In this post:
I don't know anyone who finds being corrected pleasant. By its very nature, correction is difficult because it is revealing something that needs to change because it is either wrong or unhealthy or dangerous.
And change, especially change of the heart, is hard.
But if you are a follower of Christ, or curious about following Christ, then correction is part of the journey. After all, the reason we need Christ is because we have "all sinned and fallen short of God's glory." (Rom. 3:23)
Through faith in Jesus Christ we are declared forgiven of our sins before God and made a member of His heavenly family. This is Good News!
But trusting in Christ for the forgiveness of sin doesn't instantly remove the battle with temptation and sin. Your standing before God is eternally rectified through faith in Christ, but how you live the rest of your life on earth is now a process of transformation so you look and live more like Jesus.
Sons and Daughters of God
This is where correction comes in.
Think of parents and their kids. The child was born into the family (that's grace). They have all the rights and privileges of being a family member. But they don't immediately (or automatically) know how to live as a member according to the family values, rules, etc.
This is how it is when you become a member of God's family through faith in Christ: you have all the rights and privileges of being a member of the family, but you must now learn how to live as a son or daughter of God.
If a kid in an earthly family needs correction and discipline to learn the family values and rules, how much more do you and I need correction and discipline to learn to reflect our perfect heavenly Father?
What Needs Correcting
We may understand intellectually that sinful people would need correction by a holy God, but what exactly needs to be corrected?
The original sin is said to be pride. When God's prized creation, Adam and Eve, succumbed to Satan's temptation to defy God's one rule to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, sin burst onto the scene of human history.
At the root of pride is the desire to operate autonomously from our Creator. We live like the perpetual 2-year-old who wants her toys and no one else is allowed to touch them (completely unaware that all her sustenance and safety is graciously provided to her daily by her parents!).
If you and I are to live as God intended, our pride needs correction.
Wandering Eyes (Heart)
Often when God wanted to describe the unfaithfulness and disobedience of His people He would use the sexual metaphors of adultery or prostitution. He was portraying how the wandering eyes (and hearts) of His people was a deep and profound betrayal of His covenant love.
I think for most us it is easy to understand the pride issue; we can't deny how often we want to live our lives our way without regard for God and His ways. But the wandering eye, the wandering heart, is much more difficult to spot. Therefore, it can be more dangerous to our souls.
In our ministry, we deal a lot with wandering eyes as it relates to sexual lust. Rarely does a person wake up in the morning and say in their heart: "Today my entire goal is to commit sexual sin." Temptation is far more subtle than that!
The wandering occurs little-by-little throughout the day with a glance here or a click there. These little wanderings are setting us up for eventual unfaithfulness to and disobedience of the Lover of our soul.
If you and I are to live as God intended, our wandering eyes (and hearts) need correction.
Finally, what I am calling "worldliness" also needs correction. Worldliness is simply choosing to live with a secular worldview rather than a godly one. It is living from an earthly mindset rather than a heavenly mindset.
Worldliness may be even more subtle and dangerous than wandering eyes and hearts. You have probably heard the old "frog in boiling water" example.
It is said that if you put a frog in boiling water it will immediately jump away to safety because it is fully aware of the danger. But if you put that same frog in lukewarm water and slowly turn up the temperature it will cook to death.
Worldliness is the lukewarm water we learn to live in. But over time, the more comfortable one gets, the heat is slowly turned up. Eventually, there is little awareness at all that their life is ebbing away and their communion with God is all but gone.
If you and I are to live as God intended, our worldliness needs correction.
How to Love Correction
Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
but he who hates reproof (correction) is stupid.
When my kids were little they giggled at this verse because it has the "S" word in it: stupid!
I love God's sense of humor and His effective motivational tactics often seen in the wisdom sections of Scripture.
In this verse, God as our loving Father is saying to us, "My child, don't be stupid by stiffening your neck to the correction of Wisdom. Love the discipline and correction needed to live a life that reflects me well."
It is not enough that we simply "take our medicine" of correction and be "obedient little kids." No, to really embrace the fullness of God's correction, we must cultivate a love for His correction and discipline that leads to true life and freedom and peace.
Here are 4 keys to loving correction:
1. Admit Ignorance
A child doesn't intuitively know how to live as a member of their family. They must be taught. In other words, their ignorance must be corrected.
If we are to look and live more like Jesus, we must confess our ignorance. We need to admit that we don't know how to live like Him and we need His power to do so.
This kind of confession directly combats the pride that dwells deep within us. When pride rises up and declares we can do x-y-or-z on our own, we must confess our ignorance and humble ourselves before God, asking Him for wisdom and guidance by His Spirit within us.
When you and I admit ignorance, our pride is corrected and humility grows.
2. Pursue Wisdom from Others
Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. -Proverbs 13:20
You don't have to be a Christian to know that wisdom isn't gained in a vacuum of isolation or independence. There is no such thing as a wise Lone Ranger (even the Lone Ranger had Tonto!).
We need wise people in our lives who can share their knowledge and point out our blind spots. Such mentors are more than mere guides, they become friends and confidants in whom we can trust. They mature us and help us grow into all that God designed us to be.
When you and I pursue wisdom from others, our independent thinking is corrected and authentic community is formed.
3. Be Grateful for Truth's Scalpel
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
In our human, sinful condition we like to keep secrets. We don't like sharing the thoughts or motives of our hearts that would make us look like the broken, sinful people we are. So we hide them.
But God's Word knows how to expose our secrets. It is a scalpel that is so precise it can discern not just our thoughts, but also our intentions. There is no hiding from the Truth.
We should be grateful that we can't hide from God. He knows us and loves us more than anyone. Therefore, to be "exposed" by Him is to be given an opportunity to change and grow as His children.
Shame and deceitfulness grow in secrecy. They gnaw away at your soul, convincing you that to expose the truth about your brokenness is the equivalent of death itself.
But God's Word doesn't do "surgery" on the secrets in your soul to destroy you. No, God's Word is the Truth that heals and liberates your soul from the grip of shame and lies. Thank God for the razor's edge of His Word.
When you and I are grateful for truth's scalpel, the deceitfulness of shame and lies is corrected and true freedom is realized.
4. Live a Teachable Life
The proud cannot be taught.
(Marinate on that thought for a minute.)
To be truly corrected requires that you be teachable. To be teachable means you are humble enough to know you don't know it all and eager enough to learn how God designed you to live best.
But teachability isn't contained in a classroom. A teachable spirit is one who puts knowledge to practice in everyday life. What you learn, you must do.
This is the goal of correction: maturing faithfulness to God in word and deed.
When you and I live a teachable life, our pride and wandering hearts and worldliness is corrected, and mature wisdom bears eternal fruit.
Don't stay proud. Discipline your wandering eyes. Reject the subtle simmering of worldliness.
Humble yourself before God and others. Praise God for His surgical Word. Stay on a lifelong growth mission to mature in faithful godliness.
If you would like help and encouragement on your journey to love correction, please contact us.
No one truly enjoys suffering. When pain enters our lives, we instinctively seek relief. This is a right and good response. But often in our quest for relief we mistakenly assume that emotional, spiritual, and relational healing and growth can (and should) happen quickly. They don't.
But before you get too discouraged, let me try to show you why it is far better to focus on finishing well rather than just starting fast on this journey of healing and growth.
Here are 4 reasons why finishing well is better than starting fast when it comes to true life transformation.
Finishing Well Reminds You that Change is a Journey, Not a Destination
Thousands of men have contacted us over the years to get help for their unwanted sexual habits. They reach out for many different reasons, but almost all have the same fundamental desire: change.
They don't want to keep doing the things they are doing. Mainly because they are finally waking up to the reality that what they're doing is harmful to themselves and others. They want out. But they want out NOW!
It is understandable to want quick fixes when the effects of a sexual addiction are finally admitted and revealed. It's a mess. It hurts. It's heavy and complicated. To want freedom from such bondage, and peace instead of chaos, is right and good.
But change, true life change, never happens instantly. Period.
Real transformation, the kind that God works in us through His Spirit, takes a lifetime to come to full maturity. Therefore, focusing on finishing well rather than starting fast reminds us that change is a journey, not a destination.
There isn't a magical point in time where you can say, "I've arrived! All that must change and be completed in my life is accomplished. There is no more healing or growth needed." This "destination" is called heaven, and we only arrive there after death. (And even in heaven there will be no end to our exploration and wonder of the eternally infinite God...)
So, when it comes to life transformation, finishing well is better than starting fast because it keeps you focused on the lifelong journey of growth rather than constantly trying to achieve an unreachable and unrealistic goal of perfection this side of heaven. There is much freedom and peace that come when we focus on finishing well.
Finishing Well Leads Toward Practical Outcomes, Not Merely Idealized Possibilities
It is easy to "dream big" when considering how to start the journey toward life change. It is something else entirely to actually live out the day-by-day grind of such transformation. Finishing well is about establishing real goals with real results.
When I began my journey of recovery from sex addiction back in 1999 I had lots of hopes and dreams (fantasies, really) about what a "changed life" could look like. But all those dreams existed way out in the unrealized world of "possibilities," not in my actual life.
The best possibilities for transformation never happen if there isn't concrete goals and actions attached to them. And this is actually what it takes to finish well. To keep dreaming and dreaming and dreaming about all that "could" change is to stay stuck forever at a starting line you never leave.
If I was going to experience actual life change I was going to have to do something, not just dream something. I had to call a counselor and set up appointments, find a support group and attend faithfully, dig into God's Word and follow wherever His Spirit led me, and many other tangible actions that required my will, not merely good intentions.
One of the most practical outcomes of a finishing well attitude has been the relationships developed with other men for encouragement, accountability, and support. Had I only just "dreamed" about a changed life without ever doing something about it, I would still be alone, isolated, and probably completely enslaved to my addiction (if not dead).
Finishing well involves taking concrete steps toward different outcomes. Faithfulness and perseverance grow because you are committed to actions over the long haul that produce change, not just ideas floating around in the dreamland of possibilities.
(For help taking concrete steps, we have resources for Men, Women, and Families.)
Finishing Well Produces Righteous Character
So what is the actual "goal" of life transformation? If it's a journey and it requires actions, what is this process actually intended to produce?
The short answer is the life of Jesus.
We are made in God's image; we are made to reflect God in the world (Gen. 1:26-28). Jesus Christ was the exact representation (image) of God (Heb. 1:3). Because of sin we are separated from God and do not reflect Him rightly (Rom. 3:23). However, through faith in Christ we are reconciled to God and made truly alive; in Christ we are able to reflect God properly. (Eph. 2:8-10)
The Bible calls this process of maturing in our ability to accurately reflect God's image in the world "sanctification." And it is simply the process by which we "look" more and more like Jesus.
The metaphor that is often used to describe this process is fruit. In Galatians 5:22-23 we read, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." God's Spirit in us is about the business of producing the fruit of these characteristics of Jesus.
Fruit doesn't manifest instantly. This is why we say finishing well is a lifelong process. What God is producing in us, the character of Jesus, is not instant. It takes time to grow and mature.
Just think of a few of the characteristics listed above and how time is woven in to their very definitions: patience, faithfulness, self-control. One could even argue that love and joy and gentleness require time to mature because they are experienced in relationship to someone or something else.
Finishing well keeps us on a growth mission over time. As God reveals areas in our lives that do not align with the character of Jesus, He refines us through pruning and discipline (John 15:1-11).
By contrast, starting fast stays focused on self. It's all about making yourself look good without any actual transformation of character. It is shallow and unsustainable. It also comes crashing down when storms come. (Matt. 7:24-27)
Finishing Well Pleases the Lord and Grows God's Kingdom
Finally, probably the greatest reason why finishing well is better than starting fast is because it pleases God.
Jesus told a parable of a master and his three servants in Matthew 25 to help his followers understand what the kingdom of heaven is like. The master gives each servant a different amount of money and then leaves. When the master returns, he goes to see what the servants did with the money he entrusted to them.
Two of the servants had used the master's money to double the amounts. The third servant did nothing. Listen to the commendation the master gave to the servants who increased the amount given:
His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master. (Matt. 25:21)
The servants who multiplied the investment of the master in them were commended. They were welcomed "into the joy of [their] master." This is a picture of heaven. Jesus (the Master) is returning and He will be asking what you and I did with the investment He made in us through His Spirit. He is expecting a return on that investment; a return that enhances and expands His kingdom.
How will you answer?
Did you "start fast" with a bunch of possible ideas that never really got off the ground and were mainly intent with cutting corners to just make yourself look good and not really show any desire to actually change?
Or did you set your heart and mind on finishing well, on humbling yourself to God's Word and Spirit and engaging the long journey that unfolds step-by-step, day after day, in the trenches of character development and authentic community?
Is change difficult? Of course it is. Is it worth it for the sake of a new heart and mind, healthier relationships, and the hope of hearing "Well done" upon entering the joy of the Master? Most definitely!
If you would like help on your journey of finishing well, please contact us.
Founder & President
For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.
-1 Corinthians 4:20
He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.
God's economy of personal growth and transformation is not like the world's. The world's system is about speed and efficiency and minimal discomfort. God's way is often quite slow, terribly inefficient, and almost certainly involves pain of some kind. No wonder so few in the church today are experiencing any real transformation.
But there is good news! God will not abandon you -- if you are in Christ, He is committed to you forever, and will complete what He began in you. Hallelujah!
If you want to experience the fullness of the life of Jesus in you as a Christian, what will that process look like? And how can you surrender more completely to it? And what will be the worldly obstacles that will try to prevent you from such transformation?
I want to share with you 4 key differences between God's "slow growth" model and the world's "quick fix" model when it comes to life change. And why God's model is exponentially more powerful (and beautiful) than the world's.
1. God's Way is Organic -- the world's way is man-made
The language Jesus often used to describe the transformative process in the believer's life is organic; seeds, yeast, fruit, etc. But each of these organic elements need to be mixed with something for their "power" to be unleashed. A seed needs soil. Yeast needs (no pun intended) dough. For growth to happen a combination of sorts is necessary.
When one places their faith in Jesus Christ as their only hope of forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God, the Spirit of God is joined with their spirit and new life is created.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. -2 Cor. 5:17
It is important to note that the transformative power in the believer's life is external to them. In other words, we do not possess the power within ourselves to change our sinful patterns. We need a different "seed" planted in us for that kind of transformation. That seed is Christ and His Spirit.
The world, however, says that you have everything you need within yourself to change your life. But the more one tries to change their life by relying on their own power, the more futile and fruitless their life becomes. A man-made solution cannot solve a God-sized problem (i.e. sin).
2. God's Way Takes Time -- the world's way says NOW!
The new life in Christ is implanted in seed form, so when the Bible speaks of sanctification (i.e. spiritual growth) it is communicating that the transforming effect of Christ's new life in the believer is not instantaneous; seeds don't instantly become trees or bushes or flowers. Organic, gospel-powered growth and change, takes time.
Sometimes it is easy to get discouraged when the changes we hope for and want don't come quickly. We might doubt God's power or goodness or even His presence. We are so accustomed to the world's way of instant this and instant that, so when God's way is taking awhile, we grow impatient.
But imagine the foolishness of expecting a tree or piece of fruit to grow at the same rate of expectation we have for personal character or emotional and spiritual maturity. We would never expect to plant an acorn today and have a mature, mighty oak tomorrow. We know such growth takes time! Yet, so often we expect godly, Christlike maturity to sprout in milliseconds.
I believe we expect this unrealistic speed of change because we are daily conditioned in our world to expect everything NOW. Instant coffee, instant news, instant entertainment, instant pain relief, instant everything!
The world's way of change is "3 easy steps" to your "best life now." And, sadly, millions of us buy this lie wholeheartedly. And when the latest fad or "diet" to transform our lives ends up not working, we immediately take the bait of the next instant solution. Then 10 years goes by and you wake up (maybe) to the realization that you are fundamentally stuck at the same point you were ten years ago.
The world's method of "now" never produces a better "later."
3. God's Way is Dependent -- the world's way says "You can do it!"
Remember, it is Christ's life in us that produces the change we need. We are not the source of our own transformation. Jesus said it plainly: "Apart from me, you can do nothing." (John 15:5b) Just before this statement, He gave us a vivid picture of the relationship between vines and branches when it comes to producing fruit:
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. -John 15:4-5
Did you catch that? "The branch cannot bear fruit by itself." This isn't optional. It's not like the branch can "choose" to bear fruit without the vine. It is impossible for the branch to bear fruit by itself!
God's way of total life change is total dependence on Him. There is no other option. It isn't some kind of formula, such as "give me a pinch of Jesus, a dash of Oprah, and a scoop of me." No, that's the world's way. God's way is 100% dependence on Jesus, otherwise there is no fruit.
This idea of total dependence is repulsive to the world. Humility and dependence are not celebrated. Instead, the world lifts up self-reliance and self-importance. The drumbeat of the world's way of change is "You can do it!" But the cry of the Christian is, "Lord, you must do it, for I cannot."
We abide, Christ produces the fruit.
4. God's Way Reproduces -- the world's way is selfish
The beauty of God's way of life change is that it always leads the believer to reproduce the fruit of God's Spirit in others. For what God produces is nothing short of spectacular -- how could a person experiencing the transforming power of God not pass along such life-giving fruit to others?
The stark contrast between God's way of change leading to reproduction and the world's way leading to selfishness is seen in Galatians 5:19-23,
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
The world's way says live for yourself, indulge every urge, pursue every whim and craving. But God's way produces His fruit in His time for His glory. And there is no limitation to the reproductive effect of such fruit.
The Power of the Seed
Let me close with an illustration to highlight the power of God's way of transformation versus the world's way, and how it is counterintuitive to man's wisdom.
I selected the picture for this blog post very carefully. It's a "delicate" flower sprouting through cold, hard concrete. This picture is an image of what I've been trying to convey in this article.
A flower seed versus concrete seems like no contest in favor of the concrete, right? But if that seed is planted in fertile soil below the concrete, then given enough time the power of the seed will break through the seemingly impenetrable concrete and blossom in an unexpected, yet vibrant display of stunning beauty.
God's "slow growth" model of transformation works similarly in our lives. He has planted the life of Christ within us. Over time, as we abide in the Vine, there is power flowing through us and breaking beyond the seemingly impenetrable forces of selfishness and pride and envy and greed and lust. As the life of Christ grows in us, a sprout forms and eventually we blossom in unexpected and beautiful ways that previously might have seemed impossible. (Eph. 3:20)
And when your life blossoms with the beauty of Jesus Christ, you will be compelled by love to freely share the fruit He produces through you with others. The world cannot offer such hope and joy. This kind of life and power is only found in Jesus.
Will you press in to this "slow growth" process of total transformation? The results are worth it...
Founder & President
No parent wants to think about the possibility of their child experiencing sexual abuse. This is a very real concern, however, as 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused in our world today. Instead of just being afraid, however, there are very practical things you can do to reduce the risk of abuse to your child.
An Obstacle for Some Parents
There is an obstacle that prevents some parents from better protecting their children from sexual abuse. Ironically, that obstacle is the fear of ruining a child’s innocence by teaching them about sex. But when we refrain from talking to our kids about sex we are not protecting them, we are putting them in danger.
I am speaking from personal experience. I am one of the 1 out of 6 men who were sexually abused as boys. My abuse started at five years old and continued until I was fourteen. The following are the things that could have prevented the abuse I lived through.
Teach Names of Body Parts
A counselor friend shared with me a story of a little girl who told her mother, “Mom, the babysitter keeps poking me with his stick.” That sounded odd to the mother but not alarming, so the mother replied, “Well, tell him to stop.” It was weeks later, after several other babysitting times, when the mother finally realized the babysitter was sexually abusing her little girl.
The mother had never taught her little girl the names of male and female sex organs, so the girl had no words to explain what had happened to her. This girl suffered sexual abuse much longer than if she knew how to tell her mom what had happened.
Ask What Your Children Do and With Whom
Most of us know that when sexual abuse happens it is often between people who know each other well. A 2017 study found that for every adult who abuses a child there are seven children who sexually abuse another child. More specifically, the demographic who abuses children the most is boys ages 11 to 15.
This aligns with my story. My abuser was twelve when he started abusing me at age five. His family was close with ours and they attended our church. We moved when I was eight and another boy who was fourteen began abusing me. His family was also close with ours and attended our church. But abuse can also happen between children of the same age, when one coerces another into doing sexual things.
My parents never asked what I did at either older friend’s house or questioned why we were so often alone and out of sight. That put me in great danger.
Teach What God Made Sex For
My parents never told me anything about sex or sexuality. Not once. I knew what to call body parts by age five but we lived on a farm where I had seen animals mating and I had a lot of questions.
Had I known what God created sex for and how it worked I would not have brought those questions to a boy twice my age. Had I known God’s plan for sex I would have told a parent when someone tried to get me to do something outside of God’s plan. My lack of sex education did not create innocence but vulnerability.
Teach About Sexual Temptation and Desire
Teaching about sex must include talking about sexual temptation and what to do when we feel tempted. The Bible teaches us to tell each other when we are tempted and kids need to learn to tell their parents when they are tempted, even sexually tempted.
Kids need to know before they reach puberty that they will experience sexual desire, and that is good. However, we must coach them to manage their sexual desire. Kids need to understand what to avoid doing with their sexuality that would be harmful to others or themselves.
My own sexual abuse awakened my sexuality too early. Counselors call this “hot-wiring.” By the time I was ten or eleven I was experiencing sexual temptation and desire. I needed someone to teach me what to do with temptation and desire. When my parents opted out of my sex education they handed that over to the world. The world gave me two teenage boys and pornography as educators.
Discuss the Reality of Pornography
Our kids need to know what pornography is and what to do when they see it long before they do. The average age of exposure to pornography today is eight. That means half of all kids in our country see pornography before age eight. That means children today need to know how to react to pornography at age seven. This is protection, not corruption.
I was introduced to pornography at age nine by the teenager abusing me. Pornography is very often used by abusers to make children feel that the sex acts they are asked to do are normal. If people take lots of pictures of it, how wrong can it be? Pornography was used on me to get me to comply.
Afterward, I remember wondering if my dad had ever seen pornography as a boy. I wanted to ask him but I was afraid to. This would have been another helpful conversation that could have cut short my abuse by several years.
Make Sex a Calm Conversation
Kids don’t want to talk to a parent who is anxious or agitated. It is imperative that any time we talk about sex or porn we remain calm and pleasant. Our kids need to experience positive conversations about sex and sexuality so they aren’t afraid to talk to us about sex or potentially abusive situations.
When I was nine I actually tried to tell my mother what the older boy was doing with me. I was afraid, so I hinted by asking if it was normal for boys to do certain things. My mother got visibly agitated and upset so I changed the subject and assured her everything was fine. I never said another word about what was happening to me, and the abuse continued, getting progressively worse, for five more years.
Teaching Healthy Sexuality Prevents Abuse
You may have noticed that everything in this blog is part of teaching God’s design for healthy sexuality:
Teaching God’s Design for sex in this way also protects our children agains sexual abuse. Ignorance is not innocence, it is dangerous in today’s culture.
Dr. Juli Slattery, author of Rethinking Sexuality, puts it this way:
“In what world is knowing God’s design for sexuality ruining anyone’s innocence?”
Knowing God’s design for sex protects our children from abuse.
Director of Training
It’s fair to say all of us have heard a husband or wife say they are married to their best friend. If not, well...now you have.
In greater frequency I'm going to the dictionary to find definitions of words that are key to what I’m speaking or writing about. Seems like a reasonable thing to do. The Merriam-Webster dictionary has changed over the years. Single word definitions are no longer the only words defined in those dictionaries.
So I looked up “best friend” in Merriam-Webster's Dictionary to find this: “a person's closest or dearest friend." The word ‘dearest’ is what jumped out at me.
I asked myself, is my wife (Julie) my dearest friend? Which prompted another question; Shouldn’t she be? My immediate answer was, Yes. Duh!
A Track Change on my Train of Thought
I used to mentally bristle at the idea of being married to your best friend. Seemed like an insulting idea to my relationship with Jesus Christ. He above all others should be my one and only best friend. Period.
Oh how legalistic of me. Bear with me, if you’re wondering if I’m not off the rails.
I now believe differently. But this was a shift in belief based on prayer, thought and biblical review -- and a discussion with my bride.
I asked Julie what a best friend is to her. She named the following items:
Sounds a bit like our right relationship with Jesus doesn’t it? That convinced me that husband and wife cannot just be 'best friends', but in reality should be each other's best friends.
Marriage as Jesus sees it
Here’s the truth about marriage as we view it the reflection of Jesus Christ’s relationship with the church. Marriage is the only relationship between human beings that is designed to fully reflect the relationship Jesus has with His bride, the Church.
In Ephesians 5:25, 31-32 the Apostle Paul writes: Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her... “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
As I think about and process these verses I see a relationship between two “closest and dearest” friends. Two ideas that are key to draw out in the previous sentence are relationship and closest. Jesus went to the cross to heal a broken relationship between mankind and God the Father.
Let's unpack verse 31 of Ephesians 5 by looking at a few key words:
With these words further defined from the original greek language verse 31 could read this way:
Eph 5:31 “Therefore a man will abandon his father and mother and adhere with she my lady and the two exist as one human nature.” (Dan W. version)
There is also no one closer to the Christian than God the Holy Spirit who lives within us. Men, I’m speaking to you for a few sentences. Your wife is the only other person called a suitable “helper’ in Scripture other than the Holy Spirit.
Men, we have the responsibility and honor to carry the image of Christ in our marriage relationship. We are the bridegroom in our marriage as Jesus is to the church.
Did that realization just about knock you over? If not, it maybe should at least grab your undivided attention.
Attention wives (for a minute)
In Ephesians 5:22-24 the Apostle Paul writes to wives: Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
The Apostle Paul is not saying women are inferior, less valuable than men, less intelligent, capable or any such value based idea. He is also not giving us men permission to boss our wives around, or they are a doormat of any kind.
God has assigned men and women equal value, access to the kingdom of God but also has given men and women different roles and responsibilities. Wives and (women) you are co-heirs of the grace, the same grace of Christ. Your value exceeds any precious jewel on earth!
As Jesus Christ has demonstrated He is worthy of being fully trusted, so men we as husbands following His example need to be of such integrity that when a tough decision needs to be made our wives can trust us to lead well. Are we perfect as Jesus is? Nope, yet we are called to lead in that same submissive relationship with God as Jesus did.
That puts duty on us as men to lead wisely and wives to trust fully in the mirrored image of Christ following the lead of God the Father.
This takes two of the closest and dearest friends who have a profound trust of one another. Husband and wife of one human nature, glued together in Christ Jesus.
Yes, we can and should be married to our best friends.
A few closing musings
A covenant is a big deal. God made covenants with Moses, Israel and Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of a new and eternal covenant with His brothers, sisters and between God and His children. That covenant was signed, sealed and delivered through the blood of Jesus the Christ.
Marriage is also a covenant. A covenant shaped and mirrored in Christ’s relationship with the church.
Let’s stop here and define what a “covenant” between God and mankind is: “A covenant is an unchangeable , divinely imposed legal agreement between God and man that stipulates the conditions of their relationship.” (from Grudem's Systematic Theology)
In Malachi 2 marriage is referred to directly as a covenant. Therefore we see marriage in light of the above covenant definition. This means we as husbands and wives do not get to set the terms of this covenant. God does and has.
This is not oppressive, but freeing! As in Christian living, there is great freedom in life in Christ so it is with marriage. Come on now...this is great news!
God gives to husband and wife each other's best friend. This makes the relationship not merely a 'her and me' arrangement, but an us or we adventure.
Just writing this article has changed the way I view our 36 year marriage union and covenant. My lady of one human nature and I have the joyous privilege to mirror His love for the church, the bridegroom.
So has Christ given to you in your marriage!
Wow! How cool is that!
Written by Dan Wobschall
Director of Gateway to Freedom
Yes, it is possible to quit porn and masturbation.
But I'm assuming you would prefer I write a little bit more in answer to this question. So I will.
I won't spend time writing about how big the porn problem is (you can read some statistics here). Nor will I focus on how porn affects the brain or the addictive nature of porn or is masturbation a sin. All good topics, but that's not why you're reading this article, is it?
You are reading this article because you want to know how to quit porn and masturbation.
Here are 5 tips to help you quit porn and masturbation. These are not a "magic formula" that guarantees freedom, but they will greatly increase your probability of success.
1. Learn your triggers
It is highly unlikely that your engagement of porn and masturbation is random or arbitrary. There is always some kind of pattern to such acting out. This pattern includes what we call triggers.
A trigger is anything that prompts you to pursue a particular unhealthy behavior (in this case, porn and masturbation). Triggers could be physical, like something you experience with your five senses (seeing, touching, tasting, hearing, smelling). Triggers could also be emotional or mental (i.e. sad, bored, scared, lonely, stressed, etc.).
To learn your specific triggers ask yourself the following questions related to your engagement with porn and masturbation:
Spend time examining your triggers and write them down. And commit to a lifelong journey of learning yourself so you can become better equipped for dealing with any kind of temptation you face.
Once you learn your core triggers, it's time to make a plan for responding to temptation in healthy, life-giving ways.
2. Plan your ways of escape ahead of time
I'm going to assume that you are not engaging porn and masturbation 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. (If you are, hospitalize yourself immediately!) The time to create a plan for dealing with your triggers is not 60 seconds before you act out -- make your plan(s) before you are wrestling with temptation.
Think of your unhealthy habit of porn and masturbation as a big hole in the roof of your house. When do you notice the hole as a problem? On sunny days? No! You curse the hole when it's raining, right? But you can't fix the hole when it's raining.
The time to work on fixing the hole is when the sun is out, even though that's also the time you aren't really thinking about the hole as being a problem. But rest assured it will rain again!
The key to responding well to your triggers and temptation is to plan your ways of escape before the "rain" starts falling. Here is a template to help you create your plan for resisting temptation when your triggers are tripped:
Responding well to triggers and temptation does not happen "organically." You must have a plan and you must work that plan. Quitting porn and masturbation requires more than hope and good intentions. But if you've learned your triggers and created a plan for escaping temptation, you are well on your way to living free from porn and masturbation.
Now it's time to exponentially increase your probability of freedom by sharing your triggers and your plan with someone else. No long-term freedom from porn and masturbation is possible without the help of others.
3. Share your triggers and your plan with a trusted friend
We all need help in life, and not just with overcoming the destructive habit of porn and masturbation. God designed us to thrive as human beings when we live in community. "It is not good for man to be alone."
I admit that what I am about to propose isn't easy. It's scary to be vulnerable with other people, especially sharing such a personal struggle like porn and masturbation. But it is necessary.
Now that you have written down your specific triggers and created a plan of escape when temptation hits, it's time to share this with at least one trusted friend. I found it most helpful in my own recovery journey to have at least 3 other people who knew this information.
A trusted friend is someone who cares about you enough to hold in confidence this personal information. And they have your best in mind; they want to see you succeed in your pursuit of freedom.
When you share your triggers and escape plan, this is what you are asking your trusted friend to do:
Quitting porn and masturbation is about more than just stopping unhealthy behaviors and thoughts. It's also about building strong friendships and growing in integrity as part of a community. And possibly the primary reason you need community is because you won't travel this road of growth and maturity perfectly.
You will stumble along the way, and you will need a loving community to help you get back up and keep going.
4. Confess and repent when you stumble
I wish freedom from porn and masturbation was easy. I really do. But it is not. It is messy and imperfect, just like you and me.
As you fight the battle against the temptations to engage porn and masturbation, you will not always win. You will sometimes stumble and fall. But falling on this journey doesn't mean you have utterly failed.
It is important to reframe stumbles as opportunities to learn and grow, rather than false indications that you are fatally flawed and beyond hope of ever being free. Fatalistic thinking is NOT from God!
God forgives your sin, not so that you can keep returning to it, but instead so you can look at it objectively, free from its shame, to learn how to respond better the next time you're faced with a similar temptation.
When (notice I said when, not if) you stumble and fall, be quick to confess it and repent. To confess is to "agree with truth." So, don't lie or try to hide the fact that you acted out. Agree with the truth that you did x, y, or z.
To repent means to "change your mind." The reason you stumbled was because somewhere along the way your mind was convinced that it was a good idea to sin. Repentance is refocusing your mind back on what is true and right and good. (Phil. 4:8)
I find it most helpful to confess and repent in the following contexts:
Confession and repentance is not usually easy or comfortable, but it is crucial if you are going to break free from porn and masturbation and become the person of integrity God created you to be.
Finally, it's important that all this work on quitting porn and masturbation doesn't overshadow what the real goal of such work should be: to build an intimate, growing relationship with God.
5. Keep the real goal in view: intimacy with God
Your struggle with porn and masturbation is not disconnected from your relationship to God. Yes, you read that sentence correctly, even if it is not something you have ever thought before.
Sin is not an entity unto itself. Sin is a distortion of something good. Think of sin like a parasite; it requires a host. Your sinful desires for porn and masturbation are merely distortions of the good desires God created within you for connection, intimacy, and pleasure.
Therefore, your pursuit to break free from porn and masturbation must ultimately be a pursuit of knowing God and His good design of sex, love, and intimacy. Don't lose sight of this larger (and better) goal. If you only eliminate an unhealthy habit, you will miss the greatest joy of all: walking with God as He designed you to walk.
Take some time to go back over the previous 4 tips and reframe them with this goal of intimacy with God. Maybe ask yourself the following questions:
As you keep the bigger picture of intimacy with God in view you will discover that "quitting" porn and masturbation is not so much a journey of negation, but instead a journey of pursuit. By running toward God you are automatically running away from sexual sin in all its forms.
Yes, it is possible to quit porn and masturbation.
By pursuing intimacy with God and others...
Founder & President
You have an enemy. His name is Satan (also known as Adversary, Accuser, Deceiver) and his goal is simple: destroy your life.
Satan has been around for a long time, way longer than us. He started out well, as an angel of light. He was essentially the "worship leader" of the angels in heaven. But his worship of God became overshadowed by worship of himself, and such pride got him kicked out of heaven (along with the rest of his worship band; about one third of the angels).
Ever since Satan's "fall" he has been intent on one thing: destroying the God he once worshiped. This is where his focus on you and me comes in.
God created mankind in His own image. We read the following in the first chapter of the Bible:
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness"... So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Gen. 1:26a, 27)
We (humans) are the only part of creation that bear this special mark of God; we are created unique, distinct from everything else in the universe. And this is why Satan hates us: we look something like our heavenly Father.
When God created Adam and Eve, the first humans, He placed them in a beautiful garden and said, "“You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Gen. 2:16b, 17)
They had freedom with only one restriction. (Can you imagine?) God gave humans a choice: trust God and live or trust anything else and die. This is the leverage point Satan seized upon in order to try and destroy humans, and thus try and mar the image of God.
In this story of mankind's fall into sin, Satan employs three tactics that he still uses today to seek to destroy God's image bearers. Learn to recognize these tactics and you will do well in fighting against Satan's destructive force in your life.
Tactic 1: Distraction/Doubt
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” (Gen. 3:1)
Satan's first tactic to destroy God's image bearers was distraction, or doubt. He asked Eve a question to plant a seed, not to gain information. He wanted to distract Eve just enough from God's Word so that she would begin to spin additional questions about God's trustworthiness.
This tactic is still used all the time today. God's Word says one thing, yet Satan brings a question to plant the tiniest seed of doubt as to whether God's Word is trustworthy or even good.
Some examples might be:
Tactic 2: Distortion
Notice how Satan completely flips the script of what God actually said.
"Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?" (3:1, emphasis mine)
The simple answer is: No, God did not actually say that!
God said: "You may surely eat of every tree... except one."
Satan distorted God to say: "You shall not eat of any tree."
It's stark, but subtle. God actually invites Adam and Eve to focus on all the freedom He has given them, and also pay attention to the one danger. Satan, conversely, entices Eve to focus on the one restriction and ignore completely the vast freedom God has granted.
Let's continue the story to see even more of Satan's tactic of distortion.
And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” (Gen. 3:2-3)
Eve gives a decent answer, but it's incomplete. Satan's first tactic seems to be working. She has already forgotten bits of God's Word. The seed of distraction and doubt is steering her ever so slightly away from the truth.
God said they could "surely" (or "freely") eat from the trees in the garden. She omitted this small, but significant qualifier. She also added something God never explicitly said about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil: "neither shall you touch it."
Anytime we add to or subtract from God's Word, the meaning will eventually become distorted. And Satan smiles.
His distortion continued.
But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 3:4-5)
Satan flat out contradicts God's Word when he says "you will not surely die," for God said plainly, "for in the day that you eat of it [the tree of the knowledge of good and evil] you shall surely die."
This is the moment of truth for Eve (and us). Trust God and His Word or trust Satan and his word. This is how every decision of life ultimately boils down.
For many of us, much of the time, the tactics of Satan have the same effect on us as they did on Eve (and Adam) below.
Tactic 3: Division
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. (Gen. 3:6-7)
Satan's seeds of distraction and doubt drew Eve's attention away from God's Word just enough for him to plant a few more seeds of doubt through distorting and flat out contradicting God's Word. With each question and contradiction Eve's focus was diverting from God (and freedom) to sin (and death).
And as soon as Eve and Adam ate the forbidden fruit a separation of cosmic proportions was established. Immediately there was division between husband and wife; they became self-conscious of their nakedness and sought to hide their bodies from each other.
But more than just a marital division occurred. Heaven and earth were separated. God's image bearers chose the way of the Deceiver instead of their Creator. Life would never be the same again. And life would also have an expiration. Every human being born from Adam will surely die. God's Word was true after all.
Satan, the great Deceiver, is intent on destroying your life and mine. He literally hates us! He uses the same tactics today that he used in the beginning: distraction/doubt, distortion, and division.
Where in your own life do you see the enemy's tactics? Has he planted seeds of doubt about God's goodness and trustworthiness? Has he distorted God's Word, causing you to omit or add things that fundamentally alter its meaning and effectiveness? Where has Satan created division between you and God, or you and others, or even you and yourself?
Do battle today to reclaim ground the enemy has stolen. Because of God's grace and the power of the resurrected Christ your life does not have to be destroyed.
Trust fully in God's Word.
Repent of sin.
Pursue unity with God and others.
It's true you have an enemy. But it's also true you have Savior in Jesus Christ, the One who conquered sin and death -- and Satan! In Christ, you have hope and joy -- and the freedom your soul was made for from the beginning.
Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures! We easily understand this with physical injuries. If someone gets badly hurt in an accident, she is likely to receive compassion and support. No one would frown on her need to have time off from her normal responsibilities, go to physical therapy, or rest. She is likely to be loved on with meals, cards, and more. Life’s pace would need to change to make room for recovery.
It is a different story when this same woman suffers a devastating, emotional blow such as being betrayed by the person that her life is most intertwined with: her husband.
The kind of heartbreak that infidelity produces is severe. The grief has been equaled to that of losing a child. Emotions are all over the place. Anger is a normal emotional response to betrayal. Tears can be incessant. For some, shock and numbness can set in. Insecurities shout, “you’re not enough.”
Emotional triggers become a way of life. The body responds with appetite changes, panic attacks, sleep disturbances, stomach issues, and even aggravated pre-existing health conditions.
Initially, to even speak to someone else about what you are going through can bring more pain and shame. Accepting that this is part of your life takes time. Who could be trusted with this sensitive information?
The truth is, many carry on in this life-altering reality without tending to their invisible wounds. The lack of self-care will take its toll on the individual. Self-neglect when facing something that impacts one so deeply is likely to incur negative consequences such as clinical depression, physical illness, becoming bitter, developing an addiction, getting stuck, and much more.
It is important to practice self-care when healing from betrayal trauma as a basic form of stewardship. Borrowing from the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, our bodies, thoughts, heart, and behaviors are our most obvious “talents.” Using these “talents” well to heal will move you forward to the good works God created for you to do as you get stronger.
Consider giving emotional trauma the equal respect that you would give to a physical injury. God does. When He looks at us He sees our heart (1 Samuel 16:7). Jesus calls the weary to come to Him to receive rest (Matthew 11:28). He is near the broken-hearted and saves those whose spirit is crushed (Psalm 34:18). God provides for basic needs in a time of distress (1 Kings 19:3-8). He collects our tears in His bottle (Psalm 56:8). Your heartache hardly escapes His notice. Don’t let it escape yours.
Josh Spurlock says in his article on the theology of self-care: “Self-care isn’t selfish or self-indulgent, it’s good stewardship of the resource of our body that enables us to make the best use of it and the time God has given us.”
Here are a few obstacles that can hold you back from practicing needed self-care at this time:
What do you enjoy doing? What deposits energy back to your heart and soul? What did you enjoy doing as a child?
Would you make a list of 20 items? Your list can contain things you already know you love and things you would like to try. This is a great place to start practicing self-care.
To inspire you, I’m sharing a list of 20 self-care ideas compiled by a wife while still in the shock stage of betrayal trauma. After allowing herself to ride the wave of hard-to-feel emotions, she would choose something from this list to help restore calm and recharge.
Yes, healing from sexual betrayal is an extraordinary time in your life, and it does require extraordinary measures of stewardship, whether the people around you realize it or not. The important thing is you realize it and start moving in that direction one step at a time.
Written by Gigi Hopkins
Wives Care Coordinator
Is it possible to have fun again in your marriage after an affair? This is a heavy question, but I believe it is absolutely possible.
The marriage covenant is serious because it is the promise between a man and a woman to "love, honor, and cherish" each other "til death do us part." And when there is a sexual betrayal of that covenant, a type of death is felt.
God's Word tells us that sexual betrayal in marriage is so serious that if it is committed, the offended spouse is allowed to divorce. (Although it is best to first seek reconciliation, especially if the betraying spouse is repentant and submits to appropriate help.)
With sexual betrayal being so serious a violation of the marriage covenant, how is it possible for a couple who has faced this to reconcile, let alone have fun again?
I'm not going to cover in this article all that is involved in reconciling a broken marriage. You can learn a little more about what that journey looks like here.
So this article is for the couple who has decided to reconcile and work on their marriage, and wants to know what does "having fun" again look like.
Here are 4 key guidelines to help you have fun again after an affair:
1. Let the betrayed partner set the pace for pursuing fun
When sexual betrayal is committed, the spouse who was betrayed carries the heaviest burden. They are the one that feels used, deceived, and "less than." It will likely take them longer to feel "safe" enough to be vulnerable with their spouse.
If you are the spouse who committed the sexual betrayal, you need to be extremely patient and gentle with your wounded partner. They will need a great amount of gentleness and compassion from you as they navigate a whole new universe of emotions.
Therefore, the "pace" of pursuing fun again needs to be primarily directed by the betrayed spouse. They need this "power" because it is directly connected to how safe they feel.
When they feel safe, they become more open to fun activities.
When they feel unsafe, they are less inclined to want to pursue fun.
My wife and I were separated for 9 months when all my lies of betrayal came out into the open. I got in recovery and my wife got some great counseling. When we reconciled and moved back in together it was difficult navigating our "new" marriage.
I wanted my wife to feel safe so that she could be herself around me. Probably the biggest way I helped this to happen was to take my recovery and sobriety seriously -- to truly be a man of integrity.
As I proved myself to her in my recovery, she felt much safer and therefore more open to doing fun things together.
And during this "rebirth" it wasn't as if I had no voice or opinion to offer about things to do, but it was important that my voice be softer and gentler, and that my pace be in step with my wife's healing journey.
Relearning how to have fun together will likely be a roller coaster for awhile, but that's okay. Healing and restoring a marriage wounded by sexual betrayal is not a quick, seamless process. It takes time, but it's worth the time taken.
2. Explore both old and new interests
If you have been married for more than 5 minutes you have history together. You have shared activities and memories. You certainly had things at the beginning of your relationship that you mutually enjoyed -- it's why you fell in love.
Sometimes when couples are recovering from the devastation of sexual betrayal it can seem like everything in the past was a lie, or at the very least is now completely and utterly tainted or irreparably damaged. This is not true, even if it feels true.
Because it can feel like the past is totally destroyed, the rebuilding process can seem like everything moving forward has to be NEW. New routines. New job, new phone, new house, new gym, new Internet filter, etc. New clothes, new communication skills, new church, new car. New movies, new TV shows, new social media (nah, none of that!), new restaurants, and even new shoes.
Whew! Are you exhausted yet?
When rebuilding after an affair there are certainly going to be some new ways of living established, but not everything you enjoy doing together has to be new. In fact, some of the best stuff for rekindling your intimacy will be found in reforming some old activities from your history together.
My wife and I have always loved to travel together. We love to drive around old towns looking at the old buildings and learning the history. We love to ask the locals where to eat and what they do for fun. These activities didn't have to be eliminated from our lives after our reconciliation. They were simply reformed and enjoyed in new ways because of the healing we experienced.
But it is also good to explore new ways of having fun together. After all, in a very real sense you are building a "new" marriage. It is only fitting that you explore new things together that bring joy and delight into your relationship.
Work together on exploring both old and new interests that are fun and interesting. Never stop learning and growing together.
3. Make sure fun obeys the Golden Rule
Jesus said, "So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." (Matt. 7:12) This is commonly referred to as the "Golden Rule." And it's important to remember when learning to have fun again after an affair.
In many ways the restoration process for a marriage that is healing from an affair is a journey of "learning" each other in new ways. You are learning how to talk openly and honestly, how to make decisions together, and exploring what intimacy really looks like.
As you pursue fun activities together make the Golden Rule the "litmus test" for your decision. Is the activity something your spouse will enjoy, or simply endure? Are you being considerate and thoughtful toward them? Have you been listening to what they have been saying about what they find fun or enjoyable?
Now, I know what some of your are thinking. If you are the betrayed spouse, you are probably shouting at me: "I've done this before and got burned by my spouse's deception before. Why would I want to do this again and risk getting hurt in the same way?"
I get it. It is definitely a risk to explore having fun again and to place your spouse's interests ahead of your own. And I'm not suggesting that you take a blind risk if your spouse is not showing signs of repentance and true pursuit of a changed life. But even if all those things are present, it's still a risk; there is no guarantee that you will never be hurt again.
But when you are both seeking to apply the Golden Rule to your decision-making about fun activities together, I think you will find that you will land on some mutually agreeable activities that really will be fun together. Yes, it's a risk, but it's a risk worth taking.
(Also, if you were the betraying spouse, be extra sensitive and caring when making decisions about fun activities. You still have a voice, but be extremely empathetic to your spouse's emotional sensitivity in this season of rebuilding.)
4. Keep fun in its proper place
Finally, remember that fun is simply fun. And fun is good, but it isn't the ultimate goal for restoring your marriage. Other issues like glorifying God and rebuilding oneness should take precedence over simply having fun together.
But at the same time you must acknowledge that having fun together is not unimportant. If you focus all your energy only on super spiritual matters and intensive counseling, but never spend any time together just having fun, I will argue that you are not fully rebuilding your marriage.
I believe God absolutely wants us to be out-of-this-world happy! Happy in Him and happy in each other. I also believe that such happiness comes by way of being whole and holy. So, happiness is not disconnected from righteous living, but it also isn't devoid of real fun, true enjoyment in the creation God has made.
Explore fun in the context of pursuing God together. I believe God will show you how to have fun in ways that you never thought of before. And I also believe that God will be delighted in seeing you smile together again, not merely for the sake of smiling, but instead because something worth smiling about is truly happening in your restored marriage.
Is it possible to have fun again after an affair? I believe it is. Do you?
(This is not a comprehensive or exhaustive list of ideas or insights for having fun again after an affair. It is simply meant to be a starting point. We'd love to hear your ideas and insights in the comments section below.)
Written by Jonathan Daugherty
Founder of Be Broken Ministries
What makes accountability with our children have lasting results? It’s one thing for a father and son to have a few conversations that result in a temporary change in the son’s integrity. It is quite another to create a dynamic that causes the son to be open to ongoing conversations about sexuality and integrity. That’s really what we are talking about.
Lasting accountability requires a relationship between father and son that welcomes difficult conversations.
What is in the Way
In 2019 Be Broken surveyed a large group of teen boys who came from Christian homes. When we asked why kids today are afraid to talk with their parents about sex all of their answers could be summarized in these two points:
These two statements illustrate what is standing in the way of lasting father-son accountability.
Do You Understand Me?
First of all, boys are afraid that their fathers do not know what it feels like to be sexually tempted. When fathers talk to their sons we tend to talk from the head instead of the heart. Sons are left uncertain if their dad really understands how they feel.
Saying “I remember wanting to look at porn at your age” does not necessarily send the message that we really know what that feels like. That is talking from the head. Talking from the heart sounds more like this:
“When I was eleven my friends showed me porn at a sleepover. I knew I shouldn’t want to but I could not make myself look away. It made me feel something I’d never felt before and I wanted to see more.”
This kind of confession on the part of a father resonates much more with his son. This is speaking from the heart to our sons. Lasting accountability with our sons requires that we be open and honest about our own past.
Will I Get in Trouble?
Boys also worry that they will get in trouble if they admit they have already seen porn or engaged in some kind of sexual behavior. Boys can also be afraid to ask questions about sexual words they have heard and do not understand. Instead of going to Dad, they ask Google or an older friend, which rarely ends well.
The only way our sons will be honest with us is if they know it is safe to tell Dad. That means we, as fathers, have to restrain ourselves when our sons confess or ask a question we are shocked that they even thought of.
For accountability to last, our sons need to have positive experiences during accountability conversations. They need to feel supported, not judged. Here are some tips on how to make that happen.
What our sons need most is a strong relationship with their dad, or with another adult if the dad is not around. Having clear boundaries is important. Doing our best to protect our sons from sexualized content is important. But none of that will work if our sons don’t care what we say or think. Building a close relationship with our sons makes them much more likely to embrace our ideals.
My Son’s Story
This was certainly true with my son. I had been talking with him about sex and accountability since he was eleven. When he was thirteen, unbeknown to me, he had found a way to view porn. He kept this secret for a month or two before finally coming clean and confessing to me what he had been doing.
I remember how tense he looked when he told me. He was unable to look me in the face. God must have been with me that moment because the first words out of my mouth were, “I’m so glad you told me.” His body visibly relaxed and I knew I had done something right for once.
A few years later we were talking about that incident. He told me that the reason he confessed is because we had been talking about sex and porn and I had told him about my troubles with those things when I was his age.
But, he also said that if I would have gotten mad—"tore him up" were his words I believe—he would have never been honest with me about porn again. He also said if I would have acted like I didn’t care or that it was no big deal he would probably not talked to me again either. He didn’t want me to not care, but he wanted me to care about him more than the mistake he had made.
What Lasting Looks Like
Having good accountability with your son does not mean he will stop making sexual mistakes once you build a good relationship with him. He will make plenty of mistakes. There will months or even years when he isn’t very invested in accountability with you. But if you continue to reach out to him with honesty, he will never forget that and likely return to accountability in the future.
When faced with a difficult situation with our son, we can ask ourself, “What can I say or do that will build our relationship long term?” rather than, “What can I do to stop his behavior right now?” This isn’t always easy but I have found it to pay off over time. That’s what lasting father-son accountability is all about.
Written by John Fort
Director of Training
Author of Honest Talk & Father-Son Accountability