Article Mar 18, 2014

Mending Fences: The Gospel and Pastoral Care for Sexual Sin

At this year's ERLC Leadership Summit on "The Gospel and Human Sexuality," J.D. Greear will be speaking on “Mending Fences: The Gospel and Pastoral Care for Sexual Sin.” Greear serves as the lead pastor of The Summit Church, in Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

If you are interested in attending the Summit, go here.

At the ERLC Leadership Summit, you will be speaking on “Mending Fences: The Gospel and Pastoral Care for Sexual Sin”. Why is this an important issue for evangelical churches to consider?

Sexual sin is the place where the gospel intersects unbelievers most acutely. When we can show that sex is often the expression of our most deeply held idols, and that the gospel provides a better answer to the questions sex presents, we gain an audience with those who otherwise might have little interest in what we have to say. I have seen God use this issue to convert the unbeliever and transform the believer in ways few other issues have.

When you think about sexual sin, what is a key aspect of that issue that churches aren’t addressing adequately? Why is that the case?

Churches often treat extra-marital sex as simply disobedience to a “thou shalt not” command. While it is certainly that, it is much more. Churches need to go behind the overt manifestation of sin to the idolatrous roots that generate it As Paul Tripp says, “We worship our way into sin, we have to worship our way out of it.”

This conference seeks to apply the gospel to issues related to human sexuality. What are some ways the gospel relates to sexual sin? 

The gospel not only promises cleansing for the stain of sin. It also presents us with a love that is greater than the enticements of the flesh. The only way to overcome the power of sex over us is to discover the greater power in the gospel. The only way to be liberated from the allure of sexual sin is to be captivated by an even more beautiful treasure. God’s acceptance is the power that liberates us from sexual sin, not the reward for having liberated ourselves.

If evangelical churches transformed the way they handled the subject of sexual sin, how would it reshape their congregations?

Quite simply, many church members would begin to feel like the pastor understands what is going on in their heart. The unbeliever who comes to the church in 1 Corinthians 14:25 has the secrets of his heart revealed, and says, “Surely God is among you!” When we can preach about the idolatry of sex—and the pain that it causes—winsomely, we reveal the secrets of the heart and elicit a similar response today. I have always aimed to preach like a counselor that can open up the depths of the gospel on one hand and the human heart on the other—and apply the beauty of the former to the dysfunction of the latter.

Register for the Summit here.