When I was growing up, no adult—not even my mother—had “the talk” with me about sex. Once when I was caught doing something, my mom scolded me and told me not to do it again—but she never explained why or what sex was even really about. So when I stumbled upon pornography around age 10, I kept it a secret. Even though I was curious about it, I knew that I shouldn’t like it so I kept quiet. My church never talked about sex, except when we were told that we just shouldn’t do it. And most kids were too afraid to ask questions of any adults. So everything I learned about sex, I learned from my non-Christian peers or from pornography—meaning what I learned was a skewed and perverted form of the beauty that God intended.
One of the biggest issues surrounding women, pornography, sex, and the church is simple: shame. It’s not just shame surrounding an addiction to sex or pornography: women in the church feel shame if they aren’t sexually pure until marriage, if they have sexual desires and drives that are unmet, and/or if they struggle with sexuality at all. I realized that the church was not a safe place to discuss sex, sexuality, and the temptations that go with them. In addition, I saw the gossiping about Christian girls who were sexually active, and I knew the “secrecy” of sex had led even the “purest” Christian girls to act out. I did not want to experience that public shaming and ridicule, so I kept my secret.
In order to help women truly move forward from sexual addictions and towards Godly purity, here are a few things the church needs to do:
- Start the discussion somewhere. After Easter, my pastor begins a sermon series entitled, “What’s Missing from Sex.” He has struggled with that title—he changed the word “sex” to “love” but realized that “love” might not convey what God was telling him to say. He knows that some folks may not want to hear these sermons. But he also recognizes that there are several young generations that are struggling to know the Godly intention and beauty of sex. He knows that something is missing for many people, and he is starting the discussion. I am proud that my church is a church that is tackling these tough issues. If you want to check out the sermon series, please visit our website beginning April 27.
- Provide safe environments to keep talking. Obviously, having a sermon series is great to open the discussion, but we have to keep talking after that. Small groups and recovery groups are all great places to share. However, it is important that we offer same-sex groups or accountability partners for these struggles. Women need to share with other women, and men need to share with other men. While husbands and wives should be open and honest with each other, women need their own safe, open place for confessing their struggles so that healing can begin (James 5:16).
- Remove the shameful labels. When looking at us, God doesn’t see my sin as worse or better than yours; He simply sees sin and His heart breaks. We spend too much time “sorting sins” in the church, placing shameful labels on each other and separating ourselves from “those people.” When a woman was caught in adultery, Jesus said, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7). When we judge others, we throw stones and create unsafe environments for others to share. Instead of throwing stones, allow yourself to be vulnerable and open about your own struggles. Watch the labels disappear as you connect with others on a deeper level.
The church is not perfect, but as Christ’s bride, we can help remove the shame of sexual addictions and sins and replace it with love, forgiveness, and acceptance. When we do this, we become more like Jesus and the church God designed us to be.
How are you/your church helping to remove shame from sexual sins and addictions?