When we take the gospel seriously we not only correctly understand the nature of sexual immorality, we must become proactive in taking corporate responsibility for the sexual maturity and sexual problems within our local church.
A well-known church received a stern letter in the spring of A.D. 54 when they failed grievously in this understanding and responsibility. As you know, that same letter sent to the Corinthians is written to us.
Imagine opening your email to find this message from a highly respected church leader: “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality in your church, and a kind of sexual sin that’s not practiced among unbelievers, a man is cohabitating with his father’s wife. And you are proud! Instead, you should be deeply sorrowful.”
Our response to the existence of sexual sin within the church reveals a lot about our own spiritual, relational, and sexual maturity, as well as those with whom we fellowship.
Let’s say that on a typical Sunday morning, the secret sexual sin of a respected elder is exposed to your congregation. Many in attendance might respond with shock and dismay and start asking, “How could there be sexual sin in our Bible-believing, theologically correct, growing church?” Given our high moral standards, the tacit assumption is that behind closed doors we are living sexually mature lives.
Privatized spirituality is at the root of privatized sexuality. For the past twenty-two years I have focused on the problems of pornography and adultery within the church in America, and I see sexual sin from a unique perspective. Numerous indicators tell us that it is in our midst. I also know for a fact that there is a kind of sexual sin not tolerated by society tolerated in our churches.
Typically, sexual sin doesn’t happen overnight. I’ve seen it hidden for 5, 10, or 20 years, and even longer. Nobody suddenly falls into a one-night stand or starts looking at pornography in adulthood. There is longevity both in the process of falling into sexual sin, and then you can have years in which the sin is kept a secret from everyone. I would suggest that the first assessment needs to be both personal and corporate by asking ourselves the question: “What have we been doing personally and corporately to address sexual sin in the life of our church?”
Ignorance of the problem because it is hidden from view is no excuse.
[Read the rest of the article at Desiring God.]