Archive for January, 2012

12 Ways to Lie About Sexual Sin

This resource is taken from the “False Love: Overcoming Sexual Sin from Pornography to Adultery seminar notebook.

Lust and lying go together, almost as if they are two sides of the same coin. Both involve living in a fantasy world (artificial reality) or our own making; created to suit our own self-interest and tailored to our specific desires. If lust is ever to be broken, then the inevitable companion sin of lying must also be admitted and overcome.

“I was beginning to realize that my problems were not just sexual but revolved around a lifestyle of lying and deceit. Up until this time, had I been asked if I was a liar, I would have been offended and would have answered with an emphatic ‘No!’ Sadly, I would have believed I was telling the truth (p. 29).” Earl & Sandy Wilson, et al in Restoring the Fallen

Read Numbers 32:23, Proverbs 15:3, Job 34:21, Luke 8:17, and Hebrews 4:13. Chances are you have already experienced the truth of these verses. We lie because we believe we can contain and control the truth within the stories we tell and the information we do or don’t give. We believe we are larger than the truth rather than believing that truth in the reality in which we live and we can no more control it than we can the wind. As you read this section on lying, remind yourself regularly that honesty is not optional, only the timing and willfulness of honesty can be chosen. Truth will be known. The only question is whether your character will grow as you disclose it or whether you will live in fear and darkness until light invades your life against your will and to your shame. Pause and pray again for the courage to be honest, because truth-speaking and sexual purity are also two sides of the same coin.

Types of Lies

We begin the process of deceit by so limiting our definition of lying that none of our deceptive behavior is “technically a lie.” As long as there was some element of truth in what we said and the answer contained some relevance to the question asked, then we try to convince our conscience it can “plead the fifth” and we portray those who are dissatisfied our evasive or incomplete responses as being “unreasonable.” That way of thinking will leave you forever trapped in your sin and loneliness.

What is truth-telling? Honesty is living without secrets. Honesty is taking the risk of being known rather than the risk of getting away with it. Honesty is being able to look into the eyes of someone who loves you and being able to say, “You know me.” Honesty is being one person all the time with all people. Honesty is the freedom that freedom we are trying to find in our sin.

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” Mark Twain as quoted by Lou Priolo in Deception

We are going to define twelve different types of lying (modified and expanded from Lou Priolo’s booklet Deception: Letting Go of Lying; bold text only).  As you read through the list, reflect instead of debating technicalities. For the time being refuse to give yourself the benefit of the doubt. If it’s questionable, it’s deceitful. Begin now loving God and loving others more than you love yourself through self-protection.

“Often the one who has fallen is a powerful person who is able to intimidate those around him or her and convincingly present a distorted view of reality, seeking to impose it on others (p. 36)… Secret-keeping allows the person to perpetuate sinful patterns. It also facilitates the sinner’s denial about the full extent of the sin and its impact (p. 75).” Earl & Sandy Wilson, et al in Restoring the Fallen

If as you read through the list you begin to feel “I can’t say anything without it being considered a lie,” then allow that thought to sober you and prepare you for the next step – Acknowledge the Breadth and Impact of My Sin (chapter two).

1. Changing Facts: This is the heading under which all “active lying” falls. Here the story is true, but key pieces of the story are changed. Example – Saying you were working on the taxes when you were looking at pornography or saying you were talking to your boss on the phone when you were talking to your adultery partner. The fact that your lies are within a true story and hard to verify gives the false impression that you will be able to control the lying process.

2. Omitting Facts: This is the heading under which all “passive lying” falls. Here the story is true, but there are “dark spots” in the story. Example – Telling what you did all day except for the 45 minutes you met up with your adultery partner, or telling about the work you accomplished on the computer except for the time looking at pornography. Often people who “omit facts” get defensive when they are called liars. But omission of known, important facts is lying.

4. False “Facts”: This is a step beyond changing facts. It involves making up an entire scenario and is a step away from a double life (lying type #5). Example – While explaining why you were not home when expected, you make up a traffic accident that delayed you by an hour. In order to explain the virus or pop ups on the computer, you make up a story about letting your co-worker borrow your laptop. Lying of this type is hard to pull off and requires the more elaborate efforts below in order to support these false “facts.”

5. False Emotion: Now you have to play the part. If your lies are true, then they would require certain emotions. If you are going to remain “free,” then you must become an actor (the role itself implies lying when the “audience” does not know its watching a “show”). Tim Chester and Steve Gallagher give common examples of what this type of lying looks like.

 “The secret that you hide from your wife will create a barrier in your relationship. You may criticize her in order to feel better about your own shortcomings. You will distance yourself from her to avoid any chance of exposure… In some cases you may even pick a fight or find fault with your wife, to justify your porn use (p.24).” Tim Chester in Closing the Window

“The man who is being controlled by sin will often be overly sensitive to criticism, blowing every imagined slight out of proportion (p. 26).” Steve Gallagher in At the Altar of Sexual Idolatry

 6. False “Story”: False facts produce false emotions. Together they require a false story. Your lies are starting to create their own world in which they could be true. You are forced to try to live between these two worlds; reality won’t bend and your lies can’t break without you being found out. You and those that know you (those that are left anyway) are forced to live stretched between these two worlds. Example – What you say about the nature of your job, daily routine, spending habits, and computer activity begin to be more and more fiction.

7. Minimizing: Maybe you are “smart enough” not to take the false route. Everyone can see how that would inevitably blow up in your face. The “better” route is to not change the facts but the significance of those facts. Example – You talk about “just porn” or being “just friends.” Or, you talk about your sexual sin in coded language such as a “slip” or having a “bad day.”

Minimizing is one of the more popular methods of lying (to others and to yourself) about sexual sin. The following list of minimizing statements are modified and adapted from the works Joshua Harris in Sex Is Not the Problem (Lust Is), Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker in Everyman’s Battle, Steve Gallagher in At the Altar of Sexual Idolatry, and Earl & Sandy Wilson, et al in Restoring the Fallen. Mark the ones that you are prone to use to minimize or justify your sexual sin.

  • Lust is no big deal (Job 31:11-12)
  • A little sinful fantasizing won’t hurt (Rom 8:6, 13:14; Gal 6:7-8)
  • Taking radical action against sin isn’t necessary (Matt 5:29-30; 2 Tim 2:22)
  • God won’t mind a little compromise (Col 3:5-6; Eph 5:3)
  • It’s my body and I can do what I want with it (1 Cor 6:18-20)
  • I can’t control my sex drive (I Thes 4:3-6)
  • Looking at a few pornographic pictures won’t affect me (Prov 6:25-27; Psalm 101:3)
  • I won’t experience any consequences for indulging in my lust (Rom 14:12; Heb 12:6; James 1:15)
  • People get away with adultery (Prov 5:3-11)
  • God is keeping something good from me (Psalm 84:10-12)
  • The pleasure lust promises is better and more real that God’s pleasure (Psalm 16:11)
  • Fulfilling my lust will satisfy me (Lam 3:24-26; Prov 19:23)
  • Too much purity will keep me from seeing and enjoying beauty (Matt 5:8; Psalm 11:7; Isa 33:17)
  • If anyone finds out you’ll be a laughingstock.
  • Lust is impossible to conquer.
  • You’re being to legalistic.
  • I’m walking with God. I just have this one little problem.
  • I’m going through a difficult period in my life right now. I’ll come out of it.
  • God understands that I am a man and that I have natural passions.
  • I deserve to have some fun.
  • I’m tired of dealing with all this pain.
  • I just want to get on with my life.
  • I’m not in love anymore so why honor the marriage?

8. Blame-Shifting: Maybe you accept the facts and admit how serious the problem is, but you lie by shifting the responsibility. It’s true and it’s bad, but it’s not my fault. Appendix A is an assessment developed by Nancy Leigh DeMoss which helps you see the difference between brokenness over sin and emotion of prideful people caught in their sin.

“The truth is, before a person can ever hope to overcome habitual sin, he must first be willing to take responsibility for his own actions (p. 102).” Steve Gallagher in At the Altar of Sexual Idolatry

There are several strategies for lying by blame-shifting that are common. Mark the ones that you are prone to use in order to explain your sexual sin in a way that makes you less responsible.

  • My gender / anatomy / needs – This is the common pop-psychology blame-shifting method that is even endorsed by many popular Christian authors. Example – That’s just how men / women are. I had to find a release. I had to fill my “love tank” somewhere.

 “Sex addicts typically justify their actions and believe their needs must be met (p. 26).” Harry Schaumburg in False Intimacy

  •  My spouse – This is often paired with the “needs” blame-shifting method above. The summary of this method is: If my spouse treated me the way I wanted to be treated, then I would not sin. The responsibility for honoring God is shifted from self to spouse.

 “The offending spouse sometimes blames the mate or a deteriorating marriage for the affair. Poor companionship and a lack of lovemaking make a couple more vulnerable, but there is still a choice. If you leave the keys in your car and someone steals it, it is still the thief’s fault. The adulterer chose to have the affair (p. 348).” Doug Rosenau in A Celebration of Sex

“If God is not enough for you, then you are creating hopes for a spouse that no one could possibly ever deliver (p. 136)… But a life without porn is not the true alternative to a life with porn. We should instead be weighing a life with porn against a life lived for God’s glory (p. 137).” Tim Chester in Closing the Window

  • My history / personality – Sexual sin may be influenced by a history sexual abuse, early sexualization, or personality factors such as compulsivity (such factors will be discussed in chapter three). But to blame these factors for one’s sexual sin is a deceptive form of blame-shifting.
  •  Manipulation, Guilt, and Criticizing Others – Blame-shifting is a form of manipulation. Few people want to admit this, but until you do attempts to reconcile your marriage (if married) will be severely hampered. Blame-shifting is the attempt to transfer guilt from self to another person. Within a marriage this is almost always done by criticism, condemnation, or implying your spouse thinks they are better than you.
  •  “It Just Happened” – No it didn’t. Sin requires a sinner, just as fishing requires a fisherman. For many this is an appealing form of blame-shifting because it allows everyone to be innocent (no manipulation, guilt, or criticizing). This form of blame-shifting will eliminate any possibility of overcoming your sexual in.
  •  “I Was Seduced” – We are seduced because we want to be seduced. People fall for “get rich quick” schemes because they want to be rich. The salesman may be good, but people buy the product because they want the end result more than they believe the principles of God’s Word for how to attain it. In a marriage this blame-shifting tactic can be appealing because it allows you and your spouse to be “on the same team” against the other person. The adultery partner was equally to blame, but if healthy restoration is to occur they cannot be exclusively blamed.

 “There are always many turning points before the point of no return (p. 89)!” Tim Chester in Closing the Window

8. “I Don’t Know”: It is legal to “plead the fifth” in a court room, but it is deceitful to do so in life. Laziness in response is not an exception clause for omitting important information. “I don’t know” if often used as a way to buy time while preparing to do a “better” job at one of the other forms of lying. “I don’t know” is also used to force the questioner to nag or badger so their action can become the focal point of the conversation.

9. Hidden Agenda: This is deception by set up. Example — You do something nice for your spouse so that you feel less guilty (without having to repent or change) and (intentionally or not) your spouse feels guilty for addressing the sin in your life. Self-pity is another common form of deception by hidden agenda. The essence of self-pity is beating yourself up over your sin in place of repentance and change. The effect is that your sorrow becomes a guilt-shield (for you and them) against the hard work of change being engaged or words of timely truth being spoken.

10. Verbalizing Suspicion: This is the mild form of deception by counter attack. When you confront me in my sin, I attack you for your sins (real or fabricated). If I can’t prove my case, then I will try to change who is on trial. Example – Asking questions like, “Can you tell me you’ve never been attracted to somebody else?” or “I don’t ask you about your credit card, why are you asking me about mine? Can I have the password to your e-mail accounts too?”

11. Slandering: This is the bold form deception by counter attack. With slandering, the counter attacks are known to be untrue and are said not just to change the subject but to emotionally injure the person who raised the question. The goal is to intimidate the questioner out of asking any more questions and to solidify the role of the slanderer as the only one who “really knows” the truth about things – strengthening all other lies told.

12. Exaggeration: This is deception by magnification. Unlike other forms of lying which seek to shrink or hide the truth, exaggeration makes truth larger than it really is. Truth moves from being an enemy to being a weapon; when it should always be a friend (even when it hurts; Prov 27:6). Example – use of words like: always, never, only, just one time, a million times, etc…

Read Ecclesiastes 2:1-11. The book of Ecclesiastes might be called “The Big Book of Step One.” In this book Solomon admits that he tried everything under the sun to find satisfaction and that it was all ultimately unfulfilling. One of the biggest hindrances to admitting our sin is that we believe we are going to “miss out” on the good life if we do, or that our sin has made the good life unattainable so sin is the best option we have left. These too are lies. But not lies you tell anyone else. Lies you tell yourself. And lies you must put away if you are ever going to put away your sin. God has promised that He came to give us a full life (John 10:10) and that nothing we have done can separate us from that good life because of what Christ did on our behalf (Rom 8:34-39). Doubting one or both of these truths is the ultimate reason people remain in their sin.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Adultery” post which address other facets of this subject.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Pornography” post which address other facets of this subject.

C.S. Lewis on Temperament, Feelings, & Obedience

A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

“But though natural likings should normally be encouraged, it would be quite wrong to think that the way to become charitable is to sit trying to manufacture affectionate feelings. Some people are ‘cold’ by temperament; that may be a misfortune for them, but it is no more a sin than having a bad digestion is a sin; and it does not cut them out from the chance, or excuse them from the duty, of learning charity (p. 130).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

I love the balanced and nuanced approach the Lewis takes to the subject of temperament (i.e., personality; disposition: lion-otter-beaver-retriever; Myers-Brigg’s Type Indicator, etc…). I would summarize Lewis’ thoughts on the subject in four statements.

1. Temperament is real. People are different. These differences can be classified in legitimate and helpful ways. Children are born with innate preferences and tendencies that remain constant across the life span, often withstanding even traumatic events or major changes in their social environment.

No one classification system “holds the market” on describing these differences. Each test and classification system embeds certain biases of the author which may distract from pointing people to greater dependence upon Christ. Some people will identify with the descriptions of one test over another; others will reject being classified at all (don’t tell them the tests usually predict that).

2. Temperament is amoral. Having one temperament is not morally superior or inferior to another. There is no “Jesus temperament.” I would go so far as to say that it is unhelpful to depict Jesus as the perfect balance of all temperaments (whether you have 4, 8, or 16 in your system). That has a strong tendency to “make God in our own image;” a tendency Christian counseling literature is prone to do.

Someone may be naturally melancholy (given to depression), analytical (given to anxiety), introverted (avoidant of biblical community), or judging (given to over-confidence). These dispositions would represent their most common temptations, and therefore be considered what Scripture calls “the flesh,” but the pervasive temptation would not be inherently wrong unless acted/fixated upon.

3. Temperament is a moral challenge. Our personality does make certain moral duties more difficult or less pleasurable to fulfill. However, God does not write a unique set of expectations for all 16 combinations of the MBTI.

I believe Romans 12:3 applies to this challenge. Paul warns against thinking too highly of ourselves – a common temptation for each person to think his/her approach is “right” or “obvious.” Temperament, like every other unique aspect of a person, has a tendency to be self-centered. Paul also says God has assigned a measure of faith to each person – meaning some acts of faith/obedience are easier for certain people.

4. Temperament is not who you are. The reason all these things can be true is that there is a “you” who has a temperament. Your temperament reveals the values that you most naturally hold. They were given to you (like your body, talents, and intelligence were given to you) to be stewarded for a purpose.

When we define ourselves by our temperament (or body, talents, or intelligence) we lose the sense that God called “me” to steward “what He has given me” for his glory and begin to fall into pride or insecurity. Both pride and insecurity begin to use God’s gift as a reason why we are the exception to God’s rules.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Personality” post which address other facets of this subject.

Sharing the Gospel through the Window of Emotion

This post is meant to offer guidance to common “What now?” questions that could emerge from Pastor J.D.’s sermon on Jonah 4 preached at The Summit Church Saturday/Sunday January 28-29, 2012.

When you have gotten to know someone decently well you begin to know what pushes their buttons, gets under their skin, and their pet peeves. Rarely can we hide from others what really makes us tick for long. It shows up as our agitation, anxiety, awkward silence, drive, outspokenness, sensitivities, and quirks.

The things that stir our souls reveal important things about us. When people show us emotion, their beliefs, values, and hopes are on display (Luke 6:45). These are precious and powerful moments. These are moments when friendships are forged and lives are changed. Seeing Jesus’ relevance in these moments in the gospel is most relevant.

Unfortunately, these are also the times when there is a strong tendency to back away from people. We find these moments intimidating, uncomfortable, or “personal.” While nothing of significance should be approached cavalierly, neither should moments of such influence be ignored.

The question is, “How do we engage these moments with the honor they deserve while seeking to maximize the potential they hold?” I will offer some suggestions on how to approach these moments to engage gospel conversations.

Ask a good question. It can be as simple as an observation, “That was really important to you.” Maybe you ask, “What did you like/dislike most about that?” Just don’t let the question get in the way. Make it short and an acknowledgement that you’re interested in what is significant to them.

Honor push back. Interest is one door to winning trust; honor is another. If the other person is uncomfortable, let the question rest. We model Christ’s compassion when we do not force our concern upon them and are not offended if they are not open to the conversation.

Show genuine interest. Evangelism should never be a “technique.” Nobody wants an unsolicited counselor. If you cut quickly to what you really wanted to talk about (i.e., Jesus), you risk insulting the person you are seeking to reach.

Don’t try to complete the journey in one conversation. This is relational evangelism. If you are able to put their concern/passion into words and they say, “Thank you! Finally somebody gets it,” that is a huge win. You are an ambassador (2 Cor. 5:20). Ambassadors know the value of trust and learning culture (emotions are “personal culture”) for delivering an impactful message.

Listen for sin and suffering. When we seek to share the gospel through the window of emotion we must know how the gospel speaks to sin and suffering. We need to be able to offer God’s forgiveness and comfort. The “idols of our hearts” are sought for both pleasure and refuge. For on how the gospel speaks to sin and suffering, see these two videos.

Listen for how you’re like them. Testimony is uniquely important in these kinds of gospel conversations. You may not have the same “driving desires” (idols) linked to the same historical influences with the same emotional response. But chances are you can relate to the pattern – heart set on [blank overgrown desire] that is important to you because [historical reason] so you [emotional response].  People are not as different as we like to think we are.

As a Christian, you should be able to talk about how the gospel has changed the way you respond to those moments – how Christ’s Lordship put overgrown good desires back in proportion, is transforming the way you understand shaping events, and is creating stability in your emotions (for an example of this applied to anger/conflict click here). You just shared the gospel. Now all you need to do is to ask if they are interested in a similar relationship with Christ.

Continue having “normal” conversations. The freedom of the gospel is expressed (in part) by the fact that while Christ comes to us in our weakest moments we are not defined by those moments. Be God’s ambassador in this way as well. You are inviting them to be a part of God’s family (where people are defined by their relationships), not God’s recovery group (where people are defined by their struggle). This is someone you know them well enough that they allowed you to see their soul; honor that by showing concern for their whole life.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Emotions” post which address other facets of this subject.

Sexual Sin Assessment Tool

This resource is taken from the “False Love: Overcoming Sexual Sin from Pornography to Adultery seminar notebook.

Instructions: Read the following descriptive statements. As you read them, think of your total experience of sexual sin; not just where you think you are “now” after committing to change. The purpose of this evaluation is to give a complete picture of what needs to be changed. Any dishonesty on this evaluation will severely impair your ability to overcome sexual sin and live in healthy, real relationships. Mark the answer that best fits how you respond:

(N) almost never, (R) rarely, (S) sometimes,
(F) frequently, or (A) almost always.

When completing this evaluation, it is important to note that “sexual” or “attractive” do not have to mean visual. They are meant to carry the broader connotation of the word “intimate.” This involves both closeness and excitement.

Click here for 67 question assessment tool and scoring key: Sexual Sin Evalution

The progression of this evaluation goes from objectifying people, public visual lust, private narrative lust, soft pornography, hard pornography, interaction with a real anonymous person, emotional affair without touch, sexual touching without sex, one time affair, affair in an ongoing relationship, pseudo-marriage affair, illegal sexual activity, and same sex attraction. However, this progression is not meant to imply that this is the developmental cycle of sexual sin.

There is adultery that did not begin with pornography. Pornography does not necessarily lead to adultery. The purpose of the progression is to provide the rational for why Jesus would teach that to look at someone with “lustful intent” is a form of or seed for adultery. While the progression is not an inevitable slippery slope, reading the descriptions of the full journey into lustful depravity should sober you towards your sin. Figure 1 provides a visual of the “small steps” between lust and adultery.

 1. Objectifying A Person: Reducing people to a certain set of appealing features and measuring people’s value by how much they please you.

2. Public Visual Lust: Using the objectification above as a scoring system and savoring actual people.

3. Private Narrative Lust: Allowing the scoring system to develop into a story in which you interact with someone in your imagination.

4. “Soft” Porn: Using television or catalogs to provide more “choice” but non-nude objects of lust and imagination.

5. Full Porn: Pursuing nude images and videos on the internet or other media forms and having the imagination expanded by professional “story tellers.”  The frequency, duration, and perversion of this activity can vary.

6. Interaction With a Real, Anonymous Person: The other participant in the story becomes a real person with a real voice and a free will.  This can be 1 (900) numbers, provocative chat rooms, strip club, or “sexting.”

7. Emotional Relationship with a Known Person Without Touch: No longer is the other real person unknown.  They have a real name, face, and history. They know your real name, face, and history.

8. Emotional Affair with Touch, Without Sex: This is probably the rarest item on the list, although it is frequently said to exist.  This is a relationship with a real person with kissing, massage, and other non-intercourse affections.

9. One Time Sexual Affair:  Now the intercourse barrier has been crossed, but (as in the case of a prostitute or drunken business trip fling) the relational connection may be low.

10. Affair in Connected Relationship: In terms of marital threat, the sexual affair is now secondary to the deepening “love” between the spouse and adultery partner.  Sex is no longer a mere expression of passion, but also devotion.

11. Affair as Pseudo-Spouse / Leaving: No longer is the faithful spouse making the decision regarding divorce.  The unfaithful spouse is the active party seeking to dissolve the marriage in order to pursue their adultery partner.

Read Matthew 5:21-30. In this passage Jesus deals with two subjects—anger and lust—in the same way: identify the heart issue, warn against the full grown sin, and call for radical action even at great personal cost. If your instinct is to rebuttal that people should not face prison time or execution for common anger, you are both right and completely missing the point. Jesus is warning you not instructing your spouse. If you focus on what Jesus did not mean (even if you are correct), you will neglect what He is saying to you… personally… right now… in this passage. Jesus is saying, “Take whatever steps are necessary to remove lust from your life. Unless your excuse is of greater consequence than losing an eye or hand, it is just that—an excuse.” The question before you now and throughout this study is, “Am I wanting to hear from God to receive words of life or am I distracting myself by arguing with the words of others?” With that question in mind, score your evaluation.

Question: Am I a sex addict? Is “sexual addiction” even a real thing? Would that make my sexual activity not sinful? The relational dynamic of sexual sin complicates the traditional view of addiction, even if you adhere to a disease model. Many of the books referenced in this study use the language of addiction (we reference these books because they have valuable insight into the description and assessment of sexual sin struggles). The False Love materials use the term addiction to refer to a life-dominating sin struggle, but do not believe that all sexual sin addressed in this study are necessarily mean you are an addict. If you wonder if your sexual sin has an addictive quality, answer the ten questions below. The more items you mark “yes” the more life-dominating your sexual sin has become.

“This is the way sin always is. It will always demand more of you. And meanwhile, as you have been more or less certain that you’ve been controlling your sin, it has actually been controlling you. Subtly, unrelentingly, it has reshaped your mind and your heart in very real ways (p. 21).” Tim Challies in Sexual Detox

  • Repeated failure to resist sexual impulses
  • The amount of time and degree of offensiveness of your sexual sin is increasing
  • Unsuccessful efforts to stop, reduce, or control your sexual sin
  • Spend a significant amount of time obtaining sex or arousal
  •  Preoccupied with sex, sexual behavior, sexual humor, or planning for next arousal episode
  • Engaging in sexual behavior when it interferes with job, school, home, or social expectations
  • Continue sexual behavior when it negatively impacts marriage, social, emotional, or spiritual life
  • Increasing in intensity, frequency, depravity, or risk is necessary to obtain the desired effect
  • Sacrificing social, recreational, or other healthy outlets for sexual release or relationship
  • Experience distress, anxiety, restlessness, or irritability if unable to engage in the behavior

Seminar — False Love: Overcoming Sexual Sin from Pornography to Adultery

Below are the videos from the presentation of “False Love: Overcoming Sexual Sin from Pornography to Adultery.” For the various counseling options available from this material visit www.summitrdu.com/counseling.

The complimenting study “True Betrayal: Overcoming the Betrayal of Your Spouse’s Sexual Sin” is also available in a video format.

NOTE: Many people have asked how they can get a copy of the seminar notebook referenced in this verbal presentation. You can request a copy from Summit’s admin over counseling at counseling@summitrdu.com (please note this is an administrative account; no individual or family counsel is provided through e-mail).

STEP 1.
ADMIT I have a struggle I cannot overcome without God.

False Love: Step 1 from Equip on Vimeo.

STEP 2.
ACKNOWLEDGE the breadth and impact of my sin.

False Love: Step 2 from Equip on Vimeo.

For the “How to Talk to Children When Sexual Sin Affects the Family” appendix click here.

 

STEP 3.
UNDERSTAND the origin, motive, and history of my sin.

False Love: Step 3 from Equip on Vimeo.

For the “Sexual Sin Journal” from click here.

STEP 4.
REPENT TO GOD for how my sin replaced and misrepresented Him.

False Love: Step 4 from Equip on Vimeo.

STEP 5.
CONFESS TO THOSE AFFECTED for harm done and seek to make amends.

False Love: Step 5 from Equip on Vimeo.

For the “Confession Guide for Sexual Sin” click here.

STEP 6.
RESTRUCTURE MY LIFE to rely on God’s grace and Word to transform my life.

False Love: Step 6 from Equip on Vimeo.

STEP 7.
IMPLEMENT the new structure pervasively with humility and flexibility.

False Love: Step 7 from Equip on Vimeo.

For the “Sexual Sin Plan Eval Form” click here.

STEP 8.
PERSEVERE in the new life and identity to which God has called me.

False Love: Step 8 from Equip on Vimeo.

STEP 9.
STEWARD all of my life for God’s glory.

False Love: Step 9 from Equip on Vimeo.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Adultery” post which address other facets of this subject.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Pornography” post which address other facets of this subject.

C.S. Lewis’ Portrait of Humility

A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

“Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call ‘humble’ nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all (p. 128).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

This is my favorite description of humility, because it takes the focus off of humility; which is what I think humility would want if you asked it. When I finish reading the quote, humility feels like freedom more than a standard to achieve.

Yet there is great practicality in the description. A baseline question for determining humility is, “How well do I listen to others?” Listening is an action that bestows honor on others without sacrificing personal dignity or enjoyment.

I think most people get this instinctually. When we are around someone we highly esteem and they ask us a question, we feel honored. We think more fondly of them because they would be interested in our thoughts on the subject. We simultaneously admire their humility and awe at their strength.

Which is why I find it odd that I so naturally thought of humility in the ways in which Lewis caricaturized it. I thought of humility as weakly avoiding eye contact while deferring every compliment and downplaying every accomplishment. I would have never taught it that way but I did “see” it that way.

Part of that is undoubtedly the distortion of my sinful nature. The corruption of my heart would never define something as wholesome and life giving as humility in an appealing way. Culturally, I think this is why so many people who say they want a “high self-esteem” would rather have the “freedom of humility” if they tasted both.

The question becomes what frees me from listening with genuine interest in others (a mark of true humility) rather than listening through the lens of insecurity (pride in its fearful form)? The answer is simply when someone gracious, dependable, and with a heart for the world has become the most important person in my life—namely, God.

In order to be humble the most important person in my life must be gracious. I will fail many times. After all, “nobody’s perfect.” Unless the most important person in my world is gracious, my failures (shame, anger, or blame-shifting) will kill humility.

In order to be humble the most important person in my life must be dependable. Life changes. After all, “nothing stays the same.” Unless the most important person in my world is dependable, anticipating the future (fear or greed) will kill humility.

In order to be humble the most important person in my life must have a heart for the world. I will imitate the most important person in my life. Therefore, unless the most important person in my world cares deeply for people I won’t either. In the end, Jesus is the embodiment of humility (Philippians 2:1-11) and the key to my humility.

Self-Doubt, God-Doubt, & Evangelism

This post is meant to offer guidance to common “What now?” questions that could emerge from Pastor J.D.’s sermon on Jonah 3 preached at The Summit Church Saturday/Sunday January 21-22, 2012.

Jonah’s hesitancy to share the gospel with Nineveh had nothing to do with self-doubt or God-doubt. Actually, it was just the opposite. Jonah feared that if he called Nineveh to repent that they would repent and God would forgive (4:1-3). Jonah simply wanted Nineveh to receive justice rather than mercy so he resisted introducing them to the God he knew.

While there are some Christians who allow laziness or animosity to prevent them from sharing the good news they found in God, that is not the only reason Christians fail to share the gospel. I’ll leave it up to the reader to guess at what percentage of Christian failure to share the gospel results from laziness ( _____% ), animosity ( _____% ), self-doubt ( _____%), and God-doubt ( _____%).

But I think the more important question is not weighing the percentages of the Christian population, but dividing the motives of our individual hearts. What percentage of your failure to share the gospel results from laziness ( _____% ), animosity ( _____% ), self-doubt ( _____%), and God-doubt ( _____%).

This post wants to reflect on the two forms of discouragement that come when we share our faith and people do not respond. Did I fail (self-doubt)? Or, did God fail (God-doubt)? It is a natural question. When I try do something and it doesn’t work, I want to know, “What went wrong? Who/what failed?”

Some Christians, usually in a legitimate attempt to be humble, begin to think they were the problem. “I didn’t say the right thing, know the right verse, pray enough before, tell a funny enough story, or read my Bible enough. Or, I spoke too soon or wasn’t cool enough to win their respect.” Whatever rational is created, the bottom line in self-doubt is: I am the reason that person is still going to Hell.

In the end, self-doubt always exaggerates the role of the witness in evangelism. After all, Jonah’s message wasn’t that impressive (3:4) – eight words in English, only 5 words in Hebrew, and his heart wasn’t in it. He simple spoke the truth about God to people who needed to hear it. Evangelism that is “done” by an impressive speaker or argument will be “undone” by a more impressive speaker or argument.

Further, self-doubt focuses our attention on self rather than the person we’re talking to and the God we’re talking about. Self-doubt reduces our genuine interest in the person we’re talking to (fear always causes preoccupation) and our passion for the God we’re talking about. That is probably the best possible recipe for making something simple seem difficult.

Other Christians, begin to doubt God when their evangelism is ineffective. “Maybe God doesn’t like me and doesn’t want to bless what I’m doing. God likes other people better so He gives more fruit to their ministry. Maybe God isn’t as good as I thought He was if He didn’t do what I expected Him to do.” The thinking process can take many forms, but it boils down to either God doesn’t like me or God can’t be trusted.

Either way, the result is that we stop praying (especially for specific lost people that we are burdened to share Christ with) and stop sharing. The activity that should drive us to God and His Word—evangelism—begins to be the reason to avoid God and His Word, or at least intellectualize and privatize our faith.

The worst part of God-doubt is not the lack of evangelism; that is only the bitter fruit. The worst part is the functional belief in a sterile, distant God who becomes a moral score keeper instead of tender Father making an appeal to His lost children through His children who have returned. We begin to live as if God accepted us as His hired labor (Luke 15:18-19) instead of interrupting our repentance with lavish love and affection (Luke 15:20-24). We believe the lie we feared before we knew the truth.

Self-doubt and God-doubt both forget who we were before God saved us (people who resisted the truth), what God has done to make salvation possible (bearing the penalty of our sin and offering us Christ’s righteousness by grace), and how simple the message really is (Jesus in my place). We quit sharing the gospel with others regularly because we quit reminding ourselves of the gospel daily. If you struggle with self-doubt or God-doubt, then remind yourself daily of who you were, what God did, and how powerfully simple the gospel is.

Pornography and Adultery: Personal Restoration and Marital Recovery

How many times has a friend or family member of yours been affected by sexual sin – their own or their spouses’? How many times have you felt really uncomfortable, knowing you should say something, but not knowing what to say? With the current rates of pornography usage and extra-marital sex close to 100% of people could think of at least one occurrence of those situations in the last year.

As a church, we cannot pretend this issue does not exist, choose to remain ignorant on these subjects, or hide behind the excuse that these are private matters. Consider this warning given by Martin Luther:

“If you preach the gospel in all aspects with the exception of the issues that deal specifically with your time, you are not preaching the gospel at all.” Martin Luther as quoted by Tim Chester in Closing the Window (p. 10).

It is for this reason that the Summit counseling ministry is presenting two EQUIP seminars in February. These are free seminars. We hope that many people in our church and community will benefit from learning how the Gospel speaks to these epidemic struggles. Please invite anyone you believe would benefit from this material.

 

 False Love: Overcoming Sexual Sin from Lust to Adultery
February 12, 2012 // 5:00 to 8:00 pm
The Summit Church; Brier Creek South Venue
2415 Presidential Drive, Suite 107; Durham, NC 27703
Free – No RSVP Needed

Lust is not a gender specific issue. Lust is not something “some people” struggle with. Lust is not a “phase we go through.” Lust is not a problem that getting married will solve. Lust may never go beyond your imagination, but still create a persistent dissatisfaction with your current relationships or marriage.

Or, lust may be life dominating. Lust may cause you to put your health, your spouse’s health, your job, or your reputation in jeopardy. Lust may lead you to lie and create a double life in ways that you would have never thought you would.

Regardless of your type or depth of struggle with lust or whether your are single or married the “False Love: Overcoming Sexual Sin from Lust to Adultery” seminar is designed to help you walk away from these fantasy-based relationships (yes, even adultery is a fiction and porn is a relationship) and move towards the pure, true love for others than God ordained.

True Betrayal: Overcoming the Betrayal of Your Spouse’s Sexual Sin
February 19, 2012 // 5:00 to 8:00 pm
The Summit Church; Brier Creek South Venue
2415 Presidential Drive, Suite 107; Durham, NC 27703
Free – No RSVP Needed

There is no way to prepare for the news that your spouse has been looking at pornography, is having an emotional affair, or is/has committing adultery. Yet even without being able to prepare, you are still forced to respond when the news hits.

Numbness, anger, despair, fear, jealousy, regret, denial, revenge, embarrassment, shame, questions of whether I ever really know the truth, lack of trust, loss of respect, and feelings of loss of permanence are all common responses. But how do you respond to those responses? How do you “move forward”? What is “forward” anyway?

The “True Betrayal: Overcoming the Betrayal of Your Spouse’s Sexual Sin” seminar is intended to guide you through the emotional, mental, and relational dilemmas of your spouse’s sexual sin. It helps you answer the practical informational questions (i.e., What do I need to know? What should I expect from my spouse? Why is the “why” question so plaguing and hurtful?), and it walks you through the emotional pain that no answers to any questions will alleviate.

C.S. Lewis on The Devil’s Cure

A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

“The devil loves ‘curing’ a small fault by giving you a great one (p. 127).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

It is easy to think that moving away from a problem is the same as moving towards something better. But this is the lie behind most of life’s devastating sins. No one runs face first into addiction. They run looking over their shoulder at a lesser problem and into the arms of addiction. Bankruptcy is what happens when you solve every problem (focal point) with your debt (blind spot).

It is easy to think that everyone who sympathizes with your problem is your friend. But this false assumption is the foundation for every scam. A drug dealer needing to make a sale will listen to your problems in order to pitch his “solution.” Sexual predators specialize in listening to hurting kids on social media to serve as an inroad to their trust.

This does not mean that all sympathy is dangerous or that progress is always a mirage. It does mean that our ability to change for the better is hampered when we focus exclusively on our struggle. When we focus on our struggle, even if we are disgusted by it, we get the false notion that different is the same as better.

When you focus on how dumb you are everyone else becomes smart. When you focus on how weak you are everyone else becomes strong. The problem is when you try to apply “their” wisdom, there is a strong probability it will fail and when you try to rely on “their” strength, it will let you down. By focusing upon faults we never gain an appreciation for what is truly wise, strong, and good.

Not only does Satan love to cure small faults with big ones (goal), he seals the deal by getting us lost in our faults (method). This is an ingenious way to blind those who can see. If Satan can get us to look for the wrong thing with great intensity, then we will miss, ignore, or reject the right thing even when we look right at it.

What do I mean? If Satan can get us so focused on our faults that we fail to look at Christ, then we are functionally blind to the wisdom, cure, strength, and hope we need. When we focus on our faults we feel dirty when we look at Christ instead of realizing He will cleanse us. When we focus on our faults we feel stupid when we look at Christ instead of realizing He offers wisdom.

It is by focusing us on our faults that Satan blinds our seeing eyes to true hope and, thereby, makes “greater faults” seem like the only “solution” available. Each time we apply Satan’s solutions we feel more stupid (retrospect proves we can see) and are more prone to use the next “desperate measure.” We feel more dirty and less apt to approach anything clean or pure.

So what do we do? We stop and look to Christ. We gaze at life itself. We marvel at life lived as God intended. We begin to live towards something instead of just away from our faults. We repent of our faults and accept that hope can only be received, not earned.

When this is done, greater faults and false compassion lose their appeal. Our vision is restored. While we may still fall many times, we fall forward towards Christ. We realize we repent instead of making “double or nothing” deals with life. We take sin more seriously but less frantically so that we resist Satan’s offer to exchange small faults with great ones.

Forsaking Their Hope of Steadfast Love

This post is meant to offer guidance to common “What now?” questions that could emerge from Pastor J.D.’s sermon on Jonah 2 preached at The Summit Church Saturday/Sunday January 14-15, 2012.

What a sad description of people; even sadder because it is true. “Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love (Jonah 2:8).” From the belly of a great fish Jonah is reflecting on what led to his demise. It was “vain idols” that caused him to drift from trust in God’s love.

The scary part is that Jonah was a prophet who was still used by God as this drift occurred. It is doubtful that the disdain for Nineveh that caused him to put country and personal offense ahead of God started the moment “the word of the Lord came to Jonah (1:1).” How Jonah was responding to atrocities of Nineveh was likely source of the “vain” (empty, useless, without comparative worth) idol that caused him to forsake God’s steadfast love – “to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord (1:3).”

Jonah’s “great sin” of active rebellion fleeing in the opposite direction of God’s call began with a bad response to suffering (Nineveh’s violently oppressive actions against Israel and surrounding nations). Seeing depravity at it most vile made Jonah forget his own desperate need for God’s grace. When God wanted to extend the same grace Jonah received to Nineveh, Jonah balked and forsook the hope of God’s steadfast love.

Whether we can relate to Jonah’s overt, opposite-direction rebellion against God that resulted in “bottoming out” in a living submarine in the depth of sea, we can definitely relate to Jonah’s subtle, shocked-at-evil step into idolatry. We all know who “the really bad” people are and we’re not them. We hear about them on the news. We’re not rapists, terrorists, or pedophiles.

If we thought being a recipient of God’s grace put us in that category and called us to share the gospel with someone who raped our child or blew up our brother, we (at least I) would be very tempted to “forsake my hope of God’s steadfast love.” Bringing Jonah’s assignment into my world makes me want to look for the ship to Tarshish. I am Jonah! I might take a suicidal leap from a ship in the middle of the ocean before I would carry my Bible into that maximum security prison.

I would resent sharing the same grace. I would resent “sharing” in terms of being washed in the same Savior’s blood much less “sharing” in the form of being God’s ambassador of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:20). As this resentment built, I could see how forsaking the hope of God’s steadfast love and looking for something else to base my life on (“vain idols”) would be so tempting. I am Jonah! Guilty as charged!

Yet even from the belly of the great fish Jonah came to his senses and said, “Yet you brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God (2:6).” Jonah was humbled. He realized he could not escape the evil he was trying to avoid traveling away from the presence of the Lord (1:3). Jonah brought the evil of allowing people to die based on his preferences with him, in his own heart, as he fled taking God’s message to Nineveh.

Jonah realized he must share (verbally communicated) God’s grace with Nineveh because he realized he shared (drank from the same fountain of life) God’s grace with Nineveh. By the end of the book it appears that while Jonah accepted this reality he had a hard time with it (4:11). Jonah could preach it as true, but he couldn’t sing it as joy.

I believe this impairs my ability to embrace and willingness to proclaim the gospel. The point is not whether I could muster the love to share the gospel with my brother’s murderer who posted a celebratory video on the internet before going “hunting.” The question can be as simple as, “Do I love my neighbor as myself?”  Am I willing to share my hope because I see myself as sharing their predicament? Am I as desperate for them as I am grateful that God was desperate for me?

Or have I become numb by the constant atrocities I see on the news and the hateful banter that permeates the media to a point that I see myself as “different” from real, hateful sinners as Jonah saw himself as “different “ from Nineveh? As soon as I think in “degrees of bad” instead of simply “need for grace” I fall into Jonah’s trap of forsaking the hope of God’s steadfast love.

If we use this reflection to remind ourselves to look at people as sharing our need for God’s grace, then it will become much more natural to share the message of God’s grace with those we see as being “like us.” Jonah’s vision was corrected by a crisis after overt rebellion and bottoming out. May God use Jonah to correct our vision where we are now.