Dear Student of the Word,
We began our study of Paul's letters to the Thessalonians two weeks ago, and here is the second installment of that study. These letters are short but they indicate a strong bond of love that existed between Paul and the churches he planted. These two letters contain some excellent advice and teaching that the modern church would do well to heed. This week I wrote in part six of this seven-part study:
Study Two, Part Six
3 It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him.
4:3 – When you study Proverbs, you realize just how much of the first chapters talk about sexual purity and adultery. See for yourself by going to Proverbs 2:16-19; Proverbs 5; Proverbs 6:20-35; and Proverbs 7. As you read, notice how often the phrase “my son” appears. It seems that sexual guidelines and rules are best imparted in a family platform and not one provided by schools, government or social agencies.
In your family, how often do you talk about sex? If the wise king Solomon saw fit to devote that much space to “sex talk” in his Proverbs wisdom literature, then we would do well to follow his wisdom and do the same.
Yet we must be realistic concerning this present age. The world is saturated with sex through television, DVDs and the Internet. It is almost impossible not to encounter something sexual every day. So the Church must be prepared that new converts will most probably have a sexual history, much as the Corinthian church and believers did. This will mean that the Church must be more open to talking about God’s view of sex and much more patient with those who are being delivered from a sexually open lifestyle.
Every local church should have some ministry to those who are addicted to sex or pornography, or at least know where people can get help. That means that the Church must provide a more open environment where those who have problems can come forward—not before the whole church, but appointed or designated counselors who are equipped and anointed to help them. Acceptance without judgment should be the rule for those who are working with people who have sexual problems or sins.
4:4&5 – What was recommended in the verse above must include the discussion and outreach to homosexuals, both male and female. Modern culture portrays this lifestyle as normal or at least acceptable. We must teach people what God’s will is for their body where sex is concerned and then help them walk out those truths. There is no easy way to do this. We must utilize the pulpit, small groups, counselors, support groups and writers to do a much better job than we have done to help those with sexual sins.
And we must realize that pastors and leaders aren’t exempt from the onslaught. We must overcome our tendency to be shocked when anyone, even leaders, becomes entrapped by sexual sin. If they repent and want help, then we should provide it for them without judgment. Too many good men have been forced to resign or flee because they made a mistake or were ensnared. Now, some men have broken the law with minors and members of the flock. They must suffer the consequences of their sins legally and if, they refuse to repent, be shunned and removed from the church body. But how many could have been helped before it got so serious if the Church was more open to helping those with sexual problems, especially leaders?
4:6a – When sexual problems involve members of the church being involved with one another, then that presents another set of problems. This requires a special type of counseling that the church should provide for the members, even if the church has to fund such counseling. The goal here would be restoration and forgiveness. How this would occur would be different for each situation and those wronged or guilty may never resume a normal life in the church where they sinned. But they can resume a normal life somewhere if the church does it job and God provides the grace. Is this too idealistic? Do you agree or disagree?
As always, I welcome your comments to this week's study. For additional Bible studies, check out my website archive, which contains a complete collection of all my verse-by-verse New Testament studies, along with the unpublished volume of The Faith Files.