When I read the story about Jules Woodson of Texas and Andy Savage and what transpired between the two of them so many years ago, my heart sank.
Andy Savage was the one who had the courage to talk about sex, pornography, and how damaging they were to a marriage. Andy Savage was the one who preached the gospel into my heart when I was certain that I’d never be allowed to heal from all that I had done sexually in my teen years. When I was their age, I was actively engaged in sexual sin myself, (and though it was consensual) it most certainly still was sin. Certainly still had consequences. For me. And for the others. And for people I never thought it would affect, like my husband, and my family, and I’m sure their families as well.
The damages of those interactions have carried over to my young adult life, my single life, my now very married life. I had no idea how far reaching the consequences of my stupid choices would be back then, but let me tell you…..
There have been times I felt sure those very sins would crush me. I obviously don’t speak to those guys in my past now, but I’m certain that through my carelessness, my selfishness, my decisions to NOT LISTEN to what God has to say about sex have equally wounded them. I am not the only victim.
And so, it is with this admission- conscious that I too have sinned, and done terrible things- and though I’ve never forced myself upon another in a sexual way, (and I don’t pretend to know the pain and hurt that Jules has suffered from this encounter), I do want to speak of what the church’s response might be when sexual sin leaves victims in its wake. (because Church, any sexual expression outside the sacred covenant of marriage between one man and one woman is absolutely and irrevocably sin- and ANY SEX OUTSIDE OF MARRIAGE ALWAYS leaves victims…)
The church is a hospital meant for the sick. The sexually abused. The physically abused. The emotionally abused. The victim. The helpless, the poor, the outcast, the sojourner, the mentally deranged, the physically and emotionally ill. Here is the place that these people can lay all their abuses at the foot of the suffering Christ on the cross and say,
“here is a man who understands my pain. Here is a man who was betrayed by his friends, who was lied to, who was flogged and beaten, and who was physically tortured and brutally abused, a man who was mocked, and hung to die a cruel death on the cross. This man understands my loss, endured the same torture, and persevered through the cruelest and most despicable of events in all of human history. Here is a man who finally understands what I have been through.”
And the church is a hospital meant for sinners. Meant for sexual abusers, meant for rapists, murderers, the hypocrite, the liar, the perpetrator, the thief, the one who has taken something that was never theirs, the one who has caused pain, the greedy, the violent, and the torturer. It is the place that these people when sorry for their monstrous sins, can come to the foot of the cross of the bruised Savior and say
“My God! I deserve death for my sin! Separation for my sin! Punishment for my sin! But I confess it, and I’m sorry for all that I have done, and I want to be healed! I cannot understand why you would die for a wretch like me, but here you are! Here is a man who took my rightful punishment upon his own shoulders, a man who chose to die for the guilty, a man who accepted what was rightfully my chastisement to endure. A good man will die for his friends, but this man has died for me, his enemy. “
Let us church people not forget that it was each of our sins that nailed Jesus down on that cross. Let us church people remember that Jesus closest friends, in his very hour of sorrowful need, lay sleeping in a garden, while he poured his heart out to the Lord begging for mercy. Let us remember that it was church people who screamed, “he is deserving of death, CRUCIFY HIM!” Let us church people remember that it was the leaders of Israel who say “May the blood of Jesus be on our heads and on the heads of our children.”
Sin is what took us away from right relationship with our maker. Sin is what made the world go wrong. Sin is what brought violence, hurt, destruction, and death upon a good land. Sin is what permanently took away peace. And we are all guilty in some way or another. All of us have contributed to this.
And Jesus hanging on the cross at Calvary is what made it all right again. It was his death that brought the possibility of peace to the land. His blood which made our redemption possible. His perfect sacrifice which restored us again to our Father.
To Jules I say this- there is no hurt, no sexual abuse, no horrible thing from your past that can overcome the fabulous, wonderful, never-ending love that God your Father has for you. If you need a reminder- go to the cross. Lay in the dirt of Golgotha, and curl yourself up under the shadow of the cross- you will find justice & healing there. Jesus died for you.
To Andy Savage I say this- there is no sexual sin, no abuse, no mistake that you have made that cannot be blotted out by the fabulous, wonderful, never-ending love that God your Father has for you. If you need a reminder- go the cross. Put your knees down in front of the Almighty Christ and lay your heart open before the one who died for you. You will find mercy & forgiveness there. Jesus died for you.
To all those who have an opinion about this scandal, Look to the cross of Jesus. Let us remember our own sins and the mercy we found in Jesus. Let us look to the cross for all our needs- for they are all satisfied there.
Together, we can all find our peace there.
Satan will try to divide us, and render us completely incapable of witnessing about the blessed love of Jesus Christ, but our sins, our hypocrisy, our evils to one another- against one another and even against our Lord and Creator are nothing in light of the crucified Jesus.
Isaiah 53New International Version (NIV)
53 Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
4 Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression[a] and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.[b]
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the Lord makes[c] his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered,
he will see the light of life[d] and be satisfied[e];
by his knowledge[f] my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,[g]
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,[h]
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.
Thank you for this!
“There is no sexual sin, no abuse, no mistake that you have made that cannot be blotted out by the fabulous, wonderful, never-ending love that God your Father has for you.” Amen to that Shelby. Thank you for being so authentic through your writing.