You are counseling a couple, who claim to be Christian, that are sleeping together and believe they are “married in their hearts”. They would like to become members of your church. Describe how would you handle this couple, including how you would address the issue of being “married in their hearts?”
This is an incredibly important book. I can’t emphasize that enough.
At the beginning, Tripp gives us a picture of where he is going and why this book is needed:
Neither sex nor money can deliver the promises that we think they’re making, and each area is more dangerous than we tend to think. Both function today in the surrounding culture like spiritual solvents eating away at the very fabric of human community. Both have the perverse power to master your heart and in so doing determine the direction of your life. Both give you the buzz that you’re in control while at the very same time becoming the master that progressively chains you to their control. Both off you an inner sense of well-being while having no capacity whatsoever to satisfy and craving more. Both hold out the possibility of finally being satisfied but instead cause you to envy whoever it is that has more and better than you do. Both sell you the lie that physical pleasure is that pathway to spiritual peace. Both are work of the Creator’s hands but tend to promise you what only the Creator can deliver. Both are beautiful in themselves but have become distorted and dangerous by means of the fall.
If you struggle with sexual sin, being open in your marriage about past hurts, have dealt with sexual abuse or addiction, you should read this book. If you struggle to see the beauty of your body or pleasure or how your sexuality can lead you to worship Jesus, you should read this book. If you struggle with money, debt, buying things you can’t afford, worrying about others approving of you because of your stuff, you should read this book.
Probably, if you are reading this review, you should read this book.
Here’s a video of Paul Tripp explaining why the book is needed:
Jesus says in Matthew 6:19 – 33 that we are all treasure hunters. We name things as important to us, and we all live to get and experience what we have named as important. We all chase some golden dream. Our choices and actions are purposeful. There are things that we tresasure and things that we don’t. There are things that we become convinced we must have. There are treasures we have acquired and horde, and there are treasures we are yet working to get. And our lives follow the trail of choices, decisions, and actions that have been magnetized by what we hold dear. -Paul David Tripp, Sex and Money: Pleasures That Leave You Empty and Grace That Satisfies
Whenever I talk with couples that are dating or engaged, at some point sex and intimacy will come up. When Katie and I do premarital counseling, there are 5 things a couple must agree to for me to do their wedding. One of them is that they won’t have sex from that point forward until their wedding night. Regardless of their background, regardless if they live together, regardless of where they are on their journey with Jesus.
Depending on the situation, this brings with it an interesting follow-up conversation. Many couples don’t care, they’ve already chosen to wait and have stayed with that commitment. Some are excited because while they’ve wanted to wait, the lack of accountability has made it difficult and they’ve fallen back into patterns they wanted to move away from. Others are frustrated because they don’t see a problem with sex outside of marriage.
I remember once talking with a couple who lived together. They weren’t followers of Jesus and he asked me if this was simply a way for me to put my morals onto other people. It was a fair question. Pastors are often guilty of thinking of ways simply to make people behave more godly without changing their hearts.
I told him that was not the point of this. Here’s why we ask couples to do this and what I told him:
The bible does tell us to save sex for marriage (Acts 15:20; 1 Corinthians 5:1; 6:13, 18; 10:8; 2 Corinthians 12:21;Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Jude 7). The Bible promotes complete abstinence before marriage. Sex between a husband and his wife is the only form of sexual relations of which God approves (Hebrews 13:4).
Sex doesn’t equal intimacy. Many in our culture think they are being intimate simply by having sex. For men, when we think of intimacy, sex is what we think of. Intimacy is much bigger than that. It involves sex, but involves be open and honest with another person, trusting them completely, not hiding from them. Willing to share our lives, our dreams, our hopes, our failures, our hurts, and pain with that person. Far too many couples think we had sex, so we must be in love. As soon as sex enters a relationship, it changes drastically. By abstaining from sex before marriage, they are able to broaden intimacy in their relationship in other ways, ways that are non-sexual.
There are seasons in marriage where sex is not an option. Whether that is traveling for a job, health, children, pregnancy, time or energy. Abstaining from sex before marriage helps a couple to prepare for these moments and for the couple to learn they can trust the other. Is a man or woman able to control themselves when they aren’t having as much sex or intimacy as they’d like.
It builds trust. On some level, usually for women, having sex outside of marriage is a trust issue. For men, sex is mostly physical, but for women it is mostly emotional. It involves trusting the other person. Making a commitment to abstain from sex and keeping that commitment goes a long way of building trust for a couple.
There are other reasons, but these are the top ones. After doing weddings for 7 years for numerous couples who have made this commitment and kept it, I’ve yet to have a couple tell me it was a waste of time or be angry that they made it. In fact, I’ve had almost every couple tell me this was one of the most beneficial things for them in their premarital counseling.
If you are parent, you need to check this out. You may think purity and having to worry about your kids encountering porn is years away, you may want to think again.
Chris Spradlin has released a new e-book that is currently available for FREE Download. The book is a candid look at how to fight for purity for our kids in a sex saturated world. I think the title says it all “Sex, Lust and XXX.” Download it now, read it and be sure to check out his daily posts over at EpicParent.tv.