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How Churches Can Help or Hurt the Sexually Struggling

September 28, 2009

Today’s guest blogger, Cynthia Mann is Director of Counseling at The Summit Church in Raleigh / Durham, NC .  She also oversees the Celebrate Recovery ministry and works with individuals and couples with all types of addictions, including pornography.  


Q:  What needs to be in place in a church to help someone struggling with sexual sin?

church2Church discipline…the Right Way – I don’t mean the shunning and judgmental spirit so many people think of when they hear this phrase, but the heartfelt desire and determination to see a brother or sister in Christ restored to a loving relationship with their Savior.  Although it is not without accountability, true church discipline is an act of love born out of the knowledge that turning a blind eye, or excusing sexual sin, is like encouraging destruction in men and women’s lives.  When sexual sin is not lovingly confronted, we are tacitly participating in spiritual darkness, broken marriages, and fractured souls. Proverbs 7:27 speaks of sexual sin as a woman whose “house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death.” We need to fight for life, light, and truth in the lives of our brothers and sisters.


In-House Support Group – Other men and women in the congregation who are ready to step up and walk in encouragement and accountability with an individual or couple who is struggling with sexual sin. This process may start with pastors or elders, but can never end there as there are more sexual sinners in the congregation than there are pastors and elders to walk with them.  There must be lay wisdom-givers who are ready to walk faithfully with the repentant sinner.


A Recovery Ministry – Ministries are needed that provide a specific process through which sexual sinners can move through to achieve spiritual, emotional, and relational health.  At our church, we have Celebrate Recovery, a 12-step Christ and cross-centered recovery ministry.  I know for a fact that there are a group of guys that come together there to address and deal with their sexual sin.  God put us in a community for a reason, sin thrives in isolation and darkness, recovery and healing take place within God’s grace and within his community.


feeling_lonelyQ:  What’s the wrong thing for churches to do?

Church discipline…the Wrong Way.  Shunning those or seeking only “punishment” when someone confesses to sexual sin.  This is the best way to guarantee that men and women will never be honest about their sin, including sexual sin.


Tolerance.  The attitude that boys will be boys, or that it is a normal, healthy part of young men’s lives.  As mentioned above, this is like encouraging self-destruction.


Fear in the face of sin.  Let’s face it, sex is an uncomfortable topic to be honest about in many churches.  This is a culturally acquired discomfort, not a biblical attitude.  God’s actually pretty comfortable talking about sex and about sin.  When we seek comfort over speaking the truth in love, we are not only acting against our brother, but dishonoring God’s Word.


Q:  What would you add?
Q:  What good things have you seen churches do to help those with sexual addictions?
Q:  What bad things have you seen?

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