The dominant pastoral issue in my ministry over the last ten years has been sexual sin. I've spent more time giving spiritual direction in this area than any other. I know that some who read this will be shocked. I know some will want to bury their head in the sand. I know that some will not be able to relate to it at all. I understand that but the reality still stands.
In many ways none of us should be surprised because we live in a sex-saturated culture where sex is used to sell anything and everything and where our children are sexualised from their earliest years. We live in a world where young girls who can barely walk are first cajoled into wearing high heels and T-shirts with Playboy motifs, before progressing into a grim future dominated by an internet-based youth culture that pressurises them into dress and behaviour which defines them overwhelmingly as sexual objects. What's more we can access any image we like from the privacy of our own home and it's only a mouse click away.
What are we expecting? That God's people would be immune?
We've got to fight back!
Not with the banning of porn or ever more sophisticated internet accountability software (which I heartily endorse and if you've not got some get it (see covenanteyes.com)) but with the historic, orthodox gospel which brings us a far greater vision to capture our affections and the power to find our joy in God (do the Kingdom a favour and read something by Tim Chester that will help you unleash the power of the gospel - You Can Change and Captured by a Better Vision to name but two books).
But we also need to fight satan himself who wields the lie that sexual sin disqualifies us from God's favour and service. This lie has been devastating to so many (you want to know why the church is struggling to engage men......?)
Today I was reminded of an article that John Piper wrote some years ago called "Gutsy Guilt". How we need to hear its message today. Please read it and be bold enough to share it with others. By God's grace sexual temptation might not be a challenge for you but if you're part of the LBC community it's a challenge to a good number and, at the risk of repeating myself, we're in 21st century so it shouldn't be a great surprise.
He was speaking at a conference with George Verwer, the founder of the mission organisation Operation Mobilisation. He writes:
Verwer's burden at that conference was the tragic number of young people who at one point in their lives dreamed of radical obedience to Jesus, but then faded away into useless American prosperity. A gnawing sense of guilt and unworthiness over sexual failure gradually gave way to spiritual powerlessness and the dead-end dream of middle-class security and comfort.
In other words, what seemed so tragic to George Verwer—as it does to me—is that so many young people are being lost to the cause of Christ's mission because they are not taught how to deal with the guilt of sexual failure. The problem is not just how not to fail. The problem is how to deal with failure so that it doesn't sweep away your whole life into wasted mediocrity with no impact for Christ.
The great tragedy is not masturbation or fornication or pornography. The tragedy is that Satan uses guilt from these failures to strip you of every radical dream you ever had or might have. In their place, he gives you a happy, safe, secure, American life of superficial pleasures, until you die in your lakeside rocking chair.
I have a passion that you do not waste your life. My aim is not mainly to cure you of sexual misconduct. I would like that to happen. But mostly I want to take out of the Devil's hand the weapon that exploits your sin and makes your life a wasted, worldly success. Satan wants that for you. But you don't!
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