I didn’t get involved in Women’s Ministry until my 40’s. God got creative and pulled me in through the back door. Now I am point leader for our Thursday morning Bible Study Group. I have an amazing team working with me. They are very gracious. They forgive my weaknesses and fill in the gaps my limitations create. I love them deeply and I am so blessed by them.We have been doing a study on 1 & 2 Thessalonian’s, and yes, to fully embody the cliché of Women’s Bible Studies, it is a Beth Moore study. First off, I need to admit I was a sceptic. I don’t warm up to teachers easily and I can be very critical. I test their teaching against the Bible. To my delight, I have found Moore very Biblically sound.
Our study group had taken a break at Christmas. When we came back, what do you know, we headed right into it. 1 Thessalonian’s Chapter 4: 3-7 was the focus for that session. “God wants you to be made holy. He wants you to stay away from sexual sins. He wants all of you to learn to control your own bodies. You must live in a way that is holy. You must live with honor. Don’t desire to commit sexual sins like people who don’t know God. None of you should sin against your brother or sister by doing that. You should not take advantage of your brother or sister. The Lord will punish everyone who commits these kinds of sins. We have already told you and warned you about this. That’s because God chose us to live pure lives. He wants us to be holy.”
That’s right, she was brave and took on the topic of sexual immorality. Her primary focus was for women in the church. It didn’t matter whether we were married or unmarried, she included all of us. There we were, “The Church Ladies”, talking about sex and the way we are tempted to distort it in our culture. Unprepared for such an occurrence, there were wide eyes! I am sure a few jaws hit the floor. It was uncomfortable and funny all at once.
My Christmas break had been a whirlwind, I was totally caught off guard. The room got unusually still. It was like everyone was just froze in disbelief! During the entire video all I could think was “God, guide our leaders, Lord make us compassionate to one another!!”
Beth Moore handled the topic with truth, grace and love. There was no watering down of the gospel. She tenderly blew it wide open. What I loved most was the way she broadened the definition of sexual immorality to include porn, pictures, inappropriate books or television, self gratification, fantasizing and emotional relationships that had sexual overtones. She did not sugar coat anything. Her teaching was full of mercy and a call back to pursue purity and holiness.
Through our years of church ministry I have learned that homes where freedom to talk about sexuality, sexual immorality, porn and even just the basics of physical development are the extreme minority. If we can’t talk about this as families, as sisters or brothers in Christ, where are we going to go? How will we overcome? If our children and youth can’t come to us for reliable and thorough information, where will they turn? If we can’t love one another through the hard stuff, confess to one another and walk together to freedom, where are people to turn? Of all the places to talk about such things, the family of believers needs to be the one we can turn to!
The video stopped and the atmosphere was thick. I quickly got up and prayed for words to send our small groups off with. Thankfully the Spirit supplies those words for times when we are speechless. I am not uncomfortable with this topic, but so many are! I acknowledged that this was different territory than we usually discussed. I emphasized our commitment to confidentiality, urged honesty and asked that we would receive one another with compassion and love. I asked that if this was not a struggle in their own life, that they would remember that there are areas where they are bound by sin. I knew that they would treat one another the way they would want to be treated in their area of weakness. I am blessed by the love, compassion and grace this group of women extends to me and one another all the time. My heart just bursts with love for all of them!
As we went off into our groups I prayed that women would have the courage not to deflect the conversation onto safer areas, but that they would have courage and take the challenge on. I bet they never thought they would be talking about this with the “church ladies”!! YIKES!
Sexual immorality is an increasing threat to our marriages, relationships and families. It is on the rise. It tempts all ages. I absolutely loved one of the statements Beth Moore made in her teaching time. She said, “You don’t need to be innocent to be pure, God restores!” I know this from walking with precious women who have shared how their innocence was taken from them. Whether lost by choice or force, God desperately wants to restore purity. God does accomplish this beautiful work, he does!!!
I also loved that Beth Moore spoke this truth. “If you cut out every other source of stimulation, your desire will come back to you for your husband!” God loves marriage, he will fight for you and with you to make it everything it should be. He created sexual intimacy. He will restore it and make it better than it was before. If we follow his design for this area of our marriage, there is incredible blessing to be found. The way this happens is by ruthlessly cutting out all forms of sexual immorality from your life. They are not truly satisfying, they are cheap imitations of something beautiful and completely fulfilling.
In his book Gods at War: Defeating the Idols that Battle for Your Heart, Kyle Idleman writes: When the gift replaces the giver as the object of our worship, something surprising happens. When we begin to worship this god of pleasure instead of the God who gave it to us, we discover that the pleasure is lost. We discover the devastating paradox that when we pursue pleasure as a god, pleasure disappears.”
This is what is so scary, all of a sudden what used to stimulate is no longer enough. A few quick keys on the computer key board and all of a sudden you are into something more shocking. The appetite is never satisfied, it becomes insatiable. The shame and guilt increase and the cycle binds people who should be living in freedom. Chains of defeat and hiding in the darkness take over a life meant to be lived in the light.
We have to talk about this, we have to be a safe, non judgemental place where people can come for help. Our culture is increasing in its worship of the idol of sexual immorality. It is trapping more and more people all of the time. We need to be able to join them on their journey to freedom and healing.
James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (English Standard Version). We are meant to battle our sin in community. Together. I love the last part of the verse, the prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. I have experienced the power of this verse in my own life. I struggled through postpartum depression which manifested in anger. Through accountability, prayer, my sisters in Christ, and my doctor victory was achieved.
A resource that has been proven effective in our ministry to brothers and sisters seeking victory is http://xxxchurch.com/.