Sexual Discipleship & Why The Church Needs It

By Sammie Gallo, Creator of Abundant Life: You Were Made for More

Have you ever heard the term “sexual discipleship?” 

The truth is, Christians are already being sexually discipled – by the world. Young women learn about sex from popular HBO and Netflix shows, social media, novels, and gossip among friends from a very, very young age. Young men (and women) are exposed to pornography at as young as eight years old. Sexual addictions and perversions are as present in the church as they are in our culture, but no one wants to speak up because of the shame or difficulty in approaching them from the pulpit.

There are thousands of people, sitting in pews every Sunday, trapped by the bondage of sexual sin, desperately wanting to get out but having no idea how or that God could get them there. We need to talk about sexuality not only from the pulpit, but in our homes, with our children, and in a way that is God-glorifying and points us back to the image of God and the Creator. 

We need vulnerability, healing, and accountability. 

Vulnerability is so important in any relationship. There is no healing where sin remains unconfessed, but I fear we have this old-fashioned way of approaching vulnerability. We can no longer just offer small groups for men struggling with pornography or lust – when we label individuals, especially in churches, according to their struggles, what we’re really doing is creating separation. In other words, we’re putting them in boxes labeled with their sin, and sometimes even treating them like their sin is somehow greater than greed, slander, or pride.

Vulnerability can only occur when we create a place more focused on Christ than on “being Christian”. If our churches are all about looking good and being good people, attracting others based on that appeal, no one will ever confess a struggle with any sin, let alone sexual sin. But when we focus on who Christ is and what He does for us TODAY – not just eternally – believers have a place to bring their darkest secrets. We must be a safe place for one another. We must bear one another’s burdens. We must stop comparing sins, refusing to pray for people we don’t know, and let the Spirit lead us to a place of holy vulnerability.

Vulnerability is the first step; healing is the second. The process is incomplete if we don’t have both, because frankly, sin is painful to expose, but by bringing darkness into light we instantly find the first breaths of freedom.

Healing won’t happen overnight. This is why sexual discipleship is not a one time confession, or even a weekly accountability group. Discipleship is a constant forward motion into the heart of God. It requires work. It is labor. We need to offer this place of healing – a place of labor – for people in our Church’s struggling with sexual sin. 

My intention is not to make you feel like you’re doing anything wrong if you are in an accountability group, but rather, shift the focus from rehearsing the week’s failures to following Jesus into victory. The wrong group dynamic will not promote vulnerability, but hinder it. 

Accountability is a checkpoint for progress, and a necessary part of discipleship, but discipleship groups must focus on the nature of their walks with God. Because if we’re honest, our sexual sin isn’t the problem. The problem is idolatry. The problem is spiritual, and until believers love Jesus more than they love sin, they will continue to fall into the same patterns of sinful behavior.

That’s why the heart of sexual discipleship is – Jesus. Without Him, the cycle of defeat and despair will continue for generations. We will continue to see marriages dissolve, boys objectify women, women objectify themselves, and pornography addictions continue in the church until we offer a viable alternative. That alternative is the same one these believers have always had, but they need someone to walk this path with them. May we be the type of people who walk this path with them. 

Sammie graduated from Robert Morris University in 2017 with a background in biology and psychology and started working with Anglicans for Life (AFL) shortly after. In addition to her work with AFL, she spends time pouring into high school students in her community and is a full-time nursing student, hoping to work in the labor and delivery unit upon her graduation in December 2022.

Sammie married her best friend, Juan Gallo, in May 2019. During her free time, she cares for their sweet baby girl, Ofelia, who joined their family in August 2020.

Sammie spends her day-to-day making sure that every person hears and believes the words: “you were made for more.” You can follow Sammie on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter! She’d love to get to know you!