From The Desk of Darlene J. Harris – Sexual Issues and the Responsibility of the Church by Bishop F. Josephus Johnson, II

Greetings Everyone,

We started the year of with a wonderful article about The Challenges of Combating Domestic Violence in Nigeria by Sir Olusegun Lanre-Lyanda, Esq. We thank Sir Lanre-Lyanda for sharing the challenges that they face in Nigeria and how they are working through those challenges.

Our next article is from the book And He Restoreth My Soul and written by Bishop F. Josephus Johnson, II who is the Presiding Bishop of the Bethel Fellowship of Visionary Churches. Establishmentarian and Senior Pastor of The House of the Lord Church , in Akron , Ohio Author of God Is Greater than Family Mess and The Eight Ministries of the Holy Spirit. His article speaks to the leaders of the churches.  He tells of his own challenges he faced and the decisions he made for the sake of his congregation.  It is a message of encouragement and a call to action.

As always your comments are welcomed.

Darlene J. Harris serving at your pleasure.

Sexual Issues and the Responsibility of the Church

by Bishop F. Josephus Johnson, II

I don’t remember the first time I had to counsel someone in the area of human sexuality or sexual abuse, but I do remember some of the thoughts and feelings I had: “Should I be hearing the things that I am hearing?” “What am I getting myself into?” “I feel nervous.” “I feel sick.” “Am I prepared to handle this?” “How should I respond to this situation?” “How could someone do something like this?” “Does the Bible have anything to say about this?”

As you can probably tell, dealing with sexual issues is very difficult and emotionally draining work. Yet, somehow I wanted to help the people I pastor face every situation of life. As I walked away from some of my early counseling sessions dealing with sexual issues, I grappled with the church’s responsibility in this area and whether I was prepared and qualified to offer meaningful counseling.

I was coming into a developing awareness about the church that was to be a part of my paradigm for leading our church. The church seems to react to problems, situations, and crises long after the world has reacted. The world identifies a problem, responds to it, and moves on. At least that was my observation. It was only at the tail end of all of this activity that most churches would finally speak out, and by then the movement was usually over.

From my perspective, the church ought to be the first to speak out on human problems, situations, and crises. The church should do more than speak out, but that is the least it should do because it has the Word of God. So, why doesn’t the church speak out? The church generally speaks out through its pastors, and there were a number of reasons why I wasn’t speaking out:

1. I wasn’t fully aware of the problem.

2. The whole area of human sexuality seemed to be dangerous.

3. The whole area of human sexuality made me uncomfortable.

4. I had never been prepared to deal with such issues.

5. I didn’t know what the Bible had to say about issues of human sexuality.

Here’s how I responded to each reason I cited:

1. I wasn’t fully aware of the problem.
I wasn’t fully aware of the importance of human sexuality, so I began to study everything that I could get my hands on―from a biblical perspective―to become aware of the problems faced in that area. This not only increased my knowledge, but it increased my awareness. I became much more aware of the struggles that people have in the area of human sexuality. I became aware of the prolific problems of rape and sexual abuse.

2. The whole area of human sexuality seemed to be dangerous.
I became aware of the danger of counseling people in this area, particularly those of the opposite sex. Would we get into inappropriate areas of sharing? Would there be issues of transference between the counselee and myself? What would I be jeopardizing in these intense counseling situations? My reputation? My home? My church?

But I came to the conclusion that if this is where a great portion of society is hurting, then this is where I need to be. Jesus was always where the action was! Jesus is a compassionate Savior, who demonstrated great grace, compassion, and healing to the most wounded people in the most difficult of situations. If I wanted to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, I would need to get involved in helping some of the most wounded people in my community, in some of the most difficult situations.

3. The whole area of human sexuality made me uncomfortable.
The whole area of human sexuality made me uncomfortable, because of all the things that I have already mentioned. But it made me uncomfortable for an additional reason: I had not adequately dealt with my own sexuality. Our sexuality is very close to our person or personality, i.e., who we are, and we need to deal with and process our own experiences before we can be trusted to honorably deal with the sexual issues of others. So, I began to work through my own experiences, beliefs, attitudes, values, etc., in this private area of my life.

4. I had never been prepared to deal with such issues.
I had very little seminary training, but the seminary training I had, and was exposed to, did not prepare pastors to adequately respond to and deal with such issues. Seminary was basically teaching and training in hermeneutics and homiletics: how to interpret the text of the Bible and how to deliver sermons. There was very little training, if any, to deal with preparing adolescents to have a healthy, biblical view of sex; helping a young couple deal with their sexual differences; helping a couple in mid-life deal with their lost sexual intimacy; helping older couples deal with the impotence of one partner; helping someone deal with rape; helping someone deal with being abused by his/her father; etc.

So, I decided to prepare myself to deal with such situations. I educated myself through reading, seminars, retreats, and counseling experiences.

5. I didn’t know what the Bible had to say about issues of human sexuality.
I knew that the Bible spoke to every important human situation, but I had never studied what the Bible had to say about sex. So, I began to study this topic in the Bible. I was amazed to discover that the Bible has a great deal to say about human sexuality. God created it, and the Bible is His manual on how to use it profitably and the consequences of not using it according to the instructions.

In short, I have come to the conclusion that if anyone should be speaking out on issues of human sexuality, the pastor should and the church should. Why? Because we have an obligation to be salt and light to the world. We have been given God’s truth, and we should share God’s perspective on such important issues. Through this sharing, we will be able to bring healing and release to many.

Dealing in this area can expose one to risk, discomfort, intense pain, and emotional drain, but isn’t that exactly what Jesus faced on the cross that many might be saved!

Author: queendjh

Introducing Darlene Janice Harris "I do not want Christ's death to be found vain in me. Therefore, each step I take must count and be purposefully forged for someone's growth toward God's desire and His glory." Experience: Ministry Development, Public Speaking, Workshop Creation.