We used to live in a culture that believed that the marriage vow was a promise that a couple kept until death separated them in this life. On May 24, 1969, Rosemary and I made that promise and covenant to each other before God. Legally, two witnesses were required to sign the marriage license confirming our commitment. We each made a vow, saying, “I take you Rosemary/Harry to be my lawful wedded husband/wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until death do us part.” Our troth was a pledge of faithfulness for a lifetime. After fifty-three years, we still intend to keep our promise until the end of our lives.Continue reading
Recommend books from Shepherd.
In the movie Fireproof, a powerful statement is made about the power of God to transform sexual behavior and a troubled marriage. For eighteen years, our Brief Intensive Counseling program has offered the same truth and witnessed the same power in the reality of countless hundreds of marriages destroyed by pornography. In my new book, Sexual Redemption, to be released next year by Moody Publishers, I spell out the details of God’s transforming power.
Our ministry not only attempts to meet the felt needs of lives and marriages broken by sexual sin, but also to awaken faith and courage when evil prevails. To live in the truth is always rock-solid; to live in perpetual comfort and fulfillment is shifting sand. Our purpose for everyone who comes for help is to convey an understanding that sin and evil, no matter how horrific, never nullifies the purpose of God. In fact, horrific sins exist in God’s unfathomable providence and by them His purposes come to pass. If this is the rock-solid truth on which we stand, then with our worst enemy—including an unfaithful spouse—we can learn that, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). Love is always active, never passive. It covers all things, patiently endures all things, always supports, never gives up, and it always endures. Peter writes, “love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pet. 4:8). This is not a soft love without wisdom and discernment; rather, “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good” (Rom. 12:9).
Fireproofing your life and marriage is more than living by the superficial tactics of many of today’s Christian gurus or reading the best-selling Christian self-help book. The path to fireproofing your life and marriage is through death; the death of our sin, the denial of ourselves and a life-long commitment to the purpose and glory of God. The secret simplicity of fireproofing our lives and marriages from all sexual unfaithfulness, whether of the heart or physical, is found in the following seven biblical essentials:
1st Biblical Essential: A Consistent Diet of “Meat” Heb. 5:11-14
- To be skilled in the word of righteousness
- To have the powers of discernment
- To distinguish good from evil
2nd Biblical Essential: A Rigorous Training in the Grace of God Titus 2:11, 12
- To renounce ungodliness
- To renounce worldly passions
- To live self-controlled, upright and godly lives
3rd Biblical Essential: A Well-Established Heart James 5:8-11
- To be patient
- To not grumble
- To remain steadfast
4th Biblical Essential: A Determined Effort to Supplement Faith 2 Peter 1:5-11
- To increase these qualities
- To not lack these qualities
- To practice these qualities
5th Biblical Essential: A Strict Departure from the Old Life Col. 3:5-14
- To put to death what is earthly
- To put away; put off the old self
- To put on the new self
6th Biblical Essential: A Restless Diligence Heb. 2:1; 3:12
- To avoid unbelief
- To not be hardened
- To be firm to the end
7th Biblical Essential: A Concerted Effort Must Be Made Heb. 12:15-16
- See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God.
- See to it that no root of bitterness springs up.
- See to it that no one is sexually immoral.
- See to it that no one is unholy like Esau.
On a biblical basis we must hate our sin, repent of our sin, and seek to kill our sin. The process must be promoted in our hearts; not for self-serving purposes, the avoidance of serious consequence, or for the preservation of a marriage. This is all done for the glory of God. Any attempt to deal with sexual sin must be founded on the admonition of Paul: “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” Romans 8:13.
You’ve done it gain. You looked at pornography on the Internet knowing it’s wrong, but excused and justified your actions to assuage the guilt. You may have asked God to take away the problem and the desire. At times you make some progress, but the behavior keeps happening. God knows the bondage you are in, and you wonder why He would make you this way. Does God really want to see you overcome it? Will your marriage survive if your wife finds out it’s happened again?
Pornography hasn’t always been as accessible as it is today. It used to be an indulgence of the rich and until several years ago, a man had to drive across town, walk into a video store, and ask the store owner where the secret stash was. It’s a different world now; porn is accessible virtually anywhere, anytime, from a laptop to a cell phone. The potential for personal/relational destruction has dramatically increased as frequency and accessibility make it more likely that you will get caught. Increasing numbers of people are losing jobs, marriages and families. The future looks all the more bleak for the next generation when we realize that 90% of 8-16 year-olds have already viewed pornography on the Internet. Many accidentally run into it while doing their homework, but more often, mothers report that their sons are finding evidence of the father’s pornography.
The Scriptures clearly indicate God’s standard for sexual intimacy, which He created specifically and solely as an expression between husband and wife. From Genesis, to the Song of Solomon, to the teachings of Jesus and the writings of Paul, sexual intimacy has a divine purpose that cannot be found in false intimacy. In 1 Corinthians 7:2-5, Paul lays out a mutually satisfying and God-glorifying picture of sexual intimacy in marriage. Many Christian couples fall well below that experience. Is there a solution?
In Matthew 5:27-30, Jesus raises the bar higher than His listeners previously thought by declaring that “…everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (vs. 28). Then He states “If your right eye causes you to, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell” (vs. 29). This severe demand shows us the true nature of Jesus’ teaching on the subject and our radical need to solve the problem, and solve it completely. Jesus is not teaching self-mutilation. Your eyes don’t make you look at pornography again and again; the desire comes from your heart and mind. Therefore, just turning and looking away is never going to work. Jesus is saying that the situation is desperate; you could lose everything. The act of adultery must be avoided at all cost, but so must all the things that lead to an attitude of looking.
Real change seems impossible, but with God, all things are possible. Bouncing your eyes, following twelve steps or some form of behavior management is limited at best in conquering the problem and saving a marriage. The solution is based on a number of key elements:
▪ Cease resisting the sovereignty of God in the painful events of our lives, past, present and future.
▪ Come to believe that all lust is a problem of unbelief due to a disregard for God and others.
▪ Recognize the deception of our own hearts.
▪ Kill sin before it kills us.
▪ Identify the self-centeredness of our hearts and understand that it is expressed in many forms besides sexual sin.
▪ Understand the power of self-pity in setting us up for the justification of our sexual sin.
Cultivate a deep love for others in thought and deed.
▪ Accept the verdict that “…if you live according to the flesh you will die” (Romans 8:13).
▪ Believe the prescription that “…if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of body, you will live” (Romans 8:13).
There are many varieties of resources, programs and counselors available. Stone Gate Resources offers a program that has been considered uniquely effective for over seventeen years, especially for those with a history of repeated failure in counseling. The program takes place in a private retreat facility on the front range of Colorado. A person does not need to spend years in counseling or recovery. Lasting change is possible through a program that is biblically grounded, relationally focused, and spiritually challenging. The program includes private counseling, seminars and a comprehensive guided study program.
Copyright 2008 Harry W. Schaumburg. For web posting, please link to this page on our website. Any exceptions must be approved by Harry Schaumburg.
Sin is never acceptable to God! Putting ourselves first is wrong for in so doing sin is always a disregard for God and others. While we justify the public expression of such sins as anger, gossip, malice, enmity, strife, jealousy, slander, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, and lying, the Word of God is very clear: “You must put them all away . . . “ (Col. 3:8, 9; Gal. 5:19-21). Consider the warning “that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:21). Paul’s point is that those who make a practice of doing such things are showing a pattern of life and giving clear indication of their inward, hidden, spiritual status. Simply put, they are not born of God; they are not children of God. True believers do not habitually violate what is planted on the inside.
Realize that such public sins are always exposed; obviously to God, but also everyone who cares about a breach of righteousness. Sins are committed in the open, we don’t care who sees. We don’t care if God sees and hears it all, nor do we seriously consider what people think. This is supreme arrogance! Without question, your sins have found you out. What is in the heart has been revealed.
Secret sins are no different. This sexual sinner is just more foolish. He or she knows that the sin, if discovered, will be denounced by all: a marriage could be lost, a family destroyed, a career ended, health ruined, finances decimated, and some will be incarcerated. We shouldn’t be surprised by the lies and level of deception used to hide the sin. After all, sinful arrogant logic dictates a cover up. The stupidity in this type of sin is not the harmful lying in and of itself, but the level of foolishness that is indicated by the cover up. No one said it more directly than the Apostle John, “Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil (public or secret sin), the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).
Enter the technological age of the Internet, cell phone, and digital camera. In the dark ages of pornography−not that long ago−you could throw the porn away after looking at it or succeed hiding your stash. Those days are gone. Once the Internet became the primary means of accessing pornography, discovery went up dramatically. It wasn’t long before wives found the evidence of cybersex, children stumbled on to their parent’s problem, and employers got wise to the misuse of time. God, in His providential knowledge and sovereign oversight, uses technology to let others know what he knows. God wants to expose sin. With arrogance we foolishly respond with the new “porn mode.” On August 25, 2008, Microsoft officials confirmed that the company would provide private browsing, a k a “porn mode,” with Internet Explorer (IE) 8 Beta 2. With its private browsing feature called “InPrivate,” Microsoft is allowing users to cover their online tracks. Don’t be fooled; God is bigger than Microsoft. Your sins will still be found out because God is full of grace and mercy toward the sexual sinner.
Teenagers are now “sexting” with their cell phones. I can’t imagine teens in my day taking indecent Polaroid pictures of themselves or of one another and passing the photos out at school. This is child pornography and a crime, and now teens are being arrested for such activity. Be sure your sins will find you out.
Street View isn’t as good as God’s surveillance of our secret lives. Nevertheless, you have to be impressed with how God uses technology to expose sin. A wife filed for divorce after spotting her husband’s car parked outside another woman’s house. In and of itself this is not new, but with Google’s Street View the wife was able to confirm her suspicions by the surveillance of a friend’s home and seeing her husband’s car there. Watch out; God sees everything. While we have a long way to go before we match His ability, other sinners are now catching sinners on camera. The motives and intentions of the heart are definitely at work for both the sinner and the suspicious spouse. No telling who is watching what!
“You have sinned against the Lord, and be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). The actual rendering is “you will suffer for your sin.” God reigns, not chance. He is visional; He sees all! Be careful what you do; “there’s a Father up above looking down in tender love,” as the children’s chorus goes. He knows whether you are faithful and He doesn’t tolerate unfaithfulness from anyone. This is not a human judge who determines the merit of the evidence collected by a third party and renders a guilty verdict if evidence is admissible. This is a Judge who sees the crime himself and sits in final judgment. The verdict is never in doubt. The marvelous wonder is that Christ himself has borne the penalty of our guilt!
If we know Christ, it is an all-out war against all sin, because it is an all-out war against the devil; therefore a fight against the practice of all sinning. There is no neutrality. Which side are you on? “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming” (Col. 3:5, 6). You can’t run; you can’t hide. Be decisive and make a break from the practice of sinning. Your life depends upon it.
Coming in September−Undefiled: Redemption From Sexual Sin, Restoration for Broken Relationships, by Harry Schaumburg, bestselling author of False Intimacy.
Amid the chaos of cybersex, impersonal sex, adultery, homosexuality, and sexual dissatisfaction in marriage, Undefiled calls readers toward a new kind of sexual revolution. Sexual impurity creates a vicious circle, one that springs from misconceptions about Christ and further taints our understanding of Him. Yet another circle is available to men and women trapped in sin, a circle of sexual redemption.
When practiced as God intends, spirituality and sexuality both draw us closer to Christ. Spiritual maturity and sexual maturity go hand-in-hand, and together they hold out the promise of redemption and restoration needed by everyone who has been damaged by sexual sin.
There is hope. Real change is possible; true intimacy is available. To the person who has failed time and time again sexually, God’s message is simple: You, too, can be undefiled.