FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Who Will Be Your God?

with Dr. Harry Schaumburg | April 12, 2010
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Is sexual sin destroying your marriage? Harry Schaumburg, an expert in the field of sexual addition, talks frankly about the root of addiction, and how our wrong choices can quickly turn normal sexual desire into something that has more in common with idolatry. Hear Schaumburg explain how sexual addiction can be overcome with God’s ever-present help.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Is sexual sin destroying your marriage? Harry Schaumburg, an expert in the field of sexual addition, talks frankly about the root of addiction, and how our wrong choices can quickly turn normal sexual desire into something that has more in common with idolatry. Hear Schaumburg explain how sexual addiction can be overcome with God’s ever-present help.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

Is sexual sin destroying your marriage?

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Who Will Be Your God?

With Dr. Harry Schaumburg
April 12, 2010
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Harry:  We are talking about a problem worse than addiction.  We are talking about bondage, to use a scriptural word, and the only thing that can break that bondage is God.  When we lose sight of the power of God to transform who we are as spiritual beings, as sexual beings we will lose everything.  I think this is a fight for truth.  This is a fight for the importance of the gospel.


Bob:   This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, April, 12th.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I am Bob Lepine.  We will talk today about what is necessary for the bondage of sexual compulsion to be broken in a person’s life. 

And welcome to FamilyLife Today.  Thanks for joining us.  There are some issues that can seep into a marriage relationship that over time cause erosion in that relationship.  There are other issues that rather than eroding a relationship, are like an explosion going off in a relationship.  And the subject we are going to be addressing today is one of those subjects that our listeners may want to be alert to.  They may not want to have younger listeners tuned in because we are going to be talking about what happens when sexual sin becomes part of a marriage relationship.

Dennis:  Yes Bob!  I wish we didn’t have to do broadcasts like this.


Bob:  Yes! 

Dennis:  Quite honestly, over the years you and I have probably done... I don’t know.... 10 -15 different series around the sexual dimension of who we are and how it trips us up and how it can enslave us.   In fact, it was back in 1998 that we did a series with our guest today, Dr. Harry Schaumburg, and we have aired that broadcast a number of times on FamilyLife Today

As you have mentioned before we came into the studio here today; you mentioned, “Unfortunately the response to that broadcast is growing.”  I want to just first of all to welcome Harry back to the broadcast.  Harry thanks for joining us on FamilyLife Today, again.

Harry:  Thanks, Dennis.  It is good to be here and to see you guys again. 


Dennis:  I so appreciate you and your work.  Of course, you speak at a number of conferences around the country and written a number of books.  One of the books we interviewed you on back in 1998 was, False Intimacy.  Understanding the Struggle of Sexual Addiction.”  You havewritten a second book now called, Undefiled – Redemption from Sexual Sin.  Restoration for Broken Relationships.   I think we have even over the years sent folks to your Stone Gate Resources Counseling Center that you have there in Colorado Springs, Colorado and we so appreciate your ministry of counseling.  You have been dealing in this area of sexual addictions for 19 years, right?


Harry:  Full time for 19 years, but I started back 30 years ago, so it has been pretty much the focus of my entire professional counseling. 


Dennis:  When we come to this subject of sexual addiction especially in this era where in recent months there has been the story of Tiger Woods which he hasn’t been diagnosed as being a sexual addict.  We certainly find a lot of evidence today, Harry, in the culture of people who are sexually addicted and you gave some statistics in your book that really were alarming.  They alarmed me especially around how young people at earlier and earlier ages are getting exposed to pornography over the internet.  Is this a major cause of creating sexual addicts today?

Harry:  I think it is!  If you go back to the old days before the internet all the stories that I ever heard were the young man, average age of 11, found pornography stashed in his father’s house; meaning that his father had the magazines and brought them into the house.   Well, it is kind of like the stone age of today.  You look at the internet and what you have is access from cell phone to computer, desktop, laptop anywhere, anytime, anyplace, wireless internet connection, and so children are really, really getting exposed. 

I think we are going to see the average age, 11, drop dramatically.  One statistic that I mentioned in the book is that 90% of 8–16 year olds have already viewed pornography on the internet.  That accidental exposure, which it is a pop up, is like the accidental exposure discovering it in your father’s basement.  But now you have a whole different technology and access that I don’t think that we get our mind wrapped around it.

Bob:  Harry, let me ask you, when we start talking  about people; Dennis talked about somebody being diagnosed as a sexual addict, there is something inside of me that almost recoils at the use of the term addiction in this area.  I know when you wrote False Intimacy the subtitle was about dealing with sexual addiction.  Why does it feel wrong to me to refer to somebody as a sexual addict?  Is it just a semantic issue that I am wrestling with here, do you think?

Harry:  I don’t think it is a semantic thing at all; Bob.  I think when we talk about addictions, you think of the heroin addict or the alcoholic, and it is a whole different picture.  We are talking about sex and sex I think first off is something very sacred that God has created and gives to a husband and wife in marriage and to pretty intimate and exclusive in marriage.  When you bring it down to sex addict it sounds like you are kind of going into the gutter with something very precious that is sexuality. 

I think the other thing is I don’t really see it as addiction as you mentioned.  My first book uses the term, but in the second book, Undefiled, I don’t use the term at all.  It is all sexual sin.  I think we really have to emphasize that this is a sin more than anything else and I think with anyone who knows the word of God and believes the word of God, I think the word sin resonates much better than addiction or disease.

Bob:  It can become a besetting sin, a compulsive behavior, but there is something about addiction that makes me want to pull back and go, “No, it is not the same as a guy who has got to get his fix of heroin every day, is it?”

Harry:  I don’t think it is!  I think we have that addiction to a chemical; someone can be addicted to prescription medications.  We all have a sex desire and even with all the new information about being addicted to the sexual desire, the brain chemical.  It is very normal to want to have sexual intimacy even as an adolescent growing up and of course in marriage it is very important to maintain that sexual interest.  So, how do you make that into an addiction?   Heroin or whiskey is not something that you have to have.  This [sexual intimacy] is a normal part of God’s wonderful gift in creation to us in marriage.


Dennis:  I think a part of what Bob is talking about here is, Harry, is that we want people to be responsible for their behavior and not blame it on some predisposition, but I have to clarify this because of what I hear you saying.  Do you want to exclude this then from being an addiction?


Harry:  I think I have come to that point in the 18 years that have gone by since False Intimacy came out that I think I just really shunned the word addiction and all the concept of disease, the concept of.....


Dennis:  Predisposition? 


Harry:  Family of origin is the main reason or genetic causes..... 


Dennis:  Or being exposed as an 8 year old like we were talking about?  An 11 year old?


Harry:  Absolutely!  We are talking about responsible people who are making a choice against God’s will.

Dennis:  Over and over and over and over again.

Harry:  Over and over again.  Yes!


Bob:  Is that person somehow, and again, I am using the word addicted, but they are drawn by endorphins being released in the brain or there is something that they are feeding off of that is not just looking at a picture, right?

Harry:  I think they are feeding off of their own selfish nature.  And rather than feeding off the endorphins they are feeding off the sinful nature.  If we lose sight of that I think we really lose sight of the need of the cross and of what I call sexual redemption in this book. 

Dennis:  What I hear you saying here, and I think this is really important for our listeners in this sex saturated culture where addiction has been thrown around.  I can almost feel people being a little angry, that you are taking away their addiction; that they can no longer call this an addiction.  What I hear you calling people to do is you are calling men and women to assume responsibility for their choices, and not be enslaved to sin.  But step up and admit and repent that they have made wrong choices and turn from that sin and turn away from it and cry out to God and ask Him, Help me!  Help me in my weakness!  Help me be a real man, a real woman, surrendered to You and your Holy Spirit to be a sanctified vessel and have sex be something that is sacred as God designed it.  Is that correct?

Harry:  That is exactly correct.  I think that what we don’t want to do in our own sinful natures is to be dependent, and in this case completely dependent upon God.  I think when we can work steps and when we can go through our own recovery and manage our own counseling and when we can read the self help books that we want, we begin to think that we are in charge. 

We are talking about a problem worse than addiction.  We are talking about bondage to use a scriptural word and the only thing that can break that bondage is God.  When we lose sight of the power of God to transform who we are as spiritual beings and as sexual beings we will lose everything.  I think this is a fight for truth; this is a fight for the importance of the gospel.

Dennis:  I also hear you saying it is a fight against something that wants to control your life if you let it. 

Harry:  Exactly!   It is out there controlling if I let it, but I have a will.  I am an incredible being created with an ability to choose and we can’t lose sight of that.  This is not something being forced upon me.  This is a choice away from God and His truth.

Bob:  Okay!  But you have talked to a lot of guys who have said I have come to the point where I say, “I detest this.  I despise it.  I want to turn away from this and they...

Dennis:  ....I keep doing it!

Bob:  Yes!  There are things I hate I end up doing is what they say.  So, they say, I understand I have got a will, but it doesn’t  feel like I’ve got a will because I just find myself dragged back into this.

Harry:  Well, if you get into this deep enough in scripture, which is of course the right way to go, is when you look at Romans chapter 1, you can make an argument that God gives us over. What does He give us over to?  Our own desires!  Why does He give us over to our own desires to be controlled by those desires?  Which of course were originally legitimate desires. I think He gives us over in the context of that passage because we do not see God as God! 

So, the guy who is saying, “I don’t have a will, I don’t have an ability to break free.”  He is absolutely correct, but, we have to ask the question, why?  He has made a choice to go against God and that is where you begin to lose control of your own will, your own desires so that feeling that I am out of control and I can’t stop this is not delusional.  It is real but what are the real theological, biblical explanations for losing that power to just say I am not going to do this.

You know you can put two guys in cubicles with 2 computers and one guy is not going to be able to resist pointing and clicking and the other person can resist.  What is really going on inside of those two men?   I think that is what we are talking about.


Bob:  What is going on inside the guy that is pointing and clicking – what is going on inside of him?


Harry:  I think he sees a moment to immediately gratify himself because ultimately all of his life is bent more towards living for himself and who he is.  You know I could tell stories upon stories of people I have counseled and they all come because they are struggling with pornography and some form of adultery.  When you really take a look at what is going on in their ministry or what is going on in their career, it is all about – ‘ME’.   It is me, Me, ME, ME! 

And so what I have been saying for 18 years is I can’t help you control that behavior, but I can tell you can find an answer to deal with this selfishness, the sense that this is all about me and I want to get what I want.  But, here is the challenge; if you really go in this direction, you are going to have to change your entire lifestyle, not just a behavior.  You are going to have to live for an entirely different purpose.  In terms of your will the purpose of God, not for Harry Schaumburg’s will or not for Bob Lepine’s. 

Dennis:  I ultimately hear you calling men and women who struggle with this away from idolatry of self and of sex and of pleasure, and of self gratification to the One true God to worship Him and to yield to Him. 

Harry:  Why has that become so novel?  I mean that is the implication of what we are saying because I think we have accepted the message of a therapeutic culture that says, ‘here’s the explanation in my family of origin or whatever it is, rather than this is inside of me.’ 

If you go to Colossians 3:5, Paul clearly says, “Put to death therefore, what is earthly in you.”  And it is ‘in you.’  And the next phrase, “sexual immorality,”.....  And it ends with, “covetousness,” which is idolatry.  What we are really dealing with; you are exactly right, Dennis, it is the worship of self.  We live in a culture of ‘Me’ and we have turned this into a lifestyle! 

Dennis:  I embrace what you are saying because of the hope it creates.  When I am called an addict of something, there is a sense in which; and it is back to what I think Bob was referring to earlier, he doesn’t like that term, because there is a feeling of, “Oh that poor person!  He is just an addict!  He is just enslaved to it!”

Bob:  He can’t help himself.

Dennis:  Yes!   And you know what?  There is not much hope in that!   How does he break free in that?  And so, one of my questions I had down to ask you is, what is at the root of sexual addiction?  You are saying, ultimately, “who will be your God!”

Harry:  Exactly!   And if God is not God, as we go back to Romans, chapter 1 again, than my desires will control me.  I will be beyond able to do what I want to do – the way I want to do it; and in particularly when it comes to my body.  I will do with my body what I want to do with it and of course the expression of that is going to be sexual immorality.  It is all about God being God! 

Dennis:  So, back to Bob’s question he asked a bit earlier, when he said, “I am a guy who just keeps slipping off into this and my wife has caught me and she doesn’t trust me and it is causing an atomic explosion in the marriage relationship.  It is threatening the very fiber of their vows; the lack of faithfulness at this point.”   You would say to that man, “Repent!”

Harry:  Repent and you will find radical change on the inside that will be expressed on the outside.  What we talk about in Undefiled then is a man becomes a different man, a woman becomes a different woman, and there must be what we would call, ‘the fruit of repentance.’

We must live in a sexually and a spiritually different way.  We have to be a different man, a different woman, not just stopping the pornography.

Bob:  Okay, but hang on, there are some guys who just said, “I just heard you say, ‘Repent,’ and I have tried that before and that doesn’t work.  I have said I am not going to do this anymore.  I don’t want to do it and I still wind up doing it.  So, repenting isn’t working for me.”

Harry:  I think there is true repentance and false repentance.  In false repentance, I think again, the motive is:  I have got to save my marriage. The motive is I have got to save my career.  “Harry, help me I have got to get this right.”  Of the hundreds and hundreds of people who have come through our counseling program, everyone comes because they want to get their life straightened out. 

My message continually is that this doesn’t solve the problem!  I am not here to get your life straightened out! I am not here to save your marriage!   In essence, I am here for a radical change, where in which you need to become a different man and a different woman.  

And so, repentance is something; some people are not even asking for ... when they say, “God I repent.”  What are they doing?  They are saying, “I feel self-disgust, I don’t like doing this, my wife hates it, and if I don’t get control of it I am going to lose my marriage,”   And I say, “That is not enough for God to act!  God acts when we completely come to Him with nothing and that He can do everything to transform this.”  That is what I believe!

Dennis:  Okay!  I have got one last question I have to ask you because there has to be a woman, right now, who is listening who is saying, “Hey Harry, I am married to a man who doesn’t care about repenting.  He doesn’t see any sin, any wrong doing, and this guy is just off in it.  What in the world do I do as his wife?”

Harry:  Those women call our office all the time!   Those are tough situations.  You would like a guy to at least be motivated to save his marriage!  But, when there is no motivation and when he doesn’t want to break off the affair or when he doesn’t want to stop the sexual sin; that is a real challenge.

I think often we take the easy way out and the counselor or the pastor says, “You have got grounds for divorce.  He has been unfaithful.”   We take a much narrower view and approach and that is, okay, “What does God want you to do to really be in a position to draw your husband towards something that is more of a reality than the false intimacy, the illusion that he is getting from the prostitute, the pornography, and the affair?” 

I think there is gentleness and a quietness; that is what I am going to encourage, is the woman to come to her husband and say, “You know I can give you more than you could ever find in the arms of that other woman.”  That could be said seductively, but I think it needs to be said in a godly way.  What I mean by that is at the end of life, when we get old, who is going to feed you; that young 20 year old?  No!  I am going to be here and if I have to nurse you as an old man and as an old woman, I will be here and we can grow old together.  There is something about sexuality and there is something about intimacy that we need to see that is much deeper than self-gratification; in whatever form it is expressed.


Dennis:  I think whether it be to the wife who is in a tough situation like you just described, Harry, or to the man who is caught in this sin and genuinely wants to get out and repent, the call is to the cross of Jesus Christ.  Paul wrote to Timothy, “Flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness,”   Where are you going to find righteousness? 

It is found in the person of Jesus Christ!  He is the one you pursue when you find faith, love, and peace and you pursue Him while being surrounded by others who are doing the same thing.  Paul finishes this passage to Timothy, he says, “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” 

That is not an easy route!  It demands courage, it demands faith, perseverance, and when you slip and fall you get back up!  But it is the route of rebuilding trust.  It is the route of finding life, hope and as you write in your book, it is the way you find redemption and healing.

Bob:   I have been sitting here thinking about Matthew 13 where Jesus tells the parable of the pearl of great price.  And the man who finds that pearl, what does he sell to get it?  He sells everything and goes back and buys the pearl.  The point is we need to see the gospel.  We need to see Jesus and our redemption as so valuable that it dislodges from our hands the idols that we hang on to, even the idol of sexual sin that we have been talking about here today. 

And that is what is at the heart of how you address this issue in the book, Undefiled, which we have in our FamilyLife Resource Center.  It is a book that offers redemption from sexual sin and restoration for broken relationships.  It is by our guest Dr. Harry Schaumburg.

Go online at and get more information on how you can get a copy of the book.  Again, it is called Undefiled.  The website, or you can call us toll-free at 1-800-FL-TODAY if you would like; 1-800-358-6329 and we will make arrangements to get a copy of Harry’s book sent to you. 

Let me encourage listeners to make sure you are being proactive in guarding and protecting your marriage.  As you were reading Paul’s advice to Timothy he says, flee this and instead pursue this.  I would say to listeners we need to be fleeing the cultural messages about our marriage and we need to be pursuing what the Bible says about our marriage. 

For years we have been encouraging couples to go through a HomeBuilders study.  This is something you can do with other couples or if you just want to do it with the two of you, get at couple of HomeBuilders study guides and go through the material and ask each other the questions and just use it as part of your date night activities that build into and strengthen your marriage relationship. 

This month if you are able to support the ministry of FamilyLife Today of any amount we would love to send you two copies of the newly revised HomeBuilders study guide called, Building Your Marriage to Last.  It is our gift to you when you support FamilyLife Today again, with a donation of any amount and you can do that either online at and if you on there to make a donation and you want the HomeBuilders guides, type the word “BUILD” in to the key code box and we will know to send these study guides out to you. 

Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY, 1-800-358-6329 and make your donation over the phone and just say I’d like those study guides.  We are happy to send them out to you and again, we appreciate your partnership with us.  We are listener supported so your donations are what is keeping us this station and on our network of stations all across the country.  We really do appreciate you!

Now, tomorrow we are going to talk to Dr. Harry Schaumburg about what we can do as parents to raise children who understand and embrace sexual purity; not just abstinence, but what you refer to in your book as sexual maturity.  I hope our listeners 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 am 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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