Some of my favorite commercials are the ones sponsored by “Above the Influence”.  To me, they have such a cool way of telling young people that drugs, well, ain’t cool.

Last week, I spoke at a church in Chicago.  The day before I got up to speak, God gave me a “cool” way to address the issues that lead to sexual addiction.  You know how they say that weed is the gateway drug to “hardcore drugs”?  Well, God gave me a list of gateway drugs to sexual addiction:

Porn: I know a lot of us rationalize that watching someone else have sex is a heck of a lot better than doing it ourselves.  Yes, it may not get your pregnant and you may not contract a STD while sitting around looking at flicks, but how long can you really watch two, three or ten people having sex before you want to do it?  Advertising agencies spend billions of dollars each year on 30 second commercials.  Why?  To get you to purchase their product.  Porn makes billions of dollars a year as well, their tapes are a lot longer than half a minute, and let me just say from personal experience that you can only look at a hot pizza or guy for so long before wanting to indulge.

Masturbation: Later this year, I will be publishing a book on courtship through the Bible and how we can apply some of those lessons even now.  One of the topics that I touch on is masturbation.  Of course, it has a “Shellie twist” to it.  Have you ever been to a restaurant and ordered a glass of water and they bring it to you in a dirty glass?  It doesn’t really matter how clean the water is, if the container has fingerprints all over it, it’s just not that appealing.  Oh, I know how addictive masturbation can be, trust me, but sex is only meant for you and your spouse; not you and someone who is not your spouse, including yourself.  Besides, it can be a very selfish act.  I once heard a counselor say that if you get used to masturbating to satisfy yourself, when you do get married, you may not have the patience or tolerance that your mate may need to learn how to please you.  Love is patient.  Lust never is.

Soap Operas:  My great-grandmother lived with us during some of my most impressionable years.  She used to love the heck out of the “Young and the Restless”.  To this day, I still get urges to check in on Genoa City.  Now here’s the problem with being hooked on soaps: THEY ARE NOT REAL.  But for the ladies, there’s something even more potentially destructive about them: THEY ARE FULL OF DRAMA.  I remember watching “Donahue” years ago and one of the writers of a soap said that a couple can only be happy for about two weeks before the viewers start getting bored and the writers have to “make up a problem”.  I know a lot of times in my life, sex was used (and abused) as a stress reliever.  Now, in a marital setting, I don’t think that is always a bad thing, but for us singles, there are greater physical and spiritual risks with running to sex as an aid and if you never realize that you are using (or abusing) sex, you will start thinking that it’s OK and there are no real lasting consequences…kind of like a soap opera.

Strip Clubs: OK, I’m gonna be short ‘n sweet with this one.  People pay good money to see someone naked.  You can get married and see that for free.  Next.

Erotica:  I must admit that at the pique of my porn addiction, it was erotica that got to me more than anything else.  I’m sure it’s because I’m a words girl.  However, because lust was never meant to satisfy you, you can only read about “a man with bulging biceps caressing you with his soft lips” for so long before you start expecting him to leap off of the paper.  And, if he won’t do, often an ex-boyfriend will.

Imbalanced Relationships:  A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a devotional entitled, “Lost in Translation”.  It was about one of the reasons why God doesn’t want us to be in unequally-yoked relationships.  Anyway, God gave me the analogy of two people from two different cultures trying to communicate.  For instance, the word used for “love” in Spanish is different than the word used for it in French.  If I say “amour” to a spanish-speaking individual, it may have little or no effect to them because there’s a great chance that they don’t have the slightest idea of what I’m talking about.  When you try and unite yourself with someone who does not have the same values as you do, it can be just as frustrating.  You may be trying to tell them that you want to wait until marriage for sex, while they’re saying an eight-week wait is their limit.  Sooner or later, one of you is either going to give up…or give in.

Sexually-Explicit Music (and believe it or not, you can find that in more than rap):  I remember the first song that made me think that music had gone too far.  It wasn’t that long ago, either.  It was a song called “Whistle While You Twirk”.  It’s too graphic, even for XXXChurch to explain what it means, but let me just put it this way: Music is a very powerful tool.  Many historians and theologians believe that while Lucifer was in heaven, he was the choir director and so the fact that a lot of commercialized music is where it is today, should be of shock to no one.  Usher had a song on his “Confessions” LP called, “That’s What It’s Made For” and the whole message was about not having “safer sex” because it feels so good.  Christina Aguilera used to sing about getting “Dirrty”.  Janet Jackson can moan with the best of ’em.  Long song short, you can be seduced without being touched.  Music proves that every single day.

Late-night Cable: First of all, let me just say that late night cable ain’t that late anymore.  But secondly, we all have enough trouble just dealing with what comes on “regular television” and in the movies, without having to deal with the visuals of soft-core pornography.  I’ll give you an example: A few weeks ago, I went to check out a movie that opened up with Justin TImberlake in a sex scene.  You didn’t really “see” anything, but it was still pretty intense.  Now, I’ve always found JT to be a cutie pie, but now I have an image in my mind of him being much more than cute.  Bottom line, what you see affects you.

Going Almost All The Way: Oh, if the Enemy can’t get you one way, he’ll get you another.  I remember hearing a therapist once say that if you get into the habit of going to a certain point and stopping over and over again, afterawhile, you will condition your mind into thinking that you don’t want to go any further.  Then, when the time comes to actually “move past that place”, you have difficulty because you’re not used to it.  That can bring forth just as much guilt and condemnation as it does for those who are “fully active”.  ‘Nuf said.

Low Self-Esteem:  In the book of Psalm, David said that he was fearfully and wonderfully made.  No, I don’t think that makes him conceited, being that man is made in the image of God.  I know that when I personally sin, it’s because of one or two reasons: I don’t trust God or I don’t believe what he says about me.  If I really believed that he does all things forever and nothing can be added to or taken from it (Ecclesiastes 3:14) and I still do things contrary to his will, I either don’t have faith in his word, or I don’t feel I am worthy of the promises and blessings found in it.  When I don’t value myself, I will let others put the price tag on me.  For instance, if I really believed I am so unbelievably hot, that you have to sign papers to get in on the benefits, then there’s no way I would let someone sleep with me if they were not my husband.  Diamonds ain’t cheap and ladies, the Bible says that a virtuous woman is above a ruby’s worth.  Make those dudes pay up.  You’re worth it.

I Corinthians 6:16 (Message) states:

There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, “The two become one.” Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never “become one.” There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for “becoming one” with another. Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body. “

Sex was a gift created for two people married who would be united in love forever.  The counterfeit for that blessing is to keep unmaried people bound by the curse of lust for the same length of time.

Remember, gateway drugs are meant to introduce you to something far more powerful and destructive—later down the road.  Your best bet would be to avoid the path at all costs.