Identity: Positive or Negative?

The way in which we identify ourselves is pivotal in the thinking process of various choices we make concerning our behavior and the focus of our thought lives.  This week I was reading When Good Men are Tempted by Bill Perkins, and in his introduction he suggests that the core issue of a man with sexual sin is not his behavior, rather it is how he identifies himself.

I want to suggest that the way we indentify ourselves directly contributes toward our behavior and life choices.  We have heard the statement “once and alcoholic, always an alcoholic,” and though I understand what is meant here is that a person who has developed a dependence or addiction to the abuse of alcohol can never drink alcohol again or he may ruin his sobriety; if one thinks of himself as an “alcoholic” his thinking and behavior can contribute to relapse.  If one were to think of himself as a “sex addict,” even if in recovery, his thoughts and behaviors are that of a sex addict.  In both of these examples the person identifies with the negative behavior.

Consider if we change our identification from the behavior toward something more positive, for instance, instead of identifying with “sex addiction,” we identify with being a “man of God with sexual integrity.”  Now when we encounter life situations instead of the struggle through the thought process of a sex addict, we think “how does a man of God with sexual integrity think in a situation as this?” or “What would a man of God with sexual integrity do in a situation like this?

Our identification becomes a positive one instead of a negative one.  Our identification contributes to a decrease in relapse and an increase in sobriety.  It is my hope that when people see the Clean Heart for Men logo, they think, “those are men of God with sexual integrity,” not those are the sex addicts or any other negative connotation.  It is my hope that men can wear the Clean Heart logo with pride and not hide it with shame.   It is my hope that when a single woman see’s a single man wearing the Clean Heart for Men logo, she thinks “that is the type of man I would like to get to know,” when women see one of their friend’s husband wearing the Clean Heart for Men logo, they think, “she is one blessed woman.”

You see, when we come to know Christ, we no longer identify ourselves with sin but with Jesus.  We pattern our lives and thoughts after Jesus Christ.  When we become part of Clean Heart for Men, we pattern our lives and thoughts after a man of God with sexual integrity.  What do you identify with?

Fears: A Message for Wives (part 2)

As we continue to address the possible fears of a wife with a husband who desires sexual integrity, I want to be clear that depending on the specific issues the emotions experienced could range from moderate to extreme depending on many variables (i.e. temperament of the wife, the specific issues of the husband, etc.).

Based on my readings, many women experience very similar emotions whether they discover their husband has had issues with pornography or has committed adultery.  I would suggest that though sin is sin regardless of the act, these two different scenarios would have different plans of action.  I also would like to suggest that if your husband has an issue, then not admitting it does not change the reality of the situation, with that in mind let’s consider some fears.

FEAR:  My husband must have a severe sexual problem in order to attend Clean Heart.

For the Christian man the definition of sexual sin is more strict than for a non-Christian man.  In Matthew 5:28 Jesus said, “anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  So your husband may be a man who desires to control the thoughts that he experiences, so he can honor what Jesus stated and honor you as his wife.

FEAR:  This means he’s gone from home another night each week.

If attending Clean Hear for Men each Tuesday evening from 7 to 8 would help your husband to be more focused on you and the family when he is at home, would this be a good trade off?  If attending Clean Heart provided your husband with the tools to improve his relationship with God, with you, and with your children, is the trade off worth it?  The Clean Heart goal will cost an hour, plus travel time, away from home each week but the pay out is far worth the investment.

FEAR:  Will my husband molest our children?

As a social worker in the child welfare field for nearly a decade, I learned that a very high percentage of adults who molest children were sexually molested as a child, however, not all children who are molested grow up to molest children.  The same line of thinking is true with sexual lust and other forms of sexual sin.  Though many who do molest children are involved in some type of pornography, the percentage of people who struggle with sexual sin and molest children would be similar to that of people who have been molested as a child.

FEAR:  It’s all my fault… if I were prettier, if I wanted sex more, if…., if….

Most experts would address this fear with an emphatic “it is not your fault.”  And though I agree with this statement, I would say that there are things a married couple (both husband and wife) can do to reduce the risk of sexual sin which I will address in a later post.  But as far as the core of this fear is concerned, it is not your fault.  Let’s consider the “pretty” part of this fear.

Over the past year there have been many news reports of well known people who have disclosed sexual infidelity.  Tiger Woods was married to, Elin Nordegren, an extremely attractive woman and he had sex with multiple women other than his wife, many of whom did not come close in comparison.  In addition to Tiger, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the husband of Maria Shriver, has admitted to impregnating a woman while married to Maria and though I have not seen a picture of the “other” woman, I have seen Maria Shriver and most men would not consider her to be ugly.  We could go on and on and on and on with men who have had extremely beautiful wives and still have issues with sexual sin.  These examples should show that when a man has sexual sin in his heart, the beauty of his wife is not what will keep that sin from manifesting.

Regardless of what you may think and in some cases what your husband might say, a man’s sexual sin is not the fault of his wife, and you as the wife should not accept this responsibility.

Fear:  Our marriage is a failure.

There are three parts to this fear I would like to address in this post.  First, If your husband does have a sexual sin he wants help with, does not admitting it and not allowing and/or encouraging him to attend Clean Heart change this fact, if it were true?

Second, If your husband does have difficulty controlling his thoughts with all of the sexual media from every direction aimed at men or even if he has ventured into the pornographic arena; though emotionally this is very difficult for some women, your marriage is not a failure.

Men are taught from the time they are little boys about how to look at women.  The average age of a boy’s first exposure to pornography is 11 years old (4th – 5th grade).  Men are encouraged to try and “score” with each woman he dates, and as we listen to popular music, it is expected that every man will eventually cheat on his wife.  If your husband has a plaguing sexual sin and he wants to attend Clean Heart or is willing to attend, your marriage is not a failure.

Fear:  What would I say to my friends at church?

The interesting thing here is that there are many churches that would consider a marriage that had a husband who admits sexual sin to be ruined.  There are many churches that would not want a man who admits sexual sin in their church.  There are churches that would treat a wife who encourages their husband to attend Clean Heart as an outcast, same as her husband.  This is a sad reality.  My answer to each of these real life scenarios is first, Jesus said in reference to a sexual sin, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her (John 8:7).”

I would also suggest that many people may not respond properly because they are embarrassed by the subject matter, or that they themselves have a sexual sin in their lives and are afraid to be found out, so they try to focus the attention onto someone else in their hopes to never be discovered.  Finally, I don’t think you have to tell anyone, unless you so desire.

I understand that there are many forms of sexual sin and our responses are obviously going to be influenced by the type of sexual sin we have to deal with, and I understand that many times there are more issues within a marriage than just sexual sin.  But consider this, Clean Heart for Men is all about educating, equipping, and encouraging men to live a life of integrity in a sexualized word—why wouldn’t you want to have your husband to develop friendships and accountability with other men who have this as a goal—to be better husband, better fathers, and better Men of God.