Earlier this week, we shared my interview with Noah Filipiak about purity culture and its effect on men. This is a new perspective for many of you who have only heard about the hurt purity culture caused women, and so I was excited to talk to Noah about his experience.
Noah is a pastor, author, and founder of Beyond Ministries, a ministry created to help men and women overcome porn and develop biblical identity and sexuality. In our interview, Noah began with admitting some of his own shortcomings:
This wasn’t my wife’s fault. I was asking my wife to give me what only Jesus can give me, and I had a very contorted view of what sex was.
No woman or man can give you what only Jesus can give you.
When my wife and I got married, we were both virgins and I still teach that. I still think sex is meant for marriage. But when I was growing up in church, sex was really the prize.
I was taught about sex in youth group and when I started reading sexual purity books in college: “Just channel all these desires towards your wife. And if you’re single, then you better get married so you can have sex.” What that did to me was I entered marriage with an incredible amount of entitlement. And that’s really where things started to fall apart.
We were never taught—I was never taught—to not objectify women. I was basically just taught, objectify your wife. “Don’t look at porn. Look at your wife that way.” I think this messes up a lot of marriages because guys are looking to their wives basically to be their pornography and not seeing their wives as whole people, not seeing intimacy as something that is not just sexual, but is also relational.
What was the spiritual battle underneath that?
As I was wrestling through this, I didn’t want to abandon my faith. I didn’t want to abandon my marriage. I was constantly going to God with it.
What broke me in my entitlement was God saying, “You don’t want me to give you what you deserve.” It was a wake-up call that I wasn’t living into the gratitude of the Gospel.
I was acting like the Gospel was a consolation prize of some kind. I wasn’t living into the riches of the Gospel. By Gospel, I unpack that to mean the love of God for me. I was looking to my wife to love me in a way that only God can love me. The key shift was shifting from entitlement: God give me what I deserve, to mercy: God is actually not giving me what I deserve. So then everything He has given me is a gift. My wife is a gift.
I’ve heard stories of Christian kids that get married quickly primarily because they want to have sex. Can you talk through why that’s not healthy or biblical?
It’s just a setup for failure in marriage.
There’s a lot more to marriage than sex, first of all. And second of all, when you get married, things change. You might think you’re going to have lots of sex, but you’re not necessarily. And another myth is if you’re looking at porn, marriage will replace that—”I’ll stop looking at porn when I get married.” That doesn’t happen either.
What encouragement would you have for men in terms of the mature love God is calling husbands to and how they steward their sexual relationship?
What we have to do is say, “I’m not a citizen of this world, I’m a citizen of Jesus’ kingdom. And I’m going to look at Scripture, I’m going to look at what love is. What does it mean to love my wife the way Christ loves the Church? What does it mean to just love? What does it mean to give dignity and respect to women and not see them as objects?”
We have to love our wives. We have to love like Jesus. We have to learn what love is. We have to sacrifice ourselves. Sex is not a need. You can get through your day without sex. Sex is good, and we should work in our marriages towards having healthy sex lives. But I think once we start saying it’s a need, that’s when the entitlement switch flips on, and then we start making all kinds of rationalizations for our behavior.
Listen to the full episode here.