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Worse than What the Horse Said

Imagine for a moment a father sits down on the couch next to his five-year-old daughter, who is watching one of her favorite cartoons, a show about a little girl and her talking horse. In the middle of the show, the horse turns to the little girl and says firmly, “Girls are clueless, so if you want anyone to love you, you have to learn to be sexy.”

Ugh. That’s bad.

But now imagine that the dad just sits through the scene silently, and the next scene, and the rest of the episode without saying a word. It’s bad enough to hear your favorite cartoon horse saying something awful, but now what’s the little girl likely to believe about her dad’s view of girls? Or worse, what’s she likely to begin believing about herself?

The dad’s silence is worse than what the horse said.

And this kind of silence happens all the time.

There are a million faulty ideas, images, and messages about sex pouring out over us in a seemingly endless stream.

  • A woman’s worth is in how sexually attractive she is.
  • Any kind of sex in any kind of setting is fine, as long as it’s consensual.
  • There’s no real difference between men and women.
  • If you fall out of love with your spouse, move on and find someone else.
  • Hooking up is fine. As long as you enjoy it, it won’t impact your heart.
  • No one can tell you your sexual identity—not even your biology. It’s something you feel inside.
  • Orthodox Christian teaching about sex is bigoted and harmful, especially to women and sexual minorities.

Sadly, in response to this steady-flow, many Christian pastors, parents, and other leaders aren’t saying anything. Maybe these topics just feel to volatile, or too easily misunderstood, or too risky. Maybe these topics feel too far outside a leader’s comfort zone or area of expertise.

But aren’t these reasons precisely why leaders need to speak up? Otherwise, leaders are leaving those in their care to sort all this out on their own.

In a culture that is loudly and consistently (and convincingly, I might add) speaking untruths about sex, silence from the pulpit or from parents is, in essence, to sit on the couch next to those in your care and to nod in ascent.

Those in our care are not really facing a cartoon horse in a children’s show, but a dark spiritual enemy, “a roaring lion seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

If you’re a pastor, a parent, or hold any role of Christian leadership, please do not sit silently on the couch while the lions circle the ones for whom you care. Pray, say something, falteringly if you must, lovingly no matter what.

Be a learner. Thankfully, there a growing number of parents, and good Christian thinkers and leaders doing a great job at this, so…

  • Talk with other parents or pastors who are talking about these things. Borrow freely from what they’ve done well.
  • Read good, trustworthy books about God’s design for sex: like Christopher West’s The Love that Satisfies, Todd Wilson’s Mere Sexuality, or many others.
  • Tune in to Regeneration’s weekly podcast or attend a PG conference.

If you still don’t know what to say, you can start here:

  • Talk about how our maleness and femaleness is related to being made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-28).
  • Next time you’re talking about temptation, acknowledge that many Christians struggle with sexual temptation.
  • Have someone in your congregation share a testimony of overcoming an area of sexual sin.
  • Share about how God created marriage between a husband and wife to serve as a picture of His relationship with us (Jesus is the Bridegroom and His church is the Bride, see Ephesians 5:21-32).

And as you speak, speak often of Jesus, the Good Shepherd whose mercy flows from His wounds and whose resurrection power overcomes the roaring lion.

Whether you find yourself struggling personally or seeking to lead others who do, our team at Regeneration is here to help you.

For you,
Josh

3 thoughts on “Worse than What the Horse Said”

  1. To add a bit more, I think part of the reason why it isn’t discussed , especially in Evangelical churches , is because they don’t actually have good answers , or the framework that a catechism provides for thinking about and understanding such issues.

    More liturgical streams such as Anglican, Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox do address sexuality in their catechisms and have a history of literature and writings providing thought on the subject (e.g. Theology of the body). I just read a pamphlet from Eastern Orthodox Church about Sexuality: God’s plan for a fulfilled life that frames sexuality in a way that makes sense and lines with scripture.

    In my opinion, Evangelicalism’s narrow reliance on scripture alone to understand everything through the lens of the gospel has put them into a corner where they can’t adequately address the pressing issues of today such as sexuality , because they don’t have the tools or the framework to provide good, rational answers. So instead of addressing the issues , they either go unaddressed , or there is a sense of defeatism as if it is impossible to live with a sexuality that aligns with God’s purpose in the gospel .

    My prayer is for continued renewal of liturgical and catechical streams of Christianity and an awakening or movement of evangelicalism away from sola scriptura , rules and culture based faith toward a more honest , holistic faith that can actually provide answers on issues like this.

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