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Returning to a Godly Perspective on Sex and Romance (Part 1 of 2)

Air Date 11/07/2017

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Author Levi Lusko explores the challenges Christian families face in today's hyper-sexualized culture in which digital technology has made it easier than ever for young people to "hook up" and trade their future health and emotions for momentary pleasure. He offers encouragement to those who've been hurt by past mistakes and advice for how we can protect ourselves from temptation and compromise. (Part 1 of 2)

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Episode Transcript

Opening:

Jim Daly: Hi, this is Jim Daly with Focus on the Family. Join us at theaters this Thursday only to see an encore presentation of Mully, a new documentary that will inspire thousands to embrace the cause of orphans worldwide. Buy tickets now at focusonthefamily.com/mully.

Excerpt:

Pastor Levi Lusko: I know of nothing more powerful on Earth than the forces of love, sex and romance. The potential for pleasure, joy, strength and blessing is virtually immeasurable. With that great power comes the opportunity for not just beauty and blessing but also great danger.

End of Excerpt

John Fuller: Hmm, great danger. That’s a provocative statement from Levi Lusko. He’s a pastor and author. And he wants to help Christians navigate the confusion that we see all around us about appropriate boundaries for our God-given sexuality. He’s our guest today on Focus on the Family. And your host is Jim Daly. Now, of course, this is going to be a pretty mature topic if you will and not appropriate for younger children. And with that, thanks for listening. I’m John Fuller.

Jim: Hey, John. This is one of those programs where you can already feel the tension growing with the listeners. I feel it, everybody. This subject matter can be awkward and uncomfortable to talk about. And for a lot of us, we’d rather keep it private and kind of out of public view, right? But I’m telling you guys, hang with us because I’m tired, frankly, of giving this over to the enemy of our soul.

God has created our sexuality in such a way to bless us and to show his love for us. And it just needs to be in a godly context. And the further we back up in the Christian community and allow the world to take over this place, we’re going to get devastation. And this is not what God intended with his gift of human sexuality. So stick with us because I think many of the things we’re going to talk about are going to help you and if not you, certainly a family member or a friend.

In fact, a couple of months ago, Mark Regnerus, who is a social scientist, a researcher - he wrote about this issue in the Washington Post,where he noted that a shocking number of Christians are uncertain about their beliefs on things like co-habitation, pornography, extramarital sex and the value of marriage. I mean, think of our Christian community - especially our younger Christian community - being confused about those things.And, in fact, John, I think it would be great to link at our website that article so folks can read it. So you can go to our website to see that.

John: Uh-huh.

Jim: You know, one of the reasons we’re here to Focus on the Family is to help you, to help all of us, to think about these big topics, to help us parent better, to help us live within our context of marriage in a more godly way. And I am grateful for our guest today.

John: I am, too. And we’ll get to him in just a moment. Let me say that focusonthefamily.com/radio is where you’ll find that link, a variety of helps and our guest’s book as well on this topic. Or give us a call, 800-A-FAMILY.

And Pastor Levi Lusko has a great platform to address these kinds of issues at his church. It’sFresh Life Churchwith locations in Montana, in Utah...

Levi: And then Oregon as well.

John: Oh, very good.

Jim: Very good.

John: He’s written a great book. I mentioned it. It’s calledSwipe Right: The Life-and-Death Power Of Sex And Romance. And that, if you couldn’t tell, will be the foundation for our conversation today.

Body:

Jim: Hey, Levi. Welcome to the broadcast.

Levi: Thank you so much for having me.

Jim: We took time introducing that subject of sexuality because a lot of people struggle with it, especially a discussion in the public square about it. But it’s so important, isn’t it?

Levi: Absolutely, and I think the devil would love for it to stay quiet. He would love for pastors and Christian leaders to answer - spend their time answering questions no one’s asking. Meanwhile, the real issues that go ravaging our lives and homes and destroying our children go unaddressed because anything that’s left silent can suffocate you in the dark. But once you let light in, it can be exposed.

Jim: That’s exactly right. And let me prove the point right now because I was in the dark when it came to what swipe right meant - I mean the title of your book,Swipe Right. What does it mean? And it’s probably 95 percent of the audience that’s with me. I don’t know what that is. What is it?

Levi: Absolutely, well, swipe right started out as a way that people could on a particular relationship app that you download from the app stores, where you could look at random strangers and decide if you would like to be with them intimately, relationally, in any kind of way or not, you would swipe left on their profile if you would not be interested in them. You’d swipe right on them if you were. Now, if they swiped right on you swiped right on them, you’re brought into a messaging service, where you could then choose to meet up in real life and, you know, have a casual encounter or maybe begin a relationship.

But this has taken off. It started out as the way that Tinder, this particular app, worked. But now, it’s bigger than that. I mean, matter of fact, I heard Jimmy Fallon the other night saying that he tried to put his daughter to bed. And she tried to swipe left on his face. So it’s kind of become bigger, synonymous with more than just yes, no, left, right. But Tinder recently said that they’ve had a trillion swipes.

Jim: A trillion?

Levi: A trillion swipes. But that’s not the only app now. There’s OkCupid, PlentyOfFish, Happn. There’s every day a new app being made. And basically, relationships and dating and sexuality is being brought into a mobile experience where many, many, many young people in big cities like Los Angeles or New York are using the app to facilitate a quick hookup. They’re not using it to date as much or get a boyfriend or girlfriend but just to find someone to have sex with for the evening. And then, in the words of one user that the Vanity Fair article I read about it that kind of opened my eyes to it said he said people are looking for this app to help them hit it and quit it.

Jim: Hit it and quit it.

Levi: Hit it and quit it.

Jim: I mean, I guess the question then, Levi, is what is going on? You know, I’m the parent of two teen boys. John, you have 20-somethings and teens.I knew none of this. And I really didn’t. And I’m in the culture more or less, getting information from our producers here at the program. Yet I had no idea the depth of this, this easy-hookup culture.

Levi: Well, in - in New York City, 80 percent of 18 - 18 to 24-year-old men and 60 percent of 18 to 24-year-old women are on Tinder. So that’s how - and as New York goes, so eventually goes the culture.

Jim: Yeah, and - and I guess the question, again, is what is happening spiritually? Why this desire for almost nameless, faceless, physical intimacy?

Levi: Well, really, what it is, is - it’s, I mean, you have Amazon doing it for packages. You have Uber doing it for cars. And now, you have these apps that are bringing this to - to what is ultimately an instant-gratification obsessed approach to relationships.

Jim: Yeah.

Levi: And - and so that’s what’s happening. It’s just now becoming easier. You used to have to go to a bar or club to meet someone to hook up with for the night. Now, you can fire up an app.

Jim: What - when it comes to commitment and infidelity...

Levi: Sure.

Jim: ...How - we’re losing that as a culture, the importance of it. There seems to be fewer and fewer boundaries for people.

Levi: Oh, without a doubt. Millennials and younger are viewing sexuality more and more as simply a purely physical exercise. And at the end of the day, if you think about it, the evolutionary mentality, really, that’s - that’s all it is. If we’re talking purely secular humanism and there’s no God, then sex is just biological. It’s just an appetite. And so that’s more and more what’s happening. As God’s out of the equation, sex is just something physical. So - so as long as you’re taking the proper precautions to not get pregnant or not get an STD, then it doesn’t make any difference. That’s at least how this worldview is looking at it.

Jim: Yeah, and when I mention that research by Mark Regnerus and you look at the attitudes of Christian young people, who don’t know really what they believe when it comes to premarital sex, cohabitation, as a pastor of churches in three, four different states, I mean, what do you see in the young people that are in your church? What’s happening there? Why do they not have the foundation of what fidelity and commitment is all about?

Levi: Well, those things without context are archaic. They don’t make any sense in this modern day. Plus, I think a lot of us saw our parents go through divorces. And a lot of young people, they - it caused there to be a disillusionment for all things marriage. It didn’t work. It doesn’t seem like it works.And so now, fast-forward as things compress because, I mean, technology is just changing in the world. The average American touches their phone 150 times a day.

Jim: I - I read that in your book. That’s amazing.

Levi: Once every six minutes. (Laughter) And it’s changing us.

John: Going to be keeping track now for the rest of the day how often I do this.

Jim: No, I’m not going to count.

Levi: Well, they say some of us are developing phantom vibration sensation.

Jim: Now, I do get that.

John: I’ve had that. I’ve had that.

Levi: Where you feel like you’ve got a text...

Jim: (Laughter) My phone’s not in my pocket and it’s...

Levi: Bzz (ph).

Jim: Yeah.

Levi: But then you - but then, well, I’ll just go on Instagram for a second, you know. And it’s just - it’s just changing us. And now, it’s impacting relationships, too, and sexuality. And I think, for me, the concern isn’t, OK, technology’s bad. Oh, let’s go back to churning butter and living on an Amish, you know, settlement.

Jim: Right.

Levi: And I think the desire for sex - we need to tell our young people, the desire for sex is good. That’s God given. It just needs to be God governed because God knows that sex isn’t just pleasurable. It’s also powerful.

Jim: Yeah.

Levi: And when you take what He told you not to touch, it can keep Him from being able to give you what He wanted you to have all along.

Jim: Well, and again, that appetite is yelling at us, right? It’s the culture - everything in it is grabbing us and everybody, I mean, both non-Christian and Christian. And that’s what’s so amazing.Levi, you mentioned about seeing the disillusionment in marriage because kids are seeing their parents break apart. That was part of your story.

Levi: For sure.

Jim: Your mom and dad had some issues...

Levi: Yup.

Jim: ...Couldn’t make it. How did that make you feel? Were you a teenager at the time?

Levi: Sure.

Jim: What was going on? And what impact did it have on you?

Levi: Yeah, I mean, it definitely devastated our home and our family to experience divorce. And you see why, you know, it’s - it’s not something God wants us to experience.

Jim: And you were in the church, going to church...

Levi: Yeah.

Jim: ...Listening to Focus.

Levi: I grew up in Colorado, listened to Focus on the Family as a kid every day, driving to school. And - and when that happened, I mean, I could see how if you don’t have that firm foundation and the right worldview, it could cause you - I could see how many of my peers would go, what do I need marriage for? That - that was not a happy. I’ll just get the benefits of it.You know, single, mingle, you know, you’d be able to date and play - play the market a little bit and get a little bit of best of both worlds. But fortunately, I had enough of a Scriptural frame of reference to - and the right community around me to give me the stability that I needed.

Jim: Was that a long journey for you, though? Did you have that discouragement? What took place? What happened to you?

Levi: Absolutely, well, I mean, there was - it is such a long journey. Ultimately, I struggled with so many things throughout junior high and high school. Pornography was a big part of my journey throughout middle school. I mean, it just really got a hold of me. And it was really addicting. And I - I shudder to think what young teenagers and adolescents coming of age today have to deal with because I was talking about a physical magazine that a neighbor gave me. Now, it’s on every device, every screen coming into our lives. And they say one out of three 13-year-old boys is a heavy porn user now, with the average watching 50 clips a week.

John: Oh.

Levi: And I know how that got ahold of me with just a physical magazine. And so that was challenging.I had - I struggled through depression and loneliness and anxiety, even thoughts of self-harm and suicide. And - it was my youth group. It was the church. It was coming - getting around the right people.There’s nothing that impacts your life like who’s in your life. And that was ultimately what - what God used to get my heart.

Jim: Boy, that is so good.

John: Well, our guest today on Focus on the Family is Levi Lusko. He’s written the book Swipe Right. We’re talking pretty candidly about sexual design, what God intended for sex. And I love that quote, it’s a gift from God and needs to be God governed. You’ll find, uh, Levi’s book and resources, including ways that you can talk to your children about sex and, uh, God’s design at focusonthefamily.com/radio.

Jim: Levi, in your bookSwipe Right, you used an analogy that I’d never even heard about involving a pineapple...

Levi: Oh, yeah.

Jim: ...In the ancient world (laughter) and the value they placed on it. Describe that for us because the application to sexuality is quite obvious when you make it.

John: Hm.

Levi: Yeah, well, Christopher Columbus, you know, sails the ocean blue, 1492. And one of the things that was discovered in the New World was the - this - a mysterious fruit that was juicy like an apple but shaped like a pine cone. They brought it back to Europe. And they called it a pineapple.

Europeans were fascinated by it. No one had ever seen one before. And it became the ultimate symbol of luxury and privilege. In fact, at one point, at the height of the pineapple craze, it was influencing architecture - one of the domes on St. Paul’s Cathedral, giant pineapple dome on it. And it would have been the defining moment in a person’s life to have a single taste of pineapple. They were sold in today’s currency for as much as $8,000. But most people - if they could get their hands on one, they wouldn’t eat them. They would display them in their home until they rotted, often having viewing parties, where people would come over and a pineapple would be unveiled. (LAUGHTER)

Jim: Oh, man.

Levi: And what’s interesting today...

John: Hard to believe.

Jim: It’s hard to relate to that. But I get it.

Levi: Well, it’s hard to - but this is all true.

Jim: Yeah.

John: Yeah.

Levi: And the reality is the advent of the steamship and the pineapple plantations, Dole and all that in Hawaii, it made the pineapple widely accessible. And thus its value drastically diminished. Today, you can get one for $2.99 at Albertsons, you know. And no one’s going crazy over it. They have them on the pedestal. You’ll spear them with the toothpick. No one - no one cares. And that’s because it’s everywhere. And anything that’s everywhere is - not have the same value as something that’s a very unique, guarded experience.

And I think sexuality is like that because God, if you look at the Garden of Eden, had this beautiful, unique, custom privilege of one person out of all the billions of people on the world that you would have sex with. But now, everyone is kind of, like, having sex with everyone. In pornography, you’re seeing thousands of naked bodies. And easy come, easy go. The value is diminished because of the access to it.

John: Hmm.

Jim: Yeah, again, it’s a great analogy, that rarity and how there is value in the rarity of something. And then when it’s plentiful...

Levi: Precious - it becomes precious.

Jim: ...It becomes cheap.

Levi: Yeah.

Jim: And that’s a great way to talk to your teens about it, I think.When you look at the pervasive nature of sexuality within the church - and a past - being a pastor, again, you’ve got a wonderful vantage point in this regard - why is it that it’s so difficult for us as Christians to bridle the appetite? Let’s face it, if we’re claiming Christ, we’re in the word, we’re praying, we’re trying to live a life that honors him, why is this the Achilles’ heel of so many of us believers?

Levi: Well, I think a lot of it has to do with consumption. It’s what we’re taking in. It’s not a lack of taking in the good things. We’re taking in church. We’re getting podcasts. We’re all, you know, listening to worship records. So it’s not maybe what we’re taking in a good way. I think is also what we’re allowing in in a negative way.

I tell a story in the book about how one time I, you know, accidentally drank a Red Bull at 2:00 in the morning, thinking my alarm clock had gone off. I woke up, drank a Red Bull, realized it was 2:00 in the morning. So I spent the next five hours fitfully trying to sleep. But what I had put into my body was keeping me from being able to do what I wanted to do.

And I think maybe if - if we’re watching things on TV and the movies that we’re watching are bringing garbage in, well, garbage is going to come out. Doesn’t matter how much church you’re taking in and Bible you’re reading if you’re also mainlining these toxic substances. The Bible says as a man thinks in his heart, so he is. So what you’re viewing, what you’re bringing in - I mean, it’s like driving around in Colorado in the wintertime with the heater on but the window down. If you close the window, you’ll keep the wrong thing from coming in. And then you’ll be able to move forward in your walk with God.

Jim: It sounds right. But it - again, it’s just so difficult. I mean, how practically to put that into play?

John: Hmm.

Jim: I’ve got two teen boys.

Levi: Yup.

Jim: And, you know, we did not do cable or anything for a long time. And then, you know, with elections coming up and other interests that I had, you know, Jean and I talked about it. And we finally, you know, put the cable in. And I get more football games (laughter) and that kind of thing. But...

Levi: Sure, well, I don’t even know if cable’s the big problem these days. With Netflix...

Jim: Yeah.

Levi: ...You have a real upset because where - traditional TV - if you were on HBO, you knew you were going to get something scandalous in the evening. So as long as you were on major network shows, they’re limited in what they can put on there.

But now, with Netflix being a studio basically creating content, you never know when you start a new series or show if it’s going to be full frontal nudity or the craziest sex stuff because there’s no rating on what you watch on Netflix.

Jim: Yeah, and so what is your advice in that regard? Talk to me as a dad of two teen boys. What would you say in the daily household, we should be doing?

Levi: I would say dialogue, do your research. I mean, get those reviews - the Plugged In reviews. I mean, that - I would say do your homework. And keep the conversation going.

Jim: So make sure there’s some restraint is the point.

Levi: Oh, absolutely.

Jim: Don’t - don’t just let it go.

Levi: Well, the Bible says if a - if a man has no control over his spirit, he’s like a city that’s walls are broken down. And I think in our homes, we need to keep the walls up. We need to keep, like Rahab, the red, crimson cord up in the window sill. It’s our jobs to be a defender. And obviously, our kids are going to make mistakes. And when they do, I think we want them to know they can rush to us and that we’re not going to judge them for what they’ve done. We’re going to listen, care and explain ourselves. Not just have, like, a totalitarian, “No this for you!” - but here’s why this is harmful.

Jim: Yeah, you’ve got to explain it. Don’t just turn the remote off and say, we don’t watch that.

Levi: Yeah.

Jim: Tell them why.You mentioned the Esau syndrome, which caught my attention again. What did you mean by that Esau syndrome?

Levi: Well, Hebrews...

Jim: When it comes to sexuality?

Levi: Yeah, Hebrews 12 says of Esau watch out for the Esau syndrome. This is the message translation, trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite.

Here’s the warning I have for young people and one of the reasons I really wrote this book, I think it’s real easy to trade what you want most for what feels good right now. Any of us can do something in minutes that would feel great. But we would regret it for decades...

Jim: Yeah.

Levi: ...And explaining it to our grandkids, we would have shame that we did this, that we went there, that we traded that.

John: OK, so some are listening and don’t know that whole story.

Levi: Oh, I should probably explain Genesis 25. Good point. In Genesis 25, you have these two twin boys. They’re both grandsons of Abraham. And they’re both, um, in the family line that would bring about all the promises, including the messianic line, all the blessings on Israel. All of that was going to go to these two boys.

Now, the oldest or the firstborn is the one who had right of first refusal on all of it. His name was Esau. But he had a twin brother, who was born slightly later than him, named Jacob. They were very different. Esau was the REI guy (laughter), climbing the 14,000-foot-tall mountains in Colorado.

John: He was definitely outdoors guy.

Levi: Jacob was at Urban Outfitters, you know, shopping for some deals. (Laughter) And - and so the whole story goes that Esau was hunting, came in hungry. Jacob cooked him a fabulous meal, the soup that smells so good. And he asked Esau would you like some soup. I’ll give it to you if you give me your birthright.

Now, think about it. Had Esau not been hungry, he never would have considered this deal. So this is an important lesson for every listener. Your standards get lower when your stomach is empty. So keep your stomach full with the value that is in Christ and what you know from God. And then when temptation comes, it won’t smell as good.

So basically, Esau’s standards are low. He’s super hungry, hypoglycemic. He’s hangry (ph).

Jim: He’s hangry! (laughter).

Levi: And so when Jacob offers him this deal, he says, where do I gotta sign on the dotted line? Because he wasn’t thinking of some far-off promise. He was thinking of feeling good right then.So I tell young people, you know, feeling good when the windows are steamed up on a Friday night, that’s - that’s really good. But you’ve got to back it out and ask it, what is this going to look like 20 years from now? You know, because listen, now yells louder. But later lasts longer.

Jim: Wow, that is a great statement. I mean, these are good quips to talk to your teen kids about, even preteens. And man, that’s the reason we do programs like this, Levi. I am so grateful for what you’ve done. And part of that is born out of your own experience. You talked a while ago about your mom and dad’s divorce, the impact it had on you. It did take you into a journey of pornography.

Levi: Oh, yeah.

Jim: You’ve experienced it firsthand.

Levi: Well, it was even before the divorce. Um, I was a sixth grader. And USA Today says the average age a young person will accidentally see porn for the first time is now age 6.

Jim: Six?!

Levi: Six because it’s on - you have to go out your way to avoid it. Um.

Jim: Right.

Levi: But I was a sixth grader. My next-door neighbor, he - he said, hey, look what I found in my dad’s garage, shows me a big stack of Playboy magazines. I will never forget as long as I live looking at that first Playboy.

It’s been said it takes 15 minutes to look at one, 15 years to forget what you saw. But it’s been more than 20 years for me, and I still remember how I felt, where I was standing in the garage. It locked it in because, of course, there’s chemicals in your mind that grooves - these things - it impacts you on a - they say it’s as addicting as heroin. It lights up the same centers of the brain as heavy drugs do because it - there’s all kinds of implications in it. So that to me started a journey of these appetites that we’ve been talking about, making wrong decisions in that way and doing things I couldn’t take back.

Jim: No, and that’s, you know, a great reminder for us. And, of course, again, you’re - at the time, you’re living in an intact Christian family, going to a Christian school, right here in Colorado Springs.

Levi: That’s right.

Jim: So it - a lot of fear there for parents, who are trying to build the blockade against the culture, to keep things out. What advice do you have for us? I mean, to say what do you do?

Levi: Well, my advice would be to not overreact because what you hear that, you’re like, OK, my kid’s never leaving the house. He’s in the basement, you know. We’re going...

Jim: He’s never going to a friend’s house.

Levi: Y2K shelter, eating canned soup. You know, but if you make that decision, then they’re going to turn 18 and have the full arsenal of all the world pulled down on them.

And I think the best example I’ve heard of how I want to raise up my kids is, um, I heard, um, Dave Ramsey talk about the rope metaphor and how he would hand out a little bit of rope, a little bit of rope. And if they made a mistake, OK, we talk about it. You’re losing a little bit of that rope. But the goal is, by the time you’re out, to have given you all the rope and not done so all at once because then all that slack’s in the line. And like water skiing, then the line’s going to pop. But you want to be slowly, gradually handing that rope out.

So with my daughter, I try and tell her, hey, look, as you’re on this iPod Touch, as you’re on this laptop, there are things you could see and even if I put a software on that you could find a way around it because you’re probably better at this than I am. But there are things you could see that you won’t want to see, that you won’t be able to unsee. So I think the key is to keep them talking. And yes, you want boundaries, but you want to gradually prepare them to make wise decisions. When they’re off at a state college, they will have all the decisions to make.

John: Levi, I’m still thinking about some of the stats you shared about porn use. And it seems that it’s inevitable that our kids are going to be exposed to it. So let’s assume that your daughter hasn’t yet that, your 11-year-old hasn’t yet. What are you going to do when you find out she’s been exposed to something that you didn’t want her to see?

Levi: Well, we’ve been through that, you know. And, you know, you can’t be on Instagram and not at some point see something. You’re - you click the discover page and all of a sudden, it’s there. And we’ve walked through that. And I think for us, it’s not just saying this is bad, it’s explaining.

John: Yeah, what’s the script look like?

Levi: ...And fortunately, there’s so much research on this. Though it looks like bringing that in would make you better at sex, it actually makes you worse at it.Those who have no background of pornography or previous partners tend to have a higher rate of sexual pleasure in marriage.

So I think for us, we’re trying to appropriately say, hey, this seems like it would be great. It would feel good for a second. But what it’s actually going to do is diminish your ability to enjoy this gift that God has for you. So we’re trying to be honest about not just how it - it would feel good. I don’t want to be the dad that says sin isn’t fun because then they’ll touch and go, wait, you lied to me. I want to tell them this is great but it’s the bait on the hook the devil wants to set in your throat.

Jim: Wow, wow, I mean, that is powerful. Levi, there is much more to talk about. Let’s come back, if you’re willing, next time and...

Levi: Let’s do it.

Jim: ...Pick it up. I’ve got one more question I want to ask you before we sign off here. But so far this has been so instructive and so helpful.Your wonderful bookSwipe Right: The Life-and-Death Power Of Sex And Romance- this is one of those must have resources, especially for parents but also for married couples who are struggling, 20, 30, 40, 50-somethings who are still struggling to figure out the power of sexuality in their relationships and how to, uh, really honor God in all of it, while still finding that satisfaction in monogamous commitment of marriage, lifelong commitment. And that’s God’s design. And that’s what we’re here to help you achieve.

John: And we’d really like to get this book, Swipe Right into your hands along with an audio copy of our broadcast. We’ll include tomorrow as well. We’ll send that complimentary bundle-- the book and audio-- when you make a financial gift of any amount. And that’s our way of saying thank you for supporting our efforts to strengthen and help families. Donate at focusonthefamily.com/radio or when you call 800-232-6459. 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY.

We also have a free online document at our website called “The Talk.” It’s downloadable and it’s going to enable you as a parent to have practical, ongoing conversations with your child about the topics we’ve covered today. Again the website is focusonthefamily.com/radio.

Jim: Levi, that last question for me is real simple. And it’s born out of that tenderness for the person who’s made mistakes. You know, they - they have regrets. And they’re still living in that place. And they don’t feel like, “If you knew what I did and if God knows what I did, there’s no way he’s going to forgive me.” Speak to that person.

Levi: For sure. Well, I would say this. The goal is progress, not perfection. God wants us to make progress and incremental steps towards his plan for our lives. So I think, first of all, it’s not an all-or-none issue. We’ve all made mistakes.

And I would say secondly, it’s never too late where God’s concerned. I spoke this Swipe Right message one time in at a church in Dallas. And a 70-year-old woman came up to me with tears in her eye. She grabbed my hands, and she said, if I could have heard this message 50 years ago, you could have saved me 50 years of regret.

Jim: Hm.

Levi: And I looked her right in the eyes back. And I said - I said, ma’am, with all due respect, your life’s not over yet. And Hosea 2:15 says God can make the valley of Achor into a door of hope. And Achor is where the sins of, um -of the man who stole the treasure from Jericho, Achan, was buried. And it was a place - it was just this place of just deep regret, not just for him but his family suffered for it. And I think we - many of us have done things we wish we could take back that we can’t.

But God can make even your mess into your message. He can take your pain and make it your platform. So the goal isn’t for you to be able to change your yesterday, it’s to give him your today and let it become tomorrow, a new past.

Jim: Well said. Levi, let’s come back next time and pick it up.

Closing:

John: And do make plans now to join us for Part Two of this fascinating conversation with Pastor Levi Lusko. Now here at Focus on the Family, we want to equip your family to navigate sexuality and purityissues, according to God’s design, and one resource that’ll help you do that is our Brio magazinefor teen girls. Brio is very popular and offers practical advice on topics like body image and social media, relationships, living out your faith and you can learn more about this awesome teen magazine at focusonthefmaily.com/radio.

Now coming up next time on Focus on the Family: how to manage your sexual desire within God’s rules for purity.

Teaser:

Levi: Sin isn’t bad because it’s forbidden, God forbid it because it’s bad. He doesn’t want us to harm ourselves. Someone said, every time God says “Don’t”; you can finish it this way, “Don’t hurt yourself.” And that’s why He gave us these rules.

End of Teaser

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Guest

Levi Lusko

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Levi Lusko is the pastor of Fresh Life Church, a multi-site church in Montana, Utah and Oregon which he and his wife, Jennie, pioneered in 2007. He is also a public speaker and the author of two books, Swipe Right and the best-seller Through the Eyes of a Lion. Levi and Jennie have five children: Alivia, Daisy, Clover, Lennox and Lenya, who is in heaven. Learn more about Levi by visiting his website, www.levilusko.com.