The Poison of Law and Shame: Merciful Responses to Teens and Sexual Sin
If I have heard anything from sexual addiction expert, Tal Prince, it is that below sexual sin is usually mounds of shame, heaps of pressure to perform, and plenty of self-hatred. I am an advocate of a balance of law and grace, but in the arena of helping students bonded in sexual sin, I advocate an approach leaning heavily- almost exclusively- on grace and mercy.
I promise you that the problem with sexual sin amongst teens is not a lack of education. The boy or girl who accesses porn often and masturbates routinely feels like a shameful freak deep down inside. The girl who “goes too far” usually views herself as a whore, and the boy who sleeps around most often feels empty and hollow in his sober moments.
Sexual sin, especially for young people, naturally carries so much shame that offenders walk away hating themselves more than they hate the sin. Appealing to law (performance, fear, and guilt) only inflames the situation and probably increases the likelihood that students will fall deeper into sin. It heightens fear (which weakens their ability to resist) and elicits a performance-driven lifestyle (which led them down this road in the first place).
Responding with grace makes that critical delineation between hating the sin but loving and accepting one’s self through Christ. Perhaps more than in any other of ministry, kids need to hear that God “does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities” (Psalm 103:10). God hates sin, but He LOVES sinners. He adores porn addicts and masturbaters and guys with wandering eyes and girls with compromised standards. The message for kids: hate and run from your sexual sin but love and embrace the God who erases your sins through the Cross and regards them no more, the God who makes you lovable and delightful.