Talking About Sex
About the Guest
Juli SlatteryDr. Juli Slattery is a widely known clinical psychologist, author, speaker and broadcast media professional. She's the president and co-founder of Authentic Intimacy. She hosts a podcast called Java With Juli, where she answers tough questions about relationships, marriage, spiritual, emotional and sexual intimacy. She has authored eight books, including 25 Questions You're Afraid to As...more
Michelle HillRadio has been ingrained in Michelle for most of her life. This love for radio has taken her to various radio stations and ministries in places like Chicago, Alaska and other snow covered terrains like her hometown in north central Iowa. In 2005 she landed on staff with Cru/FamilyLife®. While at FamilyLife she has overseen the expansion of FamilyLife Today® internationally, assisted with the creation of Passport2Identity™-Womanhood and is now the host of FamilyLife This Week®...more
Juli Slattery and Michelle Hill engage in a lively discussion about sexuality. Slattery coaches mothers how to talk to their daughters about sex.
Talking About Sex
Bob: When a single person is tempted to be sexually immoral, what’s that temptation all about? Juli Slattery says we need to get to the root of that issue if we’re going to help singles be pure.
Juli: I think we need to ask that question: “What does my sexuality represent to me? What is the deeper longing?” Most often, it’s not just a physical desire—it’s the longing to be somebody’s / to belong somewhere—to be working toward the future with someone. If we can connect with those deeper longings, then, there are very appropriate, godly ways to pursue those longings.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, October 19th. Our host is Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. All of us need help and accountability when it comes to sexual purity. We need to keep in mind there are single men and women in our churches who are struggling in these areas.
“What can we do to help?”—we’re going to talk about that today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. We’ve got a friend joining us today who is going to be on our 2019 Love Like You Mean It® marriage cruise.
Dennis: That’s right. I’d forgotten about that!
Bob: She and her husband are going to be joining us.
Dennis: Dr. Juli Slattery.
Dennis: It’s going to be fun having you onboard. Let me tell you something—you have never experienced something like this—
Juli: I can’t wait.
Dennis: —3,000 people, all learning about God, marriage, family, relationships.
Bob: Don’t sell it up because we’re sold out; okay?
Dennis: It sold out in less than 30 days!
Dennis: Thirty days!
Bob: Well, they heard Juli Slattery was going to be there.
Juli: Yes; right.
Dennis: Also joined by Michelle Hill—welcome back to the broadcast.
Michelle: Thank you.
Dennis: You’ve actually been on the cruise.
Bob: We have asked you to be with us as we’re having our conversation—
Michelle: Yes; I got the short end of the straw.
Bob: —with Juli Slattery. [Laughter] The reason is because—[Laughter]
Michelle: No; it’s been a joy and delight.
Dennis: Well, we haven’t introduced the book that she’s written.
Bob: That’s right.
Dennis: She’s written a book called Sex and the Single Girl, and we’re going to hit three areas.
Bob: We are. Michelle, again, we want you to chime in. Michelle is in her 40’s; she’s single—so this is real life for you.
But we want to talk, Juli, about how a mom can raise a daughter for that period of time—when she will be sexually interested and unmarried—how do you get her ready for that season? Secondly, how do you help somebody, who is in that season for a prolonged season, thrive in the midst of that? Then, third, what do you do if you’ve crossed the line and, maybe, that’s been a pattern for a long period of time?—and that crossing the line can look like all kinds of things for a young woman.
Let’s start with moms and daughters.
Dennis: And before we start there—Keith, I want you to turn a timer on. Just break the broadcast down into three segments.
Bob: You want these equal segments?
Dennis: I do! I want to make sure we cover all three of these because I want to hear what Juli says. I know, if I want to hear, I’ll guarantee you there are a lot of listeners who want to hear.
Bob: Okay; so you’re on the clock, Juli.
Bob: Alright? Here we go.
Juli: I’ll talk fast.
Bob: So, mothers and daughters—there is going to be a time in most girls’ lives when they are sexually interested and sexually aware. They are single, and they know what the Bible says; but this is hard, and their friends are saying: “Come on! What’s the big deal?”
Juli: Okay; so I think the first part of that is to normalize it, because we don’t typically talk about sexual longings. You know, you shared, Michelle, your experience of just hearing: “Don’t do it. Don’t be sexual. Don’t have sex,” and that was pretty much it; but I think normalizing conversations around the fact that we have longings that are not met in the present time and, in some respects, not met completely here on earth.
So, for mom, again, to have the conversation that’s more of a discipleship model of sharing when she was single—even sharing the fact that marriage is part of why God has designed your sexuality, to draw you into and to want a covenant relationship with someone—but ultimately, that relationship is meant to be with God.
Our sexuality constantly reminds us that we were not created to be alone. So, when we feel those longings, we have to remember that those longings have a purpose.
When a mom approaches sexuality from that perspective—and also invites her daughter to be open about when she’s struggling: “It’s okay to struggle. It’s normal to struggle. Let’s talk about it. Let’s pray about it. Let’s get you some support and help through this,”—it sets a completely different atmosphere than the approach of: “This is an awkward topic. I don’t really want to know what you’re struggling with, because I’m not sure I know how to handle it.”
You know, it’s a different environment that allows a young woman, again, to be discipled through that.
Bob: Let me just say, quickly, a mom may try to have that kind of conversation with her daughter, and her daughter feels uncomfortable; and that should not be a signal for a mom then to retreat and say, “Well, she doesn’t want to talk about it.” It just means that your daughter—“This feels a little uncomfortable,”—but you can gently continue to nudge and open the door. Your daughter will come around; won’t she?
Juli: Yes; absolutely. I mean, when I was first called to talk on this topic of sexuality, many years ago, I was so nervous; and it was so awkward. I didn’t know how to say the words out loud; but the more God has called me to study this and to integrate it into my own life and to teach it, the more comfortable and normal this becomes. That’s true, not just in a ministry context, but in a relationship and parenting context. The more we push through that awkwardness and really reclaim this conversation as part of God’s design, the less uncomfortable we are; and our kids pick up on that.
Dennis: You know, we do not understand the mystery that surrounds our sexuality; but God did make us sexual beings, so I just want to put a double-underline about what you said, Juli. Push through the fear / the shame of your own past—whatever grips your heart of being terrified about talking about some of these subjects—and have the conversation, because young ladies are facing this stuff with both the opposite sex and same sex.
They are desperate to have somebody invade their world.
What would it have done for you, as a young lady, Michelle? You mentioned earlier that you grew up in a home where it just wasn’t talked about. What do you think it might have meant to you if those conversations had been normalized?
Michelle: I think, at first, it would have taken my mom to have to continue pressing on and pressing into me; but if they had been normalized, I think I would have had a different worldview as I grew up.
It’s interesting—I have a friend who took her young girl through Passport2Purity® not too long ago. She said, “I can’t share with her my past.” I said: “Share with her what is age-appropriate, because then you are helping to be transparent. You’re showing to her what it is to be vulnerable. Then, she can do the same with you.”
Dennis: Juli, what about the past? Do moms need to enter into that? How about dads too?
Juli: Yes; I think absolutely.
You used the phrase, age-appropriate, which is key. You don’t want to share with your children something that you haven’t, yourself, processed.
Sometimes, when you’re sharing something for the first time, you overshare; and you don’t want to do that with your kids. But here is the key—is talking about sexual sins/struggles is actually, I think, perhaps, the most powerful way to teach our kids about the gospel of Jesus Christ; because, when we sin, sexually—you know, Scripture even says every other sin is outside the body, but this is against your own body.
There is something very profound that happens in our sexual sin; and when we understand that Jesus died to forgive us and completely free us from that, we understand the gospel at a different level. If our kids can see that in our lives and begin to integrate that into their own walk with God, it’s so much more powerful than just the message: “The goal is to stay pure.” You know, the goal is to have an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ wherever we find ourselves.
Bob: Okay; the timer is going off, so we’ve got to move to topic number two, which is strategies for coping, as a single young woman, who has sexual desire and you’re single. What’s your best advice to somebody like Michelle?
Michelle: Yes, help me. Help me, please!
Bob: —I want to hear what has worked for you—[Laughter]—what you’ve done that’s helped you stay focused on it. Maybe, we start with you—do you want to start and tell us what your strategies have been?
Dennis: Juli is nodding her head for you. [Laughter]
Michelle: Yes; I know. She’s trying to encourage me on. Strategies—well, I’m just going to throw out the good, Christian answer—that’s “Jesus.” I mean, seriously, that has to be your number-one strategy—the focus of each day, every second of each day.
For me, also, my love language is touch. This has been a struggle for me because, in our society, a single girl just doesn’t walk up to anybody or any guy and give them a hug or even linger in a hug or touch.
Even to my friends—that’s not something that I do. I can do that with little kids, but I don’t have a lot of little kids around me.
What I’ve done is—I’ve started volunteering with hospice. I have been assigned to a nursing home. I tell people: “Well, I don’t have any man around me to give me hugs; so I go to hospice, and I hold hands.”
Dennis: Wow. That’s beautiful.
Michelle: It hasn’t fulfilled me in what I really long and desire, but God has used that in amazing ways.
Dennis: You’re thinking outside yourself.
Michelle: Trying to. [Laughter]
Dennis: Yes; Juli?
Juli: First of all, I just want to commend you for, particularly, what you shared about your strategy—understanding that your love language is physical touch. I think what’s so key is meaningful physical touch. It’s not enough just for someone to randomly come up and give you a hug; but what you are doing, when you’re ministering to those in hospice or in a nursing home, is you’re giving life through touch—that’s what we long for—it’s not just a handshake.
It is like: “I want to express love in some way with the body God has given me.” There are all kinds of appropriate ways to do that. You mentioned children—children need so much touch, and they don’t have the same taboos we have around giving somebody a hug—
Juli: —you know, just sitting on your lap and cuddling while you’re reading a book. That’s a beautiful way of recognizing, “I need physical contact,” and that’s a healthy way of, not only receiving it, but giving it.
I think, in terms of strategies—I think one of the most important things is getting the bigger picture around our sexuality. Sometimes, we put all of our eggs in this basket of “I need to be sexually active to be fulfilled/completed.” We don’t recognize that that expression of sexuality is really tapping into so many deeper longings that are significant.
I’ll tell you story of a woman that I talked to recently, who has recently come to a relationship with Jesus Christ and has a history of a lot of trauma in her past—
—and a history of many hook-up relationships—just guy after guy after guy. She’s been a Christian for about a year. She was like: “I can’t stop myself from wanting to have sex with somebody. I walk into work, and that’s the first thing on my mind. Can you help me?—because I don’t know how to stop this.”
I made the statement to her: “I think, when you walk into work and you have that thought, you’re really not looking for sex. What are you looking for?” Immediately, she said: “You’re right. I just want to belong. I want affection.”
I think we need to ask that question: “What does my sexuality represent to me? What is the deeper longing?” Most often, it’s not just a physical desire—it’s the longing to be somebody’s / to belong somewhere—to be working toward the future with someone. If we can connect with those deeper longings, then there are very appropriate, godly ways to pursue those longings.
Dennis: Yes; and one of the things I would add to our list here of strategies is a best friend—
Dennis: —a long-term, lifelong friend. David had his Jonathan. He actually said that his love was better than that of a woman.
Dennis: It wasn’t a homosexual relationship, but I think one of the most powerful ways that the Christian community ought to be good at setting single women up with would be to have a friendship with someone you could trust, from a mature standpoint. Now, again, it has to be one that’s proven over time. You also have to know that you’ll have a number of friendships that won’t go the distance—
Dennis: —and won’t be that true kindred-spirit friendship.
Bob: Well, I just want to say here, I’ve got a friend of mine who has been through Alcoholics Anonymous. One of the things he shared with me about his battle for desire—because that’s what we’re talking about here—he said, “I was told”—and you’ve probably heard this about the H.A.L.T. acronym. He said, “You are most susceptible to want to drink when you’re hungry, angry, lonely, or tired.”
Michelle, I’m guessing that these sexual feelings—and you’re wanting to act on them—are harder to deal with when you’re hungry, or angry, or lonely, or tired.
Michelle: Oh, yes; or when life is feeling like: “I’m in despair,” / “I’m discouraged.” It is like, “Okay; how do I stop?”
I was going to ask Juli—we have a lot—a growing number of Christian young gals who are into pornography. Help us understand what they can put into their place as, not as a road block, but as a strategy to keep from going down that road.
Juli: Again, we’ve got to ask the deeper question. You know, I think there are strategies that you set up to play defense—you know, like having an accountability partner, having software on your phone or computer, maybe not having a smartphone. Those are wise defensive strategies; but what we’re not doing is saying, “What’s the offensive strategy?”—
—because we get involved in hookups, and pornography, and other forms of destructive behaviors, not randomly; they come from somewhere. We’re doing more research on why men and women are getting pulled into these things. For example, you are much more likely to be involved in pornography if you feel that your life does not have a purpose / if it feels meaningless. You’re much more likely to be involved in pornography if you have experienced sexual trauma as a child.
I think some of it is we are not asking the deeper question of: “What is the wound that is drawing me to this? What is the need that Satan is telling me I can get met this way?” Again, when we use the discipleship framework to this, it’s forcing us to ask those deeper questions of ourselves and other people so that we can pursue—not just “Let me stop this behavior,”—but “Let me address the need that this behavior is seeking fulfillment in.”
Bob: Okay; we’ve got to move on to the third area, because we’re out of time here for area number two.
Third area is—and you touched on this. You used an example of somebody who, before she was a Christian—very sexually active. There are a lot of girls, who grew up in the church—and for whatever reason, they become sexually involved—there is rape; there is sexual violence that’s been done against women. When this is a part of your past, how do you process that, and how do you try to pursue purity in your life as a single woman?
Juli: One of the things that I think is really key is—we think about the language that we’re using. When you are talking to a woman, who has experienced things like what you described—to them, purity just doesn’t connect; they feel like: “That’s gone. I can never have that back.” The word that we use in our ministry is: “How do you pursue integrity?” because integrity means: “I’m a whole person. I am consistent in my sexuality—related to my walk with the Lord / with the person that I want to become—instead of feeling like I’m split off.”
When you talk to Christian women—who have experienced pornography, sexual abuse, hookups—they feel split off—like, “There’s a part of me that loves God; and then, there is this ugly part of me I don’t know what to do with.” The goal is: “How do I become a woman of integrity?” Integrity means that I see myself the same way that God sees me—that I trust His Word in my healing / in my redemption and that, from this day forward, I want to move forward towards God’s view of my sexuality and how to steward that.
I think that’s a big part. A big piece of taking that step toward integrity is being honest about: what we’re feeling; what’s happened to us; and maybe even, now, what I’m still struggling with. I feel like there are so many Christian women, who think: “There is not a safe place for me to be honest, so I have to keep pretending that I have it all together—that I’m not struggling with shame, and guilt, and temptation—
—instead of just raising your hand and saying, “Help, because I’m drowning.”
Dennis: One of the names of the devil is the Accuser—
Dennis: —of the brethren. I think he has a heyday with single women; because they get isolated, emotionally/relationally, and then their past is thrown up at them. Maybe, they cohabited for a period of time; maybe, they just had a series of one-night stands—but the enemy does a great job of reminding of failures.
Juli: Yes; he sure does. You used the word—like he isolates us—and he makes you believe that you’re the only one struggling with this: “You’re the only one that’s had an abortion,” / “You’re the only one that is attracted to the same sex,” and “If you were to speak this out loud, everybody would reject you; God would reject you,”—so that keeps women quiet. The enemy’s stronghold just gets more powerful in that darkness.
When we step out—and we speak the truth of what’s happening to us, and we ask the body of Christ to begin ministering to those wounds, and to begin telling us truth about what Scripture says—
—that’s when we start healing.
Bob: Shame is something that is deep in us. I have told people—and I think this is true—when you bring your shame into the light, a lot of the power of that shame is drained when the light comes on it.
Bob: The longer you keep it hidden away and say, “Nobody can know this about me,” it has more power over you than if you come forward and say: “I just have to confess something. This is what is true…” “This is what I’ve experienced…” “This is what I’ve been through…” “This is what I’m dealing with…” It’s almost like that starts to break the spell.
I had a guy come to me at work—he closed my office door and he said, “I am finding myself attracted to a married woman here in the office.” This is at FamilyLife®. He said, “I just needed to tell somebody, because it’s tearing me up; and I don’t know what to do with it.”
He said, “My relationship with my wife is fine, but I just find myself being attracted to this woman.” We prayed together—I said, “I’ll keep in touch with you.” A couple days later, I went back and said, “So, what’s going on?” He said, “You know, it’s like, after I came and told you,”—
Bob: —“it’s like, now, I’m not dealing with it anymore.” I think we’ve got to recognize that level of transparency/that vulnerability can be very freeing.
Juli: We even see this with God. You know, one of my favorite psalms is Psalm 32—it’s the psalm where David says, “You are my hiding place”; but before we get to that verse, David talks about how he was hiding from God instead of hiding in God. He describes God’s presence as actually oppressive: “Your hand was heavy upon me.”
I think we do that with the Lord. We don’t tell Him the truth about what we are feeling/what we’re wrestling with; and even going to church or opening your Bible can feel oppressive, like: “God is judging me. I’m so full of shame.”
When we step into honesty, God can actually start to become our hiding place and our haven.
Dennis: I’m just looking at your book, Sex and the Single Girl, and I think a part of the healing process that you’re talking about Juli—and you’ve alluded to Michelle—would be to take your book, which is really broken down like a small group study, where a group of women could study this and could talk about it. It would have to be a safe place. There’d have to be some boundaries established; but I think there could be real healing there if you could find a group of people—4/5, maybe?—and just say, “Could we get real and get honest about what’s happening in the church?”
Michelle: I want that kind of group; I want to go through the book right now.
Dennis: You’d sign up.
Michelle: I’d sign up!
Dennis: Let’s encourage women to be able to do this in the church, not somewhere else.
Bob: And Michelle, I think you could get together with some younger single women in their—
Michelle: —in their 20’s—college-aged girls.
Bob: And you could say, “Girls, let’s go through this together”; and they would learn and benefit from your experience of this. I think God would give blessing back to you as you took them through this kind of content.
Dennis: I think you’re right, Bob; but I would say—just listening to Michelle—she needs a group of peers—
Juli: Yes; yes, she does. [Laughter]
Dennis: —so women over 30. Then, after you go through that group, then, you take on the young.
Michelle: Then, I pour into others.
Bob: Okay; I’ll tell you what—I’ll give you my copy; okay?
Michelle: Okay; okay.
Bob: Because I was not going to—
Juli: You weren’t going to go through it?!
Bob: No. [Laughter] So, you can have it.
Dennis: Bob, that’s encouraging to me! [Laughter]
Bob: You can have my copy of Juli’s book, Sex and the Single Girl. It’s a book that we’ve got in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center; and you can order it from us, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call to order at 1-800-FL-TODAY. Again, the website: FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-358-6329—
—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Now, this weekend, in Parsippany, New Jersey, we’ve got hundreds of couples who are joining us for one of our Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways. Please pray for those couples. Next weekend is a big weekend—we’ve got getaways happening in Augusta, Georgia; Coeur d'Alene, Idaho; Dayton, Ohio; Naples, Florida; Louisville, Kentucky; and in Sacramento and San Diego, California—hundreds of couples who are going to be out for one of these weekend getaways.
Again, we just ask that you’d pray for these couples: that God would meet them at the getaway; and those who are coming for a marriage tune-up would find it’s a refreshing weekend; and those who are coming, who are struggling, would find the help and hope they are looking for. That’s what we are committed to, here, at FamilyLife. We want to provide practical biblical help and hope for every marriage/every family.
We want to help your relationships thrive, and grow, and deepen.
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And we hope you have a great weekend. I hope you and your family are able to worship together in your local church this weekend, and I hope you can join us back on Monday. We’re going to talk about what a man can do to be a legacy-minded man. Joe Pellegrino is going to be here for that, and I hope you can be with us 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 next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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