennis, in a way that they’ve never been before. I think of a beautiful passage in Proverbs 7, where the father warns his son about the adulteress and is really straight-up with him about what she’s offering to him—how good it looks. There is almost a sense of, “Why would you not go for this experience?” but he talks him all the way through. The conclusion is: “This is going to lead to death. Look at this guy. He was like an ox being led to the slaughter.”
Parents need to be willing to have candid conversations like that—with their being honest about the struggles in their own hearts. I love how one of the principles at FamilyLife is repentance, and purity, and life. That parents need to be willing to open up to their kids about where they are at with those issues, in age-appropriate ways—talk about their histories and talk about their current struggles. I would say—particularly, with the same-sex child, as you get older—mothers with daughters / fathers with sons—and start warning them. It’s not enough to just wall your child in and hope for the best. You need to talk to them about the dangers that are out there so that—when they are at a friend’s house, and pornography is joked about and brought up on a computer—it is seen as: “This is something I’ve heard about that can kill me. I’m supposed to run now.”
Dennis: It’s interesting that you talked about Proverbs, Chapter 7. I wrote a book called Aggressive Girls, Clueless Boys. It’s a book for parents to begin to do what you just described Solomon did with his son—begin to talk with your sons about what they are going to face—in a safe way so that—if they do fail, they can come back, and they can talk about it with you, and you can talk about grace, and forgiveness, and that God cleanses us from all sin.
But, also, so that they’ll be educated to know that this is coming: “It’s just a matter of time before you see something or some temptation is put before you that you, as a boy growing into a young man and then a man, you’re going to face this for the rest of your life. And I rather you hear about this from me than from the culture. I’d rather you hear about this from a Christian worldview—from someone who is attempting to follow Christ in my brokenness”—
Dennis: —“than hear about it from the world.”
David: Yes, absolutely. It’s amazing—when I visit churches and ask Christian people, “How many of you were told, growing up, about sexuality?” If half the people raise their hands, it’s a lot.
David: I mean, parents just don’t talk about this issue with their kids. It is so—it is such a glorious gift from God for them to talk about. It’s such a crucial area of obedience that the next book I’d like to work on—if the publisher is cool with it—is a positive theology of sexuality because I feel like it’s so sorely missing in the Church—that we would really bring out the robust implications that really, ultimately, marriage is pointing to Christ’s relationship to His Church. I mean, there are wonderful things there.
Bob: What you’ve done in your book, Sexual Sanity for Men, is taken material that you teach guys over a 16-week course and put it in the context of sections of the book that kind of unpack what goes on in this course. You’ve done it in a devotional style so that a guy can work his way through this a little bit each day, as he’s on this journey.
I guess I’m wondering: “How broken does somebody typically need to be before they’re going to have the courage to pick up a book like this? Or would you say this is something that a guy, who is saying: ‘I’m doing okay. I mean, I’ve got my issues, like everybody else; but I’m doing okay,’—Does he need to read a book like this?—Do you think?”
David: I would say that this book could be a valuable resource, really, for any Christian man because all of us are dealing with a sexuality that’s been affected by the Fall. It has had some ramification in your life. And yes, the hope is men would deal with this before it is a problem that’s destroying their life, and their marriage, and everything else—that they would start taking this seriously and walking in obedience. It’s not for the guy who is addicted and completely shipwrecking his life. It’s also for a Christian man, who says, “Hey, I know that my heart can be pulled in this direction; and I need wise counsel with this.”
Bob: Do you think, if somebody announced at church, next week, that there’s going to be a new group forming for guys, going through the book, Sexual Sanity for Men—don’t you think there’d be a lot of guys, who are going, “I’m not going anywhere near that group. I mean, I’m going to have to—Come on! I’ve got this thing managed. I’ll just keep going”?
David: Yes, I think there needs to be a much broader acknowledgement that these are issues facing the Church. It’s not just men; it’s women also. I always say sexual sin is a gender-neutral pathogen of the soul. So, if leadership is willing to start acknowledging: “We know these problems are there. We know we need to deal with it”—
I was really encouraged—I had a friend text me, yesterday, saying, “My men’s group just finished going through your book. I know there are men in there with significant sexual brokenness; and, then, some who are elders in the church, that are a part of that group and just realized, ‘We need to take this seriously and go through it.’”
Dennis: I had to smile when you asked the question, Bob, about who should go through this.
Dennis: I’d say any man who was born [Laughter] because this culture doesn’t discriminate.
Bob: —does not nurture you in a godly direction.
Dennis: It is a broken culture. It’s a broken world. It is filled with all kinds of evil. There are some men, listening to this right now, who are going: “I wasn’t abused. I don’t have a problem with this.” They don’t even know because they, perhaps, have never even pulled back to even contemplate how the culture has given a distorted view of masculinity, femininity—how those two merge together and interact together. This isn’t a book about being a husband; but it is a book about being a husband—
Bob: Sure it is.
Dennis: —because it talks about a man who properly views the gift of his sexuality, as a gift from God, and to use it according to God’s divine command.
Bob: Well, we have copies of David’s book, Sexual Sanity for Men, in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. We also have copies of Ellen Dycas’s book, Sexual Sanity for Women. Both of these books take us deep into what the Scriptures teach us about our sexuality and about God’s design for this good gift He has given us. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about both books. Again, David White’s book, Sexual Sanity for Men—Ellen Dycas’s book, Sexual Sanity for Women—our website, again, FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY for more information. You can order over the phone—again, 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”.
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And we want to encourage you to join us back again tomorrow. Ellen Dycas is going to be with us. We’re going to talk about Sexual Sanity for Women. So, I hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas. Help for today. Hope for tomorrow.