As Christians, we know we need discipleship: continued instruction in the truth of our faith. But sexual discipleship? Most of you have probably never heard these terms in the same sentence – and I certainly hadn’t until last year. It was the year I discovered Authentic Intimacy, Dr. Juli Slattery’s ministry for men, women, and Christian leaders. Dr. Slattery’s use of the term “sexual discipleship” clicked in my mind, and I realized that all the work I’ve done on sexuality for the last three years fell into this ministry.
Dr. Slattery is revolutionary in her approach to this topic, and her voice is much needed in this world. But even she can only reach so many people with the message of sexual redemption. We need sexual discipleship in every state, every city, and every church.
The truth is, Christians are already being sexually discipled – by the world. Young women learn about sex from Cosmo magazine, novels, and girl’s nights. Young men are exposed to pornography at as young as eight years old. Sexual addictions and perversions are as present in the church as they are in our culture, but no one wants to speak up because of the shame.
We need sexual discipleship – desperately.
We Need Vulnerability
What will sexual discipleship do? First, it will promote vulnerability. There is no healing where sin remains unconfessed. But this has to be more than a small group for guys struggling with porn. As Dr. Slattery said in a seminar I attended last month, when we put people in small groups according to their “struggles”, what we’re really doing is creating silos in the church. We’re separating these believers from everyone else, and in the name of helping them, treating them like their sin is somehow greater than greed, licentiousness or slander.
Vulnerability can only occur when we create a place more focused on Christ than on “being Christian”. If our churches are all about looking good and being good people, no one will ever confess a struggle with sexual sin. But when we focus on who Christ is and what He does for us TODAY – not just eternally – believers have a place to bring their darkest secrets. We must be a safe place for one another. We must bear one another’s burdens. We must stop comparing sins, refusing to pray for people we don’t know, and let the Spirit lead us to a place of holy vulnerability.
We Need Healing
Vulnerability is the first step; healing is the second. You can’t have one without the other. Sin is painful to expose, but by bringing darkness into light we instantly find the first breaths of freedom.
Healing won’t happen overnight. This is why sexual discipleship is not a one time confession, or even a weekly accountability group. Discipleship is a constant forward motion into the heart of God. It requires work. It is labor. But as co-laborers with Christ, we know we have the strength to keep giving to those stuck in sexual bondage.
Prayer is pivotal in this area. We must pray WITH our sisters. We must pray OVER our sisters. We must pray FOR our sisters. Everything we teach may be good and true, but it is the power of God that makes the difference.
We Need Accountability
It may seem like I bashed accountability groups. That’s not my intention. Accountability groups are great – but only if the focus is on following Jesus into victory, not rehearsing the week’s failures. The wrong group dynamic will not promote vulnerability, but hinder it. Women in particular are very hesitant to open up about sexual struggles, so trust must be built before a group will thrive.
Accountability is a check point for progress, and a necessary part of discipleship. But accountability should not focus on how many times the members masturbate in a week, or whether or not they slept with their boyfriends – rather, it should focus on the nature of their walks with God. Ultimately, sexual sin is not the problem. The problem is spiritual, and until believers love Jesus more than they love sin, they will continue to fall into the same patterns of sinful behavior.
We Need Jesus
That’s why the heart of sexual discipleship is – Jesus. Without Him, the cycle of defeat and despair will continue for generations. We will continue to see marriages dissolve, boys objectify women, women objectify themselves, and pornography addictions continue in the church until we offer a viable alternative. That alternative is the same one these believers have always had, but they need someone to walk this path with them.
They need sexual discipleship.
This won’t happen quickly, and we must be the ones to set the example. If we want vulnerability – we must be vulnerable. If we want to see healing – we must let God expose and heal our darkest places. If we wish to promote accountability – we must seek it out ourselves.
And most of all, we must KNOW JESUS CHRIST. He is the Difference Maker. He is the Redeemer of a broken sexuality.
I hope you are inspired to begin this in your life, in your friend circle, and in your church. If you are, you need my ebook on biblical sexuality! This is the perfect handbook for teaching these concepts from the ground up. Chapters include:
- Reclaiming Sex From the Culture
- Reframing Sex In Your Mind
- Why God Designed Sex for Marriage
- What if I’m Not a Virgin?
- How to Live as a Forgiven Woman
- Why Getting Married Won’t Stop Sexual Sin
- What to Know About the Wedding Night
- How to Overcome a Sexual History
- The Truth About Fantasizing
- Preach the Gospel With Your Sexuality
Christian Cosmo launches March 1st, 2017 (this Wednesday!). Sign up to get the launch notice in the box below this post, or visit: www.phyliciadelta.com/christiancosmo.