Moral confusion about sexual issues is so common in our culture it is now our normal ministry milieu. Sexual harassment in the workplace, sex offenders in neighborhoods, and sexual escapades by societal influences are daily occurrences. Yet, our culture continues to embrace confusing moral standards – like rejecting pre-marital chastity and supporting pornography as a multibillion-dollar industry – while decrying the behaviors mentioned above. We live in confusing times which are not likely to change soon.
What should Christians and churches do? Angry preaching, hand wringing about how bad things are, or wistful longing for another era are not adequate responses. Here are three intentional choices we must make.
First, base your moral convictions on biblical standards – and live them out. Doing so will definitely be counter-cultural and require spiritual stamina. Mistakes will be made, but be sure your overall trajectory is toward obeying God’s Word on moral issues.
Second, lead your church to maintain a positive, healthy teaching ministry about sexuality and moral choices. Too often, we address these issues from a negative – “thou shalt not” – perspective. That’s part of maintaining a biblical position, but only a part. We must teach the positive reasons why God’s instructions about sexuality and morality benefit individuals and society as a whole.
Third, develop healing ministries for people broken by bad moral choices – by their actions and as victims. For example, virtually every young man (and a growing number of young women) has been damaged by pornography. Those scars impact self-esteem, capacity for intimacy in marriage, and feelings of inadequacy for ministry leadership. A significant percentage of young women have experienced some form of sexual victimization. Many married couples experience sexual dysfunction because of baggage from past experiences or relationships. The healing ministry of the church can and should address issues like these.
We are taking steps to shape our curriculum to better prepare leaders in these areas. In the future, churches must be islands of sanity in a sea of moral confusion. May God give us the grace to build these kind of healing communities.