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hope for churches in stress


Though not yet cited by the Center for Disease Control, Americans are exposed, day after day, to the toxic infection of sexual excess.

In this sensual culture, all of us contend with the pervasive and pathological message that immodesty, immorality, and impurity are normal and acceptable—in a word, with the scourge of sensualitis.

According to the apostle Paul, we can resist the false messages of sensualitis. However, we must make at least three radical choices.

The first courageous choice is to understand what the Lord wants (Ephesians 5:17). When bombarded by the skewed thinking of sensualitis, we are not to be confused, misled, or deceived. Instead, we must clearly understand what God wants: either a pure, single life or a faithful marriage between a man and a woman (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 18-20; Ephesians 5:3; Hebrews 13:4).

This is the biblical standard which the Church has preached and taught in every tradition—Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant—for 2000 years. God’s Word has not changed. The standard still holds, and will for all time, despite the inroads of sensualitis.

A second essential choice is to live in the light (Ephesians 5:8-14). Just like mushrooms grow in the dark, immorality and impurity thrive in darkness. The best defense is to live in the light!

One practical step is to assert control over our electronic devices. We can place filters on our devices. We can carefully select settings on streaming shows. We can link our devices within the household so that everyone knows what everyone else is seeing.

Another safeguard is to find persons with whom we can be completely honest. When we are encountering temptation, or have fallen into sin, we tell them. The best cure for the infection of sensualitis is prompt, open, disclosure (2 Samuel 12:13; Psalm 51).

A third radical choice is to be careful how we live (Ephesians 5:15-21). When we are careful how we live, overall; when we are wise in all areas of our life; when the whole of our life is in reasonably good, working order, we are protected from sensualitis.

By our day-to-day choices, we can be careful how we live in marriage, by active and joyful intimacy; in single life, by devoted service to Jesus and others; in vocation, by productive work; in retirement, by meaningful service; in relationships, by wholesome friendships; and in perspective, by adequate rest and recreation. All of these, together, protect us from the lure of lust and impurity.

This high standard of morality is fully possible. Jesus suffered, died, and rose again so that we can be saved, forgiven, and transformed. When we are willing to make radical choices, we can live and thrive for Jesus, even in a culture saturated by sensualitis.

Colds and other ailments are common in winter. To the extent we can, we take precautions against them. Even so, we usually manage to “catch” something. There are spiritual ailments to which we are susceptible any time of year. Whether we are afflicted by Affluenza, Drift, Grumps, Lite-headedness, or Sensualitis, God has provided a remedy for every spiritual malady.

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