Last night in High school, we ate some lasagna, talked about dating, worshiped and prayed for one another, and then jumped into our lesson on shame and forgiveness!
Even though it has been a couple weeks since we began our Christian Sexuality material, we are still very much in the “foundation building” stage. Whenever we approach topics that have the potential to raise strong emotions or opinions, it is vital that we begin by establishing God and Scripture as the authorities that we are looking to. Since that was where we started a few weeks ago, but the second most important thing I want your students to hear as we approach a topic like this is that there is no place for shame or condemnation in the life of a Christian.
As we talk about God’s design for sex and marriage next week, I’m certain that students will be faced with the reality that they may not be living into that design. Certain sins (especially sexual sin) are seen as “worse” or at the very least more socially inappropriate, and this has the potential to bring a great deal of shame with them. Whenever a person sins and is overwhelmed by shame, they tend to bury that feeling inside them, and believe the lie that says “because you did a bad thing, you are a bad person - you are not worthy of forgiveness.” Conviction is meaningfully different, because it says “I did a bad thing, but I am redeemed - and those things are not fit for a person who seeks to follow Christ.”
Conviction is born of the spirit, and does not come with the baggage or lies that shame does. It enables a person to say “Jesus paid the price, and I am still a work in progress.” Shame is of the devil, and Romans 8 reaffirms that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The good news of the Gospel is that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. There is no condition like “once we were good enough, or tried hard enough, Christ reluctantly decided we were worth saving.”
This is a truly foundational distinction and as we prepare to talk about God’s design for sex and marriage next week (and all the ways that our world has distorted it), the last thing in the world I want for our students is to feel overcome by shame and thereby misunderstand the Gospel. Jesus spent His time on earth eating and interacting with the most socially unacceptable sinners - tax collectors, prostitutes, and people that were labelled unclean. He makes his love, grace, and intentions crystal clear in Luke 5 by saying "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
If God and Scripture are the authoritative bedrock we are building on (and they are), then the cornerstone of this series must be the Gospel and a right understanding of our relationship to God. God, by the unthinkable sacrifice of Jesus, has removed our sins as far as the east is from the west. This does not remove the worldly consequences of sin, but it leaves no room whatsoever for the paralyzing shame that tends to grip us when we sin.
You can find the parent page for next week at this link, and I will continue praying for you and your students as we talk about God’s design for sex and marriage!
Have a wonderful week!