If you’ve been following along for the past few weeks, you know that we’ve been talking about difficult conversations regarding sex, porn, and masturbation. We’ve been concerned with those topics in part because of our recent Shameless online workshop event.
But more importantly, the reason we’ve been so focused on these issues is because we as an organization, and myself as a leader of this organization, are tired of seeing culture (and in particular church culture) run away from these discussions due to their undeserving shameful and taboo nature. Hence, why we put together the Shameless experience.
Last week I shared some thoughts after Shameless here. One of my takeaways was this:
“The church needs to wake up and get off their butts when it comes to sex.”
Now, when I say the “church” I don’t just mean the organization or its leadership, but the actual church as in the people. You, me, us.
- Why are we so hesitant to talk about sex, porn, and masturbation openly and honestly?
- Why do these conversations rarely ever happen outside “recovery” groups or counseling sessions?
- Why do those outside the church world often look at us and laugh at our perceived aversion to anything of a sexual nature?
Ultimately, why when the church is supposed to be a haven for those seeking healing, grace, and support are we the ones playing catch-up when it comes to the matters of sex and sexuality rather than leading those conversations?
And admittedly, there isn’t just one reason or simple answer. There are many. However, I want to share the 5 most common ones I’ve run into based on hundreds of conversations with men, women, parents, and pastors and why they ultimately don’t hold very much water.
Reason 1: It makes others uncomfortable.
This one is kind of obvious, but it’s probably one of the biggest reasons. After all, who wants to dive deeper into sensitive matters like sex and sexual integrity when the other person is noticeably weirded out?
Yet, we need to do just that despite the awkwardness.
I’ve said this before, but their discomfort is their problem and not yours. You can’t and shouldn’t own their issues with transparency. Also, realize that often the reason they feel uncomfortable is that they have their own issues, they feel the need to have an answer and don’t, or they are fighting a lot of bad programming they picked up from their family and/or prior church experiences.
Reason 2: It makes you feel uncomfortable.
Admittedly, this one is understandable but equally invalid.
Generally speaking, we all try to avoid looking “bad” in front of members of our church families because we fear judgment, criticism, or exclusion. Much of this comes down to the misconception many hold that church is the place you go when you have things “figured out” when in fact it is very much the opposite.
The church should be a hospital or haven, not a country club.
That said, if you feel your church is not a safe place to have these conversations because they won’t accept you, then it may be time to find a new church. But, if your church is a safe place and your pride is holding you back from owning your junk… get over it. Because there is no room for personal pride or posturing when it comes to health and healing.
Reason 3: It doesn’t fit our “vision.”
I’ve heard this one a few times and every time I do I want to crawl up a wall. The truth is this excuse is just that… an excuse. And it’s a darn good one because it sounds very wise and leadership minded.
But when we are talking about people, their spiritual betterment, and discipleship, it’s just red herring.
Whatever your church’s vision or focus is, it must include the physical, mental and spiritual welfare of others. You can’t lead your church body in an upward direction when half of those you serve are being held back by sexual bondage. If your current “vision” doesn’t include helping people experience sexual health and wholeness, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
Reason 4: We lack the leaders and/or resources to tackle this area of need.
Again, sounds good. Sounds reasonable.
Heck, it even sounds pretty dang smart. How can you serve a group of people in need if you lack the “equipping” to do so effectively? We’ve seen this happen in the church before and generally the results are not very good.
However, this excuse is also a bit weak when you consider the following:
- The concept of “discipleship,” which is central to the Great Commission, contemplates the assumption that we are teaching and equipping others to do the same. So the excuse that you don’t have enough leaders just means you haven’t been working enough on raising up or training said leaders.
- There are enough organizations out there like XXXchurch and Live Free Ministries offering the tools and resources needed to lead in the area of sexual health, so a failure to leverage those organizations is just that, a failure.
Simply put, lacking the leaders and resources is not a matter of misfortune but apathy. We need to do better and no one ever said that’s going to be easy.
Reason 5: I don’t know who to talk to or where to start?
Let me just say that this one is pretty common and also very understandable. Not having any sort of direction makes it very difficult to take a meaningful step in the right direction.
For the individual, not knowing who they can share their struggles with or what to share and/or not share is extremely intimidating. And for leadership, it’s hard to build trust with specific partners or organizations when you don’t know enough to know if they know enough (or anything for that matter).
That said, this one is more of a trial and error situation. You just have to go out and make that initial effort. Yes, early on your conversations may lack any fruit or meaning, but eventually you can and will find others that are willing to come alongside you in your journey.
Worth mentioning, for churches we offer a partnership program through Live Free you can check out here. And for individuals really needing some 1-on-1 time so they can gather their bearings, we offer help here.
All said, understand that these reasons or excuses have been around for a long time. And this post is not meant to accuse or attack anyone, but rather challenge us all to do better in these areas of life.
Yes, sex and sexuality can be scary topics.
Yes, they can definitely create messy situations.
And yes, most certainly there will be some discomfort along the way.
But we as a church are called to be the light, and I believe that call isn’t just limited to our “evangelism” efforts. Let’s stop being content to follow when we can lead our churches and everyone else into a better future.