No Wiggle Room


Biblical Christianity demands a standard of sexual purity amid a society in the throes of a sexual revolution. Sexual activity outside of covenant marriage is clearly forbidden in Scripture. The Apostle Paul instructed the church in Thessalonica: "For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4) One only be acquainted with first century Greco-Roman culture to know what a radical requirement that was for those early believers. Yet, sexual purity continues to be a struggle for millions of those who name the name of Christ.

As a pastor, I sometimes worry that my sermons are too hard--that I may come across as overly harsh and lose the message of love in the gospel. A young adult once told me that whenever I authoritatively proclaim that something is either black or white, millennials in the crowd instantly tune out. “We like our wiggle room,” she explained. Indeed, Pew Research in 2010 revealed that Millenials consider themselves more tolerant, accepting, and less disapproving than older generations. So, to boldly pronounce something as sinful is unpalatable to many young church goers.

Let me cite two examples: I read about a pastor who admitted that if he preached against adultery he’d lose two-thirds of his congregation. My first thought was, if that’s the case, you need to lose them. Such a Laodicean attitude makes God sick (cf. Revelation 3:14-22). The same article also mentioned a church that advertised a seminar on sexual purity and hardly anyone came. Another congregation conducted a seminar and billed it, “Sex in the City”, and a big crowd turned out. The person being interviewed in the article said, “Millennials could attach to that, but not to the idea of purity.”

Pondering this issue of sexual sin, I see three principles that should guide the way it is addressed within the church. Not just between pastor and people, but also member-to-member:

1. Speak the Truth in Love

While the Word of God is completely authoritative in all matters of faith and practice, it should always be communicated in love and with humility. As Christians, we need to realize that all of us struggle and that none of us is above falling (1 Corinthians 10:12). We’re all patients in the hospital of grace and in recovery. There’s no room for a pharisaical “holier than thou” attitude. We must speak the truth in love.

2. Never Compromise

There is an increasing number of church goers who affirm that a gay lifestyle is congruent with the Christian faith. Sadly, too many churches have allowed the culture to shape the way they interpret Scripture. There is no other word for this but compromise. The danger of promoting a gospel that allows for sexual license is damning souls to hell. The gospel requires a tough love that says, “I care about you too much to condone your sin.”

3. Provide Help

The church must remain a haven for those affected by sexual immorality. Parents dealing with a child that has embraced a homosexual lifestyle, a spouse broken by adultery, men addicted to pornography, or members struggling with same-sex attraction all need the church to be a place of hope and healing. John Freeman, founder of Harvest USA (a ministry for families troubled by sexual sin), says to churches confronting these issues, “Those aren’t nice issues, but the gospel isn’t about being nice people. It’s about being new people.” To that I can only say, “Amen!”

So, whether you think taking a stand on this issue is harsh, or that it’s offensive to some, I’ll close with this: “God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” (Hebrews 13:4) And when we stand before him, you can be certain there will be no “wiggle room”.

Three principles that should guide the way sexual purity is addressed within the church.