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Leadership 1996



Preaching Morality in an Amoral Age

I was in the midst of a series on the Seven Deadly Sins, and today it was time to talk about Lust. This is a difficult subject for any pastor, but preaching in the middle of Manhattan, to a group composed roughly equally of non-Christians, new Christians, and renewing Christians, poses an even greater problem.

Although we meet in a large auditorium, certain faces were easy to pick out. There was Phoebe, whose red-rimmed eyes still bore testimony to her week of crying. Her boyfriend had broken up with her when he discovered she had been sleeping with another man and another woman, in a menage a trois. She told me, "But what we have is so beautiful. How can it be wrong?"

Laurel's face was a complete contrast—a new Christian, she was eager as a puppy dog. This week she and her husband had brought her former lesbian lover and the woman's current partner to church, promising, "It's really different—you'll see!"

Further back was Fred. He had been brought up attending church and Christian schools, but he moved to New York to get away from family and friends. "I couldn't breathe with all their rules and expectations about how I should live, who I should date, whether I could go to an R-rated movie or not. I had to get away somewhere where no one knew me and I could live however I wanted." Fred's freedom hadn't turned out as well as he had hoped, however, and now he was depressed and angry.

They had all been in my office that week, and now their eyes were turned expectantly toward me. What could I say that would be helpful, compassionate, and, above all, faithful to the Word of God?


The contemporary preacher of orthodox Christianity faces an unprecedented dilemma. Despite what you would think from ...

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