My Upcoming Book, Releasing Sunday October 26th!

Dating preview


Hello beloved wonderful friends!
This is a preview for the cover of my new book, releasing this Sunday, October 26th!
It’s called: The Christianese Dating Culture: On Courtship, Purity Rings, Prayer-Sex, and Other Weird Things We Do In Church.

I talk about the bizarre subculture of Christian dating within our churches, including an honest response to Joshua Harris (who wrote I Kissed Dating Goodbye) and an examination of our reactionary church tactics.  I also get personal, about overcoming my fifteen year porn addiction and the time I tried to take my life over a girl. And like my last book, I answer real questions from real people about sex, dating, and relationships.

When you have time, please send a prayer, even for five seconds, that God will do His restorative life-giving work through these words, because God is in the business of infusing grace in busted up vessels like you and me.

Love y’all and thank you!
— J.S.


The Dilemma Between Over-Restricting or Over-Relaxing On Sex and Sexuality

Anonymous asked a question:

How do single people embrace their sexuality without falling into sexual sin? I have seen many fall into this sin and regret it. However, I have seen many more try so hard to repress their sexual desires that they see sex or their sexuality as a dirty and evil part of them even when they marry. Is there a median to owning one’s sexuality and desire for sex, but not falling into lustful sin?

Hey there my friend, I believe that sexual desire is extremely difficult to master, and the church’s main solution has been to bash sex to scare you out of it.

The main thing here is that “sexual desire” itself owns too much of the focus in relationships.  Everyone’s talking about “sex” before they talk about faith, communication, maturity, finances, children, career, direction, decisions, and mental health.  None of these exist in a vacuum; they’re all interdependent.

I’ll even say that that there are many, many issues just as important as sexuality because people are not merely sexual beings.  You’ve probably heard it before, but any microscopic view of one issue tends to diminish the entire individuality of a whole person.  If we can begin with a holistic view of relationships, then we’ll see that sexuality is only one ingredient to a much larger, fuller understanding of people.

When we constantly come up with methodologies for a singular problem, then such a narrow-minded focus turns the problem into an unbeatable monster.  At the same time, if we relax about it too much or ignore the issue, then we’re ill-prepared to handle all the feelings as they come.

While some may disagree, I believe sex has a lower priority in the scale of relationships because when you’re over forty years old, it becomes way less critical in your mind.  I want to consider the long-term.

Continue reading “The Dilemma Between Over-Restricting or Over-Relaxing On Sex and Sexuality”

About “Prayer-Sex” And Really Bad Dating Advice

honeyinheart asked a question:

I know you’ve mentioned in some of your posts about relationships regarding praying with a partner is not “soul-sex” but a speaker at retreat last year said praying together as girlfriend and boyfriend is one step closer to having sex and should be avoided. Care to help explain?

Hey there my dear friend, I don’t want to be one more guy who badmouths the church: but our church subculture has often given really, really bad advice about dating, because most religious conservative people are very scared of teens having sex.  Then emerges all the scare tactics.  That’s the whole deal, right there.

So of course, there are teachings on courtship and soul-sex and purity rings and love languages — and none of these are necessarily bad in themselves.  Yet any idea taken to an extreme will kill you.  A healthy culture of accountability then becomes a toxic subculture of paranoia, and your pastor will try to scare the sex right out of you.

But there’s an equally grievous error, which is to be way too relaxed about sex: and this is really a reactionary subculture to appear relevant and “with it.”  There’s always some hipster laid-back emergent pastor saying, “Don’t be like those uptight Christians, just go with the flow man.”  And while it’s good to relax about dating, if you take this to an extreme: then you won’t take your own body very seriously.

Continue reading “About “Prayer-Sex” And Really Bad Dating Advice”

7 Thoughts On Singleness: Is Something Wrong With Me?

Anonymous asked a question:

I’m 27 years old and I’ve never had a boyfriend. I’ve only dated once but that didn’t go so well. I’ve prayed and I’ve prayed and I’ve asked God for my significant other but honestly sometimes I feel as if God doesn’t hear me. Which then causes my heart turmoil especially when I see other girls getting married and dating all the time. It just makes me feel like there is something wrong with me or I maybe I’m unworthy of someone else. I just really need some peace in this area or my life.

Hey dear sister, I know this is an especially painful season for you right now, but please allow me the grace to share a few thoughts with you.

1) Singleness is not a season of waiting.

I’ve said this before, but: You’re not waiting for a man.  A man is not the focal point of anything.  Jesus is the focal point of everything.

A Western culture indoctrinated in romanticism would lead us to believe that “singles” are simply biding their time, waiting for some significant other to save us from the throes of loneliness.  And I know that the latest pop song or chick flick or young adult novel has awakened some weird feelings in you, and it would even be nice to have someone.

But relationships are hard work, celibacy is hard work, and life is hard work.  There’s really no such thing as waiting for a spouse: your life has launched into being, and there’s work to do.  If God is your priority, then a man who comes along who can even catch up to you would be dang lucky to have you.

Continue reading “7 Thoughts On Singleness: Is Something Wrong With Me?”

Before The L-Word, Let’s Talk About The F-Word: Love, Faith, and Purpose


Hello beloved wonderful friends!

This is a message I preached for the lively, lovely people of Refuge Full Gospel. 

It’s called: Before The L-Word, Let’s Talk About The F-Word: Love, Faith, and Purpose.

It’s about dating and relationships, and asking the hard questions about faith & life before pursuing love.

Before the sermon, I offer a prayer for Ferguson, Israel, Iraq, and Robin Williams, because I didn’t want to gloss over this in church.

Stream here or download directly here!


Some things I talk about are: The mistake we make when we focus on the methods & techniques of Christian dating, the way we hyper-romanticize mission trips and marriage, important questions to ask before pursuing our feelings and emotions, theological wisdom from Taylor Swift, how to share oxygen when you’re drowning underwater, and going after the absolute greatest adventure of our lives together.

Be blessed and love y’all!

— J.S.




The Weird Subculture of “Christian Dating”

Anonymous asked:

How do you feel or have personally experienced the Christian subculture’s treatment or approach towards dating/courting/romantic relationships?

 

You know, I had really bought into the modern “Christian” idea of dating because it appeals to the legalistic Pharisee in all of us.  It’s not all bad, but it often results in a panicked paranoia about the opposite sex that leads to unhealthy self-slavery.

Basically, the Christian subculture of dating says:

– Don’t date.

– If you date, do “courtship,” which is dating only for marriage.

– The warning: if you decide to date, you give your heart and soul away.

– If you break up, you’re practicing for divorce.

– Sex is bad, filthy, gross, and disgusting.  So save it for marriage.

 

The thing is, I completely understand this rigid idea of dating.  It’s a reactionary philosophy to all the messed up Hollywood values perpetuated in dumb romantic comedies.  So to the average Christian, it makes sense to “only date for marriage” and “guard the pieces of your heart.” 

But the opposite of one idea doesn’t make a good idea.

To unabashedly quote myself, this is essentially what “Christian” dating is saying:

Screw all those people who have a traumatic past of dating because they’re obviously evil serial daters and life is black-and-white and there’s no hope for people who have given away pieces of their purity.  Just line up all your ex’s in a room and look at how dirty you are.  Jesus can restore broken people to a brand new life, except if you dated some loser who played your innocence and stole your childhood when you didn’t know any better since Freud says that’s subconsciously all your fault.  Sorry, Jesus saves — his salvation-juice for only the good people.

 

I absolutely believe that we should be careful about who we date and to set high standards for it.  You should never have to settle for less than what you feel you deserve.  There should definitely be safe physical boundaries, and yes, sex is awesome and it’s only awesome within marriage.

BUT: We need to relax a little here.

Continue reading “The Weird Subculture of “Christian Dating””

Book Review: Sacred Marriage


Sacred Marriage
By Gary Thomas

Summary:
Perhaps the absolute seminal work on biblical marriage, Gary Thomas’ classic Sacred Marriage is worth a revisit considering both Tim Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage and Mark Driscoll’s Real Marriage have topped the charts. Written before the escalating attacks on marriage today, Gary Thomas’ work is more needed now than he could’ve imagined.

Strengths:
Revisiting this work with my faded highlights and old foodstains, I remember why it had struck such a chord before: because Gary Thomas is a writer. He does not mince words, does not skirt the issue, does not go for the easy answer. Using vivid illustrations with personal stories and sound theology, Thomas writes like a tough mentor but a comforting friend. He’s the coach you can expect to whip you in shape but also have a heart-to-heart with after the game.

Gary Thomas’ grand central thesis is, What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy? It’s an incisive, convicting theme that is both biblical and practical. I believe almost all marriage books since (including Tim Keller’s and Mark Driscoll’s) have quoted this in one form or another.

Since marriage is but a shadow of our relationship with God, then marriage itself is our earthly picture of the Gospel for both joy and sanctification. Nothing else like marriage will give us such a clear view of God Himself. And nothing else like knowing God will lead to a fulfilling, lasting, joyful marriage.

Continue reading “Book Review: Sacred Marriage”

Question: A Battle Plan For Sex?

Anonymous asked:

I need your help, because I messed up real bad. I love Jesus, and I’m a devout Christian believer, but I can’t control myself. I let myself get wrapped up in the world of lust, and had premarital sex quite a few times in the last three months. I need help, I don’t know what to do. My girlfriend and I want to stop, we want to be good Christians, yet we keep giving in to temptation. We keep promising each other that’s the end of it, but it still goes on. What can we do to stop and grow in Christ? I pray so hard for us, and she does too I think. Please help because I’m becoming so frustrated, I want to follow Christ and do the right thing, but I don’t have the strength too!

(I made you anonymous because I wasn’t sure if you wanted to be known.)

Brother, I understand your struggle. You’re making a real first step in acknowledging the problem and wanting to honor God in all of it.  So you’ve figured out now that wanting to stop is not enough to stop.  Maybe because once you actually stop, you’re not sure if there’s anything to look forward to.

Once sex is in the picture, the focus gets all fuzzy and the foundation gets confused.  You’ll have to re-orient and re-think a lot of the dynamics.  Praying is good and you must pray, but “praying it away” won’t work.  You’ll need to pray towards something.

What I’m about to say will sound like legalistic behavior modification. But once again, effort is not legalism. The internal trusting of God necessarily predicates external changes in behavior.  In other words, true change begins from the inside-out, but without outside change then you know nothing happened inside. You’ll need a Battle Plan, to build forward instead of just avoiding sin.

Continue reading “Question: A Battle Plan For Sex?”

A Boyfriend Is Not The Solution, And Not The Problem

Sometimes I sit through these counseling sessions where the girl goes on and on about her idiot moron unprincipled boyfriend: he doesn’t listen, he clips his nails in bed, he showers every three days, he forgets to call, how do I get him to hear me, I try so hard to express my feelings and it’s like he does not care, and —

I want to say the same thing, you know. I do not care, either.

If God were at that moment to tear the roof off over our heads and take a peek, I wonder how much she would care.

Even for five seconds, to see the glorious holy wrathful infinite epic universe-exploding face of God. Does anything else really matter then? We’d both burst into flames. So no, nothing else matters then.

Every selfish desire is predicated on a tangible, earthly treasure, and it always turns out to be garbage. William Law said so simply, “If you have not chosen the Kingdom of God first, it will in the end make no difference what you have chosen instead.” A hard truth, but standing before the face-melting presence of God, it’s the only truth.

At judgment you’ll only have one problem: and only one solution.

Continue reading “A Boyfriend Is Not The Solution, And Not The Problem”

Book Review: The Meaning of Marriage


The Meaning of Marriage
By Timothy Keller

Summary:
We know marriage is in trouble. Pastors and Christian authors are stepping forward to save the day. Tim Keller, author of the renown The Reason For God, Counterfeit Gods, and Generous Justice, writes an ambitious and straightforward work on biblical marriage. With a gospel-driven, Christ-centered approach, Dr. Keller’s crisp, clear voice is easily accessible and insightful. Along with Dr. Keller’s wife Kathy, they have written a practical, powerful work on the great gift of marriage.

Strengths:
This could have been a cakewalk for Dr. Keller. He could have roundly quoted C.S. Lewis and some well known poems, conjure sound commentary on Ephesians 5, and say some profound things about the duties of a husband and wife. It really would have been that easy for him. Many readers are familiar enough with Dr. Keller to instantly recognize his writing voice and his penchant for classic quoting. It could also have been a call to Christian idealism, a list of you ought to and you should do tacked onto the gospel.

While Dr. Keller does some of these things, I felt his gritty real life experience bleed through the pages. Dr. Keller’s passion is alive in this work; not since Counterfeit Gods have I seen him this personally invested into his subject. This isn’t only from his own thirty-six year marriage but from having been in the trenches with hurting singles, broken marriages, and dying families. He has seen how secular culture and the Hollywood mentality has overwhelmed the thinking of our gullible world. The first chapter alone is a visceral tour of the corruption of marriage and families, with hard statistics and full-on truths. He never waters it down. “I’m tired of listening to sentimental talks on marriage,” he begins. So are we.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Meaning of Marriage”

Question: He’s Been Weird Lately

Anonymous asked:
I am currently in a relationship with my boyfriend whos parents are both pastors. He has been the greatest that I could ever ask for. But I don’t think that our relationship is bringing the glory to God that He deserves. Our relationship seems to be for different reasons. Im not sure what to do in this situation because I do love him and letting him go is something that would be very difficult for me. Recently he has been giving me signals of finding me annoying and he ignores me. I’m just hurt.

I really appreciate you reaching out to someone to get wisdom on this, because no doubt this is way more difficult than simply just “tell him about it.”

Is it though? The simple stuff can be true sometimes. As extremely difficult as it is — I can’t remove the sting of that — you still need to tell him what you told me. Ask him how he feels about what you’re feeling. You may be surprised at the results of just being straight up.

Continue reading “Question: He’s Been Weird Lately”

Question: Great Guy, Not A Christian

Anonymous asked:
I have a friend who is on my back all the time about how I’m not dating a Christian and how in the past he used to be a terrible person who would date around. She tells me that God doesn’t want a Christian and a non Christian to date and that we should break up or else i’ll be sinning against God. He’s not a bad guy.. we’ve been dating for 2 years but if its not what the Lord wants I would. What do you think?

I wish I could be so nice and pandering and sympathetic for you here. Please believe me when I say I got nothing but love for you. But please also believe me that unless you’re doing everything in your power to get that dude to Jesus, you’re making a mistake.

I get it: It’s been two years. Your friend who said it’s a “sin” was not being very open-minded. You don’t like it when people tell you what to do, especially about your boyfriend. He’s a “good guy,” which I could also say about my dog, who generally doesn’t pee in the house or curse out my neighbors. I can also say that about most Christians, who generally keep to themselves and nod when told.

Continue reading “Question: Great Guy, Not A Christian”