Living in south Florida is an adventure for a pastor. The people here are great, we love our church and friends are the best. But this is a very liberal place regarding issues of morality and sex.
I am responsible to tell people the truth, even when it hurts. At our church, we are finding, in increasing measure, that we need to say things to people that they don’t like, but that are necessary. Many of these episodes involve sex. It is common, I mean absolutely mainstream, for people to openly admit to having sex outside of marriage; cohabitation is the norm. There is no shame or guilt, and people are shocked when I share with them that this kind of behavior is not acceptable to God. And this happens very often within our church with people who know Jesus and study His Word.
I am so careful to speak truth in love. We try hard not to be condemning at our church. We are grace based and motivated by love. We are fully aware of the dangers of judging others – because none of us are perfect. But I preach against sexual sins because it is covered thoroughly in the Bible. Heterosexual sex, homosexual sex (the Bible is against homosexual marriage), cyber sex, pornography – if you are not married – God forbids sexual activity. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how long you’ve been with your partner or the fact that you own a house together or have kids together. If you are not married, sex is wrong; the Bible prohibits it. I know that sounds like something from outer space in our culture – but it is truth.
Some people are shocked by this fact. They get offended. They get mad. They think I don’t love them. They think I am picking on them. And some of them leave, they walk away and continue with their lives. It is pretty easy in South Florida to find a church and pastor that will agree with them or ignore dealing with real issues. But most people just ignore what we say and go on about their lives. Please, if you are part of our church and are living with someone – we want you to remain as part of our church. But please listen to what God is saying to you. God wants to bless you and He will not bless a relationship that is outside of His will.
This all hurts quite a lot. It hurts to see people making decisions that are slowly destroying their lives. It is painful to lose friends because they think you are crazy for adhering to the Bible. I am troubled about this issue. It’s not going away, in fact it is becoming an even greater problem.
I have no choice. As a pastor, I have to navigate these treacherous waters. I will give an account to God one day for how I represented Him on these issues. I commit myself to tell the truth on these issues, regardless. I am not sorry for doing that, but I am sorry that it doesn’t always turn out well.
You will know the truth and the truth will set you free. (John 8:32) Be free!
15 Replies to “you may not like this but…it is truth”
Thank you so much for addressing issues of sexual sin without prejudice.
Preach on brother!
Preach on, Pastor. I read your post shortly after reading an article on 2012 Olympic hopeful Lolo Jones and her commitment to remain a virgin until marriage. Oh how I respect her conviction and commitment. She says waiting until marriage is harder than training for the olympics. What an inspiration and role model she is.
Thanks Bobbie! Could you possibly attach a link to that story? It sounds great.
I agree Pastor Rick, your post was very well written. I understand and feel your compassion and heart here. There is that old saying, truth hurts. For so many (me), it is (was) easier to believe in the lies than accept truth. We are bombarded by the world with lies every minute of the day. Lies which even persuades Christians, lies that even permeate the Christian community. Churches that make it so difficult to hear and understand the truth that it sets up failure for the ones who desperately need (want) to hear it. I truly believe it is by example that God calls us to lead. Do not get me wrong here; we DO need strong Pastors and Christian Brother’s and Sister’s, to speak (teach) the truth. But I believe more importantly it is by living the word which those who cannot hear the word, is what speaks the loudest. It was by someone else’s example that I received Christ, not their words. It was by the example of my Brother’s in Christ that I was able to change my thoughts and grow into a mature man, not their words. I knew where they stood and how they felt about the life I was living. No one judged me. They simply spoke (taught) the truth in love, with sincere compassion of demonstration. This is why it is so important to put words into action. Reach out; be involved and interested in everyone and everything around you. Invest some time with someone who’s life is so totally opposite of your own. Another favorite saying. “Walk a mile in my shoes THEN tell me how you feel!” Get out of the church’s comfort zone and GO OUT and be JESUS every day, every moment. There is plenty of fruit for the picking, eligible Saints all around us just needing that TAP moment from Him who came, not for the righteous, but for the sinner. You know what was exceptionally cool about Jesus? He listened first, giving His undivided attention to everyone around him. In fact more often than not, it was the sinner who admitted to Jesus their failures and needs!
Bobby, here it is: http://www1.whdh.com/news/articles/sports/olympics/12007556841649/olympian-lolo-jones-29-is-staying-a-virgin-until-marriage/
I was just talking about this very thing with my family here in Mn. Rick! To speak the truth…(what the Bible says), some may think we are judging them on this issue. Especially when so many of our tv shows, and movies talk so commonly about “living together” like it is just as normal as can be. It has gotten so bad that we feel if we say something against it, WE are the ones who are looked at as wrong. The Bible speaks of when Wrong becomes Right and Right becomes Wrong. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to be a pastor in these days. Just know that you ARE speaking truth.
PS: Please know I was not directing any criticism towards you personally or at Cross Community. My comments were in general. I have nothing but respect and admiration for you and your congregation and the contribution in our communities.
Patrick, I did not take what you said in any other way than support. And I agree with you, we simply must be involved deeply in the lives of others. This is the authentic love of Christ in action.
Perfect pitch, Rick. I never expected to have to deal with so many instances of cohabitation by regular attending, Christ-confessing, tithe-paying members. Kept asking myself, “What’s wrong with me and the message I bring that others think this kind of sin is perfectly compatable with the church?” Even loving personal confrontation doesn’t always win the day. Thanks for the encouragement to stay on course.
As opposed to the other sins that are fine.
No worries, Brian. Next week, I’ll focus on the other major sins in the church and culture: spitting on the sidewalk and jaywalking. j/k, I appreciate the dialogue.
John 12:44-50 speaks to an aspect of this. May we behold Him who does not judge the disobedient.
Wow. I honestly feel so relieved to read this. I can’t believe how normal this has become. Jon and I dated 8 years before we got married!. We met young and with the divorce rate the way it is these days we wanted to make sure we had the opportunity to grow up a little before we made a life long commitment. We were so frustrated because no one believed that we had not had sex. We believe and know that this is only for marriage and a blessing. I was so disheartened when people questioned our morality in that way. It was so rediculously uncommon that no one believed us, even people within the church! I want my dayghter to know by example how amazing it is to wait!
It’s such a hard reality. Many of these wonderful people leave so much on the table it’s hard to watch without being moved by a Holy God. Being sheppard’s, we’re commanded to ‘tend” and “feed” the sheep, and we are instructed “to watch” for any potential openings that the evil one might try to gain entrance. This certainly qualifies as one, a false sense of identity in a relationship with the creation over one with the Creator. Not that being married qualifies us into heaven, but if we call on the name of Jesus it becomes all about surrendering our will over to him. That’s why Paul says if your married stay married, if your single stay single. My prayer is that all of us who are stuck in a particular sin realize that we can’t get out and that it forces us on the risen Christ where the attention should be. Thanks pastor!