If you feel the tug of sexual temptation before you're married, why shouldn't you run with it? Chip Ingram and Tim Walker talk about the benefits of abstaining from sex until marriage.
If you feel the tug of sexual temptation before you're married, why shouldn't you run with it? Chip Ingram and Tim Walker talk about the benefits of abstaining from sex until marriage.
Tim: The time that I did have my sexual experience was when I went away to college. I was at a Christian college, and you see your friends involved in relationships, and you wish that you had something significant and consistent like they do, and so there were a lot of things that kind of just fed into that loneliness and that desire just to connect with someone. It wasn't just that sex was convenient or available, but it was also where I was at emotionally.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, February 12th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Today Tim Walker and Chip Ingram have some counsel for those who want to keep the pledge they've made to remain pure until marriage.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. This is Day 39 of our Love Dare. We're getting into the home stretch of the 40-day Love Dare that we've been in since the beginning of January. We've been encouraging couples to follow along on this journey with us leading up the Valentine's Day, and today our focus is on the enduring nature of love. This is all taken from the book, "The Love Dare," that was featured in the movie, "Fireproof" that is now out on DVD. In fact, we've got copies at our website at FamilyLifeToday.com if you'd like to get a copy.
But one of the things Steven and Alex Kendrick write in the book, "The Love Dare," they say of all of the things love dares to do this is the ultimate – "Though threatened, love keeps pursuing; though challenged, love keeps moving forward; though mistreated and rejected, love refuses to give up. Love never fails," – 1 Corinthians 13:8. So your assignment today, on Day 39 of "The Love Dare" is to spend some time in personal prayer and then write a letter of commitment and resolve to your spouse. Tell your spouse why you are committing to your marriage until death, and that you have purposed to love them no matter what, and leave it in a place where your spouse will find it.
That's today's Love Dare assignment. Again, if you need more information about the 40-day Love Dare, you can find out more about the book, "The Love Dare," on our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, and there's information about the DVD of "Fireproof" there as well. There is also information about our spring season of FamilyLife Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences. We kick off tomorrow night in cities all across the country, and if you're not signed up to attend a Weekend to Remember, let me encourage you to make plans either to go out this weekend, Valentine's weekend. We still have seats left in some of our conference locations this weekend, or join us later on this spring at a conference in a city near where you live. All the details on our website, FamilyLifeToday.com.
Now, we want to talk today again about the subject of teenagers and sexuality, which, you know, the whole conversation has become huge in the young adult community. I mean, teens are more open on the subject than I think they've ever been. It's more a part of their culture and their environment than I think it's ever been. It's treated more casually than I think it's ever been treated, and if parents aren't having a conversation with their teens about this, if parents aren't engaging …
Dennis: They're going to be overwhelmed with their teenagers about the subject. In fact, one of the things I appreciate about our guests on the program and what they've done is they've written a book called "Sex 180," that I think can be used by parents to start the kind of dialog, Bob, you're talking about.
Chip Ingram and Tim Walker join us on FamilyLife Today. Tim, Chip, welcome back.
Chip: Great, thank you.
Tim: Thank you.
Dennis: Chip is the President and CEO of Walk Through the Bible Ministries; author of a number of books; was a pastor for a number of years along with Tim; lives in Atlanta. Tim is the senior editor of Youth Walk magazine, a monthly devotional magazine for youth, and that's where Tim gets much of his connection and, really, what ultimately convinced you of the need for this book. Tim, listening to what Bob was saying there, where are youth today getting their concepts about sex and human sexuality. Who is teaching them today?
Tim: We sat down with a group of students in Chip's basement, in fact. I asked them that specific question. And the primary place was – well, there are actually a number of places because our culture is so saturated with the messages about sexuality – and media was definitely one of them; the magazines – they learn so much from just questions that students write in, even a Q&A column about sexuality. They go into the stores, and they see displays of people that are nude or barely dressed or whatever or the promotional items for …
Dennis: Yeah, my friends at Abercrombie & Fitch are still doing a good job of that, even though I've been airing their …
Bob: You've spoken to them on occasion about it?
Dennis: I just don't care for that store and what they promote.
Tim: One of them even expressed someone had come in their school to do a public service assembly about Don't Do Drugs, and it someone who came in and did a musical act but was dressed very skimpily, and, you know, the message they – in fact, they joked around. They were saying that sex was our anti-drug instead of actually taking a stand against it.
Dennis: Oh, wow.
Tim: But it's just everywhere. And then they walk into – it's not only the media, but they also see it in their homes, too. They see – some of them may have a parent that's online and has an Internet porn addiction or is communicating with someone over some kind of online affair. Or they go through a divorce, and a parent has had an affair with someone. Or they just kind of see these things firsthand, or their siblings are making these kinds of decisions, and they see all of this carnage, and everywhere they go they just see firsthand what's happening with sexuality.
Bob: And it's all around the school, it's all around the culture that they are a part of. You are not that far removed from your own experience, and your own experience was an experience, as you share in the book, that brought you to some sexual damage prior to marriage.
Tim: Well, it definitely was that curiosity within me to kind of know more than what I did know. The information that I got was just very minimal about sex, just very – probably very much like a biology textbook, you know, "here how babies are made," but there were things about that that still – and I think that are innate in all of us that we kind of want to know more about that because that's part of our makeup.
But there were things kind of – my curiosity was definitely pretty heightened, anyway. I think that's maybe in my nature, but I wanted to move beyond that, and I wanted to kind of know, "Okay, well, if this is what happened, well, what does that look like?" And so that kind of fed the curiosity to look at pornography.
Bob: Okay, but how did you get access to pornography as a student?
Tim: Well, actually, it was in a relative's home that had pornography. At the time I – there was no Internet when I was growing up.
Dennis: How old were you?
Tim: I was probably in my early teens, like, around 11 or 12 or so.
Dennis: Were you looking for pornography?
Tim: No, I just kind of stumbled across a magazine.
Dennis: Yeah, you just were looking, and, all of a sudden, there it was.
Bob: And curiosity took over, and you found the magazine?
Tim: And then learned things that I did not know beforehand, and then it moves beyond that to where I think that this is the nature of pornography well, it stimulates that image, but then you want to know, "Well, what do those things feel like?" And so, really, it's just a matter of – from that point on, abstaining from sex, growing up and during high school was purely a matter of convenience.
I grew up in a Christian home, I went to church, I was not a very outgoing person, I was probably a little more quiet type at high school as well. I didn't got to all the wild parties or anything like that.
Dennis: So when you say convenience, you're saying availability? You didn't …
Tim: Exactly. Well, I dated some, so give me a little credit.
No, but I think that it was more a matter of the time when I did have my sexual experience is when I went away to college. So I didn't have to come back home and answer to anybody. I didn't have to hide all of that and kind of go through my life growing up in a Christian home.
Bob: So there were some protections around you while you were still in high school that kept you from running off in the wrong direction.
Bob: When you got to college, boundaries are down, nobody's checking up on you, and the opportunity presented itself.
Tim: Exactly, and it was more than just an opportunity. I think it was also – and this is what I tried to communicate in the book. It wasn't just that sex was convenient or available, but it was also where I was at emotionally. I was at a Christian College where, you know, you should be able to meet some Christian girls pretty easily there, and you see your friends involved in relationships, and you see – you wish that you had something significant and consistent like they do. And so it was a very lonely time for me. I was away from home for the first time, and so there were a lot of things that kind of just fed into that loneliness and that desire just to connect with someone.
In hindsight, you know, God so wanted to connect with me in those ways, in those significant, deep-down core ways, but I was looking for something that was more immediate satisfaction for that. And so when the opportunity came up, I just simply went with it because it was an immediate satisfaction for that need that had so frustrated me. I was just tired of being alone, and knew that it wasn't anything that was going to last; that was a significant thing, but I just wanted something to take away that loneliness for that time.
Bob: Okay, now, I'm a dad with boys. You tell your story, and I'm thinking, "Oh, my goodness." You know?
Dennis: That was 20 years ago.
Bob: Yeah, I'm thinking I'm about to send a son to college, all right? Oh, my goodness.
Dennis: The college campus today, Bob …
Bob: Is a little different than it was. What didn't happen? Or what do I need to make sure – what could have happened that could have changed things for you that freshman year?
Dennis: Tim, Bob needs your help.
Bob: I do.
I'm sweating here.
Tim: Well, I think that one thing for me, and this is kind of what drives me and my writing, in general, is that I knew all of the right answers, I knew how to be a good church boy. I got a lot of encouragement from the church. I would sing songs on occasion, but it was all for – you know, for me to get some affirmation moreso than any type of ministry.
But there were a lot of things, too, that the relationship with God was not there. It was growing up in the church and realizing and really understanding God's heart. So I think that if I – like I mentioned earlier, there were these needs that were deep down within me, and if I would have realized that God wanted to meet those needs in a much more significant way than the opportunity that availed itself at the time, then that would have been a deterrent for me, because I would have really understood His heart.
And to be quite honest, after that experience is when I really began to understand His heart – when my heart was so broken, when I realized that hey, this boy that never sinned during high school, that used to look at all the other kids that did and judged them, and I stepped over boundaries that I never thought I was going to step over.
But the problem was that I never really understood God's heart. I never understood the emotional needs that He wanted to meet and the emotional needs that somehow lead to sexual needs that are so available there. But through that – and, actually, I began to open my Bible after that event, and I started – I remember, I went to a passage of Scripture that had nothing to do with what I was going through, but it was a very lonely time after that, and Paul writes in 1 Timothy, I think it's 4:12, he says, "My first defense, no one came to my aid, may it not be held against them."
Well, to me, that interpretation of that verse at the time was everybody's left me alone and now it's just me and all this, but I began to see myself in God's Word at that point, and that was a significant turning point for me.
So then I just started looking up every verse I could about loneliness because I was alone, and that's when I began to encounter God, and that's when His Word became living and active to me. And that's also when I really, really began to see His heart. It went beyond all these things that I knew about God growing up – all of things that "God loves you, God's always there," and almost become cliché to a kid that grows up in the church, but there was something very real about God, and there was something significant about that relationship with Him that I never wanted to walk away from again.
Chip: I really hope people are listening – not just dads but also, I mean, that guy or that gal that has these deep longings and loneliness and for dads and moms, I think what I want to say, I hope what you heard from Tim is not about telling your kids all the time, "Don't have sex, don't have sex, don't have six." It's about opening the door and the window of your heart and their heart about the real deep needs that they have that are real, and you start by modeling that by sharing some of yours, so that around the table and in the car and when you take walks and making time, those issues come to the surface so that they know. If those don't get dealt with, what happens is they get played out in sexuality. That's what – really – and so what we've done is we've isolated the sex issue, and we think we're successful if we can just keep them out of bed with someone and, really, that's a symptom.
And I think the other thing I would say to our people listening, especially younger people, is those images that are all around you, and that peer pressure that just makes you feel like you are so out of it; that makes you want to experiment in many ways, in some of our research, we get a lot of high school girls saying, "I just want to get it over with." I mean, you know, this isn't like a great experience – "I just want to get it over with," so I can then find someone I can love.
Dennis: You're speaking of losing their virginity?
Chip: Yes, yes, I mean, this is a part of a very real, "I just want to get my virginity over with so" …
Bob: The pressure is on. If it's going to happen, let's just do it, and then I don't have to worry about that anymore.
Chip: And I don't want to – and the first time, I don't think I want to have it with someone I really care about because you know what? I don't want to get locked into something. I just want to get it over with. But what's behind that?
And, see, I think what we're trying to do in "Sex 180" is talk about not only what's behind that and what you deal with in your heart and how God can fill that, but how do you now, not waiting someday, somehow, some way, relate to the opposite sex and to God in ways that God can actually fill those longings and loneliness, and you can explore in healthy, godly ways, your sexuality.
Dennis: You know, it may be that Tim's a little younger than me, but my experience on the college campus was similar to yours, Tim, in that my dating life ultimately became a barometer of my spiritual life. And my dating life was actually the last thing to go that I gave to God. You, too, Chip?
Chip: Yeah, just saying that I raised my hand and then going, "Been there done that." I mean, that was a holdout for me.
Dennis: It was a holdout for me, too. And I remember when I finally did say to God, "Okay, God, you know what is best about all of my life," and I'm not going to hold out in this one segment of my life over here somehow thinking that I know better than Almighty God, but you know what, Tim, it was the lure and the love and the bidding of Jesus Christ who invited me into a relationship, and it wasn't law, boundaries, rules and regulations that caused me to give my dating life and my human sexuality to God. It was the love of Christ. And I think, as a parent, it's kind of like today – we're kind of raising this banner for all the parents listening – in the midst of protecting your kids' virginity, don't forget to introduce their hearts to the one who will ultimately lead them through the minefield. Because if they miss Jesus, and they're virgins, they miss life.
Dennis: You may have protected against sexually transmitted diseases, an emotional scar, and be a virgin for your spouse in marriage, and I wouldn't want to diminish that in any way, but Jesus Christ is the one who said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through Me."
Chip: "And I came to give you life and give it to the full." So if you fully want to experience all that life has to offer, it's only through Jesus Christ.
Dennis: When I start thinking about the time when I gave my dating life to God, I think I'd heard a sermon about Moses, and it was the story of God bidding Moses to throw his staff down. Now, that staff that Moses had had been with him in the wilderness for 40 years. And although this, perhaps, is a little bit of a sermonic evangelistic …
Bob: Stretching things a little bit?
Dennis: Yeah, a little bit – the preacher may have been stretching things. He said, "You know, undoubtedly, Moses loved that staff, but God said "Throw it down," and what God wanted to do is He wanted to use that staff as a symbol of His power. Now, for me, whether the guy was stretching that story or not, he convicted me that my sex drive, my human sexuality, my dating life, and my relationship with the opposite sex were all wrapped up in a big, big, giant issue – like a staff – that I had to release and throw down and say to God, "Okay, you got it."
And at the point where I finally released it, when God gave it back to me, it became a symbol of His power.
Chip: I just can't help, you know, at times you have those promptings, and as you began to talk, I mean, literally, I can just guarantee you there's people listening right now, one of those promptings from God, if you would not have said what you said, I've never met a man, a woman, a student, a divorcee, who have not dealt radically with this issue of their sexuality or this issue of dating of having to be complete, and not just the physical side, but I mean the mind part, the lust part, and I don't know right now – I don't know how your program works, but I'd love to just – can I take, like, 30 seconds and pray?
Dennis: Oh, we need to.
Chip: Father, I want to pray right now for those that are wrestling, I remember it so vividly. It's like being torn and pulled in two different directions, and you just don't think you can stand it. I pray for every man, every woman, every student listening, that You sovereignly ordained in those moment to tune in. God, would you give them the grace to drive a stake and say, "Yes, Lord Jesus, I'm going to walk with you," and grant them the grace to make as radical a change as they need to make, whether it's breaking off a relationship, going to get help with a pornography issue, whether it's a lust issue but, Lord, I pray, right now, that people hearing us on this program at this time, they would bow their head, they don't have to close their eyes if they're driving, but say "Lord Jesus, today is the day for me. I want you to be the Lord of my life, and that includes the Lord of my dating and my sexuality. In Jesus's name.
Dennis: And I just want to say two things out of your prayer. Number one, once you've laid it down, don't pick it up until God gives it back. Because if you take it back before He sanctifies it, and that means to set it apart, that means to make it holy, that means to make it something that is a fit vessel for His use – if you pick it up too soon, you're going to miss the real blessing of God, and this is the way it's found – release and wait. He'll show you when you can pick it back up again.
Bob: And I know there are some listeners who are thinking to themselves, I have picked it back up. I released it, I picked it back up; I released it again, I picked it back up – it feels like I just can't do this, and part of the reason for that is because you are attempting, perhaps, in the power of the flesh what can only be done with the power of the Holy Spirit, and that means you can't just lay it down and not pick something up. You need to be strengthening yourself spiritually. You need to be in the Word, you need to be in fellowship with other believers, you need to have a consistent time in prayer.
You know, the Bible talks about the guy who swept the demon out of his life, and he had a nice clean house, and then seven more came back because he didn't inhabit the house with the spirit of God. And so you've got to – if you're going to deal with this, you can't just get rid of it. You've got to replace it, and you've got to replace it with spiritual disciplines that will strengthen you spiritually to be able to lay it down and not pick it back up.
And this is one of the things you guys talk about in the book, "Sex 180," which you've written for older teens and for young singles today to try to challenge America's teenagers and young adults to have a new perspective on sexuality, which is so desperately need in the culture.
And I want to encourage listeners to go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, where there is more information about the book, "Sex 180, There's More to it Than Just Wait," written by our guests today, Chip Ingram and Tim Walker. Again, the website if FamilyLifeToday.com. when you get there, you can order a copy of the book from us online, if you'd like. This would be the kind of book you could either give to a teenager or go through together with your teenager, or use in a small group, with a group of teens, and get some conversation going on this subject.
Again, the information is available on our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, or 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 let me quickly remind our listeners that tomorrow night we are kicking off our spring season of FamilyLife Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences. We're going to be hosting these conferences in a number of cities all across the country this spring, but this weekend, Valentine's weekend, some special conferences – one in the Dallas/Fort Worth area at the Gaylord Texan; one at the Hershey Lodge in Hershey, Pennsylvania. We’ve got conferences this weekend in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Washington, D.C., and other cities all across the country, and we do want to encourage you to make plans to attend one of these weekend getaways as a couple this spring. They're fun, romantic retreats for couples where you can strengthen your marriage and enjoy some time together.
If you'd like more information about the upcoming Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference schedule, again, go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, or call us toll-free at 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY. Plan to enjoy a Weekend to Remember where you can learn to love like you mean it. Again, more information on our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, or call us at 1-800-FLTODAY.
Now, tomorrow we're going to continue our conversation with Chip Ingram and Tim Walker about the need for a new sexual revolution and about what we can do as parents to help re-orient our teenagers' thinking on this subject of sexuality. I hope you can be 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 next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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