An Unpleasant Reality

A well-known and beloved Memphian was arrested recently for sexually related crimes. During that time, more details about his past and his struggle with sexual addiction have been shared publicly. This story, and others like it, forces us to admit an unpleasant reality. Sexual sin is becoming a spiritual epidemic in our culture.  

It is estimated that between 3–5% of the U.S. population could meet the criteria for what is commonly known as sexual addiction (“The Sex Addiction Epidemic”, Newsweek, 11/25/11). While that may sound like a small amount, it is not. It is over 9 million people. This problem is no respecter of persons. While it historically affected 40–50 year-old men, now there are more females, adolescents, and even senior citizens involved. “Grandfathers are being caught with porn on their computer by grandkids, and grandkids are sexting at 12,” says Tami VerHelst, vice president of the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals (ibid).

There is no doubt the digital revolution has compounded the problem of sexual sin. Previously generations had to risk public embarrassment to participate in sins that are now offered up in the privacy of the home on a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Over 40 million people a day log into some 4.2 million pornographic websites in the United States alone. It is a real problem.

We need to remember what Jesus said. Looking and lusting after someone is just as sinful as adultery (Matthew 5:27–30). And if you struggle with this sin, then you should pluck out your eye and rip off your arm. This was not a literal statement but rather a figurative way to say if you struggle with this, do whatever it takes to stop. Paul said it this way: “make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Romans 13:14).

But there is something else we must understand about this unpleasant reality. It is a reality. And that means if we are actively saving souls, we will be saving people who suffer from this sinful habit.  We need to be prepared to bear their burdens rather than make them serve a lifetime sentence of judgment (Galatians 6:1–2). We need to realize our responsibility is to restore them rather than punish them or gossip about them.

The aforementioned story is receiving a lot of publicity because the individual was given a second chance and he made the same mistake. Understand this… Christians must be in the business of second chances. And yes, sometimes those second chances don’t end well. But they often do. We can only save souls by giving people second chances.

It is an unpleasant reality of our culture. The real questions is simple: are we prepared to properly respond to this reality?