30 Dec 2015
“You’re not having sex!? How come? You’re really missing out!”
Imagine you’re off at college, and another student asks you those questions. What would you say? Is that student right?
In other words, are you missing out if you’re not sexually active? Well, it depends what you’re looking for. You can go in one of two directions. The first is the one you’re probably thinking of: sex without total commitment. The second is sex as total commitment.
Sex Without Commitment?
There’s something attractive about the first way. Sex can be fun, so why attach to it commitment, responsibilities, and the rest?
But there’s something wrong with this path. For one thing, serial dating, especially when sex is involved, sets us up to break our hearts and others’ again and again. Sex is like glue; after forming a connection with someone it’s hard to break that connection, and when we do, it hurts.
Next, sex becomes meaningless. We keep our most treasured possessions in a safe and only show them to a few other people. Like those possessions, the significance of showing our bodies to others and joining them in sex loses all significance if it’s something we are willing to do with a lot of people.
After years of joining and breaking the union that forms through sex, we won’t be able to settle down and be satisfied with one person for the long haul. Marriage is giving yourself to another person, but sex without commitment means seeking sex for your own sake, not for someone else’s. By living a life of sex without total commitment, we cease to be able to make any commitment at all.
Are we missing out if we’re not sexually active in this way? Hardly. This lifestyle is advertised by celebrities on TV and in movies throughout our culture. But at the end of the day, running from one person to another just isn’t the way to find sexual fulfillment.
What about that alternative I mentioned?
Sex As Total Commitment?
The alternative to sex without commitment is sex as total commitment. Sex can be the way to seal a relationship of total commitment, one person to another. In giving our bodies to each other, we give our hearts as well. We commit to each other for the long haul, on every level, facing the future together for whatever life may bring.
Sex as total commitment is what sex is in the relationship of marriage. In marriage, sex joins a man and a woman, not once, not temporarily, but for life, “as long as they both shall live.” Sex doesn’t merely join bodies; it joins two whole lives together in total love and commitment.
Within the covenant of marriage, sex accomplishes something eminently good, rather than wreaking the havoc we saw above. Marriage is the only safe place to engage in sex, because only in marriage is sex a reflection of the promise to be together forever, no matter what.
So, are we missing out if we aren’t sexually active? Not if we’re just missing out on the heartbreak and damage of sex without commitment. But what if you’re not married, and you would really like to be? Are you missing out if you don’t have that relationship of total commitment?
There is no denying that apart from marriage, you won’t experience the unique relationship that marriage offers, including the intimacy of sex. However, we can’t think that without marriage and sex, we’re missing out on life.
The apostle Paul (who was single) put it this way: “I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another” (1 Cor. 7:7).
Maybe you’re thinking that marriage sure seems like a better gift than singleness. But Paul would disagree. He says, “Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that.” He continues, “The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided” (1 Cor. 7:28, 32-33).
While the married person is trying to please a spouse, not to mention providing and caring for children, the single person is free to focus his or her energies on one relationship chiefly, a relationship with Christ (not to mention relationships with others). Just as in marriage, where a man and woman give themselves completely to each other in total commitment, Christ has given all of Himself to you in total commitment, and He asks the same from you in return.
Yes, it’s true: while we are single, we are not to be sexually active. But our singleness frees us to invest in an even deeper relationship with Jesus of spiritual love and utter commitment.
09 Dec 2015
It might seem daunting to ask someone to be your accountability partner. It’s scary to open up our lives to someone else and be completely honest. But so much of our pain and suffering comes from not sharing with others.
When my brother broke his wrist mountain biking, he didn’t tell anyone because he didn’t want to miss his basketball season. He endured the pain for months, and it got worse and worse. He eventually had to tell someone to get the proper care he needed, and once he did say something and went to the doctor, it was able to heal properly. We need this healing that comes from opening up about our struggles!
So who can we ask to hold us accountable?
There are many factors to consider when thinking about your accountability partner, but most importantly, look for someone who is committed to holiness and repentance in his or her own life. Also, find someone who cares about you and your holiness. In addition, here are some other principles to remember as you look for someone to hold you accountable.
Someone of the Same Gender
The most basic part of finding an accountability partner is to find someone of the same gender. Opening up in this area of your life is deeply personal and can create unhealthy ties with someone of the opposite gender.
This especially means your accountability partner cannot be your boyfriend or girlfriend, even if it’s easier to be honest with him or her. Treating your boyfriend or girlfriend in this manner puts extra burdens on your relationship that it’s not meant to carry.
Instead, speaking to someone of the same gender can also give you insight into your own struggles, since sexual struggles can look similar between those of the same gender. An older woman will be able to counsel a younger woman more effectively since she knows the same kind of temptations and struggles women often face.
One caution if you are struggling with same-sex attraction: it is not wise to have your accountability partner be another person you are attracted to who might add to your temptation. You will become close to your accountability partner, and this closeness can lead to the wrong kind of intimacy.
Someone Close to You
You can look at someone’s Facebook wall and think her life looks just fine, not knowing all the battles and hardships she is facing in her personal life. It is easy to give a false picture of ourselves to people we don’t see every day, which is why it is best if your accountability partner is someone you can see often and in person.
It is much easier to hide things and not be honest about your struggles over the phone or email. Confessing your sins to one another face to face brings healing because it allows for more openness and honesty. James says to confess our sins to each other and pray for one another “that you may be healed” (James 5:16). Through accountability relationships, each of us can mutually bring the light of Christ to the dark areas of our hearts where we are still holding onto sin.
Another factor in finding a good accountability partner is to look for a mature Christian, preferably someone who is older and more mature than you. There are many who have been in your position and walked this road before. They can give you guidance and help you haven’t thought of before.
Maybe you’re surrounded by people your own age and can’t think of anyone you could ask. Start by getting involved in a local church. A good church will be filled with older, more mature Christians who are just waiting to get involved in younger Christians’ lives. If there aren’t many older Christians at your church, start by asking your student minister or pastor if they know someone you can ask to fill this role.
Someone Who’s a Peer
While there’s value to having an accountability partner who is older, you also need one who’s your friend and is in a similar stage of life. This friend can be there for you for the long haul, through thick and thin.
Think of asking people to hold you accountable as building a team. These people are going to fight with and alongside of you. Often your friends will be in the same battles as you, and you can encourage each other through them. These friendships can last a lifetime, providing deep encouragement and long-lasting bonds in your Christian life.
While you face the daunting task of finding someone to meet with, remember the healing that can come from confessing your sins. Going through life without sharing about our brokenness is as difficult as going months with a broken bone and not telling anyone. Sure, my brother could endure the pain, but things got worse and worse. He was able to heal only when he told someone about it. Pray that God will show you people in your life that can help you through your struggles and find healing in Christ.
02 Dec 2015
Imagine the Boston Marathon or the Tour de France. Now imagine those races with no cheering fans and no TV crews or cameras. A few diehard athletes might still run the marathon or bike the 2,200 miles with no one cheering them on, but I doubt that many would actually attempt to finish the race.
We need people cheering us on in our own race. Our race isn’t just a few hours. It’s our entire lives. We don’t face hills and obstacles. We face sin that entraps us so easily. In our fight against sexual sin, we need fellow Christians to cheer us on and encourage us to keep fighting and living in faith and repentance.
Hebrews 12:1-2 tells us that “since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.” Similarly, the Christians around us today can also be a group of encouraging witnesses, helping us to look to Jesus.
We Can’t Trust Ourselves
Keeping our sexual struggles to ourselves might seem best because we don’t want to bother other people or invite the shame we might feel in disclosing a struggle. But this will ultimately lead us to trust in ourselves. We might begin to think that we can handle our sins on our own, that we don’t need the help of other people. We might begin to subtly trust in our own strength or discernment when dealing with our sin.
But Scripture speaks of our hearts as deceitful beyond all things, and desperately sick (Jeremiah 17:9). It warns us that we can be blind to our own sin and tells us not to lean on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). We desperately need others to help us see and deal with our sin. We simply can’t trust our wayward hearts.
God Gave Us Each Other
One of the ways God gives us the grace and help we need for our sin is through confessing our sins to other people. God doesn’t tell us to air our dirty laundry so we can be reprimanded by someone or slapped on the wrist. He tells us to confess that we might be healed. James talks about the healing that comes when we pray on behalf of each other in our fight against sin. He says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:16). Other people can help us bring our needs before God when we feel helpless.
By confessing our sins to each other, we also have the opportunity to be told of Christ’s grace and forgiveness. We will probably feel overcome and overwhelmed by our sexual sin, especially when it has been hidden. But we can experience the grace and healing of Christ when we confess our sin to someone and hear that Christ has paid the penalty for that sin and has forgiven us. When we hear someone pronounce God’s forgiveness to us, we have a picture of Christ right in front of us, speaking light into our desperate situation. And to someone caught in sexual sin, that voice of forgiveness and grace can be life-giving.
After confession, one of the goals of accountability is to exhort one another to holiness and change. Hebrews tell us to “exhort one another every day” (3:13) and to “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together” (10:24-25). Meeting regularly for accountability is another essential way to exhort one another, especially in strong relationships with individual Christians.
What Accountability Shouldn’t Be
Over and over, we are warned in Scripture about wrong motivations. Accountability can quickly center around our pride (I just want to look better), or it can be motivated by fear (What will happen if I get caught?). We also can get stuck in our misery when all we do is confess and never encourage each other in Christ to holiness and change.
How can we keep accountability focused on pleasing God rather than others? It might help to make sure your accountability meetings are centered around prayer and Scripture, so that you realize God is both your audience and your motivation. Prayer also allows you to invite God into your meetings. It provides opportunities for you to ask the Spirit to guide you and give you strength. It might also be helpful to set specific goals for your time together. What are some specific ways you can jettison sexual sin from your life? What are some specific ways you can fill your life with the things of the Lord?
Accountability can be the tool we need to bring about healing from sin and shame through confession, prayer, and encouragement with one another. Maybe you want it but don’t know where to start. Look for the next post in this series on who we should look for to be our accountability partner.
30 Nov 2015
Recently, a college student shared with me about her pornography struggle, but she mentioned something else that surprised me: her large college ministry didn’t have any female leaders with whom she could discuss her struggle! Only male leaders were on staff, so while she was leading a small group, no female leaders were discipling her or providing support.
Who can female students turn to in their sexual struggles?
Sexual Sin is Not Just a Men’s Issue
We must assume that our female students struggle with sexuality just as much as male students, even if their struggles might look differently sometimes. Statistics show that about a third of porn site visitors are female. These habits of looking at pornography, reading erotica, and getting involved in sexual hookups are forming in increasingly younger girls.
A woman’s struggle with sexuality will also be compounded by whether or not she has been sexually abused. A female student who struggles with sexual sin partly as a result of being sexually abused suffers from significant shame and requires much more time and sensitivity to her struggles. Part of having compassion for these girls who have been sinned against will mean providing them with the care and safe listener they need.
The example and compassion of godly women who can come alongside these younger girls and disciple them is essential for helping them heal from sexual struggles. Because living out holiness in female sexuality might look differently than in male sexuality, our female students are going to need the commonality and encouragement that come from other women.
Who Are They Turning To?
Female students will not feel safe going to a male leader about their sexual struggles, so ask yourself, who are they turning to right now? Even if they do come to you, safe one-to-one conversations about sexuality need to be same-gendered (check out our post on this) to protect both you and the student. It would cause problems for you to disciple a female student in the area of sexuality, even if your intentions are pure.
Ask yourself, does your ministry provide a woman to whom female students can go for help? Have you delegated this responsibility to disciple your female students to anyone? If your ministry is able, find a woman to disciple young women in particular. Female students will benefit greatly from having an older woman provide a safe environment in which to talk.
Thoughts on Finding Female Leaders
1) Pray that you would find women leaders. This may seem simple, but it’s important! Pray that God would provide women leaders to come alongside your female students. If you can bring this issue up with fellow ministry leaders, set aside time to pray for women who are older, more mature, and capable of discipling, teaching, and training female students.
2) Ask for money in your ministry budget. Advocate to make room in the budget to hire female staff. When you go to your supervisors, tell them about all the sexual temptations students are facing, including your female students. Let them know your inability to minister to opposite-sex students and what hiring female staff could do for your ministry.
Full-time staff do what volunteers cannot: they can devote all their time to helping your female students. Female students will know exactly who to go to in the midst of struggles and will feel cared for in a particular way by female staff.
3) Utilize volunteers to disciple your students. If you don’t have room in your budget, find volunteers to take responsibility for girls in your ministry. Ask godly women to disciple female students when they need to talk with someone. If you don’t know any women who are available and qualified, start by asking a pastor’s wife or other female staff at your church if they know of capable volunteers.
However, you and your volunteers might not be on the same page right away. Invest some time in training your volunteers how to disciple your students in biblical sexuality and how to walk with them through sexual struggles. Not only do you want to make sure they have the same ministry philosophy as you, but you also want them to be equipped for discipling students through sexual issues.
A Crucial Time
Living a life of purity takes radical commitment and faith for anyone, and students, right now, are at a crossroads of whether they’re going to choose the path of biblical sexuality or worldly sexuality. It is a crucial time to provide discipleship in this area.
Our female students are struggling with their sexuality in our highly sexualized culture, and many of them have been greatly sinned against in this area. They face sexual temptations right and left and need healthy female relationships to guide them through their struggles. Consider how you can care for these female students by providing them with godly examples and mentors.
18 Nov 2015
In Luke 9:23, Jesus said: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
In the movie Groundhog Day, a news reporter finds himself waking up every day to relive his least favorite day of the year. No matter what he does, even if he drives a truck off a cliff or jumps from a building and dies, he wakes up the next morning well-rested in his bed.
That is what Jesus says the Christian life is like. You resolve one day to take up your cross and die with Jesus, and then you wake up the next morning, and — it’s Groundhog Day! You have to do it all over again.
In our last post, we talked about the first two steps of the battle against pornography while in college: 1. Jesus is the way out and 2. Find help and accountability. In this post we’ll hit three more steps for dying daily to pornography.
Step 3: Block
The fight against pornography frequently feels like you’re the quarterback of a football team without any offensive linemen. Hike! Thwwommp!! And you’re sacked.
When competing against porn, your offensive line is made up of internet filters and accountability software. Internet filters can be installed on your computers, phones, and any other devices that access the internet. These will directly block access to pornography and other harmful websites. Accountability software doesn’t block websites, but it does send a report of your internet use to an accountability partner.
While filters and accountability software can help protect your eyes, they can’t directly reshape your heart; only seeking after Jesus can do that. But that doesn’t mean these tools aren’t useful. After all, what football team ever got rid of its linebackers because they were scoring so few touchdowns?
For these tools to work properly, you’ll need an accountability partner. This means that you can’t move to this step until you’ve already followed step two from the last post and enlisted some accountability partners and opened up to someone about your struggle. For more details about accountability software and filters, see our post “Technology Lockdown.”
Step 4: Talk
In the Bible, the psalm writer says: “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.” Then he says, “I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin” (Psalm 32:3, 5).
The surest way to fail in the fight against porn is to keep silent. Plants grow best when they are in the sun, but sin grows best when it’s hidden in darkness. When other people know about your sin, it becomes many times more difficult to continue in it.
Nevertheless, confessing sin is the one of the most difficult parts of the Christian life. Confessing sin hurts; you might even say it kills. It feels humiliating, guilty, and life-sucking.
But confession also heals. Just as a surgeon can’t heal unless he cuts, we can’t feel the joy of forgiveness unless we confess, unless we die to our pride every day.
To do this, you’ll need a regular time to meet with a college ministry leader or other spiritual leader for accountability. Some weeks you’ll just read Scripture, pray together, and find encouragement, and some weeks you’ll have (and need) the opportunity to confess your sins and find healing with the help of your accountability partner.
Step 5: Walk
The final daily step to fighting porn in college is walk: Change the shape of your daily life to make time for Christ and to exclude time for pornography.
Often, when we fight pornography, we wait for temptation to arise, try to resist, give in, repent, and hope that we’ll do better next time. But rather than trying to avoid porn use in the moment, we should avoid porn use by kicking it out of our schedules.
If you have a lot of free time that could be a time of temptation, fill it in ahead of time. Set up a time to hang out or study with a friend at a coffee shop every Saturday instead of studying in the dorm room. Add an extra-curricular activity to your schedule. Go to bed earlier.
Besides getting rid of time for pornography, make time specifically for your relationship with Christ. If you don’t have a time of prayer and Bible reading in your day, plan out a time in the morning, the evening, or sometime in between. Maybe you can join a church small group. Porn tempts us to trust in itself for life and salvation, but making time specifically for Christ will help reorient your faith and trust around the Saviour.
In order to walk away from pornography, we have to make sacrifices. But if we can learn anything from Jesus, it is that a life of sacrifice is well worth the cost – because in return we gain Christ now and life with God forever.
The fight against pornography is a fight to love and trust Christ more than we love and trust ourselves. Each day is a new day to die to ourselves and to live unto Christ. Every moment we have is an opportunity to come back to Christ by faith and to cherish and love Him more than the fleeting pleasures of porn.
16 Nov 2015
This week, we want to highlight a great article from our friends over at Rooted: “The Scripture I Use When I Teach on Marriage, Sex, Dating, and Relationships.” Rooted exists to transform student ministry by fostering grace-driven and cross-centered leaders through rich theological and contextual engagement.
Check it out here!
13 Nov 2015
“I’ll make friends. I’ll have homework. I’ll get involved in school clubs and events. There won’t be time for porn!”
That’s what you thought when you left for college, but now you know that you were wrong.
Despite everything you’re involved with in college, the porn struggle you’ve had since grade school is still there. Maybe you feel ashamed and helpless, and you wouldn’t know who to talk to, or you wouldn’t even want to talk to someone if you could.
Addicted to porn?
As you’re already seeing, the deck is stacked against you. Away from home and surrounded by other 18-22 year olds, you’re isolated from people older and wiser than you. It’s difficult to plug into a church, and it’s easy for churches to overlook you. Your peers and even the professors and administrators of your college aren’t concerned about sexual morality. Is there a way out?
There is. God cares about your situation and wants you to escape the grip of sexual sin and feel His embrace instead. You probably know this verse: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Cor. 10:13).
With most young men reveling in porn and many Christians silent on the issue, it probably doesn’t feel like your struggle is common to man. And it probably doesn’t feel like the temptation is something you can bear.
Step 1: The Way Out
But God provides a way out. We know He does because Jesus took that path. Jesus was a young, single man His whole life, but He never sinned. As the book of Hebrews says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet without sin” (4:15).
The author of Hebrews finds this implication: “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (4:16). Because Jesus knows what it is to be tempted and how difficult it is to overcome temptation, you can be confident that He is willing to help you when you need His help most.
When you feel drawn away from God and others into your own private, electronic imagination, don’t despair; cry out to Jesus for help! He is the way out. He knows your temptation, and by His grace, He can give you the strength to overcome it.
Step 2: Finding Help
One of the main ways Jesus helps us is through Christian community, other brothers and sisters we can depend on. The first place to find that community is the Church. Yes, there are college ministries; there are Bible studies. But the local church itself is God’s original plan to teach us about Him and provide us with the partnership we need with other believers. Think about this too: Being at college separates you from everyone not between the ages of 18 and 22. But the local church connects you to believers of all ages, from newborns to the elderly, reminding you that the college experience is not the only, or even the normal state in life.
The second way to find community is through vital relationships, a couple of brothers (if you’re a guy) or sisters (if you’re a gal) with whom you can share your struggle with pornography and who will help you fight the battle. You’re probably wondering, “How on earth can I find that?”
You can find accountability in a lot of places: through a campus ministry, a Christian friend, a mentor, or a small group. Start by speaking to the pastor of your church. You might find the pastor very willing to help you himself and even able to connect you to other men at the church who can help you and sympathize with you in your struggle. He can connect you to ministries that focus on sexual sin in particular. Commit to being open about your struggles with one peer and one older, mature Christian; a peer is most able to sympathize with you, and an older Christian is a necessary source of perspective and wisdom. God will use them to help you fight the battle against sexual sin and to know Him better through the struggle.
Steps of obedience like these are difficult, and they don’t match at all the mindset of self-fulfillment that most of us buy into these days. But remember that a life of difficult obedience is exactly the life that Jesus led, and by walking in His footsteps, you become like Him. Take these initial two steps of crying to Jesus and finding accountability, and then take a look at our second post, “Dying Daily”, for the next steps.
11 Nov 2015
In part one of “Sexual Worldviews” we began to contrast the “truths” our culture believes about sexuality with God’s wise and loving design for sexuality. Here we will pick up with the last two talking points for each worldview.
Secular Worldview 2: Sex Is An End in Itself.
In a culture that has three main idols – sex, money, and power – there seems to be a general conclusion: Everyone can’t be rich or powerful, but everyone can and ought to have as much sex as possible.
The message today is that “great” sex is one of the greatest experiences in life. Relationships are not necessarily about building a life together over time. Many times, it’s about how quickly we can get to sex! This view is opposite of the covenant love in a godly marriage because it teaches that people exist for you and your needs.
As a side note, since sex is one of the main points of life, sex appeal and body image have become crucial. According to our culture, these are the tickets to lots of sex. This fosters a culture that obsesses over the superficiality of body image, leading to massive amounts of guilt and shame. The perfect body eludes most of us!
A life in which sex is king ultimately leads to a profound dissatisfaction with normal life and turns people into objects.The glory of sex falls far short of the glory for which we were created.
Christian Worldview 2: Sexuality Is A Means to an End
God’s word gives us a worldview in which knowing and worshiping God through Christ is ultimate. Even though sinners misuse sex and distort sexuality, both the act of sex and our sexuality in general are good things. We can validate the desire to be intimate. God gave us sex and our sexuality because He loves us and wants to bless us! But ultimately He gave it us so that we could know and worship Him better.
How we handle sex and sexuality is also a test of faith and spiritual growth. How we express our sexuality reveals who or what we are depending on and trusting in. Sexuality begins in the heart and reveals the condition of our hearts. Christian sexuality is not simply about avoiding sexual immorality. People of various religions avoid sexual immorality all their lives! Using our sexuality in God-honoring ways is about following Jesus. Which means the ultimate questions regarding sex and sexuality are not, “How can I have as much sex as I can? Who can I have it with? And how can I be true to myself?” The ultimate question regarding sex and sexuality is, “How can I glorify God through my sexuality?”
Secular Worldview 3: Sexuality defines me.
In our culture, my sexuality is the most important aspect of my identity. This is why the idea of sexual orientation is so pivotal in our cultural debates today. It is also why when Christians say that someone’s sexual behavior is sin, the culture labels us bigots and haters. Without realizing it, the culture has reduced identity simply to sexuality. But Christians believe our identity is determined by something far deeper and greater.
Christian Worldview 3: Sexuality doesn’t define me.
The bad news is that like the rest of humanity, Christians really struggle with sexual sin and brokenness. The good news of the gospel is that we have a Savior.
Because of the greatness, power, and love of Christ our Savior, He unites us to Himself by grace through faith. And as certain as our justification is in His work on the cross, our sanctification and glorification are as sure as His resurrection. Therefore, because of our union with Christ, our past and current sexual sin, folly, and rebellion do not define us.
There are only two true identities in this world: either we are in Christ or not. Our sexuality is never the bottom line. Paul makes this clear in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, where he lists some life-dominating sins, including people’s sexuality gone wrong (and it has gone wrong for all of us!). But then he makes a declaration about sexual sinners who are now in Christ by writing in verse 11:
And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
The ultimate identity for someone who has come to Jesus is that they have been washed by the blood of Christ, set apart by His Spirit, and made right with God through Christ’s death. Sex and sexuality never are the bottom line with God.
All of these talking points undergird every conversation you have with your kids. Whether you are talking to a toddler or a teenager, you are always talking about how God has something to say about sexuality, how His design is good, how functioning outside of His design is harmful, how even our sexuality is about worship, and how we are not defined by our fallen sexuality.
In the following posts, we are going to ask the question: how should I talk to my kids in the various stages of life as they grow up? We’ll also break down how to communicate these talking points in ways your kids can grasp.
10 Nov 2015
In his office at a Christian college, a professor looked up as one of his college student entered the room. The student, visibly nervous, slowly began to share about his struggles with same-sex attraction. The student had never told anyone before because of fear and shame but felt he could trust this caring professor.
When he told him, the professor did not raise his eyebrows or act disgusted but thanked the student for telling him. He then let the student know he had been praying for him for some time.
Later, the student said the professor had given him a gift: the gift of not being shocked. This story reminds us how far kindness and empathy can go whenever someone discloses a sexual struggle.
Students need this gift of being unshockable from their leaders. It is a way of showing Christ-like love to our students. Christ knows all of our sins and still died for us, so no matter how great our sin, He still paid the penalty. He is not shocked by our sins right now but assures us that nothing can separate us from His love.
How can we cultivate a more gracious response to students who share their struggles with us?
1) Assume your students struggle with sexual sin and shame.
In our sexualized culture, sexual temptations are laid out like a buffet in front of students and entice them at an increasingly younger age. Also, the Internet has changed how easy it is to anonymously pursue all kinds of sexual sin. Pornography of any variety, sexting, and casual hookups are at one’s fingertips. If we can assume that students are struggling with sin and shame, we can be more prepared to minister to their needs.
2) Know your own sinfulness.
In helping students who struggle with sexual sin, it can be easy for us to overlook our own sinfulness. Oftentimes, we can judge others’ sin as worse than our own. But even if we have not committed the same sexual sins as our students, we have broken God’s law and betrayed Him as well! Our sin has required the death of God’s only Son to atone for our sin. We should not be surprised when we hear of someone else’s struggle.
Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” We have the same evil thoughts and desires as a student confessing sexual sin, and we can’t think we are immune from that same sin!
3) Before knowing what they are, pray for your students’ struggles with sin.
Without even knowing the details, you can pray for your students’ struggles so that your heart for these sufferers will grow. Praying for them will help prepare you to come alongside them no matter what they disclose. Pray also that your students would have the courage to open up and that you would be a safe person to whom they can disclose their struggles.
4) Be ready to encourage.
Students confessing struggles with sexuality will be paralyzed by fear and shame. But you can be the voice of Christ to them in speaking the same words He has given us: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). You can help them know the joy of coming into the light in their Christian walk, comforting and assuring them: “Your struggle does not make you any less loved by Christ. Nothing can separate you from His love.”
5) See the person not the problem.
When a student confesses sin to you, look at that student the way Christ looks at you: as a beloved person, not a mess to clean up. This means recognizing commonality between you and the student, knowing you have similar sinful desires and beliefs in you. Seeing the person instead of the problem will also allow you to look past the outward behavior to look at the student’s heart, including desires, beliefs and worldviews within. Getting hung up on the outward behavior will be like trying to remove the weeds in a garden by just taking the tops off, instead of digging down to get the roots.
The professor who met with the student gave him a gift that Christ gives us all. He is not shocked by our sin but sympathizes with all our weaknesses. He sees us as beloved people, not problems. He prays for our struggles even before we do. What is one of the greatest gifts we can give our students? The gift of being unshockable.
30 Oct 2015
Politicians have it easy. They have teleprompters! While we can’t get you a teleprompter, we hope the next two blogs will give you talking points to use with your kids that compare the Christian and secular worldviews about sexuality.
A worldview, in a nutshell, is how a person sees him or herself, others, God, and the point of life. In our culture, the Christian sexual worldview is clashing with the secular sexual worldview.
As parents, we need to know what the world is teaching our kids about sex and the overall meaning of life. To unpack these worldviews, I will compare three talking points from each side.
Secular Worldview 1: Sexuality is Subjectively Defined by Individuals
Who Is the Standard?
The culture today is teaching that sex and sexuality mean what you want them to mean. Why? Because good sexual expression is defined by the individual. There is no intrinsic meaning or value in the sexual act itself. Barring non-consensual sexual acts, the culture teaches that we are the meaning makers when it comes to sexual expression.
What one person or group calls “sexual sin” is merely a relativistic human interpretation. The significance or meaning of sex is a societal construction. Sex can be in a lifelong commitment or a one-night stand.
What is Love?
To the secular mindset, an individual’s sexual attraction also defines love and intimacy. Love is essentially an emotional feeling that overwhelms the individual, though it can quickly change. I can love whomever I want, in whatever way I want. Love takes on a self-centered nature because it is defined by the individual and not by an objective standard.
Where is it Good?
The idea of sexual individualism – my body, my attractions, my orientation, and my definition of love for me – is the new secular sexual morality. What is morally wrong is when people to try to put boundaries on sexual freedom. As long as you aren’t harming someone else and you are with a consenting adult, there are no more sexual taboos.
Christian Worldview 1: Sexuality is Objectively Defined by God
Who Is the Standard?
We are not alone in the cosmos, armed only with human self-consciousness, opposable thumbs, and high-speed internet. The good news is that God exists and has has revealed all the truth about sex and sexuality that we need in the Scriptures. The Scriptures teach us that God created sexuality and gives meaning and morality to it. Because of God, two people having sex means something. It is not a morally and relationally neutral event. It could be an overflow of love in marriage, an outlet for selfish lust in pre-marital sex, or it could be betrayal through adultery, depending on the situation.
What is Love?
Contrary to the secular understanding of love as a subjective expression of an individual’s feelings, Christians believe that God defines love. He defines it as total sacrifice and commitment according to His standards of good or bad and right or wrong (1 John 4:10-11). Because of the sacrificial nature of Christ, the Christian understanding of love challenges disciples to imitate Christ in unselfish, self-sacrificing, patient, and redeeming ways. The promiscuous nature of the hookup culture can’t imitate that. Love is anything but subjective.
Where is it Good?
The Christian perspective recognizes that the Creator defines the context for sex in the covenant love of marriage between one man and one woman. Rather than the whims of consent and infatuation, true love imitates the faithful love of God and is cultivated when spouses abide in the context of lifelong commitment, not the sporadic hook up mentality of our culture. He also defines how we may express our sexuality in general. It must be according to His design and in love and service to others.
In terms of the marriage debate, one reason why a marriage is only good between one man and one woman is that in some mysterious way, the essential differences between a man and a woman reflect both the diversity and unity of the Perfect Trinity. The sexual difference between men and women in Biblical marriage enables a man and woman who both bear the image of God separately to bear God’s image together in unity. Male and female unite to share in love, unity, and creativity in a way that depicts the love, unity, and creative power of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Thus, homosexual monogamy still falls short.
Likewise the male/female sexual difference is important in John’s image of the Bride of Christ in Revelation 18 and 19 with the marriage of the Lamb. The essential differences between men and women and the covenant of marriage, in particular, mirror Christ and His Church.
The context of marriage is also the only safe context for sexual intimacy. As a husband and wife become “one flesh”, they also commit to each other in the context of marriage to stay with one another. In the hookup culture, when two people become “one flesh”, that union can be ripped apart with a simple phone call. A couple’s covenant of marriage, modeling the covenant faithfulness of God to His people in Christ, actually becomes a secure place to receive love and learn of God’s love for us. The covenant boundary of marriage gives the relational security for each spouse to be free to share their true self, find true acceptance, and enjoy true intimacy. Because it is modeled on the never-ending grace of God for His people, the covenant union gives the relational security we need. The hookup culture may include lots of sex, but it can’t provide a context for redeeming grace as couples come face to face with each other’s sin.
In the following post, we’ll contrast two more talking points regarding the secular and Christians worldviews. (Part two)