Radio Broadcast

The Secret to a Lasting Relationship, Part 1

Scripture: Ephesians 5:1 - 5:2

If you or someone you know is searching for that special person, suffering the consequences of divorce and not sure what to do next, or looking for biblical advice you can share with someone you love, this is a bedrock, very encouraging message about how to do relationships God's way.

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Transcript

Love, sex, and Lasting Relationships. We are all, every single one of us in this room, are made, and wired, and long to be loved, and to give love. We are made and designed by the Creator of the universe to have spiritual, emotional, and physical connection, with a person of the opposite sex, that does something in our soul, and our heart. And we are longing for that experience to not fade, not end in divorce, but to last our whole lives.

And the question is, if you’re single, how do you find that right person, right? If you’re married, how do you keep that kind of love alive? If you’re widowed, or a widower, how do you avoid that pitfall of when to move forward, and, because of the great need, and the hurt, and the hole in your soul, of getting connected too early, in some way, with someone that usually ends up in a disaster?

Why is it there are so many relationships, but most of them just don’t turn out very well? Over half of all the marriages don’t work.

Where I want to start is with something I think is pretty basic: What is the secret to a lasting relationship? Let’s face it, there are some people that love each other – it’s rare.  You can see them at all different stages, and decades, and, man, they are in love, and . . .  There is something to what they know that a lot of us don’t.

And what I am going to suggest is, there are two basic models out there that we are going to look at. Hollywood’s model is one, and God’s model, or God’s prescription, to enhance your love life is the other. And so, I want to look at Hollywood’s model, and then I’ll look at God’s model, and maybe we can learn some things.

Imagine, if you will, since we are in the Silicon Valley, that this small, little tube is filled with multiple tiny, little silicon chips that can take information, and then you can turn it this way, and it can synthesize it through an algorithm to take all that information to come up with the basics of what is inside of it.

So, what – hypothetically – I put inside of here are the last forty years of movies, the last forty years of all television shows, the last forty years of all self-help books, the last forty years of all romance novels, the last fifteen or twenty years of reality shows, and anything that has been written about love, sex, and relationships.

And then, when I take this and I say, okay, of all the movies we have seen, the magazines, the books, the world that we have grown up in, if I could shoot that out through some sort of algorithm to say, “If there is a step-by-step process to find the right person, to be in love, and have this great, awesome relationship with amazing sex, what would it be?” Hollywood would say this.

Number one, you need to find the right person. Right? We all grew up, There is someone out there for me. I need to find them. Where are they? I wonder when, and how am I going to meet them?

And so, what we are told, in each one of those movies, and in the songs that we sing, and in the Netflix that we watch, is, there is someone out there, but you have to attract them. In other words, if you’re going to find them, it’s kind of like you need to be honey, so the bees will come for you.

And what Hollywood says is, there is a way that you attract people. And what they say is that you need to be really good bait: You need to look a certain way. You need to dress a certain way. You need to drive a certain car. You need to be hip, or cool, or neat, or whatever word you want to use.

And then, there is a theme that is very, very physical in how you attract the opposite sex. In fact, I did something, and I’m going to take you on a quick, little journey. I went to the typical drug store, and I went to the magazine rack, and I thought, I’m going to do some very anecdotal, non-scientific research. And I’m just going to take ten magazines and say, “Is there any theme about who I am supposed to be to attract the opposite sex?” And so, I’d like to invite you to join me in my research.

So, I started off mild. Let’s focus on ourselves. So, Self magazine says I can burn fat faster – and as I go through these, see if you can see some words or themes that developed. And then, I can tone and tighten – don’t have to go to the gym to do it.

And then, here’s something: “Sporty Sex: How Many Calories Can You Actually Burn?” I didn’t realize that was part of the diet program, but I can see where it would sell a magazine!

So, I go beyond simply myself, because I want to be glamorous, because if I’m glamorous – for Glamour – I attract other people. And a very attractive young woman, here, will tell me sixty-five ways to play up my body. So, apparently, how my body looks is really important.

But I like this: Ladies, you don’t just need to look good with makeup. You don’t need to look good after you have been rested, been to the gym, gotten a little tan. In this magazine: How to look ridiculously good on zero sleep. Hey, the expectations aren’t getting too high, are they?

And then, just in case you wonder about men, and how do men really think, in this edition, one thousand and one men answer your questions, ladies. This is what you’re going to find out: How to be good bait, about sex, about your body, about babies, about falling in love, and falling out of love.

Well, it’s a fitness world, it’s a diet world. We all know that we want to be in good shape, so I thought Shape magazine would be a good one. And so, what does this tell us? Well, you can drop seven pounds in two days. Amen, right?

And then, it’s the “Better Sex Workout.” I’m catching a theme. I don’t know about you. There might be a theme emerging here.

And then, I like this, “You can tone every inch of your body: lean and firm thighs, sleek and strong arms, and tight, sexy…” I think I’ll just – that’s a little beyond the ol’ PG rating here in the church. But that is what I need to attract the opposite sex.

Well, if we go to Cosmo, it’s a bit more risqué, and the themes in Cosmo – Most guys understand that all the covers of Cosmo are identical from the neck down. Think on that, just for a second. You’ll get it. Wives are going, “Honey? What’s he saying?” No. Believe me, they know. So, here we have, “Sex Olympics – 17 Hot Tricks to Go for Gold.” And then, “Sexy, and We Know It.”

Here’s what I like, at the very bottom: “One week plus four moves equals your new, hot body.” Isn’t that amazing? You don’t have to diet, don’t go to the gym, and just in one week!

Are you beginning to realize you have been inundated by every form of media to say, “How you look is the key to attracting the opposite sex, and sex is the ultimate goal of every relationship”? That’s what it says.

Well, let’s get a little more focused toward health. And so, Women’s Health – how do you get healthy? Flat abs, that’s how. Hold it. Not only flat abs, but more sex, better sex – up the action, and the satisfaction.

Hey, you know what? It’s not like I pulled these from years – I just went to the drugstore yesterday, all right? This is just a for real…

Now, here’s the moment, though. Things are changing. It used to be that there was an expectation, if you’re in your twenties or your thirties, and have a hard body, all the rest – But we used to at least think that, like, twenty, thirty years later… Well, Heidi is on the front. Forty is the new twenty. So, if you’re not married, if you’re forty, and you don’t look like her, you have a problem.

And here’s the thing: If that message keeps going, your husband looks at you, and looks at her, and says, “You know, maybe… So, what’s the deal?” Or flip it around. And you look at him and say, “You know, he didn’t have that when we got married, that little…”

Well, guys, let’s not let the women take all of it. This is The Bachelor. And so, just an average, normal-looking guy, from my opinion, actually. Right, guys? He kind of looks like us: a little stubble, hard body.

But, now, think of this, that this show has so many followers. We have seventeen women – all who happen to be gorgeous – who want to line up, that don’t know anything about him, but want to marry him. “What’s he like?” “I have no idea! I just want to be on the show!” But he found out that three of them have dark pasts that want to take him down.

This is Men’s Health, and this is the most unusual Men’s Health I have ever seen. I do this research when I walk out of the grocery store, by the way, often. And usually the Men’s Health has a guy with his shirt off. The ladies probably don’t even notice. But he has his shirt off, and he doesn’t have a six-pack, he doesn’t have an eight-pack – he has, like, a twelve-pack.

Now, you do understand that he has been working out for years. This is his full-time job. He takes creatine, and probably a little steroids here and there, because he’s not playing in the NFL. And he looks amazing! And what he says to me is, “Chip, you can burn flat abs, 24/7, the new, all-Spartan workout!” Ooooh! Okay!

And “Muscle Secrets from the Real Fight Club…” Guys, you get to that gym, your wife is going to go, “Wow!” Or, if you’re not married, or if you’re looking, the whole key is…

For some of you, you’re thinking, It’s too late for the gym. Maybe it’s in the clothes – a little more sophisticated. In this detailed magazine, “Build a Perfect Wardrobe: The Eight Pieces Every Stylish Man Should Own.” See, if you have a shirt like this, they can tell where this came from. I mean, the women! I mean, in Starbucks! “Unbelievable, do you see that suit?”

But that’s not enough. If you can’t afford the wardrobe, underneath of it, the haircut of the moment. Guys! How cheap could it get? Well, it’s not really all that cheap, except for some. You have this haircut, and she goes, “Unbelievable. I think I’m in love!”

We’re having a bit of fun, and we laugh because it’s in the air, it’s in the water, it’s in the movies, it’s in the songs, and we all care about what we look like, and we all have these private thoughts that we wish we looked a lot better. And we all have now been inundated with a culture – and it’s in the air and water – that says, “If you don’t look like this, you don’t measure up.” And worse, we can get deluded into thinking we do, but the person that we are married to doesn’t. Or we can feel like, If I don’t look like one of these people, and I’m single, I’ll never, ever get married.

And, you know what? Here’s the thing: The expectations are now so false, and so unrealistic, this message destines you to fail, in every relationship. It destines you to try and become something you’re not.

It destines you to compare inside your relationship, where any flaw is now up against this one percent of the gene pool, in all of the world, who has private chefs, work out four hours a day, and have unlimited expenses on wardrobes, and then they do these shoots, and then they touch up the shoots afterwards. And it gets worse, because it never ends.

The last one is the most sad for me. This is Christie Brinkley at sixty. I don’t know about you ladies, but if you don’t look like this at sixty, there’s a big problem. And so, now, it’s like you can’t even grow old. There is no room for sags, or lags, or anything else.

But the reason this is so sad is that there is an insert of her many years ago, about forty years ago, in the swimsuit issue, when she was deemed the most beautiful woman of the world at the time – actually, the person that everyone would want to be, or most men would want to marry. And underneath it, it says, “Christie at Sixty: All Her ‘Stay-Young’ Secrets.” Listen very carefully. “After three kids, and four husbands, and a tough decade, Christie Brinkley looks this good.”

You know, I don’t know her, but my heart goes out. I bet I could have Christie sit right on that stool, and I bet I could say, “You know what, Christie? You look good at fifty, sixty, thirty, twenty. But I bet you would trade looking maybe ten or fifteen percent less good for one marriage that worked, kids that are connected. Christie, could you ever imagine what it would be like to have a man look at you – and not look at your body – and think your value is not just your exterior, that loved you for you, for who you really are?”

And if I said that to her, I will guarantee, tears would flow down her face, and she would say, “That’s what I’ve been looking for all my life.” And what I want you to know is that Hollywood’s formula is, “Find the right person and that’s the way.”

And then, when you find them, you fall in love. Right? In all the movies… You just fall in love. The picture is, you’re driving your car, and you stop your car, and it’s at a red light. And you look over, and she looks over. You look again; she looks again. Your eyes meet. Electricity starts at the top of your head. You begin to shake almost uncontrollably inside your car. She has a Volkswagen; you have a Volkswagen. You don’t know it, but you’re in love! She pulls off, and you want to follow her.

Or, sometimes, it’s a little less dramatic. You’re just walking in a coffee shop, and you notice her. She notices you. You go to get refills at exactly the same time. You brush one another. Magic dust pours down upon both of you. I’ve got to know his name! You go back, having not done any more than that, hoping that, the same day, at the same time, at the same coffee shop, he or she will be there.

But you return home to say to your roommate, “I’m in love.” Your IQ drops thirty points. You start acting in ways that are ridiculous, spending money you don’t have, dressing up – “Does this look good? Does this look good? Does this look good? What do you think? Should I buy a new outfit?”

“Why?”

“I’m going to the coffee shop.”

“Why?”

“To meet a guy I’ve never met, that I don’t know his name, that I know nothing about, that I think I’m in love with.”

Now, is that not Hollywood’s formula? You believe that a lot. I believe that a lot.

The third step in Hollywood’s formula is, once you find that person, and once you have this mystical, infatuated experience that we’ll talk about later – because there’s a chemical reaction that happens when we’re infatuated, and God designed us that way. And it’s a good part of a relationship. We just need to understand what part – then, you fix your hopes and dreams on this person.

So, all the songs are, “I can’t live without you.” In fact, once you find him and you fall in love, “If loving you is wrong, I don’t want to be right!” How did you know those words? You’re amazing! Over and over and over and over.

And then, when you fix your hope on this person – and probably most everyone has been there – and then there’s the breakup, your life – you can’t eat. You can’t sleep. You can’t drink. Life is meaningless. You put on weight; you drink too much. You do all kinds of things because what was going to make your life work is gone.

And if you don’t believe it, just ask all the pretty people, who make all the movies, who are the most beautiful, with the most money, who seem to not be able to stay together for more than a few months, or a few years.

And then, finally, when failure occurs, you repeat steps one, two, and three. And it goes like this – in marriage, it goes like this: “We’ve fallen out of love.” “I guess it just wasn’t the right person.” “Well, it was good for a few years, and she was that way, and I was that way, but we’ve grown apart.” All these euphemisms…

The belief system is, there’s someone out there, and, therefore, once you break up, you go back to the gym. You ever seen how many forty to fifty year olds are all in the gym? Right?

Now you get a new wardrobe, you get a new car, and you play the same game, except the next time, the chance of failure goes up to seventy-five percent, not fifty percent. This is the mantra that you have been sold, that destines you for dissatisfaction, or to never find the right person, or to have heartbreak that God never intended.

The results are: The success rate of Hollywood’s formula is, since 1960, the divorce rate has doubled. About forty-one to forty-three percent of people are divorced now, but since we don’t count those who cohabitate, and then break apart, a good, round figure is about fifty percent.

Over half of all divorces happen in the first ten years. Usually between year three and six is the most devastating time, because reality hits in, some young kids come, people don’t endure.

The pain and the fallout are really beyond what we often think. Despite all the words and talk shows of, “It was an amiable divorce. We’re still friends. It was just a mistake,” the research indicates that the pain, fallout, and damage to the children, to the economics… Half of all women who go through a divorce live below the poverty level. The fractured relationship and the pain are the tip of the iceberg. And our problems and the tragedy of divorce follow us into adulthood.

One of the most interesting studies I have ever read was, Children of Divorce, Twenty-Five Years Later, a landmark study that tracked kids from broken homes, longitudinally tracked them, for over twenty-five years, to find out what happens to kids, not now – “Oh, they’re resilient. Everything’s going to be okay.”

Wallerstein is the founder of The Center for Families in Transition, one of the nation’s leading experts on divorce. And her book, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: 25 Years Later – a landmark study. She gives an example.

Karen James was thirty-six when she detailed to Wallerstein the long shadow cast by her parents’ divorce. Like so many other children of divorce, James had embarked on a search for lasting love, yet was so deeply anxious that she was unable to trust others. A fear of abandonment kept her clinging to a string of unsuitable and troubled partners.

It would be too embarrassing to ask you to raise your hands to see many in this room have been down that road, or have a sister, or a brother, or one of your kids that you say, “Yup, that’s what happened.”

It goes on to say that by the time the children of divorce reached their thirties, she found that only half of them were doing well, personally. Interestingly, it seemed that it had absolutely no impact on their work life. We substitute, and we compensate.

Here’s all I want you to hear, very clearly: Hollywood’s formula is all that we’ve heard. You don’t even have to try and not believe it, or believe it. Every time you wake up and watch a commercial, read a book, glance at a magazine, watch a movie, this is the mantra behind it. And if you don’t understand that you are being hoodwinked, seduced, and used, then you are a fool, because it doesn’t work.