Living Shame-Free (By Jim Anderson)
By Jim Anderson
We need to start talking to a generation about sexuality instead of dancing around the issue and pretending nobody in the church has been affected by it.
When we do that hope comes and things change. When we deal with the issue in the church, we then have a message for the culture. We are called to have powerful, honest, life-changing stories of redemption and restoration proclaimed from a restored generation to their lost and broken peers. However, all too often, shame tends to silence our testimonies and nullify the work of the cross and the blood of Jesus in our lives. Instead of sharing testimonies of what God has done in our lives, we tend to offer shame-filled attempts to reach a lost generation in the form of an invitation to a church meeting. To coin a phrase, I call this the “Shame Management Relocation Program.” I am not discounting the practice of inviting people to church or a special meeting where they will possibly experience a divine encounter with the One who created them. However, shame often causes us to substitute an invitation to church for our testimony.
Let me give you an example of this. When we encounter daughters of a broken generation, we often invite them to change the location of their shame management practices instead of offering them release from their shame.
Our dialogue might sound like this, “Hi! God has changed my life, and I invite you to come to church and join me in managing your shame. We can give you a closet just like mine. You can paint the door white, put ribbons and flowers on the front, and put everything you don’t want anyone else to know about inside of it. We even have pink padlocks with which you can secure the door. We can also give you special scales on which you can balance the shame of your past with the good deeds you will now do. That will make up for the things of your past that never seem to go away. Come to church with me, and manage your shame like I do. No one will ever have to know anything about your sordid past.”
I don’t believe young women in bars, raves, sororities, dorms, high schools, or junior-highs want or need an invitation to manage their shame elsewhere. They are already working hard to manage and deal with their shame outside of the church. What they need is someone who can give them hope to be released from their sin and shame. That hope comes from those who have been set free themselves.
Freed ones can release their testimony by declaring, “I know the way out of hell. Let me tell you how I felt when I realized I was being used and lied to by the young man I gave myself to. Let me tell you my story about what it is like to have your dreams stolen away. Let me tell you about my guilt and loneliness, about the torment of losing my purity and feeling as though I can never get back what I lost, and about tormenting memories from negative, unfulfilling sexual experiences. Let me tell you how it felt to stay in a sex-centered relationship with someone I knew didn’t care about me just because I was afraid to be alone. Oh, let me also tell you about the God of Restoration who forgave all my sins and broke the power of my shame. He is the one who gave me the chance to be restored.” That kind of testimony has the potential to profoundly alter our attempts to reach a generation for God. The key to those types of testimonies is the breaking of shame off those currently bound by it, for a daughter will never reveal her past brokenness to someone else if shame is not broken off of her own life first. She will not want to reveal her past to anyone, especially to young men who are potential husbands.
The good news is that I am seeing God bring restoration to a generation trapped in shame. God is setting young people free from the shame of their sexual pasts. Instead of feeling marked forever by their sinful, sexual history, young men and women are now being freed to talk about their former lives in a redemptive manner. It is as if they are speaking about another person. In fact, it is the “old man” they are speaking about. Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come (1Corinthians 5:17).
Freed and restored young men can declare to their generation,
“Let me tell you what it feels like to have self respect for the first time in my life.”
“God has shown me what true manhood is all about. I’ve learned how to honor the women in my life instead of take advantage of them. I’m not trapped by pornography anymore. Let me tell you how I’ve been changed.”
Freed and restored daughters can stand up and say,
“I know the way out of hell.”
“Let me show you. Immorality was destroying my life. I have now found a place of healing and restoration. Let me tell you how I’ve been changed.”
When the church is willing to deal with the reality and consequences of the worship of the sex-gods in its own midst, it will then be positioned to be a voice and an influence in the culture."
Pastor jim anderson
Is the founder of SexualityUnmasked and has ministered the SexualityUnmasked message since 1990 in churches, discipleship schools, and conferences worldwide. As the silence on sexual issues in the church has been broken, countless people’s lives have been changed as they have been set free from the shame and guilt of sexual sin, sexual confusion, abuse, molestation, pornography, rape, and abortion. Once God’s people are set free, they are then equipped and ready to minister to a sexually broken world.