There is More to Saying “No” Than Just Waiting
About the Guest
If you feel the tug of sexual temptation before you're married, why shouldn't you run with it? Today on the broadcast, Dennis Rainey talks with Walk Thru the Bible President, Chip Ingram, and YouthWalk editor, Tim Walker, about the benefits of abstaining from sex until marriage.
Learn about the benefits of abstaining from sex until marriage.
There is More to Saying “No” Than Just Waiting
Tim: The time when I did have my sexual experience is when I went away to college. I was at a Christian college, and you see your friends involved in relationships, and you wish that you had something significant and consistent like they do, and so there were a lot of things that kind of just fed into that loneliness and that desire just to connect with someone. It wasn't just that sex was convenient or available, but it was also where I was at emotionally.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, February 9th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Today Tim Walker and Chip Ingram have some counsel for others who want to keep the pledge they've made to save sex until marriage.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us. Did you watch the special – I guess it was a year ago now – Katy Couric and the teenage kids and their parents all sitting around in a big house talking about how kids view sexuality?
Dennis: Missed that one.
Bob: You didn't watch it? It was on NBC, I don't know, a year or so ago, and it was groundbreaking, and they were releasing some new poll that NBC had just done, and I remember watching it and thinking I ought to watch it with my children, not because it was saying anything profound, really, but just to be able to have the conversation. It was a good conversation-starter around what's going on at your school? What are you thinking? What are your ideas? Do you agree with her or do you agree with him? Kids today are engaging on this subject a whole lot earlier than I ever engaged on it and a whole lot more openly than I ever engaged on it. It's such a part of the fabric of teen cultural life that if parents aren't engaged along with their teens …
Dennis: They're going to be overwhelmed with their teenagers about the subject. In fact, one of the things I appreciate about our guests on the program and what they've done is they've written a book called "Sex 180," that I think can be used by parents to start the kind of dialog, Bob, you're talking about.
Chip Ingram and Tim Walker join us on FamilyLife Today. Tim, Chip, welcome back.
Tim: Great, thank you.
Chip: Good to be with you.
Dennis: Chip is the president and CEO of Walk Through the Bible Ministries, author of a number of books, was a pastor for a number of years along with Tim, lives in Atlanta. Tim is the senior editor of "Youth Walk" magazine, a monthly devotional magazine for youth, and that's where Tim gets much of his connection, and, really, what ultimately convinced you of the need for this book.
Tim, listening to what Bob was saying there – where are youth today getting their concepts about sex and human sexuality? Who is teaching them today?
Tim: We sat down with a group of students in Chuck's basement, in fact. I asked them that specific question, and the primary place was – well, there were actually a number of places, because our culture is so saturated with the messages about sexuality, and media was definitely on of them; the magazines, they learned so much from just questions that students write in even a Q&A column about sexuality. They go into the stores, and they see displays of people that are nude or barely dressed or whatever or the promotional items for …
Dennis: Yeah, my friends at Abercrombie & Fitch are still doing a good job of that, even though I've been airing …
Bob: You've spoken to them on occasion about it?
Dennis: I just don't care for that store and what they promote.
Tim: One of them even expressed – someone had come in their school to do a public service assembly about don't do drugs, and it was someone who came in and did a musical act but was dressed very skimpily, and, you know, the message – in fact, they joked around, they were saying that sex was their anti-drug instead of actually taking a stand against it.
But, you know, it's just everywhere. And then they walk into – it's not only the media, but they also see it in their homes, too. Some of them may have a parent that's online and has an Internet porn addiction or is communicating with someone over some kind of online affair. Or they go through a divorce, and a parent has had an affair with someone. Or they just kind of see these things firsthand, or their siblings are making these kinds of decisions, and they see all of this carnage, and everywhere they go they just see firsthand what's happening with sexuality.
Bob: And it's all around the school, it's all around the culture that they are a part of. You are not that far removed from your own experience, and your own experience was an experience, as you share in the book, that brought you to some sexual damage prior to marriage.
Tim: Well, it definitely was that curiosity within me to kind of know more than what I did know. The information that I got was just very minimal, probably very much like a biology textbook. You know, here is how babies are made, but there were thing about that that still – I think, that are innate in all of us; that we want to kind of know more about that, because that's part of our makeup. But there were things – kind of – my curiosity was definitely pretty heightened, anyway. I think that's kind of maybe in my nature, but I wanted to move beyond that, and I wanted to kind of know, "Okay, well, if this is what happens, well, what does that look like?" And so that kind of fed the curiosity to look at pornography.
Bob: But how did you get access to pornography as a student?
Tim: Well, actually, it was in a relative's home that had pornography. At the time there was no Internet when I was growing up.
Dennis: How old were you?
Tim: I was probably in my early teens, like, around 11 or 12 or so.
Dennis: Were you looking for pornography?
Tim: No, totally kind of stumbled across the magazine.
Dennis: Yeah, you just were looking and, all of a sudden, there it was.
Bob: And curiosity took over, and you thumbed through the magazine.
Tim: And then learned things that I did not know beforehand, and then it moves beyond that to where – I think that this is the nature of pornography – well, it stimulates that image, but then you want to know, "Well, what do those things feel like?" And so it really is just a matter of, from that point on, it was a matter of what situation – abstaining from sex growing up and during high school was purely a matter of convenience. I grew up in a Christian home. I went to church. I was not a very outgoing person. I was probably a little more quiet type in high school as well. I didn't go to all the wild parties or anything like that.
Dennis: So when you say "convenience," you're saying availability?
Tim: Exactly. Well, I dated some, so give me a little credit.
I think that it was more of a matter of the times when I did have my sexual experience is when I went away to college. So I didn't have to come back home and answer to anybody; I didn't have to hide all of that and kind of go through my life, growing up in a Christian home.
Bob: So there were some protections around you while you were still in high school that kept you from running off in the wrong direction?
Bob: When you got to college, boundaries are down, nobody's checking up on you, and the opportunity presented itself.
Tim: Exactly, and it was more than just an opportunity. I think it was also – and this is what I tried to communicate in the book, it wasn't just that sex was convenient or available, but it was also where I was at emotionally. I was at a Christian college where you should be able to meet some Christian girls pretty easily there, and you see your friends involved in relationships, and you see – you wish that you had something significant and consistent like they do, and so it was a very lonely time for me. I was away from home for the first time, and so there were a lot of things that kind of just fed into that loneliness and that desire just to connect with someone.
In hindsight, you know, God so wanted to connect with me in those ways, in those significant, deep-down core ways, but I was looking for something that was more an immediate satisfaction for that. And so when the opportunity came up, I just simply went with it, because it was an immediate satisfaction for that need that had so frustrated me. I was tired of being alone.
I knew that it wasn't anything that was going to last; that was a significant thing, but I just wanted something to take away that loneliness for that time.
Bob: Okay, now, I'm a dad with boys. You tell your story, and I'm thinking, "Oh, my goodness," you know?
Dennis: That was 20 years ago.
Bob: Yeah. I'm thinking I'm about to send a son to college, all right? Oh, my goodness, you know what …
Dennis: A college campus today, Bob …
Bob: Is a little different than it was. What didn't happen or what do I need to make sure – what could have happened that could have changed things for you that freshman year?
Dennis: Tim, Bob needs your help.
Bob: I do. I'm sweating here.
Tim: Well, I think that one thing, for me, and this is kind of what drives me in my writing, in general, is that I knew all of the right answers, I knew how to be a good church boy. I got a lot of encouragement from the church. I would sing songs on occasion, but it was all for me to get some affirmation moreso than any type of ministry. But there was a lot of things, too, that the relationship with God was not there. It was growing up in the church and realizing and really understanding God's heart.
So I think that – if I – like I mentioned earlier, there was these needs that were deep down within me, and if I would have realized that God wanted to meet those needs in a much more significant way than the opportunity that availed itself at the time, then that would have been a deterrent for me, because I would have really understood His heart. And, to be quite honest, after that experience is when I really began to understand His heart, when my heart was so broken; when I realized that, hey, this boy that never sinned during high school; that used to look at all the other kids that did and judged them. I had stepped over boundaries that I never thought I was going to step over. But the problem was that I never really understood God's heart. I never understood the emotional needs that He wanted to meet and the emotional needs that somehow lead to sexual needs that are so available there.
But, through that – and, actually, I began to open my Bible after that event, and I started – I remember I went to a passage of Scripture that had nothing to do with what I was going through, but it was a very lonely time after that, and Paul writes in 1 Timothy, I think it's 4:12, he says, "And my first defense, no one came to my aid, may it not be held against them." Well, to me, that interpretation of that verse at the time was "everybody's left me alone and now it's just me" and all this.
But I began to see myself in God's Word at that point, and that was a significant turning point for me. And so then I just started looking up every verse I could about loneliness because I was alone, and that's when I began to encounter God, and that's when His Word became living and active to me, and that's also when I really, really began to see His heart. It went beyond all these things that I knew about God growing up – all of these things that "God loves you, God's always there," and almost become cliché to a kid that grows up in the church, but there was something very real about God, and there was something significant about that relationship with Him that I never wanted to walk away from again.
Chip: I really hope people are listening – not just dads but also I mean that guy or that gal that has these deep longings and loneliness and, for dads and moms, I think what I want to say I hope what you heard from Tim is not about telling your kids all the time, "Don't have sex, don't have sex, don't have sex," it's about opening the door and the window of your heart and their heart about the real, deep needs that they have that are real, and you start by modeling that, by sharing some of yours, so that around the table and in the car and when you take walks and making time, those issues come to the surface so that they know if those don't get dealt with what happens is they get played out in sexuality.
That's what – really – and so what we've done is we've isolated the sex issue, and we think were successful if we can just keep them out of bed with someone and, really, that's a symptom. I think the other thing I would say to our people listening, especially younger people, is those images that are all around you, and that peer pressure that just makes you feel like you are so out of it; that makes you want to experiment and, in many ways, in some of our research, we get a lot of high school girls saying, "I just want to get it over with." I mean, it isn't like this is a great experience, "I just want to get it over with and then find someone I can love."
Dennis: You're speaking of losing their virginity?
Chip: Yes, yes, I mean, this is a part of a very real, "I just want to get my virginity over with so" …
Bob: The pressure is on. If it's going to happen, let's just do it, and then I don't have to worry about …
Chip: And I don't want to – and first time, I don't think I want to have it with someone I really care about, because you know what? I don't want to get locked into something. I just want to get it over with, but what's behind that? And, see, I think what we're trying to do in "Sex 180" is talk about not only what's behind that and what you deal with in your heart and how God can fill that, but how do you now, not waiting someday, somehow, some way, relate to the opposite sex and to God in ways that God can actually fill those longings and loneliness, and you can explore in healthy, godly ways your sexuality.
Dennis: You know, it may be that Tim's a little younger than me, but my experience on the college campus was similar to yours, Tim, in that my dating life ultimately became a barometer of my spiritual life. And my dating life was actually the last thing to go that I gave to God. You, too, Chip?
Chip: Yeah, as you were saying that, I just raised my hand – been there, done that. I mean, that was a holdout for me.
Dennis: It was a holdout for me, too, and I remember when I finally did say to God, "Okay, God, you know what is best about all of my life, and I'm not going to hold out in this one segment of my life over here, somehow thinking that I know better than Almighty God." But, you know what? Tim, it was the lure and the love and the bidding of Jesus Christ, who invited me into a relationship, and it wasn't law, boundaries, rules and regulations that caused me to give my dating life and my human sexuality to God, it was the love of Christ. And I think, as a parent, it's kind of like today we're kind of raising this banner for all the parents listening. In the midst of protecting your kids' virginity, don't forget to introduce their hearts to the one who will ultimately lead them through the minefield, because if they miss Jesus, and they're virgins, they miss life.
Dennis: You may have protected against sexually transmitted diseases and emotional scar and be a virgin for your spouse in marriage, and I wouldn't want to diminish that in any way, but Jesus Christ is the one who said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me."
Chip: "And I came to give you life and give it to the full," so if you fully want to experience all that life has to offer, it's only through Jesus Christ.
Dennis: When I start thinking about the time when I gave my dating life to God, I think I'd heard a sermon about Moses, and it was the story of God bidding Moses to throw his staff down. Now, that staff that Moses had, had been with him in the wilderness for 40 years. And although this, perhaps, is a little bit of a sermonic "evang-elastic" …
Bob: Just stretching things a little bit?
Dennis: The preacher may have been stretching things. He said, "You know, undoubtedly, Moses loved that staff, but God said 'Throw it down,' and what God wanted to do is, He wanted to use that staff as a symbol of His power." Now, for me, whether the guy was stretching that story or not, he convicted me that my sex drive, my human sexuality, my dating life, and my relationship with the opposite sex were all wrapped up in a big, big, giant issue like a staff that I had to release and throw down and say to God, "Okay, you got it."
And at the point where I finally released it, when God gave it back to me, it became a symbol of His power.
Chip: I just can't help, you know, at times you have those promptings, and as you began to talk, I mean, literally, I can just guarantee you there are people listening right now at one of those promptings from God if you would not have said what you said. I have never met a man, a woman, a student, a divorcee, who has not dealt radically with this issue of their sexuality or this issue of dating, of having to be complete, and not just the physical side, but I mean the mind part, the lust part, the "am I going to allow Jesus to be the Lord of my life" or is it when I find this person or this habit or this addiction. And I don't know right now, I don't know how your program works, but I love to just – can I take, like, 30 seconds and pray?
Dennis: Oh, we need to.
Chip: Father, I want to pray right now for those that are wrestling. I remember it so vividly. It's like being torn and pulled in two different directions, and you just don't think you can stand it. I pray for every man, every woman, every student listening that You sovereignly ordained in this moment to tune in – God, would you give them the grace to drive a stake and say, "Yes, Lord Jesus, I'm going to walk with You." And then, Lord, I pray that you would grant them the grace to make as radical a change as they need to make, whether it's breaking off a relationship, going to get help with the pornography issue, whether it's a lust issue, but, Lord, I pray right now that people hearing us on this program at this time, they would bow their head – they don't have to close their eyes if they're driving – but say, 'Lord Jesus, today is the day for me. I want you to be the Lord of my life, and that includes the Lord of my dating and my sexuality, in Jesus' name.' And I would just say that if you, today, have made that decision, and you have decided, God, I really want You to be the Lord of my life in this area, please give a call here to FamilyLife ministry or give your pastor a call or someone you know that really walks with God and say, "I made a big decision today. I need help in fulfilling it."
Dennis: And I just want to say two things out of your prayer. Number one, once you've laid it down, don't pick it up until God gives it back. Because if you take it back before He sanctifies it, and that means to set it apart, that means to make it holy, that means to make it something that is a fit vessel for His use. If you pick it up too soon, you're going to miss the real blessing of God, and this is the way it's found – release and wait. He'll show you when you can pick it back up again.
Bob: And I know there are some listeners who are thinking to themselves, "I have picked it back up. I released, I picked it back up, I released again, I picked it back up. It feels like I just can't do this," and part of the reason for that is because you are attempting, perhaps, in the power of the flesh, what can only be done with the power of the Holy Spirit, and that means you can't just lay it down and not pick something up. You need to be strengthening yourself spiritually. You need to be in the Word, you need to be in fellowship with other believers, you need to have a consistent time in prayer.
You know, the Bible talks about the guy who swept the demon out of his life, and he had a nice, clean house, and then seven more came back because he didn't inhabit the house with the spirit of God. And so you've got to, if you're going to deal with this, you can't just get rid of it. You've got to replace it, and you've got to replace it with spiritual disciplines that will strengthen you spiritually to be able to lay it down and not pick it back up.
In fact, I like what our team here has done. Along with a copy of your book, they are suggesting that folks get a copy of the 26-week devotional that, Tim, your team has put together at "Youth Walk." It's a daily devotional guide for students dealing with subjects on sex, parents, popularity, other topics that teens wrestle with, and if our listeners are interested, along with a copy of the book, "Sex 180," they can request the Youth Walk" devotional, and it will help strengthen you each day as you face these kinds of temptations.
Go to our website, FamilyLife.com. Click where it says "Today's Broadcast," and that will take you to a page where you'll find more information about the resources that are available from us here at FamilyLife on this subject including Chip and Tim's book, the "Youth Walk" daily devotional and other resources. In fact, if you decide to get a copy of both the book "Sex 180" and the "Youth Walk" devotional, we will send you at no additional charge the CD audio of our conversation this week with Chip and with Tim.
Again, the website is FamilyLife.com. Click where it says "Today's Broadcast," or call us – 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY – 1-800-FLTODAY – and someone on our team will get you the information necessary so that you can get these resources sent to you.
When you do get in touch with us, it may be that someone will ask you if you are interested in helping with a donation to the ministry of FamilyLife Today. We are listener-supported, and so we regularly try to remind listeners that if you can help with financial support for this ministry, it is greatly appreciated, and it is what keeps us on the air on this station and on stations all across the country. This month we have something we would like to send as a thank you gift for those married couples who get in touch with us to make a donation to FamilyLife Today. It's a CD of a message that was featured at our "Rekindling the Romance" one-day arena event a few years back from Jody and Linda Dillow. The message is entitled "The Four Flames of Intimacy." It's a very practical look at the whole subject of marriage intimacy and some of the challenges that can occur in a marriage relationship around this subject. In fact, Jody and Linda's message is a very healthy, very biblical look at a subject that delights the heart of God, the subject of marital intimacy, and we'd love to send you the CD as our way of saying thank you when you make a donation to support the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
A donation of any amount, you can donate online at FamilyLife.com if you'd like, and when you do, you'll get to a keycode box, and if you are interested in the CD, write the word "flame" in that keycode box, and we'll know to send it to you. Or you can donate by calling 1-800-FLTODAY, and when you talk to the folks on our team, mention that you'd like the CD about intimacy. They'll know what you're talking about, and we'll make sure we get it sent out to you.
Thanks, again, for considering the financial needs of this ministry and helping us stay on the air in this city and in cities all across the country. Dennis?
Dennis: You know, today it's been a privilege to talk about one of the most sacred areas of our human existence – sexuality. And we've talked specifically to singles about laying down their dating life, their sexual experience, before God and waiting on Him to give it back. There are undoubtedly parents who are listening who have a son or daughter, and they are often in spiritual rebellion against God, and they need to go and challenge their son or their daughter to say, "You know what, son? This is an issue of making Christ Lord of your life, and I want to challenge you to give everything you've got to the Savior, because He invites you, right now, into a relationship with Him." And it could be your challenge, perhaps, by giving him a CD of these interviews. It might be used by God to ultimately help them realize what that young person may be missing in their lives.
Bob: FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.
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