The Challenge Facing Every Woman/Program 1
|By: Steve Arterburn, Shannon Ethridge, Fred Stoeker; ©2007|
|Though the sexual needs of women are far different from men’s, they may be more dangerous.|
Announcer: Today on the John Ankerberg show, Shannon Etheridge, Fred Stoker, and Steve Arterburn, three bestselling authors, talk about the battle every woman faces to remain sexually pure, not only in their bodies, but also in their emotions and thoughts. Shannon Ethridge was a straight A student, a Christian who went to church every Sunday, and came from a wonderful family. Yet, her thoughts began to change.
Shannon Ethridge: You know, If anyone had asked me when I was 12 if I wanted to be a virgin until marriage, I would have said, of course I do. At 13, I would’ve said, I think so. By 14, I would’ve replied, maybe. And at age 15, my response would have been, I don’t see how that is possible.
Announcer: What causes young women to lower their standards?
Ethridge: What product in our society doesn’t use sex to try and sell their products? And so when women begin to believe that as a female I must be a sexual object, that we start looking at ourselves the same way that the culture portrays us.
Announcer: And what and about women who are married?
Ethridge: Well to often women assume that because I am married and I am having sex with my husband and no one else, then I’m acting with sexual purity. They fail to understand that purity goes a lot deeper than just faithfulness and that you have to be faithful in your mind and in your heart and in your spirit as well.
Announcer: And what can you do when your feelings for your husband or wife are dead?
Fred Stoeker: And then it wasn’t too long after that Brenda came into the kitchen one day, I was sitting there and she sat down and she said, you know I really don’t know how else to say this so I’m going to tell it to you straight out, she said my feelings for you are dead.
Steve Arterburn: Well I just want to say that if you are married to a woman that you say is frigid, well the first thing to do is ask if you are the Ice man, if you’re the one that is putting the chill here.
Stoeker: Well you know I was in despair and I knew it was over and I didn’t know what to do so I turned really to God you know. First I said, look I will do anything. And you know when you tell the Lord that you will do anything he is right on the edge of his seat ready to speak and ready to help.
Announcer: Join us today for the special edition of the John Ankerberg Show.
- John Ankerberg: Welcome to our program. We have a fantastic program for you today. We are talking about “Every Young Women’s Battle,” and this is a bestselling book. In fact, all of authors that are on the stage, Stephen Arterburn, Shannon Ethridge and Fred Stoeker are bestselling authors, their books are over 3 million here. And the fact is, there has got to be a reason that all of these people are buying their books: cause they are talking to people where they are at. And, Shannon, for the folks that have missed the first couple of programs, we are talking in this series right now, we are talking about the battles, the challenges, that young women are facing sexually today. Kind of give the folks an inkling of where we have been at.
- Ethridge: We have been talking about how God didn’t just make us with a body where if we are acting with sexual integrity, that means that we are not sleeping with someone. God made us with a mind, body, heart and soul, and we have to guard all four aspects of our being in order to be fully protected from Satan’s schemes to drag us down a road that we don’t want to go down.
- Ankerberg: Yeah. Talk about this first one, if there is such a thing as the mind in terms of compromise of the mind for women, okay? What is mental compromise? Give me an illustration.
- Ethridge: I believe that mental compromise is where the compromise starts. It’s those thoughts that we allow into our brain that we don’t just think on them and move on; we obsess over them, we ruminate over them over and over. We begin to build fantasies around them. And you don’t pour motor oil over a sponge and expect to wring out drinking water. Whatever you pour into a sponge that is what is going to come out. And the same thing is true about our thought life. If we are reading the inappropriate romance novels and looking at the internet chat rooms, and just letting inappropriate music and movies and things like that to come into our mind, that is the kinds of things that are going to come in our lives.
- Ankerberg: What’s emotional compromise?
- Ethridge: Emotional compromise is where you are longing to connect. It is basically, it is almost like a Velcro strip where you are just looking to emotionally attach to someone. It is kind of like two ticks and no dog where two people just join up and just kind of suck the life out of each other emotionally. And that’s a very dangerous kind of connection, because there is love addiction just as much as there is sex addiction. Sometimes it is that co-dependency that causes women to get into a relationship that they don’t feel as if they can break free of, even when they recognize this is a dysfunctional relationship.
- Ankerberg: You were a Christian and yet you carried some of your habits over into your marriage. Talk about spiritual compromise.
- Ethridge: I believe spiritual compromise happens when you start looking to a man to do something for you that only God can do. And you start spelling love M-E-N instead of G-O-D. And over and over all of my teenage years, I mean, I was the president of my youth group and my mother drug me to church every Sunday and all of that, this sort of thing. And so, on the outside to everyone I looked like the modern Christian girl, you know honor roll, honor society, all of that kind of stuff. But on the inside I just had this overwhelming longing for a boyfriend. I just obsessed over it night and day and just didn’t feel as if I was really a woman unless I had a boy friend. Well, having a boyfriend makes you a woman about like having a flower in your hand and standing in the garage makes you a Volkswagen Beetle. It just, that doesn’t equate. And so I had to recognize that what I was longing so desperately for wasn’t something that another human being could fulfill. It’s something only God can fulfill. But I was looking at God as this distant disciplinarian not as the lover of my soul. That was just not a concept that I had learned growing up in the church.
- Ankerberg: Alright, you said that when you were 12 you had every intention as being married as a virgin, okay? By the time you were 15 you said that is absolutely impossible. Talk about why women compromise with their body.
- Ethridge: Well, often times it starts out the way that it started out with me. It starts out with abuse. It starts out with men teaching you inappropriate ways of getting the attention and the affection that you crave. And often times when you flirt yourself into those corners looking for attention, you wind up giving sex to get love. And what we fail to understand is that when we start giving sex in order to get that love, our value in our own minds come down a notch; and we begin to do things that we never thought that we would do. And then we begin to feel as if well, gee, my virginity has already been stolen from me from abuse, so I may as well just keep going. We don’t ever really ever learn to draw that line in the sand and start living the life that we dreamed about living growing up.
- Ankerberg: You have a section in your book talking about the myths that women have bought into. I would like to just touch on them briefly, okay? Number 1, “how I dress is my business it shouldn’t be a concern for God or guys.”
- Ethridge: Well, there is a passage of scripture that says that, “sin is bound to come but woe to those through whom it comes. It’s better to have a millstone tied around your neck than to cause a brother to stumble and fall.” And as women we have to understand that because God made our brothers so visually stimulated, the way that we dress certainly causes them to stumble and fall if we are immodest. And I think that that millstone necktie sounds really uncomfortable compared to just modest clothes that will help our brothers guard their eyes. It will help us guard our hearts.
- Ankerberg: “All flirting is okay” is a myth.
- Ethridge: You know flirting, another word for it, if you look it up in Webster’s Dictionary, is teasing. And nobody likes to be teased. It’s kind of like teasing a lion with raw meat. Eventually that lion is going to want to reach out and take that meat. And that is often what men do. Women accuses them of having no self control and being total pigs. Well, often times men wind up raping women – and I am not excusing that behavior – but it’s because women have flaunted themselves. And men say well, I wouldn’t treat women like that if they weren’t teaching me that that is what they want.
- Ankerberg: A lot of girls think “having a boyfriend will solve all my problems.”
- Ethridge: Again, until you have looked to God to satisfy your emotional needs and solve your problems, there is nothing that any man on the planet can do to help you.
- Ankerberg: Why is it that guys can’t meet every need?
- Ethridge: He is a broken individual, he is a human being. And so two broken individuals don’t make one complete whole. You have to look to God your Creator for that wholeness. And, you know, a perfect relationship, is two people who are both looking to God and then looking to each other is kind of like the icing on the cake. But God is the foundation of where they get their self esteem from.
- Ankerberg: How about the one where girls say, “you know, I don’t care how he is, the fact is, my love will change him.”
- Ethridge: One of the biggest mistakes that women make is thinking that, oh but a relationship with me will totally change him. Women think that men will change; men assume that women will never change. And the opposite takes place. The men never change, and she becomes a nag, and it just creates this dynamic in marriage later on where she is constantly pursuing and nagging him and he is constantly running from her.
- Ankerberg: “I feel so sexually tempted I must be guilty already.”
- Ethridge: “So why bother resisting?”
- Ankerberg: Right.
- Ethridge: It is false guilt and that is Satan’s favorite strategy. But we have to understand that even Jesus himself was tempted in every way but without sin. And so that tells us that we can be tempted, but temptation doesn’t become sin without our full permission.
- Ankerberg: To express all this, you have talked about looking at a table that has got four legs. Tell us what you mean.
- Ethridge: Well, you know a folding table with four legs, you have to make sure that all four legs are fastened securely in order for that table to have integrity and strength and balance. And, for example, some friends of mine at their wedding reception, they discovered that one of the legs of their reception table wasn’t fastened securely. And they had the big five layer wedding cake and the monogrammed napkins and all of the crystal punch bowls and all that kind of stuff. And when they came out and poured red punch into the punch bowl, that is when they discovered that the leg wasn’t securely fastened. And the table became a slope that just allowed everything to crash down onto the floor and everyone laughed hysterically.
- But it is no laughing matter when our table top sexuality becomes a slippery slope into the pit of compromise. When we fail to guard our mind, or our body, or our heart, or our spirit we are vulnerable to go crashing into a direction that we never intended to go.
- Arterburn: I think I saw that on YouTube, their wedding.
- Ethridge: Yeah?
- Arterburn: I think so. You know, I think one of the biggest issues that young women need to face is that when they get married, what they are doing now is going to be part of their life then. And what they want to do is be sure that they are marrying a man that they want to have a relationship of mutuality in. You know, he can’t solve all her problems. I think if you talk to most married woman they will tell you, he can’t even pick up his underwear, how is he going to solve all of your problems? Or he can’t even put the lid down on the toilet. So the expectations of a young woman are so high, and they start to dream the dream so big, that reality can never ever meet up with that. And if there is anything that we can do for young women, it is to help them certainly have dreams and want the best, but to be realistic about their expectations.
- Marriage is not going to fix something in your lives; boy are not going to fix this longing peace in your life. And there is nothing more healthy for a young woman than to have other Christian young women and some really strong Christian older women that they are connected to. If you can make the connection with other women your age and older, you have such a greater opportunity to have a healthy life, a healthy marriage life, later on. But if you find yourself one of these people that you only connect with guys and you are only over there chasing boys and you don’t really connect well with other woman that really sets you up for trouble later in your married life.
- Ankerberg: Alright, we are going to take a break. And when we come back I am going to ask Shannon, okay, how do we go about fixing the four areas? The guys have a certain way that they have got to do it, but the girls have just a little different way they have got to do it in terms of the thoughts that they have got to bounce, and how you deal with your emotions, and when you learn how to give your heart to somebody, and where God comes into all of this. And we are going to talk about that and hear those answers when we come right back.
- Ankerberg: Alright, we are back. We are talking with our guests about the battles that young women are facing in trying to stay sexually pure today. And, Shannon, again let me come back to you. There was a movie with Mel Gibson, “What Women Want,” and he had the ability to read the minds of women. And most women would not want to have somebody here to read their thoughts. Now, they are technically a virgin but the fact is that they are still not up to “there should not be any hint of immorality among you.” Talk to that; what are women thinking in their minds?
- Ethridge: You know, so often young women are thinking, “What’s he doing with her, I am so much prettier than she is, I am so much sexier than she is.” It’s that vanity and that pride that is operating in her heart. Or sometimes the reverse is true. Sometimes she is going, “Well, you know, I am so frumpy and ugly and fat that no guy would ever want me.” And then when a guy gives her a morsel of attention she just runs in that direction because she wants to believe that about herself, and maybe he could convince her of that. And so it’s those thoughts of pride or low self-esteem. Any time we look at ourselves through any other lens than who we are in Christ we are setting ourselves up to fail as human beings.
- Ankerberg: Alright, with the guys we talk about in terms of the boundaries, that they have got to bounce their eyes in terms of looking at women and things that are out of bounds for them. But you are saying that the girls need to bounce something else, they need to bounce the thoughts out of their minds that are impure. Talk about that.
- Ethridge: Well, a huge part of guarding their thoughts – because our thoughts are so connected to our heart, because women are so emotionally driven rather than visually stimulated like men, we are emotionally stimulated – it all comes down to guarding your heart, understanding when is it too far emotionally. Then you don’t have to worry about what is too far physically. When you get involved in an unhealthy relationship and whether it is with a dysfunctional guy who doesn’t meet the standard that your parents have for you or you have for yourself; when you get involved with a much older guy that is most likely going to expect sexual activity to be a part of the relationship, any types of those forbidden fruit relationships. And these days you have to also mention lesbian relationships, because lots of women are getting involved with other girls thinking this is totally innocent. Yet they realize that this is just as addictive as any other type of relationship.
- Ankerberg: Why do they even experiment?
- Ethridge: I think there is an innocence and naiveté that is something I can do apart from and separate from my genuine sexuality. That this doesn’t make me a homosexual, this is just seeing what a kiss feels like, and see what it feels like to have a person touch me here or there. And they don’t understand that whatever you eat you are going to develop an appetite for. And when they allow themselves to partake of that forbidden fruit they are going to crave that over and over. They find themselves entrenched in addictive lesbian relationships.
- Ankerberg: How else do you guard your heart?
- Ethridge: Understanding how far is too far to go emotionally. We draw this great illustration in “Every Young Women’s Battle” with the green, yellow and red light levels of emotional connection; so they will know where it is okay to go emotionally, where you need to take caution and slow down, and where you need to stop and not go there all together. So the green light levels would be attention and attraction. It is okay that he gets your attention; it is okay that you think he is really handsome and a great guy, it’s even okay to feel attracted to him.
- Where you have to start slowing down and taking caution is how you express affection toward him, how you allow yourself to be emotionally aroused by him, and whether you allow yourself to become emotionally attached to him. There is a long list of questions that you need to ask yourself to make sure that this is a healthy relationship and that you are ready for an emotional attachment in your life.
- And then the red light levels would be affairs, emotional affairs, with people you have no business being in a relationship with. And addiction, that again and again women think that they can just dabble in this relationship and of course they are not going to marry him, or they will move on; but for now “he may not be Mr. Right but he is Mr. Right Now, and so I will just engage in this relationship for now.” But they don’t understand how addictive it becomes. You only marry a person that you have been dating a while and you have fallen in love with; and if this is the guy you are going to date then chances are this is the guy you are going to fall in love with and maybe even marry. And you are separating yourself from the potential of healthier relationships out there when you engage in this addiction.
- Ankerberg: Steve, how would a young woman know that she is in trouble?
- Arterburn: Well, I think if you look at your relationship life and you find that it is more and more ending in despair rather than in a fulfilling relationship, you are in trouble. If you are compromising things that you said you would never do just to secure a relationship; if you start to feel like you can’t live without a boy; if you are disconnected from other young women and you don’t really have any older women influencing your life; all of these are indicators that maybe this area of relationship and sexuality isn’t going the way it could go. And the earlier you decide to do something about it, the earlier you decide to move away from all the negative stuff, the easier it will be for you to incorporate into your life the good stuff that God has for you. Because this isn’t just about not having sex, or withholding sex; this is about finding the life that God intended you to live and truly connecting in an intimate way.
- I believe every woman wants a connected, intimate relationship with a man. And you have got to start practicing how to do that as a young woman if you are going to have that as a woman. Or you will end up like many of the people today, in a dead marriage where there is no connection, you don’t feel like your needs are being met, and you compare this guy to every other person that walks around. You don’t want to end up like some of us have ended up, in miserable marriages as older people; you can change that you can start it as a young woman right now.
- Ankerberg: If you were talking to all of these women that are listening right now, young women that are single, and they are here and they say, “Well I am not all the way gone yet, why should I start to do this now?”
- Ethridge: They have to understand that the things they do today are training them for how they are going to live their life in the future. Putting the wedding band on their finger doesn’t change anything except their last name. And so they need to start running for cover now from those types of temptations, so that when they are married women it doesn’t seem so overwhelming to them.
- So, looking at some of the patterns that you are creating in your life that are ending in inappropriate relationships or sexual activity. Well, what are the things that you keep doing over and over expecting different results? You know, that is the definition of insanity. What are the areas of your life that are insane?
- And so if you know that every time you go to that club you are going to wind up going home with some guy, don’t go to that club anymore. Find somewhere else to go. If you know that reading that romance novel is going to stir you to the point that you have to masturbate to go to sleep, don’t read that romance novel. Find a better book. Start paying attention to where you go, who you hang out with, what you read, what you look at, what you listen to. Those are the boundaries that are going to keep you safe.
- Ankerberg: Let’s do some practical things. You say that when you made that decision finally, you had to clean up your act in certain areas.
- Ethridge: In a lot of areas.
- Ankerberg: Give me some ideas.
- Ethridge: One of the biggest ways was I had to clean out my closet. My best friend actually came over and said, “Shannon, you have been directing summer camp all week as a youth pastor. But do you realize how short your shorts are when you stand up before this group talking to them?” And I said, “Well, I guess I don’t.” And she said, “Turn around and bend over.” And I looked bent over and looked in the mirror and it was just like, “Oh, my gosh! I hope I haven’t bent over all week.” But she said, “A lot of the clothes in your closet are like that, they don’t leave a lot to the imagination, that they are very arousing to men.” And so we put on every single outfit and I moved around and gyrated and tried to do everything that I would do in the normal course of the day, to see how are other people seeing me in these clothes. And I wound up giving a lot of them away, hopefully to a much smaller woman that it looked more appropriate on.
- Ankerberg: Well, you also, you used to watch the soaps for what, an hour and a half?
- Ethridge: Oh, three hours a day, every day. And if I, you know I learned to set the VCR just so I could catch them. And I know that with TiVO today it’s easy to just catch anything. And shows like the Batchelorette, and, I mean there are so many shows out there today that could lead a woman into compromise. We have to be just so careful what we watch.
- Ankerberg: Alright, we are going to transfer this into married women, okay? You finally do put on that ring, and you say, “Well all my sexual problems are going to be over. All of the impure thoughts are going to be over.” And it’s not true, okay? Tell us what we are going to be talking about next week.
- Ethridge: We are going to be talking about how so many of those ways that you compromise as a young person is going to infect your marriage relationship. Often times you don’t recognize it in the first couple of years, but as Steve said, as you start growing discontented and disillusioned, and you start comparing your husband to all these other men and thinking how they don’t measure up, you are just fueling your own dissatisfaction.
- Ankerberg: Alright, so ladies, next week we are going to talk about the challenges that you as a married woman are facing today and will continue to face. There have got to be some decisions that you make as well. I think you will find it absolutely fascinating, so I hope that you will join us.