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Sex in the City… What About the Church?


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Sex in the City… What About the Church?

In early August of this year I was invited to attend the inaugural Sexual Integrity Forum at Parliament House, Canberra. The Forum was called to discuss a variety of issues pertaining to sexuality but its chief purpose is best summed up by the Convenor of the Forum, Warwick Marsh, who wrote that the Forum was part of the process of ’the restoration of sexual integrity in Australia.’

For the past three years the Church I pastor has been specifically and deliberately involved in this process of helping people re-gain their sexual integrity. In fact, in the past 2-1/2 years we have had the incredible blessing of being able to assist well over 100 men deal with their sexual addictions and purity issues.

What does all this have to do with Lookout and why an article about it in TACL? I believe we only have to look at recent history to find the answer to that question. For many of us, the sexual scandals of Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart, although occurring in the late ’80’s, are still fresh in our minds. Then during the ’90’s the general public were rightly horrified at the sexual abuse that was rife within the ranks of the Children of God/Family. More recently, 60 Minutes aired a story that once again brought that whole situation into the spotlight of public scrutiny.

So it is important and necessary that we look frankly and honestly at these issues and seek out ways in which we can positively contribute to the situation.

If we are serious about calling our nation to sexual integrity, then we must be able to answer the question ’why?’ i.e. Is there sufficient evidence to suggest that there is a need for sexual integrity in our community? I believe the answer to this question is a resounding yes!

• It has been estimated that 4% of our population is sexually active with multiple partners.

• Studies have shown that condoms only provide protection from 3% of STD’s.

• 4% of the population is infected with STD’s.

• In 1981, 58.9% of teenagers who gave birth were unmarried. By 1990 this figure had risen to 82.5%.

• In 1993 Brian Burdekin stated that sexual abuse of girls in families where the father was not the natural father had risen between 500-600 per cent.

And our churches are not immune either.

• It has been estimated that 10% of the clergy will involve themselves in inappropriate sexual behaviour at some point in their career.

• Over 1 in every 5 Christian women have reported being abused at some time with 22% of the perpetrators regularly attending church and 14% were clergy/church leaders.

• Penthouse has stated that 35% of its subscribers describe themselves as ’evangelical Christians.’

• One church in the U.S. cited a study which revealed that 55% of ministers surveyed accessed porn on the internet.

• 60-80% of men acknowledge they are fighting this battle and losing it.

Finally, Melbourne psychologist Meredith Fuller spoke recently about a BBC survey which showed what people regard today as being the ’7 Deadly Sins.’ Fuller stated that adultery was on the list because 11% of people believe that cheating on your partner is sinful.

Given all of the above, I believe it is critical that we call people to a commitment to sexual integrity.

1. It must begin in our families.

Sexual integrity is modelled and valued when Mum and Dad remain exclusively committed to each other mentally, spiritually, psychologically and physically for life. The marriage relationship is both honoured and esteemed in this environment and held up to children as the ideal for society.

A Youth Worker, Tim Stafford, puts it succinctly when he says:

’Even the message of “wait until you’re older” is getting preached less and less. Adults usually would rather their kids not be sexually involved but they find it hard to preach what they don’t practice. Here’s what one girl wrote to me:

I am a fifteen year old girl who has a problem not many of my friends understand. My mom and her boyfriend started dating about three years ago. We soon started spending the night at his house. This didn’t bother me because my Mom and I slept in the front bedroom. But then they started sleeping together. This also didn’t bother me much, until one night I went back there to ask my mother something and her boyfriend came out of the bathroom with his underwear on (and just his underwear). Then I soon caught them having sex.

Not so long ago, mothers wrote letters like that about their daughters. But now, millions of kids whose parents are divorced have the tables turned. They see their parents getting involved in immorality. They see their parents shattered and hardened by the breakups and disappointments that inevitably follow. Naturally, these parents are not giving their children much encouragement to wait for marriage.’

2. It is modelled by our leaders.

I am especially thinking here of Church leaders, Pastors and Priests. It is way beyond time that we got our act together in the Church. For too long we have sent an inconsistent message to the larger community about sexuality. Our Churches must become places of healing and hope for the sexually broken; there must be a greater willingness on the part of Churches to openly discuss the sexual issues that people are struggling with today and the lifestyle of the Church’s leaders and people must be consistent with what we preach. For too long we have allowed people to justify their own behaviour based upon what they have seen practiced and perpetuated in the Church.

Sexual Integrity

• Recognises that I am responsible for my feelings, thoughts and actions.

• Respects the rights of others.

• Understands that there are inevitable consequences for the choices I make and that these will impact other people.

• Acknowledges that sexual brokenness is a real problem and that many people in our society are struggling with it or hurt by it, including Christians!

However, it also acknowledges that there is real hope and healing available.

• Commits itself to the model of one man and one woman committed to each other exclusively for life as the best model for building strong, healthy communities. Study after study shows that this is demonstrably true.

I passionately believe that a commitment to sexual integrity as described above and which is embraced by our families and community leaders, will radically alter the face of our nation and bring us to a place of real hope, healing and health. In my next article I will talk more specifically about how Churches can become agents of healing and change.

References

1 'Statistics and Facts’

-article produced by Liberty Ministries, Qld. Aust.

2 'Why Marriage Matters’

-produced by National Marriage Coalition, Aust. 2004.

3 'Worth the Wait’

-Tim Stafford, USA. 1988.

4 'Sin City’

- article in Sunday Times, WA 24/7/2005.

Article by Pastor Rob Furlong, Pastor of Thornlie Church of Christ and past Chairman of Lookout, (formerly CCG Ministries).

(From T ACL Vol 26 #5 Oct/Nov 2005)