I knew we needed to talk about it.
I also knew that devoting a whole night of Summer Series on the topic of sexuality would open a can of worms with our single ladies. But it was a can of worms that needed to be opened.
That summer, I conducted a survey with our Singles 20s/30s ladies at Brook Hills, asking about past and present participation in a variety of sexual activities. Without getting into the gritty details, I can tell you there weren’t many activities that were not represented in that group.
I wasn’t surprised. The numbers tracked with the types of conversations I was having with young women in our faith family. What did surprise me were the results when I asked about what they had not heard biblical teaching on. Most had never heard biblical teaching on a variety of subjects related to sexuality, including homosexuality and same-sex attraction, pornography, cohabitation, and even the act of sex itself.
Since most of the folks in our Singles 20s/30s Ministry did not grow up at Brook Hills, these numbers represent what a plethora of churches, youth groups, and college ministries have and have not taught. These numbers also speak to the Church and the family’s silence on God’s design for sex. If we’re not bringing light to darkness, then we’re contributing to darkness, and often, it’s our silence that allows the darkness to continue.
Leading up to that night at Summer Series in 2017, I had prayed that God would make our Singles 20s/30s Ministry a place where women would find freedom in Christ and a safe place to struggle with sin. Because of confidentiality, I can’t share a lot of the stories, but God continues to answer this prayer.
Being in the blast radius of a person’s life means you absorb the shrapnel of their mess, but you also get a front row seat to how God can work in that mess. I’ve seen ladies in our church take the huge step of going to recovery groups, whether AA, Awaken, or SA. I’ve seen ladies courageously confess sin. I’ve seen them finally letting Small Group Leaders and friends know what they actually struggle with. I’ve seen them go to counseling and do the hard work of growing emotionally and spiritually.
We’ve started over on sobriety journeys. We’ve looked at why there is often a disconnect between what we say we believe and how we live and feel. We’ve identified false beliefs and how we can dispute those false beliefs with truth from God’s Word. We’ve cried together over being sinned against and how we’ve sinned in response. We’ve reminded ourselves of how Christ is worthy of our self-denial and our obedience. We’ve prayed with each other and for each other. For the Singles 20s/30s ladies, our church and our Small Groups are a place where it’s okay to not be okay, but where we will help you take the next steps to grow.
Church, we are all broken because of sin. As counselor and author David Powlison states:
We are fundamentally more alike than different. You may have never been an adulterer, fornicator, homosexual, or consumer of pornography. But you know with all your heart that no temptation overtakes anyone that is not common to everyone (1 Cor. 10:13). And grasping the subtlety of the battle helps you to grasp the true subtlety and scope of the work of our Savior.
We are all sinners, and while there is no sin you are incapable of, there is also no sin struggle that God cannot free you from. You – and whatever you struggle with – are not too much for God. He offers forgiveness to sinners, an exit strategy when tempted, and strength for the battle. Furthermore, as Christians, we fight against sin from a position of victory, for Christ has already defeated sin. We have hope, mercy, and grace because of Him.
So let us not be shocked if the person sitting next to us at church or in Small Group struggles with sexual sin. If they’re courageous enough to confess it, let us move towards them rather than shrink back, condemn, or gossip about them. 1 John 1:7 states, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” John predicates true, biblical fellowship on living in the light – with God and with each other. So let us live in the light, loving and helping each other, no matter what we bring to light.
Ashley Chesnut serves as the Associate Singles 20s/30s Minister at Brook Hills. She has a Master of Divinity from Beeson Divinity School and a Certificate of Biblical Counseling from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
While Ashley has a passion for discipling young women, she also loves her city, and when she’s not at the church or meeting with girls, you can probably find her at the farmer’s market or trying some new local restaurant.