We don’t live in a puritan world with Victorian social mores. It seems, though, that many pastors have yet to come to grips with this. You grew up in a context of strong Bible teaching and enforced morality. You were taught that sex before marriage was wrong. You were taught to believe that sex was an unthinkable act until that ecstatic wedding night, a sin fraught with guilt and shame. So was I. I didn’t listen.
I am one of the 80% of young evangelicals who had sex before marriage. But pastor, it’s not just us. In your congregation are numerous people who have commited adultery. There are hundreds of porn addicts and fantasizers of both genders. We are not a sexually pure people. So please don’t preach like we’re riding on your high horse with you (whether or not you mean to be up there).
The Bible is clear about sex and it’s place in marriage, and it is your job to preach it. But when you stand up there and preach like “we all know fornication is evil” it shames us. When you lay low the adulterers with your scorn it shames them. And are you even thinking of those who became sexually active by force through rape or molestation? How low must they feel when you speak of the “loss of purity” like it’s a candle that was blown out?
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God’s standard for everyone is holiness, and not one of us can attain it without grace. Not me, not you, not anyone. Pastor, you are speaking to the stained. When you speak down at sexual sin you shine a spot light on part of life we are ashamed of, you open up old wounds. You must speak God’s truth about obedience and holiness — please do! — but please do so with a message that is not just seasoned with grace but made up of it.
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