Episode 69 – Sexual Sin Is a Squatter
Join Josh and Kit as they discuss Connection, Power, and Meaning and how we go to sexual sin (and others) when our truest needs aren’t met.
I think one of the areas that’s neglected for a lot of people has to do with emptiness.
there’s been research that shows the older a man gets actually the fewer and fewer friendships, authentic, meaningful friendships he has.
the search for meaning that oftentimes we’re running to some type of sexual acting out some type of sexual relationships. When really what we’re after we’re trying to get our hands on, we’re trying to pull into ourselves is a sense of meaning.
Unwanted by Jay Stringer
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Original music by Shannon Smith. Audio engineering by Gabriel @ DelMar Sound Recording.
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One of the things that happens so often for people who are struggling with unwanted sexual behaviors, be it pornography or acting out with other people, uh, is, is that they, they begin to gain all sorts of tools on how to deal with temptation. But this thing just keeps coming back and back and back and back. I think what happens often, and they may get accountability partners, they, they learn to confess to their people. They’re growing, but this stuff keeps coming back and back and back. And then I can figure it out. Like, why? Why can’t I get over this stuff? And I think one of the areas that’s neglected for a lot of people has to do with emptiness. And we’re going to talk about that in today’s episode because pornography can be like a squatter. And we’re gonna talk about what that means and why that is.
So Kit Elmer and Josh Glaser back here again today. Kit, we’re gonna talk about three areas that we wanna encourage listeners to think about if they’re struggling with ongoing sexual behaviors that they want to stop. And this actually applies to all sorts of behaviors. So if you don’t start with sexual behaviors, maybe it’s food, maybe it’s drink, maybe it’s media. This applies to those areas too. So this week we’re going to talk about, we’re gonna talk about connection. We’re going to talk about power, and we’re going to talk about meaning, connection, power, and meaning. So let’s start with the first one because we really do, if you’re missing any of these three areas in your life, you’re going to be tempted more frequently not to go towards pornography or whatever your unwanted behavior is. So let’s talk. Let’s start by talking about connection Kit. How does that play out in the air connection?
Well, I think unfortunately a lot of people are lonely and um, even though they desire to have friendships or relationships, um, it’s hard. It’s hard to, um, meet people to be in a relationship with, whether it’s romantic or just friendships. And if they do have friendships, sometimes they, um, are not that fulfilling because they’re superficial or they’re, um, people want to go out and do the party and you’re, you maybe aren’t into that anymore in the same way. And so I think this desire for connection is, is a good desire. And, and people want to reach out. But because of social media, that’s another whole thing. Like people are tied to their phones, tied to their computers and that really out, you know, with each other. And so connection with pornography that the, it’s false, but it can feel like I’m connected.
Yeah. I mean, I think, and I think this is especially true, it’s true for men and women both, but I think there’s an epidemic, a pandemic of this among men right now. I think there’s been research that shows the older man gets actually the fewer and fewer friendships, authentic, meaningful friendships he has. But I’d add to that, it’s not just a matter of like having people, you know, it’s not a matter of like people in your life or friendships that you have or even being married or not. Like people are lonely in the midst of groups of people whom they love and who love them. That’s true. Because there are these pockets of places in us that, that we keep back from those relationships or the are, we don’t know how to connect deeply. I think that’s increasingly true. Like we don’t know. Yeah. W the, my, my wife and I have a, an acquaintance we know, and every time we run into this person, they, they talk and talk and talk.
They don’t know how to listen. When we interject something that, you know, they listen long enough to find something that they can talk about and they talk again. We’ve, so many times you’ve left this person’s company and I’ve thought, they must be so lonely. Yeah. Because they don’t know how to connect. And Yeah, you’re almost here in the, in the incessant talking, like they’re grappling some how to connect and they’re not doing it. That’s an extreme example. But I think for so many people today, we’ve grown up not knowing how to connect with each other.
Yeah. Not really knowing how to have conversation. And that’s all the more true now you know, the Artel conversation, you know, conversation isn’t just chit chatting about the weather conversation is listening, learning, exploring and um, it’s kind of a lost art. Asking, asking good questions. Yes.
And I think, and I think you added that in Christian circles where there are kind of, I honestly, I think we’re, there are like the right things to say. Yes. And so there are times where, you know, even a good good question just gets derailed and goes sideways because somebody answers with just don’t, that’s the right thing to say. I mean it’s that old old like the story of the, you know, the kids are like in Sunday school class and the teacher says, hey, so what’s a brown and furry and climbs trees and eats nuts. And everybody raised their hand and says, Jesus, you know, cause that well that’s the right answer. Right? Yeah. And I think having, I mean, but I think also when we can be around people who know how to connect authentically, it can be so refreshing because we’re like, wow, this, you know, that guy just cussed about something that I am so vehemently passionate about too.
I feel connect or that person asked me a question and they listen. Yeah. I should actually felt heard and seen. Yeah. Can feel refreshing. It can also feel really scary. Yeah. I think sometimes, you know, like so one example in, in our men’s group recovery group here, we talk to guys about the importance of connection to how, look whatever sexual stuff you’re struggling with, you’re actually looking for relationship. And so we encourage you like reach out to other men in your life, other men in your small group. And I’ll tell you, it is one of the hardest things for these guys to do. One of the guys in the group, years ago, he used to call the telephone the 500 pound telephone because he recognized in himself that in moments where he was lonely, it was so hard for him to pick it up and call somebody. It felt so vulnerable, so uncomfortable, so unusual.
Well, and I can relate that and I can relate to so many women that come in and I’ll say, well, you know, is there someone you could talk to? Is there someone you can, you know, share this with? And they’re like, I could never tell anybody that. Right. You know, we have so much shame and so we’re looking for deep connection. We’re looking to be vulnerable, but we really don’t know how and where. It’s not modeled all that well, even in the church. So some of this, you know, so we, we think, well, it’s, nobody’s, I’m in a dark room. Nobody’s watching me. I can, you know, I can connect this way or whatever it is. And it feels safe even though it’s completely not safe. Um, but so wouldn’t it be great if we talked a little bit more about, you know, how do we share our stuff? How do we make it so that, um, we can share these things with one another. We can connect with each other on these things that we hide.
I think that raises an another important point for all of these. The things we were talking about today that the, these often go back to our childhoods. Yes. You know, so if you grew up in a home where people didn’t listen well to each other or there’s a lot of arguing or, you know, I dear friend who, uh, it was pretty common in their home after dinner. Everyone just kind of went to their own places and watch TV or, you know, did stuff on their own. Like that was just kind of the way they did things. And so if your home had some of that or if there was brokenness, you know, maybe there was a mom or dad who was missing for some reason, death, divorce, you name it. Um, lots of like the need to work, financial issues were any, you get the picture. I think if that’s, we grew up with that kind of formative experience, then can leave this emptiness in us that, that, you know, we find pornography fills or seems to fill at least. So that’s connection. That’s one. The next one we want to talk about power. Yeah. Pornography or sexual acting out in some way can actually be a search for a search to fill an empty space where we feel like we don’t have power. So let’s talk about that.
And that’s related to being in a dysfunctional family. You know, I, I know that in my, um, growing up there was a lot of crazy stuff going on, you know, with my dad’s drinking and my mom’s, you know, powerlessness and I felt powerless to, to a lot of things I was seeing. And so I think somehow the idea of, you know, acting out, even at a young age made me feel like I had some sense of power. It, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s to hard to make sense out of it, but there is this desire to have some control and, um, and because you’re, I’m, you, I was exposed to some things at an early age. It somehow it became that, that thing for me, and I think it’s true for a lot of other people too, that there is this lack of feeling powerful in their life. And so they look to their body, other people’s bodies, you know, whether it’s real or in pornography for some sense of control and power. Yeah. Yeah.
I mean, so many different examples of that. I think that you, you know, if, if I feel powerless, but I can, I know some way to move very quickly to introduce a powerful cocktail of emotions and feelings and sensations in my body. That’s something, you know, I mean, uh, I mean I think it wouldn’t be stuff’s far too far to say like, you know, imagine some of the, you know, the movies or scenes where there’s a powerful figure in the scene and there, there is something ecstatic about that. And I think sex is one of those places that can give a sense. I mean, sex is powerful. It’s powerful there. There’s powerful stuff that happens there. Yeah. By God’s designed. Yeah. I think the other way that happens is if somebody’s in their childhood or young adulthood, experienced, literally being powerless in a sexual yes, context, rape, abuse, yes, I’m being taken advantage of. And they felt like that their power in that place, their agency, their voice was lost. Absolutely. Then they can start trying to act that out as an it as an adult.
And even, um, you know, and it can happen that sexual abuse doesn’t have to be the, the, you know, the dramatic tragic one. You know, things that we see where there actually is an ongoing, um, physical sexual abuse. But it also can be other, more subtle ways of people in authority. You know, I had a high school principal that I was in a very, very vulnerable time in my, in my family’s life, and I was missing school and got called into the office and he was asking me about it and I was telling him the story of my terrible, terrible situation in my home. And he was pointing his finger on my chest. He was rubbing my knee, you know, and at the time, I’m 15 years old, I have no idea that that’s like awful, terrible. I’m vulnerable. I’m trying to share with him. But looking back like that was terrible. He was using his power. And how did that affect me then? You know, to be, to be made, to feel that powerless. Yeah. Um, and so, or even being exposed to pornography at a young age by someone trusted, quote unquote older brother, older sister. So you have this sense of feeling taken advantage of
being powerless. And I, I’ve, I’ve read stories heard from people who’ve talked about, um, seduction as a kind of a way to try to reclaim power. You know, if I can, if I can draw somebody to me sexually, if I can get somebody who will want me sexually, then I feel in control. Again, I feel I have power. Again.
I think that’s something that is more common than we would ever know. And when I think back on my, you know, young teens and twenties when I was acting out, I can tell, I can totally see that that felt like something maybe that could work for me. Right. To fill those places that were misunderstood by me.
Yeah. Or, or another strain of that same kind of thing is because real relationships can feel so vulnerable. I can feel so exposed, I can feel so insecure if it’s, if I keep it in my head, if I can just fantasize, masturbate, look up production on my own, then there’s a sense of like, I’m in control, I have power over the situation where in real relationships you don’t have complete power. I mean there’s another person. So yeah. I, yeah, I think that lot of different ways that I can, that can play out. So again, where does that begin? I mean we’re, you know, for people, and I think that’s something that if you’re listening, yeah. Consider is, is it possible that, that some of your struggles in with ongoing, unwanted sexual behavior is connected to us? A search for a hundred for feeling in control, feeling like you have power in an area where you don’t,
and how is that a part of your story? You know, so important to own our stories except our stories. Even the sexual parts of it, not that you’re saying it was okay that something happened, but that you actually are willing to look at it. Um, that’s so important. And letting things come to light, being willing to not push it down, deny it, feel shame about it, but let it come up and be like, okay, that was a part of my story. How can I talk that through with somebody? How can I pray about that? How can I talk to God about whatever it is? But it is so important to, um, I mean it’s been so powerful for me in my life to a lot and it’s, this has happened later in my life, but to really be able to look at my story and realized that I wasn’t accepting it, I made a lot of shame, a lot of parts I wanted to leave out, you know? And instead of that being able to really be like that happened and processing it with someone.
Yeah. God’s been really helpful. Yeah. And let’s come back to that in a few minutes cause I think that’s that like we want to talk about what do you do with this stuff? You know, it’s not just a matter of identifying it, but yeah, that’s a big piece of it. But before we do, let’s get back into this third area. This, the search for meaning that oftentimes we’re running to some type of sexual acting out some type of sexual relationships. When really what we’re after we’re trying to get our hands on, we’re trying to pull into ourselves is a sense of meaning. I, you know, I think so many of us live life, so do people in our culture live life. And there’s so many areas of our life that lack meaning. Our lives are so full, I think filled to overflowing these days with activities and buisiness and stuff that occupies your mind and our attention with so many competing voices and images for our attention these days. I mean literally for some people nonstop throughout the day, but so empty of meaning. So let’s, let’s just kind of batter a little bit, like first of all, what, what does that mean? What does it mean? What does meaning, you know, like what does it mean to have a life or to have something in your life that is meaningful?
I think, you know, or that comes to my mind is purpose. You know, and I think we all want that. You know, we all, you know, I, I’ve, I’ve said this often lately that, you know, I’m 63 years old. My, both my parents, you know, passed away around 80 like, so maybe I get 1720 years, that’s nothing. So I think a lot about these last few years. How do I have purpose and meaning? Well really if you get down to it, that’s a very huge and important aspect of living a life. You know, God did create us for this time in this place for a purpose. Yeah. And if we miss that, then we’re missing and we long for it. Right? We even know that. We know that if we’re just busy everyday running here and there doing these busy things, we’re like God, it didn’t feel like a very meaningful day. When we do find something that gives us purpose and meaning, it fills us. And so if we have no awareness of what that is in our life, it can lead us to act out in ways while we’re cause we’re looking for it.
Yeah. I mean I, the Alan Mendinger, the guy who founded our ministry said years and years ago, he said that it’s so many people are, they’re not looking for sex, they’re looking for purpose. They’re looking for there to be meaning in their lives. And here’s a, here’s a way I think that as far as like the how substantive you want, your meaning the meaning in your life to be like who you are, I think. And your sense of meaning really ought to be as big. So I grew up in Colorado Springs. You’ve been, you’ve been colored springs, right? And you lived there from it? Yeah, I didn’t live there, but I visited there. Okay. So I, there’s somebody I love was visiting colored springs years and years ago and they, uh, they were, they were marveling. He said, I don’t understand, like I’m walking down the street and I stop and ask somebody for directions and they’re giving me compass directions.
They’re saying, well, you’re going to walk up here when you get to North Avenue or when you start, when you get to a Alameda, you go north and then you’re going to get to Susko Hanna and there you want to turn east. And I’m like, wait, wait, why are they doing that? Why? What about right and left? Help me out here. And what they didn’t realize is that, that everybody in color springs knows, is that the mountains, this huge front range or mountains, uh, you know, especially at Pike’s peak, they’re 14,000, 700 feet. It, um, is tower over the city to the, to the west. And so you always know which ways west and therefore you always know which way is north and south and east. So, so that’s how it works. And it actually is great because no matter where you are, you know where you are.
And I think that’s, that’s what kind of meaning we’re talking about. We’re not just talking about like, yeah, Hey, I, you know, this, this great job, right? I really love, you know, I’m on this team and it really gives me a sense of meaning. That’s, that’s kind of small m meaning, but what happens when that job tanks or when it’s the weekend or when you get a demotion or when your team loses or, um, I think we are all hungry for a meaning that actually is larger than time. That moves into eternity. That will, that will last. And last and last. And I think that without that, what ends up happening for a lot of us is we go to just a counterfeit, you know, in so many forms, whether it’s food or, you know, an obsession of sports or in for our purposes today, like some type of sexual behavior that we’d keep running back to because deep down inside we don’t feel like our life really has much meaning or purpose.
You know, it’s interesting cause I think everything you’re saying is so true. And I also think there can be a trap here because I, um, I have talked to clients who are like, you know, they have this, you know, this, um, exaggerated desire for meaning and purpose. Like, you know, I want this life that just stands out. You know, this just fantastic that just everybody will notice, you know, it’ll be magnificent, you know, and that can be a trap. So purpose and meaning, yeah, does not need to be, you know, like I find tremendous purpose in meaning, uh, in, in my family and being a mom and being a wife. Um, like that. Now again, I’m learning how to, to change that up a little bit with being a mother. Cause they’re grown now, but I’m still a mother. And so it’s, it’s, it’s, um, there are some beautiful, subtle, simple ways that we find meaning and purpose and it, and God knows what those things are for us, but it’s elusive because we don’t really spend a lot of time thinking about it.
And I think one way, another way to kind of frame this up a little bit as that meaning and purpose are connected to, they’re not necessarily the exact same thing as, but they were connected to vocation. Like what’s our calling in life? And there can be seasonal callings. So like, you know, raising children in your home as a seasonal calling, being a mother changes over time so that, you know, they leave the home and you are still, now you’re called to be a different kind of mother and some of the purpose and the meaning you find in that is even discovering like, well, how do I do this now? You know? So,
and I think you’re right. What’s a great idea? The great point that what my meaning and purpose was 20 years ago is different than what it is now. That’s fine. You know, we don’t have to mean in fact, it’s important to every now and again be like, yeah, know what? You know, what do I want my life to be about now? God, what do you want my life to be about now? And, um, it can be, I have a client who really was in a job that she really didn’t like, but she did it because she was single and had to, and after meeting for awhile, she was, she realized that part of it was driving her to some acting out that she didn’t want to be doing, was that she didn’t have any purpose or meaning. She really wanted to do something else with people and she had the courage to do it. And it’s changing how she’s choices she’s making in her life.
Yeah. So, and let’s tie it back in. I mean, as you, as you just did, I think so. Literally, if you’re listening and you’re like, Hey, I’ve, I’ve got a community around me. I’m confessing what I’m struggling with. I’m learning, you know, I’ve got some accountability. I’m learning to like recognize some of some of what’s going on for me emotionally. And I’m still acting out. Like we’ll take a look at some of these areas. Are you, are you connected and are you connecting with other people? Not just around them but on some, and maybe, maybe a question is what are the areas that we’re actually still longing to connect with others where you’re not, or connect with the Lord where you’re not next. Uh, what about power? Where are you feeling like you, you don’t have the kind of power that you, that you want and can you bring that to the Lord and can you seek out what he has to say for you about that?
Um, and might have some more power than you think. Um, oftentimes we, we, you know, we kind of, our experience as kids was we didn’t have power and we’re still living under that. We actually now as adults, we do. I can, I can say no. You know, for example. And then thirdly, what about meaning? Are you searching for meaning? So literally as your, I mean, you can, you can take this on a micro scale. Like as I’m tempted, um, I can look at it and say, okay, I’m, I’m feeling tempted. I, you know, and I, I recognize that connected this t this temptation is, I’m really feeling powerless in this moment. So what can I, what can I do? What steps can I take to actually, you know, act, walk forward, empowered, Fluor, empower me. You know,
and there is a, there is a, this comes up a lot in coaching sessions, claiming your life, claiming the power that you have, that God has given you. We have more power than we know. Yeah. And then we think, and we believe lies about it. We have a lot of shame. We’re carrying a lot of that around. And the fact is that when God created us, he did give us not power to overwhelm things or control people, but power to, to live a full life, to embrace our life.
Yeah. And I, I know, um, in the area of meaning on a, on a larger scale, I’ve, I’ve known men who have, uh, and I know it’s true for women too, who have looked back and said, you know, where did I stop doing the things that really felt meaningful to me? No one, one guy had been a musician and he loved playing music and he got kind of side tracked into some sexual sin in his life and that became much more consuming. So part of his journey of restoration was going back and pick it up as guitar and beginning to play again. And you found such joy in that another person really started doing some art again. So a practical question for you might be, yeah, if you’re listening, what did you, what brought you life when you were a kid? Like what are the things did you gravitate towards? Did you love and why did you stop doing,
you know, what’s really cool? Josh reminded me of something. Um, my favorite book when I was growing up was island of the blue dolphins. And I was like, I loved that book. I loved to read when I was growing up and then for a long time I didn’t read. Now I love it again, but just great question and so add, picked it up and read it again. And it was amazing how much I learned about myself. Why did I love that as a little girl, I grew up in a farm town and in um, Illinois and I was just completely intrigued by this woman who lived this young girl who lived on an island and who, you know, got abandoned and dug up potatoes and ate them for dinner and controlled animals around her and I, I had no idea. So that gave me some really it real insight into who I was as a little girl and how does that inform who I am now, what, what matters to me now. Yeah, it was really interesting
and that’s a part of what you were saying before about honoring your story. So we’re going to, we’re going to close with that, but I think I’m just some practical next steps as you’re listening. I think certainly just being aware of these categories that often we look for pornography, pornography, or sexual acting out acts as a squatter. There’s an empty place in your life and you have this sexual behavior that’s, that’s living there. But it actually, that’s not what you need there. You need to evict that thing and find, is it meaning that needs to, that needs to come in. Is it connection? Is it power or res restored, meaning restored, connection, restored power, um, that just those categories and can be really helpful for people who should be in kind of exploring some of those things. I think certainly on a practical level in the area of connection, you need people in this journey with you as your, you know, that you can be honest with about what you’re struggling with.
And then I think we, you know, we can’t say enough about just the value of, uh, of a good spiritual coach or spiritual director, a good therapist, somebody who’s a bit further down the road who can help you identify like, what am I empty? How am I empty and help you unpack your story. And, and, uh, and in, in that way, and this is a lot of this has come from, uh, or we’ve been reminded of these things from J stringers book unwanted. Uh, and I think, you know, part of, part of what he highlights in that book is the importance of honoring your, your story and taking a look at where you’ve come from. So these things are acting out today. Our struggles today, these things we keep doing that we want to stop doing. They don’t have to be the enemy. They actually can be signposts pointing us to the reality that there’s an emptiness inside that I’m trying to fill.
What is that emptiness? Because God cares about that so much. So, uh, let me just close in a, in a quick word of prayer.
Lord, you came to give us the fullness of life and we’ve been settling for a squatter in places that really, those are our buildings or those are our rooms. Uh, sexual sin is not meant to be there. So would you help us to kick sexual sin out and repossess those places and fill them? Lord, with your connections, your power, your meaning, Lord help us to partner with you in this work Amen. And then in friends. If we can help you in this journey. We’re here and we’d love to.