Dr. Patrick Carnes has studied sexual addiction since the early 80’s, authoring landmark works such as Out of the Shadows and Don’t Call It Love. When he speaks, people in his field listen. Currently Carnes is sounding an alarm: A sexual tsunami is coming!
When people first hear this, they remark, “Uh, I think it’s already here!” Not so. With young kids and teenagers downloading porn onto their phones, Carnes predicts the instances of sexual abuse and sexual addiction will quickly surge, swamping caregivers and befuddling the church.
Earthquakes and shifting tectonic plates far below the ocean surface cause tsunamis. These destructive waves are measured not so much by their height but by the destructive aftermath. In 2004, a tsunami in Southeast Asia was estimated to have taken 224,000 lives and wreaked $10 billion in damages. Seven years later, a tsunami slammed Japan, taking 18,000 lives and exacting $235 billion from that island nation.
Response time is critical. When an alarm is sounded, coastal cities have about five minutes to flee. As for international response, relief organizations are able to promptly pour out resources only because they have prepared far in advance.
Shouldn’t the local church prepare in advance for the coming sexual tsunami?
The first step in preparing for this tsunami is to change the atmosphere of the average local church. We desperately need to learn to talk about sexuality with the same beauty, balance and frankness with which the scriptures do. Yes, we need to be more biblical in our conversation.
Why? Because victims of abuse don’t feel safe bringing up their pain among churchy folks. Period.
And sexual addicts simply feel they will be shamed. Hence the appeal of recovery groups with their anonymity.
Any talk of sexuality within church walls usually bounces back and forth between “just say no” and soundbite theology regarding same-sex marriage. We really can do better!
Those of us who are pastors tend to think a good sermon on sexuality will solve the matter. Or maybe two sermons. But the people of God actually need to weave healthy references to sexuality into conversations, sermons, prayer times and Sunday school curriculum. The Bible addresses it in matter-of-fact fashion. We need to shed our shyness.
May I suggest that some of you who read these blog posts become a bit evangelistic about this matter? There are a number of good resources available, but would you consider giving my new book a try? Utilizing humor and real life stories, it is easy to read. Each chapter has discussion questions and there’s a DVD available with ten minute clips to kick off your discussion. (Click here for the publisher’s website.)
Into the Light could be used with a couples group, a women’s Bible study, or a college group. And with each new discussion, you are preparing your local fellowship for the coming tsunami which will soon be swamping the families of your congregations.