My wife and I were watching 20/20 last night. One of the things discussed was how a senior in High School stood up against a speaker at their school who was famous for lecturing about abstinence. The speakers heart may have been in the right place, but her methods were pretty awful. Listening to excerpts of her speech put into context a little more for me as to why so many people have the “It’s to late” attitude with sex. “I’ve already had sex so it is to late for me. I’ve ruined my future sex life forever so why I bother?” This attitude has been begun to creep into people struggling with porn.
This attitude has developed because the church has gotten to good at explaining how we lose some when we have sex outside of marriage. It has gotten to good at telling young men that there is innocence and purity lost when they fill their heads with images of naked women. It has gotten to good and telling people about the legitimately devastating issues of premarital sex and pornography. There is a problem though. We have made completely absent the hope of restoration for those caught in these lifestyles.
Maybe it is out of fear of not being like that group of people who are all about love and acceptance in the church without ever calling something sin. That is a legitimate problem in the body today. It is true that there are people who have focused so much on acceptance that the full truth of the Gospel gets ignored. However, those on the other side have had their message ignored. They make people who have had sex and trapped in a life of porn feel worthless because they frankly tell them they are worthless. They tell them they are worthless by ignoring the element of restoration.
This is why I love the story of the adulterous woman. The accepting sect of Christianity has hijacked this story a bit. They have used it as a beacon of fighting judgment and confrontation. We can never judge someone for their sin. We shouldn’t even call it sin. We just need to love people. We just need them to feel cared about, and then they will be saved. Unfortunately this hijacking has led to the other side all but ignoring the beauty and profound truths in this story.
Many of you have heard the story before. A woman is caught in adultery and is about to be stoned. Jesus enters the scene, and proceeds to tell the crowd that if any one of them is without sin then they can be the one to start the sentencing of death by throwing the first stone. They all leave except for Christ. We then glimpse into this beautiful picture of a broken woman who realizes her shame and sin in front of Jesus. She felt worthless in that moment. We all feel worthless in that moment. That moment where it is painfully clear to us that we have done wrong. In that moment we run the risk of believing a lie that restoration is impossible. We are forever doomed to wander our remaining years n this earth as a broken vessel that is incapable of being used for anything of true worth. We run the risk of giving up in that moment.
I wonder what this woman expected then. Did she assume Jesus would throw a stone at her? Did she dare hope for mercy? Christ tells us this profound statement. “Go and sin no more.” Both sides of the issue have some painful lessons to learn from this one statement.
What Jesus said was offensive He called her actions sinful. He declared a clear standard of morality that everyone is supposed to follow. In telling her to stop sinning he was telling her that she had failed to meet the standard expected of her. He was merciful, but his words today would be considered a huge insult. He wasn’t ignoring her sin. If he had ignored her sin then she would have never been able to receive restoration. You need to be acknowledged as broken before you can get fixed.
Jesus didn’t end with calling out her sin. He gave her an opportunity for restoration. He gave her another chance. He gave her an opportunity to turn form the life she was living in order to achieve something better. He did not give her mercy just so that she could go about living her life the same way. He gave her another chance in order that she could be restored.
Maybe you are reading this today and struggling with the sins of your past. Maybe you slept with someone you really felt you loved, but have been feeling the overwhelming guilt of the church saying sex is for marriage. You understood a little to late how sex was meant for marriage. How Scripture itself speaks as though sex and marriage are the same. Read these words today. od can still use you. You can still go on to have a healthy marriage if you treat these scars and baggage of past relationships. You can still live a lot of life to the fullest.
Maybe you feel you have ruined any chance of a healthy relationship because of your addiction to pornography. Your innocence feels lost, and you see no way to get it back. You too will have scars and baggage to bring into your future marriage, but restoration can still be found. Restoration is for all who bring their very lives to the cross and lay them down. God can give you purpose, new life, and a marriage full of love and purpose.
We all have baggage going into a marriage even if we have never had sex or looked at porn. God restores all of us. He gives us a second chance to turn away from our sin and do something better. To my readers struggling with guilt over sin, remember you are still loved. Remember that Christ has to show you your brokenness so that He can restore you. To the church. I beg you to tell the whole story. Don’t sacrifice a lost generation riddled with guilt and shame just so you can beat into the heads of others the dangers of sex and porn. We aren’t just here to warn people about sin we are a lighthouse that is meant to lead all those who are hurting to the one who can restore them.