The Challenge Facing Every Man/Program 2
|By: Steve Arterburn, Shannon Ethridge, Fred Stoeker; ©2007
|Is it really possible for someone to keep their sexuality separate from the rest of their life? Why is it especially important for guys to guard what they see?
Today on the John Ankerberg show, Steve Arterburn, Shannon Etheridge, and Fred Stoeker, three best-selling authors whose books have sold in the millions…
Dr. John Ankerberg: They are addressing the problems, the sexual challenges that young men, young women, married men, married women are facing. And we are going to get to all four categories along the way. Fred started out with the dream of finding a girl, getting married, and having a family. But it didn’t end up that way.
Fred Stoeker: What happened was that the first girl I went to bed with was one I knew I was going to marry. The next one was with someone I thought I was going to marry. The one after that was a friend that I thought I could learn to love. It wasn’t long before I had the dates memorized when the pornography magazines would come in to the campus drugstore. And I would be there when the doors opened on those dates so I could be the first one to see Gallery Magazine or Playboy of the month.
Dr. Steve Arterburn: Sex in marriage has gone down instead of up because Hugh Hefner who taught us as young men, hey this is just something that you ought to do, even if you’re a Christian you ought to do it. He lied. It doesn’t make you more of a man, it takes your manhood away.
Stoeker: …and the worst part about it was that it was starting to affect every area of my life. —… I couldn’t give myself 100% to her because I knew if she found out about some of these she might even leave me, I had no idea.
Shannon Etheridge: Most women feel very grossed out by the whole concept that men are capable of doing this. And that’s where the whole men are pigs thing comes from. And we get on our high horse going, well we are not like that, we are better than men are. Well women fail to understand that it is true that men do give love to get sex, women give sex to get love.
Arterburn: Well, a lot of guys think that I can do all these things and when I get married and I eat the wedding cake it will all change and I’ll become this wonderful faithful loving man and I will never look at pornography I will never want to have an unfaithful moment, but that is a myth. … You don’t eat wedding cake and become a man of character. What you are doing now as a young single guy you will do as a married man, it doesn’t fix it.
Stoeker: But as I saw what I had become there was only one thing left to do and that was the bow my head and I just said, Lord, I am ready to work with you if you are ready to work with me. I had no other answer.
Arterburn: Fred had done something that nobody else had done. He had actually put together something that brought hope, and that was, he made sense of it all, took his life, shared it and at the end developed a way that every person could have victory if they would do some very simple things.
Announcer: Join us today for this special edition of the John Ankerberg show to learn how to secure victory in sexual purity.
- Ankerberg: Welcome to our program. We have got three wonderful guests and we are talking about their book, “Every Young Man’s Battle.” And as we told you in the introduction, we are going to be doing this for every married man, every married woman, and for every young woman as well. So if you are in one of those categories, we are going to get to you. And we have got Steve Arterburn, and we have got Shannon Ethridge, and Fred Stoeker that are here with us. And, Steve, last week we listened to Fred, who got into sexual problems. He was a non-Christian, he wanted to get married, he wanted to have the dream family, and the kids and the whole thing, and got off the path, okay? Part of it by the way we are built, the other part is the wrong decisions that we make. You started off as a Christian, but that didn’t seem to work in your life as well.
- Arterburn: Right
- Ankerberg: In other words, there were problems that you carried into that relationship to Christ, and that also went down the line and that affected your marriage later on. Tell us part of the story.
- Arterburn: Well, I was a Christian, but I just lacked this one minor thing: character, which doesn’t instantly happen when you become a Christian. You know, if you were a weirdo before you become a Christian, you are a weirdo after. And you have to go through a process of wanting to build character. And I didn’t do that. And it kind of all came into focus when I had moved into California from Texas, and I was driving this little Mercedes convertible through Malibu feeling like I was on top of the world. Now, it was a used Mercedes, but it was a Mercedes. It was 10 ears old. But I felt like I had it going. But I had a lust problem still. And I was just recently married at the time. And all of a sudden I look over, and there is a woman in Malibu jogging in a bikini. Now, I was from Texas; women did not jog in bikinis there, and it is a good thing in most cases. But here was this woman, and I started to look at her as she is jogging along, a beautiful tan; and I just, I couldn’t get my eyes off her. And I was in stop and go traffic, and as she kept going, I just continued to follow her, because I was glued to her in this lustful thinking. And as I was kind of moving forward, the car in front of me stopped. And as I was looking back at this woman, I plowed my new little 10-year-old car into the car in front of me. And so instantly the consequences of my lust were there, and I had to think of how I was going to tell my wife that I swerved to miss a little puppy… and all sorts of things went through my head there. But that caused me to just stop and say to myself, “Hey, you have got to make a decision of who you are going to be, or you are going to have these kinds of consequences for the rest of your life.” And you would think that that would have been the worst thing that had ever happened. But I had had the consequences before. I went to Baylor University; I got a girl pregnant, and I paid for her to have an abortion. I lived this promiscuous life with consequences all along the way. And probably the worst one was this guilt, shame, emptiness, loneliness, this seeking that could never, ever be satisfied. That was the worst consequence of all. And so it was at that point in Malibu that I decided that I needed to become a godly man of character and I needed to clean up my act and get my eyes focused on the right stuff.
- Ankerberg: Part of this, though, also as you were growing up as a kid you had a grandfather who had a machine shop. And you would walk into the shop, and stuff affected you that was hitting you through your youth. Talk about that.
- Arterburn: Well, I knew that “Playboy” had been born when I was, in 1953, because my grandfather had the first centerfold of Marilyn Monroe up in his office. And he had other pictures of naked women up there, and he would throw an ice pick and, I mean, it was target practice for him. Now, my parents were these wonderful Christian people, but why they thought that taking their 5 year old, 4 year old, boy into my grandfather’s office and seeing all of this,… to them I guess they thought it wouldn’t affect me. But it did. It showed me that women were objects, they were to be used by men. And it sexualized me very early on and got me into sexual images and pornography with women. And that just stayed with me. I can tell you what those pictures looked like today; I can remember them almost perfectly some almost 50 years later. So I think the seeds were really planted there to treat women in a different way than they deserve to be treated, and see them in a light that God did not intend for them to be seen in.
- Ankerberg: Yeah, you had a little part in the book where you said that a guy watches a picture for 20 seconds, and it takes him 20 years to try to forget that picture. You also had an illustration. You went to the dentist one day and you found out that you had a split tooth. And here you were as a Christian, and you had a split mind. It wasn’t that you didn’t love God; you loved Him, but you were fudging on some of the things that He said. Talk about that.
- Arterburn: Well, I, like many people had a divided heart, or a bifurcated mind, and there was a split. And as a young person we all have a job to do – and it is not a very easy job – but it is to integrate all of the pieces of our personality and of ourselves into an integrated whole. And that is when you find a person that is secure, happy, productive; when all the pieces work together. Well, I had this little compartment over here called sexuality that wasn’t integrated into the rest. Yeah, I was a good guy, I could teach, preach, sing in church, all of that stuff, but I had this secret life. Over and over in my life I have watched people fall, I have watched them ruin careers, marriages, professions, ministries, because as an adolescent they didn’t start to integrate sexuality in a healthy way into a whole integrated human being. And that is my challenge for young people today is, don’t have this secret little life over here as a single guy. Because what you will do is you will develop that secret life as a married man, it won’t go away. And I think the power of every young man’s battle is to see that all these desires and urges that we have as single guys don’t have to be fulfilled in sex. They can be reserved for marriage, they can be integrated into a healthy guy, and you can experience manhood the way that God intended and feel more of a man than Hugh Hefner could ever, ever come close to helping you experience. In fact, he destroys it.
- Ankerberg: Fred, let’s come back to the fact of how guys are built and the aspects that we are dealing with. Our eyes, our mind and our emotions here, our heart. Talk about that, and then let’s start to talk about how you can build a defense, what you found out through actual experience.
- Stoeker: The first thing you need to understand is what is happening in your eyes as you are looking at porn or at the bikini girl running by. The thing that happens is, there is a chemical release in the brain that hits the limbic center, which is the center of the brain that handles sexual pleasure. There are a lot of chemicals involved with that, some of the strongest chemical in the human body – like dopamine is 30 times stronger than cocaine – there are a lot of things that hit that brain that are very addictive. And so it makes us want to go back to the porn, it makes us want to look at the girl jogging in the bikini. And it is something that we remember. Maryann Layden, from the University of Pennsylvania, is probably the most premier researcher on this in America. And what she says is that chemical, when it reached the limbic center, it locks that image into the brain for all time. And that is why Steve can remember; that is why I can remember it. The aspect then that we need to focus on is, okay, this is something that we look at, this is something that is a natural chemical reaction. It is not really even this spect of the eyes, it’s not really a moral issue, it is not really a God issue, it is just the fact our eye is what it is; and as another scientist says, Jeffrey Satin over, he calls it a perfect delivery system of opioids to the brain. So we need to understand that there is a real draw here. It is very natural, and if you don’t early on train yourself to guard your eyes from these images, it is going to take you down that path. So one of the things I have found as I began to try to break these habits was, I took six of the areas that I was most vulnerable to: receptionists at work when they would bend over, you know, their blouse would flop open, I would see something; the ad inserts in the Sunday morning paper, the lingerie inserts; a lot of those things that I would regularly lust over. I made a plan with each one of those six on how I would defend myself. For instance with the ad inserts, I would make a rule to myself if I, as I would reach for it, would sense any kind of desire for lust, I had no right to pick that up that day. And I just began to put these things into practice. And what I found is that, as I began to cut those images off in my life, that addictive draw that used to feel like that chain that kept drawing me back in, began to break. And it took about six weeks. The first couple of weeks I was failing more often than I was succeeding; but by that last week, I was winning more often than I was losing, and actually looking away. And I found that as I began to look away that it broke those habits and set me free.
- Ankerberg: Yeah, we are going to take a break, and when we come back we are going to talk about your little chapter on the sumo wrestler, okay?
- Stoeker: Okay.
- Ankerberg: Guys have taken information into their mind through their eyes that has built their sex drive so that when you fight it, according to what God says, “Okay, go and fight,” the fact is, you are outmatched, because you have built them up into a 350 pound opponent, and you need to starve them. We are going to talk about that when we come right back, so stick with us.
- Ankerberg: Alright, we are back and we are talking with Steve Arterburn and Shannon Ethridge and Fred Stoeker; and we are talking about their book “Every Young Man’s Battle”. Some of you that are single guys out there, whether you are in high school, college, or you are older than that but you are single, you are facing challenges to remain pure in your life. Whether you are Christian or non-Christian, the decisions that you make will affect you and you will carry them over into your marriage later on. And we are talking about what comes through your eyes. And, Steve, you have got a little chapter in your book where you are talking about, you have built up the sex drive through stuff that you take into your eyes, so that it is like a sumo wrestler that you are fighting. Talk about that.
- Arterburn: Well, it is true that if you go out in the world today and you open yourself up to all of these sexually stimulating images, you are going to build a sex drive that cannot be controlled. You cannot defeat it on your own. And one of the great things that Fred did just on his own, he decided, “I am going to go on a bit of a starvation diet here, and I am going to see what happens when I don’t look at all of this other stuff.” And there is a great verse in the Bible where Job said that he was not going to look upon the other young women of the day and lust after them. And the other scripture I love in the Bible tells us to look straight forward, not to the right or to the left. Well, if you apply that to this, and you stop looking at all this stuff, and rather than looking at all this stuff out there, you are just going to focus on either your wife, or maybe your image of what your wife to be is to become, all of a sudden you find this sex drive becomes more and more manageable. Now, you may not be perfect in the beginning, but all of a sudden you find yourself avoiding going toward those images. You find yourself feeling like you are in control: you are not an animal, you are in control of your manhood. And if you have been married, it is amazing how much more attractive your wife will become to you; how much more you will desire her; and also how much better you will function as a man, carrying out manly duties in marriage. And you will enjoy sex more, versus trying to generate something or manufacture something with a woman that just would never, ever compete with all of the digitalized and hypersensitivized images out there that you are going to see. So starve your eyes, and all of a sudden that sumo wrestler starts to shrink, becomes an anorexic little wimp. And you can beat that. And you can be in control of it, but not lose the natural drive that you have for a woman.
- Ankerberg: Some guys that may be listening in high school and college may say, “You know, that applies to you guys, but I am different. I am not going to have those problems; it won’t affect me that way.” What do you say to them?
- Arterburn: Well, it will. Whatever you are as a guy in college, a single guy in college, you are going to carry over into your marriage. You are not going to change that. But let me tell you what we have been doing. We have been going to colleges and we have seen what is happening. Guys read these book and they hear that there is an important freedom that comes when you start to talk to other guys about this. So maybe you’ve have had a masturbation problem, and you have kept it a secret all of your life, and you kind of wonder, am I normal or not, or what are other guys doing? We have got groups in dorms meeting; we didn’t set out to form these groups, but they are meeting, and they are talking. They are talking about character change; they are talking about guys that were these quiet loners all of a sudden feeling connected to other guys, because they are talking about the most secretive part of their lives and integrating it into who they are as men. And they are loving it. They are having great victory over it. One of the little groups said that they got together and they said, “Okay, guys, we are going to get control of this, so everybody only masturbates on Tuesdays.” And so they would come back together on Wednesday, “How did everybody do? Great!” Well, by saying that, it is almost like you take the power out of it, and pretty soon Tuesday became like every other day. And these guys were so proud of themselves that they were able to honor women, talk to them, connect with them as human beings, versus as images for their own self-gratification. And to me that is the big change that starts with what Fred has done in the book from the very beginning: he goes from taking a women as an object – which he and I both did – to if you go through the whole series of books, you end up married, in a committed intimate relationship where a woman is honored for the heart, and her essence, not just body parts, and not just what she can do to give you pleasure.
- Ankerberg: What do you say to guys that are Christians like yourself that are in this battle, and they keep saying, “God take this away from me, take this away from me, take this away from me,” and it just doesn’t work?
- Arterburn: Well, because God is waiting for them to do what they are waiting for God to do. He has provided them with the answer, but just praying isn’t enough. You have got to go and connect with some other guys. You know, James 5:16 is a verse that says confess to each other and then you will experience healing. It is very specific about that. So just telling God doesn’t break the hold that it has on you. But opening up with somebody else and starting to talk about it will begin to break that bondage that you have in that particular area.
- Ankerberg: But guys say, “Look, you don’t go to my college. I mean, you go down the dorms, or you go down the halls, or you go out to the restaurants around campus, the fact is, you can’t believe the way the women dress here. I mean how do you shut yourself off to that through your eyes?”
- Arterburn: Well, you start to look at women above the neck. I mean, you start to bounce your eyes away from those kinds of things. You don’t have to look and stare and lust after and memorize so that you can use that image later for gratification. And the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
- Ankerberg: Fred, you basically came up with this idea of bouncing your eyes. Tell us what that really is.
- Stoeker: Bouncing the eyes is pretty simple. By nature our eyes move towards the sensual things in our environment as men. I mean, we are built to draw that gratification through the eyes. And what I needed to do was train myself and train my eyes to look away rather than to look toward the sensual. And it is essentially a habit-breaking thing. A lot of guys will say, “Well, men are visual. There is no way you can do that.” Well. I have lived it now for about 20 years. And the fact is, it is not really something they even think about anymore, it is a natural thing to look away. So, once you get that habit put in place, where you are living more like we are expected to as Christians, you don’t have to think about it anymore. Now, at first it is tough. Like I said, it took six weeks to really hammer through that; but once that was in place, then I had other issues, you know, the mental lusts and all that, but the eye issue is something you can deal with fairly quickly.
- Ankerberg: Yeah, the eyes start it, and then you go to your mind, and then you get to your heart. Shannon, you have got a little chapter in your book where you are talking about the myths that women hold on to. And one of them is, “It doesn’t matter how I dress.” In light of what these guys are saying, talk to that.
- Ethridge: I have been biting my tongue over here wanting to jump in with all of this. Women fail to understand how visually stimulated men are, because we aren’t necessarily wired that way. And when they hear that men look upon them lustfully, it is an eye opening experience. And a lot of women have emailed us saying, “I read ‘Every Young Man’s Battle,’ and I have totally cleaned out my closet. I have totally changed the way that I dressed. And men are starting to treat me with the respect and the dignity that I have always thought that I deserved and never felt that I got.” And what I notice on the Teen Mania Ministry campus where I teach is that young men are trained to bounce their eyes, and girls are used to having guys go out of their way and break their neck and, you know, look at them and salivate over them. But all of a sudden they are not treated that way by this particular group of men. And at first it is a little discombobulating, like what is wrong with me, aren’t I pretty? But once they understand that these men are trying to act with integrity and trying to treat you as a godly woman, trying to become a godly man themselves, then they learn to respect their brothers and appreciate the fact that they aren’t going out of their way to stare at their bodies.
- Ankerberg: Yeah, you also are going to talk to us when we talk about “The Battles Every Young Woman Is Facing,” is that there is a sexual revolution that is going on where the girls are actually turning to porn in some pretty huge numbers. Talk about that quickly.
- Etheridge: Well, actually pornography is something that women assume that that is a man’s problem; but 34% of women admit to intentionally accessing internet pornography. And I know in my dating relationships, I was introduced to that by other guys. And when I got married, I married a 27-year-old virgin, and I brought pornography into our marriage thinking this is what men want. And he informed me very quickly, “Shannon, men are naturally driven that way; but that is not what I want as a godly man and as your husband.” And he said, “How are you going to feel if our children someday find that?” And that just sent cold chills running down my spine. And I thought, “I wouldn’t want my children or anybody to know that I have these things.” And he said, “Just throw it all away.” He said, “We don’t need it, we have a great sexual relationship. Just get rid of it; get it out of the house.” And I just thought, “Praise God that I married a man who can understand that and help me understand that as a woman.”
- Ankerberg: Steve, God’s got standards that He has given to us, and He wants us to be the man. You talk about being the man. You have got to step up to the plate, and you have got to discipline yourself. A lot of guys that are listening say, “Man I think that’s impossible.” But tell them, if you start to do this, what’s the kind of time schedule that it actually starts to affect your life?
- Arterburn: Well, you know, we have these connections in our mind and the more we make that connection we actually insulate the connection and it makes it more real and more secure. If you will stop the habits that you are doing as a single guy, you remove the insulation, and you can actually disconnect from those habits and behaviors. What we see happening, guys opening up about this early on start to do this little six week starvation plan that Fred implemented, and they start to see things from a totally different perspective in their lives. Of course, you’re saying it can’t be different; of course you are saying I can’t get beyond this or can’t control it. But try starving your eyes or setting your eyes on good things, godly things, and change what you let go into this corral inside your mind. And you will start to see patterns change and habits change that you will take over into your married life. One day, if you’re married, your wife will look to you and say, “You know, it is so great that I feel that you are focused on me and not these other women and not these other things.” And she will thank you and praise you for your single focus and attention on her rather than all the other things that trip men up once they are married.
- Ankerberg: Yeah, you have got a great little section in your book, the decisions you make today will impact everything in your future. The sexual desires you feed as a teenager will be the same desires you want to feed when you are 40. And, Fred, we’ve still got to talk about the wild mustang mind that you guys have written about in the book, which basically is talking about the fact that, after you disconnect the eyes from all of the sexual desires that come through the eyes, your mind can still make up fantasies, you can think about things and it can churn. You have got to deal with that. We haven’t got time to do it today, but we are going to take that up next week. I hope you will join us.