Eight Skills For Sexual Integrity: God's Radical Views About Sex
In the quest for sexual purity, it all comes down to adopting a new attitude-God's attitude.
by Dr. Doug Rosenau
Part One of a weekly eight-part series: "Eight Skills for Sexual Integrity."
A friend who's been doing research on Web use commented recently, "Did you know that sex is one of the top three items that men click on when visiting the Internet?" A no-brainer there, I thought, as I considered the many men's groups I lead as a psychologist and sex therapist. Unfortunately, so much of their Internet use involves pornography and addiction, not healthy research. These guys want to have sexual integrity, but they are struggling.
After having many discussions with men and after studying the scriptures, I have developed this series of eight critical skills for sexual integrity. Sin often seems to have a sliding scale with extra weight attached to sexual misconduct. Men can feel so confused and guilt-ridden. Certain skills or mechanisms can really make a difference. The following are disciplines for guys to practice and the women in our lives to encourage us to practice. We can become sexual dropouts or tune into God's plan for positive choices and joyful living. "For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline" (2 Tim. 1:7).
Skill One: Plug Into God's Thinking and Power
Wow, I've got the remote and an hour to veg. I'm busy channel surfing, and ESPN 2 has female body builders, VH1 has a special on the naked truth and my college game has nubile cheerleaders creating a pyramid with apt camera work. Goodness, here's Baywatch. Help!
Men so often feel they are unique in their sexual struggles. I wish I had five bucks for every time someone has said to me, "I have a higher sex drive than other men." Sometimes it isn't too difficult to empathize with the early church father Origen, who made himself a eunuch in a desperate step to achieve greater sexual purity. But the truth is that our sexuality is a tremendous gift from God and His way of powerfully teaching us about intimate relationships.
I love the metaphor of explosives for sexuality. Explosives can blast tunnels that allow people to connect with each other, and they can unearth precious metals for beautiful gifts. They can also devastate people's lives and be used as weapons of destruction. What opposing contrasts!
So how do we use explosives effectively? We start by tuning into God's principles for our sex lives and building a real attitude. Why an attitude? Because if we have any hope of sexual sanity in this present world, we have to exchange our attitude and thinking for His. "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Rom. 12:2).
God's attitude never makes women sexual objects. His purpose in creating sex is to give us beautiful insights into Himself with gender and families---to show us how to love and enjoy sisters and daughters. He also wanted to model for us His desire to create an intimate covenant companionship with an erotic lover. He designed every Adam to have his Eve and enjoy only her romantically. God's sexual verbs are "connect, play, relate, commit and love" not "get lucky, score or get some."
"God's sexual verbs are `connect, play, relate, commit and love' not `get lucky, score or get some.'"
Like using explosives wisely, God's attitude is to find fulfillment through continual wise choices. We must truly surrender our own childishness and adopt His thinking. "It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen who do not know God" (1 Thess. 4:3-5).
Learning to Hate Evil
My men's group for sexual addiction had a very convicting conversation recently. It started off by one of the men asking the group, "Do you all hate evil?" He said that trying to understand God's thinking, especially in hating evil and Satan's manipulation, had helped him stay pure sexually. James 4:7-8a says: "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you." The psalmist wrote: "Let those who love the Lord hate evil" (Ps. 97:10).
We all admitted that sin gets trivialized and rationalized so easily. What a difference it makes when we see through evil and the stupidity of Satan's system and hate it. If, when tempted to lust after another woman or have an affair, we would imagine ourselves taking a tire iron and bashing our wife with it, maybe we could see the cruelty and meanness God sees in some of our fantasies and actions. We can learn His truth, and the truth indeed will set us free.
Adopting God's attitude can seem daunting because living a joyful, disciplined life sexually is such a constant, brave task. Here's the amazing fact that Christian men often forget: We can't, but He can! "The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace" (Rom. 8:6). God has broken the power of sin in the lives of those who have a personal relationship with Him through Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit is in each of us. We can't, but He can renew our minds and give us an attitude-His attitude.
Do you sometimes think God doesn't hold up His part of the bargain in changing our sexual thinking? You try to do what's right sexually and yet always seem to slip. I appreciate some of the wisdom in the recovery movement and 12-step programs. They define the difference between being dry (not acting out) and being sober (growing up and making deep character changes).
"You may be trying to white-knuckle your way into sexual wholeness, instead of admitting that you are powerless and need God's help in breaking the power of sin."
You may be trying to white-knuckle your way into sexual wholeness, instead of admitting that you are powerless and need God's help in breaking the power of sin. Lack of sexual integrity is sometimes a sin problem, plain and simple. We haven't allowed God to work His deeper redemption and create freedom. Oswald Chambers warns that many Christians have enough of the Holy Spirit to spoil their sin but not enough to change their character.
We can't, but He can! Of course we're all aware that appropriating God's power is not a lazy, miracle thing. We have a standing joke in one of my men's groups about "the silver bullet." It came up when we were discussing the way God seldom gives character miraculously but makes us grow into it. As we commiserated over the difficult and constant choices we have to make to maintain sexual purity, one of the guys in the group exclaimed, "But I want a silver bullet!" We all roared with laughter, but each could identify with the desire for God to play Lone Ranger and kill the evil desires.
Men, there are enough sexual tragedies and fallen leaders. Learn to hate evil and adopt God's attitude. Plug into His power as He deeply changes your character, thinking and ability to make wise choices. We can't, but He can!
1. What is the most immature part of your sexuality and choices? How does God need to change your sexual attitude?
2. When was the last time you wished God would use a silver bullet? How could you have accessed His power better and grown sexually in that situation?
Skill Two: Meet nonsexual needs nonsexually
The Eight Skills for Sexual Integrity:
Skill One: Plug into God's thinking and power
Skill Two: Meet nonsexual needs nonsexually
Skill Three: Discipline sexual fantasies and surges
Skill Four: Embrace masculinity and enjoy moms, sisters and daughters
Skill Five: Cultivate covenant monogamy and passionate intimacy
Skill Six: Make positive pre- and post-temptation choices
Skill Seven: Run to God's ER when broken
Skill Eight: Create practical theologies for doubtful issues
Dr. Doug Rosenau is a licensed psychologist and certified sex therapist in Atlanta. He is the author of A Celebration of Sex (Thomas Nelson).
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