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Keeping Your Marriage Sacred

with Joshua Harris | February 13, 2008

Join us for today's broadcast when well-known author and speaker, Josh Harris, encourages men to resist the temptations of the flesh so that they may delight even more in the wife of their youth.

Join us for today's broadcast when well-known author and speaker, Josh Harris, encourages men to resist the temptations of the flesh so that they may delight even more in the wife of their youth.

Keeping Your Marriage Sacred

With Joshua Harris
|
February 13, 2008
| Download Transcript PDF

Bob: As husbands and wives, we need to make sure that we are guarding our hearts, our minds, and our eyes.  Here is pastor and author, Joshua Harris.

Josh: I met a man once who was a Christian seeking to honor God in his life, and he worked at an office where he was there were just many beautiful young women who seemed to work in his office and "One day," he said, "I was walking down a hallway at work, and I looked up, and there was one of these very attractive young ladies walking towards me, and so I looked down at the ground because I wanted to honor her, and I wanted to guard my eyes, and there was complaint in my soul, and I just said to God, 'God why did you have to make women so beautiful?'"  What he didn't expect is for God to speak back to him and yet he felt, in that moment, that the Lord whispered something to his heart, and this is what he felt the Lord say – "I made them beautiful for their husbands."

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  Joshua Harris joins us today to help us think carefully and biblically about a very important subject – intimacy in marriage.

 And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition.  This is a season of the year when, every year, because of Valentine's Day, our thoughts turn toward love and romance and nothing wrong with that.  But in this culture, oftentimes when our thoughts turn to love and romance and especially when they turn to sex, they can turn to a distorted view of that issue, and it can lead us in some wrong directions.

Dennis: You know, Bob, I agree with you.  I am really concerned that there is a generation of young people growing up today who are really being damaged by this culture.  It really is a culture of pornography, and it's not just on the Internet, it's in advertisements, it's on TV in the evening.  I was on the road here a couple of weeks ago and was exhausted at the end of the day and just lay down on my bed to channel surf for a moment, and I'm going to tell you something, that's a dangerous thing to do today.

 I only clicked on this one channel for 1.5 seconds, and was off of it, but I'm not dead, I'm alive, and I saw something on there that was, like, "Whoa, I didn't ask to see that."  And so I think we've got to really pay attention to what we're allowing to enter out souls through our eyes, as men, and remain faithful to our wives. 

 And it's part of the reason that I'm excited that we're featuring Josh Harris, who is a pastor on the East Coast who is really challenging our listeners to sexual fidelity and sexual purity after marriage.

Bob: Yes, this is part 3 of a message that we've been hearing this week from Joshua Harris, who is the pastor at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland.  He did a series of messages for his church on the subject of purity recently, and this was the first of those messages.  And when we think about our marriages being pure and undefiled, we often think about the importance of fidelity and faithfulness and the need to avoid relationships with other people.  But I don't know how often we think about pornography as something that invades a marriage and does damage to a marriage and really represents a kind of unfaithfulness to a spouse, and as we pick up part 3 of this message, that's the theme that Josh is talking about as he urges men and women to remain pure in a marital relationship.

Josh: [from audiotape.]  When I was a kid, 12 years old, our family moved into a new home, and I remember going over to this home the first day with my dad.  It was completely empty, but there was one box in the middle of the living room, and my dad and I walked up to the box, and inside of it, it was filled with pornographic magazines.  The owners that had lived there before just left this box, I don't know why, in the middle of the room.

 And without really thinking, I just began to reach forward towards these magazines, and my dad said, "Whoa, son."  And I'll never forget the counsel that he gave me in that conversation, and the instruction that he passed on to me.  He said, "Son, one day, He'll give you a wife, and He want you, when you're married, to delight in your wife's body.  He wants you to see her as the most beautiful thing in the world.  He wants you to feast your eyes on her naked body," and to a 12-year-old, that's like a mind-blowing thought from your dad.

 He said, "Son, don't fill your mind with pictures and images of other women that will compete with your wife, because you don't want to carry that into your marriage."  That's such good counsel.  Those are such true words.  I'm sad to say that later in my life, I did fill my mind with some of those images.  I am also grateful that, by God's grace, not only am I forgiven of that sin but, men, those of us who have sinned by looking at pornographic images, I believe that we can, as we cry out to the Lord for grace, begin to cleanse our minds of those thoughts.  We can choose not to call them up, we can choose not to remind ourselves of them.

 But there is a truth here that my dad's counsel has pointed to; that Proverbs 5 is pointing to – part of obeying God's Word and delighting in our wife is actively choosing not to delight in any other woman.  Married men, let us practice this.  Single men, before you're married, you can prepare for marriage by choosing, right now, to guard your eyes and guard your heart from delighting in any other woman than the woman that God might bless you with.

 You can practice this while you're single, you can choose to be vigilant when it comes to what you look at on the Internet.  You can choose to turn off the television.  You can choose to carefully examine the content of the movies that you watch.  Don't carry into your marriage images that will compete against God's command to delight in that one woman.  God will bless you as you obey Him.

 Point number 3 – God commands women.  We read this passage, and it seems that it's only directed to men, but, actually, it has something important to say to ladies as well.  God commands women to intoxicate one man, and that's their husband.  This passage contains a warning for both men and women against misusing our God-given sexuality.

 You see, that's what lust does – lust and sin always take something good, something that God created, and it twists it, and it turns it into something that's ugly and something destructive, and so lust makes a man's good God-given desire to pursue a woman and to romance her.  Lust makes that about capturing and using, and lust takes a woman's good desire to be beautiful and makes it about seduction and manipulation.

 We see this in Proverbs 5.  The man in this passage is tempted by the short-term pleasure of sex with a forbidden woman, and the sinful woman that's described is choosing to use her sexuality to seduce.  Her intent is not to bless this man.  Her intent is not covenant relationship and love.  She is using her sexuality to seduce.

 But we see that there are two women that are introduced to us in this passage.  One is the forbidden woman that a young man is instructed to avoid; the other is the bride who is bringing delight to her husband, and I want to read these same verses, but I want to reverse them and direct them towards women.  If we were to read this passage and come from the perspective of the pure bride that's involved here, I think this is how it might read – verse 18 would say, "Let your fountain be blessed and let your husband rejoice over you."

 Let him enjoy your beauty.  Use your body and beauty to fill him at all times with delight, intoxicate him always with your love.  Why should you intoxicate anyone else?  Why play the forbidden woman and let any other man embrace you?  Why play the adulteress?

 Ladies, God has given each of you a very precious and powerful gift.  To the young girls who are here that are becoming young women, you are going to discover this gift.  It's the gift of your female sexuality.  You are going to discover that you have a body that you can use in certain ways, that you can move in certain ways, that you can dress in certain ways that has a power to captivate the attention of a man.  You can turn a man's head, if you want to.  You can get his attention.  You can seduce, you can lead him astray if you misuse your God-given power of female sexuality.

 But God has given this to you not to give to anyone who asks or to anyone who passes by.  He wants you to intoxicate only one man, and that's your husband. 

 I met a man once who told me a very powerful story about an experience that he had.  He was a Christian seeking to honor God in his life, and he worked at an office where he said there were just many beautiful young women who seemed to work in his office, and this was a source of difficulty for him, but he was seeking to please the Lord.

 And "One day," he said, "I was walking down a hallway at work, and I looked up, and there was one of these very attractive young ladies walking towards me, and so I looked down at the ground because I wanted to honor her, and I wanted to guard my eyes, and there was complaint in my soul, and I just said to God, 'God why did you have to make women so beautiful?'"  What he didn't expect is for God to speak back to him and yet he felt, in that moment, that the Lord whispered something to his heart, and this is what he felt the Lord say – "I made them beautiful for their husbands."

 That's exactly what Proverbs 5 teaches us.  Women, God has given you the gift of your female sexuality.  He has made you beautiful for one man, for your husband.  Now, one implication of this for married women who are here is that God wants you to invite your husband's delight in you sexually.  He wants you, as a married woman, to make it easy for your husband to delight in you.  He wants you to actively seek to intoxicate your husband.  What an amazing word for the Bible to choose.

 It's in the Bible, I'm not making this up.  Scripture is very clear – we are not to get drunk on wine, but it says that we are to be drunk on the Holy Spirit and that we are to be intoxicated, drunk, in the love of our spouse.  It doesn't say give your husband a slight buzz, okay?

[laughter]

 Maybe because of past experiences in your life, you associate sexuality with sin or maybe because you have been so focused in your life on honoring God and protecting sex from impurity, you've brought into marriage an attitude that is unbiblical, and I just want you to hear and be adjusted, and this is true of all of us, be adjusted by the Word of God.  God is calling you to give yourself with joy and to receive this good gift that God has given and to realize that part of the reason that He's made you the way He's made you is so that you can be blessed within marriage.  And we are to rejoice in this and use it for God's glory.

 A second implication here for all women, not just married women but for single women, women of every age, is that your power of intoxification is to be reserved for your husband.  If you're married you know who that man is.  If you're not married, you might not know who that man is, but you're still to save that precious gift for him.  And this is why modesty in your heart and in your life is so important and so vital.

 This is a concern that your pastors carry.  It's a concern because we know that it is a daily challenge for women in this day and age to dress modestly in a world that offers up fashion options that are predominantly immodest, predominantly designed to attract attention to different parts of the female body, to exploit sexuality not to appropriately conceal it.

 So we know this is a challenge, but I want to encourage you – don't get tired of that labor in the Lord, because it's not in vain.  It's pleasing to God.  It's easy to get worn down by our culture, isn't it?  It's easy to just think, "You know what?  What's the big deal?  I've gone to this many stores, there's nothing else but this, everybody else I know is wearing this."

 Sometimes the mindset about modesty is, "Look, what is one more female body dressed like this really going to do to throw off the balance of the world?  I mean, there are gazillions of other women walking around.  What's the big deal if I dress this way, dress attractively?  God's given me this body, I want to show it off, what's the problem with that?"

 But, you see, modesty is not about being ashamed of your female body, it's not about hiding your sexuality.  I love the perspective that Proverbs 5 gives to us.  Modesty is about preserving the precious gift that God has given you for one man.  It's choosing to honor God, to love God and then love others and say, "I want to dress, and I want to act in such a way that no other man besides my husband is encouraged to delight in my body."

 Maybe you think about modesty as just a bunch of rules somebody came up with.  God doesn't give us a shopping list when it comes to this.  When He asks us to take our hearts before Him, to search our hearts and say, "Lord, show me the motivations in my heart when it comes to wearing this or that, give me a heart that desires to bless any man that I'm around.  That any man that I'm around is not encouraged to delight in my body but instead is encouraged to delight in the body of one woman – their wife."

 Modesty is about guarding the power of intoxication for your husband.  God calls us to delight in His pure plan.  God's plan for sex is good, but one thing that I want to close with that's so very important is to remind all of us that the purity that God calls for us; that He calls us to; is an expression of His love for us.  And the God who has given us good commands for sexuality is also the God who has made a way for those of us who have broken those commands to be forgiven. 

 Maybe today, as we address this subject, you are aware of past sin and regret.  I know that I can be.  I've made mistakes in this area.  I've sinned against God in this area.  We need to remember that the God who commands us to live sexually pure lives is also the one who has given His Son Jesus to die in our place so that we can be completely cleansed of our sexual sin – made pure, made white as snow.  The God who commands us is the God who forgives us, and He is also the God who enables us.  He has given us His Holy Spirit to enable us to do what we could not do in and of ourselves.

 If you are here, and you don't know Jesus Christ, I want you to understand something – the purity that God calls us to, the faithfulness in marriage, the delight in marriage, is not something that we can do, that any person in this room can do in our own strength by our own power.  The Christian religion is not a religion of people by their own strength being good, moral individuals.  It's the message that says only Jesus Christ can save sinful people and can make them new creatures so that they can live for God in holiness, in purity, in every part of their lives including their sexuality.

 And the wonderful news of the Bible is that when we experience the new life in Jesus Christ, God doesn't just make everything new.  He makes everything better.  He makes our experience of our sexuality better and purer and more fulfilling than anything our sin could offer us.  That's the hope that we have, that is God's good plan for sex.

Bob: Well, we have just heard part 3 of a message from Pastor Joshua Harris on the issue of purity in marriage, and I so appreciate the fact that at the end of that message he acknowledges that this is an area where many of us have stumbled, and in this culture it's hard not to stumble, but we need to acknowledge that our stumbling is a sin before a holy God, and we need to turn from that, and God stands ready with grace and forgiveness and mercy to pardon us and to change us.

Dennis: You know, it's one thing to stumble, it's another thing to sit.  And some who are listening to this broadcast right now find themselves sitting in the midst of stuff they'd ought not to be dealing with.  As I was listening to Josh, I just was thinking of that man or, for that matter, of that woman who may find himself or herself ensnared.  They've sat there too long, and they're simply hooked.  They need to break free, and I would say to you, you know what?  You need to find a close friend of the same sex to confess what you've done.

 After this broadcast is over, I want you to call them.  I want you to tell them, "You know what?  I have stumbled, and I have fallen, and I have been here way too long, and I want to come clean.  I want to come clean from being addicted."

 Bob, the Christian faith is a great faith of grace and forgiveness and redemption, but God makes it clear in the Scripture that He will not always strive with us.  He will not always pursue us.  There is a point where God gives up on us.  It doesn't mean He stops loving us, but it does mean He gives us over to our appetites, and I want to tell you something, that's scary place to be, a very frightening place to be.

 And so to that person right now who has heard this broadcast who needs to come clean, use this moment right now as an island of clarity in your life and do what's right.  Don't allow the sun to go down without turning from your sin and turning to Christ and receiving His forgiveness in right standing and then begin to put some boundaries in your life that will enable you to stay clean as you move forward in the future.

Bob: Yes, one of the things I really liked about the message we've been listening to this week from Joshua Harris and about the book that he has written, which is called "Sex is not the Problem, Lust Is," is that both this message and that book points you back to the cross, it points you to the Gospel because, ultimately, if we're going to seek to maintain purity in our marriage, we're going to have rely on the power of the Holy Spirit, and that means that we come each day to the cross acknowledging our need for redemption and forgiveness.

 And receiving that forgiveness and then, as you said, beginning to build some protections in our lives, and I would encourage our listeners, if you don't have a copy of Joshua's book, "Sex is not the Problem, Lust Is," we've got it in our FamilyLife Resource Center.  It's a great resource.

 In fact, I would suggest you get a copy of that and a copy of the book that you and Barbara wrote, Dennis, which is called "Rekindling the Romance," because you address this subject as a part of that book.

 We've got both of these resources in our FamilyLife Resource Center.  You can go to our website at FamilyLife.com for more information about how to order these books online, or just if you need more information about the books themselves, our website is FamilyLife.com.

 You can also call 1-800-FLTODAY, 1-800-358-6329, that's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and when you get in touch with us, someone can let you know how you can have the books you need sent out to you.

 There is an additional resource I want to mention.  A couple of CDs that we recorded a few years ago, interviews with the authors of a book called "Intimate Issues," a book for women that addresses the questions women ask about intimacy in a marriage relationship.  The authors of that book, Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus joined us, and we had an extended conversation about the subject of their book.  We want to make the two CDs that feature that conversation available as a thank you gift this month to listeners who are able to help the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation of any amount.

 Your financial support of this ministry is vital for us to continue not only the work of this radio program but our website, the other outreaches of FamilyLife Today.  We really depend on folks like you to help sustain this ministry, and, again, when you make a donation this month, we want you to feel free to request this two-CD set on intimate issues.  If you are making a donation online, when you come to the keycode box on your donation form, just type in the word "intimate," and we'll be sure to send you these CDs.

 Or if you call 1-800-FLTODAY  and make a donation over the phone, just let us know that you'd like a copy of the two-CD set on intimacy and, again, we're happy to send it out to you as our way of saying thanks for your financial support of the ministry of FamilyLife Today.

 Now, tomorrow, since it will be Valentine's Day, we're going to talk about love, but we're going to talk about it from a little different perspective.  We'll hear part 1 of a message from our host, Dennis Rainey, on the characteristics of true love, and I hope you can be back with us 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'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

 FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. 

Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.

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