times square

It all started with a recent visit to Times Square in NYC with my family. We didn’t notice the billboards until the sun went down and the light’s went on. There she was, several stories high towering over us, a naked woman barely covering her chest and selling men’s underwear of course.

Last weekend I was traveling for a speaking engagement. Turning on the television, the first “station” was one of those where you can, “Pay for the latest movie in the comfort of your room.”  Absent-mindedly, I left it there for a second.  That’s when an attractive woman, dressed pretty modestly began to speak. Her words caught me off guard. She said, “For just a small fee you can watch adult entertainment. No spyware. No malware. You can pay in a way that no one has to know.”  In other words,  “Go ahead an watch porn. No one is paying attention.”

This sexually charged culture is in our face all of the time. Media portrays sex as something to be used, discarded and played with. There is no talk of intimacy, or the soul’s involvement in this “physical act.”.  A ChristianNet Poll, Focus on the Family Poll, and research conducted by Christian Counseling today discovered these stats for THE CHURCH:

  • 5 out of every 10 men in the church are struggling with some issue concerning pornography
  • 34% of churchgoing women said they have intentionally visited porn websites online.
  • 54% of pastors admitted to viewing Internet porn in the last year and 30% admitted viewing within the past month.
  • 50% of all Christian men are addicted to pornography.
  • 20% of all Christian women are addicted to pornography.
  • 60% of women admit to having significant struggles with lust.
  • 47% of families said pornography is a problem in their home.
  • 42% of surveyed adults indicated that their partner’s use of pornography made them feel insecure.
  • 41% of surveyed adults admitted they felt less attractive due to their partner’s pornography use.
  • 30% of surveyed adults said their partner’s use of pornography made them feel more like a sexual object.

It’s not just a set of statistics. I know people in full-time, paid ministry whose lives and marriages have been destroyed by porn. We have been told that we must be “perfect” so we close our hotel rooms, and turn on the television.

How do we deal?  If this is what is going on with adults then what do we say to youth?

  • It starts with an honest assessment of our own heart, mind and soul.  We need to be totally aware of the danger of falling into a sexual trap, at any moment.  What are we doing to protect our hearts, eyes and mind against the world that tells us, “If it feels good in the moment, go for it.”


  • The discussion in youth group goes FAR beyond purity.  It is talking about the way Satan is always seeking “who he will devour, “ and he will use whatever he can to accomplish this goal-  media, people, insecurity, everything. We have to be supporting the family.


  • We need to keep exposing the lies.  I was previewing a CW show about princesses for my teen daughter, because I had heard some things. Sure enough, the first 20 minutes included both a graphic sex and a masturbation scene. Yep, it took place in the 1800’s, and yep, my husband and I felt like we had just watched porn. Just because tradition or the culture says it’s alright, doesn’t make it God’s plan.

It’s time we all remembered that God wants more for us than this excuse for “Sex” that the world portrays. He wants us to be in wonder of the miracle he calls, “Becoming one flesh,” and the promises attached to that.

What are you doing to actively combat this sexually charged world? 



A lot of what I read about sexual sin in the Christian realm sounds strikingly similar to what I hear in the secular world. I’ve heard youth pastors say again and again things like:

  • “Don’t have pre-marital sex, because you might get a disease.”
  • “Don’t masturbate, because you’ll have erectile dysfunction when you’re married.”
  • “Don’t look at porn, because it will make your wife seem ugly.”

As fine as these reasons are, the reason they sound just like the world’s advice is simply this: they have nothing to do with the gospel. So, I’d like to offer 12 gospel-centered things you should tell a guy who is struggling with lust:

1.) You Have a New Master. How many times have we justified using our bodies however we want with this line: It’s mine? News flash, Homie: if you are bought by the blood of Christ, your body does NOT belong to you. It belongs to Him. When you were saved, you didn’t buy Jesus. Jesus bought you. That means he dictates how your body should and shouldn’t be used.

You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” -1 Corinthians 6:19b-20

2.) You Have a New Label. When we form a habit, we begin to identify ourselves by that habit. If we golf, we’re a golfer. If we lust, we’re a luster. So many times when temptation comes our way, Satan says: “Remember? You’re a luster. This is what you do. You’re a pervert.” If you have put your trust in Jesus Christ, that’s not true. Yes, you were a “luster” and a pervert. But when you accepted Christ, he gave you a new nature. You are no longer a luster or a pervert, but a son of God who has power to overcome Satan.

You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Colossians 3:7-10

4.) You Have a New Spirit Within You. So many guys I’ve talked to have just given up on their ability to overcome sexual temptation. “I don’t know what to do anymore. It’s just impossible to overcome lust!” Really? That’s not what God says. If you’ve been trapped in the lie that you can’t overcome sexual temptation, it’s time to begin believing more from God. If you’ve trusted Jesus for salvation, God has implanted the power of his own Spirit inside of you. To say “I can’t” is to say, “He can’t”. To say “I can” is to believe Him.

“…God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”-1 Corinthians 10:13

4.) You Have a New Race to Run. So many times, guys return to their lust because they’re not replacing it with anything. If a guy lays down the sin that so easily entangles, but doesn’t run the race set before him, guess what? He’s going to get bored and pick his sin up again. Singleness isn’t about sitting around and playing Cheeto-stained video games until we get married. It’s not about having extra free time to pursue our own desires and hobbies and aims. Singleness is about ministry. It’s about pursuing God and others with a greater intensity than will ever be possible in your life again after marriage. So, maybe the reason you’re falling back into temptation again and again isn’t because you aren’t trying hard enough. Maybe it’s because you’re not replacing you’re bad habits with the exciting, life altering race God has for you as a single person.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. -Hebrews 12:1

5.) You Have a New Reason to Love your Wife. (Yes, I know high-school guys do not have wives. But in all likelihood, they will.) Did you know that there is a way for you to practice spiritual leadership of your wife right now? Did you know that there is a very practical, daily activity you can do to assist your future wife in her day-to-day life today? Did you know that you can begin growing in your love for her right now? You guessed it: pray for her. You may not know who she is, what color hair she’ll have, or how the heck you’re finally going to meet her. But when you do, you won’t regret one minute you spent on your knees for her. And guess what? As you grow in your love for her, you will also grow in your hate for the perversion of your relationship. Lust just seems dumb when you’re in love.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. -Ephesians 5:25-27

6.) You Have a New Appetite. Part of the reason you fall into lust is this: you are thirsty. You are hungry. You are looking for beauty. Let me tell you something: you’re not going to find what you’re looking for under a girl’s clothes. You can look over and over again, but you’re still going to want more and more, because no woman can satisfy the longing you have to see God in his Holy Temple. That is the beauty you are looking for. Here’s the good news: you can experience this beauty in part, now, by dwelling on God’s word. God’s word is how he communicates all of his beautiful characteristics to you day after day. Are you leaving yourself spiritually hungry? Have you hidden God’s word in your heart that you might not sin against him? If not, you’ll try to itch that scratch with lust again and again.

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4

7.) You Have a New Story. At the very root of lust is an attitude of ingratitude. If you spent your time thinking about what God has given you, you wouldn’t be dwelling on what God has not given you. This applies to all areas of life; whenever you set your mind on things you don’t have, you are lusting. If a genie gave you one wish, what would it be? Would it be marriage? It would be wiser to ask for gratitude. Even when you are married, there is temptation to be ungrateful, and to look elsewhere for satisfaction. You are training yourself right now for marriage; will you be grateful for and loving towards your future wife, or will you be ungrateful, lustful for other women? You choose now. Make a list of temporal blessings (temporary things) and eternal blessings (God’s attributes and works on your behalf) and make sure to give God thanks all day long for the good he has placed in your life.

“Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” — Ephesians 5:4

8.) You Have A New Savior. The reason why so many modern church-goers are tempted to reject the notion of hell is simply this: we do not understand the incredible offense of sin against God. Sin does indeed deserve eternal punishment and separation from God, and when we sin, there is an eternal price to be paid. If we have placed our trust in Jesus for salvation, that price is paid on the cross. However, every time we sin, we add to the penalty Jesus paid on that cross. Sin isn’t free; it’s costly; eternally costly; costly for our sweet savior, led like a lamb to the slaughter of our salvation.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. Colossians 3:5-6

9.) You Have A New Joy. The difference between joy and temporary pleasure is the difference between water and lemonade. Lemonade tastes good for a moment, but ultimately it only makes you thirstier. Water, on the other hand, satisfies. When dealing with temptation, you must ask yourself: is it better for me to gain a few seconds of pleasure and lose my joy? Trespassing against God always strips us of our joy. So, we must choose: do we want temporary excitement, or eternal joy? And here’s the good news: when we choose joy, God allows us to experience pleasure as well, in His time and in His way. But when we pursue pleasure over joy by pursing it outside of God’s boundaries, we lose both.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33

10.) You Have a New Hope. I’m not going to lie, I think a lot of Christian books on purity are full of a deceptive philosophy. They teach that if you have sex now, or lust now, you will ruin sex for your marriage. True as that may be, that’s not really the point of overcoming lust. If the sole reason you are trying to overcome temptation is to have better sex later, you’re going to fail. Why? Because you’re still worshiping sex, and when temptation comes your way, you’re going to take it. Don’t set your eyes on marriage; don’t set your eyes on sex. Set your eyes on intimacy with Christ. This is why you are working out your salvation with fear and trembling; so that you may be spotless, blameless and pleasing to God when you stand before him to give an account for your life.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. -Colossians 3:2

11.) You Have a New Trust. As a guy who once struggled with pornography, I have a secret for you: all sex is the same. There’s nothing out there that will ever be more satisfying than the plan God has for your sexuality within the confines of marriage. So many times we act like our parents, Adam and Eve, and we look for something outside of God’s boundaries, because we don’t trust that He has given us the best. And what happened when Adam and Eve eat the fruit? Nothing. It looked good, but they gained nothing. They lost everything. So, when Satan tempts you with the big shiny apple of temptation, call him out. He’s like the Wizard of Oz, and he’ll keep you thinking he has something great and powerful for you, so long as it’s hidden behind a curtain. Then when you open the curtain, guess what? Nothing’s there. Trust God that nothing is behind that curtain; He has the best for you in mind, not Satan.

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. –Genesis 3:6-7

12.) You Have a New Freedom. As Christians, we differ from every other religion. We don’t try to earn our way to God; we don’t try to work for his approval. In fact, we obey because he’s approved of us. As Christians, we are not thankful because we obey; we obey because we are thankful. We don’t obey to earn God’s favor; we obey because God has already cleared our slates on the cross. Jesus was crushed for our iniquities, and the more we realize his grace for us, the more thankful we become, and the more obedient our hearts are to Him. So no matter what; whether you’re doing well in the fight for purity, or your head is hanging in shame, always, always, always rest in the good news of the gospel. Always be thankful for Christ’s sacrifice for you on the cross, because only obedience that flows from gratitude frees us to truly obey God from the heart. And obedience from the heart is the only way to please God our heavenly father and Jesus Christ, to whose name every knee will bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth. Hallelujah; praise God!

“Dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” 1 John 2:1

In other words, the reason to avoid lust can be summed up in one word: Jesus.

Nick McDonald is the High-School Youth Director at Cornerstone Evangelical Presbyterian church in Brighton, MI. He is the author of www.theradicaljourney.com, a site designed to shine gospel light on the masculine journey. There, you can download his free e-book for any of your students called, “Don’t Waste Your Sex: 50 Ways to Overcome the Battle for Purity.”

DougFields.com blog is coming up on a year old and it is easily the best blog in youth ministry – this guest post from Marv Penner on it in my mind is up for post of the year. Marv goes into detail about a document that has helped him stay faithful to his calling and his spouse for his neara-countless years in youth ministry. Amazing stuff, you need to read and process the full post over there. Here’s a clip:

I was a young man in ministry when I wrote a document that I have read hundreds of times over the last three decades. It was born on a personal spiritual retreat when I asked God to protect my marriage from the damage that would occur if I would cross my moral boundaries (See Monday’s post & Tuesday’s post). I try to read this document every time I get on a plane or check into a hotel. I regularly make it a part of my personal quiet time and review it often. It started on paper and is now conveniently synched on my iPad and laptop. It has been edited an amended often to reflect changes in my circumstances, but the essential message has remained the same.

I have never shared this highly personal document this way and after you read it I’ll tell you why I have second thoughts even as I Doug to post it today.


When I feel vulnerable to sexual temptation I must take the time to count the cost that even one bad choice could have…


We’re in the Facebook Official series in our High School Ministry right now and about to turn the corner this weekend to talk about sex and dating. Here’s a letter I adapted to send to parents via email today. Wanted to give them a heads up about what is coming:

Dear HSM Parents,

I wanted to take a moment to inform you about the current series we are teaching in the High School Ministry at Saddleback Church. It is called Facebook Official and deals specifically and candidly about relationships during the high school years. This weekend we are in part 3 of the 5 week series and soon we’re going to be talking candidly about God’s plan for sex. Here are the details for the remaining weeks of the series:

  • October 22/23: Dating
    Taught by Josh Griffin
    7 Questions to Ask About My Dating Relationship
  • October 29/30: The Sex Talk
    Taught by Doug Fields
    God’s Plan for Sex
  • November 5/6: Where Do I Go From Here?
    Taught by Josh Griffin
    We’ve talked about friendship, marriage, love, dating and sex. How do I make changes or receive forgiveness and live differently from now on?

This series has been incredible so far — the students have been engaged and attentive to this series. We’re praying for scores of commitments and life-change to the Biblical understanding of sex.

I’m sharing these insights with you so you will know what your student will be hearing, and so you can use them as launching pads for discussion. I also wanted to give you this “heads up” because I recognize some may not feel the timing is appropriate for your teenagers’ specific needs – if this is the case, please feel free to have them attend the adult worship service with you as appropriate.

Thanks for allowing our High School Ministry team to play a small part in God’s plan for your teenager’s life!

Josh Griffin
High School Pastor

HSM meets in The Refinery at 1 Saddleback Pkwy Lake Forest, CA
Services are Saturday 4:30pm / 6:30pm and Sunday 9am / 11:15am
GET IN A LIFE GROUP: www.hsmlifegroups.com

Feel free to adapt/use it the next time you talk on sex, too!


This weekend we’re kicking off a brand new series in our high school ministry called Facebook Official. It is a 5-week series on friendships, relationships, love and sex. Here’s the series arc for the next month in HSM:

Week 1: You Have a Friend Request [me]
I’m kicking off the series talking about friendships and how the depth of Christian community and faith changes how we interact with our friends and neighbors and affects who we friend and those relationships. This weekend will include a strong Gospel presentation and the ultimate friend, Jesus.

Week 2: They Kind of Guy I Want My Daughter to Marry/The Kind of Girl I Want My Son to Marry [Doug Fields]
Doug Fields is on for week 2 to share about boyfriend/girlfriend relationships. He’ll go over character qualities that he looks for in the kind of person he wants and prays his kids will marry.

Week 3: How to Live Happily Ever After [me]
I’m jumping in for week 3 to talk through true love and how to have a love that will go the distance. How do you know if you’re in love? How will I know if she’s the one? Is there more than one “Mr. Right” for me? Love and marriage is hard work, and this week we’ll look at what it takes to make love last.

Week 4: The Sex Talk [Doug Fields]
Purity, lust, and sex. It will be promoted heavily and be one of the biggest weekends of the year. SO excited!

Week 5: Pulling it All Together [me]
Pull all of these messages together in one final challenge and call to action for students to live a life in close relationship with Jesus that will change their relationships with everyone else. A close relationship with Jesus changes our friendships, changes our dating life, changes our marriage and changes our sexual desires. The message will probably include some sort of takeaway that pulls all of these messages into something memorable to remind students of their commitment.


Vote in this week’s youth ministry poll – how often do you teach about purity/sex in youth group? I’m considering kicking off the school year with a sex series next month, which we’ve never done before. Pastor Rick changed up our fall campaign so I’ve got a few weeks and thinking of starting it off with a bang. Vote now!


Group Magazine is hosting a new LIVE online event for youth workers this Thursday June 21, 2011 at 8am Pacific that will be hosted on SimplyYouthMinistry.tv. Several great people will be there, including Craig Gross of xxxchurch.com. I know summer is a crazy time for youth workers (I’m out of town and will miss it!) but if you can it will be great – RSVP on Facebook right here.

We here at Group Magazine decided to do something we’d never done before: a theme issue. And the thematic elephant in the room that no one is talking about is sexual sin. So we’re dragging that elephant–kicking and bellowing–into the light where we can deal with it. The articles on this page each tackle a different aspect of sexual sin. Hope to see you there!