Bottom line, we put our arms around this brother and challenged him to be a real man, God’s man, and honor Jesus and lead his girlfriend, and make this right. He prayed and asked God’s forgiveness for having sex outside of marriage. A burden was lifted from him. Together, we developed a plan for how they could move out from each other just for a few weeks until we could get them married. We laughed and hugged and this brother felt loved and incredibly relieved. Instead of being shamed, which was the leader’s fear, he had his shame removed.
Our small group immediately set up a wedding at our church. On short notice, the women in the group got the girlfriend a dress and everything else, and we found people at church to volunteer food and a cake. Their parents flew in from other parts of the country and everyone cried and celebrated. I had the honor of marrying this couple, and holding their precious baby in the ceremony. It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever been part of. I cannot tell you how honored and special this couple felt. God’s people had loved them by helping deliver them from the sin and guilt that entangled them, and bring them to purity and peace.
The sheer joy of that young couple floods my mind when I hear people talk as if they are taking the spiritual high ground by “not laying a guilt trip on Christians who are living together.” We can gently point out sin to each other without using a flame-thrower. God tells us to speak the truth in love, and if we are withholding the truth instead of speaking it, we are not being obedient or loving.
If you love someone who says they want to follow Jesus, you don’t ignore sin that is destroying their lives. You go to them humbly and prayerfully, and represent Jesus and help them fulfill their stated goal of honoring Christ as Lord. God calls us to bring love and grace and liberation to those whose sin is destroying them. Of course, exactly the same applies to other sins, including gossip and gluttony and slander and envy and sowing discord among brothers.