By: Beca Bruder
4 min. read
What is Sexual Discipleship?
Have you ever seen the words “sexual” and “discipleship” side-by-side? Discipleship is at the core of what it means to be Christian. It’s not what we do, but who we are – we are disciples of Christ. But as soon as you put “discipleship” next to “sexual,” it seems like a whole new concept. Our sexuality is not just a separate topic, detached from our spiritual life. Instead, it is an instrument that powerfully exposes the gospel. Sexual discipleship is the continued walking together of believers, pointing each other to gospel realities evidenced by our sexuality.
Juli Slattery, who coined the term, says, “Sexual Discipleship goes beyond sexual education. Biblical sexual discipleship paints a complete picture of sexuality as not simply something to avoid but a great gift to be treasured, celebrated, and reclaimed.”
To view salvation as something that excludes our bodies is to have an incomplete view of the gospel. The fact that Jesus made himself in “human likeness” and became the incarnate God is not just a footnote, but a necessary part of his divine plan. Jesus made our salvation possible because he became human. He has not only rescued our souls but our bodies also. And when we get to heaven, in our glorified bodies, we will finally experience union with Christ, a picture that our human sexuality powerfully paints.
The Righteous Man
Psalm 1 tells us a story, comparing the righteous with the wicked. The righteous man avoids sin and loves the Lord. Similarly, a sexually righteous man seeks to love the Lord and avoid sexual sin. This illustration from the Psalms shows us three meaningful characteristics present in sexual discipleship: It is relational, it is continuous, and it is gospel-focused.
“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers.” Psalm 1:1
The righteous man is not around the company of mockers, because he knows they will only tempt his heart to also mock the Lord. He doesn’t walk with them, stand with them, or sit with them. He recognizes the negative power that evil relationships have in his life. On the other hand, godly relationships build him up.
If you want to avoid sexual sin, avoid the wicked. If you want to promote sexual health, spend time with people who love Jesus and strive to honor Him with their lives. This isn’t to say that people who live out of a place of sexual purity never struggle. The reality is that in our flesh we are all sexually broken and all need to seek God’s wisdom to guide us. (Check out these verses for reference: Romans 3:11-12, Psalm 14:1, Psalm 53: 1-3.) But it is important to look for a few people who have been in this fight for sexual integrity longer than you who can help you walk in repentance.
“but whose delight is in the law of the Lord and who meditates on his law day and night” v. 2
We do not form a healthy sexual theology by meditating on it once a year, but by a continued and consistent effort to point our hearts to Christ. The only immutable source of sexual truth is the Bible, and it should have the utmost authority over other books and resources on sexuality. It is a mistake to seek this sort of information “once in a while” and think that it’s enough to change our hearts.
Learning how God wants to use our sexuality to bring him glory is not a one-and-done effort. It’s a life-long discipleship effort. It’s a work of constantly recognizing deceit in our hearts and ways in which the gospel has yet to take deeper root. The righteous meditate on God’s law day and night and understand that the path to righteousness demands a constant realignment of the heart.
“That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers.” v. 3
Psalm 1 is one of the many times the Bible compares the believer with a tree. A tree does not grow overnight but is deeply rooted and well-established. Its location by streams of water is essential.
Just like that tree, the righteous should establish roots in the true source of all life – the gospel. Sexual discipleship focuses on gospel truths. A mature believer who understands how Christ’s finished work affects their sexuality can grow to become a sturdy tree that yields its fruit in season.
Are you integrating what God says about sexuality along with other believers? Do you see your sexuality as a continuous, life-long journey? Are you focused on the gospel?
Commit today to walk in sexual discipleship – not just hearing about it sporadically, but daily practicing sexual health in community. Walk with Jesus and depend on his strength to honor and love him well in this area of your life.
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Beca Bruder is a follower of Christ, in a journey to learn to trust Jesus with all things at all cost. She holds a master’s in Public Policy and is most interested in Biblical sexuality and public theology. Beca is the happiest when she gets to read and write, host friends at her apartment, and bike the Mount Vernon Trail. She was born and raised in Brazil and now lives in Alexandria, VA.