The Language of Lust
August 31, 2003
[Ed comes on stage joined by Jonathan Cude and Debby Wade – two Christian counselors]
I know we look like the Mod Squad coming out here, but we’re not. I don’t know if we are “mod.” I think we are going to have a good time. My name is Ed and I am the senior pastor of Fellowship Church. This is Debby Wade and Jonathan Cude. They are licensed married, marriage, family and single adult therapists – awesome people. They have been a part of Fellowship for a long while. During this series on lust, a very popular series I might add, I thought we would change gears a little bit. I thought we could hear about lust from a biblical perspective as well as the perspective of a man and a woman who deal with it on the rugged plains of reality 24/7. I thought we could hear about it from two people who talk to, counsel, lead and guide many people from all walks of life. So let’s welcome, Jonathan Cude and Debby Wade.
[The audience welcomes them with a round of applause]
Now, let me warn you that I am going to say some things over the next few moments that you have probably never heard talked about in church before. So, I’ve given you warning.
Ed: Now, Debby, I am going to start with you. We have been in this whole series over the last several weeks talking about lust and I truly believe lust is one of the biggest hurdles that our culture faces. I think it keeps more people from discovering the presence and the power of God than anything out there. Sadly, the church has been strangely silent about it. Well, at Fellowship we have changed that. And I have talked about lust for the most part, Debby, from a man’s perspective. After all, I’m a guy. You are a woman and here is my question, “Do women lust and, if so, what’s that like?”
Debby: Well, certainly we do. I think you said at the very first of the series that lust is not just a guy thing. Lust is a problem of the heart and a problem in the mind. We women do have hearts and minds, so we are going to lust. I think what makes the difference between the way men and women lust are the triggers of what causes lust and the agenda of the purpose of the lust. You spoke a lot about the eyes of lust and about the visual stimulants for men. Men are wired that way. I mean, I don’t want to be telling you how you are, but you are kind of wired visually. So, whether it’s undressing women with your eyes, or through Internet, magazines, or movies, those kinds of things are all very tantalizing and the imagery escalates lust. I think it is that men disengage. They are not connected in any way. It’s a constant taking from. It’s a lusting after. There is no risk of intimacy, no risk of rejection, and no risk of disappointment. So there is no connectedness.
We as women, although we do have eyes, and there are some things that are stimulating visually, we are not so stimulated the way that men are. We are stimulated more through that emotional, relational connectedness. That’s why romance novels, soap operas and all those things can get women hooked. We get hooked on that fantasy, that passion, that desire and romance.
Debby: Oh, you know it! The men who say all the correct things, the right things, and the loving things. The problem with both is that they give unrealistic ideas and expectations of what reality is like. One, as far as pornography, most of us don’t look like those women. We don’t sound like them. Most of us don’t act like them and definitely don’t do sex like them.
Ed: Let me do a quick advertisement. Next weekend, I am doing a message called “Prime Time Porn.” I’m going to talk about pornography probably like you have never heard it talked about before, because it’s definitely prime time now. That’s a whole other subject, but I had to throw that in.
Debby: And then, what we women have got to recognize is that most of these romance novels are written by women. So it’s scripted. It’s the women telling the men what to think. So, it’s a pseudo set-up. It’s not what life is really like. So yes, we women, we do struggle with lust, but I think the triggers and the agenda is different.
Ed: Jonathan, what do you think?
Jonathan: Obviously, the men thing is the visual. It’s the visual stimulation that we take in, the images. Even from simple things in our society — billboards, lingerie ads in Sunday newspaper, driving and seeing the jogger in the thinly clad shorts — those are issues for all men.
Ed: Some people at this point are saying, “Wow, man, that’s pretty strict. You think those things can feed lust?” As we have been saying here, lust is when an attraction segues into an illicit sexual action that is mental, emotional or physical. That’s the problem. The attraction part is not lust. And God has set that bar pretty high. He says, “I don’t want you to have any hint of sexual immorality,” and he challenges us to reach for purity.
Jonathan: That standard of purity does seem a little unrealistic to us guys who are faced with that everyday. But really, God calls us to that. One of the verses that I really look at is in Job. Job 31:1 says, “I made a covenant with my eyes.” We have to really get serious. Often times, that seriousness does not come about until there is some crisis in our relationship, spiritually or emotionally. We have to get serious, guys, about what goes into our mind by way of our eyes.
Let’s talk about mobile eyes. We have got to learn to shift, make those eyes mobile to bounce off of whatever we are looking at, whether it be the billboard or the attractive assistant at work or whatever that may be. You know, I’ve always talked about lust being different for men and women. You articulated that very well, Debby. But you know, I’ve always thought that if women really understood the power of the visual and the power of lust from a man’s perspective, there would probably be a lot more sex going on in marriage.
Debby: And I would think if men understood the emotional aspect and that need for connectedness, there would be a lot more sex in marriage.
Jonathan: That’s probably true. Touché! You got me on that one.
Debby: Something that you brought up, though, was good. The visual aspects — from the time that a man leaves his home and goes to the office, from the music he listens to the billboards he sees, to maybe the woman standing in line at the coffee place that smells good, and then the attractive secretary at the workplace — all of that is stimulus that he has received just from when he has left until he gets to the office. Those are the things that we, as women, don’t think about because those would not be sexually tantalizing to us.
Ed: Yes. But for a guy, they are. I want to throw a tough question at you because I have a hard time saying this word in church but I’ve got to. It’s the “m” word, mas…
Jonathan: Say it, Ed.
Jonathan: Okay, very good.
Ed: Everybody always has a funny expression when I say masturbation in church. “Did he say the ’M‘ word?”
Debby: Did Ed Young really say the “m” word in church?
Ed: Because single adults and even those who are married, deal with that. The question is, what about masturbation? I mean, is that wrong? What’s going on when people struggle with it and when they do masturbate?
Jonathan: I think masturbation is an issue. Although it’s not irrelevant for women, I think it’s more of an issue for men, single men and even married men. The thing I like to say is, just because you are married, that does not fix the problem of lust and masturbation. I see masturbation as a symptom. It’s a secondary process. Really what we are looking at is putting the behavioral aspect to something that is going on deep within our hearts and our minds. This is a very difficult subject to talk about because there are a lot of different opinions on it. But ultimately, we’ve got to look back and see what the Bible says about lust. Obviously, the lust thing is what gives the food that actually feeds the behavior.
Ed: You can’t masturbate without lusting.
Jonathan: That’s right. There are those images you take in. That’s why it is so important to really look at our minds. A verse I love to talk about in the counseling sessions is Romans 12:2, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.” It’s like taking those thoughts captive and putting them in jail. We’ve got to do something with that. There’s that verse up there. [Dr. Cude is referring to the side screens] I really love that, because what it is really saying is we have got to take that thought and do something with it besides feed it.
Our thoughts are really the seed of our mind. As a man thinks in his heart, so he is. That’s a great verse there and it’s all about conforming and transforming by the renewing of our minds — Romans 12:2.
Debby: It’s important, too, to make sure of what we are feeding our thoughts. That’s why we need to be so guarded in what we watch.
Ed: Yes. What did I say, Debby, a couple of weeks ago?
Debby: We feed what we want to grow and we starve what we want to die.
Jonathan: That really gets at the heart of this topic right as we are talking about the thoughts and what our thoughts do. They lead to these feelings, these feelings of desire, feelings of wanting more, the emotional part that really drives ultimately the lust and then consequently the behavior of masturbation. I think that is something we have got to tap into early on, not just the behavior. If you are just going to stop masturbating, you are not going to be very successful. You’ve got to stop putting the images in your mind. You’ve got to stop the thought process and change it. “Whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are good, whatsoever things are of good report, and noteworthy, think on those things, those purity.”
Then we have got the pause button between the thoughts and the feelings. That pause is where we can redirect our thought process or take those thoughts captive, renew our minds and focus on that which is more godly, that which is pure, and that which is lovely and admirable. What we get is a feeling of peacefulness, and a feeling of godliness and which ultimately leads to really living and the truth of what it means to be a believer.
Debby: If I could talk a little bit about Scripture application right there… I think a lot of people memorize scripture and think, “Yeah, that’s great” But how do you really apply it? If we take the subject of masturbation and say… I’m going to talk a woman, because women do struggle with that. It’s probably not to the extent that men may, but women do struggle with that. If a woman woke up in the middle of the night having those urges to gratify herself and her husband is there, she may think, “Hmm, now I could risk rejection, risk disappointment, no, I don’t want to risk any of that connectedness stuff. I’ll just take care of myself.” To take that scripture, Romans 12:2 and apply it would be to say, “Okay, God, take captive my thoughts to make them obedient to Christ. I don’t want to just be focused on me. If I need to risk, if this is something that I need, if this is an opportunity for me to reach out, then that’s what I want to do. I want to keep my mind on pure things, on those that are righteous that are praiseworthy. I don’t want to keep fueling my thoughts with something that is lustful.” That’s a way to apply those scriptures and it keeps us in constant conversation with God.
Ed: Also, people think sometimes they come to church, for example, and they will hear about purity. Maybe they are sitting there now and they are listening to you and Jonathan and they are going, “Purity, wow! God put the bar so high. I could never be pure. Why does he want me to be pure anyway? I mean, come on.” Well, the reason God desires purity is because he knows when we walk in purity, when there is not a hint of sexual immorality, that is when we will achieve greatness and we will reach the kind of potential that he has for us. So, God is giving this because he loves us, not because he is a cosmic killjoy with a big Louisville slugger in heaven going, “Bam, you’re wrong! Bam, don’t do that!”
Jonathan: We have got to have this whole sense of grace involved in this.
Ed: It’s all about grace, isn’t it?
Jonathan: It’s all about forgiveness and grace and being able to move on. The effect of masturbation — on the emotional and psychological level — is that it really distorts our own feelings. It distorts how we feel about ourselves…
Debby: …and our spouse…
Jonathan: … in a relationship. That’s exactly right, Debby. It really distorts how we see them. See, if we are doing something in secret as men, then we are really cutting off that emotional connection that is so important. And although they may not know what our secret sins are, they will really feel that as separation and isolation, the interplay of the emotions. So, it not only effects us personally, it makes us a little bit more introspective and really selfish because isolated sex, or single sex, what I call individual sex, is not God’s plan. Consequently, it erupts or interrupts our emotional and spiritual growth.
Debby: 1 Corinthians 10:23 says, “’Everything is permissible’—but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible’—but not everything is constructive.” Then it says, “Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.” I think that’s one that we can apply there, too. Life is not all about self-gratification.
Ed: [Sarcastically] You’re kidding me.
Debby: Hate to break the news! But you know, so much, we think that. We just get stuck in the “everything should be about me.”
Jonathan: I think the Harley book, His Needs Her Needs, really pinpoints the differences between men and women — talking about our need as husbands to really know what our wives’ needs are. And they are those things you talked about like the affection. Which, by the way guys, is defined as non-sexual touching — if you have ever heard of that — non-sexual touching? I know it’s very new to some of you guys.
Debby: Of course, we will never hear a man say, “Babe, I just want to cuddle.”
Jonathan: We will never say that. But this whole idea of Christ’s likeness, I think, is learning about the other person’s needs — the affection needs, the conversation needs, the openness and honesty, the vulnerability that we need to have. Some of the best foreplay, guys, that we can have is talking to our wives, the conversation. Because what that does is it puts us into their needs and really gets us away from our own selfishness, whether its masturbation or just self-centeredness in our own needs. You know, Ephesians 5:25 is just a great verse. It talks about how we should be as husbands. It reads, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Whose needs were really being addressed there?
When Jesus was getting ready to die, and you go back to the night before in the Garden of Gethsemane and he was basically crying out to the Father, “If there is any way I can get out of this, please let me get out it. But ultimately, not my will, not my needs being met, but yours.” When Jesus died, that was the best and largest demonstration of love ever. And again, we have got to say, “Whose needs were being met?” Sure not Christ’s. It was ours. That’s the model, guys.
We were talking about masturbation, self-gratification, or just those other emotionally connected needs. We’ve got to take that Christ-like posture and say, “It’s not about me. It’s about what I can become.” I even say, “It’s not about getting my needs met in my marriage. It’s about learning how to meet Ann’s [Dr. Cude’s wife] needs. It’s not even about who I marry. It’s about the man I become, the Christ-like pursuing that I am doing as a man.” That’s a very important point — just that whole idea of not self-gratification, but being very in tune with the other’s needs.
Debby: The Scripture right before that in Ephesians 5:22-23 reads, “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.” So many women have problems with that. But if husbands are loving their wives as Christ loved the church, he gave himself up, what woman wouldn’t want to be submissive to a husband that loves us as Christ does? So, they go hand in hand.
Jonathan: It’s not looking at our own needs, but looking at your needs as a woman. Again, right above that we see Verse 21, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” That’s a mutual relationship.
Ed: Debby, what would you say, to continue on, about a woman’s emotional needs? Jonathan talked about it a little bit, but talk to me about some needs that you see from the many women that you have counseled.
Debby: Okay. Let’s first talk about the components of the sexual relationship. I think we have got to recognize that there is a spiritual component. God designed it. He wanted it in marriage. It’s something for unity, for us to become one flesh.
Ed: It’s an act of worship, isn’t it?
Debby: It’s an act of worship.
Ed: So, guys, you can say, “Let’s go home and worship.” [Laughter] I’m not saying that in a sacrilegious way. That’s a fact.
Debby: That might be as spiritual as your husbands get. If the first person we are to minister to is our spouse, it’s ministry as well. Then there is the physical aspect. In the very first service, with the video clip, you made a poignant illustration for us women on understanding how important that physical part of the sexual aspect is to the husbands. You men, ya’ll are wired that way. That connectedness is important. I think men mostly feel connected through that sexual, that physical connection.
Ed: Here again, so it’s a spiritual and…
Debby: … and physical connection. I have permission to share this next story. I am going to share this real quick. I have a woman I have been working with for a while and she is wanting to enrich her marriage and have a better relationship with her husband. We had several sessions and I recommended two books. She came back and she brought the books and said, “Okay, I’m not a reader but I read these books. I’m a little mad. Both of them seem to just talk about sexual fulfillment in men and how that is the answer to a happy marriage.”
Jonathan: Sounds good to me.
Debby: “So,” she said, “I was a little mad, but I thought, ‘Okay, I’ll try this.’ So I started being a little more spontaneous and initiating and being a little more creative. I’ll be darned if my husband isn’t chirping around the house like a happy lark! He came up behind me and just hugged me and said, ‘You know, don’t you just love our marriage? Don’t we have great kids?’ He came in and fixed dinner the other night. So $1,200 and two books later, I found out that sexual fulfillment is the key to happiness in marriage.”
I think that is important for women to know. Just as important is for men to understand is that third component which is the emotional aspect. Guys, we women are wired emotionally. I know it’s complicated some times. I know. Women, we’ve got to admit it. We are really kind of complicated some times. But we need that emotional connectedness. When we have that emotional connectedness, we are able to give of ourselves, sexually and physically. Then everybody gets to be happy.
Another woman and her husband, and I have permission to use this one as well, are working on restoring their marriage after infidelity. She had a really hard time one day and she lay down in the middle of the closet. Her husband came through and saw her lying down, so he lay down in the middle of the closet with her. She just began sharing about her fears and her expectations of their marriage, what they had been through and where they were headed. Then he shared some thoughts of how he cared about her, and they just laid there. “Forty-five minutes later,” she told me, “I had to look at him and say, ‘Thank you for this. This right here is what I need it as much as you need the sexual. When you give of yourself to me in this way, then it encourages me to give of myself to you.’” That is so true.
Ed: Debby, I want to share something with you and Jonathan, because after all, we are just talking among friends here. A couple of nights ago, Lisa [Ed’s wife] had had a hard day. I haven’t actually told her I was going to say this, but I will. I always get permission from other people, but from Lisa, sometimes I might take some liberties. But she will not mind me sharing this. I’m sure she will not. She had a hard day, a long day — taking the kids to school, picking them back up, doing all the different things around the house, and working up here at Fellowship, as well. She is also writing a book along with me. So at night, I thought, “I’m just going to put lotion on her feet. No ulterior motives. I’m just going to rub her feet with lotion.” And I did it.
Debby: That’s awesome. It didn’t cost you anything?
Debby: Not a whole lot of energy?
Debby: Wasn’t real complicated?
Debby: Easy to come up with?
Debby: And I bet the rewards were great.
Jonathan: You know, that’s amazing to me…
Ed: You know, that’s not natural for me. It’s not like I say that all the time, “Honey, let me put lotion on your feet.”
Debby: I could give that as an assignment sometimes to couples to just sit on opposite ends of the couch. And if you are feet people, if you can stand feet, sit on opposite ends of the couch, get a bottle of lotion and rub each other’s feet. It’s that non-sexual touch. It’s connectedness. It’s physical connectedness. It feels great. You are able to have eye contact. You can talk about sensitive issues, painful issues, fun issues, you can even talk about those difficult subjects. You are not likely to yell and scream at the person who has got your foot in their hand. It’s a great way just to get connected. Some of my best conversations with my husband have been when we say, “Fifteen minutes, I’ll meet you on the couch,” and we will lay there and rub each other’s feet.
Jonathan: I think it’s very obvious to women when we are doing those things and we have an ulterior motive – even those love acts – the romance, the communication or the foot rubs. I don’t know how they read that stuff…
Ed: Women, as we talked about in the green room before this service, are smarter than men. I really believe that. Overall, they are. This is my opinion. This is Ed talking here. I think men can focus on one thing, like that green coffee cup [Ed is referring to the cup that Debby is drinking from] better than women, but women see the whole picture. I think they are smarter than us.
Jonathan: When we begin to really think about their needs, it gets back to that whole idea of why women give sex to get love and men give love to get sex. It’s that interplay and the differences of how God made us. But there is really, I think, an ability that women do have to see through our motives at times. If we are touching them really to gratify our own needs, then they don’t respond quite as well. But if we put our needs to the side, and really look, like what happened in the two stories that you guys told, it’s amazing how responsive women usually are.
Ed: As we are talking, can’t you see the genius of God, why God reserved sexual intercourse for the marriage bed? I mean, anytime someone practices sex outside the marriage bed, they are taking something that is holy and pure and an act of worship and they are using it in a very selfish, self-gratifying, and ungodly way.
Jonathan: I am reminded of that quote by Kevin Leman who wrote that great little book, Sex Begins in the Kitchen, and Sometimes Ends There. It says sex belongs in the marriage, exactly what you were talking about. Then he says a sentence after that, he says, “And sex belongs in a marriage.” Same sentence, two different meanings. What does this mean? What is this second one? Well, if you are married, you need to be having regular and fulfilling sexual relationship. Not only does that energize men, especially emotionally and even physically with the great sexual tension release, but it really gets us in touch with our own emotions so that we can reconnect. So, let me encourage you guys to really look at that area. If you have a sexual need, what’s that about? That’s just your opportunity, I believe, to learn how to be Christ-like, to put that on the back burner, to be more attentive. The most difficult thing for men is when the sexual need is right there, it’s been a while since that need has not been met, to be Christ-like and say, “Okay, it’s not about my need, it’s about my wife’s need.” And that’s a very difficult and sacrificial thing to do at times.
Ed: What would you guys say to the singles, because we have a lot of people out there who are not married. I know a lot of them talk to you, Debby, and talk to you, Jonathan, about this whole thing regarding purity and holiness and abstaining until marriage. What would you say to them?
Debby: I know, with the age of people that I work with, I don’t care if you are 15, 25, 35, 45, 55 or 65, if you are single, and you are dating, you are struggling with sexual temptation. I know that it is, Christian and non-Christians alike, a huge temptation. I just encourage you to have accountability. Get friends that you trust, or a Bible study group, and have accountability to remain pure. There are just so many rewards that you take into a marriage if you have remained pure. You go into it and you are free of shame, free of guilt, free of diseases, and those kinds of things. Just hold onto that, knowing that God designed it for marriage, and it is worth the wait.
Ed: How about this whole thing called accountability? It’s so fascinating to human beings, we get into legal trouble or we need legal advice, we see attorneys. We want advice about our finances, we talk to accountants or financial planners. We want help with our golf swing. Yet, guys especially, unlike women, are like, “Wow, accountability? I can’t share my struggles with this guy.” What would you say about that Jonathan?
Jonathan: I think it is difficult for guys to see a counselor or to just get with a couple of other men. I think our pride stands in the way. How many of us guys will just naturally stop and ask for directions? We just don’t do that. We think we can handle it on our own. I think there is a sense of isolation that we experience that keeps us from reaching out. But to the singles here, and to the married, you know, talking about lust, masturbation, and those things are not going to get better after you get married unless you really take a very hard look at the thought process and the accountability process. I think my life has been transformed over the last ten or twelve years since I’ve got with just a couple of men who can ask the tough questions and we have the same level, the same standard of purity.
Ed: You’re saying, whether you are single or married or whatever, this accountability thing looms large.
Jonathan: Exactly, for both. Just because you’re single and didn’t get married, that doesn’t mean the lust issue is going to go away. And it throws a couple in crises. If the wife walks in and finds you looking on the Internet, or masturbating, or those kind of things, that really makes that breach, that emotional distance there. It really puts a lot of distance between you. So, accountability is very important. If I know that I am either going to tell someone exactly what’s going on, not just in my behavior, but in my thought life, and I know that there is going to be some encouragement and also the holding of the standard, I’m going to be a little bit more careful about where I let my eyes go or where I let my thought processes go. And again, ideally we need to be accountable to God and to our spouses, but there is something about a same-sex accountability that is very powerful.
Debby: I was just thinking about how that can be used in dating. Make sure that you are going to be accountable to someone and say, “You know what? I’m going out with this great looking gal tonight and I know it could be a great temptation. I want to be held accountable that I will call you by 12:30 from my place, alone.” Have that set up. Or women, it’s been a long time since you’ve been out and you’ve got that date and saying, “You know what? I am going to return to my place and I am going to call a friend. When I call them I will be alone.” That’s the way to use accountability.
Ed: We need to say these things. We need say no sometimes because there is a bigger yes, and that yes is from God himself. I would love to diesel on, but we can’t spend the time. Debby, what would be the take-home, just two or three take-home statements that you would like to say to Fellowship?
Debby: To the men, I’m going to say, “If you are married, your wives will be as sexy as you make them feel. If you are dating, your girlfriends will be as beautiful as you make them feel. There really is a lot of power in that, in being encouraging and affirming.” To women, I would just say, “Recognize that when your men, your husbands, want to be sexual with you that it really is their way of connecting. They really want to connect with you and that’s the easiest way they know how.” If you are parents, my recommendation is, “Please begin, if you have not already begun, talking about sex from a healthy biblical perspective while they are in your household so that they can grow knowing biblical standards.”
Ed: That’s good.
Jonathan: I think the take-home would be a couple of points. First to guys, the mind is very important. Put a check mark there. We’ve got to clean up our minds, because if you are struggling with masturbation, you’ve got to back up from that, be able to purify, and look at what’s going on, what images you are letting inside your mind. Get an accountability partner, guys, where both of you can work on these issues of making sure that you are taking those thoughts captive and redirecting them. Just in looking, as you drive down the interstate, at the billboards, begin to make a very firm commitment and to raise your level of purity in your own heart and mind. Quite honestly, to the single guys, that is going to be the best way to prepare yourself for a real connectedness and a lot of sexual fulfillment in your marriage at a later point. To the women, I would just encourage you to realize the differences there. As men, while you ladies usually express your sexuality out of a sense of your emotional connectedness, we usually get in touch with our emotionality, our emotions, and our feelings through the process of sexuality. Again, I think it’s a very incredible how God made us. So I would just encourage you guys to really focus on the differences — not as something to be pushed away, but something, rather, to be embraced. Learn to appreciate the differences and learn to really say, “Wow, God has given me this person, not just so I can have that tension with, but so I can really learn some things about how to be really Christ-like and get outside of myself.”
Ed: The whole thing is about allowing the Lord to lead. I’m going to ask our band to come on right now and Eric Orson is going to come out and sing a song about leadership and about coming to a decision point in our lives where we say, “Okay, Jesus, you lead. You run the show. Here’s my all, even my sexuality. And here is the result of that.” Let’s listen.