The God who redeems sexual brokenness
Sex is God’s idea. He created it when he put Adam and Eve in the garden and gave them the mandate to “be fruitful and multiply” and it was “good” (Genesis 1 & 2). But as with all things when Adam and Eve fell, sex was broken. Instead of it being a good thing, that draws us closer together with intimacy it can so often be used as a means to control others, to please self, or to somehow earn affection.
I am a man, a husband, a dad, a pastor and friend (I am really bad at all of these things). As a man, my life has been touched by the reality of sexual brokenness starting at an early age. As a friend I have both experienced and seen sexual brokenness in my friends. As a husband and a dad, I have failed. As a pastor I have helped women, children and husbands deal with the fall-out from the improper use of sex. I cannot tell you how painful it is to receive a phone call and to come to yet another broken situation.
And the question that I typically face from parents and in my own heart is, “Can God redeem our sexual brokenness”? Does God use people who have been addicted to pornography, raped, molested or just people who are proud because they are not like those sexually immoral people? And how do we convey this message faithfully to our kids without them going off the rails?
There is a story that has given me so much hope, it comes from Genesis 38. It is the story of Judah and Tamar and it is one of the saddest stories of sexual brokenness in the Bible. But, in this story we read about God’s love for women and how he uses sexually broken people to build his kingdom.
Here is the story: Judah has a son who is married to Tamar, before he can have a child the son dies (Gen. 38:1-5). Judah does what he should and gives Tamar to his second son, who was a cruel man and would not impregnate Tamar and keep his brother’s name going, so God strikes him down (v. 6-10). Judah then tells Tamar to wait for his youngest son to be old enough, because he was afraid that it was because of Tamar that his sons were dying (v. 11).
Judah’s wife died, and after he was done mourning he took a business trip. On that trip he saw a woman dressed as a prostitute and slept with her, but he didn’t have his wallet, so he could not pay her (v. 12-18). So, he gave her his ring and his chord and his staff, this would be like giving her his bank card without giving her the pin number. What Judah didn’t know was that this was Tamar, the daughter-in-law that he had neglected, and she got pregnant from this encounter.
A few months later as naturally happens people find out that Tamar is pregnant, and Judah calls for justice, saying she should be put to death. But, remember God breaks into the most desperately broken situations. Just before she is executed she produces Judah’s ring, chord and staff. She is vindicated and gives birth to Perez and Zerah.
Now, if you are like me, you are tempted to skip over this chapter in family worship but, think about this for a moment. This isn’t just a great gotcha chapter. It is so much more, because it is the story of how God redeems sexually broken people. How? Read this, “Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar…” (Matt. 1:2-3). Isn’t God amazing? He takes this terrible situation and put it right in the lineage of Christ, he doesn’t hide it but calls attention to it. The family secret that you think should be hidden is the very thing that God parades out in front of the whole world. This should inspire hope.
Parents, it can be so tough when your child struggles sexually, but the good news is that doesn’t mean that God is done with them! It doesn’t mean that they are useless, dirty, shameful or unfit for God’s kingdom. This is the hopeful message of the gospel. Jesus uses broken people to build a beautiful kingdom.
This is the message that our kids need to hear, not to give them a free pass, but to encourage them that when they fall, either in action, in the lust of their hearts (Matt. 5:27-30) or in the pride of thinking they have it all together (Lk. 18:9-14) God is pleased to redeem and restore us.
This does not mean that we don’t hold out the goodness of sex as God has intended it, we absolutely should. But it does mean that none of us is without sin, and that makes our God so much more beautiful and his ways so much more enticing. When we can show our kids that God’s love for them was won by the only person who has never been sexually broken, and they are safe in that love, then that gives them a place of security from which they can begin to try to live a life of love for their God and their neighbor.