Share This Episode
Building Relationships Dr. Gary Chapman Logo

Sex, Shame, and Singles | Lina Abujamra

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman
The Truth Network Radio
February 3, 2024 1:00 am

Sex, Shame, and Singles | Lina Abujamra

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 233 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.


February 3, 2024 1:00 am

If you struggle with sexual temptation and shame, don’t miss this Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. Physician and author, Dr. Lina AbuJamra, will talk about her struggles as a single in a sex-saturated world. How can the Church give better support in these challenging days? If you're weary from the battle inside and you long to be free, hear an honest conversation on Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman.

Featured resource: Don't Tell Anyone You're Reading This: A Christian Doctor's Thoughts on Sex, Shame, and Other Troublesome Issues.

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

How do you talk about holiness and saying no to sexual sin and running for the Lord in temptation and all of those things?

And more than ever, we need to speak a language that the next generation can understand and hear. Everyone has secrets, but they'll kill you if you hold on to them. Today on Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chadman, a Christian doctor shares her secrets about sex and gender.

And shame. Don't miss this vulnerable conversation straight ahead. Our guest is author, speaker and physician, Dr. Lina Ebou-Jamra. And this may be the most transparent and vulnerable program we've ever aired since we began this program.

Dr. Lina has written the provocatively titled book, Don't Tell Anyone You're Reading This, A Christian Doctor's Thoughts on Sex, Shame and Other Troublesome Issues. You can find out more at buildingrelationships.us. Gary, we've done a lot of programs for singles through the years and a lot of programs on sex and marriage, but today's conversation is going to be different. Well it is, Chris, and that's one reason why I'm excited about this program today. I think what we're going to be doing is hearing a lady share her real struggles and real heart.

And singles need to hear reality. So I'm excited about our program today. I am too, and let's meet Dr. Lina Ebou-Jamra again. She is a pediatric ER doctor, now practicing telemedicine. She's the founder of Living with Power Ministries, a popular Bible teacher, podcaster, conference speaker. She's written the books Thrive, Stripped, Resolved, and Fractured Faith. You hear her on Moody Radio's Today Single Christian. And her ministry provides spiritual retreats for women at the Hope Ranch.

You can find out more about her and the ministry at livingwithpower.org. Well Dr. Lina, welcome back to Building Relationships. Well thanks for having me.

I'm so excited to be here and to have this conversation with you guys. First, why did you title this book, Don't Tell Anyone You're Reading This? It definitely creates conversation, I can tell you that. And I really leaned towards that topic after, had gone through a number of other ideas, but settled on this because the reality is that people are still not comfortable talking about sexual related topics, particularly in the church. In fact, I would say this book is really written for Christians and I have found Christians to be an interesting species of people. We talk a big talk, but we're not living what we say. And I say this when I talk about we based on statistics, Barna consistently shows the level of the struggle sexually in the church to be very, very high.

We can run through some numbers, but it became evident as I realized there's a need for a book that's written in a language that is understandable for people in this era. And particularly having lived through my life as an ER doctor and having conversations with people, including Christians about these topics and kind of comparing that to the level of failure in the church, I realized that people want to live a certain way, but are not. Christians want to live a certain way and are not. And one of the key elements in that is that they don't want to talk about it. And if you don't talk about something, then you can't get help. And so there's a secretive sort of hidden area of the Christian's life that people who struggle with it, which is the bulk of the church, really wants to be free from it. And so it's sort of the reaction that I got from people who heard that I was writing this book and teased out some of the original title that I was working with.

I was a little frustrated with the tension that I felt with a desire to be free, but a difficulty talking about it that I sort of landed on this one day. I just was jokingly told my agent, man, this book ought to be titled, don't tell anyone you're reading this because everybody wants to, but no one wants to admit it. And that's where we came up with it. I thought you probably were just assuming if you tell people, don't tell anyone you're reading this, they will tell people. That happened to Jesus, right?

You can see that in the gospels, but I got to tell you, it is sort of a tongue in cheek, try to explain the title in the subtitle. And I think in a way it gives a little protection to the person who wants to read it and hey, be like, you know, it just creates conversation if nothing else. And sometimes a lot of the core issues of people start by simply creating conversation over topics that are important to people. Well, you mentioned in the introduction a generational difference in approach to sexuality.

What age group are you really targeting in this book? Yeah, the biggest, look, I think about the sexual revolution in the United States and you know, people think about the sixties and Woodstock and all of that. And yet I still think there was an era after that, particularly in the church where people were very timid in addressing certain things. And I remember growing up thinking when we heard someone got a divorce and there's certain sins that seemed like a big deal back in the seventies and eighties. And then there's some erosion that happened in the culture that, you know, all of a sudden content that would be unheard of on television, you know, eight o'clock or that five to eight o'clock hour or whatnot, you know, growing up in my era, I'm a gen X person. I'm in my early fifties and, and sort of, you know, we saw this shift happen and I think the shift has accelerated tremendously, obviously since the creation of the cell phone and particularly, you know, when, when all of the, you know, post 2007, but even post 2015, I think the amount of sexual content in our culture has exponentially increased and become more available so that people who are born, I'd say millennials and under have a certain sensitization to sexual content and certain exposure that we had to look for when I was growing up. It was harder to get in trouble, so to speak.

You didn't happen stance on content that would create problems for you down the road. And so, whereas, you know, we, we still have sexual sentiment, sexual since been around since the beginning of time, since Adam and Eve fell. But, but really now I think the understanding of, as an example, when you think about what, what kids see, 11 is the average age that a child is first exposed to porn. And I think almost 95% of kids will see porn by age 14.

And that's just porn. And I'm not even talking about that in this book per se. It's one of the things that I address, but, but it's this, the sense that there is a next generation that has grown up in the church that doesn't think about sex the way that myself and how we were brought up and certainly my parents and how they brought us up. So, and I've seen this even in discussing this book, if, if I find people who are 50 and over, they might appreciate the book, but they blush when they talk about it.

And then you catch someone who's 25 or 30, and they're able to address certain things. They're not ashamed, but certain words that we discussed that I discussed in the book that every human has been dealing with since the beginning of time. And I think my heart in writing, it was really for that younger generation that is not growing up with that same sense of sort of teasing out, you know, purity culture has taken, people have had big debates online about what purity culture is and where that fits into the church.

And how do you talk about holiness and saying no to sexual sin and running to the Lord and temptation and all of those things. And I think that the game has changed and more than ever, we need to speak a language that the next generation can understand and hear, which is part of why I wrote the book the way I did with a very sort of blunt ER style, so to speak, and very personal fashion. Now, you're quite vulnerable in this book. For example, you call yourself a 50-year-old virgin and yet you're speaking to a high percentage of Christian young adults who aren't virgins.

Talk about that. Yeah, I'll tell you, I knew I was vulnerable in the book and I intentionally chose to write it this way. I have seen a lot of Christian books on sexual topics that I've read and looked at and messaged statistics in the past. But what I had seen lacking is not many people have written in a way where they just say, here's what I'm dealing with. And when it is written, it's always with the sense of, you know, I once was lost, but now I'm found.

I was blind, but now I see. And so, you know, there's a sense of like, once you're a Christian, you ought not have these feelings. And then we would scratch our heads and go, why are pastors failing to the degree that they're failing? Well, perhaps we're talking about this experience of sexual sin and temptation and why we do what we do in a more theoretical fashion than is real. And I never thought this, so I knew, writing about it authentically and vulnerably, I knew I was stepping out of the usual Christian box of addressing these topics. And I think my ER background pressed me to that because again, I feel a sense of urgency to address sin again in a way now, in a way that needs to be addressed when we're all hurting in the church in the United States.

And we'll get to that in a second. But what I didn't expect, Gary, is that the issue of vulnerability would be that I'm a virgin. It kind of still surprises me that that is the stigma.

I don't know why that came to me as a surprise. In fact, the numbers, one writer that I've quoted, that I've referred to his work, who is a Christian professor, David Ayers, has written, has worked extensively on statistics related to it, has written books on trying to estimate how are Christians doing in following the moral code that Jesus wants us to follow at the end of the day? I mean, we didn't make this stuff up. We're finding our cues from Christ and from the Bible. And so he found close to 5,000 young adults, ages 25 to 40, Protestant, conservative, never married Christians, men and women equally split. And he found out of those 89% of men and 92% of women who are again, conservative, Protestant, self-proclaiming Christians.

He's a professor at a Christian college. Many of his sample people were in that setting. 89% of men, 92% of women have had at least one opposite sex partner in the past five years. And then once somebody had one, the odds of having three or more exponentially increases. And so you're right to say it has been a surprising stigma for me to find that that item, that I am a 51 now year old virgin is sort of the repelling fact that people go, man, I don't think I want to read a book about this by a person who's never had sex. And I want to scratch my head and go, but wait, what has happened to us in the church when to me that was like the bare bar.

I'm not even saying I'm sexually pure. I go into the details of my own baggage to try to explain to people that you don't have to sleep with multiple people to have sexual sin. It's in our hearts.

The question is why, why do we keep going to the same pit of vomit and refuse to understand the goodness that God has given us. And so yeah, you're correct to say that there is a stigma. This is Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times best seller "The 5 Love Languages" . If you want to suggest this broadcast to a friend, send them to buildingrelationships.us.

They can hear a podcast right there. Our guest is Dr. Lina Abu-Jamra, author of the book Don't Tell Anyone You're Reading This, A Christian Doctor's Thoughts on Sex, Shame, and Other Troublesome Issues. Again, find out more at buildingrelationships.us. Dr. Lina, why do you think the church hasn't been able to speak as openly and honestly as you've done about sex and shame and singles? To a certain degree, you could say it's an enigma.

And to another, it's not. To not, the easy answer is, I mean, leaders are afraid to admit deep baggage. I will say they do talk about it sometimes. I've looked on enough online sermons and even more recently, I felt like there has been more conversation about it. But I worry that the conversation is always a has been, been there, done that. And that gives the sense, especially for a person who's struggling with daily temptation, it gives the sense that if you're still struggling, something must be wrong with me. I don't think the honesty comes from people genuinely coming up and really talk. I'm not saying it's not happening, but it's rarely happening where someone really genuinely says, here's what I still struggle with.

Here's how I'm dealing with it. And here's what God's teaching me. I think it's because pastors are scared. If they admit to certain things, they will lose their job and their livelihood, which to a certain degree, I felt like I was called to write this book because I did have certain protection from the fact that I work, I run a nonprofit and I am not, you know, I work as a physician. I have a very stable and satisfying career and the Lord has put me in a place where I can. And I think in my, all my books, I've been able to write with a certain level of freedom that you know, I just, I mean the worst thing I have to lose is my pride. And isn't that what got me in the door in the first place is the fact that I realized that without Christ, I can't, I'm doomed anyway. And so that's the whole point of Christianity. And so, and I think there's a freedom that comes with knowing, you know, for me writing it like once, once Christ knows everything and he already did, but once you step out of the woods, you know, like Adam and Eve, they're hiding.

Once you come out of hiding and God dresses you with it, you know, so is it, you know, I think there is a freedom in that, but I also, I am perplexed. So going back to the church, I mean, the advantage, you know, we know why pastors are afraid to talk about it to this degree, but honestly I think the church has been naive. And the more I've talked about this topic, even since the book has come out, the stronger I feel about this, I think that we're in denial. I think we genuinely have convinced ourselves that this is not a problem, that there's a few people in the church, the men who struggle with porn, you know, the teens who might go through, you know, questioning their sexuality, all that, you know, what, your kid is gay. How did they get to that point? I mean, we have these exceptions to the rule, but we somehow underplay the reality of what we're seeing.

People are fessing up. Like there is not a single statistics on sexual sin out there that doesn't show the church immensely steeped in sexual sin. And so we ought to be talking about this.

Yeah. Well, you do, of course, in the book, no question about it, sharing your own struggles. You know, typically what you've said already, I think it's true. If we're hearing a Christian talk about their struggles in this area, people expect to hear, okay, but now I've got this conquered. Now that's, that's, that's history.

That's not, that's not present. And that's not the approach you take. Yeah, because I think I've been painfully honest in my life and I, I am painfully honest as a, as a, that's probably why Linda landed in the ER because I believe that that is a conviction and something I was brought up with.

You can't, you can deny, I mean, you can, you can reject Christ, you can reject the teaching, but, but be honest about it. And I think as an ER doctor, what drives me in the ER is that I value honesty. I give it to people and I re and I take what people tell me face value. And so I can't talk about a topic without being honest. And I think the honest truth is that we are living in a sexual world right now.

Like you can be, you can't anymore live in the West. I would even say globally, but you cannot, Oh, I mean, unless you don't own a smartphone, which I think there may be like three people on this planet who still don't have a smartphone, they exist. I'm not saying they don't, but they exist. And many people who have gone by the way through sexual sin have gotten rid of their smartphones, but it's immensely hard to live as a person with a smartphone further. If you're single, like, you know, you, you, a lot of people want to think about this struggle as, Oh, well, you're single, you have a struggle. And I'm constantly baffled by this, this reception, because I think, first of all, most past, as an example, pastors who have imploded with sexual sin have all been married. I mean, that stories we hear divorce pornography. It's not happening because they're married because most of the people who struggle with it are in a marital relationship. And so this is not a singles problem, but let's say it was half your church is single. We already know that 52% of the West is single. That doesn't all include never married, but a big bulk of it is never married.

And again, you go back to the never married. I mean, we're not just talking about porn here. We're talking about all of what here's the biblical standard of what we believe. This book is written for people who hold to the biblical standard.

I'm not even writing to people who don't. And having said that, if we hold to it, why is there this dissonance with the way that we're living? And, and, you know, I think, I think part of also, you know, another observation in all of this is that really that, you know, I think even about your question about why don't we talk about this. And I think one of the other crises in our culture, besides the fact that we are very sexualized given the, you know, the exposure that we have on our phones, which is secretive and plentiful, but I think also we've never been worse off in terms of our relationship with the local church. And so even when people go to church now, it doesn't mean the same thing as it did back in the seventies.

We're naive to think otherwise. Do you much show up to go to, you go to church, you show up on Sunday morning for 45 minutes an hour and you're done. And most pastors now, most churches I've been at in the last three years have worked really hard at keeping their services under a certain, you know, by an hour, you know, you're going to be out of there in 75 minutes at the most. You don't have the same relationship with people in your church that you did before. So where are you supposed to unpack a lot of your baggage?

Where are you supposed to learn what it looks like to live the Christian life, to die to self daily, to not question your faith every time a you're faced with temptation and be also getting through. Why do people turn to these things? We're lonely. We know we have a loneliness epidemic.

What do they have now? The loneliness they're hiring in the government. They're paying a person who's an ambassador to loneliness. Think about that.

That's crazy. And so we have these problems that we're aware of. And so then we go, Oh, I wonder why people are turning to porn or I wonder if people are having affairs or I wonder people, well, because they're lonely.

And we need to think through that sort of macro. Like what can the church do? How can we as a culture, leaders in the church, how can we think through this in a way that can help save lives so that the person who is 15 struggling with same sex attraction because they happen to come upon something on the internet or, or the 20 year old who's had sex with their, you know, the boyfriend, you know, who has now is pregnant or, you know, on and on, you can look through the scenarios. They're not going, well, I must now be a Christian.

I'm leaving man. This church, I mean, I've been reading my Bible every day and it's not working. Yeah.

Yeah. Well, maybe it's just poor discipleship. Well, you talk a lot about shame in your own life. What do you mean by shame and why there's so many Christians harbor shame? Shame has been a hot topic because Bernie Brown is probably the most famous psychologist who has talked about it publicly. Although I would imagine every psychologist has dealt with dealing with this with their patients over time. I mean, cause that's sort of what leads people to get help is this sense of deep shame. And I think, you know, the nuance between guilt and shame, of course people can, you know, the easy quote would be like guilt is, you know, I did wrong shame. I am wrong. Something is wrong with me.

So it's not just the action, but the entire being. And I still, you know, I've sometimes had a hard time completely. You know, I think you understand those things intellectually, but bottom line I think shame is that feeling that keeps you from telling the truth. Lest you be found out, what will people do if I tell them, how will they love me?

Will they want me? You already have a sense of shame because you're seeped in whatever mess you're in. And that can be any sin or addiction doesn't even, I mean, but frankly that can apply to a whole lot of secrets, including women who had abortions in the church.

I mean, there's such a sense of, you know, I am bad. And then you think about the gospel, the good news, and you know, again, intellectually, well, Christ died to erase our guilt, but also our shame. And so I find it fascinating this whole, you know, idea of shame and how it plays out. And frankly, the reason I have never talked as openly about this topic has been because I've been ashamed, right? How can I confess that at 50, 45, 40, you know, I still get tempted. I still struggle with, you know, with having to kill the flesh and on and on. And it took me a couple of years of therapy before I was able to really talk to someone that I knew professionally.

I mean, there's this mind that says professionally, she's not going to let me go tell people because that is part of her oath as a psychologist. So I finally found some freedom in a safe place that I hadn't found in the local church. And that was when I was started, you know, had Christ already paid the price for my guilt? Absolutely.

I could have told you that. There's no condemnation to those around Christ Jesus. I can quote the verse, but there was a sense of freedom, which I think that like, so intellectually I've always understood that Christ has forgiven me, but it's almost like shame is the emotional part of it.

The soul part that says, I can't, it's okay to come to Christ. Like, I think when you're so ashamed of what you've done and, and, and how you ended up there, I think you start to separate from Christ rather than the thing that will cure you, which is to run to Jesus. But we feel ashamed like Adam and Eve in the gardens, rather than going to Christ, we hide, which leads to more shame. Now, interestingly, you know, the culture has done with shame, like never before. I've never in my life seen the degree of what we've done with shame.

I think in the sixties, it was a bit there, but it was secluded to Woodstock. People were unashamed. They took all their clothes off, you know, burned their bras.

You know, the, you know, you can, I'm not even talking about the feminist woman. It's just, there was this freedom of like doing whatever you wanted to do, but it was, it was always that, Oh, the hippies, Oh, the drugs, Oh, did this, but now it is pan cultural. You see this phenomenon across the board of we are a shame free society. And so you've got the Instagram accounts of people, you know, posing in bikinis who are, and I know I'm honestly not picking on that, but as an example, you know, the don't body shame me, whatever your body size is, you know, we used to be ashamed that only people size two would show their bodies.

Now it doesn't matter if you're size 22 or two, and that's just one area of it, but whatever it is, your sexual preferences, you know, there's sort of a pride in throwing off your shame, which is fascinating because that doesn't fix your shame problem. That might make you feel good for a second, but you're still stuck with yourself at the end of the day with a bag of guilt and shame. And so the approach that Christ gives us, isn't to hide it or deny it or tattoo over it or to expose it per se, just for the sake of exposure, but it's to expose it to Christ who has paid the sacrifice for us so that in understanding who He is and what we have in Him and in being freed from guilt, we can also step into the light and find this utter place of joy and freedom and richness, no matter what we're still struggling with. And that is what motivates us to change. It's not that changing brings us to Christ, but it's that Christ in us and the beauty and preciousness of Christ leads us to want to live differently.

So Fr. Christian, is this like a lifelong process or pursuit of dealing with shame or is it, you know, one-time experience and God did this, da-da-da-da-da? How do you respond to that? If it was a one-time thing, Dr. Chapman, you'd be out of a job, right? It's like the cure for the common cold and you and I are guaranteed to have jobs the rest of our lives because people hurt and people get sick.

I will take care of their physical bodies and you will help them with their souls. I mean, at the end of the day, I say this a little sarcastically, but really the truth of it is, it is a lifelong thing. I mean, it's always something, right? And it's like any other. I think about the struggle with sexual sin.

To me, it's the easiest way to sort of break it down. I mean, I've been in churches where I'll hear a testimony of a man who stands up and says, you know, hey, I was an alcoholic or I was addicted to meth. And my old pastor, you know, Carl, talks about his past when he was on cocaine back in his 20s.

He tells the story over and over again. So I'm not saying anything that isn't public knowledge and he was written about it, but he talks about how God saved him and then he got over it. You know, I think there's a lot of these Paul the Apostle moments of salvation. They used to smoke and now they don't.

They used to drink, now they don't. But by and large, there's a whole lot of other Christians who will continue to battle sins. We're all going to continue to battle sins, but we might not see that dramatic. I once struggled with sexual sin or with loss and now I don't.

For some of us, it will be an ongoing thing. And there are certain things that you can do in your life that will minimize that constant struggle. I mean, those are practical things that a lot of groups like Covenant Eyes and accountability groups and Celebrate Recovery have integrated. And we'll talk about those in a minute because I have a fair critique or I critique a lot of things in the book because I don't think they've always worked. And my point in the book hasn't been to say that those things don't work, but that we have to ask ourselves why they don't work.

And I think that's a separate question. But I think at the end of the day, all of these struggles that we have for any sinful habit or addiction or place that we turn to numb our pain ultimately goes back to our relationship with the Lord. It's all about this intimate connectedness with the Lord. And the more we feel this delight in Christ and what He's done for us, and the more we sense Him filling us completely, the less we have a need to go to other things for satisfaction. And too many of us don't get to that place, honestly. The heart of the book is that none of us are ever going to find satisfaction in other things. So you may overcome your alcoholism, you might overcome smoking, you might overcome your sexual loss, but there's going to be something else.

Maybe it's finances, maybe to you it's a respectable addiction, maybe it's your workaholism. Whatever it is that you're getting your security from, if it's not Christ, eventually you're going to find yourself hurting and trying to numb that pain with something that is not going to satisfy you until you learn to find all your satisfaction in Christ. That's the whole plot of St. Augustine ultimately, which is what led to my mom to get saved in her college age years.

It was the famous quote of St. Augustine that our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee. You're listening to Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . Find more ways to strengthen your relationships at our website, buildingrelationships.us. We're talking with author and speaker, Dr. Lina Abu-Jamra. Her book is our featured resource today. It's titled, Don't Tell Anyone You're Reading This, A Christian Doctor's Thoughts on Sex, Shame, and Other Troublesome Issues.

Find out more at buildingrelationships.us. Well, Lina, some words and struggles are really difficult to talk about in the church, you know, are on the radio, which you do. Was it easier for you to talk about this topic because you knew the church wasn't talking about it? Was that a part of your motivation? And did that make it easier for you to do this? You know, I once, I'll tell the story in the book, but I've told it at speaking engagements before.

It's probably worth telling. My first patient, I did the entire physical exam. I was young. I was nervous. I had finished two years of med school and was so eager. And I finished the examination head to toe with my first patient.

I was alone, myself and the patient in the room. And I went to wash my hands and I realized after doing a direct exam that I'd forgotten to wear gloves. And, you know, I didn't tell anyone for 10 years literally. And it wasn't when I came up, it was, you know, people, what'd you do?

Well, I washed my hands real good. You know, like it, you know, things happen, like you can't look back and change what happens, but all this to say, I am comfortable as a physician 25 years into my practice talking about anything. I have no discomfort talking about anything. I appreciate that there are certain things that are going to be better handled for me talking about certain things than they will be for the average Joe because of the experience that God has given me in the ER addressing things that are uncomfortable and addressing them from a certain degree with a professionalism that has grown over time.

And so while I don't take joy in, you know, my point isn't to shock. I think there's a way to talk about things to shock people. Do you know, I've done all of these interviews for this book and I've not mentioned the words that bring people discomfort and it's intentional because I don't think there's a need, but there is a need for them to be said. And I felt like a book is a place where that can be said and a book where someone can read it and hear the experience that they may be going through that has freaked them out and made them feel ashamed and alienated from God and others and understand that they're just words we've given and we could change a word and it wouldn't carry such a ick kind of feeling.

And I think that's, yeah, so I do think, I mean, my being a doctor has impacted my ability to write in a way that is frankly, this life and we got to talk about these things. Yeah. With so many pastors and authors getting caught in affairs and scandals, is that why you think the church needs to be more forthright about sexuality? Yeah, I think honestly in 2023, 24 now, I think the church is a bit of a joke to people who are not in the church. I really grieve to say this, but honestly, we're not doing well. And I don't say this as an alarmist.

I think this is a fact. Oh, people always say, oh, my church is doing great. I'm not talking about your church.

I'm sure you're doing great. You're 300 people in your community. But as a whole in the United States, people don't have a good impression of the church. And I think that's really should grieve us. Honestly, that should be so sad for people who follow Jesus that when did we become like that? We're known for our political views. There are more scandals in the church.

Yes. What the tipping point for me was to write the book was hearing of yet another scandal of a worship leader. And that one, I knew him when it came out a year or whatever a time ago. It was after a series of other famous preachers who had had big stories. But this one was someone that I was watching write worship songs that had moved my heart. And I had thought God had done a deep work in that person so that by the time the affair came out and the marriage was on the rocks, it stunned me. This wasn't a person who was a one-off. Like, oh, whoops, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It wasn't a person who was outside of the church.

This was a person in church meeting worship, writing worship songs. There was a kind of a stop in my brain. Like, what happened? How did we get to the place where we're hearing about this? And honestly, I still think about why would I write a book on this topic?

Why would I give myself up in a sense? It was hard for my mom to read the book. I mean, she read it eventually. But I am so desperate to see God bring revival to the American church. I do not think we're past it.

I think God could still move in us. But until we stop feeling ashamed, like the whole premise, don't tell anyone you're reading this, until we're ready to tell people what's going on in our lives, how can we be taken seriously in a culture that just looks at us and says, man, you talk a big talk. You criticize LGBTQ. You vote this way and that way, but yet look at your lives. Every other week is another pastor who's molesting or abusing or this or that. So I think we need to wake up. And the longer time has passed since the book has come out, the more a deep spirit of conviction has grown in my heart, a desire for holiness, and really a hunger to reach even the younger generation to say, hey, here's where we screwed up. Generally, I really believe that part of the problem of the 10 to 30 year olds is we didn't do them right in the way that we thought purity. And I think we've created a sense of the unachievable in a certain way. So when you hear 90% of women who've had sex and 89% of men, I don't look at that stat and think, oh, I can't believe your big letter.

You've fallen. I'm still a virgin. That is not the spirit. I think the spirit is why? Why are all these men and women turning to that? How have we not taught them what it means to delight in Christ and be so satisfied in him that we don't turn to that and then feel such regret in our lives over decisions we've made, or even worse, not feel regret and feel like, well, that's how I tested out or I'm not even sure the Bible. Now I'm hearing a lot of people say, well, the Bible doesn't even teach premarital sex is wrong. I think when did we grow a generation of Christians that can't even see clearly enough in the Word to understand that sexual relationships outside of marriage are not part of God's plan for us? Yeah.

Yeah. I think all of us are aware that there's so many Christian leaders and pastors who are failing in this area. And it seems like every week there's a new report somewhere. Maybe that happened in the generation that was passed and it just wasn't known because technology wasn't there to put it out to everybody. But my sense is that this didn't happen as much as often in the past.

Why do you think it's happening so much now with Christian leaders? Honestly, I genuinely think it's the phone. I know it's such an easy prey, but I really genuinely believe it's the access. It's access. The phone brought us access. Before, I mean, you had to go buy the magazine and hide it in your house and your kids could possibly find it. Think about it. How do you meet people now? You just get on an app. You can have an affair.

The video content. At the end of the day, Satan has planted himself. We know already they're not special if you struggle with lust. I mean, there's three sin categories that are constantly referred to in the New Testament. First John talks about the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, the pride of life.

So one of those three categories is this. So again, you go back to like, we already know we're going to be prey to sexual sin. We see that pattern in Scripture.

This is not something God's tried away from speaking about in His Word. And so when you look at that, you kind of go, man, before it was already something that we dealt with, but it took a little more effort. It wasn't as anonymous. There is this fog, I think, that happens in the brain when you start walking into the path of sexual sin. You almost lose sight.

I mean, this is why people have affairs. You kind of go, how didn't you think anybody would find you? I think there's a fog that makes a person think that no one's going to see, no one's going to find out. And now that ability could get into that space of fog, be it through literature, through reading sexual books, through watching sexual content on movies, or through exploring pure pornography, or through dating apps, and on and on. The immodesty that's now in our culture that everybody basically Christian or non-Christian, even Christians that are leaders in the Christian writing and speaking world. I mean, you'll sometimes look at pictures and go, man, I don't understand.

How are they wearing this? And then if you say that, you're considered a fuddy-duddy or you're like being too, it's their body, they can do what they want. And I just think these thoughts are now biblical. And so again, you go back to, I'm not talking to a world that I cannot, like this conversation is completely different to someone who holds to the Word of God and someone who doesn't.

I'm talking to people who say, yes, I believe the Bible is God's Word, and it is inspired, and it's good, and I want to follow the Lord. And I see in that category of people, those shocking, like, how do you not see what God says about modesty, about sexuality, about sin, about the nature of the heart? And I think we need to do a better job of talking about these things. Everything that I'm talking about are conversations that people are having in the workplace online. We're just not doing it well in the church.

Yeah. It seems that just like the culture, the church seems to be confused about sexual identity, gender. So why are many Christians drifting away from an orthodox, solid biblical view of sexuality? It's easier, right?

First of all, it's easier in a family sense. Like when you are now growing up, you know, you're in a home, your kids grow up, and they're questioning their identity and they're choosing same-sex lifestyles, whatever range of that. I think it's easier to say, oh, well, maybe I was wrong on what the Bible taught, and then have an all-encompassing sort of what Andy Stanley has described as making a big circle rather than drawing lines. The problem with that, of course, is the fact that the Bible doesn't teach that.

But nonetheless, they just give them a little slack and think, okay, I cannot appreciate the desire to help them see that they're loved. I think no matter what your sexual sin is, by the way, I don't think there's any one that's worse or better than another. And I appreciate that there's consequences that might be graver with certain sexual sins than others. But I still think at the end of the day, if the church isn't the place where you can come and find answers and love, then we have a problem. So I understand now that the pendulum is swinging to saying, well, I want to accept my kids and my grandkids.

So I think there's a sense of, first of all, it's easier to say, well, I accept you. Now let's talk about Jesus. The problem is you lose people when you fluctuate that much in what you believe. But forget the individual.

I appreciate the mom who's trying to figure out how to navigate this relationship with her kids and grandkids and whatnot. But the church, let's kind of step back about that. And I think, honestly, it is puzzling to me how many churches now are 100% changing their view on what the Bible teaches on these topics. And you've got to wonder about that.

And I don't want to overthink that, but I think sometimes it's because we've caved on other sins. Think about the divorce era back in the 70s and 80s. It used to be a big deal to get a divorce. And now it's almost like no one even thinks about it.

It's not even a seed. People are like, oh, you're just divorced. That's not even a big deal. And again, I appreciate the pain that led to divorce. I'm just saying the fact is if we've changed our views on divorce and remarriage and doing it over and over again, and pastors, we used to say, well, a pastor couldn't be a pastor if they divorced. And now we've gotten rid of that. And so is it any surprise that we've changed our views on some of the more controversial current sexual decisions and practices? And so I think we've compromised.

I think really we're paying the price for our compromise. And I also think because we are not individually holy, I think that's the other side of it is it's hard to point and say, well, this is wrong because you know what you're doing. And I think that's been one of the biggest freedoms that I've experienced in talking about my stuff is that I do feel like God is continuing to free me. And I am living victoriously, but it's not because of any efforts I've done. It's because I know where I've been. And I know that God has still loved me and accepted me.

And you can't touch that freedom that comes from being completely uncondemned by the only one who could condemn. Thanks for joining us for Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. And thanks for telling a friend about the program. If you know someone who would benefit from our discussion, send them to buildingrelationships.us where they can hear our conversation with Dr. Lina Abu-Jamra. She's the author of Don't Tell Anyone You're Reading This, A Christian Doctor's Thoughts on Sex, Shame and Other Troublesome Issues.

Find out more at buildingrelationships.us. Dr. Lina, throughout our conversation today and in the book, you do emphasize, you know, the relationship with Christ as being really the foundation stone here. You talk about dying to self daily.

What does that look like in your life? Yeah. You know, it's so, I've grown up hearing, by the way, dying to self.

So it's not a new concept. Practically, I mean, you could say, well, you know, that's the problem. You're just not dying to self. And I think we can be so legalistic about dying to self. In fact, that's probably a good time to talk a little bit about why, you know, I recently had a conversation with an editor of a journal and we, you know, he observed that, you know, are you, do you belittle the practices, you know, the things that we do in the Christian life, like the disciplines?

Because I do talk about the empty formulas that haven't served us well. I grew up in a, in a legalistic background, which really what that is, I mean, I think is very much a conservative Christian background that tends to highlight works. Your godliness is based on how you do. And I think that dying to self can become easily a work that sort of earns you favor with God.

And it's a nuance. I don't know that it has an easy answer because the heart of a Christian life is dying to self. You can't come to Christ and die to self, but it's a work that the Holy Spirit has to do in you. So before you act the actions of dying to self, because this is what we do. We go, well, I'm gonna get rid of the internet.

I'm going to get rid of the apps. I'm going to, you know, whatever you build this like rule of 10 things. I'm going to do those things. And then I'm going to be safe and then God's going to be happy with me. And then I'm going to get victory and then I'm going to even be closer to the Lord.

But, and we might do that. And I've done that for a month, even six months, even a year, even more. And then what happens? Well, you get tired because you can't sustain it because you weren't meant to sustain it. And one day you wake up and you're hurting and you're lonely and you fall back into whatever practice, whatever habits you are in. And then you go, Oh my gosh, I must really be bad. So do you do it again?

Do you do it again? And so it becomes exhausting. And I think dying to self can become that sort of wrote, here's my six things I'm going to not do. I'm going to walk on coal.

I'm going to drink this concoction in the morning. You know, whatever six things that we think are going to bring us holiness, but the very missing essence of what's going to delight me and fill me, which is Christ, if we would start with him, then dying to self is easy. And so I think it's like, it's sort of like the two sides of a coin. Yes, there has to be a daily dying to self. And part of dying to self for me has been understanding myself better, understanding the times, the seasons, the triggers that set me up. And I think that's been the gift of counseling to me is working through that angle, which is to understand when I tend to lean on whatever it is that has brought me comfort in the past, even temporarily. And now understanding that sort of that, well, first of all, understanding that even if I happen to fall in that way, I'm still loved by God.

I think there's that, that is a hard thing to talk about. Like, does God love you if you never change or do you have to change in order to show that God, you know? So I think we can be also very legalistic in that conversation because I genuinely believe grace is free and unearned and God loves us whether we change or not. And yet again, I say this cautiously because change is a sign that you have received Christ.

And I think the wrestling is part of the dying to self. It's this, it's admitting and confessing and growing over time. I think there are many people who are asking themselves in the light of our culture, you know, is it really possible for a follower of Christ to live a holy life in our present culture? Yeah, I don't just think it's possible. I think it's our gift and I think it's our legacy and I think it's, I think that's the longing that God has for us. And I think the reason we're depressed in the church just as much as outside of the church and the reason we're, you know, as our numbers in terms of our habits and our struggles are not necessarily that much different from the world is because we don't really, we haven't really embraced that idea.

And I think revival will come when we really go back to the truth of the gospel, that we have been completely transformed. And you know, we're like, I read this thing yesterday, the story, and it's a familiar story about the, there was a guy or a little kid who found some eagle eggs and he took the eagle egg and put it with the chickens, you know, it's like an old sermon illustration. And then the eagle was born among the chickens and grew up among the chickens. And one day he looked up in the sky when he was a little older pecking at the little, you know, stuff on the ground and he looked up and saw an eagle flying. And he looked around him and said, wow, that is such a beautiful bird.

I wish I could be like that. And the chickens around him looked at him and kind of chuckled and smirked and said, yeah, well don't hold your breath. That's the eagle.

He's the most beautiful bird in the planet. You just, you know, you'll never be that. And meanwhile there's this eagle who can't even understand who he is, what he's been given. That's our problem is we've lost our sense of identity in Christ.

And if we could just reclaim that, how do you reclaim that? Well, you, you, you draw near to the Lord and you're assured that he will draw near to you and you do it with all of the, I come back at the end of the book and I do talk about the fact that it's all of this stuff. The thing that has saved me in my Christian life are the disciplines. The fact that I wake up in the morning and read my Bible and the Lord has taken me through highs and lows, but the one steadfast constant in my life is his presence with me and in me and through this fellowship of Christ through his word. And so I support the formulas, but I think you have to know why they're there and how they lead us to the heart of Christ, which is our joy.

Yeah. Is your message any different for the person who's facing same sex attraction? I talk about that in the book actually and I think it is not at all different. We have been sold on the lie that somehow what we feel is who we are and that is not a Christian message. The Christian message is our identity is in Christ and sometimes we feel happy and sometimes we feel sad and you might be attracted to someone who's buried and sometimes you might be attracted to someone who is of your same sex. The question is understanding God's way and submitting to it, which again I go back to if you came to Christ at some point you had to leave everything behind, all your ideas, all your theories, all your other gods and embrace them.

It's no different than that in the daily walk of dying to self. It's making the choice and I know that's a hard message, especially for someone who is same sex attracted to here, but it is the truth of the gospel. We have been crucified with Christ. It is whether you're gay or straight or whatever you define yourself on that spectrum. We have been set free. Christ lives in us and we have the ability to honor God with our bodies and our minds and our hearts and I believe it is not only possible, but it is what he's doing in us right now as we continue to pursue him until the day that we see him face to face. Dr. Lena, as we come to the end of our time today, let's say there's someone who's listening and they're living in a cycle of sexual sin and shame.

What do you suggest that they do? You know, first of all, that's why we're doing this show. I know that these are difficult conversations, but first of all, you're not alone if you're listening and that's you. That's why I wrote the book.

Honestly, part of it wasn't even to give you like, here is a three step formula. You do these things and you're cured. It's not about being cured. It's about seeing clearly and understanding. We're all in this together. We're the church, but seeing and understanding what that means.

And so I would encourage this person. There's hope for you, no matter where you are, what you've done, what you think you deserve. God doesn't see the same way. He sees Christ in us. If you've received Christ as your savior, he is in you and over you and Christ, God sees him in us. And so be encouraged, first of all, that there is hope. This is not the end of your story.

I think a good starting point is read the book, but again, if you want something even better, read the gospels and remember who Christ is. And you know, and I think at the end of the day, reach out to someone. And I, you know, on our own website for the book, which is drlena book.com, we created a place where you can tell your story. It's not public.

You can choose if you want us to put it public or not. There's some stories you'll read. You're not alone in this. There's been others who've shared their stories, but that might be a way to reach out to us and say, here's what I'm dealing with. And we can try to point you or to encourage you. And so, you know, I have done that cycle so many times in my life where I would be victorious for a while and then fall again.

And it's so easy to question everything when you're in that darkness of feeling like, man, I've done it again. And for that person, I would say today is a new day. Lamentations three, God's faithfulness on you. His mercies are again, yours today.

Grab onto them. There is no better way to joy than to remember who you are in Christ and what he's done for you. Well, Lena, thank you for being with us today and thank you for investing time and energy in writing this book. I do believe that it's going to help many people because the reality is all of us face issues in this area of life. So thanks again for being with us today.

Thank you for having me. Well, there's so much hope about this topic. I hope you've heard that in Lena's voice and in her message today. If you go to buildingrelationships.us, you'll see Dr. Lena Abu-Jamra's excellent book. Don't tell anyone you're reading this, A Christian Doctor's Thoughts on Sex, Shame and Other Troublesome Issues. Again, go to buildingrelationships.us. And coming up next week, with all the cruelty and incivility in the world, we need a reminder of God's kindness. If you're overwhelmed by your circumstances, don't miss the encouragement in one week. Before we go, let me thank our production team, Steve Wick and Janice Backing. Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman is a production of Moody Radio in Chicago, in association with Moody Publishers, a ministry of Moody Bible Institute. Thanks for listening.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-09 15:15:33 / 2024-02-09 15:37:27 / 22

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime