Breaking the Cycle of Sin
About the Guest
Sex is a great gift from God. Satan, however, delights in distorting and corrupting that gift. Christian counselor David White talks with Dennis Rainey about the ministry of Harvest USA and the work they do helping men and women overcome sexual brokenness. White takes a look back at his own past where he found deliverance from a drinking problem when he was in his 20's, and reminds listeners that we?re all in need of Christ's healing work.
Christian counselor David White talks about helping men and women overcome sexual brokenness.
Breaking the Cycle of Sin
Bob: Long before he came to faith in Christ, David White says he was aware that his gay friends were not happy about their sexuality.
David: As an unbeliever in college, I lived in Center City. I worked as a waiter. I had lots of gay friends. I also had a drinking problem. So, if they were the only ones going out to the bar, I went with them to the gay bar and just thought I was a very progressive male. These men would tell me, “If you could put a pill on this bar that would make me straight, I would take it.” That just really sunk home, even as an unbeliever.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, July 23rd. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We’ll hear from David White today about the hope he shares with men, who are sexually-broken. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. You look around at our culture today—in the area of human sexuality, would you say things are a little crazy?
Dennis: Oh, my goodness! I mean, I really fear for my children, and my grandchildren, and the generation yet to be born. These are challenging days—not just merely to live out your faith in Jesus Christ—but also, to, I think, escape evil and not be preyed upon—
Dennis: —by evil.
Bob: And what’s interesting to me is to think, “Here is one of God’s great gifts—and to look at how distorted we can turn this good gift of God—and make it corrupted, and confusing, and crazy.”
Dennis: God created them male and female in Genesis, Chapter 1. That denotes sexuality—
Dennis: —and He said it was—what? “It was very good.”
Bob: Very good; right.
Dennis: Very good. And it has been said, “What God created, the enemy has distorted.” And I think he’s doing a good job of doing that today. I think we’re going to bring some perspective to our audience today to know how to make sense out of this—not only for your own life—but also in raising the next generation—how you ought to have conversations with them. To help us do that, David White joins us on FamilyLife Today. David, welcome to the broadcast.
David: It’s great to be here.
Dennis: David has written a book called Sexual Sanity for Men. It’s interesting—that’s one of the more unusual books we’ve ever had, here on the broadcast, Bob, because it’s a devotional, and a small group guide, as well as kind of a mentor guide. I mean, it’s jam-packed to help disciple the next generation about making sense out of this subject.
David is the Men’s Ministry Coordinator for Harvest USA, which is a ministry that disciples men and women and tackles the tough issues around sexual brokenness. And that’s really what this book is all about. You begin the book by talking about how all sexual brokenness really leads us to a wasteland, and you compare it to being in exile.
Dennis: Explain what you mean by that, David.
David: Yes, what I was seeing is the similarity between the experiences of Christians today with the experience of ancient Israel. So, Israel was in captivity in Egypt and delivered by God—brought into the Promise Land—and then, they rebelled. They returned to idols—brought under judgment—and God sent them into exile. And that so many Christians come out of dark backgrounds. God redeems them and does a wonderful work of redemption—and they enter the Promise Land, so to speak—only to eventually, slink back to their idols.
Dennis: Give me an illustration of a guy, you’ve worked with, who has done just that.
David: Sure. There was a man, who came to faith—out of a homosexual background. After living for God for many years, and getting married, and having a family—ended up going back into it—and pursuing those desires again and living them out. And now, has since, come back to a place of repentance, and been restored, and is involved in Christian ministry. God has done a wonderful work of restoration there—kind of like a Luke 15 prodigal son.
Bob: And you know—there are folks who will hear that story, and they will say: “Okay, here’s a guy, who’s gay—who got talked out of being gay for a while. After a couple of years, with a wife and some kids, he went back to what he really was—as a gay man. And now, you’ve just talked him out of it again.”
Bob: How do you respond to that?
David: Well, part of the problem—that we have, culturally, going on, right now, Bob—is that we do see gay as an identity—that for any Christian, when we talk about sexual brokenness, we’re talking about a humanity-wide problem—that every single person has a sexuality that’s been affected by the Fall.
One of the ways I put it is—that my marriage—my wedding ring, rather, is as foreign to me, naturally, as someone with same-sex attraction pursuing a member of the opposite gender. I needed a supernatural work of God to transform my sexuality, and that’s what all of us need.
Dennis: You just said something that I know, Bob, really believes in because I listened to a message he gave at his church where the single message was what you just said. And Bob you would say it—
Bob: We’re all broken. We’re all sexually-broken creatures because what happened in Genesis 3 happened to all of us. So, our sexuality—whatever the brokenness looks like and whatever degree it goes to—nobody is walking around sexually-whole, sexually- pure, sexually- unbroken; are we?
Dennis: No, and I liked what you did in your message because, by the end of the message, anybody who was holding a stone—to throw at a homosexual, or an adulterer, or to someone who is being promiscuous—
Bob: Somebody who is looking at pornography.
Dennis: —exactly. By the time he finished the message, it was like: “You know what? You can’t hold this stone and stone others because, if this isn’t your area of brokenness, then, you’ve got plenty that are.”
Dennis: And that’s what God is working in all of our lives; isn’t it? He’s redeeming us out of our brokenness.
David: Yes. I spoke on that passage in John 8 once—the woman caught in adultery—where Jesus said, “If anyone who is without sin can throw the first stone,” and the gay community would say: “Okay, you’re not without sin. So, just shut up and go home.” That isn’t the—the point of the story isn’t: “Everybody sins. So, don’t worry about it.” The point of the story is, “Everybody needs to repent!”
Bob: And you’re right. People love that story because of the message of, “Put down the stone,” and then, they love the message that says, “Neither do I condemn you;” but what often they don’t get to is the last thing Jesus says.
Dennis: And again, Bob, explain what He said to the woman.
Bob: The woman, caught in adultery, comes to Jesus—she’s dragged to Jesus. She’s not coming, voluntarily. The Pharisees are saying: “She was caught. The Law says stone her. So, we’re here. What do you say, Rabbi?” And Jesus draws in the dirt. Finally, He says, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” Everybody drops his stone, from the oldest to the youngest—the Bible says—to indicate that those who had lived longer knew they had more culpability.
Finally, Jesus says to her, “Where are those who would condemn you? Are none left?” And she says, “Nobody but you.” And it’s almost like, in saying that, she recognizes there’s only one here who could condemn me. And He says, “Neither do I condemn you.” And that’s where a lot of people like to leave this story; but they forget He said, “Go and sin no more.” There’s a call to repentance—and it’s a call to volition. Jesus is presuming that her decision to be promiscuous is something that’s within her control. He’s not presuming that she just is stuck—“That’s just how God made you. You’re just one of those women—who likes to go out and have sex.”
David: Right. And one of the things I love about that, too, is it’s really an invitation. It’s: “Go leave your life of sin. Be free!” You know, freedom isn’t that you can do whatever you want. Freedom is, “Live as you were created to be.” So, it’s an invitation.
Dennis: And the thing I like about the story—to apply it to today—is, I think, most heterosexuals—now, I’m going to make a bold statement; but it may be just more of a statement of my own life—confessing my own, hopefully, past bigotry and judgmentalism—but I think most heterosexuals look down—
Dennis: —on the sin of homosexuality as though, “Because I’m heterosexual, I’m in a better position to be able to make a comment about your sin.” But the reality is—I got my sin—I’ve got my issues. What I need to do is love all people and love them, as you just said, and invite them out of the sin because the Bible does teach that the practice of homosexuality—the act of homosexuality—is wrong.
But the reality is: “Yes, there is a standard—and yes, it’s wrong—but yes—we, who are followers of Jesus Christ, must love. We must exhibit the love of Jesus Christ for all people who are broken.”
David: That’s right.
Bob: David, you make an observation, in your book, that I thought that was really very interesting. When I was growing up, in the 60’s, the model—the role model—for the new sexual liberation was Hugh Hefner, the founder and President of Playboy. This was a picture of what manliness was: The man, who is sexually permissive—the man who is having multiple relationships with multiple women—James Bond, take your pick—that defined manhood.
You say, in the book, that sexual sin, actually, has the opposite effect. It begins to corrode and rob us of authentic masculinity.
David: Absolutely, yes. Sexual sin emasculates us. What happens is—two things, I would say. Number one, we become more bestial. You know, if you looked at the created world, animals go after whoever looks attractive. Nothing reigns in their desires. I mean—sin—broadly—does that; right? It makes us bestial. I would say sexual sin is such a graphic picture of that because sexuality is a good gift—as you were saying at the beginning. It is a wonderful gift from God.
Part of what makes it glorious is that we are made in His image—so that the sexual union is supposed to be a deep, rich, spiritual, emotional connection with another human being. So, on one level, yes, it makes us more bestial. Then, it keeps us from becoming who we were called to be as men—as those who care for and protect those who are weaker. Instead of caring for and protecting others, we become exploiters.
Dennis: You work in a church, or near a church, Tenth Presbyterian, in Philadelphia. You describe the street where your church is located—and you’re in the heart of the issue of brokenness in that city. Describe what you shared, a bit earlier with Bob and me, about that spot on the street.
Bob: And it’s really about how Harvest USA got started more than 30 years ago; right?
David: It is. Back in 1983, we started out of Tenth Presbyterian Church, in Center City, Philadelphia. That’s located at 17th and Spruce Streets. Right in front of the church is a little half wall, where male prostitutes would come and sit and wait for men to pick them up. The pastor, at the time, was Dr. James Boyce, who realized, “This is a lost people group that’s, literally, on the doorstep of my church.” So, we started as an outreach Bible Study, in one of the pastor’s homes, back 30 years ago.
Dennis: Started as an outreach to offer redemption, and hope, and help to those people.
Dennis: You made a statement, also, earlier, about how people, who are caught up in that lifestyle, really ultimately, want out.
David: Yes, it’s amazing how God prepares you for the ministry He’s going to call you to do. As an unbeliever, in college, I lived in Center City. I worked as a waiter. I had lots of gay friends. I also had a drinking problem. So, if they were the only ones going out to the bar, I went with them to the gay bar and just thought I was a very progressive male.
These men would tell me, “If you could put a pill on this bar that would make me straight, I would take it.” That just really sunk home, even as an unbeliever, that all the messages I was hearing from the culture were lies—that people that are in the gay life aren’t happy. There’s no joy in the gay life.
Dennis: No matter how respectable you make it. There’s a sense—in the person, in their soul—that they know God made them to be something different than what they’ve become.
David: Right. I would bring that back to, also, what you were saying earlier, Dennis—that all of us have this brokenness inside of us—that there is something that is not right that needs to be fixed. So, that would be true of that community.
Bob: So, if that’s the case—if all these men want out—and I’m—by the way, I’m sure we’ve got some folks who are listening, right now, who heard you say that and say: “Not me. I’m fine with who I am. You’re over-generalizing, and you’re over-characterizing. I’ll introduce you to the guys who are just happy with their lives.” So, what do you say to that guy, who says: “No, we’re fine with who we are. If you guys will just come along and get with it, then, everything will be better”?
David: Well, there are a couple of things I would say. Number one, Proverbs teaches that, even in laughter, the heart may be aching. So, there can be a lot of posturing going on and pretending. The other reason why I know that this is true is because this is God’s world. It works His way. He called us how to live. Anything we place on the throne, instead of Him, is going to be empty and leave us desolate. It’s going to leave us in that wasteland experience.
Dennis: It was Pascal, I think, who said, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man that can only be met by the person of Jesus Christ.”
Bob: Augustine said, “Every man’s heart is restless until we find our rest in Him.”
Dennis: And we’re not really, again, throwing stones at those who are struggling around homosexual sin. We’re just saying, “You know, regardless of what you are struggling with—what you long for”—because what you described was who I was, as a college sophomore—between my sophomore and junior year, my soul was restless. I wanted to find the One who would satisfy me. Homosexuality was not what I was struggling with, but my satisfaction came from surrendering to the person of Jesus Christ.
Bob: So, here’s my question: “Why is it sexual sin seems to get its talons locked into the soul of a human being in a way that other sins aren’t as penetrating?” I’m not saying it’s not as severe. I’m just saying some things you can get free from easier than sexual sin.
David: Sure. We were saying, earlier, that God is a creator; right? The enemy is not a creator—he’s a corrupter. So, the best he can do is take God’s good gifts—and taint, and twist them, and break them. And sexuality—being one of God’s wonderful gifts—he’s had a hey-day with in people’s lives. Because it’s such a wonderful gift, they think: “Aha! Maybe, this is it. Maybe, this will give life to me.” In fact, that’s what Paul says in Ephesians 4. He describes people, who turn away from God and give themselves over to sensuality. He says two things happen—this increasing depravity and a continual lust for more. It’ll get worse and worse, and you’ll never be satisfied.
Another point I would make is—First Corinthians 6 describes other sins being outside of ourselves—but sexual sin being against yourself. There is a sense in which the Creator is handing you a beautiful gift. God is saying, “I have a wonderful gift for you, and you’re corrupting it.” It’s like a kid—who breaks into his parents’ closet, the week before Christmas, to look at what’s there—and ends up ruining the blessing of Christmas day.
Dennis: And this is why the role of a parent, with our children, is so important—to protect our children from evil.
Dennis: I quote Romans 16 often, here, on the broadcast. Paul said, “But I want you to be wise in what is good”—
Dennis: —“and innocent of what is evil.” And what happens to a young person’s soul, when they experience sex outside of how God designed it to be experienced, can really create that wasteland you talk about in your book—
Dennis: —and we can become enslaved.
David: Yes. It’s tragic. I think one of the hardest aspects of my job, Dennis, is seeing parents of younger and younger children calling me. I was counseling with one young man, who was looking at horrible things on his iPod®. What the Lord put on my heart was to remind him of an innocence he once felt before he saw these things and that the promise of the Gospel is that we are cleansed—that we are cleansed and justified. That’s what God wants to do for him—to restore.
Dennis: David, you don’t know this; but Bob and I have been doing radio for 20 years together. We have sat across the table, as we are from you, having these conversations with a number of men—who have come and talked about how they were exposed to pornography when they were 14, 15, 16—seeing a magazine in their dad’s pick-up truck. It just spins them off into a whole lifestyle that—you know?—it’s ten years later before they are able to break free of it.
And I’m with you today—I am really concerned about where our culture is taking these images—at younger and younger ages—and how parents can do a good job protecting their kids while they’re under their own roof, when they are in their own car, when they take them to the school. You know, maybe they are going to a private school, where they are trying to kind of hedge their bets and maybe create a more conservative approach; but you can’t control all your kids’ friends, and all of the communication devices that they’ve got—to be able to, at one point—show an 8-, 9-, 10-year-old boy or girl something that is going to distort their view of their own sexuality, their view of themselves, and, ultimately, their view of God.
And the good thing I like about what your book does is—it really lays out a provocative—yet, very healthy process, biblically—for how a man, who has struggled with his own sexual brokenness, can begin a process to work through it with God and themselves, or with a mentor, or a small group of guys. This can be powerful in breaking the bonds of slavery and getting a guy out of exile.
Bob: And I’m just curious—as you think about the book—if a guy is listening, and he hears about it, and thinks, “That’s where I want to get to,”—can he buy this book, read this book, and get where he needs to be on his own; or is he going to need somebody to go through this with him—is he going to need community in all of this? Just respond to that.
David: If a man does not have community in his life, I would still say, “Get the book, and get started;” but he’s not going to get very far in the book before realizing: “I’m doing this the wrong way. I can’t do this alone.” God did not call a bunch of isolated individuals. He called a church.
So, men who—I work with men who say: “I’ve tried everything, Dave. I’ve fasted! I’ve prayed! I’ve memorized Scripture, and nothing has worked.” And I’ll say, “Well, who have you told about this?” They’ll say, “Well, I’m sitting here talking to you, right now”—you know, 20 years later. I’ll say, “No, you’ve been trying to do it the wrong way.”
Bob: You’ve got to expose the unfruitful works of darkness and bring them out into the light before they are going to get dealt with.
Dennis: And bring them out in the midst of community—
Bob: That’s right.
Dennis: —where people are safe, who are still going to love after you’ve confessed.
Bob: It’s going to take some courage for a guy to get together with his friends and say, “Hey, why don’t we go through this new book?”
Dennis: Well, listen to this: Psalm 32, verses 3-5—I believe this is David. He said, “For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away”—he’s talking about his sin—“through my groaning all day long. For day and night, Your hand was heavy upon me. My strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to You”—speaking to God—“and I did not cover my iniquity, and I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and You forgave the iniquity of my sin.”
That’s the hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And He came to take that which is broken and make it a new creation—if you’ll take Jesus Christ at His Word.
Bob: And that’s where David points us, in the book that he has written, called Sexual Sanity for Men: Re-Creating Your Mind in a Crazy Culture. And it is a crazy culture. And this is not just a book for guys who are ensnared in some kind of bondage around sexual sin. This is a book for all of us, as men, who want to live pure-hearted, as it relates to our sexuality before God. We’ve got copies of the book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about the book, Sexual Sanity for Men. Our website, again, is FamilyLifeToday.com. You can also order by calling 1-800-FL-TODAY, 1-800-358-6329. Ask about the book, Sexual Sanity for Men, when you call 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”.
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And this week, we’d like to say, “Thank you for your support,” by sending you a conversation we had with Kim and Krickitt Carpenter. Their love story became a Hollywood movie called The Vow; but honestly, the real story is even more powerful than the movie. You’ll hear them share details of the car wreck they were in, Krickitt’s traumatic brain injury that lead to a period of amnesia—she didn’t even know she was married when she came to—and how God has rebuilt their relationship.
We’ll send you the CD when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com this week and make a donation—just click the button that says, “I CARE”, to make your donation online. Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to make your donation over the phone. Ask for the CD about The Vow, and we’re happy to send it to you. And we are grateful to all of you who help support this ministry. Thanks for your financial support; and thanks for your prayers, as well.
And we hope you’ll join us back again tomorrow when we’re going to talk more with David White about the issue of sexual purity for men. Coming up later on this week, Ellen Dycas joins us to talk about the same subject for women. So, I hope you can join us all week long.
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.
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