Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. There's a good reason why the Bible tells us to guard our hearts. Today we probe the mind of a sex addict to see what leads someone there and what steps we should take to prevent being addicted to the easy availability of explicit images. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line.
Pastor Lutzer, Adam and Eve were naked and without shame. Is it possible we don't value marriage enough to be properly addicted to our mates? Dave, I'm not sure that the word addicted is the best word to use, but I do need to say that our mates should know that we are committed to them and that we are indeed not committed to some image somewhere. It's so important in a day of technology that we keep our hearts pure. Let me ask you a question, and now I'm speaking to everyone who is listening. Do you believe that messages like the one that you are about to hear is important for this generation? I believe that you will because it is indeed a message that has to do with our own hearts purity. But would you help us as we continue to get this message to millions of people? Would you consider becoming an endurance partner? That's someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts. Now very quickly, here's what you do.
Go to rtwoffer.com, click on the endurance partner button, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. And at the end of this message, I'll be giving you that contact info again. How are you all doing with guarding your heart? The Bible says guard your heart with all diligence. It's your most important responsibility. Because out of it, the scripture says, are the issues of life. Well, this is a last in the series of six messages entitled Guard Your Heart Sexual Purity in a Media Culture.
We've spoken about such things as video games, mobile devices, iPads, iPhones, the internet, and all of those matters which I've pointed out are not neutral, but are actually weighted against us. What an interesting technological age we live in. Before Christmas, there was a couple here that was sitting near the front and they told me this later on in the visitor center and they said that I could share the story. The wife with her iPhone took a picture of the platform and then she emailed it to her father and said her husband, Dick, who by the way has always wanted to go to Moody Church, one of those lifelong dreams, she said, Dick is in heaven.
And then she sent it to her father. He's getting the email saying, what happened? So he writes back, Dick in heaven, heart attack, what was it? He said, no, she clarified as she sent the next text message, not the heaven of heavens, but I mean he is at Moody Church, which is about as close to heaven as you can get. I have a friend who likes to take pictures of the gravestones.
He has visited the graves of hundreds of people, most of them famous and most of them Christians because he's a Christian professor, the people in the past who have influenced Christianity. So he tells me that he takes his iPad and it must have a GPS system. He types in the name of the grave that he wants to visit when he's in the right cemetery and he says he just holds his iPad like this and it takes him all the way to the grave. I thought, okay. Uh-huh. All that you need to do with an iPad is to type in some wrong websites and it will take you to the grave, actually. As a matter of fact, there's a book about addictions that has been written entitled A Banquet in the Grave.
And if you don't watch it, the media will take you to your grave. Well, today I have the responsibility of fulfilling two promises that I made to you throughout this series of messages and today, God willing, I hope to fulfill them. Number one, I promised you that we would look into the mind of an addict to see how they function so that we understand them better and then beyond that I am going to answer another question and that is, how should a wife respond to her addicted husband?
But before we get there, I want to clarify a couple of matters. First of all, even though I'm going to be talking about the man being the addict, I'm going to talk about he and him. The fact is, I'm not naive to the fact that there are many women who have their own addictions. It's just that when you're preaching, you can't always say he or she or him or her.
So I'm going to be talking about him. But you may be a woman and I may be talking about you or someone else whom you know. Secondly, it's important to realize that when I talk about the actual traits of addiction, as I will in a moment, it's not merely an addiction to pornography on the internet or some other way. That actually is the characteristic of all addicts.
And then third, I've been using the word addiction rather loosely throughout the last series of messages, talk about addictions, but actually the experts, they give it a more refined definition and narrower definition. And they would say that not everyone who uses a substance, for example, is addicted. And then they specify what they mean by addiction. And generally speaking, what they mean is something like a person who is obsessively compulsive about his addiction.
They talk about a person who really believes that they're powerless over it because it is as if there is another power that is carrying them along. And the thought of giving up their addiction is unthinkable because it is basically the centrifugal force of their life. And so they're very distracted because all information, they may be at work, but all information and all relationships and all circumstances, all are filtered through their particular addiction. And they think about it all the time.
That's why they're not very good workers at times because they are so distracted because they live in another world. It's the addiction that holds their life together, they think, even when their life is falling apart. So with that intro, now what I'd like to do is to give you three or four characteristics of an addict so that we understand them a little bit better.
And some of you know a lot more about this than I do because you may be living with one, but here it goes. Number one, an addict does not want his private obsession disturbed. He wants life to continue to go on. He does not want this part of his life disturbed.
And the reason is because remember you can't understand addiction unless you understand the meaning of the word trance. It's as if he is in another world. That's why he's willing to take such foolish risks.
Because this world that he has created is a world in which he lives and you can't understand it unless you realize that there is euphoria and a sense of anticipation. And just planning his next foray into his favorite addiction causes his heart rate to increase and he almost becomes in another world. That he should give this up, something in which he has invested so much time and oftentimes so much money, it is unthinkable. He does not want his life to be disturbed. Second, an addict will fight against any intrusion into this private world. He'll fight against any intrusion into his private world. Now he'll fight clean if he can, he'll fight dirty if he has to, but he will try to prevent any intrusion. Because remember, he's got shame issues and guilt issues and he is bound by these, but he also has this attachment which he can't even think about really dealing with.
And he does this in a number of different ways he fights. First of all, he'll deny it for as long as he can and for an addict telling a lie is no big deal because very probably his entire life is a lie. And so he says to himself, what's one more lie among so many?
So he will lie. When he can no longer do that because he's been discovered, his next step is to minimize it. Well, okay, but it's not that big a deal and it's not hurting anyone. Remember, throughout all of this experience, he has been convincing himself and convincing other people that his addiction doesn't really affect anyone. That is mentally, he's telling himself that. Mind you, his family may be coming apart. His relationship with his wife is critically broken.
There's nowhere to go there because all of the intimacy has been compromised. But nonetheless, he will tell himself it's no big deal and why should you be worried about my own issues? What he'd really like to have is for his wife to simply say to him, well, I forgive you. He'll say, well, you know, forgive me. Okay, I forgive you.
And so what he'd like to do is to have a bandaid put on his cancer and move on. Don't dig too deep. So it's to minimize it. And then there's a third response and that is to accuse. It's your fault. Now he becomes very critical. Now, if you have ever lived with an addict, and fortunately I've never had that privilege, if we can call it that, but I've talked to enough people who have and I've done enough reading to realize that particularly when it comes to something like alcoholism, people will become totally irrational. In other words, they'll make you think that you're really the problem. Or if you're an abuser, you caused me to slap you. So that's somebody else's fault. And they can almost drive you insane because reality is so twisted.
No matter what happens in terms of reality, no matter what the issue really is, all truth is taken and turned a half turn so that it comes out as something very different than you remember reality to be. And they'll keep you off base along this line. But at any rate, it'll be your fault. It'll be the boss's fault. It'll be the church's fault.
It'll be somebody else's fault. And he himself digs himself deeply into this wall of denial. Remember, I've told you before, you'll probably hear me say it again, that denial isn't just a river in Egypt.
It exists everywhere. I have to repeat that for some of you. Now, so the second thing is he fights any intrusion into his life. Third, he will seek help when he has to, to assuage his conscience.
Remember, what he's doing is he's living with all of this psychic energy that is being soaked up, trying to act normal in the world and give this aura of normalcy when all of this other stuff is going on here. And so if he's told he has to go for counsel, eventually he'll go for counseling, but not with the intention of radical change. He needs to assuage his conscience so that he feels better about himself. And then he can say afterwards, well, you know, as far as counseling is concerned, we tried that. Mind you, as soon as the counselor begins to encroach upon his particular problem and get him to own his own stuff, he usually withdraws from the counseling session because he doesn't like it when responsibility is placed upon his shoulders. And so he tries to garner as much support as he can, as much self-pity as he can possibly get from other people.
And anyone who listened to him to hear his side of the story, he'll be sure to tell his side of the story too. Now, here comes a critical point. He may actually at some point recognize how bad off he's been. There's a moment of clarity. Usually it happens because something tragic happens. If he's an alcoholic, it's because he lost his job again or he got into some kind of a crime. And so what he will do then is he may even repent and weep.
And the wife thinks to herself, and I'm not yet at the point where I'm talking about the wives and their response, but the wife thinks to herself, boy, this is really great. There's been a breakthrough. Actually, there hasn't been. Because what he hasn't been willing to do is to deal with his appetite. The appetite for that addiction is still there. And if he is able to be free from it for, you know, a week or two, it actually only strengthens his resolve that the next time he can do it again, because after all, it's not that big a deal. And he isn't an addict anyway, because after all, he quit for two weeks, which proves he can quit. And we're back to Mark Twain's remark, of course I'm not addicted to smoking.
I've quit a thousand times. So what he'll do now is he'll plunge back into it, because the bottom line issues have not been dealt with. Another characteristic, and my notes say that I'm on number four now, is that isolation. It's very important for him to live alone, to be alone. Relationships bother him.
Why? Because whenever he looks into somebody else's eyes, all of the truth about himself is there. And so he prefers to live alone.
I've mentioned this in the message many times, that one of the ways in which we stay healthy emotionally is by relationships, and that's why men should be involved in men's groups, in our TMC communities, and women also, because it is in fellowship and relationship that we maintain our balance and sanity and our emotional and spiritual health. But he doesn't want to do that. He'd prefer to be alone, because it's in aloneness that he experiences his addiction, and nobody is to find out about him, because there's too much shame. So there's avoiding, there's rationalizing, there's blaming, there's manipulation. Eventually it may end in violence and all other things. What a picture of somebody in slavery, the slavery of sin.
Well, that's a quick look at the mind of an addict. Now, what should a woman do? And here I'm speaking to the wives, because this happens so often. She discovers that her husband is into pornography, or she discovers in other ways that she's really living with an addict, or maybe she's been living with one for years.
But here's her struggle. As a Christian woman, she says to herself, the Bible says very clearly that I'm to submit to my husband, that I'm to respect him. Therefore, if I rock the boat, if I go for help, if I seek help, if I confront him, I'm really disrespecting him, or I am not submissive to him. After all, I'm to be submissive to him as the church is submissive to Jesus. Now, when she looks at her husband, she's finding it a little hard to find Jesus there. Actually, you can go ahead and laugh at that, because what wife here today wouldn't say that she's often looked at her husband and had some real tough time finding Jesus in him.
We're all guilty. But as a result of that, she struggles. So what I'd like you to do is to know that as I've thought about this and I consulted a counselor who does quite a bit of counseling, this is my wisdom to you. I know that the pulpit isn't always the place to do counseling, but today it's going to be, and in a few moments we're going to be turning to the words of Jesus, because that is most important.
But I believe that a wife should say two things to her husband with respect, not in anger, at the right time, where there's an environment where they're able to communicate, not in a moment of conflict when words are flying all over, but she needs to respectfully say two things to him. Number one, I will not enable you. I'll not enable you. And that means I will never lie for you.
I will never cover for you. If you are mean and attack my children, I'll go for help. If you become abusive, not only will we go for help, but if necessary, we will separate because things cannot continue on the way they are. But I will not be an enabler.
And I say that to you today because I believe that if you enable sinful behavior, that in itself is sinful, or to put it differently, it is sinful to enable sinful behavior. So you need to make that very, very clear that this is not where this marriage is going. The second thing is also equally important to say, and that is that I'll not try to fix you if you don't want to be fixed.
Let me say that again. I'll not try to fix you if you don't want to be fixed. You know, so often wives say to themselves, well, you know, I'm going to correct him and I'm going to make him and I'm going to shame him. He doesn't need any more shame.
He's full of shame. But she thinks to herself, if I shame him, if I nag him, if I get after him, if I humiliate him, surely he's going to change. You cannot change somebody. You cannot fix anybody who doesn't want to be fixed.
And the way you're doing it, if you're doing it the way I described, is almost certainly wrong. So what happens then? Well, he has an option. If he says, I don't want to be fixed, you need to go for help.
You need to receive counsel to know what do you do. And every situation is different. But you just need to let him know that things can't continue on the way they are. Now, if he says, I want to be fixed, now you have something to work on. But one of the rules that you have to emphasize at that particular period of time is this, the rule of honesty. Because you say to him, I am going to be an understanding wife.
And please be an understanding wife. You know, when we're talking about addicts, we're not talking about some strange people that we've never met. These are human beings. Many of them were brought up in broken homes where their father and their mother, they were all addicts of some sort or another. Addiction was their means of escape.
It was the means of escaping into this unreal world of pleasure and euphoria and trance. And so for us to be condemnatory and all that we can do is condemn and don't you realize this and lay shame upon shame, it doesn't help at all. But what she has to say is this, I'm going to be an understanding wife. If you agree to wanting to be fixed, I'll be here for you through the whole way. But there is one rule.
There may be more, but at least one. And that rule is this. You must be completely honest when we are in counseling, when we are going through this. Because you see, reality can always be redeemed. Lies cannot be redeemed. You can't redeem a person. You can't fix a person unless he's finally going to be honest. And so that's the way in which, in my opinion, you work through this.
And then of course, as we'll mention in a moment when we talk about appetites and all, and I still have more to say than probably have time to say, but I'm going to go ahead and say it anyway. It's time for us now to turn to the words of Jesus. Let's turn to the words of Jesus in Matthew chapter 5. Matthew chapter 5, where Jesus talks about radical answers to sin questions. Radical answers to sin questions. Matthew chapter 5 verse 27.
This is what he said. You have heard that it was said you shall not commit adultery. But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Yesterday, as I was thinking about this, I thought this is a universal indictment of human nature. Is there any human being, any human being, that is not lusted? I don't know of any if afterwards, the meeting, you come and you say you never have.
I can't help you because there was a preacher who said that he can't help people who lie. So Jesus here is speaking here and having a very high standard. Now, the thing that we must keep in mind is that this doesn't mean that lust is equal to adultery any more than hatred is equal to murder, as if all sin is the same. That's not true at all. Ontologically, it's the same in the sense that they have to be forgiven and God hates all kinds of sin. But that is wrong for us to say one sin is equal to another. Of course, it isn't. The Bible even talks about a sin unto death and then it says, and there is a sin that is not a sin unto death. So it's wrong for us to think that way. Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount clarifies that. He says, if you say this to your brother, the penalty is this.
But if you say this, it is hell fire. Well, my friend, this is Pastor Lutzer, and you most assuredly are going to have to tune in again next time to hear the end of this message. But meanwhile, I want to thank the many of you who pray for us, those of you who support this ministry. Would you consider becoming an endurance partner? That's someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts.
And of course, the amount that you give is entirely your decision. You need more info. Here's what you can do. Go to RTWOffer.com. And of course, as you already guessed, RTWOffer is all one word. Go to RTWOffer.com and when you're there, you can click on the endurance partner button or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. Thanks so much for holding our hands as together we continue to share the good word of God with so many people. Thanks to you. Here's what you do. Go to RTWOffer.com, click on the endurance partner button.
You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, 904. We're all susceptible to moral sin. And with the internet, we're more susceptible than ever. Our entire culture is sinking into a pit of moral decay. The issue is serious and demands a radical solution. Next time on Running to Win, we wrap up our message on the high cost of sexual purity with words from Jesus himself on dealing with impurity. Thanks for listening. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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