For many years, sexual sins were addressed almost exclusively from a male perspective. Most of society held the belief that sex was a male-oriented activity in which a woman may or may not be a willing participant (Letha Dawson Scanzoni, Sexuality. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1984, 30). And, with few exceptions, sex was almost never discussed. With the concurrent sexual and feminist revolutions of the 1960s, sex was thrust to the forefront of society, and the repercussions have been enormous. The cultural pendulum concerning sexuality has now swung from the Victorian attitude of shame and silence to the other extreme of exhibitionism and experimentation. This can be seen in the story of Kate Logan, a young woman who, at her high school graduation ceremony disrobed and delivered her valedictory address completely naked. “Afterwards she said it was an effort to express the spirituality of graduation… She believed is made perfect sense and deserved special praise… To Kate Logan, disrobing in front of everyone at graduation made sense because she believed unrestrained sex is the one true path to spiritual life” (Daniel Heimbach, True Sexual Morality, Wheaton: Crossway, 2004, 35). Sex is now the prevailing topic of discussion in secular society. One needs only to pick up a magazine or turn on the television to be completely inundated with sexual images.
This constant exposure to sexuality has led to many issues almost unheard of in previous decades. Divorce rates have sky-rocketed, the invention of reliable birth control and the legalization of abortion have instilled in youth a no-consequences attitude concerning sexual experimentation. The current sexual activity at the forefront of society is homosexual behavior. Television shows are centered on homosexual relationships, and the topic is even a priority in politics.
One place that has been strangely quiet concerning the issue of sex has been the conservative, evangelical church. Most people raised in church receive this advice concerning sex: “Sex is bad until you get married and then you should only do it with your spouse.” There is little discussion concerning the overwhelming exposure to sex in society, and sex is often still seen as something inappropriate to talk about in a church setting. While commenting on the lack of communication in the church concerning sexual issues, Dr. Paige Patterson wrote,
Indeed, Christians have sometimes failed to address sexual issues in a thoughtful and helpful fashion, giving instead the impression that Christian living is an endless series of prohibitions aimed at preventing any enjoyment in life…[The] secular community has never been seriously challenged to reflect on the claims of Christ and the Bible about the purpose, function, and success of human sexuality. Most simply have no idea what the true basis and purpose of Christian sexual morality is all about (Ibid., 17).
Because of this, many sexual struggles have simply been buried by many in the church. Dietrich Bonhoeffer once commented on this issue in the church: “The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everyone must conceal his sin from himself and from their fellowship. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we live alone in our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy.” Sexual sin is still the greatest taboo in the church, but in recent years, many people have begun breaking the silence concerning sexual strongholds. It is interesting to note that many people breaking their silence are women. The church’s silence concerning sex led a generation of people to seek answers from the world. Now that those answers have proven empty and devastating, many people are turning to the church seeking healing, real answers, true joy, and fulfillment.
In her book Passion and Purity, author Elisabeth Elliot made this statement concerning Christians and sexual desire: “It is a powerful lie that, because sexual desire is natural, healthy, and God given, anything I do because of that desire is natural, healthy, and God given…. Christians who are buying such rubbish today are without honor. They have lost the notions of fidelity, renunciation, and sacrifice, because nothing seems worth all that.” The world has convinced the church of the aforementioned lie, and now, much of the church is scrambling to find a response.