By Jeff Goins, Editor
1. There are a lot of Christian books about porn, sex, and purity. How is yours different?
My opinion is that most books deal with sexual sin but they don’t confront it. We are blasted at every turn by an immorally sex-crazed culture: Simulated oral sex on Prime Time television; “hooking up” on Reality TV; music videos where a rapper swipes a credit card through a woman’s backside. With that constant barrage of immorality we need a message that fights back with the same intensity. 13 Ways To Ruin Your Life does that. It’s a truth-driven read with a call to repentance. At the same time it doesn’t beat the reader over the head. I share a lot of my personal story, struggles, and experiences. It’s funny in some places and sobering in others. Still, I give a constant callfor the sake of Christ, and for your good. Repent. It’s a “finger in the chest” in some sense, without the yelling and anger. It’s a look in the eye that says, “For the sake of Christ, don’t ruin your life.” You don’t get that kind of balance in a lot of the purity books.
2. Out of the 13 ways to ruin your life, which do you think is the worst? What’s the #1 way to ruin your life, in your estimation?
That’s a tough one. On a practical scale I would say the Chapter 5 tip, “Take Just One More Look.” How many guys within the battle have done this? I would argue almost all. Me included. Temptation lurks especially when you want a break from life, an escape. Then upon giving in, guilt comes and you think, “What the heck? I’ll never win at this. Why even try?” So another look, and another, and another. Addiction’s fangs are sinking in.
3. How were you inspired to use the story of the “young man” in Proverbs who is tempted by the prototypical “adulteress” as the basis for a book about pornography and sexual addiction?
My pastor, Harry Walls, mentored me through it over a year ago. I was blown away. It disturbed me. I couldn’t quit thinking about it.
The language of the Proverb is gripping, jolting, blunt, harsh, and unapologetic. It’s King Solomon looking at his son and saying, “See that young man over there seduced by sexual sin? He’s ‘naive’ about what it will cost him.” That word “naive” can be translated as “stupid.” Talk about a finger in the chest! But we need to hear it.
He also says to his son in Proverbs 7:22-23 (my paraphrase), “Take another look. That young man is like an ox going to the slaughter. A bird headed to a trap. A deer caught in a corner with an arrow flying toward its heart. Without a clue it’s going to cost him his life.” The butcher could have raised the ox up from a calf: loving on it; petting it; feeding it. Then one day the butcher destroyed it. The bird could have played around the trap. One day it got him. The deer could have thought all was well and fed on the bait. Then, bam, the arrow strikes. And he didn’t see it coming. This is what sexual sin is and does. It’s deceiving by it’s availability. It’s deadly because it’s a feel-good escape. The Proverb brings that to life. It’s just so real, relevant, and disturbing.
4. For those who have “ruined” their lives through premarital sex, pornography, or other compulsive sexual behavior, what kind of hope is available to them?
Hope. That’s the glory of Jesus. Theres a guy who after reading my book went online and confessed to the online community about his struggle with pornography. His letter was heartbreaking. You could hear the repentance, regret, and fear in his words. He gave everyone permission to think he was “gross” and to abandon him. However, he received the opposite. People, friends and acquaintances poured in their love and support for him. They assured him of their love. I’m sure he still has to deal with some fallout over the sin, personally and relationally. That’s just life and consequences of sin. But the love that overwhelmed him is proof of the love, forgiveness, and peace of Jesus. Let the debris fall where it must, and cling to Jesus.
5. Is there a particular story of a person ruining his/her life through sexual addiction that has really stuck with you? What are some of the most powerful examples of purity and impurity that you’ve heard or witnessed?
I have a female friend and also a female family member who went through horrible divorces because their husbands were addicted to porn. What’s sad is that their husbands never saw a problem with it and enjoyed their sin. Yet these men destroyed the dignity and value of their wives and fractured the trust of their children.
Also, I hear stories about pastors, youth pastors, and worship leaders falling to sexual sin. Most are caught in adultery; others have their porn addiction go public. The fallout from this is devastating. They were platform people who have been followed, revered, respected, and trusted, and they destroyed their ministry. And they confused and hurt people deeply. People shouldn’t put these ministers on a pedestal, I agree, but it’s simply tough not to do that.
Powerful example of purity: A guy who doesn’t just want to be a “nice Christian,” but a Godly man. He wants to protect girls from himself. A guy who loves Jesus more than anyone and anything so that he might love and respect a lady the way she deservesas a daughter of God. Girls are dying for these kinds of guys. I hear it all the time. “Where is he?!” they’ll beg. And I meet guys who feel the same about the ladies.
6. How do you balance the biblical call to personal holiness with the seemingly-inevitable fleshly struggle of sin? Undoubtedly, many young men and woman struggle with personal purity and often feel defeated. How can they overcome that feeling of defeat without delving into legalism or a sin-avoidance gospel? That is, in your own life, Jarrod, how does grace abound?
Christianity is impossible to live. That’s why you hear Jesus say, “Abide in me” (John 15). That’s why Paul says, “In view of God’s mercy” before He says, “offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God” (Romans 12). We are constantly pointed to grace, to mercy, and to love. That’s the power. Christian “rah-rah-ing” to “be more pure” is just dumb. We must know that God points to His Son and the cross before He commands us to do anything. And those commands come so that we might know our Creator deeplyall for His glory, and our good.
When I am tempted with my eyes I think, “lust will never satisfy.” That’s my mantra. Jesus is the bread that satisfies the burning hunger. Temptation comes but then conviction comes. The conviction is not, “Jarrod, you better not look! Do you hear me?! Boy, I’m telling you!!!” No, the conviction is the Spirit of Jesus saying, “Jarrod, my son. Look at me. Look at me. I’m better. I alone complete you. I satisfy you. Don’t settle for this lie. Look at my blood pouring down for you on my Cross. For you, Jarrod. So that you would be mine. So that you would be free. So that you would have life.”