To understand why God’s design for sex is good, we have to know what that design is. Unfortunately, there is a lack of sexual discipleship in many churches, and I see the fruit of it in the sexually broken Christian women whom I regularly encounter.
I meet Christian women who are addicted to porn or to other forms of sexual perversion to cope with anxiety, stress, or loneliness. Not to mention the countless number of ladies who read erotica like 50 Shades of Grey in order to boost their libido.
Talk about It
If ministry leaders, disciple-makers, and parents are not talking about sexual sin, then how are their people supposed to know what’s wrong and why it’s wrong? Addressing these issues is even more important when we consider that the Bible doesn’t explicitly mention every manifestation of sexual sin. So often we relegate sexual discipleship to our culture instead of creating a culture in the church where sexual sin is discussed and where confession of such things is encouraged and welcomed.
In working with the young women at my church, I rarely have to convince them of God’s design for sex once we actually walk through the Bible's teaching on the subject. I begin by finding out what these women know and by addressing their illiteracy and their misconceptions. On multiple occasions I have had women tell me that they did not know a particular action was a sin. Or, in the case of homosexuality or porn, they could not articulate why these things were wrong.
When David Platt preached through 1 Corinthians, he had two sermons that our staff referred to as the “PG-13 sermons” because, in them, he described how God created sex to be fruitful, selfless, relational, covenantal, intimate, and a complex union (Genesis 2:18-25; 1 Corinthians 7:1-5; Ephesians 5:22-33). In contrast, he explained how other sexual acts are fruitless, self-centered, lustful, non-committal, superficial, and isolating. For example, because God designed sex to occur between a man and a woman within marriage, we know that homosexuality and adultery are both sins. And because the Bible commands us not to lust (Matt. 5:27-29), we know that pornography is a sin. Knowing God’s design for sex enables us to identify what constitutes sexual sin.
Questions to Ask
If we want our churches, our ministries, our small groups, and our families to be places where believers can be transparent with their questions and their sexual brokenness, then we need to evaluate ourselves and the culture we have created. Churches should consider these four questions:
1. Are we safe people for others to talk to?
Do people feel like we will listen to them, that we care about them, and that we are available?
2. Do we talk about sin?
When David preached the PG-13 sermons (mentioned above), it opened the door for me to have numerous conversations with girls about such sins. As a result, these girls felt they had permission to open up about their brokenness in these areas. But if we do not talk about sin, then we allow it to continue unchecked. And if we do not teach about God’s design for sex, then how will our people recognize sin’s counterfeits?
3. Do we point people to the hope of the gospel?
Do we teach people that Jesus took our sin upon Himself and that He gives His righteousness to those who trust in Him (Colossians 2:13-14)? Do we remind people that God takes sinners and makes them a part of His family (Romand 5:6-8; 8:16-17)? Do we share with them about God’s capacity and desire to forgive their sin, no matter what they have done? Do we point them to His ability to restore the brokenhearted and to enable us to resist temptation? People who are sexually broken need and want hope, and we must meet them with the only source of true hope—the gospel of Jesus Christ. Without the gospel, we consign sexual obedience to legalism.
4. Are we open about the fact that we too struggle with sin?
We all deal with sexual brokenness on some level because we are all sinners. While we do not have to tell people about the details of our sin, those we disciple need to know that we are not perfect. By being open about our weaknesses, we let them know that they are not alone in their brokenness.
Where honesty and openness is lacking among believers, the depth of our fellowship will also be lacking. But when we talk about our sins, we create opportunities for believers to converse––maybe for the first time––about their sin. And when sin is exposed, the gospel becomes even more precious to us.
Ashley Chesnut serves on the Local Disciple-Making Team at The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama. She holds an MDiv from Beeson Divinity School and has a heart for discipling college girls.