I know this is a topic that we don’t really talk about. It’s a topic that I, even though I have been a regular church-goer for all 26 years of my life, didn’t hear mentioned in the church even once until a few years ago. It seems that in most churches, sexual sin is considered one of the “darker” or “worse” sins, so we don’t talk about it, we keep it in the dark.
But I’m going to talk about it here because I believe that Satan works in the darkness.
Shame. Guilt. Fear.
Sexual sin seems to elicit these three responses.
Shame because of wrong choices that you consciously made. Guilt for messing up, yet again. Fear of confession and loneliness from hiding a painful secret for too long. Shame because of something that you did that you feel like was “too much,” “too terrible,” “too dark” to share even with your closest friends.
As I consider these emotions, I am reminded of the very first mention of shame, guilt, and fear in the Bible – Genesis 3. In this story we see Adam and Eve being tempted by Satan and falling into the first sin.
In this story we see the blatant deception of Satan. If you haven’t realized yet, Satan is a dirty stinkin’ liar. And he’s good at it. He uses lies and deception to lead people into disobedience to God. He makes sin appear to be something good, appealing, and pleasurable. He then tempts us by arousing within us a desire to move beyond the limitations which God has established for us – limits that God has set for our own good and for His glory! So often we see God’s commandments as limiting and constraining but they are actually so beautifully liberating.
Let me take a few moments to dispel some of the lies that Satan is so good at feeding us:
You are not defined by the decisions you have made.
You are not too far gone because of your sexually immoral choices.
It is possible to have a sexually pure relationship.
God is able to forgive you.
God cares about you deeply.
God put the “limits” of sexual morality on your life out of love for you.
You are not unloved by God.
I write these words with tears in my eyes. I wish that I could look you in the eyes and beg you to not believe the lies that you have been fed.
Brothers and sisters, believe that the “limits” you feel that the Lord is placing on you regarding sexual morality are for your good. Believe that God is able to forgive you for your sexual sin. Believe that God cares about you. Believe that God loves you. Believe that God is good to you, even in the most painful moments of your story.
Oh child of God, believe.
Because the sad truth is that deep shame can have the effect of warping our view of God and our understanding of the truth. Pain can blind us to the grace and goodness of God. Sexual sin can leave scars that are deep and lingering and honestly, I’m not sure if they ever fully heal. It can bring about feelings of bitterness, grief, frustration, and anger – towards towards yourself and towards God. It can lead you to feel desperate and hopeless and alone. But. This does not have to be the end of the story.
And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day,
and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:8-9)
But. This word, “but,” brings hope to every tragic story.
But the Lord God called to the man. The grace present in this simple statement astounds me. As Adam and Eve crouch in the bushes, hiding their nakedness, bending under the weight of the never-before-felt emotions of shame, guilt, and fear, the Lord God calls out to them.
Don’t believe the lie that God is discompassionate, distant, or apathetic to your pain
“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8)
Our God is a God who calls to the sinner middle of their wretchedness. Our God is a God who pursues the broken in the very depth of their pain. Our God is a God who redeems every broken story into a story of hope and beauty. And He has the power to do this in your story as well.
Don’t believe the lie that your sexual sin is too dark to talk about. I pray that rather, you will find the courage to share your story. There is incredible healing and freedom to be found in vulnerability.
Brothers and sisters. Remember who God is. God’s goodness is no less present in the deepest sorrow than in the most beautiful joy. His sovereignty and goodness is not limited or diminished by the trials and evils of the world.
Read Genesis 1 and 2. Remember that God’s deep desire is to restore humanity and creation to the perfect relationship that existed before the fall, a relationship completely free of shame and guilt and fear. Remember that, because of Christ, we have the hope of a future where sin and shame and guilt and fear are simply distant memories.
Remember and have hope.
** a little note: don’t let the enemy make you feel like you are alone in your struggle with sexual sin. you’re not. you don’t have to walk through your pain alone. i pray that you would find the strength to be open with a friend, a counselor, a family member, or a pastor so that God can begin to redeem your story and restore your soul. i am available if you need someone to listen. remember friend, there is hope. **