Sexual sins are often considered an individual issue. The person alone bears the guilt and stands in need of repentance, or so the thinking goes.
Without removing individual accountability, I believe we as the body of Christ also bear some of the responsibility when one of our members falls into sin.
We are called to care for each other as we grow toward full maturity in Christ. And, as my former sociology professor reminded me, in Christ, there is no such thing as alone.
We rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15). When one member of our body suffers, we all suffer; and when one member is honored, we are all honored (1 Corinthians 12:26).
So, when a member falls into sin, it is good for us to also consider how we (the church) might have contributed to their fall. I believe this is often the case with sexual sins; that is, they are connected to the life, or lack thereof, of the church.
As I reflect on my own story and the stories of many of my clients, the silence of the church on issues of sexuality has been quite prevalent. When sex was talked about it was usually in the context of what not to do. Don’t lust. Don’t view porn. Don’t sleep around and so on.
Unfortunately, the church has not been a place for us to gather and learn about sexuality, and much less a place to wrestle and struggle with sexual issues in the safety of family. We have not offered a vivid picture of purity and spiritual triumph.
We leave our members vulnerable to sin when we fail to teach them how to live out their sexuality with a pure and holy passion.
A recent article asked: When Did Porn Become Sex Ed? I believe the answer, at least in part, is when the church remained silent. And our silence comes at a cost, namely the weakness of our members in handling the sexual part of their lives. As such, we bear part of the guilt for their sins and stand in need of repentance.
We can start by talking more about the positive aspects of sexuality, and not just highlighting the sins to avoid. This will require much courage, pushing through the discomfort, the embarrassment of potential arousal, the painful stories, and even the divisive reactions to present the whole counsel of God regarding sexuality.
For couples, this may involve becoming a champion for sex in marriage.
For leaders, this may involve providing various teaching and training opportunities for the whole congregation, not just for those who are married. This is a conversation for singles and for the youth as well. God’s teaching on sexuality is needed early and in every season of life. If this is beyond your personal ability, humbly seek those who can stand in the gap with you.
When we see our brother or sister sinning, let us help to bear their burdens and fulfill the law of Christ.
Cries for Help
Sex romance and marriage issues are sorely lacking in the church and it shows…I have been a member of the church for nearly 36 years, and all of my asking for sexual issues focus and for classes about intensive marriage training have fallen on deaf ears. It’s too late for my family; we fell apart after 30 years. At one time while we were living in a military town, there were nine female friends (all church members) who were calling me about their marriages on the brink of divorce. It’s not just one or two congregations who don’t teach intensively on the subject, it’s nearly all of them and it’s so frustrating! 🙁
Will we listen?