Lust pervades our culture. Join us today as Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, talks about the gift of sexuality and the damage that is done when a society no longer restrains the sex drive.
Lust pervades our culture. Join us today as Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, talks about the gift of sexuality and the damage that is done when a society no longer restrains the sex drive.
Dr. Mohler: Most societies - in fact the historians Will and Ariel Durant looking at the entire scope of human history said, “That civilization is only possible when lust is banked; like the high banks of the river to keep it from flood stage.” Well, we are in a society just as you indicated in which we have basically opened the dam. In terms of our entertainments, in terms of our consumer advertising, in terms of the songs that we hear, and the images that are put before us lust is now the drumbeat of the society that we know.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, September 23. Our host is the President of FamilyLife Dennis Rainey and I’m Bob Lepine. How do you uphold a biblical understanding of human sexuality when all around you everyone is screaming tear down the boundaries? We’ll talk with Dr. Al Mohler about that today.
Welcome to FamilyLife Today thanks for joining us. Today is going to be kind of what I think of as a salmon program. Do you know what I mean?
Dennis: No, I don’t – going fishing?
Bob: Well, in some ways everything we do here is a little salmon like, but this one feels more salmon than any other program because we’re really…
Dennis: Bob, you and I usually can communicate!
Bob: But, you’re not picking this one up?
Dennis: All of the images that come to my mind are fishing; perhaps our guest is fishy?
Bob: What is distinctive about the salmon in terms of their swimming pattern?
Dennis: They go upstream to die!
Bob: Well, maybe we’re not going up there to die, but it does feel like we’re going against the current on what we’re going to be talking about today.
Who knows where we’ll end up right?
Dennis: Well, we have a guest who has been swimming against the stream; Dr. Al Mohler joins us on FamilyLife Today. Al, welcome to our broadcast!
Dr. Mohler: It’s great to be here with you – thank you!
Dennis: Al is the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, he hosts a daily radio program, he has appeared on Larry King Live, The Today Show, Good Morning America, The O’Reilly Factor. He and his wife Mary have been married 26 years, and they have two children: Katie and Christopher. He’s written a book called Desire and Deceit –The Real Cost of the New Sexual Tolerance.
Al, before we get to the topic at hand, I just want to know about your Dad and your own spiritual upbringing. How did you come to faith in Christ: Were you raised in a Christian home?
Dr. Mohler: I was raised in a Christian home, and I’m very, very thankful for that. There are many believers who did not have the benefit of being raised in a Christian home. My parents, Dick and Janet Mohler raised me, and my siblings in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We were just like the proverbial expression says; we were at church every time the doors were open. What you expect after that is some kind of complaint – I’ll tell you it was God’s grace in my life.
Dennis: You grew up in Florida?
Dr. Mohler: I grew up in Lakeland, and then later in Pompano Beach, Florida. I knew what it was like to walk in a church, and find the happiest, friendliest people, and healthy people that I could be surrounded with as a teenager.
You know, they invested greatly in my life, and for that I am very thankful. Through them I came to know the gospel of Christ, and came to a personal knowledge of Christ, and to trust in Christ. I came to know myself as a sinner – not only was I loved by these people, they loved me in spite of the fact that I was a sinner: Desperately in need of a Savior.
Dennis: How old were you at the time?
Dr. Mohler: I made a profession of faith when I was nine years old. As a nine year old at Vacation Bible School I heard the preacher. At that time I went to a neighborhood church right down the street - a wonderful little Evangelical church – a little Southern Baptist Church with a bi-vocational pastor. The pastor worked in the phosphate mines during the week, and preached on the weekend. He took time off to come and preach to us, and there as a fourth grader about to go into fifth grade I heard the gospel.
The one thing that I knew then that I never had sensed before was that I was a sinner. I knew I had sinned, but until that day – I can take you right back to where I was sitting in the pew - I came to look at Al the sinner. Then, I knew I needed a Savior.
Dennis: Did you ever rebel during those teenage years?
Dr. Mohler: I did not rebel – that didn’t mean I was by any means a perfect son. No, but I did have during the adolescent years a real questioning period. One of the things I want to say to teenagers who sometimes are really internally thrown into turmoil by that is that’s the stage in life in which you start to ask the questions on your own. I think what teenagers need is someone who loves them, and knows the truth that will stand alongside them and say, “Go ahead and ask the questions, we can handle this”!
I had some of those people in my life who came alongside of me and said, “Okay, we’re not going to stone you for asking the questions, let’s figure this out.” I really benefited from so many things, and I can say that every one of them is a part of making me who I am today by the grace and mercy of God.
Dennis: I wanted you to share that because off microphone you’d said you grew up in an idyllic home. I had one of those too, and you almost feel like you need to apologize today for coming from a home like that, it wasn’t perfect, it was filled with sinful people that had all kinds of issues, and were struggling but you did have some guardrails.
Dr. Mohler: I never had to worry about the security in my home, and I never had to worry about the good intentioned character of the people who were around me. They intended good for me, and you know it is just a great tragedy that we’ve removed so many of the structures of grace in the lives of children and teenagers today in which they don’t have the security of feeling like they are surrounded by people who wish them well, and love them, and will stay by them.
Dennis: One of the reasons why I wanted you to share that is because I wanted to give some mom’s and dads hope. They’re in the throes of attempting to raise children who know God, fear God, and hopefully come into a relationship with Jesus Christ, and to ultimately launch them to make a difference in our world. Your great example of that happened – I mean it works. A Christian family can reproduce itself in the future.
Dr. Mohler: Christian families doing the things that Christian families know they ought to do – they provide the very structures of the kind of support, and love; nurture that make it far more likely that a young person – a child - an adolescent is going to grow into a healthy adulthood.
So, here’s another thing, make your home pleasant, make your home loving, make your home where your kids want to bring all their friends to your house. You’ll discover that your kids will never really even think about rebellion because they like being right there.
Dennis: What I want to know is from that background you became ultimately a seminary president, and have tackled a subject—lust. It’s in the book Desire and Deceit, and it’s all about sexual tolerance in this culture. Why did you go after this subject of all the issues you could have written about?
Dr. Mohler: One of our responsibilities as Christians is to answer the questions we are asked. If we’re alive at this time in this culture, if we are indeed engaged with anyone, we’re going to be asked the very questions I have to address in this book. One of my frustrations is that far too many Christians dodge the question – will not answer it, or they really don’t have the biblical equipment to answer it.
Dennis: You begin this book by really tackling the subject of lust, but you begin it on a personal level with a well-known author who has become very popular today, and a conversation he had with his son.
Dr. Mohler: Yes, J. R. R. Tolkien, and it’s an amazing thing isn’t it? It’s a conversation he had by means of a letter that just reminds us; people used to write letters. It’s another way in which you used to able to communicate with people serious things. Parents write letters to your kids. You can say things in print that might be heard in a different way – it can be read over, and over, and over again.
J. R. R. Tolkien was writing to his son, and this particular son was considering issues of marriage, and sexuality. This very, very Christian father – he was operating out of a very explicit Christian commitment – wrote to his son about the proper place of sexuality, what he should look for in a woman, and what he should anticipate in marriage: It’s a really sweet thing!
Dennis: And, he talked about a monogamous relationship.
Dr. Mohler: He also admitted that monogamy is an achievement. You know he was very clear in a fallen world like this – human beings left to their own devices will be anything but monogamous. Monogamy is a fight! Marriage and fighting for God’s holiness, and glory in marriage is a fight. It’s the right kind of fight. It’s the kind of fight that should call out the Christian knighthood in a man.
Bob: I’ve heard people talk about monogamy as being one of the apologetics for the authenticity of the biblical faith, because they’ve said if people got together to invent their own religion monogamy would not be what they’d come up with. No group of guys would get together and say well, let’s invent a religion where monogamy is central, right?
Dr. Mohler: Let’s look at the parallel between monotheism, and monogamy. Here we have the one true and living God. He mirrors his very character in the monogamous relationship of marriage: It’s an exclusive relationship. You know we may be the last people on earth who understand what mono means – it means one and one only!
Dennis: We’re not given as a culture toward choosing only one thing. We want to have a multiple choice. We want them all! Yet, within the heart of a person is a drive that is called lust that can want things that are not ours away from the one and only – my wife; to lusting after other women.
Bob: I don’t think there’s ever been a time in human history – maybe in Ancient Rome - there was as sexually saturated a culture as we live in today. I mean if we’re prone toward lust everything in the culture is exciting that in us.
Dr. Mohler: You know, I think it probably is true. All you have to do is go to the ruins of Pompeii, and you’ll discover just how pornographic that culture was. You see this written throughout the ancient world just in terms of the artifacts. By the way just in the last several months what was claimed to be the world’s oldest statue was found, and of course, it’s pornographic. This is what it means to live on the other side of Genesis 3. We are pornographers at heart: That’s where lust enters in.
This is where Christians many times just don’t speak honestly. There are Christians who are reluctant to speak about sexual desire as if that’s something that’s just off the table. Well, the Bible certainly does. The Bible’s point is that God has given us a gift that comes with an urge – with a desire – with all the energy that comes into showing God’s glory in the sexual gift – in marriage – in the giving, and receiving of children.
The reality is that lust is just what happens when sin intersects with the sex drive. That’s the world we live in! Most societies – in fact the historians Will and Ariel Durant looking at the entire scope of human history said, “That civilization is only possible when lust is banked like the high banks of a river to keep it from flood stage.”
Well, we are in a society just as you indicated in which we have basically opened the dam. In terms of our entertainments, in terms of our consumer advertising, in terms of the songs that we hear, and the images that are put before us lust is now the drumbeat of the society that we know.
Bob: In fact I heard a quote attributed to Malcolm Muggeridge where he said, “Sex is the (ersatz or substitute) religion of the 20th century.” In a very real sense, we have elevated the whole issue of sex to godlike status, haven’t we?
Dr. Mohler: Absolutely, and virtually every paganism is sexual. Every worldview has to give an answer to the most basic issues of life. It is going to have to give a narrative of how things started and where things are going. It is going to have to explain how we live with each other and it is going to have to explain some morality. The interesting thing is that virtually every society even those that are distant from the knowledge of the gospel have gotten to monogamous marriage – have you noticed that?
In other words the institution of marriage is written into creation, and the Bible tells us exactly that. But, we’re living in a time when we’ve just broken all the defenses down and we’re celebrating the breaking down of those defenses.
Dennis: Let’s talk for a moment about how a mom and a dad should talk to their son or daughter about the issue of sexual pleasure and lust. You have already said it. The Christian community doesn’t seem to have a good plumb line on how we’re doing this.
In fact, I have a letter on my desk I just opened this morning from a woman who attended one of our Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences and was offended that we publicly had a session – a one hour session at our conference where we talked about human sexuality, sex drive, and two people becoming one.
Now, we do that at a very tasteful way. There isn’t graphic language as such, but we do talk about sexual pleasure. As a father and a mother talk to a young lad or a young lady, how would you coach them to tackle the subject of sexual pleasure, and of lust?
Dr. Mohler: Well, I think one of the problems with the way most Christian parents are taught to approach this is there’s a focus on the talk: One great talk that’s supposed to be the parent’s responsibility to deal with this issue. Well, the reality is there’s no way to cover all these things in one talk. The child’s developing through different developmental stages. I really would suggest at least an annual intentional conversation especially with a father and a son about this and a mother and a daughter about this.
In order to kind of say well at this stage here’s what I need you to think about, and when you’re talking to a six year old – a six year old needs to know something about how babies come to be. A six year old does not need to be talked to about how to have lust!
By the time you get to a 16 year old, he already knows where the baby’s coming from. You’d better be talking to him about how to handle this thing that’s been put within him by the Creator. It is going to be either the source of great holiness in his life, or just absolute sin, depravity, and destruction in his life.
Dennis: So, how would you define lust then to a 16 year old boy – father to son?
Dr. Mohler: Lust is sexual desire directed toward the wrong object – period – that’s it! It’s directed toward the wrong object. This shows us just how bracing and challenging the Christian truth claim is. The Christian truth claim I would say to a 16 year old boy God has given you this gift. It’s going to wake you up in the middle of the night. It’s going to shake you several times during the day, and it’s telling you – you are meant to be married.
You need to grow up, be mature, and do whatever it takes for you to be able to make the kind of commitment you need to make to a young woman who is worthy of marriage. You need to be faithful to her. God’s going to give you the fulfillment of this gift and He’s not going to leave you alone until you get there.
The problem is in our society we have people saying that there’s no reason to wait until marriage. Your focus should be on just whatever sexual pleasure you can find. So, they are basically being enticed into lust. The Christian dad has to say to his son, “Buddy, here’s the deal. Growing up means you have to figure out how to channel your energy in this part of life until you can get to where you say “I Do” to a woman who will be your bride. Then, you pour your life into her, and yes going to have a sexual component and there’s no reason to be embarrassed about talking about that.
Dennis: And, after you get married young man, you need to understand you will still have to practice the discipline of saying no to your sex drive.
Dr. Mohler: Oh, absolutely! Let’s take this 16, 17-year-old young man, and you say, “Tiger, here’s the deal. You’ve got to struggle with this.” We really lie to them if we say, hey, you’re going to reach an age where it’s no longer a struggle. I can take you into nursing homes where you would have plenty of testimony from elderly men saying, “I’m still 16. It’s still a struggle. God help me”!
Bob: I think there are a lot of young men who are not yet married who are thinking when I get married, then the struggle will be over, because I will have the opportunity in marriage to experience sexual pleasure only to find themselves surprised that they are still tempted towards sex outside of marriage, or towards self stimulation and things like that.
Dr. Mohler: We have also broken down so many of the defenses where quite frankly a married man has to be just as careful as an unmarried man about not allowing things into his life that are going to compromise who he is and what he’s called to be.
Dennis: I could not agree with you more! I think what I’m hearing you say is we need to invade a teenagers life with straight talk. Let’s talk about how he’s wired for 220 volts, and how it does wake him up in the middle of the night, and several times during the day, and that it’s still good. He shouldn’t be made to feel dirty, or evil, or wicked because of that – that’s a gift from God. It’s the expression of that gift, and it’s the expression before you get married, and after you get married at that point.
You mentioned in your book Al, something that I wanted to just make sure you explained to some of our female listeners at this point. You think that some women don’t fully understand why pornography is such an attraction to men. Share with our listeners why that’s so important for ladies to understand.
Dr. Mohler: Well, you know you folks do such a good job at teaching this in your seminars and conferences, but men and women are different, and it’s not an accident. It’s not just some kind of sociological patterning; it’s not just some kind of psychological profile you pick up from here or there.
I think we can even understand some of the reasons why men and women are different but here’s one of the key issues when it comes to pornography: Men are visually stimulated – the whole sexual process for men generally starts right in the eyes. Something becomes an issue of notice; it changes from notice to amazement, from amazement to appreciation, from appreciation to sexual desire. By the way that takes place in a lot shorter time than it took me to say it!
That’s just the reality – you know by the time a boy’s about 13 or 14 years old, he’s becoming aware of this, and the girls sitting in class are not.
I read this the other day in which just in terms of secular literature - this wasn’t coming from a Christian perspective, but it was saying, here’s how young women, and young men of college age fantasize differently. It said that men’s fantasies are very sexual.
It said the kind of fantasies that the young women talked about were of holding hands at the beach, of going out and doing the shopping together. Here’s one that really touches the heart – of the young man to whom she’s attracted – holding a baby, and cherishing it. Now that’s sweet, but that’s a very different picture than what he’s thinking about. He’s thinking about how you get to the baby – he’s not so much thinking about the baby.
I think one of the reasons why God made young men the way they are is because otherwise young men would never grow up. That’s one of the points I make in my book. The sex drive in part is to say to a young man you’re supposed to get to somewhere – there’s a destination for you, and by the way you’re going to have to shave and take a shower to get there. You’re going to have to get a job, and you’re going to have to earn the credible affection of a young woman.
Bob: It’s back to what George Gilder said in the marriage years ago when he said, “If this socializes a man for a woman to say you’re not going to be able to have sexual pleasure until you get married, and you’d better become a social, civil, person if you want to marry me.”
Dr. Mohler: That’s right, and when women lower take that away as a requirement, you basically say to boys you can be a teenager forever.
Dennis: Yes and this whole revolution started back when I was a teenager – in the 60’s, and 70’s-–the sexual revolution. Can a civilization outlive this?
Dr. Mohler: You know, there is no great model for a civilization regaining its sanity without some kind of calamity – you know war, poverty, pestilence. We certainly don’t pray for those things to be required here. But, you know my point is to Christians: We can’t start with a civilization; we have to start with our families, our marriages, our children, and our church.
We really have to start here and say, you know every single marriage that is monogamous, and honoring to God is a little light shining in a sea of darkness. Every family rightly ordered to the glory of God is an oasis in the middle of a moral dessert. There’s a great testimony to the gospel of Christ there!
Bob: Maybe we can avoid calamity, and war, and pestilence as the course correction. Maybe revival and reformation can be the course correcting influence that will cause us to extend the life of the civilization.
Dr. Mohler: We certainly better not think that the society is going to reform the church. We better not be thinking society’s going to do the dirty work of moral correction of which we will be the beneficiary. The church is going to have to be where this starts.
Dennis: The real work of, I think reforming a civilization begins in its most basic unit: The family! That’s why we come alongside mom’s and dad’s and cheer them on in the process of not only keeping their vows, and remaining faithful to one another, but also implanting within their children a vision, and a hope, and an expectancy that they can experience that when they get married.
Bob: Well, and that’s why we recommend to folks that they get copies of books like the one Dr. Mohler’s written called Desire and Deceit because if we’re going to think biblically about these issues it helps for us to be mentored by someone who has invested a lot of hours, and a lot of study, and a lot of prayer in a subject like this to provide some guidance. I think that’s what you’ve done in the book Desire and Deceit which we have in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center.
I also want to encourage listeners to get a copy of a book that your friend C. J. Mahaney has written called: Sex, Romance and the Glory of God which provides a married couple with a thoroughly biblical understanding of human sexuality, and how it’s supposed to play out in a marriage relationship.
Again we have both of these books in our FamilyLife TodayResource Center – if you’d like to go on-line at FamilyLifeToday.com there’s more information available there about how you can order these two books. Again our website is FamilyLifeToday.com or call toll-free 1-800-358-6329 – that’s 1-800 F as in “family” L as in “life” then the word TODAY – 1-800-FLTODAY, and when you contact us someone on our team can let you know how you can get either or both of these books sent to you.
You know, this subject of human sexuality is something that we spend time talking about at our FamilyLife Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences. There, we try to give couples a full Biblical perspective on the marriage relationship. Understanding God’s purpose for marriage, God’s plan for marriage, what the Bible teaches us about conflict resolution, and communication. What it teaches us about intimacy and our roles in marriage.
I mention that because this month as we’re inviting FamilyLife Today listeners to consider making a donation to help support this ministry, the thank you gift that we’d love to send you is a message from the FamilyLife Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference–-a CD that features Dr. Crawford Loritts speaking about God’s Plan for Marriage. What it means to leave, and to cleave, and to become one flesh with another person.
That CD is our thank you gift to you when you help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today. We are listener supported, and your donations are what make it possible for us to be on this station, and on our network of stations all across the country, and in fact around the world. So, we very much appreciate those of you who make an effort to help support the ministry financially.
If you’re making a donation this month online at FamilyLifeToday.com and you’d like to receive the CD I just talked about, type the word “gift” into the key code box on the donation form, and we’ll send you a copy of Dr. Crawford Loritts speaking on God’s Plan for Marriage from a recent FamilyLife Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference.
Or, call 1-800-FLTODAY – you can make your donation over the phone, and just ask for the marriage conference CD, or Dr. Loritts CD – again we’re happy to send it out to you, and we do appreciate your financial partnership with us.
Now tomorrow Dr. Al Mohler is going to be back. We are going to continue talking about what has become an idol in our culture – the idol of human sexuality. We’ll talk more about that tomorrow. I hope you can be back with us.
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.
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