Ministry with Purpose – Sexual Purity
I’m sure many don’t read every monthly blog I write, but I suspect most will read this one! God designed sex for marriage as an expression of love and the procreation of children. Married or unmarried, we can struggle with this issue at sometime in life. Unfortunately this gift from God has been abused and many a person has forfeited their ministry through succumbing to the temptation of sexual immorality.
Many in ministry will face this temptation not necessarily through any fault of their own, although the ‘heart is deceitful and desperately wicked’ (Jeremiah 17:9).
‘… each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband’ (Eph 5:33). ‘Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God’ (Matt 5:8). Although King Solomon in the book of Proverbs constantly refers to the seductive woman, men can likewise be the perpetrator! This blog is based on wisdom found in the book of Proverbs.
Root causes – There are four areas in life that we need to guard against so that an emotional affinity with someone other than our spouse does not take place. For example – spiritual unity, mental affinity. personality compatibility and physical attraction.Believe it or not, physical attraction rules lowest as the primary cause for immorality to occur as it normally commences with one of the other factors first.
Attachments and transferences occur when someone attaches themselves to you with the understanding that you can bring them fulfillment. This can then be transferred into love, but that love is really not authentic.*
A typical way a wrong relationship can develop:
A person seeks out the company of the other person they are attracted to. Prov. 5:8 ‘Keep to a path far from her, do not go near the door of her house’. This can happen in a number of ways:
- spend too much time with them in the office.
- hope you will run into them up town.
- look out for them at church.
- gravitate toward them for a conversation.
- find excuses for phone calls, visits etc.
- joking, empathising where flattery may occur.
- you thoroughly enjoy each other’s company.
Fantasising can develop. Prov. 6:25 ‘Do not lust in your heart after her beauty’.
- fantasy can lead to lust.
- it can also lead you to consider how things would be different if you were married to another person.
A wrong use of the eyes. Prov. 6:25 ‘or let her captivate you with her eyes’.
- eyes are the light of the soul and can be very powerful in conveying emotional feelings.
A lack of knowledge. Prov. 6:23 ‘But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment’.
This slide is normally gradual and is like stepping into a riverfor a little harmless enjoyment with the opposite or same sex. However, the longer a person stays in that river the more likely they are to move down. The relationship never stays at the same level. It is possible initially to move back onto the river bank and break off that growing unhealthy relationship, but pressure and human reasoning can take over. As a person moves further down the river the current flows more powerfully until it is flowing so swiftly, that it is impossible to climb out even if one desires to. A short distance further is the waterfall, which has destroyed many a person’s ministry and family. (Illustration from Ken Williams).
Way of escape
Many know 1 Cor. 10:13, but how many remember the verse before it? It says, ‘So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall’. Too many men and women of God have fallen because they thought that they were safe from such temptations.
- If you feel attracted to a person of the opposite sex, make certain that these feelings are not conveyed to the person concerned.
- Immersing yourself in the Word of God is a most helpful way to remain morally pure. Many who have fallen have confessed to having ineffective quiet times with the Lord. ‘But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night’. Psalm 1:2.
- Prayer. It is harder to break up a home when you are praying for the people in it.
- Be accountable on a regular basis to a friend (as well as your marriage partner) and be prepared to share with them inner conflicts as they occur. Men in particular find it difficult to share in this way, but it is essential as a way to overcome strong temptations. Sometimes, if a person or leader shares with me about some unhealthy attraction, I thank them for sharing and mention that next time I see them I will inquire as to how they are getting on in this area. This is normally enough of a deterrent to prevent them from being further swept down the river. Genuine accountability can be a lifesaver!
If unfortunately you fail in this area of sexuality, remember God does forgive the thoroughly repentant person and may restore a person to some form of ministry, even if it is different from the previous one. Make sure however that you are quick to repent though sometimes is a process. The Holy Spirit is available to convict deeply and bring transformation.
Quote: ‘There’s a purity in Christ which cannot be defiled’.
‘Why some Christians commit adultery’ * by John L Sandford
‘Pastors at greater risk’ by HB London and Neil B Wiseman
Ken Williams (of Wycliffe Bible Translators) personal development notes.