Husband Material

It's Good To Be Aroused (with Sam Jolman)

June 10, 2024 Drew Boa
It's Good To Be Aroused (with Sam Jolman)
Husband Material
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Husband Material
It's Good To Be Aroused (with Sam Jolman)
Jun 10, 2024
Drew Boa

"There is nothing inherently wrong with an aroused man." What is arousal? Why is it good? Sam Jolman helps us reclaim the heart of masculine sexuality for the purpose of awe, play, and worshipping God. You'll learn how arousal always has a script, why evil hates arousal, and the difference between sexuality and sensuality. At the end, you'll receive a beautiful blessing from Sam. This episode is amazing!

Sam Jolman (MA, LPC) is a trauma therapist with over twenty years of experience specializing in men’s issues and sexual trauma recovery. His writing flows out of this unique opportunity to help people know and heal their stories, and find greater sexual wholeness and aliveness. He received his master’s in counseling from Reformed Theological Seminary and was further trained in Narrative Focused Trauma Care through the Allender Center at The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology. Sam lives in Colorado with his wife and three sons. Fun fact: Sam and Drew attend the same church!

Buy Sam's new book (paid link):
The Sex Talk You Never Got: Reclaiming the Heart of Masculine Sexuality

Join Sam's newsletter for a free copy of the first chapter: samjolman.substack.com

Learn more and connect with Sam at samjolman.com

Take the Husband Material Journey...

Thanks for listening!


Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

"There is nothing inherently wrong with an aroused man." What is arousal? Why is it good? Sam Jolman helps us reclaim the heart of masculine sexuality for the purpose of awe, play, and worshipping God. You'll learn how arousal always has a script, why evil hates arousal, and the difference between sexuality and sensuality. At the end, you'll receive a beautiful blessing from Sam. This episode is amazing!

Sam Jolman (MA, LPC) is a trauma therapist with over twenty years of experience specializing in men’s issues and sexual trauma recovery. His writing flows out of this unique opportunity to help people know and heal their stories, and find greater sexual wholeness and aliveness. He received his master’s in counseling from Reformed Theological Seminary and was further trained in Narrative Focused Trauma Care through the Allender Center at The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology. Sam lives in Colorado with his wife and three sons. Fun fact: Sam and Drew attend the same church!

Buy Sam's new book (paid link):
The Sex Talk You Never Got: Reclaiming the Heart of Masculine Sexuality

Join Sam's newsletter for a free copy of the first chapter: samjolman.substack.com

Learn more and connect with Sam at samjolman.com

Take the Husband Material Journey...

Thanks for listening!


Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Husband Material podcast, where we help Christian men outgrow porn. Why? So you can change your brain, heal your heart and save your relationship. My name is Drew Boa and I'm here to show you how let's go. Hey, thank you so much for tuning in to my interview with Sam Joelman, an amazing man of God who has written a phenomenal book. In this conversation, you are going to hear why it's good to be aroused, what it looks like to reclaim your sexual arousal as a man, even if you're aroused by things that don't align with who you are or what you truly want. You're going to learn the difference between sensuality and sexuality, and also the God-given amazingness of awe and play, and how really the goal of our sexuality is greater awe, and Sam gives us an amazing blessing at the end. I strongly recommend listening to this whole episode because it is full of goodness and truth and it's going to be really challenging, I think, to a lot of you guys in a good way, because Sam's voice is unique and if you are ready for a more refreshing perspective on sexuality and what it looks like to outgrow porn, then this is the episode for you Enjoy.

Speaker 1:

Today I'm hanging out with Sam Joelman, who is my friend. We actually go to the same church here in Colorado Springs, which is pretty cool, and he is a professional therapist and author who really specializes in men's issues sexual trauma recovery and he's written a new book called the Sex Talk you Never Got. Reclaiming the Heart of Masculine Sexuality. Sam, welcome to Husband Material. Thank you, Drew. This is such an honor. It is awesome and I am really excited about the topic for today. It's good to be aroused. Why are you passionate about?

Speaker 2:

this. You know, like most men, having to embody my own sexuality and finding my way with how do I embody my sexuality. I grew up in the church and got a version of purity culture. So for most men if they get a sex talk something like a shoddy anatomy lesson, which you know is sort of like how babies are made version of sex, and then they pretty quickly get a purity lecture of some sort, right, like, hey, this is only within marriage, which there's a version of that. That's intended. Well, right, purity is a well-intended message we're called to purity but I think it misses blessing the heart of sexuality, which is, hey, major, important footnote to make here. Actually, don't make it a footnote, make it a headline.

Speaker 2:

This is actually really good in you. Your sexuality is a really good part of you. It's God's artwork and you were made to be moved and that's a good thing in the world. It's not something that you have to be scared of, because I think a lot of men are set up to be scared or at least suspicious of everything that moves in them, sexually, right, and maybe even otherwise right, not even knowing what is moving in me. Like you're standing in Starbucks and you see a beautiful woman or a beautiful person for that matter, right, and you suddenly feel something moving in you and I think a lot of guys are trained to think, okay, that's lust. Shut it down. Look the other way. Stop what's happening in me. I think I was stuck with. But wait a minute. Something about this is created good by God. What is that? Where does this veer and skew into lust and where is it just healthy sexuality moving in you?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, let's talk about that, because I'm imagining guys thinking well, that's nice to be aroused by a woman at Starbucks, but what about me being aroused by a type of porn that I find appalling? Or what about being aroused by the bodies of men, or even of children, like? What do I do with?

Speaker 2:

that Right. So, as I say in the book, you know, all sexuality lives in a story. There's no such thing as storyless sexuality. It's never just an urge like sneezing or needing a drink of water right, those are more bodily and largely unscripted. I guess you could say right, obviously, you know, needing a glass of water might be because you didn't drink that day. Right, it's a part of a story. But a sexual urge isn't like a body drive, like I need food or I need oxygen or I need water.

Speaker 2:

Sexuality is more scripted, right, it's a desire, not a drive. It's a want, not a need, and therefore it interacts more with your heart than maybe we're familiar with thinking about. Because sexuality always lives in a story, it always has a script to it. So a lot of times your arousal structure follows a script. What arouses you is a story and is shaped by right. It's again you need oxygen because you're human. That's really not scripted inside of you by your life. You just need oxygen. But your sexuality is scripted and is shaped by the life you've lived, right. So if arousal is joined to certain experiences in your life, those get wired together.

Speaker 2:

You might say well, is that just sin and we're supposed to just repent of it. No, I mean, yes, we're meant to repent of lust, but how do you deal with your arousal script? Right, you have to be curious about it. There's a difference in the body between arousal and desire, so it's called arousal non-concordance. Women have a stronger non-concordance than men, but it's true in men as well that men have something called arousal non-concordance, which means you can be aroused and not have desire. You can have desire and not be aroused, meaning they're not the same thing. So arousal in the body is not the same thing as desire. Now again, they do overlap, meaning in sexual experience you can feel aroused and have desire. They're not the same thing, yes, and at Husband Material.

Speaker 1:

We talk a lot about that and one of the things that we teach men to do is, when you feel arousal, see if you can access what you really desire, right. But we probably haven't done a very good job of blessing our arousal and actually embracing the goodness of it. And in the sex talk you never got, you talk about living the aroused life, how God created us to be aroused, and in the intro you said the problem isn't too much sexual desire but rather too little heart. There's nothing inherently wrong with an aroused man.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. So I was talking to a friend a couple of weeks ago and he says he had been watching the Women's March Madness and watching Caitlin Clark, the basketball player right, the three-point legend. He was describing this feeling he had while watching her right. He said I'm so drawn to wanting to watch her play, I just love watching her play. And he wondered out loud like gosh is that lust that I'm struggling with? And he said it doesn't feel sexual. It feels like something more than just. It's not just like, oh, I'm lusting after her. And I said I think you're experiencing arousal that's leading you to awe. I think you're just in awe of her as a player right. As an athlete, the finesse with which she can move on the court and shoot a three right. There's a sense of beauty or awe to her playing capacity. And he said, yes, that's it. That's what it is.

Speaker 1:

We need this language. We desperately need it because so many men are in this black and white thinking of okay, either I'm sinning or I'm not sinning, I have sexual feelings or I have some kind of pure heart, but we don't have this idea of awe, and I love how you say the goal of sexuality is awe.

Speaker 2:

Yes.

Speaker 1:

What do?

Speaker 2:

you mean by that? Yeah, so awe is this thing. It's actually a researched emotion. Awe is we. You know, we probably all have a sense of when I say the word awe, like being an awe of an awesome thing, right? Except, you know, that word is overused and we could say we had an awesome burrito and maybe it's that good, but it's just a word we use. But the word awe actually refers to the sense of your jaw being dropped. You get goosebumps, which the medical term for goosebumps is pyloerection. It just literally means your hair follicles are getting erect. It's so fascinating that they use that language. But, as I say in the book, your other erection.

Speaker 1:

That's just amazing, right there.

Speaker 2:

But awe is. It's this sense of. It's what you experience at a sunset. Or a beautiful piece of music, you know, maybe an amazing athletic performance, or you watch your children do something that is so innocent and amazing. You're just in awe of who they are. Or you watch that in another person, or a giant waterfall, or the lion at the zoo when it roars right. There's this sense of wow that's amazing to it.

Speaker 1:

There's a fascination as well as a bit of fear.

Speaker 2:

Right. So it's being in the presence of something that's transcendent or powerful, but yet you're drawn to it, right? And that's this odd tension of awe is, I think the research article I read one of them described it. As you know, it's in the upper reaches of pleasure, on the edge of fear, right? So it's this really profound sense of pleasure, near to fear, meaning right, like that one inch of glass between me and the lion right is allowing me to feel the pleasure of the moment. Otherwise I would be feeling pure terror, right? But because of that one inch piece of glass, I can see this lion in his glory and yet feel some sense of terror, of course, that he could shred me that describes so perfectly what our sexuality was created for, yet also what many of us experience in porn.

Speaker 1:

Yes, a sense of like pleasure on the edge of fear, correct. So how can we say it's good to be aroused or it's good to be in awe of whatever we see in porn?

Speaker 2:

It makes sense that we would feel some awe, right, at seeing naked bodies on display to us, because they bear the glory of God. Right, this is Adam in the Garden of Eden. Right, when he sees Eve for the first time, like whoa, there's a sense of awe. I would say. Obviously, I don't know what Adam experienced in that moment, but he breaks into poetry. There's this sense that he's experiencing awe. That same thing is happening.

Speaker 2:

We get tastes of that in pornography, right, but the risk of porn isn't the right kind of risk, right, it's not the risk of vulnerability, right, it's maybe the risk of, I don't know, getting caught, or you feel some sense of danger because of the script of the porn Meaning. There's something that is introducing a kind of fear through violence, but it's not the fear through vulnerability. That's the difference of really healthy sexuality is meant to leave you in a state of awe, right, like you know, orgasm in itself is this kind of undone state of awe. Like you're, you're being overpowered by the moment of sexual intimacy and that's that's the awe. That's intended is there's a your vulnerability in a healthy way.

Speaker 1:

That is so clarifying for me. So in other words, pornography is pleasure on the edge of fear due to violence, whereas really healthy sexuality and intimacy in a relationship that's safe and connected is pleasure on the edge of fear, of vulnerability. Right Instead of violence.

Speaker 2:

Right, you know, I think evil intends to draw us into forms of self-harm in our sexuality right or violence to other people to try to get us out of the real awe, the real powerful stuff, which is the awe of vulnerability, Amen.

Speaker 1:

Porn is essentially a type of self-harm in addition to harming others. And yet purity culture can also be a form of self-harm. I mean literally right With snapping a rubber band on my wrist every time I masturbate, or like the other punitive consequences that we do internally with how we beat ourselves up.

Speaker 2:

Or you know, like the men that I walk with in my counseling practice, who you know feel that, who literally live in terror because they're afraid that God is angry at them. You know, like, the car accident I got into today was because I masturbated and God was mad at me. Or my, you know, my car didn't start because God's mad at me, right, Because I acted out. Or you know guys that live with that sense of looming terror around any corner because, you know, maybe acted out lustfully with their sexuality, but that sense of just God, anything that happens in the body sexually should put you in terror. You know, awe is really this idea in the Bible of the fear of the Lord. So we have this, you know, big call in the Old Testament, especially right to fear the Lord. Right, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of everything. I think the proverb even says right, Like to fear the Lord.

Speaker 2:

And as a young man growing up in the church, I thought that meant like, literally you needed to be afraid of him. Right, Like, and that's why you would stop sinning. Right, it's because God is scary and you should be afraid of him in a he's angry sort of way, and I think purity culture has a lot of that tonality to it. Again, not necessarily that they say that out loud, but sometimes they do. God hates sin and you're living in sin and do the math. God must hate you, probably. Then, right, I think God doesn't want to terrify us into holiness. He wants to awe us into holiness, right that the fear of the Lord is this sense of I'm undone by you, but I want to come close to you. I think that's what God wants, right.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so many of the men in our community feel a sense of terror and self-hatred because of what arouses them, and so that this concept of blessing arousal or um, god created arousal, or it's good to be aroused just feels so hard to accept. And one of the concepts you present that really helped me understand how can we look at this in a healthy way is the difference between sensuality and sexuality. Yeah, the difference between general arousal and sexual arousal as well. Could you say more about the difference between sensuality and sexuality?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you know we often equate them as the same right, that sensuality is sexuality. But sensuality is really just the idea that you, you know literally of the senses, right, that you are living life through taste, touch, sight, smell, hearing. That you're as I say in the book. You know, god made you to be a very sensual being. That's how you operate in the world. It's literally how we survive, right? How do you know if something's hot? How do you know if something is, I suppose, roaring behind you? Right, how do you smell if there's a fire? Through smelling smoke? In other words, sensuality keeps us alive.

Speaker 2:

It's how we literally survive, but it's also an orientation that I think God intended for us to enjoy the pleasure of life. You have 4,000 taste buds on your tongue and again, a little bit of that is to know if you're drinking something hot, too hot, or something is rotten. So there's a little bit of survival, but largely it's there for pleasure, for you to taste all the nuance of a well-done steak or really good ice cream or really good coffee. Right, what's the difference between Folgers and single origin? Yeah, and that's arousal right.

Speaker 2:

Right, there's a that's arousal, right. Right, there's a neurological term arousal Within that is sexual arousal. But arousal literally means that you're awake and oriented to life, that you're alive, that you feel well in your body and that your senses are turned on, that you can feel things. You know that trauma can impact that. So people who have certain types of trauma can feel more numb to their senses, right, they don't notice hot things or like your body can literally be impacted in its capacity for sensuality by your story, by your trauma. But sensuality, I think, is intended. God cares about your pleasure. He wants you aroused to life, to know really good jazz music. I think God desires that. Obviously the psalmist says taste and see that the Lord is good. There's a sense that he wants you, through your senses, to know his goodness.

Speaker 2:

1. John is a place where John writes at the beginning. Basically he says I'm talking to you about my sensuality of Jesus. Right, like what I heard, what I saw, right, what my hands have touched. This is what I'm telling you about. I'm not just giving you theology from a conversation. I'm telling you my sensual experience of the life of Jesus.

Speaker 1:

That's so good. Isn't that different than the version of Christianity which is against pleasure, against senses? I mean, there's almost this idea of to be holy means to deny pleasure.

Speaker 2:

Right.

Speaker 1:

To starve my senses, right, but really that actually sounds a lot more like evil, a lot more like evil In the book. You say evil hates your arousal and has tried to join shame to your arousal through harm. Yes, I love this idea that Jesus desires us to experience life and goodness in our senses. Yeah, and evil is trying to destroy that.

Speaker 2:

I really think that the fruit of arousal will be awe. Like you will. As Eugene Peterson says, when you experience the beauty of life or the goodness of life or the pleasure of life, you'll want to go looking for somebody to thank. Right, and evil hates that. Evil doesn't want you experiencing the pleasure of life because you'll want to say, wow, right, don't you feel that when you see a sunset, like you know there's no way this is an accident, really Right, like you suddenly have this openness to wanting to seek out the being. Who made this? Whose artistry is this? Who did this? Right that that's a natural fruit of good arousal or pleasure or awe in life is you want to go worship someone, you want to go thank someone. So evil hates that.

Speaker 2:

Evil does not want you feeling genuine pleasure, and so evil will try to join your arousal to shame. And that can be with disordered eating. Right To create some story around your eating that is shameful. So it's not an eating unto pleasure and health in your body, but that somehow you now have shame for your eating. But that can also happen with sex. Right that now the arousal you feel in your body is joined to a story of shame or a script of shame, as you talked about right that gosh. I feel like there are things that arouse me, that are shameful and I don't know what to do with that. And it's easy, then I would say, as I say in the book, we get really used to repenting of having a body right, not just repenting of our flesh, but repenting of our sensuality in general, just whatever is going on in me, just I confess it, god, it's all bad.

Speaker 1:

It's like we go back and forth between feeling like we should be angels but we're really animals. Yes, Rather than human beings. That's well said. I got it from Rob Bell. He wrote a book called Sex God way back in the day. That was my favorite thing. He said he was like we feel like, oh my gosh, I have to be an angel without a body, without needs, without this feeling which I call lust but is really just arousal.

Speaker 2:

Right, we live in that tension right Of you know, as Psalm 8, you made us a little lower than God, right. What is man? That you're mindful of him, the son of man, that you care for him. You've made us a little lower than God. So we have that kind of like glory, heavenly sense, right, but we're still bodies, we're still embodied beings, right, and our essence, not just as a container for the soul, as you know, as falsely often said, we're bodies through and through and we will always exist, even resurrected, as bodies.

Speaker 1:

So what does it look like to stop repenting for having a body?

Speaker 2:

So, again, there's places, obviously, to repent of lust or anger, many other things, but I think it is essential, and I think this is one of the greatest gifts of the gospel our freedom in Jesus is that we get to be curious about our sin. We get to be curious about what moves in us. You know, to ask the questions of how did I? You know, as you say, it's very familiar in your community how did I get here? What led me to want this in this moment? Because I think it's easy to, if your sensuality and your sense of awe feels like it leads you to dark places.

Speaker 2:

Well, look, I live out this arousal script. It's got to be bad in me. I've got to be a monster or a pervert or gross or dark or even evil. Right, something must be really broken in me and you may have brokenness, but you've got to sit with. You were made a sensual being, sensual being. You were made to be moved by life. And again, evil may have found a way to bring shame into that story, but your base sensuality, your base capacity for arousal and awe is God's design. You were made to be moved by life to become a worshiper of God. So you have to start with, no matter what's true of how I have lived this out, it's not bad. And then to start to be curious of like how did this story get commandeered? How did it go askew? How am I spending all my awe on pornography? Let's say, for example, right, how did I get stuck living out my awe on pornography? Let's say, for example, right, how did I get stuck living on my awe there and not in more vulnerable places of risk?

Speaker 1:

Yes, this is just so good. I really think this is the best book on sexuality for men outgrowing porn in the last six years. I mean this is so important. I want to go through this with my sons one day. But more than that, it's just your heart and who. You are behind it, a man who is reclaiming what evil stole. I mean you say that male sexuality has done incredible amounts of harm and therefore we've disowned it. And all of this talk about how arousal is good and we can embrace it in a godly way it's really taking it back, isn't it? To me, reading this book kind of feels like coming home.

Speaker 2:

That means so much. I'm so glad. Yeah, as I say in the book, and what feels so lost right now in the kind of larger culture of men and masculinity in our culture is this idea that every man at his heart is a lover. I get the privilege of sitting with men in the confidentiality of counseling where they tell me these stories right, when they feel like they can admit it without the pressure of, I guess, male culture. For example, I think it was last week or the week before I had a guy say to me look, he said I know I'm supposed to, according to male culture, always be ready for sex and always ready to get it up, and right, I'm always, you know, like that's the pressure, You're just always in the ready. And he said I actually need the emotional stuff, I actually need the foreplay stuff. Like sure I suppose I could perform. But he said my heart wants the emotional connection and the sensuality of foreplay. You know, if I had a dollar for every time I've heard that kind of thing from men in counseling, right, A lot of times guys will say I feel like I'm more like the woman in the relationship because I actually want the emotional stuff.

Speaker 2:

I don't just want sex. But I feel like I'm supposed to just want sex, Right yes, want sex, right yes, as I say in the book, we're all overly sexualized as men, under, sexually nurtured. We don't have that heart grown in us which is that you're a lover. Right, we love those pictures of men, right Like the soldiers coming home from war or deployment and when they greet their kids. Right Like they sneak into their high school or elementary school and they surprise their children and they both break down crying. Right Like. You've probably seen those kinds of videos, maybe on YouTube or TikTok, and don't they move you with like, oh, wow, that's so powerful to see a man loving well, and it's embodied in those men wildly masculine. But we just don't have that kind of conversation or space to talk like that, it seems.

Speaker 1:

That's right. That's right. That's right. You cite Peggy Orenstein saying that women grow up raised to be disconnected from their bodies, but men grow up being raised to be disconnected from our hearts. Right, so we need to not just embrace the warrior, but also the lover.

Speaker 2:

Right, I'm trying in the book to give men permission. You actually want the sensual stuff. You've been asked to push through a lot of hard things as athletes. How do you stay in the playing field when you're injured? You got to push through sometimes and life will ask you, not just on a playing field, but work to have grit, to suffer, to be the warrior, to be the worker.

Speaker 1:

We attempt to be emotionally unaffected, and then we perceive our sensitivity as a weakness or something feminine Right.

Speaker 2:

Why is that, right? Why don't men get to come off the playing field and actually feel Right, right and come back to themselves, come back to their bodies? It's weird that we don't have that. You think of old Western mining towns, since we're here in Colorado, right, and these mining towns would have mines, where guys would work so hard, and then what would be in the town? A brothel and a bar, right, it's like the only ways men could feel any kind of sensuality was largely to not feel, to numb it, right, you get, you get some alcohol, you get a brothel, paid for sex and then you get back to work the next day, right? Why we don't have the space given to men to be lovers, to actually be sensual and come back to their bodies?

Speaker 1:

well, yeah, you're right. And so much of our life is now disembodied. It's almost as if we're in like a digital mining town on the internet, where we go from.

Speaker 2:

Wow that's well said.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it just came to me. It's like working so hard at the screen and then right next door is porn.

Speaker 2:

Right, right, I'm sure you hear these stories too. Men that will say yeah, takes away my anxiety for the moment, so I can get back to work. I'll quickly go look at porn on a little break. It's like the new smoking break or something, right?

Speaker 1:

Mm-hmm. It is a workplace thing, and that's not surprising. It's a sexualized stress reliever. It's emotional regulation, more than anything else. We've got a very clear picture right now of what it looks like to be attached to porn and to have porn be our primary arousal. Porn be our primary arousal, perhaps. What does it look like to truly live the aroused life?

Speaker 2:

The aroused life is really. I'm inviting men to reclaim their aliveness right, their capacity for sensuality, their capacity for beauty, their emotional regulation right. So, seeing reclaiming sexuality even in the realm of sex, to reclaim it as an act of beauty and awe versus an urge, I have to answer because I feel really stressed out or I feel really numb and I want to feel good. So I'm inviting men to, hey, I'm inviting you to grow as a lover here. There's a whole world waiting for you of beauty and sensuality, kind of obligation, sex with your wife or acting out in some way. If that's the only place you're living out your sensuality, you're living really emaciated. And so, after the chapter on, how do you engage your story of sexuality right and engage your arousal structure and engage your shame and how evil is scripted shame in your life? So it's not maybe step one right. Step one might be be curious about your arousal, be curious about where that story was shaped. But then after that, then what? Well, go, reclaim your sensuality. What makes you come alive? I have three boys and part of the reason I wrote this book is because it was like my God. What am I gonna say when it comes time to talk to my boys about this. One of the ways I'm giving the sex talk to my sons and we've had the official sex talk it's never just one talk, as I say in the book. It's hundreds of one-minute conversations about sex and sexuality and sensuality and beauty and love. But one of the ways I'm doing that is trying to take my boys into a lot of beautiful places and talk about it. Like take the minute to stop the car and look at the beautiful sunset, or take them on beautiful hikes, as we have here in Colorado, and just stop and look at the beautiful flowers, just marvel at something right Right now my boys and I marvel at. They're really into cars, so we marvel at like you know it's man-made beauty, but they're beautiful and look at the shape and the design right, and the sensuality of a car, the sound it makes right and the feel of it. So we've gone to some dealerships in Denver to look at beautiful cars. But living the aroused life is where are you engaging your sensuality, your sense of beauty, learning to play well being another category of reclaiming your aroused life?

Speaker 2:

I'm convinced you know what is sex at its essence, like is sex just a thing in itself? And at some level. Yeah, it's a unique experience, but I think at its essence it is really an act of play. It's really a form of play and as I go expand on long in the book, on a whole chapter, it really follows the elements of play. What defines play? But sex is intended to be a form of play and so even just recovering play in your life, playfulness, playfulness which I know your community does well, I've heard of the legend of your retreats, like why Is that just fun and silly? No, I mean, yes, it can be fun and silly, it's meant to be light and playful, right. I mean, yes, it can be fun and silly, it's meant to be light and playful, right. But it's also restoring a healthy sense of play, can actually restore a healthy sense of sexuality, and I know that might feel like what, but truly playing well can grow and shape your capacity to play well at sex.

Speaker 2:

Right To be playful and maybe childlike is not the same as being childish. Yes, Well said Right, Like there's something you're never meant to outgrow. Yeah, I love that You're supposed to mature, but Jesus made very clear you must receive the kingdom of God like a child. What did he mean? He obviously meant not tantruming and maybe the other immature things of being a child. He meant something I would say, like you're saying well, the playfulness, the innocence.

Speaker 1:

And if we truly are God's beloved sons, part of our inheritance is the freedom to play. Yes, a slave has to work all the time, but a son gets to play.

Speaker 2:

Yes, well said, and certainly I've struggled here. Right like we feel we have to outgrow it or give it up, right like there's always something to do yeah, if you, if you prioritize play, that's just being selfish.

Speaker 1:

might be a script Right.

Speaker 2:

Right Cause I think you know there are certain men that feel shame probably for, like, their draw to play video games or their draw to play to spend that time, Right, it feels like a sacrifice on their family that and there's a tension there, right? Like we aren't meant to only play games of leisure, right, like there can be things in life that we're invited to play with. You know, like I would say, doing therapy with clients is a form of play for me. So incorporating play even into how we live and work, it doesn't have to just be leisure, so being able to recover, as you're saying. Well, like your playfulness, you're not meant to outgrow that. Don't leave that in boyhood, take it with you.

Speaker 1:

Yes, I love that so much. It feels very true and just thinking about regulation too. I mean, play is one of those really unique states that the nervous system goes through right. It kind of helps us to move between different states of safety and danger. But what's happening in the nervous system when we embrace playfulness?

Speaker 2:

So play, you're saying that. So well, play is what's called a mixed state, so it is both parasympathetic, soothing, with sympathetic intensity. I guess you could say Activation, activation, well said yeah. So you're experiencing simultaneously this rhythm of intensity, right Near fight or flight even.

Speaker 1:

Right Like when you're playing ping pong and you get really, really into it and start yelling.

Speaker 2:

Right, right, right. Or you're watching a soccer game and these guys are just full on going for it, right, and there's a sense of intensity, of fight or flight. Go Right, take action, which returns then to soothing. Right, you come down, you have moments of calm, you have moments of rest. You come down, you have moments of calm, you have moments of rest, the whistle blows, you have a timeout, you're coming back down.

Speaker 2:

Stephen Porgs, I think, is the guy that said this, who polyvagal theory. He described play as neural exercise. It's actually a form of growing your capacity to handle stress and growing your capacity to go up into sympathetic intensity, activation and then return back down to parasympathetic soothing. That play allows that. And he gives the example of a boy or a baby that is playing peekaboo with its mother. Right, the mother says boo, she hides her face, which is alarming to a kid. A baby then says boo, which is further alarming. Right, you hear the like sympathetic, fight or flight. And then the mother's face softens and she giggles and she tickles right, and then oh, oh, there you are and the baby is back to like soothing and calm and safety. And that little play grows our capacity to handle and cope.

Speaker 1:

That is profound. We got to sit with that one for a little bit. Play as neural exercise. It is not superfluous, it is not peripheral, it is a big part of outgrowing porn by refusing to outgrow play. Now I wonder what you'll think of this. Doug Carpenter, who is a clinical psychologist in our community, has described pornography as post-traumatic play.

Speaker 2:

Oh, that is so well said.

Speaker 2:

Isn't it, yes, and again without knowing fully what he means, but instantly I have a picture of what he's saying. We have this terminology right. It's a very shaming terminology, you know. Playing with yourself yeah, if you can just stay with that language for a second, it is a form of lonely play, it's a game of one and it's not even good play, right, and I don't fully know what he means by post-traumatic play. But I would say, you know, it's often play that reenacts past trauma, past harm, past moments of shame, past moments of loneliness, and therefore it's not neural exercise that's generative or restorative, it just reenacts, it just doubles down the shame, it keeps you stuck and, in fact, maybe even makes you feel more stuck because it's not healing the trauma, it's just reenacting it.

Speaker 1:

Right, I'm sure listeners will be taking away all sorts of different things from this conversation, but one of my main feelings right now is that arousal is not evil and play is really important, yes, and that awe is what we were created for. Yes, that's right. Thank you for helping us understand these things, yes, and, more than that, to experience them.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. This has been such a rich conversation and, yeah, if I you know, if I could give any takeaway, it would be for a man to feel angry, even kind of roused, to be mad that those things have been shamed in him, that those things have been taken and joined to evil, right His sense of play, his sense of arousal, his sense of being moved, his sexuality, that there'd be some sense of saying, no, this was created good by God. I need to seek out how to bless this in myself.

Speaker 1:

Could you give us a blessing?

Speaker 2:

That would be great.

Speaker 2:

I pray the men listening that you would know that God made your sexuality good, that your story does not begin with sin and shame but begins with being moved with awe, with nakedness, without shame.

Speaker 2:

And I pray that you would hear God, the Father's voice, speaking to you about the goodness of your design, the Father's voice speaking to you about the goodness of your design.

Speaker 2:

I pray that he would rouse your heart to want to claim back what has been held in shame, shot down, maybe through pain, captured by the evil one, whispered to by the evil one. I pray that you would feel whispered to by the evil one. I pray that you would feel truly the movement of the Spirit in you to want to say hell, no, literally hell, no to the hell that has helped you. I pray that God would remind you of your playful heart, of the boy you once were and how he played, that God would show you and remind you of ways you've been moved well, that you've been moved by beauty, that you've been in love with parts of the world, things in life, and you've forgotten that. I pray that God would bless the lover in you through and through with all of his sensuality, with all of his awe, with all of his sexuality, for the glory of God and in Jesus name amen, Amen.

Speaker 1:

Thank you, Sam. Thank you Drew. This has been great. I received that, Sam. What is your favorite thing about freedom from porn?

Speaker 2:

I get back my sensuality. I get back my pleasure. I get back my sense of awe. I get back my pleasure. I get back my sense of awe, I get back my playfulness, being, you know, so, done with the cycle of shame and shutdown. Yeah, I think I would say that.

Speaker 1:

I think you're glowing right now. I think it's your glory coming through, praising God for the beauty of that life that we are continually stepping into as we outgrow porn Guys. You can connect with Sam at the links in the show notes. Get his book, the Sex Talk you Never Got, and you can also go to samjolmancom. Right, that's right. Well, thank you so much for being with us. Can't wait to hear what you all think about this episode. You can respond to us in the Husband Material community and always remember my friend, you are God's beloved son In you. He is well-pleased.

Healthy Arousal
The Pleasure of Sensuality and Arousal
Reclaiming Male Sensuality and Arousal
Embracing Playfulness and Awe in Life
Reclaiming Sensuality and Freedom From Porn

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