Book Club Channel
Healing Sexual Addiction: Seven Things the Church Must Do
3) Allocate resources. We need denominational leaders to reallocate resources for conscientious and specific care and for the restoration of the psychological health of ministry leaders. This is Christ-centered stewardship of leaders and ultimately the best way to extend care to the whole church, not just the clergy. And it will make the church healthier. Healthy churches expect brokenness among their leaders, accept leaders as they are with a spirit of grace and mercy, and provide everything necessary for healing, with the goal of uninterrupted service. Sometimes service will need to be interrupted, but that interruption should be for therapeutic reasons and not assumed. When ministry leaders break the law, the resulting criminal penalties are part of their amends. It's important that the church not abandon its criminal offenders, but walk with them through these times, remembering that in the eyes of heaven we are all criminal offenders.
4) Change our way of thinking and teaching in the church about human sexuality. We must become open in addressing the issues of sexual behaviors. This begins with a lot of remedial teaching on what grace really is and how spiritual community truly works. Building on those two concepts, then, we need to give people a healthy and useful understanding of God's design for human sexuality, healthy sexual expression and how to deal with sexual issues. The instruction must be in a spirit of openness, honesty and graciousness. The nature of the instruction has to be one of invitation and loving coaching to a healthier, holier way to live. We must teach our people how to think about and deal with sexual brokenness as a part of the quest for spiritual wholeness.
5) Include everyone in the solution. This is not a challenge for only clergy or denominational leaders to solve. This is a problem all of us need to deal with. As we help folks learn to handle sexual brokenness in their own lives and in the lives of those around them, we also need to embrace the biblical concept of the priesthood of all believers. Church folks need to be empowered by congregational leaders to acquire the necessary attitudes and skills to help heal their broken leaders as well as their struggling fellows.
Sexual brokenness, especially in the age of the Internet, appears to be an overwhelming issue, and the tendency of some leaders is to react in fear and avoidance. But if they use the gifts Jesus has always given the church—grace, truth, community, the patterns of healthy living—and trust what the Spirit of God will do in and with his people, we can recalibrate the church.
6) Make help available. We need to make competent, safe and effective help—including competent counseling—available for everyone who is struggling with compulsive sexual behaviors or any other area of sexual brokenness. Is this asking too much? I think not, because the vitality of the church herself is at stake. Half the people—more or less, and probably more—who will attend church this Sunday are dealing with unhealthy attachments and compulsive sexual behaviors, the effect of which is numbing them and dumbing them down. They are simply not able to be all there. Their souls are attached to spiritual obstacles and their hearts are conflicted. Their conscious ability to focus on the preaching, give full-hearted praise to God and take their next steps in rearranging their lives to better follow Jesus are compromised because of attachments and compulsion. For their sakes and for the sake of the vitality of the church, they need our best efforts at loving intervention and competent assistance.
For nearly twenty years, T. C. Ryan was founding and senior pastor of a large church. He resigned in order to concentrate more fully on his ongoing recovery from a lifelong sexual addiction. Dr. Ryan now has a ministry of spiritual direction with individuals and groups, preaches, writes, and leads seminars on achieving spiritual wholeness in a sexually broken world.