A recent survey suggested that one in two evangelical men and one in five evangelical women are struggling with pornography. Other surveys bear out these proportions. This means that when you look out on your congregation on a Sunday morning, one in three people are struggling with pornography. What good news are you offering them?
The chances are many of them think they’re the only ones who are struggling. They may think they’re disqualified from Christian service by their sin, perhaps even from the Christian family. They hide their guilt, terrified of being exposed. Yet at the same time they may long to share their problem. What good news are you offering them?
Or maybe they’ve told someone and were met by barely masked repulsion. Or maybe the person they told was sympathetic, but didn’t know how to bring hope to the situation or how to offer accountability. What good news are you offering them?
Christians need to hear a positive Christian message on sexuality because they are called to follow Christ in a sex-saturated culture. It’s not just the proliferation of explicit images, but the slow drip feed of non-explicit material which nevertheless assumes sex outside of marriage is not only a norm, but a moral good.
Unbelievers, too, need to hear the positive Christian message on sexuality. If they don’t, then any call to repentance will lack content. Jesus repeatedly makes his call to repentance specific. The rich young man whose heart is set on wealth is called to give his money to the poor. The woman who seeks fulfillment in sexual intimacy is offered living water.
Most unbelievers are sinning sexually as a matter of course. Christian sexual ethics are a mystery to them. They either know nothing of what will be entailed in following Christ or they find our ethics bizarre. If we don’t present a Christian view of sex as good news then our sexual ethics will be a barrier that prevents people professing the lordship of Christ. If you don’t address sexuality as part of your evangelism then you’ll either store up problems for future discipleship or you’ll never win people for Christ in the first place. This doesn’t mean you need to talk about sex whenever a gospel opportunity arises. But any ongoing conversation with an unbeliever and any balanced pulpit ministry must regularly address the topic.
Biblical ethics are always gospel ethics—good-news ethics. This means they should always come as good news. Many people seem to think that we have to put up with the restrictions of Christianity because of the compensations of heaven. But the truth is the godly life is the good life. It is the life of joy and fulfillment and freedom. We need to show how Christian sexual ethics are good news.
Read the rest of Dr. Tim Chester’s chapter in our free e-book, Porn-Free Church: Raising up gospel communities to destroy secret sins.