Because the slavery and pain of our flocks is obvious, we are called upon to offer the grace and healing of Christ. The pulpit can be an excellent platform for entreating even the most stained and hopeless heart.
As they leave the house on Sunday morning heading for church, the very last thing most parishioners anticipate is a sermon addressing the issues of cultural sexualization. The themes within that topic are revolting: internet pornography, sexually oriented businesses, prostitution, child porn, sexual addiction. While nobody doubts God’s ability to heal the broken, few come to church wishing to hear a homily on this topic.
There are legitimate reasons for this, including the desire to protect the innocence of the children present in the sanctuary. Furthermore, a pastor even broaching the subject of sexual sin from the pulpit can risk sounding legalistic or hypocritical. Granted, our culture is currently steeped in sexuality: hardly any child in America will grow up without viewing pornography; even our public officials spotlight sexual pathology in TV news reporting. Our children are growing up in moral danger.
Making matters worse, research finds that frighteningly high percentages of both men and women come to worship each week carrying dark stains of sexual guilt, confusion, and hopelessness, aching, not only for hope and absolution, but for freedom from sexual slavery. Yet their desperate quest is hidden behind a smiling Sunday façade and “polite society” which says it’s improper to talk about sex in public. So is it appropriate to use God’s Word to address this distasteful subject in the pulpit?
Christ taught about it in the Sermon on the Mount, a setting in which it was assumed both children and adults were present: “Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mt 5:28). Here, we have no statistics, no raw data to cite, but we know that the Lord publically raised the bar far higher than the Torah (e.g., Ex 20:14: “You shall not commit adultery”), and he felt so strongly about it as to directly correlate the topic with Hell.