A pastor and author of a recently released book has stated that America has "gone crazy" when it comes to the issues of sex and money.
Paul David Tripp, head of the Philadelphia-based Paul Tripp Ministries, told The Christian Post, "Looking at my own heart and life and then looking at the surrounding culture I think if you just take Western culture, two places where we've pretty much gone insane is in the two areas of sex and money."
"It's almost to the point where you can barely watch television or go to a movie or be at a mall or read a magazine or listen to a piece of contemporary music without having your morals assaulted."
Tripp, who recently wrote about these matters in Sex & Money: Pleasures That Leave You Empty and Grace That Satisfies, also told CP that the problems go beyond external forces.
"Once God and God's plan are not at the center of the way I think about myself, my identity, my meaning and purpose, then I'm central," said Tripp.
"I would observe that if accountability was all we needed in the sexual area and budget is all we needed in the financial area, there would be a whole lot more pure people and a whole lot less people in debt."
Sex & Money
Near the end of April, Tripp's latest book Sex & Money was published by the Wheaton, Ill.-based Crossway.
"Chief among such pleasures are sex and money – two pleasures unrivaled in their power to captivate our attention, demand our worship, and drive us to hide or to despair. You don't have to look far to see that we are in big trouble in both areas," reads the book's description.
"Seasoned counselor and pastor Paul David Tripp pulls back the curtain on the lies that surround us and on the distortions we often overlook. As Tripp thoughtfully exposes the insanity of our culture, he also wisely speaks to our own tendencies to fall prey to sexual and financial idolatry."
A major theme in the book is that of focusing less on external factors and sinful behavior and more on the heart and a person's thoughts.
"You always give your heart away before you surrender your body to what is wrong," wrote Tripp, adding that "we must all face the fact that changes in our personal worlds of sex and money don't begin with cultural analysis; they begin with personal confession."
Since its release, which included companion DVDS and audio teaching on Paul Tripp Ministries' website, Tripp told CP that he felt "the book has been very well received so far."
"The responses have been really quite heartening. What I tried to do in the book was to write a book that was both very honest about the deeper struggle while being hopeful," said Tripp.
"I also tried not to make the book a critique against other things that have been written in this area. Because I love people who teach people how to do a budget well, I love that churches are creating accountability groups. I would just like to see those groups include a deeper look at the heart."
The "Culture of Grace"
In his book and in the interview with CP, Tripp spoke about how "the Church of Jesus Christ tends to be strangely silent and strangely reticent" regarding sex and money.
Regarding how Christians can help those struggling with these two issues, Tripp told CP that there must be a "culture of grace" created in the Church.
"If all we are preaching in sex is a 'you shouldn't' message, what the law does is create lots of guilt and shame. It ... keeps me from the honesty, approachability, confession that I actually need," he said. "We need one another to see ourselves with accuracy and we need one another to begin to together build lives in both these areas that are more healthy in the true biblical sense."
Tripp envisioned this "culture of grace" in the Christian community as being based in honesty and forgiveness.
"We just need to have a culture that's honest, that says we all struggle in these areas, we all don't know how much we're struggling because sin tends to make us spiritually blind," he stressed. "The way you do that is by candor and confession and forgiveness. And those are all rooted in this truth that there is nothing that could ever be exposed about me that hasn't already been covered by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ."