I was that woman, for a short period of time, anyway. That devoted Christian twenty-something who lost perspective in a serious relationship and had sex outside of marriage. It was the hardest season of my life because the sin brought loss, heartache, and shame.
In my mind, and as far as I knew, most Christian singles were doing a great job at remaining pure and I was the anomaly. However, as I began to share my story of failing at dating, I had dozens of people share their own stories of being sexually active before marriage–and as a Christian.
I was blown away! I learned that there was a very clear message coming from the church that sex outside of marriage was wrong, but very little on how to be strong in the face of temptation and furthermore, how to move forward should it happen.
However, perhaps one of the things I noticed most was how Christians were unsure of how to respond to my sin. During that period of my life, I had friends respond both graciously and not-so-graciously towards what I had done. I get it–you care about the person but it’s sin, so how do you respond?
From someone who has been on the receiving end of a response, here are some tips I hope you’ll consider when responding to a friend who is having sex outside of marriage.
SEE ALSO: Worshiping Sex and Marriage
Let me give you a bit of insight–if someone is having sex outside of marriage and they are truly a believer, they already feel an incredible amount of shame and guilt. They probably feel a wedge between them and God. And they most likely feel as if other Christians will cast judgment their way should their scarlet letter be revealed.
Judgment never brings someone to repentance or healing and as a friend, you above all should be an extension of grace. Furthermore, you are a sinner as well and yet God has extended incredible grace towards you. As a recipient of grace, there’s no place to hold judgment in your heart. In fact, those who have received the grace of God should be the greatest givers of it.
Be an extension of grace in your friend’s life. Grace doesn’t mean you’re accepting the sin; it means you’re looking past the sin to be there for a friend in need.
If we’re all honest, we all have had or have something in our life that is a stronghold or lingering sin. Pride, lying, drinking, judgment of others, gossip–something that our flesh has a struggle shaking. You might not be able to relate to your friend who is having sex outside of marriage, but surely you can relate to the feeling of shame or guilt that accompanies sin.
SEE ALSO: Does Boy-Craziness Stop after Marriage?
When you have a friend in this place, it’s a bit dark on their end and a good friend can be one of the greatest blessings. Really be there for them and let them know they’re not alone.
Really being there means extending empathy. Empathy is more than just feeling bad for them, but putting yourself in their shoes and feeling with them. That’s where humanity’s common battleground of fighting sin and temptation comes into play. Put yourself in their shoes of guilt and really be there as a positive support system.
A good friend is there for another, but a good friend also does not ignore sin. Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away or help the heart condition of your friend.
Confrontation isn’t easy but if done healthy, it can be one of the best things you could ever do for your friend. Matthew 18 provides a very clear path to confronting the sin in another’s life and I would encourage you to follow that.
SEE ALSO: To the Girl Who Wished She Hadn’t
Perhaps you go to your friend and they don’t stop, so you feel the need to take the next step in Matthew 18. It might seem harsh to bring another into the fold but I can testify that God got it right in this model (as He always does)!
When I had my own failure, I told my best friend immediately. When I was deathly afraid to take the next step of confessing to my pastors (as I was on staff at a church), she helped me face what I was most afraid of–the confession. Once I confessed to my pastors, I had to go through one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to go through. I lost so much in the aftermath of my sin but confronting the sin was the best thing I did.
It might be hard for your friend and they might lose something, but I promise that in the end, confronting the sin is the best possible thing for them.
Making a commitment to refrain from sex and actually doing it are two different things. It may be hard for your friend to stay the course, at least for a while. Offer to provide some accountability to them. Meaning, if you know they are dating someone or think there’s a possibility for temptation, ask them how they’re doing. People are less likely, or at least will think twice, about doing something wrong if they know they’ll be asked about it.
I hope this provides some insight into how you can respond to a friend caught up in sexual sin. Or any habitual sin, for that matter. Friendships are a blessing from the Lord and these harder seasons can be a great nurturer in fostering stronger believers and stronger friendships.
Brittany Rust is a writer, speaker, and has the privilege of serving on staff at Red Rocks Church in Denver, CO. She and her husband Ryan make their home in the Rocky Mountains, pursuing outdoor adventures, great food, and memorable stories together. Her website brittanyrust.com aims to supply encouraging resources for the world-wearied believer.
Image courtesy: Pexels.com
Publication date: April 18, 2017
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