Sexual Immorality in Light of the Gospel
About the Guest
It can't be ignored--sexual immorality is everywhere. How can Christians speak into this issue? Pastor David Platt reminds believers that God's word is clear on sexual immorality, and talks about the epidemic of porn that's hijacking the minds of men, and increasingly, women in our culture. Platt describes how he hopes to cultivate in his children a desire for God's glory in their lives and help them think through sexuality in healthy ways.
Sexual immorality is everywhere. Pastor David Platt reminds believers that God’s word is clear on sexual immorality, and talks about the epidemic of porn that’s hijacking the minds of men and women.
Sexual Immorality in Light of the Gospel
Bob: We live in a culture today that is divided on issues like sex before marriage, abortion, same-sex marriage, pornography. David Platt says all of these issues have one thing in common.
David: All of this is under the banner of understanding sexual morality, according to Scripture, and really understanding that sexual morality in light of the gospel / in light of God’s creation of man and woman, in a unique way, for the display of the gospel in the world. Then, trusting the goodness of God with our bodies in a world that says, “Just use your bodies for self-gratification,”—to realize: “No, our bodies are actually created for God’s glorification.” That means we’re going to live very differently from the world around us when it comes to these issues.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, August 19th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. How can we, as followers of Jesus, speak the truth in love? We’ll explore that with David Platt today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. We are tackling some of the issues that people flinch sometimes when you bring up some of these subjects.
Dennis: They do. They’re not quite sure what to say. If you’re a single person, married, parents, grandparent—and you’re looking for a resource that will give you some very practical, yet biblically-anchored, ways to respond to issues in our culture—then I’d recommend David Platt’s new book, A Compassionate Call to Counter Culture. He joins us again on the broadcast. Welcome back.
David: It’s great to be back.
Dennis: You know, I’m looking at the list, David—of issues you’ve tackled—and there’s poverty, same-sex marriage, racism, sex slavery, immigration, persecution, abortion, orphans—and the last one listed is the one I want to begin the broadcast talking about today. It’s one that you, as a pastor, had to confront repeatedly—probably, initially, with your men but increasing with women—and that’s pornography.
David: When I look out at the congregation that God entrusted me to pastor and I realized the statistics when it comes to the number of men—and like you said increasingly women—who are indulged in/engaging in pornography at different levels, it’s overwhelming. I wanted to equip the church to think through why God’s Word is so clear about sexual immorality and how destructive it is in lives and families.
Then, to help them turn off the computer, or not go there on the phone, or whatever it might be because I have seen the destruction in lives, and families, and children in so many ways, as a result of pornography.
Dennis: You started out, as a pastor, at what age?
Dennis: Alright, so you’re fresh out of seminary. You’re going into a church that’s pretty good-sized to be starting out, as a pastor. Do you remember your first confrontation with how pornography was influencing your congregation?
David: You know, the first big thing that I remember is—during that first year—there was actually sexual sin that came to light, in a previous leadership, before I’d gotten there. It started to have a huge effect across the church. It wasn’t just specifically pornography, but what it did is—it brought sexual morality and immorality to the surface in a way that that church needed to address.
People began to share different ways that pornography was affecting their lives / their marriage—breaking up marriages. It was so good because it created openness for people to talk about this issue. That was needed because you could tell it was just below the surface—nobody brought it to bear on small-group discussions or anything like that.
When people began to talk about and share struggles, then the avenues of grace were open to address this issue and to help brothers and sisters walk through different—I can just think of one couple, in particular, whose marriage had been just ravaged by pornography—and by God’s grace, today, to see that couple thriving / those children thriving—but that was a long process. It was a long hard process that was worth going through—that we need to know how to walk alongside one another through in the church.
Bob: You know that the issue of pornography isn’t something that first tends to emerge after a couple’s been married.
This is something that, most of the time, we trace back to some exposure when a child is pre-adolescent, in our day. Then there’s the question of: “How often does that child go back to that source?”—whether it’s at a friend’s house, or on his smartphone, or wherever his source is—maybe it’s a cable channel that Mom and Dad thinks it’s okay to have here, but kids are watching it late at night.
Then he gets to college, and it is epidemic there. You get to a 23-year-old singe guy, who’s been brought up in this culture, and he says, “You know, David, it’s kind of the way I drain off my sexual energy so that, when I’m with a girl, maybe I’m not feeling like I’m so sexually-aggressive because I’ve taken care of it with pornography.” What do you say to a guy in that situation?
David: So many different things—but one: I want to approach that guy with a compassionate understanding that this is not an easy issue—this is not just, “Don’t do it,” and he’s going to stop doing it. Some situations, it works that way; but at most, it doesn’t. This is a real struggle that, like you said, has been going on many times for many years.
I want to begin to give some good gospel foundations. One of the things we walk through—are just ten foundations that are in God’s Word that just—everything from: “How do you cultivate zeal for the glory of God’s name in your life? Okay, then, how does that relate to pornography? How is pornography stealing glory from God?” To see it on a God-centered level—not just, “This is not good for you,”—but on a God-centered level—and then begin to work through / just to begin to get to the root.
When you look at Romans, Chapter 1, and it’s talking about sexual immorality, you realize it’s not just an activity or behavior that starts out here—that there [are] beliefs in our mind and there are affections in our heart that lead to that kind of action. What we’ve tried to do is—we’ve addressed this issue in the church—is really get to some of those core beliefs and some of those core affections and not just trying to hit at behavior because, if we are just saying, “Behaviors—stop doing this,” then it’s like putting band-aids on broken limbs.
Dennis: You have three sons. How are you going to prepare them for the onslaught? Because we know, now, the average age a child is exposed to some screen that has pornography on it has now dipped below the age of ten—it’s eight or nine. It’s not exactly certain as to when. It used to be that was later on in the later teen years—college perhaps—but today, evil is preying upon our children. What are you doing?—because you can’t keep those other kids, who have screens, away from your boys or your daughter.
David: That’s exactly right. On the one hand, I do want to, as best as possible, protect my children because that’s—no question, one of the biggest differences from now and ten years ago or twenty years ago—is the accessibility. To, as best as possible, protect my children; but knowing that there’s no 100 percent fool-proof way to do that.
What I want to do—I’m thinking through: “How can I cultivate in them a desire for God’s glory in their lives?—realization that God has created their bodies, sexually, for a reason.” In age-appropriate ways, help them to think through: “What does that mean I do with my body? How can I glorify God with my body? How can I trust that what God has said about my body is good?—and what God has said is better than what the world is saying. How can I have dignity to women?” in a way that, when that screen is exposed to them, I’m hoping those foundations are deep—not that it’s going to be easy—but they are able to stand in a way that says:
“Oh, wait. That’s not honoring to that girl,” or “This is not what God has said is best for my body.”
So—to have those foundations instilled in them, as best as possible / to be on my knees with my wife, in prayer, for those moments. Then, to have a relationship where I want my kids to have an open communication line with me, where we talk about things they are struggling with or wrestling with.
That looks different in a seven-year-old’s life. We’re not talking about those things with my seven-year-old right now, but I want that avenue to open when they need to talk about it—at ten-, eleven-, twelve-years-old—that communication line is there.
Bob: We had a guest share something with us that has stuck with me—that I’ve shared with a lot of people since then. He said many Christian parents are raising children in a sin-avoid and sin-conceal household: “Stay away from it. If you do it, don’t tell anybody; or you’ll get punished.”
He said, “We want to raise your kids in a sin-confession and sin-repentance environment, where they know that it’s: ‘We are going to get tripped up by this; and we need to have the freedom to confess, and know there’s grace when we confess, and then to be able to repent of a sin.’”
If your nine-year-old came to you and said to you: “Daddy, I saw something last night on the internet that I don’t think I should have seen. I stayed there—I looked at it.” How are you going to handle that?
David: That’s where—when I think about in my desire—and Heather and I, as we parent these kids, we want to shepherd their hearts. What I don’t want to do in that moment is just shut them down, “Okay, well don’t do that again,”—and then adjust sin behavior—but to really help process with them, “Why did you think that was wrong?” or “Why would that be wrong?” if they didn’t think it was wrong. To really get to some of those core beliefs and core affections that are going to affect the way they are going to act next time something happens.
I don’t want to just give him a recipe: “Do this,” or “Don’t do this.”
Yes, at some point, I’ll want them to hear that from me; but I want them to hear why “Don’t do this,” and why this is so important that they not do, or why this is so important that they turn this off and do something different.
Dennis: There’s another issue you talk about in your book that I want you to comment on. It is sex slavery. I was with a good friend, who you just met a few moments ago, Dr. Dan Allender. We went on a fishing trip. While we were driving, back and forth, to go fishing, we drove by a truck stop. Dan said, “You know, I can’t drive by a truck stop anymore without praying as I drive by because that truck stop is really an outpost for prostitution / sex trafficking.” I said, “What?!” He said, “Oh yes.” Then he began to go on to how God had called both he and Becky, his wife, into a ministry of going and rescuing children who have been sold into sex slavery.
Bob: There are parts of the world, you know, that are almost—you can almost sense the demonic oppression that is there—where this is normal / where it’s open—where children are being trafficked and—
Dennis: And it’s not just overseas, Bob.
Bob: Right. That’s right
Dennis: The interesting thing is—it’s happening here.
David: This intersection happened for me, just over the last year, in fact. I was in one of those parts of the world. I was in the mountains of Nepal and walking through villages. I knew about the statistics, when it comes to sex trafficking and sex slavery, but I’d not seen it like I did during this time—walking through villages, and meeting families, who eight[/ten-year-old girls had been persuaded by people who’d come through that: “Hey, we can…”
They are living in such poverty—so a trafficker will come through and say: “Hey, we can pay you $100. We’ll take your little girl down—get her a good job down in the city, where she can send money up to help your family and periodically come back and visit.” That’s pretty persuasive to a family who doesn’t know if their child’s going to be able to live as long as they stay in this community. So, they—there are communities where there are hardly any girls in a certain age range.
Then—to come down the mountains and to walk through those cities—I think of one particular area of one city—where there are brothels on the left and the right—and these little girls just waiting for men to come in and use and abuse them. During that trip—
Dennis: You’re speaking of little girls.
David: Ten years old. I mean, it was overwhelming to see this picture and then be reading Luke 10, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” during my quiet time those days and just thinking to myself, “What if these were my kids?” So to see that there and then to think, “Okay, this is such a huge problem in the world.”
Then I fly back to Atlanta. I drive from Atlanta to Birmingham on I-20. Just a couple of days later, I read a whole thing about how I-20 is a sex-trafficking super highway—and exactly what you just talked about—that these truck stops are just avenues for sex trafficking in Atlanta, Birmingham, just along that whole interstate corridor in the southeastern part of the United States, in the middle of the Bible Belt.
It’s just—it was eye-opening to me in a way that it’d never been before—that this is an issue that we, as the church and as followers of Christ, must think through, “How do we address bringing the gospel / the light of Christ’s love to women?—and traffickers, for that matter—just the whole picture.”
Bob: Here’s what’s easy—outrage—but beyond that, I’m sitting, here in Little Rock, going, “What do I do other than be outraged?”
David: Well, that’s where I want to encourage folks to let this inform your praying. Prayer is an active, not just a passive thing—so that inform your praying. Let that inform your speaking. We need to know about this, we need to talk about this in the church, and then to be open to how God might lead us to act: “Are there ways that, in the community right around us, we can be a part of addressing this issue?” One of the practical things—to tie this back to what we were talking about with pornography—many people who are trafficked for sex—and used in the production of pornography.
We’ve got to make the connection, every time we’re clicking on--and maybe this would be just an eye-opening moment for somebody listening to this—that every time you’re clicking on that website or opening up your phone, you’re actually contributing to a cycle of sex slavery that’s happening around the world—to make that connection and realize that: “This makes no sense. So, just stop doing that,”—not just for your own good—but for the good of girls, who are being trafficked, whether they’re in Nepal or in the United States.
Dennis: My friend, Dan Allender, said, “What you need to realize is most of the prostitutes, who are in their late teens and early twenties, didn’t start then.” It’s back to the illustration you used of a little girl. They were sold at an early age.
You know, David, there’s a lot of things that we are so naïve about—the evil perpetrated on children. It ought to cause us, as Bob said, to pound the table; but it also ought to cause our feet to hit the floor and say: “Okay, what’s my part? How do we get engaged in this?” How can a family engage on this subject?
David: I would encourage any family to start by—on this subject—to look at: “Are there any ministries in the city around them or the community around them that are addressing this issue?” Sometimes, there are some good gospel-centered ministries that are reaching out to at-risk girls.
I think about—there’s a ministry in the city where I lived, where they are reaching out to at-risk women. There are opportunities for these women and their kids—for us, as a family, to go and serve with them / for our kids to play with their kids—to build those kinds of relationships / to look for avenues that might be there.
If there’s not an avenue there / if there’s need in the community that you live in, maybe to be a part of starting—again, not that you have to start this massive ministry / the Lord may lead you to—but just starting by caring for one person. You just think about one of these girls, and it’s worth it.
Dennis: Yes it really is. I was in south Georgia—in a little town called Andersonville, Georgia. I was talking to a family—a mom and a dad—who live in the country. They were getting ready to go on a missions trip to—I believe it was Cambodia. They were taking 17 teenagers and a half a dozen adults.
One of the things they were going to do was—they were going to visit ministries that cared for these girls, inviting them out of sex slavery. I thought, “You know, that’s the church in action.” Wherever you live, that’s a great, great honor and a privilege that is ours, as ambassadors of the King.
David: I’m so glad you mentioned that—and particularly, the overseas picture—because I know that may seem like a huge step for some people to even think about, but it’s a huge step that we must think about.
When I think about those villages in Nepal, there’s no church there / there’s no gospel. We walked for five days, through these mountains, without even meeting someone who’d even heard of Jesus before we got there. Some Christians need to go to places like that. The greatest need they have is the gospel and the church to be planted there, which then changes social fabric in the way you think about all these issues. I walk out of those mountains, thinking, “Oh God, raise up multitudes more people and families to go to these places—to bring the gospel there.” In the process then, to address just massive evil that is represented there.
Dennis: You know, we’re sitting here, talking about this, here in America. It sounds barbaric and primitive that a family would sell their daughter for one hundred bucks—but if you’re about to starve to death / if you’ve not been raised with a Bible that teaches the responsibility of a mom and a dad to morally equip and spiritually equip their sons and daughters—why wouldn’t you do something like that? I mean, it sounds horrible to even consider that; but if they’ve not got a gospel-centered way of thinking and approach, that’s their default position.
Bob: One of the great things you’ve done in your book is—you have, at the end of each chapter—have talked about how to pray, how to participate, and how to proclaim. You give specific prompts for people to say, “Okay, here’s something I can do.”
I think that kind of guidance for the readers and for the parents is invaluable. We hope our listeners will get a copy of your book.
Dennis: I do, too, Bob. I just want to say: “Thanks David, for your leadership and your desire to really tackle these tough issues; but also for being a champion of the family. You just spoke to our staff, here, before we started the broadcast. You’re a great encouragement to our staff. I just want to thank you for being a Bible man and believing in what the Bible teaches and proclaiming it. Thanks for being on the broadcast.”
David: I praise God for FamilyLife—for His grace in this ministry and the way you guys are equipping families, like my own, to apply the gospel in the middle of a variety of challenges in our culture. May God continue to bless you guys toward that end.
Bob: We do have copies of your book, which is called Counter Culture. It’s available in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. I hope moms and dads, who are listening today, will get a copy and read through it together.
Then, start equipping the next generation to live counter-culturally. I think they’re going to need to be prepared and equipped to know how to live in the emerging culture in a way that is different than we had to be prepared because the culture is shifting.
Again, the title of the book is Counter Culture. You can go to FamilyLifeToday.com to request a copy. Click the link in the upper left-hand corner of the screen that says, “GO DEEPER.” You can order David’s book from us, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call to order the book— 1-800-FL-TODAY—that’s 1-800-358-6329—1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
I wanted to make sure our listeners were aware of something coming up in the month of September. Next week, there’s a movie coming to theaters called War Room—the new movie from the Kendrick brothers—Alex and Stephen Kendrick.
This is a movie about a couple facing challenges in their marriage and their family and addressing those challenges through prayer.
You know, we are convinced, here at FamilyLife, that the foundation of prayer is essential for a healthy marriage and a strong family. During the month of September, we are challenging all of you to join us in a 30-Day Oneness Prayer Challenge. Each day, for 30 days, we will send you—via text message, or email, or through the My FamilyLife app—a prayer prompt that will coach you on how you, as a husband / how you, as a wife, can pray together around a specific topic each day.
We’re going to make it as easy as possible. All you have to do is have the desire to take part in this challenge and then go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link that says, “GO DEEPER,” and look for the Oneness Prayer Challenge to get signed up for the 30-day experience during the month of September.
By the way, while you’re on our website, if you can make a yearend donation to help support this ministry, we would like to send you a copy of Dennis and Barbara Rainey’s book, Two Hearts Praying as One. I know you’re thinking to yourself, “You just said ‘yearend financial gift,’ and it’s only August.” Well, the month of August is our fiscal yearend, here at FamilyLife. We will start a new financial year in September. We’re hoping to end this fiscal year in a healthy position.
We’re also hoping that, over the next week-and-a-half, we’ll see a flurry of activity in support for this ministry. Would you consider making a donation today? Click the link on our homepage at FamilyLifeToday.com—the link in the upper right-hand corner of the screen that says, “I CARE.” You can make an online donation; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY—make your donation over the phone, and ask for the book on prayer when you do that.
You can also request the book and send your donation to us at FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; and our zip code is 72223.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to talk about what it takes to grow a spiritually-healthy family. Michelle Anthony will be here to join us. Hope you can tune in as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with 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.
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