Becoming Sexually Mature
About the Guest
Do you have a healthy view of sex? Harry Schaumburg, a Christian counselor who has helped 2,500 lay people and clergy with sexual addiction, talks about the different challenges men and women face in our overly sexualized culture, and offers a healthy definition of sexual maturity.
Do you have a healthy view of sex?
Becoming Sexually Mature
Harry: Your female body – your male body was created in the image of God. It has incredible value. So, it’s giving that kind of foundation and really understanding that the body is the Lord’s. That your eight year old body, your eighteen-year-old body, your thirty-eight year old body is not your body Paul says. It’s been bought with a price. It doesn’t belong to you and this gets to the issue of self-centeredness – you can’t do what you want with your body. You don’t have the right.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, April 13. Our host is the President of FamilyLife Dennis Rainey and I’m Bob Lepine. There’s a lot more we need to do as parents to get our children ready to understand their sexuality than teaching them to just say no. We’ll talk about that today.
Welcome to FamilyLife Today thanks for joining us. We’re spending some time this week trying to dig into what – I don’t know if it’s a bigger problem or we’re just more aware of it or I guess it seems like every year it just gets bigger and bigger, and bigger. It’s the issue of sexual sin in the culture, in a marriage relationship.
Dennis: And in raising boys and girls today. They’re being exposed to stuff at earlier and earlier ages and man it just feels like we’re raising kids in a real danger zone today.
Bob: Well, and I guess that’s part of the reason that it feels more oppressive because every year it seems the culture in which we live gets more highly sexualized. I think we need to say right up here at the front of the program that our listeners may want to direct the attention of younger listeners away because we are going to explore this subject today and try to do it in an appropriate way but one that parents may want to have their kids thinking about other things for the next few minutes.
Dennis: I think that’s wise counsel Bob, and we have with us a guest in the studio who has more than two decades experience in counseling people who struggle with the besetting sexual sins. Dr. Harry Schaumburg joins us again on FamilyLife Today – Harry welcome back.
Harry: Thank you Dennis – good to be here!
Dennis: Harry you’ve written a book called: Undefiled which is subtitled Redemption from Sexual Sins – Restoration for Broken Relationships. You actually have an intensive counseling session that you take couples through. How long does this intensive last?
Harry: This is a seven-day program that we currently do in Colorado where couples come and I counsel them individually. It’s not group counseling, and we just take this problem and hit it head on. We’ve been doing that for nearly two decades as you mentioned, and we have just seen some of the worst of the worst in terms of the darkness of sexual sin, and yet at the same time we’ve seen peoples lives completely turned around – marriages saved in the process. So, it’s been a hard ministry in terms of having to deal with the stuff you deal with but at the same time I take great satisfaction in being able to see God really change people almost literally before your eyes.
Bob: As we’ve talked about this subject this week, and I think anytime we talk about this subject we tend to put it in kind of this classic scenario where it is the man who is involved in sexual sin, and it is his poor wife who is the one who is the bystander.
Dennis: Or the victim!
Bob: Yes, or the victim. Have you seen situations in counseling where that’s reversed? Where it is the wife who’s involved in sexual sin? Are you seeing that grow in the culture today?
Harry: I think it’s definitely growing in the culture – you know you look at some of the statistics and undefiled and women clearly in terms of the internet are bigger users of the cybersex world than men are.
Dennis: In what way?
Bob: Really – is this chatting that they’re doing more than…
Harry: It’s more than the images – yes that’s important to make clear. You know men would be more typically looking at the sexual images that we equate with the Internet and visual sex pornography. Women are looking for sexual connection – relational I would call it false intimacy but it’s relationship on the Internet.
I remember a woman that I counseled a number of years ago that was actually a missionary. She was a single woman and you know understandably had been lonely – been a faithful servant of God, had served several terms in the mission field, helped plant a church but at the same time had that in her 40’s that loneliness of not having a companion that we would all understand even those of us who are married.
She went on the Internet and started chatting looking for that connection. She took it far enough where she actually met the man that she was communicating with, but wisely did not step over the line in terms of developing a physical relationship, and then went to her mission board and said, “I really need help here I think I’ve gone too far.” We work with a number of missionary organizations who will then immediately send those people to our counseling program.
Bob: In the context of the people you’ve talked to over the years one of the things whenever we get into this subject on FamilyLife Today we’re hearing from a lot more wives who are contacting us and saying, “My husband does not have strong sexual desire.” Have you seen this be a developing issue in your two-three decades of practice?
Harry: Yes I think it’s still the minority where the man has the loss of sexual interest. What’s interesting in all the cases where we’ve counseled the man who’s lost the sexual interest you always have a woman who has I would say a fairly normal sexual interest. I think we have in the church today a tremendous loss of the real meaning and value of sexual intimacy, and what God has really provided for a married couple.
Bob: Open that up a little bit what do you mean we’ve lost the sense of what that is supposed to be?
Harry: Well, I think it comes back to being self-centered – that we enter relationships to get what we want to get for ourselves. When you bring that into the bedroom it’s not going to work. In the intimacy between a husband and wife there needs to be a real cherishing, a real respect on the part of the husband and wife, and there needs to be a giving, a caring, a tenderness, and a kindness. But, when you approach your wife more as an object as women use that term, I feel like an object – it’s like is he present? Is he really there?
So, she feels like an object, and not surprising she’s lost sexual interest. The sexual dissatisfaction in marriage I think is really almost as significant a problem as we see the pornography. Because, I think we do need healthy sexual intimacy in marriage as a preventative measure. You see that clearly in I Corinthians 7.
Dennis: You tell a story about a couple: Jim and Carrie in your book - would you use them as a prototypical couple of what’s taking place in a lot of marriages today, or would you say they’re more of an exception?
Harry: They’re very much the average couple that comes to our counseling program. It’s a couple that the wife finds out – discovers the problem. The problem is pornography, and then often or maybe 50 percent of the time the wife finds out as with Jim and Carrie that there’s more to it. He’s actually had contact with these women via the Internet. This story takes a particular twist at the end of the book where they actually find out that one of their children has a problem. Their married daughter is unfaithful.
One reason we chose that story is because we really want people to be concerned about their kids. We get so caught up in what’s going on – this is my marriage, it’s falling apart, there’s this problem. We have to look beyond our own generation, and we have to say, what’s happening to my children, and my adult children.
Dennis: And how they’re being impacted by my sin!
Harry: By my sin, and we have to get ahead of the curve so to speak. We have to get out there I think on the level of prevention because they’re really, really being hit and bombarded in today’s world sexually.
Dennis: You mentioned that this is a prototypical couple, and you began by saying the guy’s involved in pornography. In the average church in America today what percent of the adult men let’s say above the age of 20 years old – what percentage of those men view pornography every month?
Harry: You know I have not seen hard statistics on what the percentage is but we have a couple of indicators that we mention in the book. One is a quote from Chuck Swindoll where he talks about as many as half the congregation struggling with Internet pornography is a likely possibility, and I think that’s a fair estimate.
We work with one mission organization where 80 percent of their candidates for missionary service on voluntary questioning – men indicate that they have a problem with pornography. We had contact with a couple of other organizations where they said 100 percent of the candidates that they were interviewing for church plants – planting a church were struggling with pornography and the wives didn’t even know about it.
Harry: 100 percent. They said we have yet to interview a young man for church planting in our organization who hasn’t had a problem with pornography. They were interviewing across denominational lines – a number of different denominations.
Dennis: You know here’s an application from today’s broadcast for a mom and a dad who are raising a daughter who perhaps is about to be married. If you’re talking to the young man who’s about to marry your daughter the question is not have you seen any pornography – the question is kind of share with me your history of how much pornography you viewed?
Then with your sons – I think the question has to be broached with our sons. What would you say to your son today if you had a 18, 19 year old man young about to go away to college Harry. What kind of conversation would you have, and tell me a little bit about how you’d set that conversation up?
Harry: I would have a conversation about what has he already seen, not what is he going to see in college. I think we need to be talking about what has he been exposed to in the Internet, what has he been exposed to through the process of sexting on cell phones with other teenagers while he’s been in high school? We need to find out what’s already been going on.
I think the whole world of hooking up on the college campus now is just something that’s very hard for those of us who are older who went to a different type of college so to speak. So, I want to talk to him about what is sexuality in a God honoring way. What is your body really about - that your body is for the Lord, the Lord is for the body Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians.
So, I think we have to use some tools like covenant eyes – things that will give accountability to where he’s been on the computer. But, those are tools that are effective, but they don’t really get down to the heart of the problem. So, I want my son, I want the young man I’m talking to in my church – I want him to really be grounded spiritually in terms of where he’s at. And again, looking at issues of self-centeredness.
Bob: You mentioned covenant eyes. I don’t know how many of our listeners know about this but this is an accountability program where voluntarily you set up with an accountability partner an agreement where once a week you’re going to get an e-mail showing where you’ve been on the Internet or if you’re going someplace you ought not go I think an e-mail goes out right away to your accountability partner and says warning there’s something going on here.
Dennis: It’s actual software that you put in your computer that sets up this accountability relationship.
Bob: Right, and they don’t provide the accountability partner you have to find your own accountability partner, but the idea is you have somebody in the battle with you, and that accountability is one safeguard against sin isn’t it?
Harry: And, the neat thing is if you delete the program from your computer it shuts down your access to the Internet. The only way you can get back onto the Internet through that computer is you have to call covenant eyes and explain to them how you accidentally deleted this from your computer.
Bob: We have a link on our web site to the covenant eyes web site so if folks want to find out more they can come to FamilyLifeToday.com and they can find out more about covenant eyes by going there.
These kinds of tools are just that – they’re tools – they’re not going to fix the problem because the problem is not with your computer. The problem’s your own eyes, and your own heart isn’t it?
Dennis: Well, and to that point you speak about in your book about how there is a need today – and I really like the term you use here – I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone use it. You call men and women to become sexually mature. You know that really makes sense.
As I read that I thought when did I become sexually mature? It wasn’t as I moved through puberty on into adolescence. It was later on in marriage after I’d made in my opinion some really dumb decisions with Barbara and been selfish in our relationship.
I saw how that wounded my wife, and you know these are things you’ve written about for the past decade – calling people to true intimacy and true maturity. But, if you would unpack that concept a little bit as well Harry.
Harry: Yes, sexual maturity is to me a very, very, very important concept. I think what we’ve done, and it’s a disservice is we’ve said, “Well, be a virgin when you get married.” Well, that’s a good thing, and I would certainly encourage anyone’s son or daughter to maintain their virginity, but that’s not maturity. In fact I think sometimes that commitment to maintain your virginity doesn’t work because there’s no maturity. So, I think maturity comes back to who am I really sexually as a being created in the image of God.
Here’s the challenge – how do you explain that to an eight-year old so that you begin to develop at a very young age because if they’re going to be exposed to pornography at age eight – how do you begin to develop maturity in an eight-year old? So, it’s age specific. What does that eight-year old need to understand about their body - their sexuality?
Number one and obviously but I think we have to say it is that your sexual body— your female body, your male body—was created in the image of God. It has incredible value. We need to start talking about that your body; who you are anatomically, is created for God’s purpose in a marriage – not outside of marriage – nothing before marriage. It doesn’t belong to you. This gets to the issue of self-centeredness.
You can’t do what you want with your body. You don’t have the right. Of course everything around us is saying I have to right to do what I want with my body, and the Bible says, “No, you don’t “! So, I think that’s the direction towards maturity and then of course the proper expression of sex that gives in marriage rather than takes in marriages is very, very important.
Dennis: Sexual maturity than is looking at how we’re made in the image of God and not thinking negatively about our sex drive but thinking holistically from a biblical standpoint that God gave you this. It was to be protected until marriage and then to be used in a marriage relationship in a self denying way to respect and please your married partner.
Bob: I think that’s the issue. The self-denying, the selfless approach. I mean when I stop and think about what does sexual maturity look like, there are a lot of married folks who understand the anatomy and who understand all kinds of things about sexuality but they have not understood the selflessness and as a result they’re sexually immature.
Harry: Exactly – exactly!
Dennis: I’d have to say, and again just reflecting back on my own life at this point – little honesty here. I think first ten years of my marriage I could not have described myself as being sexually mature. Now, was I growing? Yes, but I was growing through my mistakes and through the lessons I was learning. Now at age 62, I can kind of look back on it, and I say I have a few threads of maturity – sexual maturity.
Bob: Picked up a little along the way!
Dennis: A little along the way, and I look back with great satisfaction, but I also look back with some remorse at some of the mistakes I made. That ties into another term that you use in your book: Sexual redemption – because we all do fail we need the hope of sexual redemption – what’s that?
Harry: Well, if there’s sexual maturity of course what we’re saying is there’s sexual immaturity. You can just put that in psychological terms, medical terms, clinical terms but if we’re really looking at sexual maturity as tied into our selfishness - go back to the maturity issue I think what you’re probably saying Dennis is that when I first got married, and certainly my story as well when I first got married I was more interested in what I could get.
Here’s the proof that it was immature. How did you feel when you didn’t get it? How upset did you get? How frustrated did you get because I couldn’t get what I want. That sounds like immaturity. Hopefully as a mature man when I can’t get what I want I can handle that in a more appropriate way.
Well, if that’s what we’re talking about in terms of immaturity then sexual redemption is addressing the sin of that – the self-centeredness of that. It’s the application of what God does to transform a sinful heart. It’s taking the righteousness of Christ and it’s imparting it to us at a deeper level that we become more holy in who we are- certainly holy in our sexuality but in all spirituality we’re a more mature person.
Dennis: I’m just listening to you here and I’m thinking I wish it hadn’t taken so long.
Bob: You’d like to start all over again wouldn’t you?
Dennis: Barbara and I have said this many times, and I know all three of us will identify with this statement here. Oh course I am because I’m going to make it! But, I really wouldn’t want to swap out with a newly married couple today for all the passion and all the youth that comes with a young couple starting out their marriage relationship.
I really like this. We’re approaching 38 years of marriage together, and there’s a safety, a security, a sense of growth and satisfaction that really is sweet. It really is satisfying. I have to say though I do regret some of those points that you’re talking about: The selfishness that really needed redeeming.
Harry: Yes, I’ll be married 41 years coming up here soon, and I totally agree with you Dennis. I think when we look back at some of the things we were doing as younger couples - yes, I was a virgin when I got married, but it’s maturity more than that. I look at young couples now or I look at a guy who’s my age or 50, and he’s had an affair with a woman 20 years younger, and I think what are you doing? That doesn’t make any sense.
A 20 year old is a 20 year old. Why would you want to have an affair even with a 20 year old? There’s something about the intimacy, and the fulfillment with a mature woman. A woman who is mature spiritually. A woman who is mature physically, and sexually, and relationally, and that you have been connected in purity for 40 years. I’m sorry there’s no competition to that!
Bob: You know I think a lot of people hear our conversation, and they may pick up a copy of your book, and they’ll think well okay, I don’t need this because I’m not in bondage to some kind of sexual sin. The reality is if we want our sexuality to be all God intended it to be all of us have issues whether it’s the selfishness Dennis has been talking about or little pet sins that we keep hidden away related to our sexuality. This is a book that I think every married couple could read together in pursuit of the kind of sexual relationship that God blesses in the Song of Solomon when he says, “Enjoy” to the lovers there.
The book’s called: Undefiled. We have it in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can go online at FamilyLifeToday.com to request a copy – again the web site FamilyLifeToday.com or you can call toll-free 1-800-FLTODAY ask about the book Undefiled, and we’ll let you know how you can get a copy of it sent to you.
Again, even if you’re starting out in your marriage relationship and this is an area that’s creating some tension or some challenges for you Harry’s book could be a great help. So, go online at FamilyLifeToday.com or call 1-800-FL-TODAY, and we’ll make arrangements to get a copy to you.
Now, do you know who made today’s radio program possible? Well, there were three groups of people – there’s your local Christian radio station – they made the airtime available to us. There’s our team here at FamilyLife—the group that arranges for these interviews, and does the production work once the recording is done. And then there’s you – those of you who listen to FamilyLife Today, and particularly those of you who from time to time will make a donation to help keep the program on the air. You really are partners both with the radio station and with us in making FamilyLife Today possible in your community. We appreciate your financial support of the ministry. We couldn’t do without it.
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Again the two HomeBuilders Study Guidesare our thank you gift to you this month when you support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation of any amount. You can do that online at FamilyLifeToday.com. When you fill out the online donation form type the word “BUILD” into the key code box to get the two study guides or call 1-800-FLTODAY.
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Now tomorrow we’re going to be back to talk more with our guest Dr. Harry Schaumburg about the issue of sexual sin in marriage and how we can pursue sexual wholeness, and sexual maturity. I hope you can be with us for that conversation!
I want to thank our engineer today Keith Lynch and our entire broadcast production team on behalf of our host Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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