Healing Sexual Addiction: Seven Things the Church Must Do

5) Include everyone in the solution. This is not a challenge for only clergy or denominational leaders to solve. This is a problemall 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. 

7) Enhance ministry preparation. We need to change how we prepare people entering the ministry. We need to help them make a genuine self-assessment and give them all the necessary help as a standard part of the curriculum of ministry preparation. The assessment is not to weed people out of ministry service, but rather to help candidates identify and come to terms with their issues for two reasons: they will be spared troubling complications as their ministry work unfolds, and they will be far more competent in leading spiritual communities. They need to receive proficient and complete instruction in all the issues and treatments surrounding sexual brokenness, because this is a major component of what they must be able to deal with in helping people spiritually. 

As we do these things, we will begin to reform the community of Jesus into a people marked by the good news she was intended to be. We will recover spiritual health and vitality in our spiritual community. And we will demonstrate a practical, life-giving and loving gospel to the world around us. The generosity of our life together and the health of our message will be buttressed by these truths:

  1. There is a profound and God-given link between our spirituality and our sexuality, and compulsive behaviors are always symptoms of deeper spiritual issues.
  2. Sexual sin is no greater than any other sin.
  3. We must deal with the challenges to healthy sexuality, because compulsive sexual behavior is putting a stranglehold on a vibrant, healthy spirituality in Christians and is robbing the church of her health and vitality.
  4. Isolation, shame and hiding are toxic to genuine recovery and to spiritual vitality, so the church has to become open, honest and accepting.
  5. We must bring to bear all the tools God has given us, the grace of Christ's gospel and the truth of Christ's gospel, doing honest life with each other, cultivating life with the Holy Spirit as the guide and the center of our beings, and developing healthy patterns of living—and this includes all the tools of recovery.
  6. There are some things we cannot do without God; there are some things God will not do without us.
  7. Genuine recovery—just like the genuine spiritual life—has to be founded on and fueled by love of God and ourselves; if it is fueled by shame or fear, it is not genuine recovery but another form of bondage.

-- Adapted from "Broken Leaders and Spiritual Rehab," Chapter Twelve in Ashamed No More: A Pastor's Journey Through Sex Addiction

9/5/2012 4:00:00 AM