The following blog post was written by Ashley Chestnut, Associate Singles Minister at the Church at Brook Hills. We understand that the topic of pornography and sexual stronghold is a deep subject to address and have prayed that this post would open hearts and eyes to see the freedom that can only be found in Jesus Christ. Tomorrow there will be a follow-up post. If you are currently in the depths of sexual sin, know that you are not alone and there is hope and it is in Christ alone.
This summer, I led a Bible study for the young singles in our church, and sexual discipleship was one of the topics in this series. It was also the week I had the most anxiety about teaching.
In a conversation with a friend, I relayed my nerves about this particular week and said that I felt like I’d be opening a can of worms by talking about oral sex, masturbation, pornography, and same sex attraction with our ladies. His response: “Good! It’s a can of worms that needs to be opened!”
And he’s right.
1 John 1:7 states, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”
If you notice, John predicates fellowship on light. We cannot have true community as God designed it if we are not living in the light, and you are not walking in the light if you are keeping your sin struggles to yourself.
I totally get why you’d want to stay in the shadows, though. It’s ridiculously scary to even think of telling another person about your baggage. You risk their shock, their judgment, and their rejection. You wonder if they will ever be able to look at you and not think about your particular scarlet letter.
But you will not know freedom if you stay in darkness, for you cannot fight darkness from a position of darkness. You fight darkness by interjecting light. And walking in the light starts with taking that first step into the light. It starts with confession – to God first but also to other Christ-followers.
I recently received a text message from a girl who is battling sexual addiction and who, after multiple attempts, has not yet reached 30 days sobriety. Back in March, she reached out to another girl and me to confess her sin and to invite us to journey with her in her pursuit of holiness. She’s beginning to walk in the light.
As I’m writing this, she’s on day 25 of sobriety, and in her text message, she wrote, “I am so thrilled to be here in this moment. Addiction is powerful, but I can say with confidence that God is greater by far. My story has been transformed from guilt and shame to a trophy of God’s grace.”
This sweet friend would tell you that this is the hardest thing she’s ever done in her life, for it requires resisting what her body wants. It involves re-learning how to respond to temptation. It means doing the hard work of dealing with things in her life rather than using masturbation to escape and to cope. And it necessitates being real with others about things that feel embarrassing to even mention.
Her willingness to do all of this clearly demonstrates that God is working in her – she couldn’t do any of this if that were not the case. And it is has been so encouraging to see how He is changing her and empowering her to walk in freedom. God is doing this work in her, and He can do it in you too.
Christ came not only to set us free from the penalty of sin; He also came to set us free from the power of sin. There is no sin you are incapable of, but there is also no sin that God cannot free you from.
For those of you reading this who struggle with masturbation, pornography, or oral sex, you are not alone, but the enemy wants you to feel alone.
Isolation, guilt, shame – these are his tactics for leading us to withdraw from God and from others. If we confess our sins, God faithfully forgives us (1 Jn. 1:9), but like Adam and Eve in the Garden, our inclination is to hide from God when we sin. We don’t want to face Him, and we definitely don’t want others to know.
Honestly, my anxiety about teaching on the topic of sexual discipleship had nothing to do with what I would say. What I was nervous about was the volume of the response. I know girls in our ministry struggle with all sorts of sexual sin, and by broaching the subject first, I open the door for them to talk about their sin – with their small group leader, with me, or with others in their life. That’s my prayer, at least – that they’ll step into the light. And it’s my prayer that you will open the can of worms in your own life and invite God and others to help you address the mess that’s there.