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About this series
Love Sex and Lasting Relationships
God's Prescription for Enhancing Your Love Life
Everyone desires to love and be loved. The pursuit of "true love" is everywhere you look! It's romanticized on TV and in the movies we watch. Countless books and songs are written about it and hundreds of online dating websites and relationship seminars abound - all of which are designed to "help" you find that special someone to love. So why is "true love" so elusive? Could it be that the picture of love we see in today's culture is nothing more than an illusion? If so, what does real love look like? In this series, you'll discover God's way for finding love, staying in love, and growing in intimacy for a lifetime.More from this series
I want to share an experience I had. I just call it a night that I’ll never forget. And it was one of those that changed the course of my life in this whole area of love, and sex, and lasting relationships. Let me try and picture it. We all have a handful of memories where it’s, literally, etched in the back of your brain. And when you think of it, you don’t even have to try and remember it. The images are so clear, because it was profound.
I was a sophomore in college. I had been a Christian about two years. I had begun to read the Bible in the mornings, and I got into Bible study with some guys. I actually saw God radically change my life. And, yet, the biggest war raging in me was, I knew God wanted me to be sexually pure, and I certainly didn’t grow up thinking pure thoughts, or viewing the other sex in appropriate ways. And so, after two years of walking with God, I was just in the midst of this battle.
And it was many of the kinds of things I’ve heard from you. I’ve had people all over, after every service, an hour or more, just tell me, “I really want to live that way. I really get it. I understand. But you just don’t understand. I’m trying as hard as I can. I fail. I fail. I fail. I try not to log on,” or, “I know I’m not supposed to, and I don’t want to go to those, but I just do it.”
And that’s where I was living. And this couple didn’t know it, but, it was a small college I went to, maybe three to five thousand students, up in the mountains. You would drive about a half hour, and then you’d come to a clearing, and you would see, on this huge plateau, this beautiful college, like, out of a storybook.
And a small, little town; the college had one – when I say “small,” there was a little red church, a little white church, two bars, and one gas station. And the gas station was only open for a few hours a day. And so, you were stuck up on this little place, and so getting a home-cooked meal was awesome, and very rare.
And there was this young couple – looking back, they were young – they seemed old at the time, because I was nineteen, maybe twenty. And they said, at church – I started going to church, which was really new for me – and they said, “Would you like to come over for dinner?” The answer is, “Yeah, of course.” I mean, cafeteria food, or a home-cooked meal?
And so, I got in my little green Volkswagen, and I drove – it was about seven or eight miles – it took about twenty minutes, because in West Virginia all the roads are like this. And then, I came over a hill, and there was their little house.
And, literally, for those of you who can remember, or even know who Norman Rockwell is – it’s just like a snapshot, a picture of a Norman Rockwell. There’s a little barn that needs some paint, a little white farmhouse, a little gravel driveway.
And I pull up, and I sit down. And then, I walk into the house of this couple that, at the time, I thought were kind of old. They were late twenties, early thirties. And I thought, What could they ever know?
And so, we come in – and I didn’t think about it at the time, but they were probably pretty poor. He was actually a farmer, and doing a couple little odd jobs. And there hadn’t been a lot of rain. But everything we ate was cooked right out of their place.
And so, we came in, and as we came in, I noticed there weren’t doors. So, I guess they didn’t have a lot of money. And they had a line and sheets that they made for curtains. And that’s what they would open and close for a little bit of privacy. It was a very small, little farmhouse.
And then, you go into the kitchen – and some of you can remember – remember the aluminum-type legs, and the tables with the plastic tops with the floral patterns? That was it. It was retro, retro. If you could get it now, it would be super cool, and probably worth a lot of money on eBay.
And so, I sat down. My elbows got kind of sticky, and I took them off. And so, Dave and Lanny – and they had a four-year-old and a two-year-old. And they were just a little bit ahead of me. They had been Christians about three and a half years, me for about two. And they were just beginning this journey.
And we sat down, and she cooked a great meal, and they don’t know I’ve got this battle inside, and I feel like, Everything fun, God says ‘no’ to, and Jesus loves me and He changed my life, but if we could just renegotiate the Bible to – how about seven commands? Or even eight! But there were two that were like, “Are you kidding me, God? You gave me hormones! Certainly You don’t expect me to…” And He said, “Certainly I do.”
And so, I always felt like God was on this side, and I was on this side, and there was this big barrier, and there were these things I was supposed to do, and no matter how hard I tried, I always failed.
And in the midst of that, I’m sitting at this table with this older couple, who probably don’t know much about relationships by now. And I notice how she looks at him, and I notice how he helps out and picks up the dishes. And as we were talking – and we talked about everything. And I noticed that they reached over and held hands, and you could see this energy between them. And I thought, Wow, maybe married people still really like each other.
All I can tell you, there was a beauty in this little home, and these two little kids. And then, they said, “Excuse me” – dinner was done, and we picked up the plates – “we’re learning something, and we’re trying this out with our kids. Would you mind just waiting here? We’ll be back.” And “be back” – they went, like, ten feet.
And then, they opened the little sheet, and there was one twin bed that both kids slept in, little kids. And Dave got down, and then Lanny, got down, and then a four-year-old, and a two-year-old. I mean, it’s like Norman Rockwell again.
And they all folded their hands, and Dave told a very brief story about Jesus. And then, the mom folded each of the little kids’ hands, and then Dave prayed, and then the mom prayed.
And I don’t know if you have ever, I didn’t grow up as a Christian. I never even opened the Bible. But when you hear a four-year-old, “Dear Jesus, thank You for my mommy and my daddy, and thank You for this man who came to our house, and thank You for loving us ...” And then, the two-year-old was like, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, Jesus, amen.” And it’s not like I’m trying to eavesdrop, but there’s only a sheet between us, right?
And then, they came in, and here’s what I want to tell you: Something happened. It was like – you grow up with dreams, and I was a young man with dreams. And I thought, Someday, someway, I’d like to get married. And someday, someway, I’d like to find someone I can get along with the way this couple gets along. And then someday, someway, I’d like to have some kids.
And it was just like God gave me a snapshot, but it was a short, little movie. And then, after I saw that, something inside was like, I couldn’t even verbalize it, at first. God, that’s what I want, someday.
And then, they came back in, and of course, she made homemade apple pie a la mode. And we drank coffee, and we talked. And all I could think of was, These people don’t have anything, and they’ve got everything. They don’t have anything, but they have everything that I really want.
And I’m up on that campus, with the basketball team, evaluating girls, and feeling guilty. And when I even get my behavior right, then my thought life is in the trashcan.
And I remember, I got in my little Volkswagen, and I’m driving, and I thought, I’m just going to have a talk with God. I was learning. I learned you could pray with your eyes open. I didn’t know that. And I learned you could talk to Him anywhere. I didn’t know that, either.
So, I’m trying out all kinds of new stuff. So, I’m in my little Volkswagen, God, that’s what I want. Okay? I just want You to know. What I just saw, that’s what I really want.
And I didn’t know anything about the Holy Spirit. I didn’t know how He worked, and I didn’t know how He brings thoughts to your mind. But, not an audible voice, but as clear as I could ever hear anything from God, I heard, in the most gentle voice, Chip, that’s what I want to give you. That’s what I want to give you. That’s a picture of love, and sex, and lasting relationships. And, Chip, you think all these barriers about ‘no sex before marriage,’ and barriers about not living together, and barriers about what you watch, and what kinds of movies, and what you read, and how you look at a woman or…do you really think all those are prohibitions to keep you from something good? Chip, what I want you to know is, those are the boundaries that all the exploiting, and hurting, and negativity, and pain, and disappointment, and feeling used, and shame…I don’t want you to have any of that. I want you to get what you saw. And do you think it’s an accident? Do you think that people just walk up to a random college student and ask them over for dinner? Don’t you understand? I orchestrated this. This was My gift to you. I know you’re trying hard, and failing. Willpower doesn’t bring about sexual purity.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish. But happy or blessed are those who keep the Law.” “Where there is no revelation –” The actual Hebrew word, it’s translated vision, but it’s where there isn’t a revelation, a truth, or a word from God that people go unrestrained. If we don’t have a clear, vivid picture of God’s way, and the beauty of it, and what He wants for us, then what we do is, we try our own way to get those needs met.
We all have a need for love. We all have a need for sex. We all have a need to be connected. And if there is no revelation, if there’s not truth from God, and we don’t see the beauty of it, we try and do it our own way. And the writer of Proverbs would say, “There’s way that seems right to a man, but it ends in death.”
And that’s how most people do love. That’s how most people do sex. And that’s how most people’s relationships don’t last. And what I want to tell you is, when there is revelation, when there is a picture, the reason this changed my life is something that happened after I had this talk with God.
I still remember coming onto the campus – and I lived in this dorm, way down this hill, and it was a super steep hill. Because I remember, I always had to downshift in my little Volkswagen. And I got right in the middle, and I could tell you to this day, this is where I stopped, and I heard God’s voice.
Now, I had just started memorizing Scripture, so I didn’t know the Holy Spirit did this, at all. I didn’t know that when you memorize Scripture, He can bring answers to your prayer anytime, because it’s in your heart.
And so, as I am coming down, and I’m wrestling with, I don’t know if I can buy all that, and, God, I really want it but…Romans 8:32 came to my mind – vividly, powerfully. “He that spared not His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, how will He not freely give us all things?”
And it was one of those, I’m a pretty logical guy, so it was like, Chip, I took you there. There’s the picture. That’s what you could have. All the barriers are to protect you so you get that, not to keep you from something good. And if I gave My Son for you, to demonstrate how much I love you, why would I withhold any good thing?
And here’s what I want to tell you: All my self-effort in my thought life, all my self-effort on dates, all my self-effort to be sexually pure failed. When I saw that picture, and it was, “God wants to give me that,” I began to read the Bible with new eyes. I began to look girls in the eyes, instead of other places. I began to make pre-decisions about dates. I decided the kind of girl I would date, and who I wouldn’t date.
A revolution happened in my heart, and it didn’t happen because I was trying really hard to be sexually pure. It happened because I got a picture from God about the beauty, and the goodness, and the plan that He has for every one of us – you and me.
Because if you take that verse and flip it around: Where there is revelation, where there is a word from God, where there is a clear picture of His goodness, and His love, and His beauty, and what He wants for you, guess what, you’ll be restrained. Because all of us are willing to have some delayed gratification for something great.
If I told you all – everybody here – if I told you, “Okay, today, if you really, you need a thousand dollars. You need a thousand dollars. I will give you a thousand dollars when you walk out the door. If you will wait one year, I’ll give you a hundred thousand.” Who’s signing up for the thousand? Oh, no takers?
And the motivation wouldn’t be, Oh, I have to wait for a year. I have to wait for a year. I have to wait for a year. The motivation would be, A thousand versus a hundred thousand? This is easy math! Right? You would be highly motivated and arrange your life, and you would probably be on time, and get here next year, exactly at this time, as I am passing out a hundred thousand dollars to everybody, right?
That’s what God’s saying, except He says it’s way more than a hundred thousand. He’s saying, I’ve got something precious for you. But here’s the deal: My way. That’s what wisdom is. “My way.”
With that, open your notes, if you will, and I want to dig in a little bit, because I want you to see why sex is such serious business. It’s so serious because, actually, the issue with sex and spirituality – the issue is worship. See, who are you going to worship?
When you do it God’s way, you’re saying, God, I trust You, and I want to worship You. Sex is a sacred gift. When I do it my way, I say, “Sex is really about me, and what I want,” and I worship me.
And so, we’ve learned – if you have your Bible, open to Ephesians 5, will you? Or your phone, whatever you use. And I just want to give you a runway, especially for those that may be just joining us. Ephesians 5 is talking about relationships, and verses 1 and 2 say, “Be imitators of God” – remember that command? – “and walk in love.” And then, verses 3 through 6 say, “Well, how do you walk in love?”
Well, you walk in love, first, by being generous, and kind, and loving, and others-centered.
But then, the opposite is, “Don’t let any immorality or impurity or greed be even named among you, or any coarse jesting or joking” – and there are six different words that talk about sexual impurity in our thinking, our words, and our behavior – “but rather the giving of thanks.”
And then, he gives us the reason, in verses 7 through 10: because there are consequences. God loves you and me so much that, when we violate those boundaries, like every good parent, He brings about the discipline, and the consequences, so that He says, I want you to get the best. And if you keep making bad decisions, I’m going to bring some consequences to get your attention, so you say, “I really don’t want to do that.”
Now, we pick it up in the crescendo of this passage. There is a command in verse 11: “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead expose them.” Circle the word participation, and underline the word expose.
Participation is that same word that we saw: “don’t associate with,” “don’t be connected to,” “don’t get near.” It’s like, “I want you to be separate. I want you to be separate from those things, not necessarily those people.” We’re to love people, but there are certain things and certain places that the whole context is sexuality.
And then, he says, “…the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but even expose them.” The word expose means “to reveal; to make clear; to convince” – literally, “to rebuke.” Our abstinence isn’t enough. Simply refraining from sexual impurity is not enough. He’s saying, “I want you to model love and authentic relationships that are sexually pure in such a way that the world around you would be exposed.”
What Dave and Lanny did to me was, they exposed me! They exposed me! I was brainwashed to believe, How many girls could I date? and, This is what you do, and, This is what I want. And it was all about worshipping me.
And then, I got into a room, and I saw what love looked like, and little children, and the best use of this – it was wholesome. It was holy. It was beautiful. It was rich. It was deep. And when I was in the light of that relationship, what it exposed was me. And that’s what God calls us to do.
And then, he gives us the reason: “For it is disgraceful even to speak of these things which are done by them in secret.” And this is Ephesus. There are temples, and male prostitutes, and female prostitutes, and it’s a wild, crazy place.
He says, “You need to expose the darkness by living this new kind of life.” And he says, “Here’s the challenge. You’re supposed to do it, but don’t even speak about these things, because sexual immorality violates God’s holy character, and His positive intent for His creatures.” So, he says, we’re to expose them.
But I have a little problem. If we’re not even to speak of these things, how do we expose things, without words? Notice, he’s going to tell us the explanation: “But all things become visible when they are exposed.” Underline that. It’s the exact same word.
“All things become visible” – the moment light enters, they become visible. And when he says “visible,” he means, “You see them for what they are” – “by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.”
I remember, my dad was a science teacher, and he would do these experiments. And he would take these little Petri dishes, and put a few little things in it, and then he would put them in the dark, for his students. And then, you’d bring out the little Petri dish, when it’s been in the dark, and then what would happen? It had all these growths.
And then, what he would show them is, “Okay, now, here’s what we’re going to do.” He’d take the lid off, and he would expose the bacteria, or the things that have grown in the Petri dish, to the light. Guess what would happen? Bam! It’s gone.
Light exposes things. Certain things, the moment it’s brought into the light – bam! – it’s gone. It’s exposed. And he says, “That is our calling.”
In this passage, he’s talked about you and me living sexually pure lives, in our thinking, and our lips, and our behavior, and our practices, and in our relationships. Now, he’s saying, “I want you to go to the next level. I want you to live in such loving, authentic, sexually pure lives, in every area, that your life is illuminating people like Chip, when he was in college. I want you to have the kinds of relationships, and love, and beauty, so that when people are around you, and they hear you talk about relationships, and they see what you do with your friends, and what your marriage looks like, it would expose. Without even saying a word, it would expose.”
In fact, “For this reason,” it says – and he’s quoting a hymn that the early Church used – “Awaken, sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
This passage teaches – on the bottom, I put a summary for you and me: “Just as light silently reveals all things for what they really are, so it is when God’s people” – here’s the key word – “model purity and love in relationships that expose sexual immorality for what it is: lustful, destructive, self-worship.”
And I know there are needs, and hurts, and strengths, and temptation, but here’s what I want you to know. When ordinary people at your work, and people where you hang out to do your hobbies, or work out, or when neighbors get together, here’s what I want you to get. This is what this passage is teaching, because God is calling us to a second sexual revolution.
Number one, a revolutionary way to think about human sexuality will be required. Okay? If you’re going to answer the call, and be a part of a second sexual revolution, you’ve got to think completely differently about sexuality.
Number one, sex is sacred. It’s not casual. Sex is about knowing, and communication. When the Bible says, “Adam knew Eve,” and then they had offspring, it’s a very interesting Hebrew word. It has to do with knowing, and caring, and connection.
When David sinned with Bathsheba, the word used for sex there is “David laid with Bathsheba.” It was a transaction. She was used.
Sex is sacred. It’s holy! It’s not casual. It was never intended to sell stuff, or get us excited. Sex is sacred, and, like all things sacred, it has mystery. It’s not hooking up. There’s a mystery. It’s not just about bodies coming together. There’s a mystery of knowing.
There’s something that happens in your soul, and your heart, and communication, and growing of a relationship where the culmination of that, and the physical act of sex is, God looks down from heaven and says, This is a life-giving, life-uniting act that typifies what is happening in the hearts and the souls of people, and I bond them together, as a testimony of Christ’s relationship to the Church.
He writes, in Hebrews chapter 13, “Marriage is to be held in high honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled.” In other words, it’s sacred! It’s holy. And then, he adds, “For fornicators and adulterers, God will judge.” See, sex and worship are so closely aligned.
The second is that sex isn’t just sacred – and you need to teach your kids it’s sacred – but it’s serious. It’s not just a little thing on the side, and you’re going to sow your wild oats, and it really doesn’t matter what you think, and it doesn’t matter how you dress. It’s serious!
Listen to what the Scripture says, in 1 Corinthians. He says, “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?” In other words, you belong to Christ. “Shall I take away the members of Christ and make them members with a prostitute? May it never be! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For the Scripture says,” quoting from Genesis, “‘the two shall become one flesh.’ But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one in spirit with Him.”
Application: “Flee immorality! Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man or woman sins against his own body.” And Paul, and he’s speaking to this group in this society that they don’t need the Internet. It’s everywhere. “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own; for you have been bought with a price? Therefore, glorify God in your body.”
And so, you know what? That starts with me. Sex is sacred, and sex is serious. And then, as a parent, I teach my kids that, early on.
We had an interesting thing happen at the church, and I don’t know the people; I don’t know the names. And I don’t mean it offensively, but it was ironic to me. I just thought it was so sad, actually.
A lady had been driving by, and on the sign out front, for the series, it said, “Love, Sex, and Lasting Relationships.” And she came to the church, and she doesn’t go here, and she doesn’t go to our school, or anything – and just was irate, so upset. She said, “Every time I drive by that, I have elementary school kids, and they’re asking me, ‘What’s sex?’ And this is just so inappropriate!” And she was mad, and, “I have some other mothers, and we’re mad!” and, “What kind of church are you?”
And I thought to myself, I would have paid someone, I would have paid someone fifty bucks to get my four-year-old, five-year-old, seven-year-old, or ten-year-old to ask me, “Hey, Dad, what’s sex?” So that, early on, I could say, “Oh, son” – or daughter – “wow! It’s an amazing thing. It’s sacred, and it’s serious, and it’s holy, and it’s this way where God brings about life. And it’s built of attraction to men, and women. And when you get older, I’m going to explain it all. But it’s one of the most amazing and holy gifts God ever gives. And we’re going to be talking about it a lot more as you get older.” And, by the way, I will tell you, a four-year-old will go, “Thanks, Dad.”
See, what happens is, we don’t say anything, and when they’re nine, they see something you don’t know about. And when they’re eleven, they’re already talking about stuff that you thought doesn’t happen at eleven. And by the time they’re thirteen, their view of sex is already completely distorted. You have to teach them early, and often.
I was talking to the team that was leading our high school group right now, and in mid-week they asked all the kids, “So, hey, have you talked about this with your folks?” Because they were involved in the same series right now. And over half of our high school kids said, “Yes.”
And then, he said, “Well, how many of you initiated the conversation?” Two of them did. He said, “Wow, way to go!” And the others, he said, “How many did your parents initiate the conversation?” They all said yes.
And then – I love this – he said, “So, well, how did it go? Honestly?” They said, “You know something? It was kind of weird talking about love and sex with my folks. But it was great. It was great.” They long to hear! The revolution is going to occur. And then, there’s application to all of that. It’s not dirty. It’s holy.
And, by the way, if you don’t teach them, and you don’t have boundaries and pre-decisions…I came across a study by the University of Utah, and when a girl starts dating at age twelve, there’s a ninety-one percent predictability that she will be involved sexually before she’s out of high school. If she starts dating at thirteen, it goes down to fifty-six percent. At fourteen, it’s fifty-three percent. At age fifteen, forty percent. At age sixteen, about twenty percent.
Interestingly, also, teens who come from homes that are not very or very strict parents, compared to moderately strict, were the people who were the most sexually active. So, if you’re not strict at all, your kids will be sexually active. Or if you try and control your kids – “Sex! Don’t do that. If you ever do that…” I will tell you what, that’s like, Oh! It must be really something great if you’re that uptight about it. We have to think differently about sex.
Number two: A revolutionary way to attract the opposite sex. So, we have to think differently, but we have to attract them differently. The world says, “Sex appeal, physical attractiveness, seductive dress, focus on bodies ...” We live in a world – and I want to say this in a sanctified way – that all attraction is around breasts and biceps.
And you have kids, and single people, and us, and people who have been divorced and getting back into – we think it’s all about the externals. And saying it’s not, and intellectually saying, “Well, I know that’s really not what the real issues are,” doesn’t bring about any changes.
I was with a guy who did a lot of work in consulting for mergers and acquisitions. And he developed a whole theory that he used with multiple companies about mergers and acquisitions, and what makes for partnerships, and why they fail, and why they don’t.
And he taught me one lesson, and it was really a great one. He said, “Chip, here’s what you need to understand about when people are working with one another, and you’re trying to pass on values, and what’s going to work, and what’s not. Do not listen to their words. Only listen to their behavior. Just listen to their behavior.” He said, “Oh, we’re in this! We’re sold out. Whatever it takes. You do this; we’ll do that.” He goes, “I just completely eliminate people’s words. Listen to their behavior.”
Let me ask you, parents: If I just listened to your behavior about what you’re communicating with your kids by your lifestyle, if I listened to just the behavior of single people in this church – what you’re communicating about how you’re attracting the opposite sex – if I just listened to your behavior of those of you who are widowed or divorced, and you’re back in the game, and where you go, and what you’re doing, and how you’re trying to attract the opposite sex, are you doing it God’s way, or with this defunct model that is, for most of us, the only thing we know?
Listen to God’s way, in 1 Peter chapter 3. It’s addressed to women, but the application is absolutely for both sexes. It’s a group of women who were trying to figure out, How can I get my husband on board? And nagging hasn’t worked.
And so, the apostle Peter writes, “Your adornment must not be merely external – the braiding of the hair, the wearing of gold jewelry, or the putting on of dresses; but let it be with the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of the gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of the Lord.”
And basically what he’s saying, in that day, is – they dressed really, super seductively – oh, in that day. I guess we do that now, too.
And so, are you ready? I want to give you a game plan to attract the opposite sex, and a game plan to teach your children how to attract the opposite sex, so –
And so, it’s IOU. You know what an IOU is, right? You write that out, and you say, “IOU.” You give it to that person, “I owe you.” So, this is an IOU that you owe to God. This is an IOU that you owe to yourself. And this is an IOU that you owe to that person, or that partner, who is going to be the person that you want.
The “I” stands for – you want to attract the opposite sex? – “inward character.” Inward character. You need to be the kind of person that you want to attract. You need to be the kind of person that you want to attract. You are looking for a loving, kind person who keeps their word, who is others-centered, and who is generous. You need to be that kind of person. You need to teach your kids the best way to attract a godly, kind, unselfish, high-integrity, faithful, loving, loyal person is to be a faithful, kind, loving…right?
See, you always get what you advertise for. And we have our little girls, and our not-so-little boys inundated by the world system, inundated by commercials, wearing, and dressing, and acting in ways that attract exactly what they get.
I’m thinking about your daughter. I’m thinking about an eighteen-year-old in the room. I’m thinking about a single person who is twenty-six, and to be sexually pure means you don’t get very many dates.
I’m talking a divorcee who’s fifty-one years old, and you’re lonely, and you’re hurting, and it seems like the only men, Christian or not, say, “Unless we sleep together, I don’t think I want to date you.” And everything in you goes, “Well…”
And, “There’s a way that seems right to a man” – or a woman – “but the end thereof is death.”
So, the way we attract is, first, inward character. The second is outward modesty. Outward modesty.
And you know what? It goes both directions! And how many guys, young guys, are always buying one shirt too small. And how many girls realize that if you wear it low, you get a lot of attention?
People, can you hear me? We’re creating train wrecks inside the Church. And they say, “Why can’t we watch this movie?” or, “Why can’t we go here?” or, “Why can’t we do that?” And you know what? I’ve been a pastor. I have all these grown kids now, and we made some pre-decisions, and they just thought I was terrible.
And when I said, “We’re not doing that here,” or when we got up and left a movie because of some of the images that came on, it was like, “My dad is nuts. All the other kids in the church can do this! And they do that!” And I just said, “You know what? I just love you more than they love their kids.” I’m serious. That’s what I would tell them. They didn’t like it.
But as a parent, here’s the deal: You have to decide whether you want to be popular with your kids, and be their best buddy and friend, and then have all the fallout, or be a dad or a mom who loves them, and gently models and tells them the “why,” and says, “I know it’s difficult.
But we’re going to not start dating until this age, and we’re not going to look at that kind of stuff, and we’re not going to do that. Because guess what? There’s a beauty that you don’t want to miss.” And the way you’re going to attract that kind of person is to have inward character, outward modesty, and then – are you ready for this last one? You’ve got to have upward devotion. You have to be a young man, or a young woman, or a single person, or a mom, or a dad, or a not-so-young person that, you know what? Upward devotion.
This was a journey for me, and I’ve tried to share it along the way, and be honest about it. But when I finally began to walk through the process of what God really wanted, I made a commitment that, number one, I was going to find a girl that, in my relationship with her, that would inspire me to walk with God, that it wasn’t like, “Well, is she a Christian? Well, she’s sort of a Christian,” or, “Yeah, she goes to church,” or, “You know, I think God is sort of a part of her life.”
You want to attract them by being a person of great character. And you want to help your kids become people who dress with modesty. Sharp. I don’t mean old-fashioned. I don’t mean legalistic. I don’t mean weird. I mean modest, and wise. There’s mystery.
And, finally, where there’s an upward devotion, where what you help your children – I’m speaking to parents here, especially – and for you, is that, you know what? If you’re not in God’s Word, if you don’t talk to God, if you’re not in some sort of a small group…No one can do this alone.
And so, the revolution is going to start with thinking differently. It’s attracting differently. And third is relating differently. You have to relate to the opposite sex in a different way. There’s a revolutionary way to relate to the opposite sex, not as an object to capture, or even a person to find, not for romance, or for recreation, but I want to give you three pictures of how to relate to the opposite sex.
Number one, as a friend. Start there. I don’t care if you’re fifty-five, sixty-two, or sixteen. Start with being a friend. Jesus said this, John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that you lay down your life for your friend.”
The moment you make it romantic, the moment you pair-off, the moment you go down that path, now you start posing. Then, it has to be about the externals. The real you doesn’t show up. You be a friend with someone.
Teach your kids – “Oh, I’m interested,” or, “I like him,” or, “I like her.” Great! Become friends. Hold back the emotions. Hold back the romance. The percentage of people that, when they go steady – this is a Utah study. When they begin and go steady in ninth grade, those who go steady, the sexual rate skyrockets. They’re not ready to pair off. Become friends. Unpopular, but helpful.
Second, not only become friends, become family members. The apostle Paul is writing to a young pastor – and I’m assuming that because he’s a young pastor, he has hormones, like everybody else. And Paul writes to Timothy and says, “Do not sharply rebuke an older man” – he’s talking about family relationships in the church – “but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, and the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.”
Teach your kids, and you act like, become friends, and then treat them like a brother and a sister. And you say, “Well, what does that really mean?” Well, how do you hug your brother and sister? You hug them, don’t you? But there are certain ways you would never hug them, right?
How do you express affection to a brother or a sister? Well, you express affection, and you touch them, don’t you? But there are certain places and certain ways you would never touch your brother and sister, right?
You’re saying, “Well, Chip, these have huge implications.” That’s the point. You don’t defraud; you don’t defile. What would happen if you learned, I’m going to be friends, and then I’m going to treat this person like a brother or sister in Christ, so that what I would realize is that if sex is sacred, and sex is serious – I realize that this may not be the person for me, but their experience with me should prepare them for that right person, instead of me being a bad memory of someone who exploited them?
Third, you attract them as a follower of Christ. Hebrews 10:24, “Consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.” So, you’re asking yourself – this is what you want to teach your kids, and this is what we want to do. You’re in a relationship. You’re friends. As you’re friends, you’re family members.
And then, God begins to – there’s a real attraction, and you begin to build the relationship. It may go somewhere, it may not. But your behavior, your speech, and your time together –
when you “break up,” or realize, This isn’t the right person, this girl would say, or this guy would say, “We dated for eighteen months,” or, “My relationship with her in that eighteen months, caused me to grow, spiritually, more than any other relationship, other than maybe with my parents, or in the small group of guys that I’m in.”
And I will tell you what, if you think differently, if you attract the opposite sex differently, and if you relate to them differently, there is a vision; there is a picture. And it is so beautiful. And, by the way, no matter where you’re at, you can stop, and turn, and God will forgive, and He will restore, and He can get you on the right track. But you have to say, “Lord, not now my way. I want to do it Your way.”
I entitled this, Wake Up World! There’s a Better Way to Do Relationships. And I want to close with a story. And then, I want to let you know that when I close with this story, everyone in this room knows, You know what? If I’m going to do it God’s way, there’s probably something I need to stop, something I need to start, and I have to trust Him.
But as I was teaching this material, this is the email that I got. “I accepted the Lord in high school and was on fire for Christ through college, and in my mid-twenties. And then, I fell away, big time. I got involved in three consecutive relationships with women at work, got them pregnant, and went through three abortions. Wouldn’t you know it, all three relationships dissolved soon after.
“Here I am now, greatly blessed in a marriage to a Christ-centered woman. We’ve been unable to have children of our own. It’s been devastating to me, in light of the fact that I paid with my own money to kill three babies that were my own. Was sex fun? No question. Was it worth it? I can’t scream loud enough, ‘No.’ Like you said, the deepest desire in my heart was a committed, lasting relationship, and I didn’t get that through any of the flings at work.
“Thankfully, the Spirit finally interceded and gave me an option” – and he gives his name. I’ll make it up. “‘Bob, you’re at a fork in the road. You can either keep the same path you’re on, to your continued detriment, or you can get your heart right with God. Your choice.’
I ran to God, without ever looking back, and I’ve been in fellowship with the Lord and with believers ever since.” Crossroads. Crossroads. What do you need to do to stop? What do you need to do to start? And it begins with a decision. You don’t slide out of sexual impurity. There’s a little farmhouse, with two people, that gave me a picture that said, “That’s what I want.” God wants something great for you.