Terrorism of the Soul, Part 2
About the Guest
VIDEO: Dennis Rainey at Dallas Theological Seminary's Spiritual Life Conference, January 2015
Dennis RaineyDennis Rainey cofounded FamilyLife®, a ministry of Cru®. Since the organization began in 1976 through 2017, Dennis’ leadership enabled FamilyLife to grow into a dynamic and vital ministry in more than 109 countries around the world helping families discover the joy God intended for their relationships with God, spouse, and kids. Dennis has authored or co-authored more than 35 books, including best-selling Moments Together for Couples and Staying Close and has received two Golden Medallion...more
When pornography invades a culture, the explosions rip apart marriages and families, but it is the children who pay the greatest price for this attack on their parents’ marriage.
Terrorism of the Soul, Part 2
Bob: Why is it that many men—including pastors—today find themselves ensnared by pornography? Dennis Rainey says it’s because the hook got set years ago.
Dennis: They get that magazine when they are ten, eleven, twelve—two decades ago—they get hooked. They become a believer. They bring the bags into the marriage relationship, thinking that somehow marriage is some kind of institution—a rehab institution—that sex in marriage is going to redeem us from all that. I’m sorry to tell you—it’s not going to happen.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, July 26th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. How does a man do battle against the temptation to look at pornography? We’ll explore that subject today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition. When you went to seminary, did you feel like you were in a bubble for a couple of years?
Dennis: Oh, yes. No doubt about it.
Bob: That you were in a spiritually-protected kind of an environment?
Dennis: Great experience at Dallas Theological Seminary, going from class to class, doing nothing but studying the Bible from great patriarchs—from guys who were some of the smartest—most educated—but also the real deal, Bob. There’s no question—in that context—that it is easy to get insulated from the world.
Bob: I just wondered—as you were talking with students at Dallas Seminary recently, and you talked about the things that can invade a marriage and a family—you talked about, as we’ll hear today—pornography and about emotional affairs. I wondered how many folks had been insulated from that kind of thinking or how many have already experienced it seeping through the cracks of their—
Dennis: I’ve got one thing I’ll show you, Bob. What am I holding up right here?
Bob: You’re holding up your smartphone.
Dennis: I’m holding up a screen. Nobody’s in a bubble anymore. Now, they may have an experience of going to a seminary and immersing yourself in the Scriptures—but you know what? This right here is like a terrorist—this phone can terrorize your soul and control all kinds of stuff before your eyes.
In fact, I opened my Bible here and it says, “Keep your heart with all vigilance for from it flow the springs of life.” It goes on to say, “Ponder the path of your feet. Then, all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left. Turn your foot away from evil.”
I’m going to tell you something, Bob—pornography is assaulting our nation. Boys and girls—men and women—no one can escape this.
And pornography is not just the stuff in the magazines. I think a lot of stuff that’s on billboards today would qualify as pornography.
Bob: You had the opportunity to address this subject with students at Dallas Seminary as you spoke on four successive days about issues they can expect to face in marriage and in family. Let’s listen today to part of a message that you shared with students about some of these invaders that are finding their way into marriages and families—and the statistics are alarming.
Dennis: Promise Keepers found that 60 percent of all men and a third of the pastors had seen pornography in the last 30 days. If you have a boy, a grandson, it is not a matter of if your son has seen pornography—and I might add your daughter—it’s a matter of when they will see it—and how much.
I had a friend who called me, whose 12-year-old daughter—he and his wife are doing a great job with her—good boundaries, healthy home, good conversation, all the good sex ed and prep for adolescence—gone to a friend’s house, friend pulled out a phone who had access that she didn’t, exposed to pornography in an instant. This screen-generation is robbing our sons and daughters—men and women of their innocence. The age now of a boy seeing porn is between the ages of eight and ten—I was twenty.
Then, there’s the increasing number of women who are into romance novels. Bill O’Reilly made 28 million on the sales of his book. Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games made 55 million—but author E.L. James topped the Forbes richest author list for selling Fifty Shades of Grey.
So, what do you do? The terrorist has attacked. Some of us are carrying some heavy baggage. You can’t keep carrying it into ministry—and bring into your marriage and your ministry—and think you’re going to be able to carry it for the next 20 years. What do you?
Number one: It is only a continued experience of the fear of God—and the love of God—that can turn our hearts away from evil.
It is not the fist of God that you are afraid of, just by itself—although we need to be afraid of that—it is the grace of God—the love of God—that invites us away from it. You know what’s going on in your life! We all have issues that we struggle with.
Personally, I think we need some fresh teaching, coupling both the love of God and the fear of God together, to raise the standard to who God is. Why? A.W. Tozer said it best, “What you think about God is the most important thing about you.” Why?—because as we think about God, it reorders our identity—who we are and who we are accountable to.
Number two: Know your weaknesses. As you know your weaknesses, counsel your soul.
If you and I went to dinner tonight in a section of Dallas and we got mugged—we got robbed—would you like to join me again tomorrow night to go there?
Would you go to the same section of town and keep getting mugged? No. In fact, it reminds me of a great quote by the English preacher, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Listen carefully to this. It talks about counseling your soul—this is a great statement:
Most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you’re listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself.
I think Lewis Sperry Chafer would really like this next statement—
The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand. You have to address yourself—question yourself. You must say to your soul,
“Hope thou in God instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way.”
Then, you must go on to remind yourself of God—who God is, and what God is, and what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do.
Lewis Sperry Chafer is really the reason for Spiritual Life Week, here at Dallas Seminary. He believed all of this was about forming character.
Third: Know that—as a single man or as a married man—solo-sex siphons off energy and a drive that God gave you to pursue the opposite sex. Did you hear me? I’ll say it again. Know that—as a single man or a married man—solo-sex siphons off energy and a drive that God gave you for good—that causes you to pursue the opposite sex.
We have the oldest average age, in our nation’s history, for men and women getting married—29 for men—27-and-a-half for women. I believe this subject is one of the primary reasons why—men don’t need women—because they’ve found a fantasy.
Pornography and solo-sex makes a man lazy. As a single man, you’ll need no woman because you’ve found a solution that isn’t nearly as risky as relating to a real woman. A woman is dangerous! [Laughter] She is a delight, but it is one of God’s great sanctifying tools in your life—if you receive the gift. For married men, there’s a new kind of marriage emerging called the low sex—no sex marriage—can basically be the same escape the single man makes.
Fourth: The bad news is—if you build an addiction now, marriage may be an institution—but it is no place for rehab. It is why one of the things I have done is talk to the young men who have come to ask for my daughter’s hand in marriage. They’ll come ask if it’s all okay, I’ll say, “Well, you know what? You can’t have the hand yet—that comes on the wedding day—but you can ask her to marry you. You and I have got six conversations to have before you get the hand and the rest of her. One of those conversations is about sex—and it’s about pornography—“How much have you seen? Let’s talk about it.”
I believe daddies need to be the protectors of their daughters—and their sons.
Fifth: Genesis 2:25 says, “And the man and his wife were both naked, and they were not ashamed.” That’s the transparency of marriage. Let your wife know when you are struggling with temptation. This may shock you, but I talk to my wife about lust. I tell her when I’m struggling. What a relief that is to be loved like that!
Sixth: Build a fence at the top of the cliff rather than run an ambulance service at the bottom of it. If you can’t handle it, don’t subscribe to cable. Get some accountability software. Better yet—get a friend you can call when you are tempted. Personally—after being burned a couple of times—I can’t channel surf.
Seven: If you fail—if you fail—it’s all about grace. Find a safe person—come clean before God and that person—but don’t hide. Share what you have been struggling with—share what you have done with a person who can help you get out of jail—who can help you come free. Find a person who will speak the truth—with grace—to you and give that person access to your life. This may not be the area where you are being assaulted. There may be some area—the same principle applies to that.
I had a conversation with a guy, who is an accountability partner in my life—a pastor. I’ve known him for a number of years, and I was upset about something.
I was angry, and I wanted to wring someone’s neck—some ungodly anger. So, I went and had lunch with him. We broke bread and had a barbeque sandwich. He looked me in the eye, and kind of patted me on the shoulder, and gave me wisdom from the Book—you with me? So, I saw him the next week at church. I said, “I hope I get the chance to kick your tail like you kicked mine someday.” [Laughter]
Early in my ministry, I had a young lady call me and ask to be counseled. It seemed pretty harmless—she came into my office. It just so happened, that day—that my wife, Barbara, was there—she was in the external part. I left my door open—as I do when I talk to women.
And I remember—when she came in—I just sensed something was up. The longer she talked, the less comfortable I felt. I did not hear an audible voice, but I heard the Holy Spirit say, “Keep your eyes up, son—right on her eyes. Don’t look down.” Later, we found that there were three women—who had kind of banded together in our community—to take three of us Christian leaders down. You never know what’s involved in a single choice.
This next terrorist: Emotional affairs.
Most sexual affairs begin with a friendship: “It’s just a relationship”—but there is a spark—a catalytic spark that occurs. Protect the gift of sex—don’t be deceived. If you are married, reserve deep friendships with the opposite sex for just your wife—I have some women that I am friends with, but it’s like skipping a rock across a lake compared to the relationship with Barbara. When you sense or feel that spark, terminate that relationship, if need be, and protect your covenant. Protect your relationship with God.
This next terrorist is front and center: Sexual affairs.
Sometimes, the assault can be frontal. Sometimes, it can come in through a side door—a backdoor—but we can get entangled in something, and we can get swept off our feet. Sexual affairs today, range from being attracted to a woman to being attracted to someone of the same sex. I want to remind you that temptation is not a sin. Temptation is just what it is—a temptation. It is when we take the bait that sin is born, and it tricks us.
Realize that it is impossible for your spouse to compete with a fantasy relationship. You may go home to your children and to a wife who has had a hard day or—as a wife, you may have worked hard and come home to a husband who has had a hard day.
You’re both going through hard things in life. Meanwhile, you start a relationship, off to the side—that is born in a fantasy world of little reality—swept off your feet by emotions that becomes an affair.
If you are pursuing a relationship that is headed in that direction, right now—and I am not so naïve as to think—in this audience of men and women of God—that there are not those who are struggling with this very issue—you must terminate it. Your life, your marriage, your family, your ministry hang in the balance.
We have a speaker team that speaks at our Weekend to Remember® marriage conferences. We have a little tradition that we do—we’ll come up to each other, extend the hand, and say, “Are you clean?”
That doesn’t ensure each person is going to be clean, but every man—every woman—on that team knows that occasionally they are going to get asked that question. As a result, they know there is an accountability structure.
This last terrorist is a subtle one: Debt—D-E-B-T. Do you realize how dangerous credit cards are? I’m going to tell you—I’ve been in ministry a long time. I am astounded at how people lose control around credit cards, borrowing money, and get way in over their heads. This includes everybody from doctors, to pastors, to people who sit in the pew.
I had one man—who was in leadership in a ministry—who had over $130,000 of consumer debt with about seven credit cards. He had a million-dollar house—a $10,000-a-month house payment—and 2008 hit.
You can’t live on the brink. Fortunately, God gave me the gift of a great father—for in 1960, when credit cards first came on the scene, my dad applied for a credit card. You know what happened? He couldn’t get one. Why? He had no credit history—he had never borrowed a penny.
Debt—giving God the opportunity to show up instead of just satisfying your desires as they occur.
Bob: We’ve been listening to some of what you shared with students at Dallas Seminary. You kind of tiptoed near some landmines there.
Dennis: I did—and Bob—I was just trying to prepare them for what they’re going to face not only now, but later on as they begin their ministries—whether here in America or internationally. I just think a lot of followers of Christ are naïve about what’s taking place today. There are a lot of them being taken out by pornography, by extramarital affairs—and also by debt.
Bob: And the fact that you’ve been to seminary doesn’t insulate you from that.
Dennis: It doesn’t—and the people you are going to minister to—this is what everybody is dealing with. I mean, this is the stuff of this culture. We have to be wise. We have to guard our hearts, and we do have to watch our paths—that we don’t turn to the left or to the right and that we choose right and not wrong.
Bob: Well, again, I want to remind our listeners if you would like to hear this entire message from Dennis, we have the complete message available on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com—and we have a link to the video. If you’d like to watch Dennis speaking to the students at Dallas Seminary, go to FamilyLifeToday.com. The information about how to view the video is available there, or you can stream or download the message if you’d like. Again, the website—FamilyLifeToday.com.
By the way, Dennis has a brand-new book called Choosing a Life That Matters: 7 Decisions You’ll Never Regret. This is a great book for family discussion, a great book to give as a gift to a young man or young woman heading off to college, or maybe somebody who just graduated from college and they’re getting started in life. Find out more about the book Choosing a Life That Matters by Dennis Rainey when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com. You can order it from us online if you’d like.
Or call to order 1-800-FL-TODAY. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com and the number to call to order is 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word “TODAY.”
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Now, tomorrow, we’re going to hear from Dennis Rainey about the impact that a season of sorrow or of grief can have on a marriage relationship and how do you weather those storms together. We’ll hear about that tomorrow. Hope you can tune in for that.
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 next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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