Archive for September, 2013

VLOG – As a Parent How Should I Approach the Correction of My Children?

Question: As a parent I hear many words that describe what I am supposed to be doing with my children. I get confused about how to use punishment, consequences, discipline, training, and instruction. At times I think they’re all synonyms referring to the same thing. Other times it get the sense that they are unique. Sometimes it begins to feel like I need a glossary and the ability to pass an elaborate matching quiz to fulfill what God expects of me as a parent. Can you help me think through this kind of dilemma?

Resources: Here are several resources that can be useful in preparing for of following up with the conversation discussed in this VLOG post.

Here are the definitions of the five terms used in this blog post.

  •  Consequences – natural implications of bad decisions of sin or folly
  • Punishment – extra negative consequences applied by a moral authority for the purpose of opening blind eyes or softening a hard heart
  • Discipline – structures of life that are implemented to make wisdom and righteousness easier to see and obtain
  • Training – actions and practices required in order to make wisdom and righteousness a more natural “habit”
  • Instruction – verbal explanations that put into words the principles/values which undergird discipline and training

To review the other questions addressed in this VLOG series click here.

Note: The VLOG (video-blog) Q&A is a regular series on my blog. If you would like to submit a question, it can be e-mailed to 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). Please limit your questions to 3-7 sentences. This is not a forum for to request or receive counseling. No responses will be sent to questions other than those selected for a video response.

Overview – Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Intimacy

What are we going to talk about in this seminar? Sex… romance… affection… affirming words… weekly date nights… talking about our feelings… vulnerability… What is “intimacy”?

Chances are you won’t create something you can’t define and many couples have a hard time agreeing about what counts as intimacy. “Agreeing to disagree” is definitely not the solution to this dilemma.

For this seminar “intimacy” will be used to capture the full breadth of romantic activities shared by husband and wife; from encouragement, flirting, serving, and handholding to romantic get aways, long love letters, and gourmet sex. This seminar is about maintaining a deep sense of enjoyment for each other.

It is easy to allow the awkwardness of this subject – talking about emotions, affection, and sex – to prevent a couple from enjoying some of marriage’s sweetest fruit. It takes a mature man and woman to flirt tastefully over a lifetime, put their dreams and desires into words consistently, and talk wholesomely about what is sexually enjoyable.

Most of these are conversations you should not be having with anyone else, so it makes sense there would be some awkwardness. Don’t allow the potential clumsiness of speech or action to prevent you from pursuing and enjoying the spouse God has blessed you with.

Here is outline of the seminar:

Saturday October 19

Section 1. What Makes Intimacy Difficult?
The Obvious and Not-So-Obvious Things We Rarely Discuss

Section 2. Understanding Our Differences
An Essential Part of Lasting Romance

Section 3. Living in THE Love Story
Experiencing God’s Greatest Message In Life’s Greatest Blessing

 Saturday October 26

Section 4. Sex as One of God’s Gifts for Marriage (Part One)
Learning to Skillfully and Unashamedly Enjoy Foreplay

Section 5. Sex as One of God’s Gifts for Marriage (Part Two)
Learning to Skillfully and Unashamedly Enjoy Intercourse

Registration Information

CREATING A GOSPEL-CENTERED MARRIAGE: INTIMACY
Part One:  Saturday October 19, 2013
Part Two: Saturday October 26, 2013
Time: 4:00 to 5:30 pm or 6:00 to 7:30 pm
Location: The Summit Church, Brier Creek South Venue
Address: 2415-107 Presidential Drive; Durham, NC 27703
Cost: Free

 

Book Review: Closing the Window: Steps to Living Porn Free by Tim Chester

Pornography is a cultural epidemic. No one who is in ministry will be able to avoid counseling people who struggle with pornography. Sexual sin is an awkward subject that is frequently avoided because of the shame and discomfort associated with it. There is a desperate need for resources that speak to is subject in a way that draws from the shame-breaking hope of the gospel and points people into biblical community for lasting change. It is for these reasons that I am grateful for Tim Chester’s book Closing the Window.

Early in the book, Chester draws upon this quote from Martin Luther to alert the reader to how vital it is for the church to speak to subjects like pornography.

“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 (p. 10).”

Strengths of the Book

There is great deal to like about Closing the Window, so for space considerations I will highlight those in a bulleted format which mixes my thoughts with excerpts from the book.

  • Avoids Stereotypes: I was grateful to see that Chester did not offer a “system of redemption” that would only serve a particular type of person or origin of struggle. While he writes primarily for a male audience, he acknowledges the significant rise in pornography usage among females (p. 9). It is a relief not to have to consider whether the personality of a counselee will match with the envisioned audience of the book.

“In our culture sex is everything and sex is nothing (p. 120)… One of the things that porn does is to make us think marriage is for sex. But it’s the other way round: sex is for marriage (p. 125)… So what is sex for? It is, first and foremost, an act of unification, uniting two people into one flesh (p. 122)… That’s why porn—along with all sex outside of marriage—is a sham, a fiction, a lie. You can no more ‘try out’ sex than you can ‘try out’ birth. The very act produces a new reality that cannot be undone (p. 123).” Tim Chester in Closing the Window

  • Biblical Narrative: What may stand out most to the reader is how seamlessly Chester ties his book with the themes of the gospel. While avoiding the temptation to become too academic or theological, the reader is constantly drawn to understand his/her life as part of God’s great story of redemption. Too often when books are divided into “theological” and “practical” suggestions, an implicit message is sent that “the Bible needs our help to be relevant.” Chester does an excellent job of revealing the Bible to be a powerfully practical mirror.

“Porn is easy. It’s trouble-free and its pleasures are instant. Marriage is hard work. It involves two sinners being thrown together in close proximity (p. 127)!… Marriage is a gift for service, and sex is gloriously given to cement that partnership. But don’t let sex become the goal of your marriage—otherwise porn may seem like a good supplement (p. 129).” Tim Chester in Closing the Window

  • Undressing Pornography: In chapter one Chester gives twelve points about the effects of pornography that do an excellent job of removing its deceptive appeal. Without diminishing the fact that pornography is wrong, Chester vividly portrays how pornography is dangerous and disgusting. I found his ability to make pornography, which thrives on being appealing, look revolting to be very effective.

“It is not difficult to see how porn feeds off these cultural expectations. It creates a fantasy that perfectly matches each of these fears. If you fear failure, then porn promises success—you always get the woman. If you fear rejection, then porn promises approval—a woman worships you. If you fear powerlessness, then porn promises potency—women are under your power (p. 50).” Tim Chester in Closing the Window

  • Positive: It is easy to hammer a subject like pornography. But I do not believe any reader of Closing the Window will feel beat up as he/she goes through the pages. Chester only highlights the sinfulness of sin to point to necessity and grandeur of Christ. As I read, I was constantly left with the thought, “God is so much better than porn and offers everything porn’s empty promises uses to entice.”

“Here are three common reasons why people want to kick their porn habit: (1) to prove ourselves to God – so he will bless us or save us; (2) to prove ourselves to other people – so people like us or approve of us; (3) to prove ourselves to ourselves – so we feel good about ourselves… None of these reasons work, because they put ‘me’ at the center of my change project. And putting myself at the center is pretty much the definition of sin (p. 68)!… For some people, porn offers redemption, in terms of acceptance and affirmation, an alternative forgiveness. ‘I just want to feel that I’m OK. I turn to porn instead of God because the gospel doesn’t tell me that I’m OK. It tells me I’m a wicked sinner and Jesus died in my place. The gospel demands that I change. Porn says, ‘You’re OK just as you are (p. 57).’” Tim Chester in Closing the Window

  • Idol-Killing: Chester’s vision for change is not satisfied with habit-breaking. He gives a clear and convincing call to identify and kill (mortify) the idols that motivate the pursuit of pornography. Yet even in this call for deep and decisive change, Chester is honest about the common (universal) human struggle with idolatry, so that the person who comes to Christ in repentance for pornography realizes they come to the same cross as every other recipient of God’s grace.

“But I’ve found that many men can stop habitual masturbation more readily than they imagine. Once they’re persuaded that life without masturbation is better than life with masturbation (p. 93)… Every time we worship God we’re reminding ourselves that he is bigger and better than anything porn can offer (p. 99).” Tim Chester in Closing the Window

Ministry Usage at Summit

As Summit revamps our men’s and women’s purity ministries, Tim Chester’s book will be a core resource that we use. Of all the books I read on the subject, it did the best job of capturing the gospel-centered, Bible-based redemptive tone that we want to promote in all our ministries. If you are interested in learning more about our men’s and women’s purity ministries, I would encourage you to attend our upcoming seminar.

 

Tweets of the Week 9.24.13

There is great value in saying something in a memorable, concise manner. Twitter has caused us to make this a near spiritual discipline. For my own growth (as a generally verbose individual… that’s a long way of saying “wordy”) and for the benefit of others, I highlight tweets each week that deliver a big message in a few words.

False Love: Overcoming Sexual Sin from Pornography to Adultery (Steps 1-3)

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.

For the “Sexual Sin Evaluation” assessment click here: Sexual Sin Evalution

For the “Pride vs. Brokenness” appendix click here: PRIDE_DeMoss

Blog post “How to End an Extra-Marital Relationship

 

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: Appendix Talking to Children When Sexual Sin Affects the Family

 

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: Sexual Sin Journal

Isolation Transforms Sin from Activity to Slavery

This post is not about avoiding temptation, as important as that is. This post is about the transition of sin from activity to slavery; the aftermath of sin that keeps us ensnared even after the promises of sin have proven themselves empty. For some reason, even after sin has proven itself to be a “bad idea” we resist taking the steps that would lead to freedom.

The first thing that sin does is that it breaks relationship. Towards God sin is idolatry. God is demoted as we trust something or someone else to give us what we really want. This is why sin is called spiritual adultery (James 4:4); we are breaking our covenant with God.

Towards people sin is a form of dishonor. We violate the terms of decency, honesty, fairness, or respect in order to gain comfort or avoid discomfort. We choose to harm or disadvantage others in order to protect, entertain, or benefit our self.

But this is not enough to account for the enslaving nature of sin. If this was all there was to sin, then we would see that God keeps His promises and sin doesn’t. We would do the math, repent, and live happy lives. If that was all there was to sin, we would see that dishonor breeds dishonor and stop the inevitable deterioration.

The second thing sin does is that is distances relationship. After sin we feel guilt and shame, so we pull away from God and Christian friends. This is the mechanism that transforms sin from being foolish to dangerous. In so many ways, temptation is a much “lesser evil” than isolation.

Guilt and shame lead us to be less genuine and open in our relationships. As we share less, we feel less known to our Christian friends. As we feel less known, the things they say (even from Scripture) begin to feel less “relevant” to “real life.” As conversation becomes less relevant, their advice begins to feel cliché or “light weight” to our struggles. It is now “obvious” that God could never really deliver on what you thought you were getting when you became a Christian.

But this is actually the “best” possible outcome of silence that isolation brings. As others withdraw from being authentic in their Christian friendships, their friends assume something is wrong. They ask questions to find out what is wrong. Being more committed to hiding shame than being honest, the individual gets defensive.

From here only of two things happens. First, the friends can continue to pursue. In which case, the individual construes their love as either intrusiveness or being judgmental. Either way, the individual convinces himself that his friend’s love is a bigger problem than his sin.

Second, the friends can step back because of the defensiveness; when told (verbally or non-verbally) to “back off,” they do. In this case, the individual is left even more alone than he would be in fake Christian friendships and can easily convince himself that their distance means his Christian friends never really cared.

The dominos of what happens when we fail to confess sin could be traced further, but I believe we’ve seen enough to substantiate my primary point – the most dangerous part of sin is not temptation, but isolation. It is what we do after we sin that is the difference between sin as an activity and sin as slavery.

So what is the take away?

Fear hiding sin as much, if not more, than you fear sin. There are many passages that talk about both God’s willingness and power to forgive sin (I John 1:9-10). There are many passages that talk about the way God uses Christian friends to protect us from sin (Heb. 3:12-13). There is hope for sin.

There is no hope for silence. There is wisdom in the AA adage, “You are only as healthy as your secrets.” When we prefer to protect our ego or reputation more than our soul that is called pride. And we should take very seriously the warning in James 4:6, “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’”

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

How to End an Extra-Marital Relationship

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

If you’re question is, “What is the easy way to end a relationship that should have never started, but has become emotionally connected and/or sexually active?” The simple answer is, “There is not an easy way.”

The rebuttal would probably be, “But I really care about this person and don’t want to hurt them. I am more to blame for what has happened as they are. I couldn’t bring myself to hurt them.” The reality is that when a sinful relationship gets started someone, usually multiple people, are going to get hurt and hurt badly. The choice you have is not “if” someone is going to get hurt, but “who.”

Stop and think about it. How are you going to get out of the situation you’re in, where you have committed to love two people with a love that can only belong to one person, without hurting someone? You can’t. You will not make any wise, or even sane, decisions as long as you are holding out hope that an impossible reality is possible.

It is likely that a big reason why things have gotten to where they are is that you have been looking for an option that doesn’t exist. Several things are true at this moment and you will have to accept them all. Even if you choose to ignore them now, you will have to acknowledge them as reality at some point, and the longer you wait the more intense the consequences will be for everyone involved.

1. You are going to hurt one or more people that you care about.

2. You are going to have to be more honest with more people than you want to be.

3. An “easy” answer is not going to present itself that makes this situation “just go away.”

4. The rest of your life is going to radically change based upon what you do with what you’re reading.

5. Not just your life, but generations of your family, will be affected based upon what you do.

Three Steps to Freedom

Step One: Cut Off All Contact

Willingly cut off, disclose, and surrender all contact with your adultery partner in an open communication in which your spouse is overtly present and aware of all that is said. All five pieces of this step are vital and defined below.

1. Cut Off All Contact: It should be clearly stated that you are requesting no future contact for any reason, because you realize a romantic relationship outside of your marriage covenant is evil. It is appropriate to apologize for the harm you have caused this person, but you should equally affirm that any genuineness to your apology requires ending all contact. What Arterburn and Stoeker say about pornography is equally true of adultery, tapering down only increases the appetite for something that is still not being treated as evil and powerfully destructive.

“What works best with sexual impurity? Cold turkey. You cannot just taper down… With tapering, whatever impurity you do allow seems to multiply in its impact, and the habit won’t break (p. 109).” Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker in Everyman’s Battle

2. Disclose All Forms of Contact: Any form of contact should be disclosed to your spouse (i.e., secret cell phone, secret e-mail address, rendezvous times in your schedule, etc…). When you end the relationship you should tell your adultery partner that all of these forms of contact have been disclosed to your spouse as a way to reinforce that you are serious that no future contact is desired.

3. Willingly Surrender All Contact: You should hand over every form of contact to your spouse like a suicidal person needs to hand over their gun. You are not giving up something good, but something intended for self-inflicted destruction. Like a suicidal person looks at their gun as a friendly thing that is there to give them relief, you likely still look at these modes of contact through distorted lenses. You won’t feel like doing it until after you’ve done it.

4. Open Communication: Secrets have been part of the excitement of the illicit relationship. “Open” should mean that (a) you do not meet privately or in person to talk, (b) what you say is e-mailed to your adultery partner with your spouse carbon-copied, and (c) if married, you encourage your adultery partner to confess to their spouse.

Documenting the request for no future contact is advised in case a restraining order is needed should your adultery partner not comply with your request. In this kind of situation obtaining a restraining order requires proving that a clear request to cease communication has occurred (documented by your e-mail) and that continued “harassment” is occurring (documented by continued phone call, showing up at work, coming to your home, etc…). Taking these two pieces of evidence to your local law enforcement should be sufficient to obtain a restraining order if needed.

This step may have legal, safety, or employment consequences. The consequences of sin are part of the trap Satan sets to keep us in our sin. Forsaking sin is always an act of faith in God. In this case, it may not only be faith in God’s superiority to sin, but also faith in God’s ability to provide or protect when the consequences of sin are realized. You must realize and remember that prolonging a sinful relationship does nothing to make the situation “better” for anyone involved. Delayed consequences only grow and make obedience to God harder.

5. Spouse Overtly Present: One way we communicate who we love most is by who we talk to about another. When you talked about your spouse to your adultery partner that revealed your primary allegiance. By now talking about your adultery partner to your spouse and refusing any communication with your adultery partner, you are reversing this allegiance. If you communicate the termination of the relationship by phone, your spouse should at least be in the room while you talk, or if by e-mail, your spouse should be carbon-copied on the e-mail.

Step Two: Avoid the “Closure Trap”

There is no such thing as closure after adultery. Closure is a word that gives the impression of a settled, happy ending. One of the two romantic relationships in your life will die an awkward painful death. More uncomfortable still, you are going to decide which relationship (marriage or adultery) dies and then stand over it; watching it die. This will either happen in divorce court or now. But in either option you choose, there will be no “closure” for the dying relationship.

You might ask, “Why are you being so graphic and harsh?” The reason is simple—“closure” is the lie most people follow back into adultery multiple times while trying to restore their marriage. Closure is an innocent word that masks its devastating consequences. Naively following the closure lie will make the already difficult road ahead of you longer, steeper, and rockier. When you hear the lie, plug your ears and run!

Step Three: Disclose All Attempted Contact

Ending an adultery relationship requires more than doing the right thing one time after you’ve been caught. If your adultery occurred in an ongoing relationship, the other person will likely not want the relationship to end. Your sin will not stay away while you pursue godly character. Your adultery partner is very likely to fight for the relationship they thought was theirs to have.

It is absolutely vital that you disclose any contact, attempted contact, or potential attempted contact by your adultery partner to your spouse. Even if you get a phone call from an unknown number, choose not to answer it, and no voice mail is left tell your spouse. If a friend of the adultery partner gives you a note refuse to read, tell your spouse and (if necessary) take the note as the second piece of evidence needed to get a restraining order.

This relationship should be treated like a poisonous snake in the house with your children. Even if the snake is in another room, you would take every measure possible to destroy the snake because you know the snake is a predator and its presence, even in another room, puts them in mortal danger. Any undisclosed contact from your adultery partner is just as deadly to your relationship with God, your marriage, and the future of any children you have.

 

Tweets of the Week 9.17.13

There is great value in saying something in a memorable, concise manner. Twitter has caused us to make this a near spiritual discipline. For my own growth (as a generally verbose individual… that’s a long way of saying “wordy”) and for the benefit of others, I highlight tweets each week that deliver a big message in a few words.

12 Ways to Lie About Sexual Sin

This resource is taken from the “False Love: Overcoming Sexual Sin from Pornography to Adultery seminar (RSVP are at the end of this post).

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.

3. 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.”

4. 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

5. 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.

6. 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?

7. 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.

 

Why Everyone Should Attend the False Love Seminar

FALSE LOVE: OVERCOMING SEXUAL SIN FROM PORNOGRAPHY TO ADULTERY
Part One: Saturday September 21, 2013
Part Two: Saturday September 28, 2013
Time: 4:00 to 5:30 pm or 6:00 to 7:30 pm
Location: The Summit Church, Brier Creek South Venue
Address: 2415-107 Presidential Drive; Durham, NC 27703
Cost: Free

If you are unable to attend the live event, then you can watch the videos from a previous presentation of this material here.