Sexual sin in the church

Abandoned Desert Church

Today on Desiring God, they are featuring an article written by Dr. Harry W. Schaumburg, who is a speaker, author, and counselor specializing in the area of sexual sin in the church. He is the director of Stone Gate Resources and the author of False Intimacy: Understanding the Struggle of Sexual Addiction (1997) and Undefiled: Redemption From Sexual Sin, Restoration for Broken Relationships (2009). He has been married to his wife Rosemary for 43 years, and they have two adult sons.

Dr. Schaumburg speaks from his decades of experience in counseling sexual sin within churches. Please read the entire article here at Desiring God –

Two other great links from Desiring God on this subject here:

Dr. Schaumburg:

When we take the gospel seriously we not only correctly understand the nature of sexual immorality, we must become proactive in taking corporate responsibility for the sexual maturity and sexual problems within our local church.

A well-known church received a stern letter in the spring of A.D. 54 when they failed grievously in this understanding and responsibility. As you know, that same letter sent to the Corinthians is written to us.

Imagine opening your email to find this message from a highly respected church leader: “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality in your church, and a kind of sexual sin that’s not practiced among unbelievers, a man is cohabitating with his father’s wife. And you are proud! Instead, you should be deeply sorrowful.”

Our response to the existence of sexual sin within the church reveals a lot about our own spiritual, relational, and sexual maturity, as well as those with whom we fellowship.


Privatized spirituality is at the root of privatized sexuality. For the past twenty-two years I have focused on the problems of pornography and adultery within the church in America, and I see sexual sin from a unique perspective. Numerous indicators tell us that it is in our midst. I also know for a fact that there is a kind of sexual sin not tolerated by society tolerated in our churches.

No Excuses

Typically, sexual sin doesn’t happen overnight. I’ve seen it hidden for 5, 10, or 20 years, and even longer. Nobody suddenly falls into a one-night stand or starts looking at pornography in adulthood. There is longevity both in the process of falling into sexual sin, and then you can have years in which the sin is kept a secret from everyone. I would suggest that the first assessment needs to be both personal and corporate by asking ourselves the question: “What have we been doing personally and corporately to address sexual sin in the life of our church?”

Ignorance of the problem because it is hidden from view is no excuse.

We need to ask the question again and again. “How could such a thing happen in the first place?” And here’s the caution: don’t limit your understanding to commonly accepted explanations. Don’t just blame the sexual culture or the easy access through digital devices, nor someone’s sexually promiscuous past. Yes, we live in a different world technologically, but Corinth had all three of those explanations. Wanton sexuality was common. There was easy accessibility to prostitutes in the temple. Sexual immorality was a part of their previous non-Christian lifestyle. I would strongly suggest that there is more to understanding the cause of sexual sin among Christians. And it has to do with all of us.

Sexual sin is not just the problem of the sinner, but of the whole church. Whatever it might say of the guilty one’s faith, it says just as much of the church’s faithfulness. Now we may want to blame sexually disinterested wives and then say, “Men are sexually hardwired.” The problem of sexual dissatisfaction in Christian marriages is important, but it is related to the bigger problem of spiritual, relational, and sexual maturity

The Implications

The implications on the life of the church are huge, for we are responsible for one another spiritually and sexually. We correctly teach, and expect, that the marriage bed be “undefiled” (Hebrews 13:4). God designed responsibility has another level that is often neglected. Paul teaches and exhorts couples not to be sexually indifferent. “The husband should give to his wife her sexual rights, and likewise the wife to her husband” (see 1 Corinthians 7:3ff). I would suggest that we must address sexual indifference because it directly relates to being spiritually, relationally, and sexually mature.

While sexual intimacy between a husband and a wife is private, sexual immorality and adultery, while done in secret, is a corporate affair. The arrogance of the Corinthians was a huge factor in the existence of sexual sin in their church. They simply didn’t address the problem. The initial appropriate corporate response to sexual sin is to “mourn,” then take action (verse 5:2). When we think of ourselves first, we are less likely to be proactive in dealing with hidden sexual sin. Once it is exposed, typically we overreact.


Here’s one of the most important points I have come to learn. The hiddenness of sexual sin does not absolve us of corporate accountability for the sexual sin in our churches.

I believe we are corporately responsible for one another’s spiritual, relational, and sexual maturity. “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God” (Hebrews 12:15).

We have a responsibility to oversee one another in spiritual matters. “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other” (Colossians 3:12–13).

And we have a responsibility to oversee one another in relational matters. “See to it . . . that no one is sexually immoral” (Hebrews 12:15–16).

That’s the bottom line: we’re in this together. The battle against sexual sin and lust is a battle charge given to the whole church community. The writer of Hebrews and the Apostle Paul will never let us abstract sexual sin in the life of one member from the overall health of the local church. We expose sexual sin for what it is, humbly deal with sexual sin when and where it appears, and together shine the light of God’s truth and expose sexual sin, and rejoice in sexual health and wholeness.


Cristian Barbosu – The Word of God: Why Are Christians Ashamed of the Bible? Moody’s Founders’ Week, Chicago 2011

Cristian Barbosu is pastor of Harvest Metanoia (Biserica Metanoia) churches in Arad and Braila, Romania. These churches partner with Harvest Bible Fellowship, a church planting arm of Harvest Bible Chapel in Rolling Meadows, IL. He is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute, Dallas Theological Seminary and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He and his wife Anne have two daughters.

Visit Biserica Metanoia’s website or Harvest Bible Fellowship’s website.

This message was given at Moody Bible Institute’s Founders’ Week 2011:

Why are more and more Christians ashamed of the Bible?

You can listen to it here in mp3 format. (From Moody Radio Chicago WMBI 90.1 FM)

source –  Today in the Word Moody Radio Broadcasting.

 Listen Now – Part 1
you can purchase the CD set containing this message here.
Listen Now – Part 2


In Limba Romana – Notitele originale in format pdf se gasesc aici si aici (Limba Engleza). Dar, pentru fratii si surorile Romani am copiat aici pe pagina mea ca sa puteti traduce folosind google tranlsate la mine pe pagin in dreapta, sub icoana cu stegulete.

Pt predici in Limba Romana de Cristian Barbosu faceti click aici. Predica la Oradea Feb 2011 –  La Bis. Penticostala Betel  Ce vrea Dumnezeu sa stiu de suferintele din viata mea  – Transformari la Tirgu Mures, Conferinta Peniel 2010.

English – The original notes pdf links are here and here. For the benefit of my Romanian brothers and siters I cut & pasted it here so you can use Google translate in my sidebar in order to translate these notes.

Background on Corinth
Anybody who wanted to become a somebody especially in Corinth aspired to be trained and accepted by the Sophists.” – Bruce Winter
The Sophists were the idols, the Hollywood stars, everyone wanted to be like them in appearance. Appearance to them was a big deal.”
The Sophists: were the wise ones. They had the look. They had the walk. They had the talk. “To handle well the art of rhetoric in the Greco Roman world was the equivalent of a PhD from Harvard or Cambridge in our world.”
“Aris or Aristas there was rivalry between these people, that‟s why there was much pride attached to being a disciple of a Sophist. Followership was the key word in the Sophist movement. Becoming a disciple of Sophists was to imitate him in every aspect of his life.

Click on ‘More’ button to read the rest of the sermon  notes.

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