Fred Stoeker, author of Hero: Becoming the Man She Desires, explains how his faith in Jesus Christ helped him overcome struggles with sexual sin, and encourages men to be a hero to their wife by maintaining sexual purity. (Part 2 of 2)
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John Fuller: This is "Focus on the Family" with Jim Daly. And as we begin, a word of caution to parents, that the following conversation won't likely be appropriate for younger listeners.Fred Stoeker was with us last time and he talked very transparently about how he tried to address the emptiness he was feeling in his life as a young man. He was on our last program, talking about how he tried to address the emptiness he was feeling in his life.
Fred Stoeker: The fact of the matter is, is that I was so desiring to truly connect with someone. And I'd always been told that the easiest and the fastest way to connect with a girl is sexually. And so, I'm just goin' as fast as I can, 'cause I just got lonelier and lonelier. The weirdest thing was, everybody said this'll help you connect and yet, the more I was connecting with girls sexually, the bone-crushing (Emotional) loneliness in my life was just tearing me apart.
End of Recap
John: You'll hear more from Fred Stoeker today, talking about how God gave him victory over that problem of sexual promiscuity and lust. Your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly.
Jim Daly: John, last time Fred shared about his childhood and lacking a good example in this area of sexual purity, from both his dad and his grandfather. And that's true of so many young today who don't have a good role model. Many men have never even had a discussion with their father about sex and that's a problem right there. We need to be talking about it as parents with our kids. Don't hand this over to the world and to the enemy of our soul.
John: Yeah, if you don't say anything--
John: --then they're gonna be takin' their cues from the world.
Jim: Oh, without a doubt and in Fred's case it led him into a life of sexual sin in high school and especially college, where he became very active and didn't know how to control that appetite and really placed that appetite at the foot of Christ. It became a stronghold in his life until God eventually set him free, which is what we're aiming for, for all of us.
We're not sharing this to exploit Fred at all, but to share a powerful testimony of how God saved Fred from this environment, how he can save you from this environment, if you're willing to let go.
John: And Fred and his son, Jasen wrote a book called Hero: Becoming the Man She Desires. Now Fred is the president of Living True Ministries, which is helping people to overcome sexual addictions. And as part of our broadcast today, we have the opportunity to hear from some college students who asked Fred some very bold questions. They're from college campuses where there are many, many temptations that they have to encounter. And let's go ahead and listen to that dynamic interaction between our guests and those students, as we continue this "Focus on the Family" broadcast.
Young Man: For about two years I must admit I struggled with some pornography and I've trained myself to bounce my eyes and such. But every now and then I still have the images of that come back to my mind. So, I would like to know if you have any tips to just get those thoughts out of my mind or to even prevent them from coming in.
Fred: Yeah, one of the things that we know from research is, that when the male eye looks at something sensual and that chemical wash hits the limbic center, one of the things that happens is that, that image is burned into their brain forever. That's just research. It's just true, okay. So, that's why those images can come back. It doesn't mean you're a pervert. It doesn't mean that you're some kind of pig. It's just those images are there.
And so, to some extent I can tell you, if I want to, I can draw up images from porn I looked at 40 years ago and I can see it in my mind as if I looked at it yesterday. So, it's kind of a drag for men to have this kind of situation built into them.
Now what I have found in my life in walking in this path of purity is, that a couple of things. Over time, those images first of all, fade to some extent. The second thing is, our minds aren't interested in bringing those images up anymore because our mind has been trained, you know, to kind of hate impurity.
But if there are persistent ones, one of the things I've found that really helped me was, that I can essentially crucify that by taking those thoughts captive. And that's from 2 Corinthians, by the way. What I found about taking thoughts captive was interesting when I first began to start doing it. I didn't know how. I didn't know how to take a thought about say, an old girlfriend and you know, I used to think about old girlfriends a lot when I was first married. That's embarrassing, but I did. And one of the things I found is, that I didn't know how to actually capture that thought and just kind of throw it out my ear.
Jim: How do you do that?
Fred: What I did instead was this. I learned first how to replace that thought. And one of the things that I would do is, I began to actually memorize hymns. That's what I chose to do. I memorized at one time all four verses of like 50 hymns. It was crazy, but I wanted to have lots of weaponry.
And so, what I would do is, when those thoughts would come, it was just a rule. I would start singing a hymn inside my head. And usually after one or two hymns, the thought would've gone, all right. But if it comes back, it's just, okay, move onto song three, whatever.
And one of the things I found is, that over time as I began to really learn the level of control it took to replace thoughts, my mind actually learned how to take those thoughts and toss them out. And eventually my mind stop bringing them up at all.
The human mind is a pretty interesting thing. It has a matrix; it's a worldview basically and you should understand that as a group here, that once this thing gets really set in stone, that thoughts about nudity, thoughts about old girlfriends are like out of bounds, your mind actually will start policing itself.
But what I would recommend is, that anytime those kinds of thoughts come up is just simply replace those thoughts--Scripture, hymns, any sequence of thoughts that would just replace it. And what I found in my own life is that, that put an end to that fairly quickly.
Jim: All right, for the next question.
Sarah: My name's Sarah and I'm from Billings, Montana. I was wondering if you could share how we as women can help in this area?
Fred: Yeah, the biggest thing that you can do is to not be a stumbling block okay? Once you understand that the male eye can draw sexual gratification from his environment, then you need to [take care about clothing], string bikinis, sweaters that are really tight to show all your curves. Those things may be stylish, but they are stumbling blocks to your brother, okay?
So, obviously, when you've heard what I've said about, okay what are the vulnerabilities for a man, the first one is his eyes, okay. So, I've had young pastors say to me, "My wife has become the greatest evangelist for purity. She's always asking me, 'Is this okay? Is this causing any pressure on you?'" Just all sorts of things to help just take some of the pressure off.
The other aspect that you need to understand is that men by nature, their natural language for passing intimacy with you is sexual. Okay, so that means that they're going to have a tendency to want to express it that way. So, you need to make sure that the two of you decide early in your relationship where are your boundaries going to be? And then you need to help him keep those boundaries.
Now it's his job to keep those boundaries 'cause he's the leader of the relationship. But you can really help, because he'll have a tendency to slip and you need to say no. Now what men do when you say no is, they pout. That's what men do. I know that's embarrassing as a guy to say, but he'll pout. He'll make you think that you're gonna lose the relationship. You won't lose the relationship. I can tell you this, men really respect women who help them hold to the boundaries, not that moment, but by the next day, okay. So, what you want to do in short is, to understand those two vulnerabilities and help him defend those two vulnerabilities. That's what you can do.
Jim: In the culture and in Christian circles, we come up with perhaps what are myths. We say things like, "Well, this is how God designed us, therefore it may be impossible to bridle this appetite because physically we're wired this way." What do you say to that?
Fred: Peter said in the Bible that we have been given everything we need to walk in the divine nature and to live above the corruptions of the world and our evil desires. So, we know it really doesn't matter what Fred thinks or what any man thinks; God said that. And from the time of our salvation, we have a new life placed into us, where everything we need to win this battle is there. The only difference between that person maybe and where I stand today is that I stood up and engaged the battle and he hasn't yet done it. But he has everything in him he needs to win this battle.
So, a lot of times what we'll do, Jim, is we'll look around and we'll see what's common and then we will just say, "Hey, well, that must be the truth," okay. We'll see that so many people are struggling with this, that it must be something that none of us can really expect to win. But it's not what's common that's what's normal. It's what the Bible says. That's what's normal. And Peter said that what's normal is for a man to be able to walk in the divine nature and to walk above these things. So, a normal Christian should be walking that way.
Jim: Let's go to the next question.
Kendalyn: Hi, my name's Kendalyn. I'm from Pennsylvania and my question is, in preparation for marriage and as the statistics have shown that this has become more prevalent of a problem, how can we prepare ourselves for a spouse that might've gone through a sexual addiction or is still battling a sexual addiction?
Fred: That's a great question by the way. The first thing I would say is, that you need to have a conversation about this as soon as possible when you're in a relationship that's very serious, okay, because you need to know right away the level of struggle and what he's been doing to win and what he's not been doing.
What I have found is, that young men will be open to you to talk about that. But there [are] a couple of things you need to know going into marriage. No. 1 is, they will take this crutch into marriage with them. Marriage is not going to eliminate this. So, if they're struggling with it now, they'll be struggling with it the day after you're married and on your honeymoon and on [and]on down the road. So, this isn't something where you can just look at and take it lightly. I mean, if they're struggling with it, they need to address the battle.
The second thing you need to understand is, you need to see them fighting the battle and I mean now with all of their hearts, not wait till marriage. They'll say, well, you know, once we get married, it's gonna be okay. No, it isn't gonna be okay. I cannot tell you the number of e-mails I get from young women who say, the man of my dreams has become my nightmare. He will not go get help for this. He said, "Look, we're married; this is part of who I am." And then you're just stuck, okay. So, it's really important for you to find out if he's involved with it and then to actually see him taking steps to fight this.
And it's my own opinion, I've told my daughters, don't marry someone who doesn't have this beat, okay. You can date him. You can get engaged to him, whatever, okay and you can help him fight through it. But you want to see victory before you get married. I mean, that's really the stand that we've taken, because if they're not willing to fight it now, once they have you married, there's less incentive to fight it if they don't have a heart that's truly after God in this issue.
Now I know that may be a hard word, but you can help them by taking a book like Hero and reading it through it with them. Go through it. You can be a warrior at his side, but you want to make sure that you're addressing it and you're seeing that it's not just you that's fighting this battle, but he's actually taken up the battle himself.
A lot of times young women will, you know, be very focused on, okay, let's really win this and you're the one that's driving the process. Well, he needs to be driving the process. It's his heart that needs to be healed. It's his sexuality that needs to be healed. So, you need to really make sure that you're open about it and that you're fighting this thing together openly.
John: Well, Fred Stoeker is giving good advice for men and women, as he answers questions from college students who were in the studio with us. This is "Focus on the Family" with Jim Daly and Fred and his son, Jasen, have written a book called Hero: Becoming the Man She Desires. And we have that available when you contribute a gift of any amount to Focus today. And to follow up with us on this subject, you can get a CD or a download of the broadcast. Stop by www.focusonthefamily.com/radio.
End of Program Note
Jim: Fred, I need to follow up with a question, because again, I'm thinking of this as an addiction. You talked about that very faithfully.
Fred: Yes, uh-hm.
Jim: So often when you look at alcoholism or drug addiction, there's a certain number of people for various reasons who can overcome those addictions. And then there's many who cannot. In this area, what do you say to that man who continues to struggle, maybe the wife, they didn't do it the way you just said.
Jim: And this has not been five years of a struggle, 10 years of a struggle. I know you talk about never giving up, but what do you say to that person that has continued to battle this and it seems like victory is not within grasp?
Fred: (Sigh) Let me talk to the wife first. I guess I can just say that this is the most awful position for a wife to be in, because you know, if the husband's not winning, what does she do and what does she do with those feelings of betrayal? What does she do with all the pain, okay? So, I mean, I recognize that this is awful, you know.
For the man, there's many layers that can be involved in why he can't win. And a lot of times, what he's focusing on, like I said earlier is, he's focusing on kind of the sexual side of it. And you know, I know there's the chemical addiction part and all that, but there's also those emotional sides of it, the crutch side of it.
And what I'm saying is, for the guys that can't kinda win this on their own, it's really important to get professional help. There are professionals out there that are really good at working with this. And um ... to me and I know exactly what you're saying and you know me. You can just tell by hearing me talk. I mean, I'm very optimistic and positive when it comes to this battle. I believe that with professional help and with the help of a professional to help you go through some sexual moratoriums and to really break cold turkey the actual chemical addiction of this, that then you can get to the actual underlying wounds and the pain from the past that are driving that sexual sin and that's where victory can come from.
It's the people that have a lot of that heavy pain from the past that find it the most difficult to break through this. But there is professional help. Now again, when you're in that situation, it can seem so hopeless. And you just again, you just can never give up. You've gotta go to the next step and the next step until you get deeper and deeper help.
Jim: Let me share a quick story and get your response.
Jim: A friend of mine who unbeknownst to anyone in his life, was struggling with this.
Jim: He got married later in life. His wife was married previously, had a son and a daughter and now here's this new family. And lo and behold, she stumbled in and he was looking at something on the computer.
Jim: She interpreted that as adultery, as a breach of their trust, which is understandable. She ended up filing for divorce because of that. What about that kind of scenario? What would you say to the wife when in that case, he was still struggling. He was attempting to get through that, but was getting little victory obviously. What should that wife do in that context? And I know it varies by situation, but how would you have counseled her in that context?
Fred: When you get into those situations, it gets very dicey trying to really define what's adultery and what isn't, okay. And so, it gets very difficult to define when divorce is appropriate or when it isn't. Our own feeling is, that it's better to err on the side of staying and helping him fight through it in the sense that, you can be the helpmate and God can use you to help him win, okay.
But there's the other side of the issue. I get e-mails from women a lot who [say] their husbands are still hooked on sexual sin and they are seeing signs of satanic oppression in their home. They're seeing signs of where that sexual sins is affecting the children.
And so, the wife gets put into a position like this, where she's havin' to say, okay, do I leave for the sake of my kids so this generational sin doesn't get rooted into my kids? Or do I stay and help him? And that's where it gets very difficult.
I know with my own wife, Brenda, I can tell you in that situation what she would do. She would've left me, okay, because she has such a strong feeling about what it takes to build a healthy home. And so, she would've left. However, we know that God hates divorce, okay. And we know that God loves marriages [to] stay together because of the covenants that are all tied in with that relationship.
So, even though I know Brenda would've left, I mean, our counsel really (Chuckling) is that it's better to err on the side of staying together for as long as you can, because a wife can do a lot to help a man heal from that pain, from those wounds that are driving those issues. And if he's still fighting, if he hasn't given up and just said, hey, you know, tough; this is just who I am, if he's still fighting, our opinion is, she needs to stay and help him fight.
Zach: My name is Zach. I'm from Marion, Indiana. So, in the midst of our culture today, how women are being portrayed and how they're dressing, what are some ways that I can be a godly man and stand against sexual impurity for myself and also for my brothers and sisters in Christ?
Fred: It's a good question. Obviously, the best way for you to deal with purity for the sake of yourself is to defend those two vulnerabilities I talked about early. So, train your eyes very well to not take advantage of your Christian sisters by lusting over them. I know that obviously, Paul said to Timothy in 1 Timothy 5, that you are to treat your younger women with absolutely purity, okay and like sisters.
And so, it's very important for you to get those kinds of disciplines in place in much the same way that my son, Jasen did, where you know, he wasn't interested in using women for his sexual pleasure, not by looking at them on pages or by practicing with them, dating because, hey, someday I'm gonna have a wedding night, so I better know what I'm doing. None of that stuff made any sense to him, biblically or just in his heart.
So, it's just really important for you to set an example, because examples are the best teaching tool there is. So, let me give you an example. I mean, when Jasen was in college, he was part of a Campus Crusade ministry. And he had young men that knew that he wasn't struggling with his sexuality. And they would come to him and say, look, everybody else we know is struggling with their sexuality, but you aren't. Tell us why. You see, so, by being an example, they have someone, a go-to person they can come to. Hey, Zach, he understands, all right. So, that's No. 1.
No. 2, it's really important for young men to pull together in this battle. When you look at that second vulnerability I talked about, where young men are often trying to fulfill or to medicate pain, one of the things that I often talk about is, that genuine intimacy in any other relationships in your life will help replace that desire you have for the false intimacy that comes from sexual sin that you use to medicate your pain.
And so, wherever you can create genuine intimacy with other people, it lessens your need then for false intimacy through sexual sin. So, what we have seen is, that when youth groups or campus ministries or even friends, you know, get together and they begin talking about this, setting up schemes and strategies for winning this battle, they are almost always successful when they're fighting it together, because when they come together week by week, they share what's working, what isn't.
They're kinda keeping track of each other. And not in the sense of, oh, I've got another pair of eyes looking at ... over my shoulder to make me feel guilty. That's not what accountability is. What accountability is, really is replacing the false intimacy with genuine intimacy, a true connection with someone where you're standing shoulder to shoulder with them in the battle.
So, my first thought is, find some guys your age that are willing to talk about this and fight this. Uh ... the best way you can do is to continue to talk about it, be open about it. See what's working and to build the kind of genuine intimacy you need so that you don't need that false intimacy.
You can generate that kind of intimacy with Christian men. You can even generate that kind of intimacy with non-Christian men, if they're not the kind of men that would put pressure on your values. I know Jasen had a few of them; they're just really good friends, but they could just be together, be intimate as friends. They didn't talk so much about this topic, but it gave Jasen a feeling of, I'm accepted; you know, I've got guys in my life that I'm really intimate with.
The best place that you can get true genuine intimacy, of course, is through God. So, you're not gonna get deeper intimacy with God just by wishing for it. You're gonna have to take steps; chase Him with all your heart one on one, not just in groups, but one on one with Him. And you'll find that, that's another way then as you develop that intimacy, other people will sense that in you and they'll again, come to you. Why aren't you struggling like I am? And again, that gives you the opportunity to speak into their lives. So, those are some things that I found in my own life that really work in working with others to build that kind of genuine intimacy you need to win.
Jim: Fred, as we wrap up a very informative two days and your book, Hero: Becoming the Man She Desires, written with your son, Jasen, what a profound and provocative book. I hope every parent will get it and absorb it and apply it. And as we end today, can you pray for parents and for their kids, just in this area of sexuality?
Fred: Sure. Father, Your desire is for the hearts of the fathers to turn to their children and the hearts of the children to turn to their fathers or parents. Lord, we know You said that in Malachi, we know, Lord, that You never change, yesterday, today or forever. And we know, Lord that, that is the biggest desire of Your heart.
We also know, Lord, that it's in this area of life where first of all, if we can get this straight with our children, it can form deep relationships with them. But if we don't, it can create great disaster. So, Lord, what I ask for today is that You would take the words that were spoken in every heart, Lord. Root the stories into their hearts, Lord, that they would catch a new vision as to what's possible.
Lord, that they would toss out all the myths and they would turn to You, to understand what You say. And that they would then turn to their children and the children to the parents and they would begin to live in a new way, with a new vision and with a new understanding of what's possible.
Lord, that's the desire of my heart and I know it's the desire of Yours, that they would hear the testimony and that they would begin to believe that if God can do it in his life, then God can do it in mine. And I ask, Lord that, that truth would be hammered into hearts across this world and that new family lines, Lord, with new destinies would begin to form. Free them of shame.Free them of guilt. Draw them close, in Jesus' name, amen.
Jim: Amen. Fred Stoeker, author of the book, Hero: Becoming the Man She Desires, thank you for being with us.
Fred: Oh, it's a pleasure.
John: What a great way to wrap up our recording time with Fred Stoeker and the college students who joined us to engage with him on a very sensitive subject. And I so appreciate the way he interacted with them on this topic and that closing prayer. It's so encouraging to see how God is using Fred to help others in this area of life and ultimately to become stronger spiritually.
Now there's more of his story in the book that he and his son, Jasen co-wrote. It addresses so many of the questions that you might have about maintaining your sexual purity. It's called Hero: Becoming the Man She Desires. And it's our thank-you gift when you make a generous donation of any amount today to support the work that we're doing to help families thrive.
We also have a CD or a download available with more great content that we just couldn't present to you these past couple of days. And then finally, please know that we have caring Christian counselors here to help you. If you're struggling with sexual issues they can have an initial phone consultation with you and provide some guidance and make a referral to trained counselor in your area.
For everything I've mentioned, call 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY; 800-232-6459 or visit us at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio.
On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening. I'm John Fuller, inviting you back to the next "Focus on the Family" broadcast, as we once again, help you and your family thrive.
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Fred StoekerView Bio
Fred Stoeker is a best-selling, award-winning author. His book Every Man's Battle has been translated into several languages and has sold more than 900,000 copies worldwide. Every Man's Marriage, written to accompany Every Man's Battle, won the Silver Medallion Book of the Year by the ECPA in 2002, and Fred's book Every Young Man's Battle won Gold Medallion honors in 2004. Fred and his wife, Brenda, reside in the Des Moines area and have four grown children. Learn more about Fred by visiting his website, www.fredstoeker.com.