Purity: Not Just for the Unmarried
About the Guest
You’re faithful to your spouse, right? You’ve never cheated, and you wouldn’t think of starting. And, your spouse feels the same way, right? Consequently, you’re not a risk for sexual temptation, right? Russell Moore says not so fast. You WILL encounter sexual temptation in your marriage, because sexual temptation is a demonic response against the holy sexual intimacy in your healthy marriage. Moore outlines how to guard your marriage bed against the assaults of the devil.
Dr. Russell Moore says you WILL encounter sexual temptation in your marriage.
Purity: Not Just for the Unmarried
Bob: People don’t just fall into a marital affair. Dr. Russell Moore says, “There is actually a diabolical plot that is unfolding as you engage in marital unfaithfulness.”
Russell: Sexual immorality is part of a conspiracy to work with you, in your sin, in order to trap you, like an animal, who is caught. Paul says, “Flee from sexual immorality;” and why is that the case? It’s because this warning applies to all of the people of God.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, February 11th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We hear a lot of talk today about sexual purity prior to marriage. What about sexual purity in marriage? We’re going to hear about that today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. And I want to say a very special happy birthday—
Dennis: I’ll take it!
Bob: —to my good friend, Crawford Loritts, who is celebrating his birthday today. [Laughter] Isn’t it?
Dennis: You got me on that one! [Laughter] Crawford and I have the same birthdays. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia. We always try to call each other before the other does. Of course, he gets up much earlier than I do because it’s Eastern Time in Atlanta. You nailed me on that, Bob. You got me!
Bob: I just thought I’d sneak that in there as you and Crawford both celebrate birthdays—“Happy birthday to both of you,” is what I really wanted to say.
Dennis: Thank you. Thank you very much.
Bob: You know, I was thinking about this being the Valentine’s season. Everybody is thinking about romance. It just feels, to me—like, in the culture anymore—Valentine’s Day has taken kind of a sad turn because romance, in our culture today, means sex. You stop, and you look at it—we’ve lost—
Dennis: Married or unmarried.
Bob: Yes, we’ve lost the sense that romance is about fond affection for one another—
Bob: —and we’ve just reduced it to—
Bob: —the basics. Yes.
Dennis: You know—winning the hand of your bride, your wife. Yes, it’s about competition. Just because you’re married, doesn’t mean the competition is over.
Bob: Folks need to get back to an understanding that romance is something—well, we talked about it last week as we heard you and Barbara talking about romance, and passion, and how we express our affection for one another—how we love one another. That is done in non-sexual ways.
But I was also thinking of a message that you and I heard back, a number of months ago, when Dr. Russell Moore, who is the Dean of the School of Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, was talking to students there about the dangers that married couples can get in when they find themselves tempted by sexual impurity in a marriage relationship.
Dennis: And although he is talking to a group of future pastors, he’s talking to our listeners today because the temptations are very real, on a number of fronts. You just need to know—as a listener, stay all the way to the end. This is a very entertaining message, especially, here at the season of Valentine’s.
Bob: It’s entertaining; but it’s also powerful, and one that I think every married couple needs to hear. We’re going to hear it this week. In fact, we’re going to hear Part One right now. Here is Russell Moore, who has just been introduced to the students by Dr. Randy Stinson, at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, with a message on moral purity from First Corinthians, Chapter 6.
Russell: Dr. Stinson says he already commends everything I have to say. So, I’ll say this to Dr. Stinson: “We, Moores, might be a little people; but we’re fiery! I guarantee you—if you get enough adrenaline in me, I can whip any man in this room!” [Laughter]
The moment when that adrenaline started to surge through me—and what I believe was the highest level in my life—and possibly at a toxic level—happened at a True Love Waits retreat, sometime in the 1990s. I was serving as a youth pastor. I’d been asked to speak at this event that was devoted to talking to teenagers about sexual purity and about saving themselves, sexually, for marriage. I had my youth group with me, as well; and I was here with a group of other youth groups.
I was about to speak about sexual purity, and I was seated on the platform. They said, “Before you speak, we’re going to have one of the teenagers stand up and give her testimony.” So, she did—girl named Laurie. She got up and said: “Some of you, in this room, know that I had sex with Chad last year, right over there; and I’ve repented of that. Some of you don’t think I’ve repented of that. Just because Chad was dating Tina when we got together, you can’t judge me! You can’t judge me!”
I’m sitting here, thinking, “This has suddenly turned into some type of a daytime talk show.” [Laughter] It went on, and on, and on. Then, I had to stand up and preach the Bible. As I was reading the text, I mistakenly thought to myself, “Well, at least we have hit rock bottom;” but, “Oh, no,” because the next day was an event for guys only. The male teenagers were to come to this event. Laurie’s dad, who was a leader in that church, was leading that event. He stood up and started talking to this group of mostly eighth-grade boys about sexual purity. He said:
As some of you heard last night, my daughter, Laurie, had sex with Chad over there. Chad, it was—what November?—October? It was October. They’ve repented of that. I want to tell you something right now. You boys think that sex is so great. You think that sex is just so fantastic. It sure seems like it now, but just wait until you’ve been married to the same woman for 30 years. It’s the same thing—day in and day out—and night in and night out—you won’t think that sex is all that great then.
Well, the Lord has given me a gift that I’m not sure is included in Ephesians, Chapter 4—but I can read thought-balloons sometimes. As a former eighth-grade boy, I can especially read the thought-balloons, over all our eighth grade boys. It is, “Well, if this is what we have waiting for us, then, let’s just get while the getting is good.
The more he talked, the madder I became. The reason why is—I’ve reflected upon that man’s attitude over the years—it’s not just that he’s mistaken—although he is—it’s that, at the core of what he was saying—despite all his good intentions—was something deeply and profoundly satanic.
If you are going to be the kind of husband, or the kind of wife, who will maintain moral purity in your marriage, you must understand what it is that you are wrestling against. What you are wrestling against is not merely biology—what you are wrestling against is not merely whatever circumstance you happen to be in your life, or in your ministry, or in your marriage—what you are wrestling against is an ancient, spiritual battle that cuts to the very core of what the Gospel, itself, is about.
Whatever sexual temptation will come into your marriage is not about you! It is about something that has been going on for millennia—and something that was purposed and planned, in the mind of God, before the cosmos ever was. Your struggle and your battle is precisely what the serpent offers in the Garden, when he says to the woman—simultaneously—“See yourself as an animal.” She’s been given dominion—the Bible says—“over all the beasts of the fields.” Now, she is taking direction from a “beast of the fields.” Also, “See yourself as a god. You can decide what is good and evil.”
You will face this pull, throughout your marriage, because this is exactly what the Apostle Paul is talking about when he says the issue in sexual purity is not simply about self-control—although it is about self-control. It is about a kind of self-control that is doing warfare against the temptation of Satan. You will face this pull and this devastating drive toward sexual temptation. I want us to deal with it, this morning, in several areas.
The first is in the most obvious area of adultery. Almost anybody in this room can look around and see the kind of carnage that takes place in the lives—even of people that you know. Some of you have pastors who preach the Word of God to you or who baptized you, who were later destroyed in an adulterous affair. Some of you have friends that have started out in ministry with you, who have been destroyed by an adulterous affair.
Just this last year, I heard of a friend of mine, from years ago—a man that I had studied for ministry with—who was caught in an adulterous affair. The worst part about it was a mutual friend said: “He sat his children down. He said, ‘I know this is wrong. I’m leaving your mother for another woman. I know this is wrong, but God will forgive me because that’s what God does.’” The mutual friend said what was most disturbing to him was hearing his children scream. I put down the phone and vomited out of anguish—imagining myself, looking into the faces of my children and saying, “Everything that you have ever known is being torn to shreds.” I said, “I can’t even imagine that!” but then—it hit me, “Two years ago, he couldn’t have imagined it either. Two years ago, that scenario would have been just as shocking to him as it is to me, right now!”
That’s because sexual immorality is not something that suddenly happens to you. Sexual immorality is part of a conspiracy and a plot to work with you, in your sin, in order to—as the Book of Proverbs says—“...trap you, like an animal, who is caught.” Paul says, “Flee from sexual immorality. Be warned about joining yourself in adultery,” and why is that the case? It’s because this warning applies to all of the people of God.
We typically think that sexual temptation and sexual opportunity happens to sexy people. You see love affairs on television and in the movies in which you have these magnetic, attractive people who lined up together in these affairs. That is not the way that it happens! The ugliest people I’ve ever known have had affairs. [Laughter] I have seen—I can’t tell you how many men who have left beautiful, godly wives for women that you would not even notice if you passed them in the hallway. This is not a matter of how sexy or how attractive someone is. The satanic powers are noticing you! They are watching you! That is especially the case for those of you who have stood up and said, “I am pursuing God’s call upon my life to stand, and to speak for Christ, in proclaiming the Oracles of God.” They will do anything to see to it that the Gospel is discredited by your animalistic impulses.
Most people, who find themselves drawn into adultery, are not drawn into adultery because they are so oversexed. Most of them, instead, find themselves in that place because marriage is exactly what Dennis Rainey said, a few minutes ago—a mission.
It’s an economy. It’s an order that has been put together—and it is hard labor together—to bring forth the bread from the earth, and to be fruitful and multiply, and to raise up the next generation, and to get along with one another, through all of these sufferings and all of this strife.
Most of the ministers of the Gospel, that I know, who have wrecked themselves in affairs, have done so because this is a means, initially, of escape. They find themselves in a situation where talking to her or visiting with him has all of the vibe and the excitement of a high school romance. You don’t have to worry about who’s going to take the garbage out, and who’s going to separate the recycling, and who’s going to discipline the children. It simply is a means of flight from responsibility. It is a way for the ego to be gratified as someone starts to see himself or see herself as the object of attention.
But notice what the Apostle Paul says here. It is shockingly radical! The Apostle Paul says, “You belong to each other.” He does not simply say, “Flee adultery.” He does not simply say, “Don’t be joined to a prostitute.” He does not simply say, “Hey, it’s okay to be married”—those of you who are wondering about that. He says something significant here. He says, “Husbands, your body belongs to your wife; and wives, your body belongs to your husband.”
Do you realize what a shocking statement that is to be made in a patriarchal culture in which so many people in the pagan world see women as being simply a form of property of men? For Paul, not only to speak to the wives—as Peter calls them, “joint heirs of the Gospel with you”—but to say, “Husbands, your wife has authority over your body. You are one flesh.”
Sometimes, people get their ideas about marriage from watching films and watching movies.
Bob: Well, we’ve been listening here to the first part of a message from Dr. Russell Moore about purity in marriage. I think a lot of couples think to themselves, “Well, once you’re married, the purity issue goes away because, once you’re married, it’s the two of you and your sexual relationship is pure before the Lord,” —but there are ways for impurity to drift into a marriage relationship.
Dennis: That’s right. And earlier, on the broadcast, I said, “Just because you are married, doesn’t mean you can stop competing for your spouse.” You’re competing for her heart—for his heart. You’re competing against all kinds of romantic urges—whether it be pornography, whether it be the opposite sex, whether it be career or children. I mean, there are all kinds of things that can romance our hearts—can take our hearts out of the marriage relationship. I think he is warning us today about—especially, protecting your heart as wife—as a husband—against any chance of it being connected to someone of the opposite sex.
Bob: Any temptation—romantically or sexually—outside of marriage—you’re headed down a dangerous path, if you follow that.
Dennis: Romantic attractions don’t start in bed. They start with an emotional connection—maybe, even a spiritual connection. There are a lot of affairs that start in churches or in small group Bible studies. So, my advice to you is—if there is any catalytic response, taking place with anyone, other than your spouse, extinguish it. Put it out! Turn your back on that other relationship. Don’t add any fuel to the fire. Get out of there! Flee because it not only stands a chance of igniting into a bigger fire—it can destroy your marriage, your family, and your legacy.
Bob: You address this in the book that you and Barbara wrote, Rekindling the Romance, where you talked about emotional affairs as the precursor of what, ultimately, blossoms into full-blown marital infidelity. I think one of the ways we guard ourselves against this kind of temptation is by being alert to these issues. I’d encourage couples to read through the book, Rekindling the Romance.
I’d also encourage them to attend one our Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways. That’s the kind of preventative maintenance couples need to protect their marriage. You need the time away together. You need to have your thinking saturated with what the Scriptures teach about the marriage relationship.
Let me encourage you to go to FamilyLifeToday.com. There’s information there about resources we have available—Dennis and Barbara’s book, Rekindling the Romance—a great book, by C.J. Mahaney, called Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God—and there is information about the upcoming Weekend to Remember marriage getaway schedule for this spring. I’m going to be speaking, this weekend, at the getaway in Hershey, Pennsylvania. You just got back from being at the getaway in Washington, DC, at the Gaylord National Hotel. We’ve got getaways taking place, throughout the spring, in a variety of locations.
Go to FamilyLifeToday.com to order resources that can help you strengthen your marriage in this area or to find out more about a weekend getaway for you and your spouse. Again, our website is FamilyLifeToday.com. You can also reach us by phone at 1-800-FL-TODAY. That’s 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”.
You know, we address this subject of marital intimacy at our Weekend to Remember marriage getaways. In fact, I spoke on this at a getaway, a while back. We have available, this month, an audio CD of that presentation—about an hour’s worth of content—on how you can make marital intimacy what God intends for it to be in a marriage relationship. That CD is our thank-you gift, this week, when you make a donation to help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today. We appreciate your support.
In fact, the production and syndication costs for this program are covered by folks, like you, who make a donation, from time to time, or those of you who are Legacy Partners and support us on a monthly basis. We’re grateful for that. Again, we’d like to say, “Thank you,” this month, by sending you this audio CD on marital intimacy. Go online at FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the button that says, “I CARE”, to make an online donation; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY and make a donation over the phone. Just mention that you’d like the audio CD on marital intimacy. Again, we’re happy to send it to you. And we just want to say: “Thanks for partnering with us—for standing with us—in the ministry of FamilyLife Today. We appreciate you.”
We hope you can join us back tomorrow as we’re going to continue to hear from Dr. Russell Moore about the subject of purity in marriage: “How do we guard our marriages?” “How do we keep our marriages pure from sexual temptation and sexual sin?” We’re going to hear about that tomorrow. Hope you can be back.
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 tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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