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A Sanctified Life, A Balanced Life

 

The Christian life is one of balance.  I don’t mean some mindless  abstraction, but a mindful, conscious effort to implement various ideas and actions.  This blog is about these ideas and actions.

Many who want to get off porn do so because they feel guilty or ashamed of there sexual desires.  Others because they were caught by there spouses and have been forced or coerced into getting help.  And the verdict is out; many within the Church self diagnose themselves a sex addict only to get into sex addiction based groups, ministries or rehabilitation centers.  People are seeking answers.  “Why do I do what I do?”  Of course those that are wanting to reign in there lust should’t be the only Christian people asking that question.  Do you ask yourself that question?

There are many answers to the, “why we sin.”  We sin because we have a brain problem!  No I am not referring to your brain on porn.  Sure porn effects your brain as sex does and many, many other actions and ideas!  But could we say our brains are simply jacked because of Sin?

I’m excited to see the new workbook written by Peter Martin on the topic of Sin.  I know from talking to him that he included, in the workbook, a section where he discusses the ramification of calling lustful behaviors sex addiction instead of simply calling it sexual immorality or sin, iniquity or transgression.  I look forward to his understanding into these things.  It’s important because the way you identify yourself is important.  It’s a popular idea in our culture isn’t it?  One of identity!  We have many passages in the Bible that speak of our identity!  “I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh in the flesh, I live by faith.”  Christians should understand the importance of identity above any other philosophy, social culture or religion.  For it is this identify that we constantly are renewing our mind in.  And it is this identity shift which has happened to us by faith!  You see, when I have faith in Jesus, what does that actually mean?  What does that look like?  What is the application of that?  I can’t see faith can I?  Thoughts & ideas I cannot see!  But the answer to that overall question as to what faith looks like or what it means is found in Romans 6:1-11.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self[a] was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free[b] from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Can you see the identification in this section of the book of Romans?  This is what your faith in Christ means.  It is one of identity.  So what happens when we sin or transgress?  Simply put our identity is off.  We are not, “considering ourselves dead to sin and alive to God, in Christ Jesus.”  And that’s it!   So hopefully now you have a better understanding of your identity.  Where it has been good, and where it has left the building!  Also what faith looks like!  And it’s ramifications.

Jesus was full of grace and truth…what balance!  Why is balance important in the Christian life?

It’s a good question.  An important question!  Let me  give you a quick example of un-balance.  You like to listen to worship music.  It’s uplifting to you and set’s your mind in the proper spot; a God conscious spot.  But what if that was all you did in your Christian discipline?  What would that look like?  Take the idea to the extreme.  You would have someone who loves to hear songs about God, but that’s about all.  It’s a good place to begin for sure, but for all of us in the Christian life, it shouldn’t be all you partake of as your spiritual nourishment.  Just like an athlete, we need to be balanced in our training or else we will not have good function.

Here is a list that I come up with on ideas and actions that need my attention.

Ideas:

Daily motivation to glorify God

Setting my heart on the return of Christ

Set my identity in Christ

Be strong in Grace

Love/Hate

Thinking of others

Thanksgiving/Compassion

Actions:

Worship/Communion

Prayer/Meditation

Bible study

Confession/accountability

Service/outreach

Reading


When looking over the ideas and actions listed are you able to see area’s where you are out of balance?  Sure!  Of course!  Good!  I’m glad you do!  The Christian life is always working towards balance.  We are always growing in all of these ideas and actions.  It’s a life long work of sanctification.  Just because we implement these in our lives does not necessarily mean that all will go well.  Well, if we could do them perfectly then maybe it would.  I say maybe, because there has been only one who has been able to do them to completeness, and he was born of the Holy Spirit and not from a man’s sperm!  But if you or I have been constructed through the natural way, then we are bound to have deficiencies in what we seek to be like.  In short; we will struggle.  Many do not like that word; struggle.   It is a weak word, one of losers.  Unfortunately many in the Church are afraid of it as well.  What leader do you want to follow who struggles?  That truth in itself only confirms our depravity & impotence.

Though we know what we ought to do, there is a difficulty to perform such a task as to be like Jesus.  I mean we are talking about God.  So when a person declares from on high, “I am like Jesus!”  They are saying they are like God.  Wow!  Maybe this is why Jesus himself never overtly declared such statements before his trial; shouting, “I am God, I am God, I am God!!!  Because to do so would prove his own lack of divinity.  When someone is boasting is such highfalutin ways we see it as distasteful and embarrassing, and a sign of self righteousness, knowing good and well there outer flaws.  If anyone could do such boasting it could have been Jesus.

Any progress in the Christian life is a miracle!

In his, “Christian Life” Blaze Pascal put it somewhat this way.

There is great difficulty when entering the pious life.  This difficulty does not come from the goodness of God that is coming into our life, but from the distortions that are still within…The worst thing that God could do for you is to not give you this conflict that He came to bring.  “I have not come to bring peace on the earth, but a sword.”

The Glory of God.

There is a common theme throughout the Bible which is the Glory of God.  We hope the following message by Pastor Peter Martin gives you new perspective on your battle against unwanted sexual desire or sexual lethargy.  There are many that get off of pornography and yet still do not bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit.  They instead become full of self righteousness; looking down on others who are not quite where they are at.  This epidemic of self righteousness could be the reason for the current crisis in our country on religious people feeling despair due to the shame for there sexual desires, wishes and wants; whom visit so many psychiatrist, psychologist, faith based recovery groups, conferences and centers.

Does the Church have an answer for people besides, “Just stop?”

The Bibles remedy for sinful inclinations (lust, pride, laziness, self righteousness etc…) is the Gospel.  The good news teaches us that we are utterly a mess.  Everyone is a broken person.  It also tells us that Gods love us so much as to bring forgiveness to us through the cross.  The famous mathematician Blaze Pascal observed these two truths of the gospel.

“Christianity is strange.  It orders man to recognize that he is vile, and even abominable, yet orders him to seek to be like God.  Without such a counterbalance, that elevation would make him horribly vain, or that bumbling would make him terribly abject.”

“The Gospel…it teaches to the just, whom it raises to the very point of participation in divinity itself, that in this sublime state they bear still the source of all corruption, which makes them, throughout life, subject to error, to misery, to death, to sin; and it cries out to the most impious that they are capable of receiving the grace of their Redeemer.  Thus, making tremble those whom it justifies, and consoling those whom it condemns, it tempers fear with hope with so much precision, by virtue of this double capacity for grace and sin which is common to all, that it humbles infinitely more than reason alone can do, but without leading to despair; and it exalts infinitely more than does natural pride, but without presumption.  It thus reveals that being alone free of error and vice, it alone can properly instruct an correct mankind.”

At Running Light we hope to help by seeking to understand the Gospel alongside others.

Romans 1:16 “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God to salvation.”

Enjoy Peter’s message!

Kill the meat!

I have a great friend…like a Jonathan in my life who happens to be a life long bodybuilder.  He’s good at what he does to say the least.  I don’t think he has eaten a cookie in 25 years or longer!  His loss?  Not if you ask him.  He is dedicated to seeking the Lord for what his body should have in it.  What a privilege to have learned so much from him over the years.  But I still enjoy cookies!  haha

In working out with him he would say, “kill the meat,” then your done!  What that meant was far more than just testosterone driven terms that seem good in his gym (to which we named, Bethel).  To kill the meat meant to work out with purpose in every rep.  To think through what you are doing.  Your form, your body & the oxygenation to the muscle.  It too meant to do this until your muscle is done, finished, no longer able to go!  You could always do more, but the potential for harm would go up considerably because you have already, “killed the meat!”  There is a time where you have done just enough.  No more is needed.

When we think of getting rid of things that hinder our walks with Christ, I can think of it as killing the meat.  What I mean here is that amputation of your phone, tv, etc…can get tiresome over time.  You do well, and then you fall to something else.  The pattern goes on and on.  But what amputation of these items does is make it quite tiresome to find the password or by-pass the road blocks that have been set.  Do you get my meaning.  Over the time of my life, I have amputated time and time again.  And over time I have fought and fought to once again get through the blocks to watch more of what I wanted.  Many just give up the fight all together.  But don’t do that!  Keep on with the seesaw gyration of amputating and then not amputating if we must!  Over time what we hope will happen is we will become a worn out rebel!  Too tired to break back into the enemies castle.  What was once an exciting venture in our youth (not so much age) our knees cannot take anymore.  Our hands hurt.  The back is damaged.  It is just too tuff muster the energy and fight to rebel anymore.  We have now surrendered.  Yet in doing so, we found the peace we sought at the beginning of it all!

This is where the Lord will take us in our rebellion from his ways when we enter into sexual sin.  He is patient and longsuffering.  Much more than you or I.  He will wait it out!  Until then.  Keep amputating until you are too pooped to fight against the blocks that have been put in place.  May then the white flag be raised!

And if your hand–even your stronger hand–causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.  Matthew 5:30

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.  Galatians 6:9

Comcast, Keep It Up!

Most have criticized companies like Comcast for there allowance of Pornography  via pay-per-view and subscriptions.  But really, I have always thought Comcast did a great job with there parental controls for there cable TV service.  There are many options for blocking channels, show ratings, titles etc…  It really is good and thorough.  And the 4 digit password can detour many from accessing adult content.  But I would like to take a moment to commend them on there new gateway internet portal which gives the parents of a household many options as to how to filter out unwanted material from a device.

In the past, you would have to buy a filter software program for each device.  It could be quite the hassle and expense.  And I still think this is a good way to go if there is a device that is being misused in your home consistently.  Or especially if you want to monitor texts, phone calls, or even phone apps.

But xfinity keeps making great strides to give the adults in there homes a filter on each device that connects to your network.  So if a kid comes over to the house for the night you can get on your portal and locate the name of the device that he/she is using to filter it!  This can happen without the kid knowing!  Pretty cool!!!  It certainly does not deal with the mass amounts of available material on the world wide web, but what it can do is prevent the accidental exposure to porn that you are trying to prevent from happening.  This works for younger kids.  Older kids will just find video’s on how to bypass such filters.  Why?  Because that’s what lust does.  It always finds a way!

But what is way cool is that you can set a device on Bedtime mode through the online gateway through your online xfinity account.  This Bedtime mode will shut off a device for the times you specify!  So that is way cool especially if you do not want your kid from using a device at night, or even during the day!  This means they cannot use the internet in your home.  They can make calls and texts, play games and use apps, but they cannot access the internet through your wi-fi.  Very cool feature.  It again is a good move on Comcast part to help give more control of what is available to there kids.  This in my opinion is the best way for regulation of the internet.  Give the parents the tools needed to do a good job!  If a parent does not want to filter things out, then they have the right to do so.

What’s In a Webpage Statement?

What does it mean to Advocate for Faith Hope and Love in Sex, Sexuality & Sensuality as our webpage states?

It is a question that I have wanted to answer for a time now, but now just getting around to it.  As the founder of RLM I have given it thought how the three; faith, hope and love, should support our decisions regarding sex, sexuality and sensuality.  But first let me discuss the later three just for a moment.

I believe that sex, sexuality and sensuality are all different yet very relatable to one another.  We do think that the three working together, in consort with one another, is much better than when one is singled out at the expense of the others.  We could have sex without sensuality, yet Im not sure that would be a very fun & healthy experience. It might look more like a prostitute kind of relationship.  You might not care much about their sensuality, or even there sexuality for that matter. The buyer simply wants to get off.  He is not interested in the catch or the life of the ‘other.’ But when the three are in unity with faith, hope & love we believe we have the best potential of lasting joy in the sexual experience.  This is our opinion.

But how would we know if sex, sexuality and sensuality were being expressed in right ways?  What a good question! Which brings us to finding a standard to measure these three against.  What we have found is when Biblical faith, hope and love become that standard which the other three are influenced by, then we get further to the intent of God for sex, sexuality and sensuality, and closer to glorifying God in them, which is our passion.  To be perfect in sex, sexuality and sensuality would be awesome to us. Yet we feel that we have not done so well. Though we understand we are not alone. Just because we know that we will never be able to hit a home run ever time we are up to bat does not mean we do not learn and practice to get closer to such a high goal!  Faith, Hope and Love become our teachers in such an education.

Let me try and begin by defining these words:

  • When we refer to sex, we are referring to sexual activity.
  • As human beings we have the capacity of sexual feeling and preferences.  This is what we are calling sexualtiy.
  • Sensuality can be defined as the enjoyment, expression, or pursuit of physical, especially sexual, pleasure

These are well enough definitions I think.  Sure we could dink around with them a bit here and there, but for my purposes, they work, and all of us believe there included in the Biblical narrative as seen in the lives of men & women.

The Bible was written over 1500 years by many authors, yet it is said in the New Testament book of Peter, that it actually was the Holy Spirit that moved upon the writers.  I find this kind of cool due to the inclusion of these three in it’s pages. Having these three included in the Bible reiterates what I already understand in life. That is these three are a part of the human condition of being.  As humans we have sex. As humans we have feelings and desires regarding sex. And as humans we can pursue the joy of sexual pleasure in our lives. Wouldn’t it be odd if you had a Holy book that did not include such normal observed behavior in the world?  Ours does!

When I was younger, I did not look at the three in light of such words as Faith, Hope and Love.  These three never actually related much to the other three. Where would I have learned about faith in sex?  What is faith in sex? What is faith? Or how does Biblical hope in Christ’s return to earth affect my sexual feelings and preferences?  I never thought that a BIblical definition of love could govern my pursuit of sexual pleasure. In short, I was completely secular. And this is what our statement is striving against at it’s basic level.

The inclusion of Faith, Hope & Love in Sex, Sexuality & Sensuality is our aim here.  And this leads us to search our sacred texts for answers regarding such things. Having a safe place to do so within the Church culture is what we are offering.  

We also recognize that within the Church environment there has been a plethora of strong opinions regarding sex, sexuality and sensuality.  Some of these views have lead to heinous acts in the name of God. We do not recognize these acts as being in faith, hope and love. Within our current culture we find having a place to discuss, study & pray about the topics of sex, sexuality and sensuality, in a familiar Bible study format can be very intellectually satisfying.  This is why we use the term advocating. It means to publicly support. And our hope is to support those that desire to pursue that standard which is ultimately God. Quite an endeavor for sure!

 

 

Repentance & Charles H. Spurgeon

Peter and I (Beau) had a chance today (on the Better Pleasure Podcast) to discuss the great English preacher, Charles H. Spurgeon’s view of repentance from a few sermons of his.  This was in no way an exhaustive look into the vast work available on the web of Spurgeon’s sermons, but it was a good, clear sample.

Check it out if you get a chance below, after the blog.

At times Peter and I sense that many of the men we meet with weekly do not understand the term repentance very well.  Or maybe they know the current usage of it in Church all to well!  When most people think of an example of repentance, King David more often than not comes up.  The famous Psalms 32 & 51 are the examples of his repentance.  In turn the tune goes that King David repented of his sin of murdering his friend for his wife, and in turn was made brand new!  Never to go back to the temptations of old self again.  But is that really the case?  No.  Kind David had a rough go even after the intense evil he did with killing Uriah.  He still had his wives and his concubines, and he certainly missed the mark when it came to protecting his daughter Tamar against his son Amnon.  We are not told exactly what King David’s sex life was like after the event with Bathsheba, but the Psalms mentioned above, especially 51, is to be taken as a repentance of the sin with Bathsheba only.  My reasoning is because we don’t read of him saying, “hey God, cleanse me from murdering all those people in the past, and sleeping with all those ladies and having concubines and all.”  Some believers have such a problem with this failure of David that they say it was OK for him, and those of the Old Testament, to engage in the sex slavery of the day!  Why would people say such things?  Because this word repentance, I believe, is sorely mis-understood.  Repentance today is taught as being finished with a sin, no longer to go back.  Also it is the idea that now you are going towards God; and if to God, then not back to the sin again.  Well, if that really is the case.  Then anytime you repented of a sin, you would never go back to it!  That means there would be no need to ask God a second time for forgiveness for the same sin.  So confusing does this get that some even have used Hebrews 6:4-6 to suggest that if you fall away, then you cannot be brought back to repentance.  Yep, if you fall away after knowing Jesus, you cannot come back to repentance!  But if that was the case, then Jesus is wrong in Luke 17

“If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them.  Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”

And why give an alter call at a Church for those that have fallen away to come back to the Lord, when from Hebrews 6, they cannot!  There is obvious need for clarification.  But there is at most times none within Sermon culture.  And so this education seeps in to those that attend.  Over and over it goes.

The effects of this are tremendous, but rarely would one know if they are not involved in people’s recovery, counsel or accountability.

Many in the Church do not think they can ever be changed like there “leaders” are.  There under an illusion that he is all done with the big sins.  He may sin a bit with his pride (just a little), or maybe he might think his anger got the best of him when driving in traffic that day, but the deep greed, envy, lust of those listening, he certainly does not have.  I mean he needs to be above reproach right!  I am being somewhat sarcastic now.  But you can see where the lack of seeing repentance as a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly pursuit of the Christian puts the word (repentance) far away from the average Church goer from ever achieving. Why?  Because they sin over and over.  And if they do happen to not go back to a sin again, there is a certain worse sin that oozes out of us called self righteousness.  It is far worse that the one that left, for it hides itself in religious jargon & ritual.  This is where the Pharisees in Jesus day found themselves.  It’s not like they meant to get there on purpose.  It simply is what happens when fear runs the heart.  Fear of man, fear of not being seen as a leader who has it all together.  When I think of fear in my heart, I cringe.  I am a coward to it.  I know it, and must confess it to the Lord daily.  I wonder if what makes David a man after God’s own heart is that he was OK with this kind of honesty before God and the humiliation it could have among the nation of Israel.  David was a fragile man in so many ways.  Depression crushed him to the point of being paralyzed.  He lusted and killed in ways many of us cannot imagine a leader to do.  Yes he was an instrument of judgement on the enemy’s of Israel.  But in no way was he a perfect instrument.  Self righteousness prevents any of us from seeing our inner condition.

I was with a friend the other day (not a believer) and he commented that he thinks people are initially evil in the heart.  I said to him that what he just said was quite Biblically accurate!  He said, “really?”  I said, “absolutely.”  He was surprised.  Why?  Frankly, he does not see Christians as being of the kind that express there depravity or sin condition.  We have hidden it well from the world.  So much, that all they see is self righteousness.  As believers we tend to believe that at one point we were sinners and unable to come to God, but now that we have repented and are saved, we are pretty good.  Those that think they are better than others will segregate from the, “others.”  Do we?  Yes I do.

Jesus experienced this when a lady of ill repute went into a home he was at.  It happened to be a highly religious mans home whom had invited Jesus to a meal gathering.  Think of it as a BBQ.  And in the middle of the feasting time, an interruption takes place.  She comes in un-announced and simply weeps over Jesus feet. Everyone is embarrassed, and in my heart I know I would have been too.  That diabolical sin of self righteous pride wanted nothing to do with this women and her interruption with there “spiritual” time with the Master.  How many times am I frustrated at a person for there interruption of my spiritual experience or service?  Too much.

Repentance is seen once again in this Jesus event.  Both parties could have said they had repentance.  The religious group touted there repentance by saying they do not sin like that woman (it’s in the past), yet the women repented by declaring I am a sinner just like you men!  She did not think she was any greater than those in the room.  She saw things in Windex like clarity before Jesus.  Clearer than the religious men apparently.  And in the same way, this is really what King David seems to get right in his life.  He can see things in  clear reality before God.  He layed it out as this prostitute did.  Both saw that before God they were nothing but sick.  And this came out in tears and heavy hearts…broken and contrite hearts.  But never do we get the idea that they stayed clear of sinful inclinations the rest of the way.

Spurgeon’s sermons have this, present tense, self reflection of his own struggles and trials in life.  I am amazed at times when reading his sermons on just how often he throws himself under the bus.  And in doing so, he makes those that are listening to him educated that they are no different than he.  In need of God’s grace, from beginning to end.  This is one great lesson I learn from Spurgeon.  We focus on it a bit in this Podcast.  We hope it is helpful.

Before Discussing Porn

We live in a day where pornography is in constant news somewhere.  Currently there is the Presidents alleged past digression with a “Porn Star.”  I must say I do not like the term ‘porn star.’  To me there is no star in porn.  But that is my own thoughts, and I do understand why they use the term (They have there own awards annually).  Understanding what the word porn exactly means can be tough today.  As what was porn back in 1980 (playboy), is not really thought of as porn today by a teenager’s standard.  In talking with Jr. High kids in my city I will ask them if they think sexting is pornography.  The answer is usually, more often than not, a resounding NO!

There are obscenity laws that are on the books  to supposedly guide the country on the very issue of what is really porn or not.  Is porn obscenity?  If it were deemed so then I guess you might call a porn star an obscenity star too.  But that’s if they are seen as one and the same.  The reason I bring this up is because when we discuss porn with others (if at all) we tend to use porn as a generalized term to describe sex on film or picture (usually).  But the problem I find is this generic word, “porn,”  when used tends to steer our conversations away from what really matters in talking about sex, sexuality & sensuality.  Discussing these issues with a person properly means first listening, then understanding, but not simply being reactionary to the word porn.  Though this is tough to do for many!  When the word porn comes up in a talk with a parent and teen, or a husband and wife, just using the word porn in the conversation can hurt one deeply.  The word is a negative as obscene is, especially in serious conversation.

In Miller Vs. California (1973) the term obscenity was redefined from something that had no redeeming quality at all, to that which could potentially have some kind of scientific, literary, artistic or political value (but it is legally phrased as, “that which lacks,” those qualities.)  What would be obscene to me in Arizona would more than likely not be too obscene to those in New York, California or Las Vegas.  I for one do not see any scientific, artistic or political value in the watched or popular porn in the world.  But I understand this too;  Obviously not all porn is alike.  Just as there are different kinds or levels if you will of the obscene.  Over the years of my research on the subject, there is no doubt in my mind this is true.  I find it quite interesting when I read today of porn being a public health issue; for this reason:  What kind of porn are they referring to?  For many opponents of the industries existence this question is irrelevant, but for me it it one that we need to discuss.  Why?  Because understanding the kind of obscenity watched matters in our important conversations.

When finding porn on a teen or adults device, you had better be aware of the kind of porn that they are watching.  We all should realize that watching child pornography is different from watching consenting adults.  Another example is the difference there is between reading sexual fictional books and the sexual literature in the Bible.  Just because the topic of sex is brought up should not cause the same reaction from and in us.  We should be asking what kind of sex are we discussing?  What unites the examples i use is that all of them have a common denominator; sex.  But when needing to discuss sexual media of any kind with another, we should be asking the question; what kind of sexual information were you involved in watching, reading, listening too etc…  Of course it is not the only question that should be asked, but it is a major one.  How would you react to your son, if he found male homosexual pornography on the internet…and liked it?  Or your daughter was into Hentai video’s?  I realize that it is quite hard to stomach this kind of research on your part.  You probably never wanted to to know about it at all!  But the younger generation is one that is linked with an online world, that unless there are laws to limit what is on the world wide web in a major way then you will have to keep up with what your youngsters already know about sex & pornography.  And it could be quite a lot!  Never assume they know, because they might not.  But then again, they could.  At Running Light we are always discussing our culture through our blogs and podcasts.  Listening or reading them now and again will help you stay somewhat current.  Peter and I are always trying to use discretion when discussing pornography.  This is one reason Running Light Ministries is it’s own non-profit ministry.  We desire for these discussions to have a proper place in Church culture, but not necessarily on a Sunday or Wednesday evening Bible Study.  We understand the topic is delicate to the religious culture.

Remember that as technology continues to move forward, and there will no longer be any need for real life women and men to be in the “porn industry!”  That’s right!  There replacements?  A.I., V.R. & Holographic porn.  Has anyone seen the the movie Ex Machina?  Is this movie a picture of our future in A.I. technology?  What a trip if it is!  It really is an eye opener to how people could utilize A.I. technology for there personal desires.  But as of today, video pornography is still the numero uno source.  So until we step into the Brave New World (porn style) we will have to understand, the best we can, that today’s porn comes in many styles & genres.  And it’s free!

As all kinds of porn is allowed and accessible so easily, we should not be very surprised that as a society there would be a normalizing of a behavior and also a equal demonizing of the porn industry out of fear.  I was reading in the book, Big Porn Inc, how sexual predators of minors show porn repeatedly to children in order to make the sexual content seem like normal behavior.  The point is that the minor would go from being disgusted by the porn to, over time, warming up to it, finally seeing it as normal behavior.  Much of the porn sex available is certainly not normal sex in real life.  Forgive me here, but what I mean is that anal sex, or what is called “the money shot,” in porn is not normal in real life is it?  Most of us do not know the sex life of our neighbors and nor do I think we need to know.  But what is good sex anyway?  Or normal sex?

Regardless of what you think of porn, porn sex is done by human beings, so it is a reflection of us.  The seemingly odd sex that is on display in porn is certainly from the hearts of men and women, but that does not mean that it is commonly practiced.  I’m not saying that this odd behavior in porn is not tried in sexual relationships across the globe, but I am thinking it is not highly practiced in week to week sexual life.  The normalizing of such sexual behavior that is in porn will likely make more people say, “hey, maybe we can try that out!?”  This is no doubt true as there are sexual acts that we do today that seem very normal, but years ago, they would be seen as risky or perverted immoral behavior, even in a monogamous marriage!  So we need to be careful not to simply demonize a sex act primarily because it is not normal to us.  Sex acts that a parent finds normal, there teen might find common amongst his/her culture!  So I make the point that we need to be open to discuss what is being watched, admired & desired.

With this kind of understanding I would want to approach a conversation with the word porn in it with intellect and not just emotion.  Without it, there can be some monumental damage that you do to another.  You could demonize there sexual ideas or desires without discussing them.  This is quite a path most taken, but it is certainly shallow and lame do to it’s results.  People will and simply go online to find a person to talk to about intimate subjects if you are not willing to take the leap to discuss porn.  There are millions of online puedo counselors that all have seen Dr. Phil and stayed at a Holiday Inn!  And many of them have a different world view than your Christian one.  I am hoping to prevent you from doing exactly what your Christian values tell you not to do.  “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, & slow to wrath, for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God,”  James 1:19.  Does the person you are talking with about pornography born again?  I don’t mean do they attend Church, but are they born again Christian’s as defined in John 3? Why are they wrong in watching porn or liking it?  On what grounds are they wrong? Have you taken the time to talk about there relationship with Christ (if they even have one), before launching into the hurt you have?  I do understand how hurt you might be, and how hurt you are.  So take a breath and let’s trust the Lord in the lives of those we love.

Our desire for our loved ones to know Christ must be valued over our own personal hurts. Is that the goal of your relationships?  Or is there underlying ulterior motive? Secret motives that lay hid away, deep in the heart?  When dominated by them we will succumb to our emotions (rooted mostly in fear and pride), and the conversation will be about us.  We will not be compassionate but angry.  Instead of faith we will react to our fears.  Does this sound familiar to anyone?  Church history is riddled with it, to the point of murdering of one another in the name of Christ.  So we are not alone by far in our struggles to discuss serious topics or ones that are particularly confusing in our culture as porn or sex.  As those in the Church, we must seek to ask Christ to live his life through us if we are to move forward.  To us Christians, Jesus is the only way to move forward.

Why do so many young people finally give up on the Church?  Maybe we are struggling to discuss things in there world.  We simply do not want to.  It is scary to us.  Why is it so difficult for us to talk about sex!  My heart truly breaks for those that do not have a place in the Christian Church to discuss such an elementary topic to us humans.  When I get to the root of answering these questions for myself, I find a fear deeply rooted.  Do you?

It is enjoyable weekly to meet with men to read, pray and talk about these topics together.  There is a special healing in it.  It might be that we are not there primarily to fix one another, but to encourage one another.  Let us encourage one another daily as long as it is called today.

 

 

 

 

 

Helping those in the Church

It is crucial these days to understand the online world the younger generation partially lives in.  Too many in today’s Church culture are not even close to aware of the issues that young people face let alone what they see everyday online.  As the younger generation has gotten older, they become our Youth Pastors and helpers in Church.  And some of them no doubt, female and male, have seem much pornography.  Avoiding this truth is bordering on ridiculous today.  There simply is no excuse for older leaders to be ignorant of the struggles of today’s younger, online, generation.

The older generation should know all to well what happens when sexual issues are simply ignored or kept secret!  I was discussing this with my mom, who is now approximately 70.  Specifically about the sexual abuse of her generation and the secrecy which followed such acts.  Pornography was seen as used mostly by “Dirty older men,” by her generation.  But though there were no free porn back then or the porn industry as we know it today, there were so many young girls that were touched inappropriately.  Way too many.  One is too many!  She was sharing that all of her friends growing up have stories of either rape or molestation in them!   It is so sad that the older generation in our Churches today were told not to discuss it.  And  many girls remained silent and suffered in silence.  The older generation should know the consequences of ignoring sexual issues.

It is certainly time for us to discuss these topics regularly as a part of our normal discussions in our close friendships.  As a administrator at a Church, it is vital that my staff and I discuss these topics in a safe way.  Talking about sex is not something that we should be afraid to discuss in these days of online free hardcore pornography which many young and old stumble on unwantingly.  Keeping silent has implications of the same proportions that we see today in the lives of so many who live in a silent pain inflicted by predators years and years ago.  We can help!

Help by being a person full of grace that is not afraid to discuss these topics.  Porn is sex.  You shouldn’t be freaked out by that.  And as Bible reading people who are well aware that our Bible hero’s are those who slept with the maid, had multiple wives, were a part of the ancient cultures sex trafficking & prostitution, we of all people, should be comfortable discussing sex.  It’s a shame if we cannot… on multiple levels.  But you can be of such an encouragement to a person who might need a person to talk to.   Remember, this younger generation have been guinea pigs in the United States’s free porn experiment!   And who better than a person filled with the Spirit of Christ to help?

God desires us to heal from our past, so that we may help others.  I pray that is what we are able to do more of.  When a person on a Church staff or a member of a church is having difficulty with our lustful culture, having people available to talk with who can empathize would be ideal.  This kind of friendship could prevent a pastor or member from keeping there sin a secret for years and in turn help with all the shame the feel.  This is the heart of Running Light Ministries!  We desire to be those people you can contact to share what is weighing down your heart.  Cultivating a new paradigm in the Church starts with one person who is willing to help another.  In order to do that we will need to do things a bit different from the current Christian climate…But then again, I think Jesus did the same.

 

You Better Discuss Sex & Porn

By now, hopefully you know that the internet has much of everything.  You want to learn more about cooking, just get on google and type ‘cooking,’ and you’ll have a million or so pages to sift through of every kind of cooking imaginable.

So you certainly understand that sex too is a topic looked for as well.  Your not ignorant of that right?  And since sex is pretty much a vital part of our life it shouldn’t surprise you that many people young and old search for something related to sex every day online.
It also shouldn’t surprise you that being excited about watching sexual things on the computer is common.  People are sexually aroused by many things.  Sounds, touch, tastes, and seeing.  This is all very common knowledge.
Another common thing you should know is that arousal knows both genders!  Yep, girls and guys both are aroused!  Some are aroused more than another, and others by various means.  You get that I’m sure too.
So because you understand these common truths, start talking about it with your spouse or loved one.  This is a topic that you should not be running from.  Not in our world!
Why would you not talk about such a topic which is so common?
Do you think you can talk about sex and online porn with your ‘other?’  I sure hope so.
Maybe you will disagree on things, maybe not.  Maybe you will be able to work through some mis-understandings or past experiences that you have had before which have bothered you.  Maybe you’ll develop more compassion on one another or grow in your understanding of each others fears, insecurities and desires.  Maybe there will be opportunity for mercy, grace and forgiveness in your relationship.  What if you both grow in your knowledge of what the Bible teaches about this most interesting subject!  Maybe you would be able to chat with your kids about the subject before there school friends do! What if!  What if!!!
Avoiding a subject is education from absence.  And with it the ramifications which are deep and many, in a culture, family, marriage, and a person.
Change things.  Try not to avoid, instead engage.  Look for opportunities to bring up topics like this.  And ask non threatening questions.  It will get conversation going.  Are you scared you will hear something you do not want to?  Good, you are finally getting to the reason why you have avoided this.  It has nothing to do with sex or porn.  It’s fear.

Giving…

It is more blessed to give than to receive.  Acts 20:35
What a great passage and one that changed my sexual paradigm!  I never really thought of this passage dealing with the marriage bed.  Have you?
How is it more blessed to give?
The act of giving is such that its effects reach into the future, meaning it’s effects carry on.  The grace of giving has future implications.
It’s easy to see how sex (semen) can give to a wife a child, which is no small deal!  It’s how we all came to be.  This benefit continues to have it’s effects throughout our entire lives.  Our children impact our lives, and there kids etc…It’s very deep to think about this, and hope you spend a bit of time doing such a thing.  There is an amazing impact pro-creation  has on us.  But it starts with a initial giver, and receiver.
Giving is a reflection of God.  “God so loved the world that He gave.”  This means that there is a fruit with the giving which continues, and in turn produces more fruit.  In this way it is greater.  Living to receive alone, is a dead end.  Giving carries with it a impactful grace for continued future grace!  Gifts are like that.  They impact us not only in the present, but there effects stay with us.
Two ideas I would like to think through when it comes to this kind of giving are;   A. The giving of semen for the production of offspring, and B. the giving of pleasure for the bonding of the union.
Both are seen as a blessing in the Bible.  Hannah who desperately desired to have a child in 1st Samuel pleaded with God for a child.  She needed her tubes and his pipes to be productive.  One to receive and the other to give for her desires to come to fruition.  There is a uniqueness to the act of procreating.  The Song of Solomon concerns itself with the pleasure between a man and a woman.  There is no mention of children, and nor does there have to be.  There is plenty of giving one to another, and the bonding it produces is evident in our own lives.  Affectionate intimacy is important because it bears it’s own positive fruit in our lives.
Giving semen for a child and giving pleasure are beneficial and with incredible future implication.  In this way, it is more blessed to give than to receive.   And in these ways it  reflects the glorify of God.  God puts his seed in us to bear fruit, and our bonding with God is to be a bond of pleasure.  Think through these truths for a bit and I think you will see there is much Biblical merit in them.  Here is another quick blog on the idea of seed in the Bible and it’s link to God’s relationship with us.  https://runninglight.wordpress.com/2014/04/16/he-is-in-you/
There also other amazing implication to our Acts 20 passage; “it is more blessed to give than to receive.”
What if you brought this passage into your bed?  Here are some 3 ideas I come up with:
Sex would not be so narcissistic.
Growing up in the 80’s hair metal era in Southern California, I thought sex was about receiving alone.  It never dawned on me that there was a benefit in the giving of pleasure and the positive implications of procreating.  My mind was desperately cloudy and limited in its scope at the time. Porn only solidified my thoughts that receiving was where the benefit was.  Though porn did not create that idea.  It was already in me.
Arousal could be by giving.
This is not a new or entirely Christian concept.  Many of us have had the experience of being aroused by the giving of pleasure to another.  Sometimes just the thought of pleasing your beloved can keep a person awake!  Does your arousal come from only receiving?  And when giving, try to not give with the idea to get something back from your beloved.  Try thinking that your can be satisfied in the act of giving.  Think through this a bit.  For some, this is scary, as motivation for most giving in sex caries the idea of a return of like manner.
I would value procreating and pleasure.
God is about the business of both of these..  What does sex look like if it is unbalanced?  It can become simply about a selfish pleasing of ourselves or a un passionate duty of family planning.  Have you given it any thought how these two ideas glorify God in your sex life?  The implications of both on our future are cosmic!

Let The Souls Go Free!

This phrase is taken from the Bible.  Ezekiel 13:20.  It concerns God’s judgement on the daughters of Israel that were into divination.  Divination is seeking the knowledge of the future through the supernatural.   Like going to a gypsy who has a crystal ball to tell you your future.   They made money by it, and in turn captivated their audiences.  Men & women.

I find that pornography is something that is quite captivating as well just as these lady diviners were.  For all; men, women, young and old.  And though there is no clear spiritual exchange taking place in pornography, there can be such a pull to view pornography that it verifiably can seem like a magic spell of sorts on many.

Like I said, though there is nothing clearly stating, “Hi I am moved by spiritual beings to create porn,” there are Biblical passages that let us know otherwise.

“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:[b] sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”  Colossians 3:5

Notice what sexual devious behavior is called; idolatry!  Idolatry is worshiping something that is not God.  It is a putting value on something greater than God.  But the word idolatry also carries the definition of fetishism which is an abnormal drive towards the valuing of a kind of sexual focus or desire.  A worshiping of it.  It seems this is a spiritual idea after all isn’t it?  In the temptation of the Christ, the goal of Satan was to have Jesus see his own personal health, wealth, and power to be of more value than obeying the Father.  Satan would win if Jesus would cave in to his own selfish desires.  But he would have none of it!

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”  Ephesians 6:12

When we come against the temptations, or after caving into a temptation, we later move against it by a repentant heart, or removing the obstacle in our way, then we are actually wrestling against spiritual entities!   That’s radical to pontificate on.  We fight not against people, but against an unseen, organized army behind the scene.  And there powerful.

There is a spiritual reality that the Bible stresses is real and active behind the things in our world.  Making sex a commodity or the unregulated capitalist context it thrives in are both made up of a spiritual component.   They both are powerful; the selling of sex and the economic context it thrives in have a goal in mind.  What are we to do?  Do we all have to unplug totally from the internet/cable or go hardcore of the grid to have a shot of victory?

Sport, Exhausting, To Clench Teeth, Give All, Leisure
Frustrated and Overwhelmed!

There is a comfort I get from the passage in Ezekiel.  It goes something like this…  God will judge those who prey on me.  Not just in the area of the entertainment of the world, but on the powers that be which create such a society.

The passage goes on to say that the ladies made the hearts of those who were taken in by them sad.  The people were burdened down by such promises from those who received financial gain through there exploitation’s.  Certainly many can attest to this sadness when being taken in by the availability of material that is made to cause lust in us.  It is created to cause a stumble, a downfall.  Such downfalls seem like out of control behavior.  Even giving our money over to them!  It can seem all to hard to resist!  But God promises to judge.

“‘This is because they have led my people astray saying, “All is well,” when things are not well.  Ezekiel 13:10

“Will you entrap my people’s lives, yet preserve your own lives?”  Ezekiel 13:18

There is always a promise that is made by those who receive money in most exchanges.  It can be that your investment will work out well, or that you will be satisfied with the product purchased.  In some cases there is a deception as the promised outcome is not what was promised.  This is so true with today’s lustful programming or entertainment.  How many world-wide spend hours a night watching adult material or reading adult material only to be bummed!  Bummed that you have wandering eyes, a seeming inability to say no, or not being honest about your actions.  There are many reasons to be bummed isn’t there!  It seems the power of this worlds ways are overwhelming and certainly exhausting.  And it is.  And it makes sense why!  We never in any time of history had so much eye candy to look at!  Our ancestors did not have to deal with this.  What we face today is underrepresented and not normal to us humans!

Just as we were not made to sit and look at a screen for hours, or eat foods that are made in a lab.  Looking at people having sex for hours on end has no benefit, and is a waste.   It actually makes many depressed.  I know it does and wish I never struggled with this.  May God use my own battles to help others.

God is compassionate to understand what we are up against.  Don’t blame God for the system that we are in.  It is our doing for sure.  Blaming God won’t get us anywhere.  I simply am comforted that he will judge.  There is a day coming, that God Almighty will set things right.
In the meantime, do not give up contending.

God will judge.  And in turn, the souls shall go free!

“Nothing is wasted” …for wives

For most women in the Beauty for Ashes Group (myself included),
there has been a time where we have thought about separation,
and what our life would be like without our husbands, without
porn, and without the pain that comes from walking through
healing from sexual sin.

It can be easy to let the mind wander, to the “what if’s.”

“What if I wasn’t married?”

“What if I had another life?”

“What if he does____… will I stay?”

My own, “what if” was full of how free and happy I’d be IF I
wasn’t married.

I would fantasize about moving to India to become a missionary;
it was easy to imagine how “wonderful” and Christ-filled my life
would be, if only I wasn’t married.

I really wrestled to understand why my husband couldn’t just stop
sinning.

Thoughts like these came often…

“If he’s truly sorry, then why does he continue to do this time
again and again?!

Or…

 “If he really loves me, he would stop sinning and causing me
pain…he must not really love me…I would never do this to him!”

I remember each day teetering on whether or not my husband had
had a “good” sin day or not. If he had looked at porn or self
gratified, I was majorly bummed out, hurt and offended!

The offense was VERY personal…as if his reason for looking at
another was because he was not satisfied in me; I saw it as a
personal adultery of the heart.

Looking back on this time, I see a lot of hypocrisy in my life. I too
was very far from loving my husband perfectly, and I greatly
lacked the very loyalty which I had so criticized in him. My love
became performance based, conditional, and very critical.

The reality was my husband did love and cherish me. He was
fighting the good fight of faith, and falling… sometimes daily,
sometimes longer, but he had not given himself over to his sin like
before. He was in an accountability group; he was being honest
with me about his struggles; and he was looking to God to be his
Helper and Deliverer. He wanted to change, and his sin grieved
him. He was fighting, yet falling.

Proverbs 24:16 says, 


“A righteous man falls seven times in a day, then get’s back up
again.” 

The Proverb doesn’t say, “a righteous man never falls, or sins,
EVER.”

Yet this was what I expected of him- to live a “perfect,” sin free
life.

 Sometimes when I wrestle with judgement about my husband’s
struggle with lust, it really helps me to consider the areas that I
struggle in my own life. For example, worry and fear are constant
areas of struggle for me.

This is an area where I REALLY struggle; I struggle to trust God
all the time: with the little things, the big things- you name it- I
suck at trust! The truth is, as much as I struggle with this, I have
really come to hate this area of sin in my life. Sometimes it
literally feels like a chain around my neck. I don’t want to do it,
but I do. (Romans 7:15)

Even though I WANT to trust God with my whole heart and not
fear ever again… even when I know I’m wrong…even when I’m
fighting and trying with all my might to be strong…it’s like,
sometimes I just can’t help myself and there I am again, right
back in my sin.

The struggle to abstain from lust is similar for my husband, and
through time I have learned that his failures, confessions, and
desire to change are beautiful moves toward God.

Just his very desire to be different, is a working out of the Holy
Spirit in his heart toward more freedom and healing! That doesn’t
mean it doesn’t hurt when he lusts over another; it can leave me
feeling sad, un-loved, or create distance between us. Still I want
to align my heart with the heart of the Father, and remember that
these moments are used by God to draw us closer to Himself.

When we look at the story of the Prodigal son, we see it’s not until
he was face down in the pig muck that he wanted to go home.
(Luke 15: 11-32)

Sometimes God uses these sin moments, and failures
and fallings to show us the BETTER PLEASURE of
Christ, and the beauty of living in the Father’s house.
Nothing is wasted in Him…not even the pig muck
moments of life.

The struggle for my husband was real (and remains so); looking
back, I see how self-focused (and self righteous) I was.

I thought only of myself- my hurt, my pain, my sadness, my
desires for his freedom, me, me, me- all the time, and no care at
all for my husband. I began to see my husband as the very enemy
himself, and my heart became more and more hard and separate
from him.

My own self-righteousness had blinded me to the hatred and sin
in my own heart. Instead of seeing his problem as our problem,
and his pain as my pain, I saw him as THE problem- period.

This is not a biblical way of thinking though. Over and over, God
calls us to care for one another, to be merciful, to forgive, and not
hold our sins against one another. (Please read Matthew
18:21-35)

2 Corinthians 5 also says: 


“Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of
reconciliation; that is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to
himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and
entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” 



“Carry one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of
Christ.” (Galatians 6:2) 

 Also in John 13, when Jesus poured the water into the basin and
washed the disciples feet he said to them,

“…As I have done for you, so do for one another.” 

Jesus wasn’t afraid to put His hands in our filth, and be with us in
our muck. He didn’t hold our sin against us, but has entrusted us
with His message of reconciliation.

Can you imagine if God required perfection of us to be in a
relationship with Him? Or if God allowed our past (or present
sins) to define His relationship with us for the rest of eternity?

Yet, for those that have put their faith in Christ, the former things
are forgotten. They are lost in the ocean, never to be found again.
(See Micah 7:18-20) The Father calls us “justified,” which means
“just as if we’d never sinned.” (Romans 5:1)

Recently I met a gal and she said something that really struck me.
She said, “I’m not going to waste anymore of my life; he makes me
too unhappy.


I couldn’t help thinking about the Father’s love that runs to meet
the prodigal son, the Father who waits and waits, and watches for
his son to come home. Similarly, there’s a beautiful passage in
Hosea where God is talking about adulterous Israel. She has gone
astray and failed Him, and broken His heart yet again. But this is
the response of the Lord’s heart-

“How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O
Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like
Zeboiim? My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm
and tender.”

 Isn’t God’s love for us so beautiful? I so wish I loved more like
Him. To the wife who’s husband is sorry, broken, sad and
struggling in his sin, I encourage you to run to him (as the Father
of the prodigal son did), embrace him, and cover him with the
Father’s robe…

“For love COVERS a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8) 

By, Bethany

Confession, The Sign of a Good Marriage?

Confession! Makes you cringe a bit I bet.  Why would you want to share your issues with your loved one?  Isn’t that what will break up the marriage?  Well, it could.  But what confession will do certainly is reveal what your marriage is built on. If it is on your illusion of a partner that is perfect…or near to it, then it will fail utterly, but if you already know your partner in this life is a sinner in need of a Savior, then you might just pull off an awesome marriage.

But don’t get me wrong, your foundation is everything as to which way the marriage will go after a confession.  I have heard some pretty serious confessions over the years from marriatal couples, including my own!  And I am always built up in my faith when I see those couples firmly ready for the trial ahead through they know it is going to be very, very difficult.

There are certainly relationship ideas we pick up living on the planet that stick to us unknowingly.  This confession deal is one of them.  We don’t think it is good.  Especially in a relationship.  Sharing with your girlfriend that you struggle with porn might not be a good starter at the dinner table (don’t do it!  Wait until a better time!).

But we never do share.  We are afraid more than likely.  And afraid of what?  Of the person we care about leaving us.  Being alone again.  It is a big risk to confess in many ways.  We humans do not know how to handle weakness well.  We value strength yet know instinctively that we are all so frail.  But revealing the frailty is the challenge.

Paul, the apostle of Jesus wrote a book to the Corinthian Church on his own frailty.  And Jesus through He is The King, because the servant to us all (Isaiah 53).

In a marriage, there is enough time with the other to see the flaws which they have.  They become clear with time.  This is the opportunity that we all have in marriage in serving the other; loving, caring, praying, encouraging, fortifying.

You both need to learn to battle sinful inclinations.  And you need to do it together!  Most couples look at trials as a hardship or a bummer, just wanting to get over it…raise your hands, praise the Lord etc.. etc… etc….  But oh how wrong that is.  It makes for great religion, but horrible parenting!  Your kids, teenagers need to see how parents battle sin.  If you see it has a drag, they will too.  If you see it as a bummer and can’t wait for the rainbow on the other side, they will too.  You will teach them whether you like it or not; It is happening.  But you might be very troubled to learn that you are not equipping them for the future.  So it is important, even vital to realize that if you see confession and the battle against sin which follows in an ill way, you teach them contrary to the Word of God.


Consider it all joy when you go through various trials knowing that testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.  James 1:2-4

Confession certainly brings about a trial in our faith.  Will we trust God as Soverign in our lives who knew this time in our lives?  Whatever comes against us trusting God is an attack on our faith.  And fear of a confession can be what comes against us in marriage!  We would rather not hear it.  But that is fear, not faith.  Do I believe God is big enough to work on my spouses issues?   There is a pain in hearing and giving a confession, but it can lead to a closer realtionship if brought to God with a united front.

If you are marriied, are you ok with your spouce knowing the area’s you are weak in?  If not, why?

One other thought…Peter and I finished up a Better Pleasure podcast recently where we answered the question, “Why your spouse is not the best accountability partner.”  I think you might want to check it out.  The question is around the later part of the podcast, but hope you take the time to listen to the entire answer.

My Time With Dr David J. Ley

david ley

Last Friday I had the pleasure of meeting (Video interview) Dr. David J. Ley!  The clinical psychologist who’s book, The Myth of Sex Addiction has been a lightning rod of chatter!  What a fun opportunity to get to know him, and talk with someone who enjoys to discuss the issues of sex, sensuality, porn culture, and helping others.  My Church culture is one where sex addiction is always spoken of as a fact.  Just last month I spoke to Ministers in our City on the topic (They named it, not me)!  So it was very exciting to talk to someone who thinks otherwise.  Why would I do such a thing right?!
Of course we don’t see eye to eye on everything, but the man has a heart for people (Though he admits that he is known as quite the block of dynamite)!  So I had a feeling we would have a pretty good time.  Which I did.  Here is an example from his book which shows his heart for those wanting help.

“This diagnosis (Sex Addiction) poses a real risk of stigma and shame to innocent people, simply because their sexual behaviors do not fit what is defined as the social norm (though we truly have little data about what the norm actually is.)  page 3, The Myth of Sex Addiction

I tend to always feel as though I should learn from those that have thought much through these issues.  And the best advice I had before entering the time with David was simply to ask him questions and listen and learn.  Good advice.  I notified David for the interview, and he obliged graciously.
One of the idea’s that he really was hitting home on concerned this shaming of an act, instead of looking at the inner heart behind the act.  I could tell he is frustrated in a ocean of sex addiction culture that tends to judge an act as wrong first, and then later go to the heart issues, if at all.  He would like to see that approach reversed.  This no doubt is due to the research he has referenced in his book on the multi level of issues that predominately come out in a person who self diagnoses themselves with sex addiction.

“This is the problem for the concept of sex addiction.  Surveys of sex addicts show up that up to 40 percent have anxiety disorders, 40 percent have substance abuse disorders, and 70 percent have mood disorders.”  pg 46, The Myth of Sex Addiction

I understood his point.  What if a person comes to me and I simply avoided his marriage issues, or the stress he’s (or she) under, or maybe the tragedy’s he has experienced in life, and in turn, concluded, he could be healed by simply throwing out his computer?
There is a time to throw out the PC, but there is much fallow ground to break up first.  Like getting to know a person and his life and behaviors.  I think of my own life, and how I relate to porn.  Most of the time I don’t even think about wanting to watch it.  But there are certain times that it tantalizes me.  Not just any porn, but certain kinds.
If I asked you why you ate today?  How would you respond?  And you have to be honest, ok.  Most of us would have to admit that we eat for many of the same reasons we do many things.  Comfort, release stress, bored, supposed to be good for me, its just what we do and it keeps me in shape (but what kind of shape right)!  All these and many more answers would be the same for viewing pornography or the like.
My point is there are many things we do to which we do not have good reasons for them, or  simply do them out of  a consistent behavior over time.  And we can all agree that changing a behavior is not easy, let alone changing a persons paradigm of there entire life!  So I can see David’s point.  He seemed concerned that those in the sex addiction camp treat everyone alike, which I assume is too simplistic of an opinion.  But I certainly understand his heart.  And I like that approach.
Again Dr. Ley on this topic:

As one sex therapist and clinician described to me, “The sex addiction diagnosis is a lazy diagnosis.  It ignores more relevant emotional and psychiatric issues to focus exclusively upon a person’s sexual behavior.” pg 47, The Myth of Sex Addiction

I don’t think all sex addiction models focus exclusively upon a person’s sexual behavior in therapy or counseling any more than a Biblical counselor would.  I personally as a Pastor can only go over what the Bible teaches about sex, sexuality, sensuality, gender, God and the like.  And it is through these talks, were able to get into so many foundation area’s of life, dare I say, all area’s of life.  Though I am readily admitting that the person’s sex choices have become extreme and damaging.
As David was kicking back in his chair dialoging with me, there was something he said that I would have loved to talk to him about the entire time.  The subject turned to objective and subjective truth as it relates to the sex addiction model.  Let me explain here.  Dr. Ley was frustrated at the sex addiction model for reasons of inconsistency in its reasoning for why certain sex acts are bad.  As he saw it, there is a chink in the armor, and so they have changed there tune a bit.  Again, let me explain.  He sees the S.A. model changing it’s reasoning as to why pornography or other alternative sex is bad, from morality arguments from 30 years ago, to today, where the stress in the argument lies in public health (i.e. Fight the New Drug, Texas house resolution 112).  I brought up the seemingly similarities to the prohibition movement from a century ago, and he nodded, in agreement.  This was nothing new to me.  I teach a presentation every semester at the Jr. College on issues like this. The Kefauver Senate hearings of 1955, in addition to many things shared, commented on the damages to porn on the youth culture, as adult material was being delivered in the mail!
“In some of this rude material the purveyors lured children into ordering and paying for, in the larger percentage of cases however it has not been ordered at all. It is the sales solicitation material which in itself, is usually debauched and rankly obscene, and it goes to children as young as eight years old, because their names land on the mailing list…”
“All this may I say is utter and deadly nonsense; our society has many provisions that protect minor children from corrupting them or dangerous influences. Preventing the peddling of pornographic material to children is no more a violation of civil liberties than is preventing the sale of liquor or dope to these children.”

The Kefauver Senate Hearings of 1955

But the committee did did not have the research that we have today to tote out on the ever changing brain, especially in young people (i.e. your brain on porn).  It is very true that the argument has changed when it comes to obscenity, as it had in the prohibition movement so many years ago.  Drinking too much was a moral issue, but when it could not be passed as such, they changed the propaganda.  And using the public health card, won the day.
David sees this change as a move from objectivity to subjectivity.  And certainly loosing credibility in doing so.  I asked him would be give the S.A. proponents more clout if they stayed consistent with the morality argument?  And he said absolutely!  What bothered him, from what I gathered, was the change of emphasis to how the brain is wired or rewired.  To him, this revealed a leak in the overall foundation of his proponents.  And in turn a revealing not only a crack in the foundation, but one that affects other people, through shame based redirect, which seemed so important in the past, but no longer is worthy as a contender in the ring of public opinion.  The morality argument is dead.  But what about those needing help?  How can we help them, if we are inconsistent with why the behavior is wrong in the first place?  This is where I saw the conversation going.
It made me think about the importance of staying consistent.  Why do I think a sexual act is wrong?  Is is because of what the Bible says?  I personally have chosen to come under it’s ideas on mankind.  But in doing so, I have put myself under a system that I can never achieve in this life!  As C.S. Lewis has said in Mere Christianity, “but we believe we will receive help in this life.”   He is correct of course, but even with the help given, we find a inconsistency, which humbles us immensely.  And hopefully this humility leads us to a compassion.  I hope it does so in me.  And I bet you too.

“Christianity is strange.  It orders man to recognize that he is vile, and even abominable, yet orders him to seek to be like God.  Without such a counterbalance, that elevation would make him horribly vain, or that humbling would make him terribly abject.”  The Christian Life, Blaze Pascal

Lastly, I wanted to press about the help for wives of men who have come to him.  Of course I was hoping to glean some things from him, as my heart goes out to many of the women in our Beauty For Ashes group (wives of those in recovery).  I came at it from the angle of understanding that within the inner workings of counseling with a person with sexual issues, if married, there are certainly behaviors in which a wife will have to review herself…if she is willing and desiring to move forward in the marriage.  And this is what I was hoping to get a revelation on!  Maybe he had seen something work really well to help the wives learn about discussing sex and sensuality, which we knew is seldom done at all in a marriage.  But instead of getting the enlightenment I was hoping for, he simply put his hands up behind his head and had a puzzled look on his face…  I know that face well, as it is one I have had before in counseling.  At that moment I knew what he was going to share.  And it was honest!  He let me know that there was not much hope in that area he had seen.  What he meant, (my opinion) was that it seemed just as the overall U.S. culture is so schizophrenic (un-predictable) concerning sexual issues, so a spouse too, is a person who has not only been hurt immensely, but now needs to start the process of healing which includes there own battling of those inner demons (i.e. I refer to fear, hate, disappointment, control, insecurity).  Which if  you ever have participated in this kind of counseling, is no easy task to do.  I did not push it.  I could tell that topic was important to him, but his overall push in the culture has been to work on a different battle front.  Not that it is not important to him, but simply his energy has been used up elsewhere.
Working in any area of helping people requires much from you.  At times, all of you!  And he really seems to have a passion for those that are desiring help, and for that I commend him.  Of course, we are not going to agree on all things, but I am still trying to agree with Jesus on everything (haha)!  My mind does, but my body says otherwise at times!
This last quote from Dr. Ley will show you that he too is open to dialog.  So much so, he had a chat with me!

“There is not just one answer to the question of sex addiction.  It is not just an impulse or a compulsion.  It is not just the effect of testosterone or dopamine.  The reason the concept of sex addiction is so challenging to pin down is the many different social and moral concepts that are embedded within it, where the only commonality is that the issue of sexual behavior is involved.  The other issues that are involved, whether it be emotional functioning, brain functioning, relationship skills, or adaptability, are ignored by the extreme focus on sexual behaviors.”  pg. 206, The Myth of Sex Addiction

As you can read, this was fun for me.  Learning is fun. Hearing people talk about things your interested in can be very intellectually thrilling.  I hope others too will not shy away from peaceful dialog on the issues at hand in our society.  For we both are just human beings.  The greatest of these (gifts) is love, so the Bible tells us!  And for that reason alone, its worth the chat!