There’s a problematic approach to dealing with our hyper-sexualized culture that many, many Christians are making. And it’s making the problem worse.
The problem is focusing too much on what not to do.
For parents, this looks like having talks with your kids about sex that center primarily around sexual sin. This can also look like:
- Emphasizing the most important thing is to not have sex before you’re married.
- Suggesting that someone who remains a virgin until marriage gives their new spouse a better gift than someone who has already sinned sexually.
- Making family movie or music selections based primarily on whether something is “clean,” rather than also considering the quality of cinematography, directing, acting, soundtrack, or story.
- Elevating the importance of kids’ following the rules over the importance of your relationship with your kids.
For those seeking to break free from habitual sexual sin, this can look like:
- Focusing on the number of days, weeks, or months since your last sexual fall.
- Equating a sexual fall with having to “start over” from square one.
- Focusing accountability meetings around confession of sin, with little attention given to victories or progress made.
- Emphasizing the importance of avoiding temptation (setting up internet filters, not being alone, not leaving down time when you might be tempted, etc.) over the importance of deepening the health of your relationship with God, yourself, and others.
While you’ll find grains of value in many of these, ultimately these are like driving a car to some destination while looking at where you started or where you don’t want to go. That’s a recipe for disaster, and doubly so if where you don’t want to go holds any appeal to you! I think this is some of what Jesus was getting after when he told his followers that putting their hand to the plow and looking backwards makes them unfit for the Kingdom (see Luke 9:62).
So whether you’re a parent wanting to shepherd your kids or a man or woman wanting to grow in sexual integrity, here’s a better approach:
You and your kids need a vision of what you want to be for and who you are becoming. In other words, you need a bigger, more compelling vision of what it means that God created you as a sexual being and what sex is all about.
Begin with this: You are created to be loved with a self-giving, self-sacrificing love, and you are made to love God and others like that. If you’ve got kids, have conversations about what that means and how that might shape a right view of sex. If this is a journey you’re on (and, in this context, aren’t we all?), then spend time prayerfully considering the same.
Loving like Jesus loves is a bigger, better vision for men and women—sexual beings—God’s made in His image.
To learn more about this, listen to today’s podcast and pick up a copy of my brand new book Treading Boldly through a Pornographic World: A Field Guide for Parents.
Question: How did or didn’t your parents tie self-giving, self-sacrificing love into their conversations with you about sex? How might you better instill that into your life (and if you have kids, their lives) today?
Want to hear more this week? Check out the latest Becoming Whole podcast; Tread Boldly.
Great topic Josh! The only conversation I can recall as a child was, my mother telling me never to have a girl in the house. What! I understood what she meant though. That was my teaching on sex.I honored it.. I also can relate to the 12 step model to. Counting the days ECT.This never worked for me either.Yes I abstained for a while but my heart was still lustful. The White Knuckle syndrome. Serving and putting the deeds of the flesh to death daily is key.Thanks again Josh.
Thank you so much for sharing this thoughtful article.
I have been in 12 step recovery for sexually destructive behaviors for 16 years and I can say from experience there is way too much emphasis on what not to do and very little emphasis on what is the next right things to do..
Focusing on the negative only reinforces the negative.
It baffles me that as human beings we keep making the same crazy mistakes over and over again even inside of our recovery groups..
Negative reinforcement does nothing except reinforce the negative behavior in the negative thoughts and the negative cycle and the negative shame in the negative guilt and the negative emotional pain literally causing a relapse to occur.
Thank you so much for sharing.
Remember Jesus said I am the resurrection and the life. He who comes to me never die.
So wooden stand to reason I am able to recover more permanently.. I am not stuck in sexual sin. I am loved. I am set free from the law of sin and death!
I am redeemed
These thoughts are far more important and deserve far more emphasis and importance than saying Hi I’m Mike” I’m a sexaholic” I’ve been sexually sober for three days..
Realizing while identifying and celebrating periods of victory are important and can be great rallying points in our personal healing it is far more important to regularly declare the CRUCIAL FACTS how are wonderfully beautiful secure in relationship with Christ regardless of our calendar sobriety!
Spread the word there’s no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. There is no condemnation for people who seek after God. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved! Literally – “will be saved”’!
Did you notice how none of these statements stated only if or if only?
I think we can intentionally strive to do our part to help set people” living in chains free” by celebrating their freedom and not by forcing them to continually rehearse their calendar sobriety related to their last episodic period sin.
Literally I think we’re contradicting scripture with some of the practices inside of our recovery rooms.!
Of course scripture encourages us to confess our sins to one another but it does not say to repeatedly compare yourself to one another and to repeatedly obnoxiously force people to repeat their sin patterns which is literally forcing precious fragile people to be subjected to damaging trauma over and over again.
In closing – LET’s realize most sexually compulsive behavior is directly related to trauma and we keep re-traumatizing people by forcing them to talk about these uncomfortable terrible deeds seeking to normalize them.
God says he throws our sins as far as the east is to the west and remembers them no more so why in the hell do we keep rehearsing them weekly in our recovery settings?