Teaching purity without shame

Sarah Bessey makes a strong case, based on her own experiences, that the church needs to find ways to teach kids the biblical view of sex without making many of them feel like "damaged goods."

Can you think of some good ways to do this?


Shane Misses Me, Too, LeeQuod
But his aim gets better with every shot.
Dearest Carol, if something helps Gina or her Prison Fellowship colleagues, then I'm entirely in favor of it. So thank you - you've certainly encouraged *me*!
To dear LeeQuad
Would a *daughter* of encouragement work as well for you? My *name* in my address is "batnabas". If *bar* means son (or, son of...), and *bat* means daughter (or, daughter of...), then I have chosen to encourage. Let's not limit the *nabas* to just the masculine gender.
OK, Gina, having made you mo' sad by straying off-topic, I'll try my best to make you *less* sad.

(Boy oh boy, do I ever miss Rolley.)

Jason, please note that prior to his conversion the Apostle Paul would have seen destroying the church as exactly the right thing to do - and therefore as justifiable as any Mossad action. No doubt Gina felt justified in roughly the same way about participating in those "spit exercises". And she probably looks back on her participation with the same regret, over the impact it could have had on people like Sarah Bessey, as Paul did in 1 Cor. 15:9.

Fortunately for her, Paul, Sarah Bessey, and the rest of us, God is bigger than our biggest mistake.

In fact, God has a long-established habit of taking our mistakes and transforming them for good. I believe good will come from Gina's feelings. Meanwhile, I'd like to see as many "Sons of Encouragement" to stand with her as we can muster.
Let's try and stay somewhere near the original topic. :-) Thanks.
Besides, there are good Mossad characters in NCIS too(like Eli's bodyguard). Not to mention Eyal Levin in Covert Affairs.
Oh come, Lee, Mossad isn't any different from any other intelligence group, and the OSS behaved that way too back when WE had simmilar stresses.
True confessions time: I've been involved in abstinence education groups that used the spit exercise. And I never even thought about it until now.

Yes, we really ARE all damaged goods.
Yes, Jason; see Acts 8:1-3, 1 Cor. 15:7-11, and Galatians 1:11-24. I think the comparison to Mossad isn't perfect, but it's reasonably close, for modern readers. Imagine the character of Ziva David on "NCIS" growing up as a terrorist (like her brother) but having a personal conversion and becoming a force *against* terrorism as we see her today, and I think you'll have it about right.

It makes the friendship offered by Barnabas all the more remarkable.

And it meant that the Corinthians could look at Paul and say "Well, yeah, unlike you, Mr. 'Super Apostle', most of us have sexual sins in our past, but at least we weren't involved in *killing* anybody." Clearly, though, that teenager-like response just doesn't fly.

So I think you had it right in your first comment when you said "in a sense we are all damaged goods." That would include the "spit pastor". (If only he knew that that was our nickname for him!)
A Mossad like group tracking down and killing Christians?
I agree with all the other excellent comments, particularly those that would broaden the topic to be "the church needs to find ways to teach [everyone] the biblical view of [X] (sorry) without making many of them feel like "damaged goods.""

One way to address Sarah Bessey's issue is to really, really delve into 1 Cor. 6, particularly the "but" of verse 11. Was Paul saying that those with no sexual sins don't need to be washed alongside those who do? How could Paul not know that Corinth was as famous for sex in his day as Las Vegas is for gambling in our day? How could he preach so strongly in that chapter to such an audience? I'd like to hear the "spit preacher's" take on that.

Another way would be to recall that Augustine, famously among many others, wound up canonized as a saint in spite of his past, rather than because of it. I can still remember R.C. Sproul Sr. telling about how the night he first heard the gospel, his original plan was to go out and get roaring drunk. Maybe the approach would be to point out that "repentance" means having something to repent *from*, and every hero of the faith had something, at some time, that they regretted having done. This was driven home for me when I stopped attending a church in a denomination known for its stress on holiness, and began attending a church whose denomination arose from a congregation of surfers, stoners and partiers from the 1960s, such that most of the famous pastors of the denomination had one or more things in their past of which they had been deeply ashamed - including a lot of sexual sin.

To the broader point by itself, if Peter could make so many well-documented, enormous blunders and still wind up as Pope, then there's hope for us all. If Paul could begin as an agent of an early Mossad-like group, tracking down and killing Christians, and then become a leader and chief spokesperson of those same Christians, then there's hope for us all. Maybe this is why I love how Gayle Erwin consistently takes the Apostles down a peg in his talks. (He says they're up in Heaven, waiting to . . . "talk" with him. ;-) )

For that matter, really, what's the difference between teaching that a sexual sinner can have hope, and teaching that a prisoner can have hope? How do those people of PFM who have never committed a crime convey such a message to those who are, or were, in prison?

Seems to me Sarah Bessey was in an emotional prison, got out, and now wants to start over. She wants the equivalent of restorative justice, for her situation.

So don't we all.
Help! I Need an Editor!
Read this last night, and needed time to think about my response. It seemed inappropriate to post this on Bessey's web site. I am pushing 70, so you know there's a lot of life in the rear-view mirror. All of us "past our prime" can look back and see things we wish we hadn't done. At 55, God called me to get serious with Him, and one of the things He seemed to want was a level of purity in me that I hadn't had in 40 years. My language ws atrocious, and my mind was usually distracted by images and thoughts inappropriate for a woman of my age and state in life. When I found I couldn't effect the control I needed on my own, it came down to either ask God to do it *IN* me or throw in the towel. You can't imagine my surprise when He took over the controls! I found the next several "off-color" or downright sleazy jokes I heard I just didn't "get". I'm a relatively fast learner, and realized that, when I sensed the conversation was going in that direction, that internal feeling was my signal to get up and leave the group so I didn't have to hear it. Likewise, my language changed literally overnight. When I would start to say a "bad" word, my back jaws would lock like when you have the flu and are cold to the core and swear you'll never again be warm! As soon as I thought of an appropriate word, I could speak, again. Remarkable!
Cheap grace?
There are two points in tension: Sin is awful, but God is gracious. How do we properly recognize BOTH these truths?

There is forgiveness for every sin (except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit; let's not get into parsing that). But that doesn't mean that sinning is OK. And I'm afraid Ms. Bessey is swinging too far on the pendulum.

I am not by any means equating premarital sex with murder, but would we applaud someone who says, "So, you murdered someone. It's okay. Really, it's okay"?

We believe that even murder is not beyond the redeeming power of God's love, but that doesn't negate the fact that what was done was sin, was destructive, and has consequences that WON'T all be erased. And the same is true of premarital sex. That doesn't mean that such failure defines one's future life, but it does mean that sin is never something to dismiss as unimportant.

I certainly would agree that virginity doesn't guarantee healthy sexuality or marriage. And I think John White was right when he wrote in Eros Defiled, "We are all sexual sinners." But there is still value to virginity until marriage, and it is entirely appropriate for pastors to speak about it--pastorally.
We could start by addressing it in a way similar to how we handle abortion. We state in no uncertain terms that abortion is wrong, but we also assure women who have had an abortion that there is forgiveness and cleansing available. Compare that to how characterize the premature loss of virginity as irreparable and a permanent stain.

"If true love waits, I heard, then I have been disqualified from true love." Ouch. We probably should reconsider some of our cute slogans.

Oh, and that preacher who made the spit comparison had better be thankful that I'm not God.
Well in a sense we are all damaged goods. But really that specific attitude comes from tribalistic ethics. Not Christian. And while there is something to be learned from that, none of us are bedouin camel rustlers.

Of course we could declare blood feud on Bessey's pastor perhaps.

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