You’re Being Lied to About Sex: Dean Inserra
Are you being lied to? Culture is spinning faith-altering views about sex to your kids. And our responses may determine whether kids sense Christianity's relevance. Author Dean Inserra describes popular falsehoods, the resulting questions kids ask, and how to respond in ways pertinent, loving, and truthful.
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Culture is lying to your kids in faith-altering ways about sex. Dean Inserra describes how to respond in ways pertinent, loving, and truthful.
You’re Being Lied to About Sex: Dean Inserra
Dean: One thing that has messed us up in the Christian culture is when we started telling people that all sins are equal. I don’t know where we got that from. Yes, all sins are equal in the fact that they all require the forgiveness of Christ they all separate us equally from God, but they’re not equal in the fact that they affect.
The Scriptures say Paul wrote, “When you sin sexually you sin against your own body.” [1 Corinthians 6:18, Paraphrased] He doesn’t say, “When you lie you lie against your own body,” or “When you steal you steal against your own body.” He said, “Sexually it’s our whole selves.”
Shelby: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Shelby Abbott, and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. You can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on the FamilyLife® app.
Ann: This is FamilyLife Today!
Dave: I tell you what, if there’s ever a time that I’m glad I’m not raising a teenager, it’s right now. [Laughter] We did it; we’ve done it; now we’ve got grandkids.
Ann: We talk about that quite a bit: “Can you imagine raising kids with the access for…” Because our kids had cell phones, but they didn’t have the internet on their cell phones. Social media is crazy.
Dave: It’s a crazy world. The world that was out there and your kids could come into your home and have a protection, and then you send them back. It’s—there’s no barrier. It’s all meshed together. The culture is right on our phone in front of us, especially as you talk about sexuality.
Dave: We’re going to help some parents today.
Ann: Parents are going to pull up and listen to this because we all need it.
Dave: Dean Inserra is back in the studio at FamilyLife Today. Welcome back.
Dean: It’s great to be here. I love being with you guys.
Dave: We’re going to talk about purity. You wrote a book called Pure: Why the Bible’s Plan for Sexuality isn’t Outdated, Irrelevant or Oppressive.
Pastor, dad, write, speaker—you do it all.
When you, and we talked about this last couple of days, but when you talk about the culture’s views, teachings, beliefs, and you write in your book, “several lies,” how do you combat that as a parent?
Dean: I think that we need to make sure that we’re aware what they are. But first, what is being said out there, and to make sure that we have the answers to it.
Again, the world’s system is broken. It is. Just look around. It’s undeniable. I think the world even knows that. How many broken relationships, hurting people, people who are wounded by the sexual revolution, people who are confused. There’s so much chaos with it that so many of the things we see right now are a result of people buying into the lies of the sexual revolution.
We have to be really clear with our children and with our churches and our friends and our small groups whatever areas you have that what God has is right and it is better and it is proven. Jesus is risen from the grave. I’m not the smartest guy in Tallahassee by any means, but I’m going to go with the one who was dead and came back to life three days later any day of the week. [Laughter]
The Bible is just as clear on sexual ethics as it is [on] things like “Love your neighbor,” “Help the poor.” Just as clear, so we need to make sure that we are as clear.
Ann: Dean, how did you find out what the lies are when you say, “Parents need to know what their kids are hearing,” how did you hear that?
Dean: I started seeing it just witnessing it in my relationships with people. So many of the counseling sessions are “Can you meet me for lunch. I need to talk to you.” I almost know what’s coming. I’m hearing things like, “What does the Bible really say about my girlfriend and I living together. Is that really wrong? Why? Why is that wrong? We are saving money and we’re going to get married eventually.” Those type of ideas.
Or “I’m not getting married any time soon because first we need to save up a lot of money and get our degrees and go backpack Europe and go chase our dreams. Once we do all that then we’ll get married.”
There are all these things that they’re saying. I heard it and then that caused me to start putting down my thoughts about it all. [Laughter] Then Pure, the book, came from that experience being around so many conversations like that.
Dave: One of the first lies you mentioned is “Sex is expected.”
Dean: That is true.
Dave: I’m going to throw the lies back at you and you tell us what—
Dean: Sex is expected. I tell people, “What used to be the first kiss on a date is now basically agreeing to sleep with someone.” It’s part of going out on a date, not even dating, just going out on a date. It’s expected.
Ann: It’s so funny because that’s how they get to know each other. Sometimes that’s the first thing that happens.
Dean: I had lunch with somebody who wanted to talk to me about that one time. Single guy in town living the single life real successful business guy in town and he was “You’ve got to make sure you’re compatible first before you agree to date.” By “compatible” he meant sexually compatible.
I don’t even know what that means. That’s the world’s logic right now. You’re telling me that’s not going to lead to extreme brokenness?
Ann: —and expectations - so many things. I’m sitting here thinking “Maybe that could happen but then you have a baby. Then you have another baby. Then you have stress in your life, and maybe you’re not as compatible then.”
Dean: In God’s design, you don’t have to lay there at night thinking “What if I’m pregnant. What if he doesn’t like me? What if there’s somebody else tomorrow?” In God’s design, you don’t have to think and fear those kinds of things because there’s commitment there’s relationship.
What’s happening right now is people want the benefits of marriage without the covenant of marriage. That’s one of the biggest lies right now that our world is putting forward.
Ann: What do you say to the couple that’s living together: “Financially it’s way better.” They have a lot of different reasons.
Dave: That’s one of your lies. Lie number seven: “Cohabitation is just makes sense.”
Dean: “Just makes sense.” They’re believers. I’m talking to believers differently here. People who claim they’re trying to follow Jesus. I will tell them “You are saying right now, if your reason for living together is ‘It just makes sense; we save money; we’re getting married anyway,’ you’re telling me that financial stability if more important than sexual immorality.”
Our culture always says, “Yes.” Their parents even fuel that.
Ann: Oh, yes.
Dean: Often times, I’ll hear Christian parents say, “We don’t want you to get married yet. You’re too young.” What’s happening now is we have a generation that their parents empower them to live at twenty-two like their parents are living at fifty-two. The parents have forgotten when they were twenty-two, they weren’t living like they were 50. You get there. You work to that. They don’t want their lifestyles to change at all.
It's really bizarre what has resulted from those type of shifts in culture. But I almost think—this may sound cynical, but I don’t mean it to be this way—it’s not my spirit about this—but I almost expect couples to live together now. It’s so common.
Some will ask me to do their wedding or get together—I almost expect it. We have to have this conversation. We push hard. We’ll say, “You are not living in God’s design. You can call it whatever you want, but you’re not.”
Dave: One of the reasons—you said this yesterday—is you’re not living God’s design because He’s put some boundaries around this because you said, “It isn’t just sex.”
Dean: It’s never just sex.
Dave: There’s a lot of more going in. It’s now just physical. It’s emotional. It’s mental. It’s soul.
Dean: It’s a oneness that God has designed. It’s a one-flesh union. I say regularly that sex is not for in love people or engaged people or mature people or ready people. It’s for married people.
God has clearly defined sex as between a man and a woman. The one-flesh union is what has been designed from the very beginning. There’s a oneness to sex.
Dave: Talk about dating. I know you wrote about that in your book. You don’t like the idea of courtship.
Dean: Yes, dating is complicated right now, because the Bible doesn’t talk about dating. That doesn’t make it bad. It just makes it neutral. There’s no such thing as a boyfriend or a girlfriend in the Bible. That category is not there. You’re married, unmarried or a widow. Those are the three categories in the Bible.
But in our culture the way you meet someone is through dating. So, Christians have to participate in this neutral setting called dating. It’s not in itself bad, but it’s almost like a pretend kind of marriage, where you act like you’re married but you’re not. It’s just really an area of temptation where people are giving so much of their emotional life to someone.
I had a college student one time. He was engaged and getting married. He was talking about [how] he tries to make sure that he and his fiancé aren’t too emotionally connected. I said, “What do you mean by that,” because on the surface that sounds terrible, right? “What you’re not emotionally connected and you’re getting married?”
He said, “No, no, no.” A twenty-one year-old telling me this. This lesson for me. He said, “If the only thing that changes when we get married is sex, that’s a problem. It means that our dating was not what it was supposed to be; that we’re acting like we are married while we were dating.”
You see when couples date, all of a sudden, they don’t have their same friends anymore. They’re only together. They’re at each other’s houses until forever. They got tired. They spent the night. The famous “I don’t want to drive back excuse.” I see all of it. But what’s happening is dating can really set us up for a lot of failure a lot of sin a lot of heart break unrealistic expectations, because it’s not a biblical category, but we’re inventing it. We’re trying to live for Christ in this dating institution.
I want to warn people in their dating relationships to be really careful and to make expectations known. If it is the person that you think that you want to spend the rest of your life with and the other person reciprocates that, then move towards marriage. Dating for the sake of dating, for a Christian, just doesn’t make very much sense to me if you’ve trying to live a life that honors God.
But again, dating is how we meet people, so I’m not anti-dating.
Dean: I’m saying, “Dating for the sake of dating.”
Dave: What are you going to do with your kids?
Dean: My son had a homecoming date so far, that type of thing. They, when that time comes and they want to take a girl out on a date, I think that’s great. I’m going to be really careful with them on what all this means now. “You don’t need to be over at her house every single day. You’re not going to be inseparable. You’re not a package deal. You’re 16. If you want to go have dinner together, go to a movie or go to Chick Fila, that’s a different story. It’s your girlfriend; that’s great. But in terms of your not going to be this inseparable where you’re always at the hip, we’re not going to do it that way.”
Dave: Will it be different with your daughter? Will there be “the talk”?
Dean: I hope not. Just emotionally in my flesh, [I want to say], “If any boy comes near my daughter….”
Jen Wilkin, who’s a friend, she’s a great writer. She wrote a post one time talking about how that whole “I’m going to have my shotgun at the door to scare the guy”—she said, “Without realizing it, that kind of macho move can objectify your daughter and make her feel like she’s this sexual object that needs to be treated differently than her brothers.
Now we do think men and women are different and I do think there is a vulnerability difference, but I would hope that I had the same expectations with my boys that I have with my daughter in that.
Dave: That’s good.
Dean: I’m not there yet. She’s only eight. [Laughter] That’s my hope is that. I think my wife will keep me very stable and level headed I hope - during that time.
Ann: I’m thinking about back when our kids were in high school, I’m not sure they were even that old yet. They might have been fourteen to sixteen. But I can remember being in the kitchen hearing them talk about I Kissed Dating Goodbye.
One son said, “I’m doing this. I’m not going to kiss my wife until I know I’m going to marry her. I’m not going to kiss my girl until we’re going to get married.”
I heard the other son say, “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.” [Laughter]
Dave: Both of them are Wilson boys.
Ann: Yes, so I was loving that they were having the dialogue. When your son is going on his homecoming date, do you guys have that talk: “Is it okay to kiss her, Dad? What’s okay?”
Dean: We have a saying. My dad used to say it with me. Every time—it’s funny—all my friends learned it—so we’d all be leaving the house together and my dad would yell—not yell—he would just say it. On the way out the door, he’d say, “Boys don’t do anything—”
And we’d all say, “Stupid.” That was our rule: “Don’t do anything stupid.” [Laughter]
I think that’s one of the conversations that I would have. I’d also say, “Man, just know that I’m not going to tell you not to kiss your girlfriend, but I am going to tell you that it rarely just stays there. If you’re going to try to live your life—” He’s a believer, serious about the Lord. He’s a Christian leader in his school. He’s president of his FCA in his public school. I’m really proud of him—this is not just going to damage your fellowship with the Lord. It’s going to be a bad witness to your school that you’ve worked hard to have a witness at. Also, how she’s going to view the faith of you, as a man can really be altered if you’re not taking care of her in those ways.
Now you don’t have responsibilities a husband has. It’s not your job to spiritually lead her. She’s your girlfriend, not your wife. Boyfriends are not spiritual leaders. But you’re also preparing to be a Christian man, so there are qualities you need to possess in that and one of them is loving your neighbor your sister in Christ, protecting, not just your purity, but hers.
Ann: That’s good.
Dean: Now that’s just real mind the future date or whoever, but you have a responsibility as a man to do that. That’s the approach that I’ll take.
Dave: It is easy, as a young man, teenager [in] high school, college to think, “It’s just a kiss. It won’t go any farther.” That’s great wisdom to [say], “Yes, when you’re in that moment you’re going to be so tempted to keep going.”
Dean: Or the cycles. Let’s say there’s always that—think back to your teenaged days. For our listeners, think back to your teenaged days—that first kiss, you’re nervous. Then what happens the next time you’re together? You’ve already done that.
Dean: So, you kiss immediately. That’s a danger zone because from there guess what happens. There’s a ladder you climb a figurative ladder, and it keeps going. With Christians, we need to be really on guard towards these things.
Dave: Yes, you’ve got to be careful.
Alright, lie number two: “Marriage is a capstone, not a cornerstone.”
Dean: I’m passionate about this.
Dave: Good; let’s hear it.
Dean: Right now, marriage, I believe is the cornerstone, that God has given us to build our lives from. What has happened is it has become a capstone, as in “I’m going to build my life, and after I do all those things, then and only if I’m really ready, then I’m going to get married.”
You’re just asking for sexual immorality. That’s individualism in a way God never intended. “It’s not good for man to be alone.” [Genesis 2:18, Living Bible]
There are people who God has given the call or the gift, sometimes it’s a gift sometimes, for some, maybe they feel like it’s a weight to carry of singleness. I’m not saying they’re out of God’s will. But for people that are ready to date that want to date, you’re ready to get married. Don’t date unless you have marriage in mind.
I would say, “If you don’t want to get married anytime soon [and] that is you [and] you’re saying, “I don’t want to get married until I’m 35. I want to go do these things.” That’s okay. You have every right to do that. Then don’t date.
Dean: Don’t date until that time because marriage is not something that we build our lives to. It’s something we build our lives from.
I’m a huge proponent of getting married young, not carelessly, not recklessly or flippantly, but getting married young and building your life together from that.
I asked a professor [when] I was in college—I took a marriage and family class and it was taught by a husband and a wife—they actually remind me of you all—you’d be great—I’m sure you do some of that—you’d be great at that—I went up to Mrs. Dr. Anderson afterwards, because I was dating Christie pretty seriously at the time, and I was in college and she was in college—she was at Florida State and I was at Liberty University—I went up to her and I said, “Dr. Anderson, I have a question.”
She said, “Sure, what’s going on?”
I said, "How much money do you have to have in order to get married?” [Laughter] I really wanted to know: “Do I need go save up my money?”
She said, “That’s a good question.” I see her thinking for a minute, and she said, “Can you pay for your rent now?”
I said, “Yes, ma’am.”
She said, "Can your wife pay for her rent?”
I said, "Yes.”
She said, "You can pay for your rent?”
I said, "Yes.”
She said, "Well,” and she shrugged her shoulders and said, “Maybe one months living expenses.” [Laughter]
I said, “Okay.” That was really helpful for me. We can have one month’s living expenses in our early days of being married. Now if we only had one month’s living expenses I’d be in panic mode because I have kids and a mortgage and those kinds of things. But we’re twenty-one, twenty-two years old and we could pay for our rent and have groceries [and] we were okay.
I want to encourage people out there to see marriage as something you build your life from, not something you build your life to. For Christian parents that have adult children who are twenty-one, twenty-two years old, don’t be the hurdle. Don’t be the hurdle towards that because, again, what you might be saying without realizing it is that fulfilling your dreams, or a graduate degree or financial stability is more important than God’s design and sexual morality. I know you don’t believe that but that’s how you are figuratively acting when you do those things.
Dave: That’s really the culture we’re living in.
Dean: It is.
Dave: Couples are getting married much later. They do want fifty to one hundred grand in the bank—
Ann: —and a down payment for a house.
Dave: Again, there’s nothing wrong with having some of those dreams, but you’re right.
Dean: We’re the first culture in the history of civilization to think that way.
Ann: Yes. I was nineteen when we got married. Dave was twenty-two. We grew; we learned. We didn’t know anything.
Dave: —and had no money.
Dean: We graduated from college and got married. I had just turned twenty-three the month before and she had just turned twenty-two.
Dave: Here’s another lie, and we don’t have a lot of time. Let’s see how much time we can spend on this: “Porn is the norm.”
Dean: It is. It used to be where you’d have to go to a Seven Eleven or a gas station and shamefully walk up there. They would have them in the packages behind the register and whisper “Can I have one of those magazines.” Now you just go to your phone. Even if you have filters on your phone there are still ways people can find it.
People need to realize how poisonous this is; how demonic porn is; how the enemy is using it to destroy people; destroy your marriages; destroy your mind. Sadly, it’s far too normal and far too accepted now. But there is no stigma on it anymore. I think it was a good thing there was a stigma. I’m not saying—I don’t mean the guilt and shame way, but if you’re an unbeliever we need you to have guilt.
We see in the book of Acts when the gospel was preached it pierced their hearts. That’s what actually happened. For the Christian, there should be conviction. By the guilt and shame is we don’t remain in that is what I mean. We go towards Christ for redemption and forgiveness. There’s no stigma whatsoever with pornography anymore.
Dave: What do you do with your kids in terms of phones and boundaries and—
Dean: The first rule is: It’s my phone and your mom’s phone. It’s not your phone even though you have it it’s your phone number it’s your contacts your friends, we own the phone. That means we can ask for it at any time whatsoever.
Then also for TV and things like that, I’ve developed some trust with them, not in a naïve way but they know where we stand on this stuff and how serious it is to the point where if we’re watching a movie together and there’s a moment where it looks like it can get a little dicey, they see me fast forward right through it. I tell them it’s not just because they’re there. In general, I don’t need to see that. There’s only one person that I should ever see with their clothes off or in that kind of setting and that’s your mother.
God said that’s a good thing. It’s not the sex that’s bad. It’s the location of it and that our eyes and our minds are not meant for that to be played out anywhere else but in the institution of marriage.
Dean: Think of couples I know that the husband or the wife are heart broken over they find out about a pornography addiction. They feel like they were physically cheated on. It feels like adultery. I’ve talked to people before. That’s how they truly felt. It feels like betrayal. There’s so much shame. “Am I not enough for you? Why do you need this?”
It is a serious problem in our culture and Christians have to be a strong voice about what we think of it.
Dave: I would just add I think pastoring for thirty years, I can’t talk about women, but men that really wanted to honor God and go for it and you can feel it in their soul: “I want to surrender everything,” and yet they had this porn, whether it’s an addiction or even a struggle, I don’t think they understood that one issue because it’s deeper than “I’m looking at some sex” [and] it’s soul it’s body; it’s the thing that’s keeping them from running after God. They’re running, but they’re not. They’re “It’s just one part of my life.”
Nope. That one encompasses every part of you.
Dean: One thing that has messed us up in the Christian culture is when we started telling people that all sins are equal. I don’t know where we got that from. Yes, all sins are equal in the fact that they all require the forgiveness of Christ they all separate us equally from God. But they’re not equal in the fact that they affect.
The Scriptures say Paul wrote, “When you sin sexually you sin against your own body.” [1 Corinthians 6:18] He doesn’t say, “When you lie you lie against your own body,” or “When you steal you steal against your own body.” Those two things are still…the wages of sin is death. [Romans 6:23] They’re still very important. That’s why Jesus had to die. But when you sin sexually it’s our whole selves. That’s a big deal.
Ann: It really does, especially you have that baggage, you bring it into your marriage and now it affects your marriage relationship it affects your parenting—
Dave: —your legacy.
Ann: —it affects everything, everything.
Ann: We’re not judging it. There are deeper issues. I think there are some ways to get help, therapy, help counseling, the Bible - to be in God’s Word to be in fellowship, all of that makes a difference.
Dave: Yes, Dean. What would you say to the person, and I felt this way for a long time, [who] feels sexually broken: “I’ve made mistakes; I’m scarred; it’s irreparable. How do I dig out?”
Ann: Or maybe you love Jesus, you’re walking with Him, but you keep falling back into that sin.
Dean: I am so thankful for Romans 8 that tells us at the very beginning of the chapter “…there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ…,” [verse 1] and the end of the chapter tells us that “Nothing can separate us from the love of God.” [verse 39, Paraphrased]
Don’t see yourself differently than God actually sees you. How does God see us? He doesn’t see us as a broken person. He sees you as someone He has restored that Jesus’s life was given for. That’s how much it took to restore you.
Also, it’s supposed to be broken when we depart from God’s design. You don’t stay in that guilt. Now you go recover and pursue that. Not only is God restoring us; He also calls us as His colaborers to go recover; not only go live in God’s design [but] go pursue God’s design for you regarding this.
My biggest encouragement to everyone is please see yourself the way God sees you. He sees you as someone He loves someone who is a new creation. He does not see you as someone who committed these sins back ten years ago or ten minutes ago. He sees you as His child who He has adopted into His family through Christ. There is more grace in God than there is sin in us even though there’s a ton of sin in us, it means God’s grace is that big. That’s why we call the gospel “good news.”
Please believe the good news for yourself. Because often times, we can find ourselves believing the good news for other people. We will tell them that God forgives you and He loves…. That’s not Christian cliché. We really actually believe these things. It’s true for you, as well. So please believe that for you, what you also believe for other people: “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ, and absolutely nothing can separate you from the love of God.”
Dave: Yes, and I would end with “Thanks, Dean.” This has been really helpful, this conversation.
Ann: Thanks for answering the hard questions, too.
Dean: Definitely, I think it’s so important.
Dave: I would say to any person, “Get the book,” and parents, especially, this is a great tool to help talk to your kids about this because this is big deal.
Shelby: Please see yourself the way God sees you. This is so hard when shame and regret is just incredibly powerful. But if the gospel is true, and it is, then we know that His grace is more powerful than our regret and shame. What if we just defaulted to that when it is so difficult to believe? What if we leaned on that by faith when our temptation is to spiral down into shame?
Our lives would really be an accurate reflection of the grace of God and the goodness of the gospel.
I’m Shelby Abbott, and you’ve been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Dean Inserra on FamilyLife Today.
Dean has written an incredible book called Pure. The subtitle is Why the Bible’s Plan for Sexuality isn’t Outdated, Irrelevant or Oppressive. This book is going to be our gift to you when you partner financially with us today in order to make more conversations like the one you heard today actually possible.
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Is having kids in Sunday school and Christian school going to be enough for them? Ultimately, we need to understand that salvation belongs to the Lord. Tomorrow on FamilyLife Today, Dave and Ann Wilson are joined by Jared Kennedy who will be talking with us about how to keep your children’s ministry on mission. That’s tomorrow. We hope you’ll join us.
On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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