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God, Sex, & Your Marriage: Dr. Juli Slattery

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
September 29, 2023 5:15 am

God, Sex, & Your Marriage: Dr. Juli Slattery

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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September 29, 2023 5:15 am

Dr. Juli Slattery challenges your assumptions about married sex—and reframes it as a stunning metaphor of God's covenant love.

Show Notes and Resources

Connect with Juli Slattery at authenticintimacy.comor on Instagram @authenticintimacy

Relcaim the conversation around sexuality at authenticintimacy.com/online-book-studies

Check out Juli's podcast, Java with Juli

Intrigued by this episode? Check out another episode from FamilyLife Today: Porn Addiction: Your Exit Strategy

Find resources from this podcast at shop.familylife.com.

See resources from our past podcasts.

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Where does our identity come from? Does it come from looking inward or does it come from looking upward and knowing God and knowing who He says that I am? And so if you are not a believer in God, it makes perfect sense that you have to look inward or you have to ask people's advice to figure out who you are.

But if we are believers in God and we trust the Scripture, then we find who we are by knowing Him and by putting faith into what He says about us. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Shelby Abbott, and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson.

You can find us at familylifetoday.com or on the Family Life app. This is Family Life Today. So go ahead and tell them what you just said. We're going to talk about a sensitive topic today, the topic of sex. I started the program even before I'm like, ah, I have a headache, which with this topic that wasn't purposeful, I really do have a headache. We are – Well, it's so funny because of this topic, though. Yeah, I know.

I mean, that's why it's funny. And Dr. Julie Slattery is sitting over there and she said – I'm analyzing you. I know. A headache is never just a headache, you know. I mean, there's something underneath us. Julie, you know what?

We haven't got into anything yet, but what is going on in our marriage? What does that mean? Julie is such a good friend. She's an author. She's a therapist. She and her husband are both traveling, speaking, working together now.

How is it, though, working together? Because this is sort of new. It is.

Yeah, it's been like six, seven months. Do you like it? Because we do this and, you know, sometimes – Yeah, we asked you guys before we did it. We're like, what do you think? And you said, run away.

Don't try it. Yeah, you gave us great advice. One of the things you said is you never will stop talking about work. And that's probably been our biggest challenge. It is, isn't it? Yeah, but it's really fun. It's been great. That's great.

That's good to know. Yeah. Well, you wrote a book that we're going to talk about today, God's Sex in Your Marriage. You asked us to endorse it. And I don't know if you remember what I said to you. You said, no way.

No. You know, you sent me the manuscript, obviously, before it came out, and I don't think Ann had read it yet. I had. I remember coming downstairs and saying, Ann, this is one of the best books I've ever read on God's design perspective on sex. And I said – But I wasn't just saying that. I was like blown away.

And I was like, wait, I have a headache. Just kidding. No, you do such a good job. And I even said in the endorsement, you probably didn't even read it, but I said, your teaching of yada is worth the whole book. And we're not going to go there yet. But people are like, what is yada? Yada, yada, yada.

It's a Hebrew word that you've got to stay tuned because it's powerful. And Julie, tell us about your ministry. What are you and Mike doing?

Yeah, well, it's not just us. We have a team that works with us, but the ministry is called Authentic Intimacy. And our mission is reclaiming God's design for sexuality. So we do a lot of work on marriage, which we'll be talking about together today. We address all issues related to sexuality.

So singleness and sexuality, different aspects of sexual brokenness and healing. But we also have a separate website that's just for Christian leaders. So we do a lot of training with pastors, counselors, Christian leaders, lay leaders, even parents about how do we reclaim this conversation around sexuality? Because it's so confusing today. So we're doing a lot.

But the idea of it is let's reclaim the conversation around sexuality and not just play defense with trying to address problems. And your podcast is called Java with Julie. And it's amazing. We've been on it. You have.

Yeah, it was awesome. You do such a good job. When you say reclaim, what do you mean? Well, what I mean is if you think about topics of sexuality, whether it be marriage or pornography or conversations around sexual identity, gender identity, the world really owns those conversations. And I think even for a lot of Christians, we're trying to react to what the world is saying, because God's people really haven't had a compelling narrative of sexuality over the last couple centuries, even though it's in the scripture.

And so instead of just saying, how do we deal with the pornography problem or how do we deal with the teenagers in our lives that are wrestling with gender identity, we want to say, all right, how do we actually take over this conversation from a biblical perspective and have God's framework for the whole topic of sexuality so that now we can even begin to understand what is wholeness and what is brokenness? Did you grow up thinking, I'm going to someday be a writer, speaker, therapist on this topic? I knew when I was five. You did? No, that's a lie. I mean, is this something you fell into? I mean, how did this happen? Yeah. You know, I got called into it.

Seriously, I really did know when I was a young adult that I wanted to do work within psychology and helping people just navigate life issues from a biblical perspective. But the focus on sexuality has only been over the last dozen years. Has the culture changed? Are the topics any different than they used to be? Like, I'm thinking even 15 years ago, I don't think that word transgender was something that we were, you know, we were just talking about as much. No, at one hand, the topics haven't changed.

The ones that were still being asked 10, 15 years ago are still being asked today, and they're still important. But now you add on to that a lot of confusion about what is even marriage and what is male and female and what's the purpose of our sexuality? So you've just added layer upon layer and just how widespread pornography is, both with men and women. You have a whole generation now that's essentially been raised on pornography.

And again, not just the world. These are Christian families. These are people in the church. We still have those same issues, but now they're much worse and they're much more common. And then you add the confusion about just what's the purpose of our gender and sexuality?

And you know this better than anybody. The church has often been silent. Or if you heard anything from the church, I think it's a little different today. But growing up in my day, I don't think I ever heard a sermon or even a pastor talk about sex from God's perspective.

I'll tell this real quick. When we started our church, 1990, we knew that. And we were like, we're going to be a church that talks about real issues. So the first series we ever did, it's lame now, we call it the art of awesome living.

Ridiculous. And we decided we're going to talk about different topics that are going to interest people. Marriage, parenting, stress, money, sex. My first sermon ever at my church on sex was called Sex, What a Great Idea. Right? Yeah. And all I was trying to do is sort of what you did in your book is like, here's God's perspective on sex. Here's what the Bible says.

It's not a bad thing. He actually celebrates this in a covenant of marriage between a man and woman. Anyway, we're dreaming that non-church guys would come, right? I get done with this sermon.

We're in a little middle school. We're just a little tiny church. This guy comes walking up to me and I look at him and I shouldn't judge him, but I'm like, this dude looks like a guy who hasn't been to church.

He looks like the guy we're trying to reach. And I'll never forget, he walks up, he goes, hey, I don't know what they call you around here, but that was one blank of a sermon. That's what he says.

Wow. He curses right there. I don't even think he said sermon, did he? Didn't he just say talk? One blank of a talk, you know? And I go, hey man, what's your name? I'll never forget this.

Mike. Yeah, how'd you end up here? Oh, you won't believe this. My wife came last week and I didn't go. She's tried to get me to go to church. I don't go to church. I haven't been to church in 30 years, but my wife came and she came home and she goes, hey, I think you'd like this place. He goes, I'm still in bed.

And I looked at her. I go, I'm not going to your stupid church. She goes, guess what they're talking about next week.

It's called sex. What a great idea. He goes, he's got that right.

I'll be there. Wow. So he came six weeks later. Mike gave his life to Christ.

Oh my goodness. It was just this beautiful story, but it was, I think he was drawn in by that's the heart of God about this topic that the church often had been silent about. You start the book saying, you know, we need to understand God's heart for sex and then obviously in the area of marriage. So this is your calling, right?

Yeah. And Dave, I love that story because sex is the place where there's just so much pain and confusion in the world. And if we are talking about it from a biblical perspective, we have the opportunity really to share the love of Christ. Like just look at Jesus's interactions in the gospel and how many times, particularly with women, his interaction was around a sexual wound and the topic of sexuality.

So it's not just, now some people are going to say, wait, wait, what did you just say? So you're saying that Jesus talked to women about a wound and some are like, what do you mean? I mean, you got the woman at the well, you got the woman caught in adultery.

I mean, there's very popular stories. You're right. It was just as soon as she said that, I'm like, oh, never really considered it that way. And the purpose wasn't to straighten out their sex life. It was to address their wounds, their longings, their hurt, their rejection, their identity. And so when we avoid the topic of sexuality, we're not just letting go of this territory that's kind of a side issue.

The way God has created our sexuality, it's so intrinsic into who we are relationally and spiritually that when we give up that ground, we're actually giving up significant spiritual ground. Hmm. That's good.

Well, you talk about two truths and one of the truths is you say that sex will never be a neutral issue in your marriage. Is that what you mean? Like there's a lot in that.

Yeah. What I mean by that is any couple, if they share about what's happening in their sex life, it's never going to be this thing that is just neutral in terms of impact. Now, they might say, oh, we don't talk about it.

It's really neither good nor bad. But if it's not good, it's pulling them apart in some way. So one of them likely is resentful that they're not having more sex or one of them is resentful that they feel objectified or it's a point of contention that they can't talk about is conflict. By the way, you just described points in our marriage. Honestly, we've had those very, you know, hurts with each other.

I'm guessing a lot of couples have. Yeah. And like you said, it's not neutral. It's like very that one flesh thing is more than flesh. It's emotional. It's spiritual. Is that what you're saying?

Yeah. And it was like that in my marriage as well. You know, the way God has designed sex, it's designed to glue you together, to draw you together, to give you an embodied way of loving each other. And even the chemicals that are involved in sexuality, the dopamine, the oxytocin is meant to cement you as a couple. But the opposite is also true. When sex is not going well for one reason or another, it will divide you. The second thing you say is it's not neutral in your relationship with God. Right.

What's that mean? The same way, you know, God designed sex to be, and we could get more into this, but really to be a form of revealing his covenant love to us. And that's a big concept that takes time to unpack. But this is something everybody's going to identify with.

Sex is either going to be something that makes you feel close to God because you're thankful for it, because you really understand the love of your spouse in a deeper way. Or for most people, it's a barrier. It's the issue where there's shame that's not been addressed. It's the place in their life where people secretly wonder, God, where were you?

Why didn't you spare me from this betrayal or from this horrific thing that happened to me? Or it's that issue that you can't bring to God. You can't bring your pornography issue to God because you're so ashamed of it. In everybody's life, this is going to be an area of their humanity that is either drawing them into understanding more deeply God's love for them. Or more likely, unfortunately, it's going to be an area where they're like, I can't bring that to church. I couldn't pray about that.

God doesn't care about this part of my life. As you say that, Julie, I'm thinking about as I was a young bride, and I remember first hearing at our Weekend to Remember marriage conferences, bring God into the bedroom. Well, that's how we say it in our vertical marriage. Yeah, we say it.

It was bring His perspective. But even when we first started hearing that, my first thought was, are you insane? Because, and I had no idea why, that sounded like the creepiest, like, I'm never going to do that. But then as you think through that, why did I have that feeling? It's because I felt like God can't be a part of that. I have abuse in my background. There was so much pornography in relatives and family.

I grew up with that. So to me, that was sex. So to bring God into that felt like, why would I ever bring him into that mess?

Because I don't want him to see any of it. And I didn't know when somebody said, we want God to have a part of this. I was kind of blown out of my mind, like, why? I had no idea the connection of God and the beauty of it.

Yeah. And thank you for sharing that, Anne, because a lot of people can relate to that. At the time, you probably had a very strong relationship with the Lord. You were discipled in a lot of areas of faith. And young in my faith.

But sexuality is this area that because we're silent on it, you kind of just store away and you say, okay, this has to be part of my marriage or it's part of my past. But God doesn't belong there. And I was never discipled in that area.

Right. Which I'm thinking now, like, we should disciple people in this area. That's what you do. That is what we do. And it's probably not being done hardly anywhere, is it?

Hopefully more and more. As we're working in this field and other ministries are, it's so needed. And, you know, I think it really has taken the pain of the last 20 or 30 years and the confusion to wake the church up and say, we've got to do something about this. Like, there's not a parent of a teenager today that isn't worried about this, whose kid isn't struggling with the whole gender conversation, pornography, sexting.

Every parent is like, I need resources. I wasn't raised with it. I don't know how to think through these things. Every pastor is faced with dealing with this. And yeah, it's the culture, but it's also marriage. It's the brokenness of marriage that we don't know how to talk about and address. We don't know how to find healing. So it's just this pervasive spiritual battle that we've neglected for decades, and it's time to really take it back.

You know, one of the things you use as an illustration in your book is sort of getting a picture of what it should look like and use the jigsaw. Explain that a little bit. I think the most pivotal thing in this is actually that we think about sexuality rightly. We all want the solution to the problem. So there's a parent listening who's saying, just tell me how to protect my kid from pornography, or tell me how to help my daughter through sexual assault. There are married couples listening right now that are like, just tell us how to deal with this conflict. We fight about sex all the time, or we haven't had sex in years. Sex is painful. So you have all these problems that people want you to solve, but we can't solve problems if we don't have the right perspective. And I think this is the first part of the work, is stepping back and actually saying, why does our sexuality matter to God in the first place? Why is it so powerful? Why are sexual wounds so crippling?

Why do I feel shame about something that happened to me 30 years ago? A lot of the work that we do at Authentic Intimacy is helping people step back and really seek God's help and his perspective on the big picture of sexuality before we get into the granular level. So again, people want that quick fix right away, but for a big problem, there's not a quick fix. So when you sort of do a 30,000-foot view, I'm putting words in your mouth maybe, but you're trying to say, okay, here's the big picture. It could be for a parent, it could be for a married couple. Where would you start?

Yeah, disciple us. Well, I like to talk about sexual narratives. So your sexual narrative is the backstory that you're believing about your sexuality. It's how you answer the question, why does sex matter? Why does my sexuality matter?

Why does my gender matter? And I'm going to paint with broad brushes here, but I think the most prominent narrative of our sexuality today is what I'm going to call the cultural narrative. And the culture's narrative says that sexuality is so pivotal and important because it's a key part of your identity. It's how you discover who you are. It's how you live a happy life by looking inward and discovering this is what I'm attracted to, this is what I desire, this is what I want.

And I should have the freedom to live that out. And we see that playing out in all different ways in marriage, in singleness, in sexual identity issues, in pornography. Pornography really feeds that cultural narrative. I had that highlighted in your book, too, because you say rather than viewing sex as something that God has created for his glory, our culture tells us that sex is a morally neutral aspect of what it means to be human. And our greatest good is to be sexually fulfilled and satisfied. And so that sex is morally neutral. Like that goes against everything that God says. And yet that's why it doesn't matter if you live together before you're married and it doesn't matter if that's the first thing you do on a date is you have sex because it's neutral. Right.

It's you do you. Like what makes you happy? Search your heart.

What do you want? I would say even within modern Christianity, we want God to give us permission to act out whatever sexual desires we have. And we say a loving God would allow us to experience what we want. That's what we used to say. What kind of God would stop us from doing that? Right. If that's really why sex matters, if it's because it's this search for self and it's happiness and fulfillment, then that makes sense that God would want you to have freedom to go on that discovery and never put parameters in how you exercise your sexuality.

So unfortunately, again, even a lot of Christians in our day and age are thinking that way and they look through scripture to find verses that would support that thinking. And this plays out in marriage. Like I've fallen out of love. I'm not attracted to my spouse anymore. What's the purpose of being married? Because we're not happy.

Let's go find somebody who will make us happy. Or our sex life feels dull and we need something to enhance it. And there's a secular therapist that said porn can enhance it. That shouldn't have any effect on it. Right. And yet it has devastating effects. So that's a cultural perspective. How would you combat that?

Well, I would combat it in a few ways. First of all, as a follower of Christ, it's completely against what scripture tells us. God tells us that everything was created for his glory and for his purpose.

And so we don't say, what's in it for me? We say, how do I glorify God with my sexuality? Why did he create it?

And we'll get to why he created it. But if we look at the cultural narrative of sexuality through the lens of scripture, we're really looking at a false idol. We're looking at the worship of self and the fulfillment of self as the goal of my life instead of to know and glorify God.

The second thing I would say is that, and some people don't like it when we say this, but it's all over scripture. We can't trust our own hearts and desires. The scripture over and over again says that our flesh is going to want things that go against God. There's this big battle between what my flesh wants and what the spirit of God is calling me to in godliness. And that certainly plays out in sexuality.

We all are going to have sexual thoughts and desires that feel very authentic to who we are, but they go against God's will for us. What would you say about, because you hinted at it before, the identity. My identity is tied up primarily with who I'm attracted to. I'm not saying that's true for me.

I'm just saying that's what you hear. That is so important. It's who I am.

Not true? In our world today, it feels very true. But where does our identity come from? Does it come from looking inward or does it come from looking upward and knowing God and knowing who He says that I am? And so if you are not a believer in God, it makes perfect sense that you have to look inward or you have to ask people's advice to figure out who you are.

But if we are believers in God and we trust the scripture, then we find who we are by knowing Him and by putting faith into what He says about us. And so this cultural narrative, it's the idol of our day. It's what we worship today. And we've got to realize as the people of God that we will always be tempted to mix Christianity with the worship of our culture. And we see a lot of that today.

But it's contrary to the whole message of scripture. Julie, I know that in your ministry, you're hearing so many stories. Do you have a story of transformation from the cultural view to now they've discovered, oh, this is a biblical view. Have you had anybody that you're like, oh, this is cool, just to see they're getting it? Yeah.

Oh, yeah. We have a lot of stories. I'll share about one woman that I know who is a believer. And she actually went on the mission field and began to serve God on the mission field and struggled a lot with same-sex attraction.

And really didn't have any support on the mission field to work through that. And she began to live out of that and eventually started losing her faith on the mission field. Somehow a few years ago, from another country, saw an email about doing an online book study with us on rethinking sexuality.

This young woman was like, well, I've got nothing to lose. I'm losing my faith. I'm depressed.

I'm isolated. Somewhere I need to get help. And so she went through this online book study through our ministry on rethinking sexuality and for the first time started hearing Christian women talk about sexuality from a biblical perspective. So then she did another book study and another book study, and her life really has been transformed. She said, the thing that you wrote that really caught me in that book is you wrote, what we think about sex begins with what we think about God. And so that led her on a journey.

So that would be one example. I know another married couple that actually heard me first speak on a family life cruise, and they were in a place of real brokenness sexually. Both of them were.

They were separated at the time. And the woman heard me speak on sexual issues. And for the first time again, she heard somebody say, a Christian woman can struggle with pornography. A Christian woman can struggle with same-sex attraction.

And at the time she was desperate, but she followed up again, got an online book study, got into community, and their marriage is completely restored after a few years. So we have stories like that. And, you know, our books are not that good.

You know, we're not that good. It's God. It's God's truth. People are so hungry for God's truth. And that's the other piece of the cultural narrative that we need to realize, it will lead to brokenness and pain. You know, the scripture says, God is not mocked.

Don't be deceived. What you sow, you will reap. And when we look at what's happening in culture today, the more freedom we have sexually, the lonelier, the more anxious and depressed we become. Because ultimately we were not created for sexual expression. We were created for intimacy.

And so even secular psychologists and sociologists are saying something is wrong here with our sexuality. All this freedom isn't leading to happiness and flourishing. And freedom often, when we go after it, thinking we'll be free, we end up in bondage. Enslaved.

You know, whether sexual or not. But I love both your stories are like, I thought freedom was here. The last place you think you're going to find freedom is with God.

He's all about boundaries and putting you in a box. And that's where real freedom happened for them and for all of us. I mean, I'm thinking of a listener thinking, I relate to those stories, but I haven't got the freedom part yet.

You got to go vertical. You got to find God's perspective on this area. And that's where you're going to find freedom.

Wow. We were not created for sexual expression. We were created for intimacy.

When you think about that, this is literally the opposite of everything our culture communicates to us about sex and sexuality. Just amazing stuff today. I'm Shelby Abbott and you've been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Julie Slattery on Family Life today. We're going to hear more from Ann and Julie on surrender and freedom here in just a second. But Julie has written a book called God, Sex and Your Marriage. You can find a copy of her book at familylifetoday.com or you can give us a call at 800-358-6329. That's 800 F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today.

We've been talking a lot about relationships. And right now when you're on familylifetoday.com and you donate to the Ministry of Family Life, you're going to receive a three book bundle from the letters to a romantic collection by Sean Perrone and Spencer Harmon. They were guests earlier this week and they've written three books about dating, engagement and the first years of marriage. Again, those books are going to be our gift to you when you give and partner financially with us at familylifetoday.com or you could give us a call with your donation at 800-358-6329. And feel free to drop us something in the mail. Our address is Family Life, 100 Lakehart Drive, Orlando, Florida, 32832. Now, if you know anyone who needs to hear conversations like the one you heard today with Julie, would you share it from wherever you get your podcasts?

And while you're there, you can really help others learn about family life today by leaving us a review. All right, now let's hear more from Ann and Julie Slattery about sexual surrender and sexual freedom. There's a point where all of us have to decide if we will surrender our sexuality to God and to let him have it. And if there's a part of you that thinks, oh, I don't know if I can surrender that.

That's just like, hmm, I wonder what's going on that's creating that angst in my soul to not want to give it over. But I think there is a beauty of getting to the point, it may not happen overnight, but I think that's why we need to be discipled in this area of that surrender to God. He created us. He created our sexuality. He created sex. So if there's anyone that can restore us and give us freedom, it's him.

Yeah. And I'm so glad you used that word surrender, because it dawned on me one day that if God doesn't own my sexuality, who does? And I might feel like it's me, but really it's a stronghold of the enemy. It's a stronghold of fear. It's a stronghold of pain. It's a stronghold of I don't trust God.

And I don't want the enemy to have any access in my heart or in my marriage or in my family. Now, coming up next week, David and Wilson are going to be joined by radio host, author and speaker Brant Hansen. He's going to talk about his life and struggles with autism. That's next week. We hope you'll join us. On behalf of David and Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a donor supported production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-29 07:37:51 / 2023-09-29 07:50:30 / 13

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