The Elephant in the Sanctuary – Part 2‏

Posted on February 12, 2013

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pornaddictionAuthor: Andrew Kerbs

The Elephant in the Sanctuary – Part 1

In part one I talked about the issue of sexual sin in the church. I related it to a festering wound that unless it is exposed to fresh air, cleaned, and properly dressed will never heal. Eventually it will lead to the loss of a limb, or even the life, of the one who bears this wound.

As I write this series, much of it will be directed at men. This is not to exclude women from the issues of sexual sin for I do know there are those who struggle with it. Rather, I am a man, thus I relate to men, therefore it only makes sense that I write to a male audience.

What I would like to see in the church is a change of approach to sexual sin. Without even meaning to, we have created a hierarchy of sin, where sexual sin is about the worst, and others such as being a workaholic are viewed as admirable. Take a pastor who due to issues of his own, drowns himself in his work. His marriage falls apart. His wife leaves him. He carries on and the and church pats him on the back and praises him for working so hard for the Lord. Take the pastor who admits to struggling with pornography. He will be on the next train out of there.

I am not suggesting that pastors ought to be permitted to continue as spiritual leaders of the church if they are actively engaging in sexual sin. However, we need a better approach. We have such limited avenues of help that by the time a man admits to struggling with sexual sin, it is because he has been found out and his world is crashing down around him. We need to create men’s ministry groups where sexual sin is directly addressed, where fellowship and accountability reign, and vulnerability can be safely achieved. This is painfully difficult when this type of sin is so harshly judged, but it is what I, and I hope other men in our church, strive for.

It is not a bad idea to start a men’s ministry group with the sole focus on integrity—a primary part of that being sexual integrity. Allow me to be a bit more candid. I realize the vast majority of churchgoing men probably do not solicit prostitutes, nor go to strip clubs. Fine.

But what about simply magazines? No, not even Playboy. How about simply Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. Christ said the man who so much as lusts after a woman has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Brothers, we are not only striving for pure actions, but pure thought processes! And as the old English poet John Donne so famously quipped, “No man is an island…” so the saying rings true today. We are all interconnected. Fellowship, community, accountability. The devil is desperately trying to destroy the church from within, beginning with families. Divide and conquer is an effective tactic when he employs sexual sin because the church refuses to talk about it.

Let’s change that.

Below I will list some resources and ideas to jumpstart a small men’s group whose focus can be on integrity. It is my prayer that you will thoughtfully consider each of them. The devil is making sexual sin a frontline issue and because the church refuses to even make it a legitimate issue, he is winning.

Some books to consider:

  1. Everyman’s Battle: Winning the War on Sexual Temptation One Victory at a Time by Stephen Arterburn.

This book deals with the basics. There is a corresponding workbook that goes with it so it is formatted well for group study. It is a good basic, jumping off point for a new men’s group that wants to deal with sexual integrity.

  1. Wild at Heart by John Eldredge

Though this book doesn’t specifically deal with sexual sin, it lays a good groundwork for a men’s group. Though I may not theologically agree on all of the specifics with Eldredge, it is still a book I would recommend for this setting, especially at the beginning stages.

  1. The Twelve Steps for Christians by Friends in Recovery and RPI

Some of you may be familiar with 12 step groups. This is a book that walks you through that framework, but from a specifically Christian perspective. Though some are all for 12 steps, others are vehemently opposed. I’ve seen mixed results, thus I remain neutral. At this point, it one more tool in the arsenal to bring sexual integrity to the forefront of a men’s ministry group, thus I recommend this book.

  1. Sex Is Not the Problem (Lust Is): Sexual Purity in a Lust-Saturated World by Joshua Harris

The title speaks for itself. It is general enough that men and women both could read it.

  1. In the Shadows of the Net: Breaking Free of Compulsive Online Sexual Behavior by Patrick Carnes, PhD.

Patrick Carnes is a leading expert in the field of sex addiction. He has written a number of books dealing with it. I recommend this one specifically because it deals with what I know the majority of churchgoing men struggle with—internet pornography, chat rooms, etc. This is a candid and direct approach to the problem, thus I would not recommend it in an open prayer meeting setting (ie. Not child appropriate) but it is a powerful book that will help in the journey of sexual integrity.

With that said, I will continue to write on this topic as I know it is one of great concern and little voice within the church. I pray that those of you read this (even those of you will never write and acknowledge that you did) take something away from this. Whether it is the motivation to start a men’s ministry group, or just suggest the idea to an elder, or whether it is to go buy one of the above mentioned books, that’s great! I pray the Holy Spirit continues to bring this issue to light.

Posted in: Addictions, Sexuality