Kate says . . .
We champion them. We herald them our heroes. We watch as they share their faith in bold ways, standing out against the crowd. They inspire us. We see them everywhere-friends, neighbors, family, pastors, leaders, authors, performers, actors, singers-they stand firm in Jesus and we love them for it.
Then one of them steps into the world of sexual sin. Suddenly we are disgusted, claiming how much they have hurt the kingdom and those around them.
We simply cannot stop and see the hurt and brokenness in these one time heroes.
It is my hope that we as a church who are followers of Jesus, can choose to look and respond to those around us who are struggling with sexual sin in a different, yet Biblical way.
Before I go any further, I want to define what I mean by sexual sin in marriage. The sexual sin I’m referring to is, seeking sex with another consenting adult who is not your spouse, including but not limited to pornography, online relationships and affairs.
Understanding broken people
When you look into the eyes of someone struggling with the reality of their sexual sin you see both the hurt they feel as well as the weight of the hurt they have caused. You see deep brokenness.
There is not any part of that person who likes what they have done. For many of them, they have hated it even while making those choices over and over again. They hate it and say they will never do it again, only to turn around and do just that. Sexual sin is like a drug and one of the most powerful kind. A wise friend of mine recently said:
“We need to remember that hurt people, hurt people and they aren’t always trying to hurt people.”
These are God’s children, who love him, but who are struggling deeply.
We are all broken and need the love and grace that Jesus freely offers. Some of us suffer such depths of brokenness that they not only have no idea how to deal with it, but end up seeking to temporarily sooth the brokenness with sex.
Whether that is through pornography, online sexual relationships or affairs. They are using something God intended for good, that feels good, to sooth and help them delay dealing with brokenness. To fill a hole.
Love, Grace and Truth
We are called to show and share God’s love, grace and his truth. We cannot leave out one of these components. But how we love and deliver the truth says a lot about ourselves.
We work with couples all the time that are going through very similar things as Josh and Anna Duggar. The first thing I want them to know is that we love them and God loves them. Because honestly, they know what they have done is wrong. They know they have caused a world of hurt. If they are in denial about their wrong doing, we will work through that with them. However, that is usually not the case. We spend much of our time showing them Biblically how God feels about them.
I love how Jennifer White puts it in her book “Prayers for New Brides”, “When you said ‘I do’ to the faithful, lifelong love commitment of marriage, an enormous bulls-eye landed on your holy union.”
I’d like to add to that, if you are leading people in any way, that bulls-eye becomes even bigger and more pronounced. The enemy doesn’t want marriage to succeed, but especially those that are in front of others. If the enemy can get a hold of those marriages, he can effect so many-sort of like the spider web effect. We all have the bulls-eye!
Grace does not remove consequences
When we sin, there many times are earthly consequences. This is especially true where sexual sin is concerned. So when I say that we need to, as believers in Jesus, love those around us who have chosen some pretty awful stuff that doesn’t mean there are not consequences.
The consequences are always unique to each situation, just as every marriage is unique. They are often hard, emotional and take time. Having the church come along side of these couples while they navigate and continue on their marriage journey is how we can show them grace and love. Not pointing fingers and feeling as though we are somehow better because we haven’t sinned in a sexual way, or because no one has ever discovered that we have in fact. Either way, don’t throw stones.
Conversation and accountability
As we serve in marriage ministry, we are frequently talking about temptation and having proper boundaries with people of the opposite sex. We seek to be transparent and intentional in our own marriage. Not because we don’t trust each other, but because our marriage is worth protecting.
Along with frequent conversations we have trusted people around us that we want to let us know if they see something they should not. Those trusted couples and individuals are present in our lives and will speak truth and love!
My Challenge to You
We have walked the road of sexual sin in our marriage. So we are no strangers to it. But here is the crucial thing for me, sexual sin does not take a person out of God’s reach. It does not mean these people are disgusting, it means they are hurting. And hurting people often hurt others. It doesn’t have to mean the end of the marriage. The journey forward will be rocky and incredibly hard at times, but the refinement that God will do is beautiful.
Romans 2:4 “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” (NLT)
It is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. We are called to be like Jesus, who is a reflection of the Father, therefore we too should love our brothers and sisters who have struggled with sexual sin. Come along side of them and be God’s people!
What they have done is wrong and not what God wants for their marriage. But he loves them immensely and that has not changed. Now he wants to use this awful mess they have made to change them and reflect Him. We as the church should not make them feel as though they are unloved or that God is done with them, because he surely isn’t.
To think that we need to hate these people who have sinned sexually, to throw stones and to ostracize them is not something I want to be a part of.
I want to continue to see marriages restored and those marriages in turn continue to impact the Kingdom.
I humbly suggest that we cannot do this when we are throw stones.