Taking Steps Toward FreedomOctober 2, 2008
The Holy Spirit is the key to withstanding our culture’s message of instant gratification. Bobby Scott and Paul Felix, authors of Secret Sex Wars, help listeners stand strong in the face of sexual temptation by relying on God’s Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is the key to withstanding our culture’s message of instant gratification. Bobby Scott and Paul Felix, authors of Secret Sex Wars, help listeners stand strong in the face of sexual temptation by relying on God’s Holy Spirit.
Taking Steps Toward Freedom
Paul: I was in a class, and our instructor was a graduate of a prominent seminary. Many thought he was going to be the next president at the school that I was attending, and one day I came to class, and he wasn't there. We had a new instructor. It was in the middle of the semester. And I asked what happened and, unfortunately, he was caught with a female student.
And that just shook me, because, here I am, trying to learn the Bible, and I looked up to this individual, and I said, "If he is struggling in this area, then is there much hope for me?"
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, October 2nd. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. If, in fact, anyone is vulnerable to a sexual sin, what can we do to protect ourselves? Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us. You know, there is a difference between people engaging in a contest and people engaging in a war, isn't there?
Dennis: There is.
Bob: And the issue we're dealing with today is not a contest issue, it's a war issue.
Dennis: It is, and it's a provocative subject. We're going to talk about sexual purity and, Bob, we've now warned our listeners what we're going to talk about. As you did the intro there, I thought you were talking about our guests, one being from UCLA, and the other from USC.
Bob: Those are contests that go on between the two of them. Although sometimes it looks a little like a war when those two schools get together, doesn't it?
Dennis: Paul, you're wanting to say something here. Go right ahead.
Paul: Well, it's obvious who wins the war each time, so it's not really a war.
Dennis: It's not really a contest, either, is that what you're saying?
Bob: You're talking about on the football field, right?
Paul: Football, track.
Bob: But Bobby here is saying, "You remember the hardwoods, don't you, huh?"
Bobby: And track.
Dennis: Oh, there you go. Well, Bobby Scott and Paul Felix join us again on FamilyLife Today. Bobby, Paul, welcome back.
Bobby: Thank you, it's good to be here.
Paul: Thanks for having us.
Dennis: Paul is the president of the Los Angeles Bible Training School. He is a graduate of the University of Redlands, the Master's Seminary. Bobby Scott is, as we mentioned, a graduate of UCLA, the Master's Seminary, and is the pastor/teacher of the Los Angeles Community Bible Church. And together they've written a number of pieces in a book called "Secret Sex Wars – A Battle Cry for Purity," and, Bobby, you begin a chapter, which you authored in this book talking about an encounter that you didn't ask for as you filled in for a co-worker one day at FedEx.
Bobby: Yeah, I had been a Christian for, I would say, about seven, eight years, and I was striving to live a life of purity for the Lord and had abstained and kept sexual temptation as far away from me as I possibly could. But here is a day, I walk in, get in my FedEx truck, I take off, I go into the back of the cabin, and there it right in front of me. Not only just a pornography magazine, but a well-known celebrity, and you can imagine just the temptation to look and to engage and all the ghosts of the past haunting me now to re-engage in a battle that God had given me victory over, and it was very difficult. But, by God's grace, He allowed me to flip the magazine over, to cover it up, and the rest of the day, in the privacy of driving around Westwood, California, all by myself to stay away from that.
And I wanted to tell our listeners that that's the power that God gives a believer – that we can win our sexual wars and our temptations when we trust in Christ, and our book kind of helps outline a battle plan, a strategy, a biblical one, how men can do that.
Dennis: And, Bobby, you were how old at that time?
Bobby: I was in my mid-20s.
Dennis: But you mentioned that there were some images of the past and some previous choices that you had made that you brought to that moment of temptation.
Bob: Yeah, you didn't grow up committed to God's standard for purity in your life, did you?
Bobby: I grew up committed to the world's standard of pursuing immorality. That was just the standard that I received from my cultural background and teaching and examples that men pursue women. That's what men do, and it was wrong, it was evil, I had not conscience to say otherwise, though, and so I grew up in a non-Christian home, great parents, none of us were saved, and I just was exposed to all sorts of immorality at a young age, and I pursued those types of relationships to my own shame now.
Dennis: Yeah, at what age did you start?
Bobby: Very young – eight, nine.
Bob: And do you remember when you first came across the idea that the Bible has a higher standard than your culture does in this area?
Bobby: Oh, absolutely. When I became a Christian it was in a complete vacuum. I didn't have any Christian friends, I had never really gone to church, and so when I got saved, I just asked the Lord, "If you can change me, that's what I want." And a friend who was a cultural Christian, he gave me a Bible, and I started reading. I read 1 Corinthians 7, chapter 1, and it said, "It is good for a man not to touch a woman," and the conviction of the Lord put upon me – I remember saying, "I want to please the Lord, this is what I want to do," and so I was just committed at that point to live a life of purity.
And so I went out with my old friends again and failed. I went out with an old friend again and failed, and I said, "You know what? I can't go with my old friends anymore." And from that point forward, it was about 10 years with the Lord enabled me to celebrate a life of celibacy is when I got married, and Professor – President Paul Felix, at my wedding ceremony – he told me that "You may now kiss your bride." And, for the first time in 10 years – I hadn't touched a woman – I was able to kiss my wife and just enjoy the grace of God and the victory he had given me.
Bob: Do you know how counter-cultural what you've just described is for an African-American young man to go 10 years not touching a woman in a culture where you had plenty of opportunity, and you drew that line because, in your own heart, you knew that if you and Naomi kissed prior to marriage, it was going to awaken things that didn't need to be awakened, right?
Bobby: Yeah, and I don't want to lay out a legalistic standard for your listeners, your young men. If I can tell you another story – because of growing up from the age of 15, 16, I pursued my parties on the weekends and drinking and that whole thing. I remember one time going to church with a friend who was mentoring me and discipling me. He stopped a liquor store to get gum. And I said, "You can't go in the liquor store."
And he had grown up in a Christian home, became a Christian at a young age, he had no evil association with going into a liquor store to get gum, but I was like the person in 1 Corinthians 8 through 10, who was afraid to eat meat, which was once offered to idols. I had associated that with all sorts of sinful things in my past and, likewise, because of my past of living a life of immorality, to start engaging in a physical relationship with a woman, I knew opened up Pandora's Box, and God had closed that door, and I wanted to keep it closed.
Dennis: You know, as you were telling your story there, Bobby, I wonder what Naomi thought? I mean, at what point did you let her know about your past – because you didn't hide it from her? I mean, you were making such a radical statement, a line in the sand, of saying, "I'm not going to kiss you until the wedding kiss." She had to know there was something up there. So you must have shared something.
Bobby: Yes, I did. We discussed our standards of physical contact, and I told her when we started dating that I really wanted to get to enjoy her as a person, and so I wasn't going to make our relationship complicated in the sense of us fighting away physical temptation, so I just wasn't going to pursue that at all.
So when we dated, we didn't really hold hands, and when we got engaged, we held hands and were affectionate, but I said, "I want to show you a love and affection in a different way, and I'm going to wait until God gives us the gift of marriage where He says the marriage bed is undefiled. And you know what? She really appreciated that.
She grew up in South Central LA, 101st and Crenshaw. She had dated other guys who really tried to violate her. She was a virgin, and she was so thankful that I was going to guard her purity.
Bob: Paul, as you hear Bobby talk about this, I'm sure there are guys you've run into who would say, "Well, Bobby's just a little uptight on the whole deal, you know, he's just a little out there, a little extreme, and it does sound a little legalistic, and can't we be godly guys and still kiss our girlfriends?"
Paul: Well, I'm not going to give the barometer of what a young man who is dating should do, but I think when you listen to what Bobby is saying, he's saying in light of his background, he really had to take extra steps, and I think it goes back to what we said earlier – that some men are getting too close to sexual temptation. And I think each man has to honestly, before God, evaluate a situation and know himself. I mean, when you go to the 1 Thessalonians 4 passage, it talks also about controlling your bodies in that each one needs to know how to do that. You have to learn that.
And, unfortunately, I think there are young men and older men who have still not learned how to control their bodies. So they expose themselves to certain things that automatically result in sexual sin. So for the person who might feel like what Bobby is recommending is too radical, I would say it's not too radical if that is what God wants you to do. Again, it goes back to the Matthew passage that was mentioned earlier, you know, "Pluck out your eye, cut off your hand." If that's what it takes in order to have victory in the area of sexual purity then that's what we must do, and that's what Jesus commands us to do.
Bob: Can you define purity for us? I mean, I'm thinking a guy who says, "Okay, well, I'm pure. I mean, I go see some of these movies, but it doesn't do anything to me." Bobby, you talked about a guy who had pictures up in his dorm room, and he said, "It doesn't really do anything for me. I'm still pure." What is purity?
Bobby: Well, I would define purity on the basis of Scripture. Again, going back to the same passage, the 1 Thessalonians 4 passage, which says to abstain from sexual immorality, and I would define sexual immorality as anything that is contrary to the standards that God has laid down in His Word.
So under sexual morality, I would say that it's premarital sex, it's extramarital sex. And so I think the Word of God, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament has standards for sexual purity, and I believe that has to be our standard that we adopt as opposed to allowing the world to say what it means to be sexually pure.
Bob: Bobby, a young man who says, "One of the ways I try to maintain my purity is to take care of my gratification so that I'm not acting immorally with a young woman." You know what I'm saying?
Bob: How do you respond to that guy?
Bobby: I would say that in these gray areas, you need to ask more questions than just – does the Bible explicitly say that this is a sin? I need to ask the question – are you a slave to that habit? Is it enslaving? Are you ashamed of it? Do you have to do it in the dark and in secret? Is it something you can just stand up in the middle of church and say, "Yeah, I do this." And I just think that we have become so sexualized as a culture, that we have lowered the standard, and we've said to do those types of things are okay when our Lord Jesus Christ is a perfect standard of singleness, and He was able to engage a world of people who were full of sinners and not pursue anything other than satisfying Himself for the Lord. There was no physical, sexual gratification He sought.
And so some men say, "I have to do this." No. You have to love the Lord and give your body to the Lord. Your body is the Lord's temple and use it for Him – not for self-gratification.
Dennis: What we're talking about here, we're making some pretty bold assumptions that our audience agrees with us about sexual immorality being wrong. I just want to read something – one of Paul's writings from the book 1 Corinthians, chapter 6. It says, "But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one in spirit with Him. Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside his body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body."
I think, as we talk about this here, we're making an assumption that I don't think even all Christians necessarily agree with – that sexual immorality is wrong; that sexual gratification outside of marriage is really prohibited by Scripture. What would you say to that person who doesn't necessarily embrace that as a standard yet, Paul?
Paul: I would have to point him back to what the Bible says. I would take him to a passage like you just read, the 1 Corinthians 6 passage and also the 1 Thessalonians 4 passage. Both of those passages are interesting, because we think about our society and how saturated it is with sexual sin. When you go back to Corinth, and you go back to Thessalonica, those cities were far more pagan than our cities are today.
Because in both of those cities before the Gospel came to both of those cities at Corinth and Thessalonica, they had never heard about the Lord Jesus Christ. There were no churches on various corners there. They were just people who were involved in sexual sin, and that was their lifestyle. And even those who were religious were involved in sexual sin. There were thieves like temple prostitutes that was a part of the religious culture, and yet the Gospel comes to them, and when Paul writes to both of those churches, it's interesting that for both of those churches, he takes the time to deal with sexual purity.
So in Paul's mind, sexual sin was an issue that he had to address. He didn't just simply say, "Well, no, don't worry about the culture that you live in," but he understood that they had a lot of baggage, and when it came to both of those churches, he took the time to write in detail about the need to flee such immorality, to abstain from such immorality.
So from the biblical point of view, I don't think you can really argue for the fact that there is no such thing as sexual sin.
Bob: Well, think about how Jesus addressed this in a Jewish culture. He said you guys know you're not supposed to be involved in adultery, right? But I'd say to you, if you look on a woman to lust, you've committed adultery. So here is Jesus saying you think you're doing okay as long as you avoid adultery. God's standard is not just avoid adultery, but God's standard is don't even engage your mind in this kind of sexual thinking.
Bobby: And that's where the balance has to be drawn. The reason why so many men are losing their so-called "secret sex wars," and we know there is no sin the secret before God, is that we have believed the Word is alive; that I can look so long as I don't touch, and the Bible says looking with that intent that you just mentioned, Bob, lusting for someone with your heart is a sexual sin. You are involved and engaged already in a sexual sin.
Dennis: And you say in your book that the sexual dimension of a believer's life is part of a chain. What do you mean it's a part of a chain?
Paul: When you look at 1 Thessalonians, chapter 4, Paul introduces that chapter by telling the Thessalonians, "I want you to walk and please God." And that's a goal for all of us – we want to walk and please God, but if we're going to walk and please God, Paul takes the next logical step in the chain, and he says, "Well, if you're going to walk and please God, you have to know God's will." And so if I'm going to please God, I have to know what His will is, and the next link the chain is that after telling them that you have to know God's will, he says "God's will for each of you" – Thessalonians – "is that you be sanctified." That is, that you live a life that is separated from sin and devoted to God.
And we don't mind really talking about sanctification, and we don't really mind talking about being holy but, in reality, that's speaking in very general terms. It's easy to talk about holiness as long as it doesn't touch my life. But Paul doesn't; in the discussion there, he goes one step further. After telling them that they must walk and please God and that they must know the will of God in order to please Him, and he says sanctification is God's will for you, then he goes a step further, and he says that you abstain from sexual immorality.
So if I'm going to abstain from sexual immorality, I have to look at that truth in its context and not as just some isolated thing that the pastor says I should do or the professor says I should do or my mom wants me to do. I need to put sexual immorality and sexual purity in its proper context, and the proper context is to realize that it's part of living a holy life to be sexually pure and living a holy life is important because it's God's will, and God's will is important because it means that I can walk and please Him.
Bob: Bobby, when you addressed these issues with men at the Los Angeles Men's Bible Conference back in 2005, you said that that day you saw guys really wrestling with this and wanting to be pure. What did you see? What do you remember?
Bobby: I had written an informal survey, and we asked the men to fill it out and ask questions – "When was the last time – or if you have ever looked at pornography? A month ago, a year ago, a week ago?" "Have you ever engaged in an adulterous relationship?" "Have you ever fornicated?" – those types of questions.
And I was stunned by the answers. The men were saying I have struggled with this, and I have never told anyone. I have struggled for 10 years. And a couple of the men came and talked to us, really opened up their hearts, and one gentleman, in particular, I remember he was discipling a man who had struggled for years with this, and he said, "I don't know what to do with him." I said share with him these godly principles that we've laid out. This book, "Secret Sex Wars, A Battle Cry for Purity" is not just for men who have been defeated. It celebrates the principles that godly men live by.
I said, "Share with this brother these principles, and it will show him from the Bible the things that God will use to empower him for victory." He came back and shared with me later – he was stunned by the transformation of this man. He had been using everything else to help him with the Word of God equipped him and gave this man victory.
Dennis: I have to add here, because we're talking about a man's struggle. It's one thing to talk about winning the struggle today, but realize we're going to face it again tomorrow. And an illustration that you use near the end of the book, I think, is worth sharing with the men, and it's all about a bullfighter in Spain who thought his victory was secure and celebrated a bit too soon.
Bobby: Yeah, it's a great story. It was a celebrated bullfighter, and H.B. Charles tells the story towards the end of the book, and he had delivered what he thought was a death blow to this bull, and so he turns around to the applause of the crowd, and he's celebrating and, lo and behold, the bull gets up for one more charge. And unbeknownst to him, because he's celebrating prematurely his victory, the bull comes and rams him and kills him from the back. And the lesson for all of us is that we need to fight every single day.
When I turn on the Internet – I'm a pastor, I've been a pastor now since 1993, I have to pray, "God, please protect my eyes." I don't have cable TV in my home, not for my kids' sake but for my sake, and I think men just have to realize where they need to lay out the battle lines and fight every single day because this is a war, and no one wins a war saying, "I will be shot just a little bit."
Dennis: Yeah, and that's why the church is so important, I think, to a young man growing up today or, for that matter, an older man growing up today, who is facing these issues. You need to be surrounded by those who are pursuing the same things.
Bob: Yeah, you're talking about the power of community and the power of relationships to help us in the battle. And I think the book that you gentlemen have put together that came out of the conference that you did back in 2005, the book is called "Secret Sex Wars, A Battle Cry for Purity." This is the kind of book that a group of guys can get together and go through with one another or a dad can take his son through it, an older man can take a group of younger men through it. This will be a helpful book in the battle, and we've got it in our FamilyLife Resource Center.
And if our listeners are interested in getting a copy, they can go to our website, FamilyLife.com. On the right side of the home page you see a box that says "Today's Broadcast," and there's a button in that box that says "Learn More." If you click there, it will take you to an area of the site where you can find out more about the book we've been talking about. You can order copies online, if you'd like, and if you're interested in ordering multiple copies so you can do it in a group study, we have them available at a discounted price if you order a quantity of them.
So, again, all the details are on our website at FamilyLife.com, or call 1-800-FLTODAY – 1-800-358-6329, 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and someone on our team can answer any questions you have about the book, make arrangements to have the number you need sent out to you.
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Well, tomorrow we want to talk about what we can do as fathers to raise sons who are morally pure, get some strategies in mind there. I hope you can be back with us for that conversation.
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 next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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