The following article caught my eye the other day. Initially I chuckled, and then it caused me to think of some of the peripheral values/issues involved:
TAMPA - A pastor has a new challenge for his parishioners. It involves sex - a subject that may be taboo in many congregations.
The Relevant Church in Tampa's Ybor City has issued a 30-day sex challenge.
"It's going to be tempting and awkward at the same time for sure," said parishioner Brent Cayson.
Single men and women can't have sex for 30 days, and married couples are urged to have it every day.
"If you look at studies, studies say in 30 days you can develop a habit," said Pastor Paul Wirth. It definitely caught wives in the church by surprise.
"Our married people are far more fearful than our single people," said Wirth.
"Sex is about more than intercourse and that's what we're trying to tell people," said church member Jarret Haas.
Wirth has found biblical references that he says suggest Jesus disapproved of pre-marital sex and promoted sex in marriage. So, he believes people connect to God through life-long commitment.
That's why he tells his single followers to abstain, and his married followers to indulge.
I have to concur with Pastor Wirth that scriptures suggest that we should abstain from pre-marital physical intimacy before marriage, and that we should engage in it after marriage. In fact, the scriptures are rather blunt on the subject. No physical intimacy before marriage made # 7 on Moses’ top ten list, i.e. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Conversely, The very first commandment that the Lord gave to Adam and Eve was, “Be fruitful and multiply.” See Genesis 1:28.
That said, the single members of his, or any congregation, should abstain not just for 30 days, but until they get married. I don’t think that I want to discuss how frequently married couples should share this intimacy, I’ll leave that to them.
Is it really feasible to believe that a habit that involves such powerful physical urges as this can be made in 30 days? If I stop any particular sin, or resist any given temptation for 30 days, does that mean that I shouldn’t be troubled with it ever again?
Let me say that I see persisting in any worthwhile behavior for 30 days as a good thing. If I was an aspiring writer struggling to find time to write, do I think that it would benefit me to get up an hour earlier than normal and to focus that time on writing for 30 days? Absolutely. It would help to develop a pattern that would become easier to do over time.
However, I would suggest that ceasing sin and temptation is a different matter. As it relates to singles, I think the issue above comes closer to how to overcome addiction.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has wonderful addiction recovery programs for those that have sexual addictions, for those that have substance abuse problems, to any other kind of addiction you can think of. They have a manual to help those that desire to overcome addiction that can be found HERE.
It follows a 12 step program similar to AA and other groups. Its 12 steps are:
Admit that you, of yourself, are powerless to overcome your addictions and that your life has become unmanageable.
Come to believe that the power of God can restore you to complete spiritual health.
Decide to turn your will and your life over to the care of God the Eternal Father and His Son,Jesus Christ.
Make a searching and fearless written moral inventory of yourself.
Admit to yourself, to your Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ, to proper priesthood authority, and to another person the exact nature of your wrongs.
Become entirely ready to have God remove all your character weaknesses.
Humbly ask Heavenly Father to remove your shortcomings.
Make a written list of all persons you have harmed and become willing to make restitution to them.
Wherever possible, make direct restitution to all persons you have harmed.
Continue to take personal inventory, and when you are wrong promptly admit it.
Seek through prayer and meditation to know the Lord’s will and to have the power
to carry it out.
Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, share this message with others and practice these principles in all you do.
As I read these steps, I am convinced that Heavenly Father and my Savior need to be part of the equation to overcome bad habits. First and foremost, I need to accept that I have an addiction, or bad habit that I want to overcome. And then, realize that reliance on the Savior is the key. One of my favorite quotes about changing behavior was made by President Boyd K. Packer, “I have long believed that the study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than talking about behavior will improve behavior.”
I applaud Pastor Wirth’s desire to help his flock. I hope and pray that the Lord will bless them in their efforts to become more Christ-like.
More importantly, I encourage those that may be struggling with sin and temptations that seem overwhelming, to download the manual above and see if you can find value there.
For me, maybe I’ll start getting up an hour earlier each day for the next 30 days, to spend a little more time on my writing…
What are your thoughts?