Jesus and Sexual Deviants
Jesus gives us a bold example of what it looks like to become salt and light to a sexually deviant world.
What would Jesus do? The question is popular but dangerously hypothetical.
When we watch Jesus in the Gospels, we can ask a better question: What did Jesus do?
Jesus actively engaged the people of His culture, even those considered sexually immoral. Some of the more famous sexual deviants from the Bible were all associated with Jesus: Sinful Woman (Luke 7:36-50); Woman at the Well (John 4:13-26); Woman Caught in Adultery (John 8:3-11). Obviously, there was risk involved. His reputation was damaged by His social interactions.
We should realize our own vulnerabilities are exposed when we become too comfortable with those far from God.
Conversely, our pride is exposed when we hold ourselves as too holy to interact with them as well. As Jimmy Flynt (the brother of Hustler publisher and famous pornographer Larry Flynt) once said, “I thought all Christians hated me.” Our mission must reflect the same as Jesus’—seeking and saving the lost. In the course of that mission, we must be known as those who love people toward God and not those who hate people toward the world.
Jesus demonstrated relationships were the pathway to becoming salt and light to a sexually deviant world.
Christians offer hope to those who are trapped between two polarities. The first is a permissive, all embracing culture that defends the freedom of people to destroy themselves and others through pornography. The second is impulse to free the world from “dirty pictures” and all the people who look at them. We should choose the better way of engagement for Gospel transformation with Jesus.
The very purpose of His life was to release people from the power and the penalty of sin.
When considering the pornification of the American culture, one can easily become angry with those on the front edge of creating this phenomenon. The Hugh Hefners, the movie directors, the photographers, the investors and the actors all deserve a little angst. Right? Yet are they completely to blame?
The issue we then face is, “Who will love them if Christians decide to hate them?”
Maybe then “we” consumers, with the insatiable desire to sin and be morbidly entertained no matter the consequences, should be confronted.
Often times, the best the local church can offer porn addicts is the command to turn off their computer and thus modify their behavior.
Who will love the porn addict in our pew? Who will disciple them into true spiritual victory? Will churches be willing to put in the long, difficult hours that are sometimes necessary to see deliverance?
Can we call on the legislators and defenders of freedom of speech to task?
Those who believe Americans have an inalienable right to pornify the culture and that porn is a victimless crime deserve some credit for current realities, right?
Instead, we should surprise the people with whom we are angry with the love of Jesus. The struggle is so much deeper than most churches know or admit. We could rid the world of pornography and yet never rid the world of sexual deviance. Pornography will return in some other form. Mankind would figure out another way to act out their spiritual condition. We always do.
Gene McConnell (powertochange.com) tours college campuses communicating the dangers of pornography. McConnell is a recovering porn addict who saw porn for the first time at age 12. The cost of his addiction was great, including his marriage and his ministry.
In an interview in Charisma Magazine, he weighed in on inadequate solutions. “I believe pornography exists because we have a need for it,” said McConnell. “The reason porn exists is that we live empty lives. The issue is intimacy, our greatest need. Take that as into-me-see—you see my life and see who I am, and you love me. That’s the greatest need, male and female. But it’s also the greatest fear—that if you know the real me, if you see my weaknesses, then you would abandon me.” [Charisma]
Jesus valued the lost over the social needs of the “found.”
The truth that Jesus was attractive to socially marginalized unbelievers is often overlooked.
People are looking for hope. They found it in the person of Jesus but are not finding it in the people of the church.
In Luke, we read, “All the tax collectors and sinners were approaching to listen to Him” (Luke 15:1). Notice they were drawn to Him. They could not have possibly believed Jesus hated them.
Yet there was something about Him that was attractive. The attractiveness of Jesus should be evident in the life of the church in how we live and in what we teach. In regards to human sexuality, our teaching should be more attractive and inspiring than anything the world has seen, heard or put on a DVD.
Jesus offered hope from sexual and spiritual bondage. He came to free people from the power and presence of sin.
Discussion:Does your church and/or ministry seek to love sexual deviants or stay a healthy distance from them?
Ed Stetzer is President of LifeWay Research and LifeWay’s Missiologist in Residence. He has trained pastors and church planters on five continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Ed is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine and Catalyst Monthly, serves on the advisory council of Sermon Central and Christianity Today’s Building Church Leaders, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN.