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Jimmy lived most of life questioning why his dad left him at such a young age. But he was convicted and compelled by the gospel to love and pursue his estranged father in an effort to extend forgiveness and reconciliation.

A Father’s Love

My parents went to church, and my grandpa was the pastor of our church back home. During one of the mid-week services, my grandpa was up preaching and he asked the congregation, “If you died tonight, where would you lift your eyes up?”

And I started asking myself that same question. God started showing me how much of a sinner I actually was. He showed me, in a small way, my own depravity and my need for Him. I remember crying out to Him, “God, I want you to save me!”

Right then and there, He called me by name and He saved my soul.

After that, a really sweet thing took place (I call it sweet now, but it didn’t seem sweet at the time)…

A couple days later was a Sunday. My mom, my sister and my grandmother decided to go to the mall. Then, at the last second, I decided not to go with them. They came back later, and I remember looking out and seeing my mom crying in the back seat of the car. Then, I saw my grandma crying, and my sister crying.

My grandma walked up to me and told me that they had all caught my dad cheating on my mom with another woman at the mall.

I remember being so angry at that moment that I wanted to punch a hole through the light post that was standing next to me.

But then, in that same moment, I was reminded by the Holy Spirit that I’m different. I’m changed. I’m saved. And I actually need to forgive my dad.

But that just wrecked me! At the same time, I was so angry at my dad! I didn’t want to forgive him. He hurt my mom!

Still, at that moment, I realized that I needed to forgive him.

A little while later, he came back to the house. My mom and dad were arguing – screaming pretty loud. The only thing I could think to do was to pray.

I really wanted my dad to leave. I just didn’t want them to argue any more about this situation.

I mean… I was just in the sixth grade!

So, I ran to my bed and prayed. I asked God to just make him leave. Then I heard my doorknob turn and my bedroom door crack open. I heard my dad’s footsteps come through my door. The only thing I could think to do was to scream, “Daddy!”

He looked at me and the only thing I could say was, “Daddy, I love you.”

I said those words, and my own flesh and blood—my dad— looked me right square in the eyes, and just turned and walked out the house. He didn’t say a word.

That just broke my heart. I began to weep.

But, then God reminded me that I didn’t need my dad’s love.

I am loved by my Heavenly Father!

And that was all I needed.

All the way through high school, I continued to pray for my dad. When I got to college, I just stopped caring. In fact, I stopped praying about it.

I met a young man, who was in choir with me, and he asked me about my testimony. After I finished telling him my story, he asked me, “When was the last time you prayed for your dad? Actually, when was the last time you prayed for y’all’s relationship?”

I just sat back and said, “It’s been a long time.”

So, I went back to my dorm and said, “OK, Lord… I want to start praying for my and my dad’s relationship. I know it’s not good right now, and I want it to change. I want to know my dad more.”

After that, I began to call my dad. I’d call him almost every day. Many times, he didn’t answer the phone. And many times, he didn’t call me back. And there were many times when he would talk with me. And at the end of the call, I would say, “Alright Daddy… I love you.” And he wouldn’t say a thing. He’d just hang up the phone.

This happened for many years. But, I continued to pray for him and pursue him. I just kept running after him.

I actually wrote a couple songs about how I felt during that time, and how my mom felt, too. And, at one point, I actually sang one of the songs to him. I could hear my dad crying on the other end. I could feel the hurt within him. He began to repent to me. He said, “Son, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for all the things that I’ve done.”A Father’s Love

When we were saying goodbye, I said, “Daddy, I love you.”

And he actually said, “I love you”, back to me.

It touched my heart so much to hear those words.

And after that night, he actually started calling me! He was calling me even more often than I was calling him. He even would tell me he loved me without me saying it at all.

I look at all this, and I can clearly see how God has reconciled our relationship, and I see the Gospel in that.

I can see, through this story, how Christ has continually pursued me.

Oddly enough, I’m glad that all this stuff happened. Because, if this hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be the man who I am today. I would not know Jesus as well as I know Him if my dad had not done the things that he did. The times when my dad wasn’t there, I learned that my Heavenly Father was always there. He would always provide when my dad wouldn’t provide for me. When I needed somebody to tell me that he loved me, my Heavenly Father would show me how much He loved me in so many different ways!

At one point, I called my dad and said, “Daddy, I don’t want you to say a word. I’ve just got some things that I need to tell you. God has used you in a great way – to push me to want to know Him more. And, I’m closer to God because of you.”

The next day, my dad called me, and said, “Okay… it’s my turn. Let me tell you something, and I don’t want you to say a word…”

And he went on to say things that I had never heard him say before. He told me how proud he was of me. He told me how I pushed him closer to God.

I see now how God has used me to display, in a way, a part of the Gospel in my dad’s life.

Reconciliation.

I’m thankful that God has reconciled our relationship. And to this day, me and my dad are really close. I look forward to the day when he calls me to tell me that he is saved, and I’m not going to stop praying for that!

I want God to call him by name.

The Austin Stone Story Team is a community of artists who tell stories of gospel transformation. We are photographers, writers, editors, filmmakers, and musicians on a common mission to use our gifts for His glory.

(By The Austin Stone Story Team. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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Unorthodox Warrior: An Interview with JJ Hewlett

Joining us all the way from the Land Down Under – Perth, specifically – is my buddy JJ Hewlett. JJ’s story is a long and winding road full of ups, downs, sideways, benefits and forfeits. As JJ said:

“I’ve given up a lot of authority and I cant get that back, but I want to get back what I can and start doing it right.”

Here are just a few of the topics JJ and I discuss this week:

  • Church experience & Growing Up
    • Grew up as a Catholic alter boy
  • Parents married, kids, divorce… all before they were 22
    • Had weekend visits with his dad until JJ turned eight
  • Dad wound
    • Dad’s new mother-in-law fell ill, so he moved to Tasmania
    • That was JJ’s mom’s opportunity to cut him out of their lives permanently
  • Mom remarried a violent man
    • Step-dad provided for the family, but he had a terrible temper
  • Mom divorced again & JJ reconnected with his bio dad
  • How JJ “became a man”
    • Went along with the crowd
    • Became a chef & lived a “very non-pious” lifestyle
  • Became a professional wrestler!
    • Grew up a fan of wrestling
    • Was already athletic and was able to learn the moves and beat pretty much all his competition within a year
    • His addictive personality helped him pour himself into learning how to lift and wrestle
  • Went into the business side of professional wrestling
    • Business became all-consuming… and all tempting!
  • Sin was crushing him but he loved it!
    • Desperately sought validation
    • Needed others to affirm him
    • Wasn’t drawn to drugs, not even huge problems with alcohol but…
    • Couldn’t keep away from women!
  • All this led to ten years of affairs
  • Tracy got pregnant with their son
  • JJ felt a “tap on the shoulder” to move back towards God
  • He and his wife separated for 14 months. He told her “Move to me or we are divorcing”
  • Still cheating but considered himself Christian
  • “If you’re a crap husband, you’re a crap dad”
  • JJ confessed to his wife over the phone about his affairs expecting to lose his family, but his wife chose to work with him and save the marriage
  • His infidelity caused him to lose his job… nearly everything!
  • Real momentum ministry – convicted him
  • “I can destroy a testimony with just five minutes of reckless behavior!”
  • How do you start taking the right steps?
  • Holding onto promises, focus on Jesus… or we can focus on our storms (the choice is ours)
  • If we call ourselves leaders, but no one sees us worthy of following, we are just fooling ourselves
  • Favorite Bible Verses:
    • In this world you will have trouble.But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
    • Be alert and of sober mind.Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

This is just part of JJ’s story. You’ve got to hear what God has done throughout his life to mold him into the spiritual warrior he is today. As JJ says, “Find your pack and fight!” You can learn so much more by checking out JJ’s podcast: Warrior Rise ministry

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The Weight of Two Worlds

The Weight of Two Worlds

Shawn Martinez took a glass from the cabinet and set it on his kitchen counter. He grabbed a bottle of liquor, twisted off the cap and filled the glass. He picked up his headphones, put them on and turned the music up. It was 2:00 AM, and he walked out the door of his apartment. He wandered around the complex, carrying the weight of his mistakes. He couldn’t tell his fiancée Amber the truth. I’m taking this to my grave, he thought.

Shawn kept walking, and drinking, contemplating the choice ahead of him. I can go one way, or the other, he thought. He peered down the destructive route, the path toward more lies, more deceit, and he knew it was the easy way out. It was the path he longed to take.

Blinking away fiery tears, he deliberated the other path. For the first time, he considered telling Amber the truth. He knew it was what God wanted of him, but he also knew it was the harder road. I’d have to change a lot of things about myself, Shawn thought. He wondered what it would be like to lay his burden down. He doubted he could do it – he didn’t have the strength.The Weight of Two Worlds

For as long as he could remember, Shawn chased the attention of women. He also sought approval through money and possessions, going so far as to steal from others. He pursued happiness and fulfillment in one night stands. He lived for the moment, seeking contentment in money and sex, while displaying another life to his family and friends. For years, Shawn kept his two worlds apart.

Shawn met Amber at a gym where they both worked, and they were immediately drawn to each other. They started dating, and Shawn fell in love with Amber – but he continued his other pursuits in secret. The weight of his two worlds grew heavier.

After meeting Amber, God brought another person into Shawn’s life, Ronnie Smith. Ronnie came in to the gym looking for a personal trainer and, from looking at him, Shawn knew it would be a hard sell. But Ronnie surprised him by signing up for a three month plan.The Weight of Two Worlds

They started the workout plan and spent time together each week. After just a few sessions, Ronnie started asking about church. They discovered a shared background, growing up in the same denomination. They talked about God. Shawn knew about Jesus, but didn’t trust him. He asked Ronnie questions, and Ronnie preached the gospel during the workouts. One day Ronnie told him, “You give me a good sweat, and I’ll teach you about Jesus.”

As the three months drew to a close, Ronnie pressed on Shawn’s life more and more. The hard questions sometimes rubbed Shawn the wrong way, but he could not stay away. After Ronnie completed the plan they stayed in touch, and Shawn and Amber began attending The Austin Stone Community Church. Amber was a Christian, and she was happy to have a church they could go to together.

After almost three years of dating, Shawn and Amber got engaged. They signed up for the Nearly & Newlywed class at the Stone. They met other people and began to form friendships. God was drawing them closer to himself, but Shawn was still living his double life, seeking approval and happiness in other women. He could see his two worlds bearing down on each other.The Weight of Two Worlds

That’s when Shawn found himself walking around his apartment complex late one night, caught between what he knew was right and what he wanted. He thought about the sex and the greed. He thought about his bride-to-be. He thought about the paths that he could take. He had to choose.

After that night, God continued to pull Shawn into his arms. Shawn started fighting his sin. Shawn confessed his sins to God, but not to Amber. They joined a missional community, and Shawn began meeting with two of the guys in a weekly Life Transformation Group. In June of 2011, Shawn and Amber were married.

His struggle continued and the weight of his two worlds increased in the first few months of their new marriage. One day at lunch with one of his LTG guys, Shawn’s strength failed, and his two worlds finally crashed into each other. “I confessed these things to God,” Shawn began. “Do I really need to ask forgiveness from my wife?”

His friend did not hesitate. “You need to talk to your wife.”

After this Shawn was on a date with Amber and he could not fight the conviction of the Spirit anymore. “All the way up until the moment that the words crossed my lips, I was fighting it with all my being,” Shawn says. Shawn started tentatively, asking Amber, if there were things in his past he hadn’t told her about, would she want to know?The Weight of Two Worlds

Amber remembers thinking, God calls us to be completely transparent with each other, so as much as it is going to hurt, I want to know. She told him that, and they left the restaurant. “Even on the drive after, I was like, ‘No, this is not going to happen. I can’t do it,’” Shawn says. When they got home, Shawn finally yielded. “I fought it, and then I just gave up and let it out.” He told his wife about his past, about his infidelity. In this act of confession to his Lord and his wife, Shawn knew he was reborn. For the first time, his burden started to lessen.

But, it was a soul-wrenching moment. As he confessed, Shawn remembers being scared, but knowing God was there with him. “It was the most humiliating experience I’ve ever had,” Shawn recalls. “It was an experience beyond myself, it was beyond me that the words came out of my mouth.” He was terrified of what would happen next.

Amber’s reaction was not what he expected. “I remember hugging him, because he was crying hard,” she says. “I feel like God gave me the strength to get through it. Christ gave me the backbone and strength to listen to him.”

For the next several days, they continued to talk about his confession, and Shawn recounted his past further. It was hard, but not without hope. “All I wanted was for him to be guilt-free, and completely free of everything,” says Amber. “When he confessed that, as much as I was sad and hurt, I remember feeling joy too. Finally, he was allowing himself to be vulnerable to Christ.” After several days of conversation, it was all on the table and the healing could begin.The Weight of Two Worlds

The next year was not easy. Shawn and Amber immediately brought a mature couple into their struggle. Shawn opened up further to the men in his LTG and they responded with encouragement. During that year Shawn struggled with his sin, seeing victory and failure both. He started to understand the weight of his sin. But he also started to truly understand the grace of God.

It was grace that defeated his shame, and removed the weight of sin from Shawn’s shoulders. It is grace that’s restoring Shawn and Amber’s marriage to something greater than it ever was. “I see that he loves Jesus,” Amber says. “I’m grateful for everything God has brought us through.”

The Austin Stone Story Team is a community of artists who tell stories of gospel transformation. We are photographers, writers, editors, filmmakers, and musicians on a common mission to use our gifts for His glory.

(By The Austin Stone Story Team. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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A Candid Conversation on Marriage & How to Better Affair Proof Yours!

Marriage! We’re talking about marriage today! I know this episode is going to be such an incredible blessing to you! My lovely guest Jill Savage is sharing from her new book, No More Perfect Marriages. She gets very vulnerable and talks about her husband’s infidelity and how that impacted their family. I know you will be encouraged as she shares very practical advice about how you can work to affair proof your own marriage by being more aware of the “slow fades” that you may have.

I can’t wait for you to listen in.

In This Episode…

A Candid Conversation on Marriage & How to Affair Proof Yours!In this episode, Jill is sharing some amazing insight on marriage. She and her husband Mark wrote a blog series called “No More Perfect Marriages,” which tells of the story of their marriage going through a horrendous crisis. God asked them to share their story, which is where their book No More Perfect Marriages was designed. Their story is ultimately a story written for every marriage, in any stage.

I hope you will be encouraged with every episode of this podcast…starting with this one!

Highlights from This Show…

  • Why we often enter into marriage with an unrealistic expectations of the “perfect marriage” and how we often handle it.
  • How society influences us and we play the comparison game to our life.
  • The new book is based on the insides of the Savage’s very real marriage.
  • The meaning of the “Perfection Infection” 
  • Jill talks about how despite doing everything right, infidelity still became apart of their story.
  • Jill shares her biggest affair proofing tip for marriage and the slow fade of minimizing.
  • What is the “Naked Email Challenge?” and what it has been renamed to.
  • Jill will be speaking at Hearts at Home this year!

Please Note…

  • Be sure to grab your FREE copy of my bookSanity Savers for Moms, by joining our Simply Joyful community. It’s a great way to keep in touch…and get subscriber only freebies like my book. Click HERE to get the book and join!

— Don’t forget to listen to the other fabulous guests I’ve had on the podcast. Just go to my Simply Joyful Podcast main page and pick a topic or speaker…or just listen to them all.

Words to Remember…

Here are a few fun quotes from this episode. Please feel free to “click to tweet” or share the images on social media. 

”We all deal with fades in our marriage…It’s one centimeter at a time and we don’t even realize it.” – Jill SavageA Candid Conversation on Marriage & How to Affair Proof Yours!

“Marriage is hard work. There are hard days, hard years, and hard times.” — Kristi Clover

“Every married couple is wonderfully incompatible. You need to know that going into marriage.” – Jill Savage

“Most of us don’t expect ourselves, husbands, or our kids to be perfect. But the truth is, when imperfect shows up, we don’t handle it very well.” — Jill Savage

“We were doing all the right things: date nights, speaking each others love languages, being intentional about time with each other. So, how did infidelity become apart of our story?” — Jill SavageA Candid Conversation on Marriage & How to Affair Proof Yours!

“When we put our guards down and allow little nagging things pull us away, Satan will jump on that opportunity, because he is opportunistic!” — Kristi Clover

”Satan is the real enemy. We often times see each other as the enemy and that’s a dangerous place to be as well.” – Jill Savage

“If we rise above and treat others better than they treat us and depend on God to do that, it is an “unhuman-able” experience!” — Jill Savage

Songs & Scripture Mentioned…

“Slow Fade” by Casting Crowns

“Just Be Held” by Casting Crowns

…& Yes! “Stop! Look! & Listen!” is an Elvis song! Ha!

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Romans 12:9-18)

Connect with Jill…

Jill Savage is an author and speaker who is passionate about encouraging families. She is the author of eleven books including Professionalizing MotherhoodMy Hearts At HomeReal Moms…!Real JesusLiving With Less So Your Family Has MoreNo More Perfect Kids, the bestselling release No More Perfect MomsBetter Together, and No More Perfect Marriages. Featured on Focus on the Family, Crosswalk.com, Huffington Post, and Family Life Today, Jill is the founder of Hearts at Home, an organization that encourages women. Jill and her husband, Mark, have five children, two who are married, two granddaughters and one grandson. They make their home in Normal, Illinois. You can find Jill online at www.jillsavage.org. Check out more of Jill’s books HERE on Amazon.

Thank you, Rend Collective for allowing me to use your incredible song “The Joy of the Lord is My Strength”!

(This podcast is by Kristi Clover. Discovered by e2 media network and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not emedia network, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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Im Waiting Slider

This week, we are digging in on how to protect our kids from today’s media that tells them that their only value comes from their sexuality. From Rihanna to Flo Rida to Nicki Minaj… sex sells. But what is the motive behind it all?hd antenna

Now, for Merv’s household, they got rid of cable television altogether. He knows this doesn’t mean that his kids won’t encounter this “sales pitch” outside of their home, but it is Merv’s and his wife’s first line of defense when it comes to protecting his kids from this ever prevalent message. He’s aware that he can’t completely seclude his kids from the entertainment industry’s sexual content, but as long as he can take efforts to break up the consistency, then an effective first step is taken.

But what about breaking news or sports? Merv learned that, even in this age of HD television, you can get a couple handfuls of channels with an over-the-air “rabbit ears” antennae. Couple this with Netflix (with parental supervision filters)

What Merv and his wife have now noticed is that, by breaking up the consistency of sexually provocative messages, when his kids are exposed to today’s rap videos, or other sexually charged shows, they are repulsed by it.

You see, Merv and I view all these sexually explicit shows, commercials, music videos, YouTube videos, etc., as tricks of the enemy. And they aren’t going anywhere. There is too much demand out there, and their producers are simply meeting the demand.

It’s simple economics.

It’s also basic biology.

The pituitary gland sends hormones that, if left unchecked can cause even a man with a beautiful wife and amazing children, a nice house and cool car (basically everything a man could want) to go out and cheat on his wife. Most teenagers today see this behavior and it baffles them. They don’t understand the biology. They aren’t aware of how the man’s pituitary gland sends signals down to his testicles, which release testosterone and sets the whole engine into motion. And it doesn’t take much at all to get things rolling.

Image: Eric Glenn

Image: Eric Glenn

This is what inspired Merv to write “Baby Girl You Are A Dime, But He Cheated On You With A Nickel”. For many guys, even if their wife has more than twice the value as the girl they see in tight pants, the “nickel” in tight pants grabs a hold of his attention and he loses control.

All this to say that infidelity, divorce, and single parenthood will continue to increase so long as men are constantly bombarded with sexually charged messages from entertainment and other women.

Even the basic vocabulary in our love songs doesn’t make sense. “I want to make love to you”. How does this make any sense? No person can create love. It’s simply not logical. And it takes love right out of the equation and turns it into nothing more than animalistic sex.

And that’s how lives get ruined: from the wrong, inappropriate words being whispered or body parts being exposed that lead to raging hormones, causing men and women, boys and girls to go down the wrong path.

It all boils down to value. How valuable do you see yourself? How valuable do you treat the person you love? Where does your value come from?

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Christian bible teaching about how to bring the church back to today's men and boys. How men and boys need to follow Jesus Christ, read scripture, and become a mature Christian, participate in discipleship, and learn then teach the truth about God.

(Author’s note: This post originally appeared in January 2013. It was part of a series about the huge changes that are rocking Western society – and their impact on men and the church. I am not advocating these changes; I’m simply trying to explain why they’re happening, to help believers respond with greater understanding to those they may disagree with.)

During the 2012 presidential campaign, a Democratic activist was quoted on NPR saying, “When it comes to sex, the Republican Party wants to set the clock back 100 years.” And she was right. Republicans and their fellow travelers (among them, many evangelicals) are indeed trying to restore the sexual mores that prevailed a century ago.

What she didn’t say is that, when it comes to sex, the Democratic Party is trying to set the clock back 5,000 years.HookUP

We tend to see the “sexual revolution” as something new. It is not. We are merely reverting to the loose and varied sexual practices that prevailed for millennia in preliterate societies. Sexually speaking, we are returning to the stone age.

Thousands of years ago sex was much less controlled by society. That’s because the world was under populated. Humans were relatively scarce in most places on the globe. Populations were small. Diseases had no cures. Skirmishes between rival bands killed people all the time. Starvation was common.

The only way to ensure the survival of a tribe was to have lots of children. And the only way to get lots of children was for adults of childbearing age to have lots of sex. Copulation = population.

In many preliterate societies marriage as we know it today did not exist. Family structures varied greatly from tribe to tribe. Coupling was fluid. Girls started having sex as soon as they became fertile. Once word got around that a girl had her period, the elder men of the tribe would approach her for sex. Today we would consider an older man having sex with a 13-year-old girl predatory, but in ancient times it was a matter of survival. It was a way for the dominant males to pass their genes onto the next generation. And every woman was expected to bear 10 or more children in her lifetime, so girls started having sex early – with multiple partners. When these children bore children it was no big deal – the tribe took responsibility for their upbringing.

You also must understand how prehistoric tribes handled food and property. Food was shared. If the hunters returned with game, everyone ate from the kill. There was very little private property since nomadic peoples could own only what they could carry with them. The extreme disparities in wealth that exist today were unknown in prehistoric times.

But when the agricultural revolution began sweeping the globe, humans began to settle down on plots of land. For the first time there was private property – fields, homes, farm implements, flocks, household goods, etc. Food was no longer shared; it belonged to the farmer who grew it (and the king who taxed it). Thus, paternity became very important – fathers had to know who their sons were so those sons could inherit the farmland. Every family unit had to produce its own food – or it would starve.

In this context, uncontrolled sex became a social menace. It confused bloodlines and threatened inheritances. It spread disease. And it created fatherless children and unwed mothers, who had no way to feed themselves.

Since sex created so many problems, agrarian societies began placing it behind a series of locked gates. They said, “Want to have sex? Fine, you have to pass through our gates. And we hold the keys. Play by our rules and you can have all the sex you want. Violate our rules and we will punish you.”

The most prominent of these gates was legal marriage. The union of a woman to a man for life was codified and elevated as society’s ideal, enforced by every religious institution. Marriage betrothed a woman and her children to one man who agreed to protect and provide for them. It stabilized families and formalized inheritances.

Next, society built additional gates to keep people from having sex outside marriage.  Adultery and fornication became criminal offenses, punishable by death in many societies. (Adultery is still illegal in about a third of U.S. states, although these laws are rarely enforced today.) As polygamy fell out of favor, bigamy became illegal. Religious codes prescribed total sexual abstinence outside of legal marriage.VictorianCouple

During the Victorian Era ever-higher gates were built to help men resist temptation. Women covered their arms and legs in public, even when swimming. Pornography and prostitution were made illegal. Dates were chaperoned. Many Victorian men never saw a woman’s thigh until their wedding nights.

Societies came up with stories and fables to help men resist the powerful allure of women. The legend of the sirens (mermaids) reminded sailors that the beauty and song of a female could lure a man to his death. One of the most common characters in literature and film is the femme fatale, an attractive woman who leads an unsuspecting man to destruction.

The gates survived into the 1950s. Only married people could rent a hotel room. Condoms were kept behind the drug store counter. Movies upheld high standards of virtue. TV couples like Rob and Laura Petrie slept in separate twin beds.

But beginning in the 1960s, the Western world underwent a transformation known as The Sexual Revolution. In a single generation, thousands of years of accumulated sexual mores, rules, and expectations went out the window.

All the gates were opened at once. Why? Oral birth control and abortion-on-demand all but eliminated the risk of an unwanted pregnancy. Moreover, Western nations guaranteed the survival of illegitimate children through newly minted welfare programs. Condoms became cheap and widely available, promising to slow the spread of disease. And as we left the farm and material prosperity grew in the West, issues of inheritance and paternity became less important. (When paternity really matters, DNA testing is available and highly accurate).

Society looked at the gates we’d placed in front of sex and asked, “Why are these here? The risk is gone. An unexpected pregnancy is no longer a death sentence. We can plan parenthood now. And if a baby is born out of wedlock, we’re wealthy and compassionate enough to care for that child through our social welfare programs (i.e., sharing the kill).”

So society began relaxing the rules that had kept sex under wraps. One by one, the gates swung open. Now, just as in prehistoric times, relationships are fluid, girls are having sex early (with multiple partners), bloodlines matter little and the tribe takes responsibility for raising children.

These changes left Christians to defend agrarian morals in a post-agrarian age. This is why “biblical morality” seems so backward to postmoderns. They ask, “Why restrict a practice that’s natural, healthy and enjoyable? No harm will come of it.” The abortion clinic can clean up any mess it might create. If a child does survive to birth, the government will pay for it – and score political points for showing compassion toward single mothers.

Once again, Christians find themselves standing on a shrinking island. Many of the obvious negative effects of loose sex are gone – or covered up. We still have a few secular arguments on our side: the emotional toll of promiscuity, the disruption of family and the societal costs of abortion and out-of-wedlock births. Even some secularists are beginning to recognize the damage fifty years of sexual license has wrought. But who cares about the long-term costs of sex when your hormones are screaming at you? We live in a day when wisdom whispers while pleasure shouts.

I believe the sexual revolution is one of the main reasons men are giving up on marriage. The desire for sex used to drive men to the altar, but why make such a frightening lifelong commitment when the main benefit is so widely available at a lower cost? As the old saying goes, “Why buy the cow when the milk is free?” (And if you can’t find a real sex partner, an online simulation will do.)

On the other end, the decoupling of sex from marriage means millions of boys are being raised by women, without a male role model of any kind. We’re only now assessing the damage this has caused. Some have suggested father estrangement played a role in the recent spate of young male suicides and gun massacres, all of which have been perpetrated by men.

I recently read a heartbreaking post on Facebook. It was from a young lady I’ve known for decades. She has two children but no husband. Her significant other recently left her after 12 years. She wrote: “Our world has never had more sex and less love.” At the age of 36 she’s longing for that agrarian model of love that was once so common – a man and a woman, united ‘til death. A couple that stays together through thick and thin, not because of feeling but because of commitment. It’s a kind of love that was common a century ago, but which is passing away in our generation.

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This week, we continue talking about sex.

There are two things in life that will take mastery over you like few things will. The first one is food. It’s tough for so many of us to control what we eat and keep our bodies in shape. But think of it this way: The Bible spends a verse-and-a-half talking about food and six-and-a-half verses talking about sex.

In other words, if you think food is tough, compared to sex it’s a piece of cake.

So, first off, let’s look at 1 Corinthians 6:18:

Every other sin that a man or a woman commits is outside the body, but the immoral person sins against their own body. It’s the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.

You see, you’ve been bought with the life of Christ, therefore you should “glorify” your body, not sin against it. The Bible lays it out plainly: sexual sin is different from other sins.

But wait, pastors are always saying, “All sins are the same – it’s all saying ‘NO’ to God. They all come with the same consequences: Heaven or Hell, long-term.” This is all true, but the short-term consequences for sins vary.

Understand this: Christians will never be punished by God. But we will be disciplined according to the depth of each of our calling, how long we’ve known the Lord, and the kind of sin we commit.

And the biggie is sexual sin.

Why? I don’t know for sure. But, I do know that we are made in God’s image. He makes choices, we make choices; He has a personality, we have a personality; He has a sense of humor, most of us have a sense of humor; God creates, so do we. In fact, only men and women (not even angels) have the ability like God to create another human soul. That’s amazing. Maybe that’s why sex is such a biggie.

You see, if you’re not married and still a virgin, don’t save yourself for your future mate. That’s not a good enough reason. Your wedding night will probably be a disaster. The pressure and hype will be something that neither you nor your new spouse could live up to. However, if you save yourself for God – because it’s God who wants to bless you – then your whole paradigm and priorities shift.

And there are some very good reasons to remain a virgin until getting married:

  • You’ll always take comparisons into your marriage. You’ll have “mind-scars” and inappropriate memories that will flash into your mind at the most inopportune moments. And if you couldn’t be trusted before marriage, how can you expect to be trusted after marriage? So, you take mistrust into your relationship.
  • You need to understand why God gave us sex in the first place – it was to bond us with our mate in such a deep and powerful way that we would have the mechanism in place that would get us through those difficult times that life inevitably throws our way. But if you’ve been promiscuous along the way, you lost the meaning of the bonding. It just became a physical act of pleasure, or a sedative to help you fall to sleep at night.
  • Or, if you have been raped or sexually abused, one of two things may have happened: Sex may have lost its intended meaning and you begin thinking that “love” is only expressed through sexual intercourse, or you’re afraid to participate in it the way that God intended due to the psychological, emotional, or physical scars that you now have.

So, there are a lot of real good reasons for God to want you to remain sexually pure other than Him just wanting to prevent you from having fun.

But know this: GOD’S FORGIVENESS IS BOTTOMLESS!

However, there are consequences for sin. So, even though you are forgiven, you still must endure the consequences for your actions. That’s just the way life is.

Luke 17 says this:

26 “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.

28 “It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. 29 But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.

In both the cases of Noah and Lot, the gross immorality typified by rampant homosexuality were the tipping points before God ended things with destruction. And He’s going to do the same thing again and once again save one family – His Church.

You see, your sexuality is a lot like a steam engine locomotive with one wheel driving the entire vehicle. You see, if you put a single penny under the wheel of a locomotive, the wheels won’t be able to bite and the train won’t go anywhere. But, move the penny two inches and the penny gets flattened by the chugging train.

Likewise, once the “penny” is removed from two unmarried people dating, there are only two things that will stop the runaway locomotive that is their sexuality – a policeman’s flashlight or the parents coming home. Anyone who has been there knows that nothing makes any sense in the backseat of a car.

Once the “penny” is removed, nothing makes any sense. You’ll risk the relationship with your wife, you’ll destroy your ministry, you’ll give your kids a reason to go and do what you’ve just done… you’ve got to keep the penny tucked under the wheel.

So, let’s see what the Bible has to say about seduction. In 2 Samuel 13, we learn that David’s daughter Tamar was a beautiful virgin. Her half-brother Amnon was so filled with fantasies about her that it made him physically sick. Then we pick up the story in verse five:

“Go to bed and pretend to be ill,” Jonadab said. “When your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘I would like my sister Tamar to come and give me something to eat. Let her prepare the food in my sight so I may watch her and then eat it from her hand.’”

So Amnon lay down and pretended to be ill. When the king came to see him, Amnon said to him, “I would like my sister Tamar to come and make some special bread in my sight, so I may eat from her hand.”

David sent word to Tamar at the palace: “Go to the house of your brother Amnon and prepare some food for him.” So Tamar went to the house of her brother Amnon, who was lying down. She took some dough, kneaded it, made the bread in his sight and baked it. Then she took the pan and served him the bread, but he refused to eat.

“Send everyone out of here,” Amnon said. So everyone left him. 10 Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food here into my bedroom so I may eat from your hand.” And Tamar took the bread she had prepared and brought it to her brother Amnon in his bedroom.

You see, if Amnon would have just said to his sister, “Hey come to my room, I want to have sex with you, she wouldn’t have come anywhere near him. But because she enjoyed feeling needed, she gave in a little… then a little more. And before she knew it, she was in a dangerous position that she never intended on being in.

 11 But when she took it to him to eat, he grabbed her and said, “Come to bed with me, my sister.”

12 “No, my brother!” she said to him. “Don’t force me! Such a thing should not be done in Israel! Don’t do this wicked thing. 13 What about me? Where could I get rid of my disgrace? And what about you? You would be like one of the wicked fools in Israel. Please speak to the king; he will not keep me from being married to you.” 14 But he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than she, he raped her.

15 Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her. Amnon said to her, “Get up and get out!”

16 “No!” she said to him. “Sending me away would be a greater wrong than what you have already done to me.”

But he refused to listen to her. 17 He called his personal servant and said, “Get this woman out of my sight and bolt the door after her.” 18 So his servant put her out and bolted the door after her. She was wearing an ornate[a] robe, for this was the kind of garment the virgin daughters of the king wore.19 Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the ornate robe she was wearing. She put her hands on her head and went away, weeping aloud as she went.

20 Her brother Absalom said to her, “Has that Amnon, your brother, been with you? Be quiet for now, my sister; he is your brother. Don’t take this thing to heart.” And Tamar lived in her brother Absalom’s house, a desolate woman.

21 When King David heard all this, he was furious. 22 And Absalom never said a word to Amnon, either good or bad; he hated Amnon because he had disgraced his sister Tamar.

Okay, so this story happened thousands of years ago. Want something more recent? Consider Scott, the starting quarterback for his high school football team. He was a good, wholesome kid and three upperclassmen linemen asked him to go out with them – what an honor. While in the car, one of the guys broke out a six-pack of beer and passed it around. Scott had never had a beer, and if the guys were to have called him and said, “Scott come out with us and drink a bunch of beers” he never would have gone in the first place. But he’s there in the car and didn’t want to look like a wimp in front of his linemen, so he took a swig. A few more swigs turned into a few more and he started to get a little buzzed, then a little sleepy. To combat the sleepiness, one of the guys broke out a few red pills. Scott had never taken uppers before, and if the guys were to have called him up earlier and said, “Hey, Scott, come out with us tonight. We’ll get drunk and do drugs” he would have turned them down flat. But he’s in the car and already buzzing from the beer, so he didn’t have to think about it much before he swallowed the pill. Then the guy next to him pulls out a joint and lights up. Scott had never smoked pot before, and he definitely hadn’t planned on it this night, but after the beer and the uppers, it didn’t take much convincing before he took a hit.

The next thing you know, the carousing was taken to another level and the guys drove up to Lover’s Peak, where they found a car with the windows all steamed up. A couple of the guys got out, bounced the car and freaked out the couple inside. When the boy got out, the football players punched him. Knocked him unconscious, actually. Then, in their inebriated state, dragged the girl out, put a bag over her head, and raped her.

Now, if at the beginning of the night the guys were to call Scott and ask their quarterback if he’d like to come out with them, get drunk, get high, knock a guy unconscious and rape his girlfriend, there’s no way he’d go anywhere near that kind of trouble. But, he had already compromised so many times that night and his mind wasn’t sober at all, so he went along with it and raped the girl.

This is a true story.

And it doesn’t end there.

When he was done, he looked at the girl as she lay there whimpering. She looked up at him and as their eyes met, Scott suddenly was struck with the realization that he had just raped his sister.

It’s tragic. It’s violent. It’s true.

Now, if Scott went before his Heavenly Father and with a truly repentant heart begged for forgiveness. God would forgive him just like He did for David, for the thief on the cross, for you and for me. God’s forgiveness is bottomless!

But what would you guess the breakfast table was like for Scott’s family from then on? God’s forgiveness doesn’t fix the consequences of our sin.

But if you’re married today, and you had premarital sex, and “divorce” is not a part of your vocabulary, then here is a tip for you even though you may have started out rough and against God’s plan, but want to get back on track:

Go home and look into each other’s eyes and say, “I am so sorry that I led you into sin.”

Then the other spouse will say, “I am so sorry that I went into sin with you.”

“Will you forgive me?”

“Yes.”

“Will you forgive me?”

“Yes.”

Then together, with repentant hearts, confess your sins to God, and watch the bitterness disappear from your relationship.

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