Friday, January 13, 2017

Leadership Lessons Series: Sexuality

Key Text

"And above all things be earnest in your love among yourselves, for love covers a multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4:8 (WEB)


Discussing sex in ministry is usually uncomfortable. So we often avoid it. But discussing it is necessary and beneficial. I have found my listeners appreciate hearing a Biblical perspective. You don't have to lead an open discussion. You can do all the talking and they can do all the listening. This often makes it a bit less awkward. I begin by telling my listeners that I am about to give them a talk on Biblical sexuality and they don't have to discuss it unless they want to. I tell them I will be available afterword for private questions. I have heard a lot of talks on this subject delivered in a judgmental and hurtful way. So I have shared my notes below from a talk I gave about this topic in the hopes it will help others to approach this subject in a non-judgmental and less awkward manor.


Our culture tends to take sex for granted. God has a different plan, to Him, sexuality is something special. See Matthew 19:5; Proverbs 4:23. As the creator and originator of sexuality God knows best how it should work. God offers us a better way that will lead to happiness and wholeness for us and our family. Our culture promotes doing what feels good now, but God asks us to be patient so he can give us something better.

God's plan for sexuality is that it be only between one man and one woman in exclusive marriage. Sin has perverted sexuality. Premarital sex and cohabitation are normal in our society. These are not the best way to find a happy marriage. Our sexual urges are perverted too. The Bible says in Matthew 5:28 that lusting after a person is not healthy and wrong. Lusting means things like pornography and desiring someone for only what you can get.

Our perverted sexual urges mean that some people struggle with all sorts of unhealthy sexual desires such as desiring multiple wives, boyfriends, or sexual partners at the same time. Others include bisexual and homosexual attraction. The Bible tells us acting on these urges or temptations is unhealthy and wrong. There is also mounting scientific evidence that doing these things (premarital sex, cohabitation, divorce, pornography, polygamy, homosexuality, and lust) can be unhealthy. You likely know someone who has been hurt by divorce and how unhealthy it is for everyone involved.

Many of these things may seem impossible to avoid or overcome, but they are not. Jesus promises to give us the strength and ability to overcome. I have personally known many people who have stayed free from these unhealthy sexual acts. That does not mean they were not tempted, even Jesus was tempted. But it is certainly possible. Jesus even calls some people to celibacy. Jesus promises to give us the power to do what he asks.

The most important thing to remember is that sexuality is only part of who a person is. Sexual desires are part of a deeper desire for intimacy and love. We all long for love and that is what we need most, 1 Peter 4:8. And you can have that right now. You do not have to wait for marriage or the right person. Love and intimacy can come from any relationship, parents, sibling, grandparents, friends. Love and intimacy are part of every relationship not just romantic ones although it may be shown differently. The best thing is that we can have love and intimacy with the Creator and King of the Universe right now.

So what about people who have not lived up to the standards God calls us to? Anyone who has been in a Christian church very long has likely heard about purity. You may feel negative towards the idea. Perhaps you think that once you have stumbled, your purity is gone forever. Here is some news: you were born impure! Everyone has inherited a sinful nature from Adam and Eve. Jesus is the only one who can make us pure, our actions cannot, Romans 11:6. The great news is that Jesus can restore our purity no matter what we have done! If you or someone you know struggles with unwanted sexual temptations, please talk to someone like a pastor, mentor, or counselor. They are trained and want to help!

We must respect everyone who has not lived up to God's standards, because neither have we. We also must respect their freedom to choose not to live by those standards. God gives them (and us) that choice and so must we. So how do we act towards people who have not lived up to the standards God calls us to? Ganoune Diop, a leading religious freedom advocate delivered an address to a United Nations conference in 2016 about Biblical teaching on human sexuality in which he answers this question. He said, “It means saying ‘No’ to discrimination or any form of violence. It means demonstrating that people can believe differently, and be different, while sharing the same humanity; it means living in the common public space with respect for the dignity of every person; it means recognizing that each person has been granted the right — and responsibility—of freedom by their Creator.”1

1. Bettina Krause, “Adventist Leader Discusses Sexuality at UN Conference,” Adventist Review Online, posted JUNE 29, 2016, accessed January 3, 2017,

Written by David F. Garner
Photo Credit: Pexels