Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Judy Starr had become infatuated with a captain of a ship.

Judy Starr: One beautiful day in the Port of Guadalupe, we were alone together. I just revealed to him how I felt, and I wanted to see if there was any reciprocal interest.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, November 15. Today’s program might not be appropriate for younger children. Our focus this week is purity.

Purity is one of the marks of genuine revival, and we’ve been looking at these characteristics during a series called Seeking Him: Experiencing the Joy of Personal Revival.

Today, you’ll hear from Holly Elliff, a pastor’s wife and regular contributor to Revive Our Hearts. She and Nancy are talking with Judy Starr. Judy and her husband share Christ around the world with Campus Crusade for Christ, and she’s written powerfully on the dangers of sexual immorality.

Here’s Nancy to get things started.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Judy, you’ve written a book called The Enticement of the Forbidden. It deals with the issues of women and sexual temptation, women and infidelity.

When we bring up this subject, I think some people initially think, “That’s a man’s subject. That’s a man’s problem.” But the fact is: It’s not just a man’s problem any more, is it?

Judy Starr: That’s right. We live in a paradigm now where women and infidelity is as much an issue for women as it is for men.

Nancy: I remember reading one statistic that indicates that nearly one in three visitors to adult websites is a woman. We’re talking here about the issue of pornography, as well. It’s not just a man’s issue.

Judy: That’s right. It’s quite surprising to most people, but that’s truly what’s happening now.

Holly Elliff: I think one of the most amazing things about that is that the statistics are basically the same for women in the church as for the lost world. We’re seeing that. As a pastor’s wife, I’m seeing that in the counseling I do.

Nancy: I think that most married women who are sitting in churches here in this country, most of our listeners for example, probably believe that they will never be attracted to another man, and certainly that they will never be involved in an affair.

But that isn’t necessarily the case, is it?

Judy: No. I certainly never thought it would happen to me.

Nancy: And yet, as you share very honestly in your book, it is exactly what happened to you.

Judy: That is what happened.

Nancy: You had been married five years, and God has blessed you with a godly husband, and you must have been one of those women who was sitting there thinking, “I would never be attracted to another man or become involved in an affair.”

Judy: Oh, absolutely. I thought that was the last thing I would ever do because I have such a wonderful husband. But we had come back from a very tiring trip where we had been working on a translation project.

We came back exhausted, and immediately I had to turn around and begin working on another project. It was putting a boat project together where we were showing the JESUS Film all through the Caribbean Islands.

I was working late hours putting this project together, and since I was going to bed late, I would also get up late, and I started skipping my times with the Lord.

When I do that, as for anyone, we become insensitive to the Lord’s leading and we begin responding to temptation and the flesh.

Nancy: So here you are, physically tired; you’re under pressure; you’ve got a lot going on; you’re short-cutting your time with the Lord; you’re becoming spiritually less sensitive, and you end up on this boat project where you’re with a ministry team going to share the JESUS Film on these islands.

Judy: That’s right. As soon as we got to the Caribbean, I was exhausted physically, and spiritually I was hardened to the Lord because I hadn’t been spending time with Him.

But as soon as I got on the boat, I realized within 48 hours there was a strong attraction between the captain and myself. We shared a lot of common interests.

Nancy: Your husband was on this boat with you?

Judy: That’s correct.

Nancy: And yet you see this other man. Is this like electricity going off, or what was it?

Holly: It’s like you were being drawn to him?

Judy: That’s exactly right. There was a real sense of camaraderie, a real sense of excitement to be with him. We shared so many common interests, and he was a former professional musician. So am I. He loved sports, and so do I.

So we just began spending a lot of personal time interacting and talking and sharing our hearts and sharing our common interests.

Holly: Where was Stottler during all this time?

Judy: Stottler was right there on the project, right alongside me, and he just assumed that it was someone else I was getting to know. He’s a very trusting husband and didn’t understand my propensity to be drawn toward this type of enticement to the forbidden.

Holly: And actually, at that point, you probably didn’t understand how much in danger you were.

Judy: I didn’t. Now, in hindsight, I certainly see all the warning signs.

Nancy: So, you began spending some significant time with the captain, just talking and getting to know each other?

Judy: That’s right. We spent quite a bit of time alone together. He was in charge of the sailing, and I was in charge of the whole itinerary, so we spent a lot of time working on those things together alone. We also we squeezed in some scuba diving time together.

Nancy: Hold on. Scuba diving. That doesn’t sound work-related.

Judy: No, we squeezed in some fun time.

Holly: Judy, at any point here, did you have red flags or flashing yellow lights going off in your head?

Judy: Oh, absolutely. In fact, I think within the first 48 hours when I sensed that attraction to him, I immediately had flags going up because I was aware that that was something I shouldn’t pursue. Yet my heart was so spiritually insensitive, and I was in a position, because I hadn’t spent time with the Lord, where I chose not to respond to God’s warning signs.

Holly: So how did you rationalize that in your mind to make it okay?

Judy: I think I probably just chose to ignore it more than anything, and just to plow on through, and say, “This isn’t going to go anywhere. My husband is here. There’s no danger; we’re just talking; we’ve done nothing wrong, so there’s no problem in pursuing this friendship.”

But as it proceeded, my mind and my heart began to change even in that area.

Holly: And this happened pretty quickly in your mind and in your heart.

Judy: I would say within two months I had gone from saying, “I wouldn’t even want anything to happen here,” to thinking that would be desirable.

Nancy: And as a result, emotions and the connection you were feeling there, and the fantasy world you were living in began to intensify.

Judy: Absolutely. As long as you keep things hidden in your mind, the fantasy can grow because it’s never exposed to the light. You can create all kinds of scenarios and fantasies you want to have happen because I never shared it with anyone at that point.

My mind was just free to be rampant and run toward sin all it wanted.

Holly: And you were still carrying on a normal life with Stottler and your ministry stuff?

Judy: I was trying to.

Holly: You thought you were, anyway.

Judy: Right.

Nancy: You were on this boat for how long?

Judy: We were on and off the boat for four months. We would travel back and forth between California and the Caribbean. I was often on the boat by myself, although I wouldn’t sleep on the boat by myself when Stottler wasn’t with me.

Nancy: So what was happening in the relationship with the captain?

Judy: It was continuing to grow. We were continuing to spend time together, and at one point, I decided to reveal to him how I felt. One beautiful day in the Port of Guadalupe, we were on the deck alone together.

I had made sure that we had time alone together, and I just revealed to him how I felt and wanted to see if there was any reciprocal interest.

Holly: That’s probably part of what Judy refers to in her book as “always wanting to live on the edge” a little bit, always pushing the outside of the envelope. Knowing that about Judy, I can see how at that point, she felt like she had to see what was out there a little bit.

Nancy: So you’ve declared your emotions, your feelings, you’ve made them known. You divulged them to the captain. What happened?

Judy: He responded that he considered me untouchable at that point because of my husband, but he said if I was ever available that he might be interested.

So my mind immediately began running to all the scenarios of what happens if God takes Stottler home, he dies, we divorce—what are the possibilities?

Nancy: So you get on this boat, Judy, and within 48 hours, you find yourself, in spite of the fact that you’re a happily married woman to a godly man in ministry, you find yourself attracted and emotionally drawn to this sailor, this captain. 

Yet there must have been a progression there by which you fueled and nurtured those emotions to be at the place where you ultimately came to, where you seriously considered leaving your marriage in order to have this man. How did you get from point A to that very dangerous position?

Judy: Well, it was by little steps, little choices that I made to ignore the Holy Spirit’s warning signs. For instance, spending time alone with him. When I sensed this attraction, I wanted to spend time individually with him, especially without Stottler there.

I would make scenarios where I would send Stottler on with the film team, and say, “I’m too tired tonight, and I’ll stay on the boat,” so that the captain and I could just spend time talking on the boat.

We also talked about personal issues in our lives and things that were very personal to our hearts, such as our love for music and the kinds of music that really stirred our souls, things like that.

We talked about his marriage and divorce. He had been divorced before. And we talked about situations in his family. All these personal issues just drew our hearts even closer together.

We also did fun things together. We went scuba diving together, and that fueled my passion for this man. My husband is unable to scuba dive, so here was someone that I could enjoy that part of my life with.

Holly: So there was really a progression in your mind from the moment you first saw him on the boat and thought, “Gee, this is a cute guy,” and somehow, little by little, your mind and your heart were drawn away from what you knew to be truth to the error that Satan was leading you into.

Judy: Absolutely. Every little step made it easier for me to imagine, from going to the point where I was thinking, “This is just a nice friendship,” to thinking, “There’s kind of something more here,” to the point where I was thinking, “I might like to spend the rest of my life with this man.”

Holly: And what makes it so dangerous is that it was so incremental. It wasn’t just one huge choice to jump outside God’s will. There were tiny, little steps that day by day led your heart away from truth.

Nancy: A key battleground here has got to be the mind. What were you thinking about? I assume your thoughts were going more and more toward this captain. Was there a sort of fantasy world going on in your mind?

Judy: Oh, absolutely. In my mind I was creating all kinds of possible scenarios. I didn’t start out that way, but the more time we spent together, the more I envisioned being with this man and him meeting my needs of things in sports areas and being out in the sun and in the ocean, those kinds of things.

I could envision this whole world of fantasy with this man.

Nancy: What happens when you let your mind go places that it shouldn’t go?

Judy: Well, it drew my heart completely away from my husband’s and totally towards the captain’s, so that at the end, I wanted to stay with the captain and felt fairly dead emotionally toward my husband.

Nancy: That, really, Judy, illustrates the danger of even peeking into the door called infidelity, as you say in your book.

Judy: Absolutely. Once you intentionally open that door and peek in, it’s like a room full of snakes, and you will be bitten if you step into the room.

Nancy: That’s exactly what the Scripture says again and again and again. It bothers me a little bit that we use the word “affair” to speak of an illicit relationship, because having an affair sounds so cool, so neat, so fun.

It sounds romantic, and the temptation of the moment often does seem so romantic. If it didn’t, why would we fall for it? It does seem alluring, and it’s that fantasy world versus reality.

The Scripture says God has a totally different perspective when we go for allure, and we go for the bait. What is going to happen is not what the fantasy world pictures for us, but the reality is something quite different

Judy: Absolutely. In the first nine chapters of Proverbs, God spends so much time talking about the actual horror, from His perspective, of infidelity and what we call an affair. It’s really like two people descending to the chamber of death, is what He says.

Holly: The world paints that very, very differently.

Judy: Absolutely. I keep saying I wish Hollywood would make a movie based on the first nine chapters of Proverbs. It would be an incredible horror movie from God’s perspective on infidelity.

Nancy: And that’s why in Proverbs chapter six, verses 27- 28 we read, “Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched?”

The context there is talking about what happens when you toy with the enticement of the forbidden. You are opening a door. You are starting down a pathway that Proverbs says ultimately leads to death and destruction.

Holly: And what’s so amazing about it is that you do not sense it at the beginning, that you walked little by little into that, not feeling that you were in a dangerous situation.

Nancy: You don’t sense what the end will be, but if you’re a child of God, God’s Holy Spirit lives in you, and you have the warning lights that go off if you’re listening to Him. If you’re sensitive to Him, you can sense, “This is not good. This is not best. This is not right.”

I want to hasten to say that God, by His grace, showed you a pathway out. We want to talk about what that pathway was.

But first, you actually came to a point where you were on the phone with the captain, you were off the boat for a little bit there, you were talking to the captain on a two hour phone call, and at the end of that call, you weren’t sure whether you were going to go back to your husband or stay on that boat with that captain.

Judy: Oh, absolutely. Reason no longer existed in my mind. It was just purely emotion running rampant.

Nancy: You got off the phone, and you really didn’t know for sure what you were going to do.

Judy: I didn’t. I was pretty much leaning toward staying in the Caribbean at that point.

Nancy: Were you crazy?

Judy: When you allow your emotions to take over, you just do the craziest things.

Nancy: You know, I’ve said often, and I don’t mean to be crass in saying this, but sin makes us stupid.

Judy: That’s the truth.

Nancy: You have an incredible husband. People maybe were thinking, “Maybe she just didn’t have a satisfying marriage,” or, “Her husband is kind of a jerk or something.”

It’s not the case. I had dinner with you and your husband last night, and he is a precious man of God. Actually I’ve known him longer than you have, not as well, nearly, but I’ve known Stottler for years and years.

He’s a godly man, and in the foolishness of your own heart, you had gone down a pathway that led you to say you could give up that marriage, give up that ministry, to sail around the Caribbean with a tanned sailor.

Judy: That’s crazy, isn’t it?

Holly: Judy would be the first one to tell you that even if she’d had a more phlegmatic temperament instead of a more passionate temperament, she had gone down the path little by little that had her in the position of great danger.

Nancy: And yet, the thing you did next, Judy, after you hung up the phone with the captain was probably the smartest thing you did in this whole process. You picked up the phone again and made another call.

Judy: I called Holly. Holly has been an accountability partner of mine for years and years, and as she said, has known me most of my adult life. I called her with a sense of desperation and needing to hear the truth.

Holly: It wasn’t that I was going to tell her anything she did not already know in her heart. Judy know the Scriptures. She knew the truth. It was not new truth, but she was desperate at that point, and at a really critical moment in her life. I think God’s gracious enabling, just in prompting her spirit to make one more phone call was just throwing out the last rope.

Judy: That’s right. It was God’s grace that I called, and more than its weight in gold, for sure, because Holly gave me the truth that I needed to hear that really did turn the tide.

Nancy: Before she gave you the truth, you had to be honest with her about what was going on.

Judy: That’s right. I had told her a little bit earlier in the project that I sensed this attraction, but I had not been honest with her at that point about the depth of my galloping emotions.

Nancy: Because accountability is only really as good as what you bring to the table.

Judy: Totally. If you’re not honest, then it doesn’t work.

Nancy: Did you tell her the whole truth? You just said, “This is where I am, what I’m thinking?”

Holly: When Judy called, I can remember so vividly talking to Judy and thinking, “She is so blind to truth at this moment,” but I knew that Christ lived inside her heart. I knew that she knew these truths, had taught these truths, and that Satan had set her up for a moment when she was drawn away.

Scripture says when that happens, that literally black becomes white, and we lose the ability to discern truth, right and wrong. Judy, at that moment, was rationalizing ridiculous things in her mind.

So when she called me, I really did talk to her like I would have talked to one of my kids who was getting ready to step into quicksand.

Judy: That’s right. She did, and she told me critical things I needed to hear—the first being that repentance is a gift. I don’t know if I had ever heard that before, but realizing that it’s a gift from the Lord and that I could make too many choices, and at some point, not be able to turn around.

The whole time I had rationalized to myself, “I’m in control. I can change it anytime I want. I can always go back to my husband. There’s no problem.”

Realizing that I was really close to turning the corner where I couldn’t make that choice anymore really frightened me.

Holly: I shared with Judy at that point the story of a young woman we had dealt with a few years before who walked little by little around a corner thinking she could always come back to her husband and her children.

There was a moment in time where she went around a corner and no longer wanted to come back to her husband and her children, and I can remember saying to Judy, “Judy, you don’t know where that spot is where you heart will be so drawn away that you do not care if you hear God’s voice.”

Judy: I was really close to that, actually, which scared me to death at that point. She also mentioned to me that if my relationship with the captain did continue, and even if we chose to marry at some future date, what would that marriage be based on?

It was a relationship wholly based on deception and lies, and God can’t bless that kind of relationship.

Nancy: She was speaking truth into your deceived heart.

Judy: That’s right.

Nancy: What we need when our hearts are deceived is someone to love us enough to come alongside of us and say, “This is the truth.”

Holly: I think what was critical at this moment was that Judy had spent years making herself accountable to some other women, and because of that, it was a lifestyle.

It was a habit in her life when she was struggling with sin to call somebody else that she knew was going to speak truth to her.

Nancy: So many women don’t have that kind of relationship.

Holly: So many women, number one, don’t get honest enough with themselves to be honest with somebody else, or they don’t have those people in their life who will speak biblical truth to them, not just giving advice, because my advice would have been worthless.

But biblical advice, reminding that person of what God’s Word says is true in their circumstance.

Nancy: That’s why we need each other desperately in the body of Christ. You cannot be a lone ranger Christian and survive. Scripture says in Hebrews chapter three, verse 13 that we need to be exhorting one another daily lest any of our hearts become hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (paraphrased).

So, Judy needed a Holly in her life. Holly needs women in her life. I need women in my life. Holly, you have been one of those women to me, and there are others I know who are speaking truth into my life. They care more about my purity and my walk with the Lord than they care about hurting my feelings.

Not only are those women willing to speak truth into my life, but I’ve developed a pattern, as Judy and as Holly have, of getting in touch with those women when I know I’m on a slippery path, when I know my foot may be about to slip.

I will pick up the phone and say, “Please pray with me. I’m struggling with this issue.” If you don’t have one or more godly, mature women like that in your life—if you’re a woman, it should be a woman—then you are in a dangerous place, because you one day may be sitting on whatever your boat is with whoever your captain is and getting ready to leave your marriage and run off with someone who is not your mate.

Who are you going to pick up the phone and call? Who will speak truth into your life? Who is there in your life that you have that kind of accountability and God-fearing relationship with?

If you don’t have a godly friendship like that, you need one. Even if you are a mature believer and you’re not in danger of having an emotional affair right now, you need right now to put into your life the systems that will be there when you are vulnerable to sin.

If it’s not sexual sin, it will be some other kind of sin. That’s why we need each other. So I’m just going to ask you: who is that person in your life? Who is that individual that you’re accountable to, your life is an open book, you will pick up the phone, you will call them when you know you need to hear a dose of the truth.

Leslie: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss with wise advice on putting safeguards in place, protecting sexual purity. She’s been talking about temptation with Holly Elliff and Judy Starr.

Your source of temptation might be different from Judy’s. You might not have a chance to run off with a ship’s captain, but you will be tempted. That’s why I hope you’ll follow up on today’s program, and one way to do that is to read Judy’s book, The Enticement of the Forbidden.

She tells her story and explains why the adultery that tempted her would have been a dead end. Nancy’s also been teaching powerfully on sexual purity this week as part of the series Seeking Him.

Judy’s story illustrates a lot of points Nancy has made over the last few days. Get a solid, biblical understanding of the importance of purity, and get a lot of practical counsel on staying pure.

Order this week’s series on CD or order the entire Seeking Him series on audio CD or MP3 CD. Get more information about all these resources at ReviveOurHearts.com.

That’s also where you can get information on a unique event coming up next October. It’s the True Woman ’08 National Women’s Conference. Would you consider making plans to attend?

You’ll hear an excellent lineup of speakers, learn how to embrace God’s unique calling for you, and come away ready to demonstrate true godly womanhood. Get more information at ReviveOurHearts.com, and when you’re at the site, click on Revive Our Hearts Conferences.

Tomorrow, we’ll hear more from Judy Starr. Find out what helped her when she was deciding whether to leave her husband. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.