How do you see what different challenges we face in today’s dating scenery?
I would say women give sex to get affection and intimacy where men give intimacy and affection to get sex. I think by in large that stereotype does bring truth in the sense that many times girls whatever after are different then guys.
I joke in the book (titled Swipe Right) about not going to a grocery store with your stomach empty.
So similarly, if a woman knows that she has the previous position to want affection she is not willing to give out her body to get that and she holds it out for the right man - God asks that for us.
And likewise, for men, if they know that they are having the previous position of physical things and they are going to be more bombarded by visual stimulation so men have to know that they will have to be guard against the visual – the pornography - the things that would cause them to stumble like David when he saw Bethsabe bathing. So, the conclusion, knowing where you are weak and compensating for it.
What are your tips, how should young people be guard against sexual temptations during their single years?
First of all, I would tell them, ‘look, your desires for sex that’s good’. I don’t think it helps when sometimes people are afraid of that, like: “ohh, sex is kind of not to be talked about”. First, I would say, let’s not to be afraid of it. It’s on the story. As I see it, God made sex and since he made it, he should be the one that tells us show to use it.
So knowing that it’s kind of air out of the enemy’s attack as he is bombarding you like: “SEEEX”, but you can say: “Nooo, what are you talking about?! It’s God’s plan!” So, we know that we are looking forward to marriage, we are looking forward to the enjoyment of it.
I usually tell young people like
“Look, I want you to have great sex but there’s going to be lots of temptations on the way”.
I would just say when Jennie and I were engaged we would be tempted sexually as well and we said that to each other: “the feelings we have are not bad. They’re not just for right now”. So, you can have the desire but it’s not the right time to fulfill that desire. And so, the message of my book essentially: when you do the right thing at the wrong time, it becomes the wrong thing. And so, it’s not no to sex at all, it’s just not now.
What is the right attitude in church toward those who got into sexual sins?
The devil always wants us to keep things a secret, because than he can smother us in silence. He tricked Adam and Eve when they made a mistake to hide and cover it up because they no doubt were told by him, oh if God finds out he is going to be so mad at you, you know the reality is when they did talk to God yes he was stirred but he helped them make the best of it.
A lot of us feel ashamed, feel they can’t tell the truth they are struggling with same sex attraction, or pornography, or adultery, whatever, because there are going to be so much hate in it, maybe the church historically hasn’t done such a good job with it.
But we need to make the church a safe space for those kind of dialogues, for example in small groups.
We all need to trust Jesus, and make our church a safe place for those kind of topics to come up, and when people do say, I have got this hard, or I deal with this, that we don’t rush to condemn we listen, we care, we tell the truth in love. The word of God does speak a truth to situations but always with love.
Jesus didn’t show up with the Samaritan woman in John 4. to immediately go “you adulterer”, he was like “hey can I get some water?”, he became friends with her, touching and kind, and he was willing to drink out of her cup. Jewish man did not drink out of Samaritan buckets, so he was saying, I am willing to sit with you, get your germs, he was saying I am willing to humanize you and not objectify you. And as a result, she felt so loved, even though she was so known, she gave her life to Jesus, and spending the rest of the chapter telling other people about him. She even forget why she was there for, she never bought her pitcher with her, she just rushed off to evangelize, and
I think that what can happen when we don’t stigmatize a divorcee, or someone, who were caught up in an affair, we are gentle and loving and kind, we see God really makes a difference in people’s lives.
Philip Zimbardo wrote a book, titled Men interrupted, in which he accused porn and computer games depriving men from an integrated life, depriving them to be leaders. What is your opinion on that?
I think his data is compelling. He is, as I understand, not a person of faith. He writes from a secular university perspective, and his work is very well cited in studies, on how it is really crippling young men, specifically all around the world, because of the arousal stimulation. It is video games too he talks about, and like you said porn. Even if I had no thoughts toward God, I would tell people to stay away from pornography.
What can you recommend, if someone is in a committed relationship, engaged or married and founds out that his or her partner is addicted to porn? How can they best help them to overcome this addiction?
I would definitely say for someone who is married that is a very difficult situation. They going to feel like “I don’t what to shame my husband of wife”, and I think it is important, to make it clear to your spouse: “this is our struggle, not just yours, I want to serve you, I want to help you, I want to support you, I want to pray for you, I am not shaming you, I am weak, too”. Paul’s letter to the Galatians talks about when someone is falling you restore them in the spirit of meekness considering yourself as you also be tempted. So I think, if I was also talking to my spouse about this, I would want to say like
“I understand, maybe I don’t necessarily understand your exact trouble, but I understand that I am weak in another areas, and I could fall into this”
I think when we take the shame away – ‘cause the devil always wants to heap on shame, God always wants the shame off you – we are walking in freedom, there is no condemnation in Christ. Condemnation is going to bring death to the relationship, and ruin trust.
The more you view the situation as a team, like we are all in this together, it is not you against me, it is us against the enemy, it is going to change your tone, going to change your tactics, going to change your temperament.
Until the person who struggles with pornography is not talking about this problem to his or her spouse, can we say that there is a kind of wall between them?
Yes, a barrier to intimacy, because you are bringing in virtually, however not physically, another person into your marriage; a person you have never met, a person you don’t know, but you are bringing them in. The Bible says, when a man has sex with a prostitute, he becomes one with that prostitute, so there is a uniting there, and if a marriage bed, that meant to be a husband and a wife together becoming one, is an entry of a foreign intruder you can sense it, something like that is of, even as a spouse you may not really understand bet feel that.
It is important to not play around with that, the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions says pornography impacts grades in school, impacts physical health, impacts mental health, of course that is going to separate.
As a spouse maybe we sense like something is wrong something is off, and we should trust the intuition and trust the Holy Spirit in this case and I think it is important to go, and get the help you need and to speak about it so there can be light, but of course that person does have to want to change, too.
It is also important for to speak specifically to the offended party and say: “this isn’t a reflection of you” as the offended party could feel like: I am not enough for this person, “I haven’t been doing a good job and that is why he turned to this”. I am sure there are spouses they even say that: “you are not satisfying my needs, so I am doing this over here”, and that is a lie, you know.
When someone is walking in sexual sin or pornography, that is not the reflection of their spouse’s failure, that is they own choice to bring in that.
So I just want to say be humble be kind be loving, clear and vulnerable but don’t carry as of this is your fault.
Turning to a more positive topic, can you tell us how did you and your wife meet, how did you spend your engagement? Did you have any rules during that time?
We met in church, quite frankly I can’t imagine a better environment to meet someone, than serving in church because, you know, if you are a Christian and you say, “well, I go to church now and I am dating this person who is not a Christian, but I am sure once we are married he will come to church with me”. I would just encourage you to think it probably not going to happen, it might, there are miracles that happen, but Jesus said don’t throw yourself off the temple, and hope the angels catch you.
So to marry a non-believer or a nominal causal believer who is not really serious about Jesus if you are is to commit yourself to a future that is going to be full of frustration, because you are going to want to do this, how can two walk together if they are not united?
For us it was important that we weren’t just attracted or we both like the same football team; we both love Jesus and want to build the church. So that was the most important thing and everything flowed out of that, our sexual decisions with each other, the way we raise our family all comes back to our loving Jesus, and I think is ultimately is the one rule that matters, love God and let this love outflow to relationships with people.
You mentioned earlier that it’s good to spend some time in silence and one of the good ways of that is reading. What are your favorite books? What do you recommend for young people?
Obviously, every morning I start with reading the Bible but I also love reading history. I love that nowadays there are so many great books on the past, and if we don’t learn from the past, we will make the same mistakes over and over again. I love reading books that are going to help my soul, books that are going to encourage my mind on leadership or communication. And also, books by pastors are so good they help you on grow on your spiritual journey.
What kind of feedbacks have you got on Swipe Right so far?
I have been asked to speak on it, all around the country, I had the chance to speak on it in South Africa, in Europe in England. Yes there are some people who are like that is going to be controversial, overwhelmingly people say thank you for talking about it. I did talk about it in the middle of NYC in front of thousands of young people in a city that is kind of known for promiscuity, all over the place. People just ate it up, this is really powerful and important. The heart is in shame, I don’t want to condemn people for their past, I want to fight for their future.
It been enormous and so humbling, not only moment likes this like an interview. Just seeing you hold up the book, I remember where I was when I wrote it, I remember the struggle the process, the many hundreds of hours, that went into it, our team engrafting the communications strategy around it, our publisher, it is so humbling, then also really knowing it comes down to the power of God’s wonderful plan. I am so excited he gave us this gift of sex and marriage and we get to hopefully take back the conversation to the church and to God’s people as this great gift that it is.
How did you react when heard: there would also be a Hungarian edition?
I am really grateful, when the publisher told me that they are going to do a Hungarian edition, I laughed at joy, because I have been to Hungary multiple times, and I love the country and love the people, the Hungarians are some of the most just wonderful people I have ever met, and I hope to come back to the city of Budapest sometime soon. It is awesome, I think it is one of the most magnificent cities anywhere, the river, and the whole thing is just gorgeous.