Every Friday in Sacred Space, Brad Williams explores the place of popular culture in the local church.
Would you be comfortable with the knowledge that a pedophile visited your church this Sunday? Would it rattle you to know that a homosexual couple had been slipping into the back of the sanctuary to listen to sermons? Would it bother you less to realize that the only sexual deviant in the congregation on Sunday morning was you?
It seems to me that the church is losing the battle for the hearts of sexual sinners. Sadly, many believe that it is the right application of the law of God and the gospel call to repentance that is doing this. I do not think this is the case. I believe it is our own self-righteousness and the elevating the sin of the “other” very high, while down-playing our own besetting sins as minor, that is keeping us from gaining an audience.
Jesus was pretty specific on how easily we can become adulterers: “I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). If we take seriously this teaching of Jesus, then we all walk away as sexually deviant. Every last one of us has had, and will have, unlawful sexual desires. The reason we are not satisfied by our current spouse or our singleness is because we are fallen sinners. It feels normal to indulge in our particular transgressions because sin is the new “normal” ever since Adam and Eve transgressed the law of God. Our culture is correct about the impulse to lust being inborn and pervasive, but it is wrong in teaching that these impulses are okay.
So take heed, Christian. Your heart is as wicked as anyone else’s. You have had many, many trysts unseen. Even at church, our hearts and minds have wandered to fantasies that are unlawful and wicked in the sight of God. Instead of reveling in grace, we have indulged in mental escapades such that if they were broadcast on the Power Point at the gathering of the saints, we would run back to our own houses ashamed to be seen in decent company.
Do these impulses manifest naturally? Do these scenes of your fantastic sexual escapades arise unbidden? If they do, welcome to the sinful human being club. I’m not talking only to the guy who finds the body of another man sexually provocative, or to the woman who enjoys the looks of another woman, or of the pedophile who wretchedly desires the bodies of young children. I’m talking to the teenager who makes advances on his girlfriend, to the husband who clicks on porn in the dead of night, and to the woman who fantasizes about the handsome but gentle cowboy from the Hallmark Channel.
Every time you walk into an assembly of the saints, you are surrounded by perverts. You may count yourself as the chief. Only you and God know how often your mind has wandered to places you should not go, to people you should not be with, to scenes too racy to show in any theater in America. For all you know, your mind is the most smut-ridden of them all.
How can we sneer at any couple, any person, who comes to our fellowship with the slightest inkling that they need grace? We ought to be thankful that they came at all! Does this realization mean that we should be lax in security in the nursery? Or naive about sexual predators in general? God forbid! What it means is that we ought to let the Scriptures take us down a notch or two and realize that we “straight” folk are as lustful as “gay” folk — and equally broken.
That’s why we love the gospel: It can save us all from all of our sins. It can even save Jerry Sandusky. I hope he goes to a church this Sunday who believes in that kind of good news.