Overcoming Obstacles to Talking About Sexuality in Your Church

Overcoming Obstacles to Talking About Sexuality in Your Church
by Daniel L. Weiss
Brushfires Foundation

Not long ago, a pastor friend and I were talking about the challenges that keep churches from addressing various kinds of sexual brokenness. One difficulty, I said, was simply getting a congregation to acknowledge that sexual brokenness exists and that the Church has a role in healing it. He paused for a moment and said, “If you figure out how to do that, write the book and we can both retire.”

We both laughed, but his response reveals the enormous challenge facing many pastors today. We live in a hypersexualized culture that is increasingly ignorant of—or outright opposed to—Christian principles. Like smoke in a factory town, the noxious fumes of society are negatively impacting everyone, including those within our congregations. There are very few families today that aren’t negatively impacted by our culture in some way.

Even so, many pastors have not been specifically trained to handle the deep devastation and spiritual confusion connected to various sexual struggles. “How do I even begin?” is a common question that I hear. While not exhaustive, here are a few ideas to help you reach out to the sexually broken within your reach.

Starting with prayer may seem a bit simplistic, but tackling such challenging issues requires a great deal of spiritual preparation. The sexual devastation of our age is not just a matter of harmful media and an unregulated internet. The Bible reveals that sexual brokenness is strongly connected to spiritual unfaithfulness and idolatry. Before trying to engage sexual issues in your church, a period of weeks or even months spent in the Word of God and intensive prayer is a wise investment.

A pastor once told me that dealing with sexual brokenness in his congregation was 0.3% of what he did. I asked why that might be and he sheepishly said that the people in his church probably didn’t have those problems. More likely, the people under his care never received a signal from him that such matters were safe to share.

If we’re honest, other people’s sexual sins can make us feel uncomfortable. As leaders, we know how Christians are supposed to pursue sexual purity, and their constant falling short can leave us wondering what to do. Complicating matters, ours is an “anything goes” society and this attitude is prevalent even in many churches. Thanks be to God that while we were still in our sin, God loved us. Jesus not only welcomed sexual sinners, he went to them.

To practice presence with the sexually broken is to follow in the footsteps of Immanuel—God with Us. In both teaching and personal interactions, you can signal to others that you are a leader who wants to help people in pain and that your congregation is a place where broken people are welcome. This act of signaling may be far more important than the content you are teaching.

If you haven’t openly taught on sexuality before, the best thing to do is to simply try. It takes time to break through people’s fear, shame, and isolation. You will have ideas that don’t work, sermons that upset, Bible studies that fall flat, and programs that bear no fruit. Thankfully, the Bible teaches that not all are called to bring in the harvest. Your efforts might be to plant or to water, to weed or to prune. Quite possibly, much of your work will be clearing the spiritual soil of the thistles, briers, and boulders keeping the Word of God from taking root.

All of us are tempted to give up at times. One pastor told me he once preached about godly marriage and was chastened by his own board of elders. It was more than three years before he dared go back to similar topics.

You have undoubtedly encountered resistance in your ministry already. You may be skilled at neutralizing it or find yourself intimidated. If you plan to address sexual matters, be prepared to do it for the long haul. Be content with small steps at first and build on your momentum. In all things, preach the clear Word of God. The Bible promises that God’s Word will not return to Him without accomplishing His purposes.

At some point, a timid person will stop by your office and share his experience with marital infidelity, childhood sexual abuse, pornography use, or struggles with gender identity. As you share the love of Christ and His forgiveness, you will be bringing the Gospel to previously untouched corners of this person’s heart, mind, and soul. These are great opportunities to praise the Lord for His ongoing effort to redeem this fallen world. We can count it pure joy that He has invited us to share in this beautiful work.

Daniel Weiss is the founder and president of The Brushfires Foundation, a Christ-centered ministry equipping the Church to offer a compelling, Christian response to the sexual brokenness of the world.
Posted: Nov 20, 2017,
Categories: Men, Women,
Comments: 0,
Author: Falene
Rate this article:

Please login or register to post comments.

Topic & Article Search