Before I go further, if you're surprised that people who don't know or follow Jesus live in sin and selfishness, step back and think about that. We cannot hold those who are still living in the flesh to the same standard we are supposed to hold. Sinners will sin. Sexual sin is easy to fall into and hard to break free from especially when trying to do it through your own strength. These scandals are not new but their growth is part of a much larger problem. We are now ministering and striving to live for Jesus in a sex obsessed culture full of pornography in all its forms, dropping sexual standards, and sundering of relationship (especially marriage) from sex.
Do we need to be concerned about this? Absolutely. At a conference in Peoria, IL in November of 2015, Josh McDowell called pornography one of the two greatest obstacles to the spread of the Gospel. However, we can't stop the slide amongst the lost until we deal with it inside the Body of Christ. How can we go forth and bring the redemption of Jesus to a lost and dying world if we have surrendered so much ground to the sins of the flesh? If we're not walking according to the freedom we have been given in Christ, how can we offer it to those who are trapped in that cycle and are hell-bound?
I wasn't a follower of Christ yet when Jimmy Swaggart fell but I remember it well. I remember the jokes, the thoughts that Christians really didn't believe the stuff they said, and the prostitute's spread in Penthouse. I remember all of that. I shudder to think what that did to the church's ability to witness in those days. I wish we had learned our lesson but we didn't.
While doing the research for the conference, I have read a lot of articles and posts about sexuality and porn in the church. I've read Whisper confessions from youth pastors talking about the young women (and in some cases young men) in the group that they's slept with while serving in ministry. I've seen the numbers on porn use amongst Christian men and women. I've seen the slide in morals and moral understanding of sexual integrity inside the church, especially in the younger generations. High profile affairs from pastors in churches both large and small break on the news. The morass of the world's falling morals is sinking into the church.
Sin, of any kind, draws us further away from the Lord we are called to follow. Shame, guilt, or, in later stages, pride all serve to block the channel of hearing the Lord's voice and our willingness to listen to His voice. Our sin, the flesh, can consume us when we allow it. If that sin remains in the dark, how can we be free?
It is written:
For once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth) finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says: "Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light"
Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
I John 1:8,9
When we bring a sin into the light, it is for the purpose of redemption. That's why we put on conferences, teach, and reach out to the church. Restoring the sexual integrity of the church is essential on the path to holiness we are called to walk. If we act like the world, dress like the world, allow the world's graphic entertainment into our homes and minds, and talk like the world, how will they see the difference made by Jesus? Why would they want Him if we aren't changed?
These are difficult issues to take on inside the church. Since it's been left in the dark for so long to fester, few pastors, leaders, and congregations even know where to start once they see the issue clearly. The fundamentals are the same but getting there is a little tricky. There's a level of shame and guilt involved that few other sins bring. Add the addiction component and you've got a mess that needs to be sorted. We're here for you.
If you're in Central Illinois, join us May 19th for the Out of The Shadows Conference to be equipped to handle sexual sin, pornography, and their consequences such as adultery and divorce. If not, please contact us about how we can come to your community. We can bring our resources and help you discover what you have on hand that can help.
Restoring the sexual integrity of the Body of Christ is essential to our mission to bring Jesus to the world.