Counseling the Shattered Lives of Sexual Sin–3 Part Series
By Scott O’Malley
In a 3 part series, Twelve Stones Ministries would like to address the people
involved in sexual sin from three different perspectives. In part 1, we would like to equip parents to draw out their children to walk in the light, and not live a life of secret sin that leads to destruction. In part 2, we would like to equip parents to respond biblically if they have indeed found out that their child has been living in secret sexual sin. In part 3, we would like to equip parents to engage their children if they have been sexually abused by someone else.
Preventing Your Child’s Sin from Going Underground – Part 1 of 3
While it shouldn’t have surprised me, I was again shocked and reminded this past week that we live in a fallen world. Just days apart from each other I was given sad and terrible news that two different Bible teachers, both over 60 years of age, have been involved in sexual immorality for decades. The first was viewing and distributing child pornography while the second was arrested on charges of child molestation of his grandchild (and it was later discovered of his daughter, as well). The first Bible teacher was at a Christian college near where I grew up, and the other was a high school Bible teacher for my adoptive daughter. How sad that these men, who were surrounded by the truth of God’s Word, could live such secret lives for so long. The question I would like to address today is, what can parents do to help their children not become enslaved to sexual sin in such a way that they live in darkness for decades? I would like to propose three principles of living to help fight against our children taking their sin underground, whether that sin is masturbation, viewing pornography, same sex attraction, inappropriate interactions with others, etc. The three principles are: biblical family dynamics; invitation to share struggles; and a commitment to the journey.
Biblical Family Dynamics
Biblical family dynamics involves an understanding of at least a few principles from the Scriptures. The first truth is that every one of us is in desperate need of grace. We are all more sinful than we ever dared believe, but we are also more loved than we ever dared hope, through the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. As a result, our family dynamics should clearly demonstrate that grace is in place.
The second principle to help with biblical family dynamics is that the struggle against sin is good. It is not helpful to deny the reality that we have a sinful flesh that is at war within us. As parents we must model in our own lives and point to the pages of Scripture to help our children see the fight against sin is present in every believer’s life. The Apostle Paul identified with this struggle against his own flesh in Romans 7:18-19, 24 which says, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep doing . . . Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Our children must be encouraged to see that when they struggle against their sin, there isn’t something wrong with them, but there is actually something very good happening. They are engaging in the struggle to crucify the flesh (Galatians 5:24).
While there are certainly many other principles that could be shared, a third principle that is important for biblical family dynamics is having a humble spirit that results in regular confession of sin to God and one another (Proverbs 28:13; Matthew 5:23-24; James 5:16). When parents model asking for forgiveness when they have sinned, it is much more likely that our children will do the same when they have sinned. We must set the example.
Invitation to Share Struggles
In addition to having biblical family dynamics, having an open invitation to share struggles within the home will greatly increase the likelihood that our children will let us into their struggles. Jesus modeled this invitation in Hebrews 4:15 when it says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses . . .” As a result of Jesus sympathizing with our struggles we are encouraged to approach Him with confidence that we may receive grace and mercy to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16). Many children unfortunately do not have parents who sympathize with their struggles. Let us pray that God will help us to be the kind of parents who recognize the growing difficulties of growing up in a 21st century America that is increasingly sexually perverted.
In addition to sympathizing with our children, this invitation to share struggles can come through engaging conversations as we live life together. Individual conversations where are children are heard, encouraged to share their thoughts, and even asked questions about what is going on inside. As our children know they are safe relationally, loved no matter what, and known through relationship we are creating an environment that fosters openness.
Commitment to the Journey
The final principle of living to help prevent our children from taking their sexual sin underground is a commitment to the journey. What I am speaking of here is a determination to never give up on our children, regardless of their struggles. We must reject the cultural cynicism that sees children as a burden and someone to simply keep quiet and under control. As parents, we must continue on a relentless pursuit of our children, committed to really knowing them. We see a beautiful picture of this invitation to relationship between a father and a son in Proverbs 23:26a which says, “My son, give me your heart.” In this pursuit of knowing our children, we must recognize that knowing them and helping them takes time and does not happen just one day or in one situation. Throughout the inevitable ups and downs of life, as parents we must seek to maintain relationship with our children and seek to influence them through our sustained efforts to know them. We must heed the warning in Proverbs that says, “a child left to himself brings shame to his mother” (Proverbs 29:15).
In conclusion, as we seek to do our part to prevent our children from taking their sin underground, we must always remember to be people of prayer who are continuing to beseech the Lord to pour out His mercy on our children and bring their hidden sin into the light. Next time, we will consider how we should respond if our child’s secret sin has come into the light.
Posted on February 1, 2011