Handout / Small Group Questions:
I need you to do a little, mental legwork this morning and recall the last few sermons, because, in truth, they along with today’s is really altogether one sermon. Part of me longs for the days when preachers would be expected to preach for more than an hour at a time, and then got another crack at the topic during the evening service. But, sadly, those days are gone and I’m not a good enough speaker to hold your attention for that long anyway – so we make due.
It’s been a challenge for me to address the beginning of 1 Corinthians 5, and the topic of human sexuality, in a comprehensive manner, because I felt we needed a good introduction to the topic before jumping in. However, leaving weeks in between sermons has its disadvantages in that it’s easy to forget what was already said.
A couple weeks ago I gave the introduction to the sermon as I spoke on Jesus’ response to the Woman Caught in Adultery and the importance of remembering that Jesus amazingly gracious and loving toward those who have broken His law, even with repeated instances of sexual sin. Last week I gave the middle of the sermon as I moved from the forgiveness found in Jesus to the reminder that even though God is gracious, He does have a standard by which He expects humanity to live. Jesus didn’t come to let anyone do whatever they want as long as no one gets hurt, but to save us from our sins and help us live His way instead. We ended last week by making a transition from the introduction to the main topic by talking about the Greek word PORNEIA, the “junk drawer” word used to describe all forms of sexual sin that fall outside of God’s design for humanity.
And now, building off of all that, we move into a bit more meat on the topic, building a theology of human sexuality, based on what God expects of us. It would be easier (and more fun) for me to go on a diatribe against all the ways we get this wrong but that would be forgetting what I said at first; we need to know the authentic article before we can understand the counterfeit. So that’s what I want to do today. Look at the biblical view of human sexuality.
The Big Deal of Sexual Sin
So, why is sexual sin such a big deal? Is it because it’s so damaging and destructive to humanity? Is it the danger of addiction, disease or ruined relationships? Is it because the church is prudish and hates it when people have fun? You’ve probably heard that sexual sin is just like any other sin, that it’s no worse than any other, so why should we spend so much time talking about it… but actually, sexual sin does have a special category in scripture.
Let’s read 1 Corinthians 6:18, “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.”
That puts sexual sin into a different category. But why, what makes sexual sin so special?
It comes down to God’s original design for humanity, and the huge importance of marriage in the Bible – the physical union of two people that represents a spiritual union, which in turn, represents a picture of Jesus’ relationship to His church. That’s a big concept, isn’t it?
Let’s take it apart.
We’ll start with the context of the verse we just read. Start at verse 13:
“The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, ‘The two will become one flesh.’ But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
A Mystical Union
First, I want you to notice the interplay between the physical and the spiritual nature of sex. In verse 1 we see “The body”, which is physical. When the Lord saves us, it’s not just a spiritual salvation, but a renewal of our whole being – emotional, spiritual and physical. He saves our heart, soul, mind and strength. Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection demonstrated that after we die, we won’t live in eternity as spiritual beings, but with resurrected, perfect, physical bodies like Jesus had. Therefore, when we get saved we don’t merely turn our hearts over to the Lordship of Jesus, but our bodies as well.
But then it goes deeper in verse 15 and moves from the physical to the spiritual. Our physical bodies, which it says later are similar to the physical “temple of the Holy Spirit”, are also connected spiritually to Jesus. Our bodies are “members of Christ”. Elsewhere, as in Ephesians 4, 1 Corinthians 12, and Romans 12, Christians are called the “Body of Christ”, basically meaning we are, as individuals and as a church, the eyes, hands, and feet of Jesus in this world. We are, in a real sense, the physical manifestation of the Word of God in this world. Most often, when God wants to do something, He doesn’t do it with a mighty miracle but instead works through the people of His church. It’s just as miraculous, but far more subtle. To be “members of Christ” means we are both spiritually and physically united with Jesus in a very real, very intimate way.
And so, it says, how horrible it would be, how out of place, how ruinous, that someone who’s body is united to Jesus, would unite their body with a prostitute’s? “Never!” Paul shouts!
Two Become One
In verse 16 the argument is made against sexual sin this way: “Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, ‘The two will become one flesh.’ But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.” Our worship of God, the Lordship of Christ, His relationship to the church, and our salvation is all tied to the picture of human marriage and sexuality. You’ll notice that the words “The two will become one flesh” is written is quotes. That’s because it’s a quote from Genesis 2:24. Let’s read the whole of the context there:
“Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’ Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” (Gen 2:18-25)
This is the first marriage and is the perfect picture of how humanity was intended to exist. Man was created by God and designed to be incomplete without woman. Adam stood in the perfection of creation, in the presence of God, and was incomplete. God showed Adam every animal He had created, lions, bears, dogs, cats, and among them none were found that were a proper helper. And after that great parade, Adam knew it too. I wonder if he, standing in Eden, had then felt a sense of lack; that something was missing.
And so God made for Adam a complement, a helper, a being who would be his equal in dignity and worth. Not another animal, but one like Him – but not exactly like him. Not a copy, but a partner, a companion. Notice how God phrases it, “I will make helper fit for him.” The word “helper” does not imply weaker or stronger. And “fit for him”, doesn’t mean “like him”, but “matching him”, like to opposing puzzle pieces. God didn’t make a clone, but a compliment.
In chapter 1:27 it says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” It required both man and woman to represent God’s image. It even uses the words “male” and “female” not “man” and “woman”, to express the importance of the difference found in both genders.
They, together, as a complimenting pair, would be united spiritually to God and spiritually to one another. And in their sexual union before God, one “fitting” the other, would be the pattern for all human sexual relationships, taking them from two separate beings and creating “one flesh”. From that point on, as physical and spiritual images of God, humans were to grow up, leave their parents, bind themselves to a spouse, and form an exclusive, covenanted, sexual union.
God as Husband, Church as Bride
Let’s take a moment to explore theme that because it’s important. The picture of marriage in scripture is always an exclusive covenant. Why? Because it’s an image of God’s relationship with us.
All through scripture, God’s relationship with His people is framed as the image of a husband and wife. God and Jesus are both represented as husbands and believers as the bride. It’s one of the most important ways that God has given us to understand his relationship with us – which is why, when people start messing with marriage, human sexuality, or gender, it is such a huge problem!
Marriage isn’t something humans came up with to express their love for one another. It’s not a cultural creation meant to celebrate mutual affection and legally unite two people’s finances and tax situation. Marriage was given to us by God as one of the main images by which we would understand how He feels about us, deals with us, and commits to us.
Check out how God speaks to His people in these passages:
- “For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name…” (Isa 54:5)
- “…as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.” (Isa 62:5),
- “I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy.” (Hos 2:19)
- Jesus calls himself a “bridegroom” multiple times (Matthew 9:15; 22:25; John 3:29), and at the very end of the Bible, when Jesus comes again, it says there will be the great “marriage supper of the Lamb” where God presides over a grand wedding and the bride of Christ (the church) presents herself in clothes of “fine linen, bright and pure”. (Revelation 19:6-9)
The love a man has for His wife is only a pale imitation of God’s love for His people. The protective emotions he feels for her, the concern he has for losing her, the betrayal he feels when she cheats on him, the pain he feels when she suffers, the desire to make her life better, to provide for her, to encourage her, to please her, to see her smile, the jealousy he feels, wanting her all to himself; these powerful, overwhelming, primal feelings, are all merely tiny glimpses of how God feels about His people, how Jesus feels about the church.
This is most profoundly pictured in the Old Testament book of Hosea where God calls the prophet to do something very difficult to show the nation what He’s going through. It says in Hosea 1:2,
“When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, ‘Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.’”
In other words, Hosea’s marriage was to be an image of God and His people.
Hosea goes and finds a prostitute named Gomer, takes her off the streets, marries her, and has three children with her. But, as predicted, Hosea’s wife cheats on him. She runs away, sells herself into prostitution again, and Hosea is forced to buy her back from her slave owner. After buying her back, he begs her to stay, “You must dwell as mine for many days. You shall not play the whore, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you.”
The narrative story is interspersed among prophecies from God, showing His anger, pain, frustration, sadness… but also His desire to get His bride back at any cost! He declares that he has the right to divorce her, to write her off, forget about her and find a new bride, but He refuses to do that because they are married and He loves her! Yes, there would be a cost, and the bride would go through much suffering before it was over, but in the end there would be reconciliation and restoration! Not because she deserved it – far from – but because of the husband’s commitment to the marriage and the great love He has for her. He would do anything to win her back.
My favourite part of the book comes in Hosea 2:13-16. Let me read it to you.
“…I will punish her for the feast days of the Baals when she burned offerings to them and adorned herself with her ring and jewelry, and went after her lovers and forgot me, declares the LORD. Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt. And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’…”
There’s no one that can tear the heart out of someone chest like your spouse. The image of marriage here is one where not only does the wife cheat on him, but runs off for no reason and gives herself to man after man, wandering the streets in the most shameless and erotic clothes, partying with every disgusting, deplorable, degenerate man she could find, until she is ruinous to the point where she’s even forgotten her husband’s name. She gets herself in such trouble that she ends up like the prodigal son, except instead, she sells herself as a sexual slave.
And what is the husband’s response? To buy her back at whatever cost so she can be free from danger. And then, amazingly, to “allure her” meaning to re-seduce her, to win her back with romance so she will love Him again! To “speak kindly to her”, literally “speak to her heart”. To give her back her vineyards, and to make her “Valley of Achor”, which means “valley of trouble” into a such a distant memory that she sees it as the “door of hope”. He’s going to show her so much love that it will be like when they were newlyweds!
Why would He do this? Is He a sucker for punishment? Is He in some kind of weird, abusive, co-dependent relationship with humanity that He needs us in order to feel good, no matter how bad we treat Him? Sure, He loves us, but is that the only reason?
No. He does it because He has promised to. He made a covenant with us. He is in an exclusive, covenant, promised, marriage bond with His people, and He will never leave them, divorce them, forsake them, or abandon them. He loved us so much He was willing to trade His Son for us – His adulterous bride. But not only out of love. He redeemed us from slavery by the blood of Jesus because He promised He would always be there for His bride.
A Spiritual Picture
This is why the sacredness of marriage and human sexuality is so important to believers, and why corrupting it is such a big deal. Man and woman, male and female, in the holy, exclusive, covenant bond of marriage, show the image of God and paint a portrait of Jesus’ relationship to the church. It’s a very, very important illustration that God has given us.
When society messes with that image, it messes up the narrative of all that God is trying to teach us through it. God set it up the way He wanted and then made natural and scriptural laws to ensure it remained a strong image for humanity to look at for all time. This is why Christian theologians often argue that there is no such thing as same-sex marriage, polygamous or polyandrous marriage, group marriage, bigamous marriage, open marriage, or whatever else people come up with… because by definition a “marriage” is literally the “union of a man and woman for life”. It can’t be anything else because nothing else fits the description or image God created.
It is our sinful nature to try to improve upon, change, or personalize what God has already settled. We want to make ourselves the special case. We think our feelings, opinions, desires, emotions, or preclusions give us the right to negotiate different versions of what God has set up.
- “My marriage isn’t working out and I have feelings for another person, therefore I have the right to follow my feelings and marry someone else. I can’t be held accountable for how I feel.”
- “My spouse isn’t fulfilling my sexual desires, therefore I have the right to have them satisfied a different way. It’s their fault for not doing it, and God’s fault for not taking away these feelings.”
- “I have a strong biological urge to have sex, therefore I must follow through on that urge, regardless of who it is with. It’s not my fault I have these urges.”
Our feelings have very little to do with it because human sexuality is much bigger than our opinions or urges. God has given the gift of sex to be used one, singular way, because that is the way that gives Him the most glory, teaches us the most about Him, and helps us understand the way of salvation through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Messing with God’s plan for marriage and sex messes with God’s image and with the Gospel!
Handout / Small Group Questions:
Before we get into our discussion of 1 Corinthians 5 next week, it’s very important that we look back to the context.
Remember the Context
The Apostles Paul is writing to a church he had planted in the Greek city of Corinth about three years prior to writing this letter.
Corinth was one of the bigger, more important cities of its day and was full to the brim with trade, politics, money, and religion. When you think of Corinth, think of it as an amalgamation of a twenty-first century inner city like downtown Ottawa and all the worst parts of the internet come to life. It was overcrowded, materialistic, urban, and bursting with world class intellects, upper-class professionals, and poor, uneducated street people.
One big difference between inner city Ottawa and Corinth was that Corinth was incredibly religious. They had as many places of worship as Ottawa has coffee shops. Because it was such a strong commercial and political centre, they attracted people from everywhere, many who were only there for a few nights to do business and have fun. So they had temples to the gods of Egypt, Rome, Greece, and even a Jewish Synagogue.
Modern Canadian cities have a lot in common with ancient city of Corinth. They were modern, liberal, commercial, self-indulgent, and morally decadent – and they had one overriding obsession: sex. It was such a part of the culture that the term “Corinthian Girl” became shorthand for prostitute. If you met someone who was a sexually out of control, you would say they were “living like a Corinthian”. No other city came even close to having this kind of reputation. To walk down the streets of Corinth or worship in their temples was to experience the most explicitly pornographic parts of the internet come to life.
Paul planted a church there and pastored them for about a year and a half before leaving to plant churches in different cities. While he was gone, the corruption of the city started to creep in, and a whole lot of bad things started to happen in this church. Some of the Christians were worried, so they sent a delegation of people to find Paul (who was then in Ephesus) to tell him what was going on and get some help. Around the same time this official delegation found Paul, it seems that an unofficial group was sent on behalf of a person named “Chloe” (1 Cor 1:11) who had concerns of her own. On top of that, it seems that Paul was already getting news from other people who had been through Corinth, visited the church, and were telling him all manner of unsettling things.
Paul presumably prayed about the situation and realized he couldn’t go to Corinth right away so God inspired him to write a letter to them, but he doesn’t start with laying down accusations and correcting their behaviour. Instead, he starts by preaching the gospel to them again.
For us it’s kind of a weird reaction. Imagine you left on a missions trip somewhere and left the kids at home, only to start getting reports that your kids had invited the Hell’s Angels for dinner where they ate the family cat, your daughter had married your uncle, were filming adult movies in your bedroom, had joined a cult, and burnt down half the house. How do you think you would have started a letter to them? Would it start with , “To my kids who have been cleaned up by Jesus, saints of God, I give thanks to my God always for you!”
That’s how Paul started! Why? Because he knew that God’s plan for that church wasn’t merely to changing their behaviour, but to rescue their souls. The issue wasn’t just what they were doing wrong, but that the sin they had allowed to take over their hearts and their church was destroying them, which meant they had forgotten about Jesus.
Remember the Gospel
So the letter begins by reminding them that even though they are messing up, they are still saved, because Jesus loves them and they believe in Jesus. Their behaviour, though dangerous, deplorable and disappointing, hasn’t disqualified them from heaven. It is not they who have to hold on to Jesus, but Jesus who is holding on to them, even as they try to slither away.
He’s disappointed that there are such terrible divisions among them, but not only because it hurts them and reflects badly upon God, but because it demonstrates such a lack of understanding and appreciation for the grace and love that Jesus has shown them.
He says in 1:26-31:
“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’”
He doesn’t jump into correcting all of their theological errors and ways they have messed up their worship service, but instead begins by reminding of the true, pure, and powerful message of the gospel that they had experienced and believed.
He says in 2:2-5:
“I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”
The main thrust of the first chapters is to bring them back to the love, grace, and power they had experienced when they first believed. He’s not calling them back to a proper doctrine or religious practice, but back to the One, true Saviour, Jesus Christ.
He reminds them that even though they were a totally messed up, sinful, wretched group of people who not only didn’t know Jesus, but couldn’t care less about Him, Paul was sent to them anyway so they might hear the message of salvation. But more than this… that God had worked a miracle in their hearts so they could actually hear the message in the first place.
In 2:14 he says:“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” He’s reminding them from where they
“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”
He’s reminding them from where they came, and forcing them to remember that it wasn’t they who had chosen to worship God, but Jesus who had chosen them to be saved.
Over and over he reminds them what they believed at first. He doesn’t start with accusation, but with the gospel.
If I could summarize the first part of the letter, I’d say it this way: “My dear children, I love you. I thank God for you. Why? Because I’ve seen God in you. You are a miracle. You, in the most messed up, pagan,
“My dear children, I love you. I thank God for you. Why? Because I’ve seen God in you. You are a miracle. You, in the most messed up, pagan, sinful city I’ve ever seen, are part of my spiritual family because of Jesus. He loved you when you were lost. He sent me to tell about forgiveness, and changed your hearts so you could hear Him. And He still loves you. Why have you forgotten this? Why did you change the message you received? Why have you mixed lies with the truth? Why are you seeking sinful pleasure instead of the joy of the Lord? Why are you fighting about who is greater, when you should know that we are all just wretches saved by Jesus? I love you guys, and Jesus loves you too. I had to leave you for a little while, but Jesus is still with you. I’m very disappointed God’s love has left you so quickly. But I’m going to come back to you and help you as soon as I can.” This is a love letter!
This is a love letter!
What the Gospel Isn’t
This is the most important thing we need to remember before we get into the next sections of the letter. From this point on Paul is going to be very specific about the kinds of sins that have messed up these people, but we cannot forget that it is all built upon the foundation of the Gospel.
This is something too many of us get terribly wrong. We jump straight to accusing sinners and trying to fix people’s behaviour without starting with the gospel. We see people doing things that go against the Bible and are disappointed, angry, frightened, or disgusted, and we immediately want them to stop their behaviour – as though that’s somehow going to fix their deepest issues, bring light to their heart and restore them to God.
We tell our children that swearing is bad, cheating is bad, gambling is bad, unkind words are bad, stealing is bad, premarital sex is bad – and we try to get them to stop.
We watch people in our nation doing bad things – murder, rape, fraud, theft, kidnapping, and all kinds of messed up sexual sin – and we want the police and government to get them to stop.
We watch the news about terrible things happening in the world – starvation, child labour, human trafficking, oppression of women, political corruption, evil dictators, nuclear armament, economic disaster – and we want the other nations to rise up and make it stop.
We look inside ourselves and see all kinds of things we want to change – bad thoughts, bad habits, anger issues, pride, anxiety, sadness – and we want someone to do something that will make it stop.
But is stopping bad things the whole of the gospel? When Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” did He simply mean that he’d make everyone stop doing bad things? No. Is the mission of the church to declare all the bad things that people do and tell them to stop doing them? Is the gift of the Holy Spirt inside of us simply there to be a warning beacon that tells us when we’re doing wrong? Is that the whole of the Gospel? Is that what a relationship with God is for?
No. Then why do we so often imply that it is?
Our usual Christian message is that you shouldn’t do bad things because God doesn’t like it when we do bad things. Only bad people do bad things and God doesn’t like bad people. Sinners are God’s enemies and you don’t want to be an enemy of God, do you? Therefore you should ask forgiveness of all the bad things you’ve done, stop doing bad things, and ask for God to help you never do anything bad ever again. So come to our church where we all work hard not to do or think bad things, make each other feel bad when we do or think bad things, and share the good news that Jesus helps us not do bad things.
If that’s the message we tell others, then it’s no wonder no one wants it. If that’s the message you believe, then it’s no wonder you have a hard time worshipping Jesus. If that’s the message you grew up with – to worry at all times about what you say, do, or think, because God doesn’t like it – then it’s no wonder you have a hard time praying to Him as your Loving Father? If that’s how you read the Bible – as a list of things you’re not allowed to do – then it’s no wonder that you avoid reading it. If all you see of your spiritual life is that there’s always another sin, another temptation, another habit, another dark spot on your heart – then you will always feel guilty and bad, never forgiven, saved, and free.
The Gospel is Joy
That’s not the gospel. That’s a sliver of the gospel that is presented by people who misunderstand it, and by the devil who wants you to resent God, hate the church, and feel terrible all the time.
The gospel is joy! Turn to John 1. When the Gospel of John introduces Jesus it says,
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:1-5)
Another translation says, “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness can never extinguish it.” (NLT) That’s the gospel. Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12) No matter how dark things are, no matter how much sin there is, how bad we think it is, the darkness can never overcome Jesus. Keep reading in John 1:9:
“The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.… 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
The Law of Moses given to the Jews only had the power to condemn humanity because no one could follow the law perfectly. It showed us how far we are from God’s will, how badly sin had corrupted us. No one who heard even the 10 Commandments could walk away without knowing they stood condemned. The Law gave one solution to the problem of sin: death (Rom 6:23) Either the sinner dies and faces God’s wrath themselves, or God accepts the death of another as a substitute. Hebrews says, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” (Heb 9:22) For a long time that substitute was an animal – a bull or goat – but that was never enough to satisfy God’s wrath, so more and more had to die. An animal’s blood couldn’t fully atone for the sins of a nation of humans, let alone the world!
But everyone who read the Old Testament Law and Prophets knew something greater was coming.
- When Adam and Eve sinned, God promised that one would come through Eve who would crush the serpent once and for all. (Gen 3:15).
- When God called old Abram and Sarai out of their pagan land to follow Him, He promised that from them would come one who would bless all the nations.
- When God delivered Israel from their slavery to Egypt, He had them spill the blood of a lamb so the death would pass over them – Jesus would be the final Passover lamb.
- Isaiah spoke of One who would bear the grief of sinners, carry their sorrows, be stricken and smitten by God, pierced for their transgressions, crushed for their iniquities, who would bring healing to others by the wounds afflicted to Him. One upon whom the Lord would lay upon the iniquity of all (Isa 53:1-6).
The light of man would come and face utter darkness, sin and death, take the full weight of God’s wrath, conquer sin once and for all, and offer Himself in exchange for others.
The Woman Caught in Adultery
Jesus didn’t shy away from us because we were sinners. He didn’t come and simply tell us to stop sinning, and that’s not the message we are to give to others. Certainly, He called for repentance, but that wasn’t his core mission. Let’s read John 8:1-11:
“Early in the morning he [Jesus] came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, ‘Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?’ This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, ‘Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.’ And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.’”
Herein we see how Jesus sees people who are in sexual sin. This isn’t about one woman who lived a long time ago. This is how Jesus sees adulterers, pornography makers and users, prostitutes, homosexuals, people who have sex outside of marriage, those with perverted hearts and minds, anyone who doesn’t line up with God’s perfect standards of human sexuality – which is everyone. This is how Jesus treats them. Remember, she didn’t come to him, but was dragged before Jesus. We see no repentance from her; only guilt, shame and fear.
Who could have thrown the first stone? Jesus. But He didn’t.
This isn’t the only place Jesus does something like this. He looks at the woman at the well, who has had a tonne of messed up relationships and shows her love and turns her into a missionary. He looks at Zacchaeus, a sinner and maybe the most hated man in town, and invites himself over for a party to meet his messed up friends.
In Luke 15:1-2 we can see the magnetic pull the love of Jesus had on sinners:
“Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them.’”
Hearing this Jesus then tells the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son, sharing how much God loves pursuing sinners and how much He rejoices when they come back to Him!
Next week we are going to talk about sexual sin, which is a very big deal in scripture. It tears apart souls, marriages, families, cities and nations. Sexual sin has corrupted every part of our society. It is not too much of an overstatement to say that we live in modern day Corinth. And none of us are right with God in this. Every person who has hit puberty, and some who haven’t yet, are guilty of committing sexual sin.
But when you hear this, or when you are faced with it in your life or in the lives of others, I beg you to see it in the light of the Gospel. And when you feel the conviction of sin, or see sinners around out, know that Jesus doesn’t hate you or them. He’s not disappointed in you or angry with you. He isn’t surprised by what you’ve done, nor is he repulsed. That’s not the message of His gospel.
John 3:16-17 says,
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
He looks at us who have committed sexual sins, or sins of any kind, and He does what He did for the woman caught in adultery. She stood there, caught in the act, blushing, terrified, perhaps barely holding her clothes around her, feeling more guilty and scared than she ever had in her whole life. There was no doubt she had sinned, no question of her guilt, there was no question of what the law said must happen – she must die – and no one in the entire world could make her innocent – except One.
The accusers surrounded Jesus, demanded her blood, her death, her public shame to be seen by all, and he silenced them by pointing out their sin, their hypocrisy, their own guilt and shame, until the only one that was left to accuse her was Jesus, the only one who had never sinned.
And He stood up and looked at her. She was alone before the God of the universe, the judge of all mankind who knew that she wasn’t just an adulterer, but knew every other sin she had ever committed too. He looked into her eyes, but saw not only the sin, he saw the woman, the girl, the baby God had formed in her mother’s womb. His heart, full of compassion and love for her, released her from her guilt, and told her to sin no more knowing fully well she would.
And God the Father took that sin, written on His divine ledger, the list of things that would be held against her after death, and he erased it – and then wrote it on the list of sins that would be held against Jesus, His Only Son. God the Father would punish Jesus the Son for her sin of adultery. He would take the accusations, shame, beatings, death, and divine wrath so she wouldn’t have to.
That’s why He could send her away without casting the stone. It would disobey God’s Law not to hold her to account. But, there was one way she wouldn’t have to die – if someone took that punishment for her. Payment must be made. Blood must be spilt. And He would spill His. That’s why He came. No to condemn sinners, but to save them.
That’s the gospel. That’s why we sing. That’s the joy. That’s our hope. That’s where we find peace. That’s the source of our love and forgiveness. That’s what we preach and teach and share, and what Paul was so concerned that the Corinthians would remember, because they had lost their joy, hope and love, because they had lost the gospel and got wrapped up in the world.
So I implore you, as we enter this next section of 1 Corinthians, do not forget that it is all said in the light of the loving forgiveness and amazing grace that comes from Jesus Christ to all sinners who would believe.
Anyone else surprised by all the rainbows on their Facebook feed? Anyone surprised where they came from? It’s no surprise when Hollywood actors, companies, and Silicon Valley icons jump on the rainbow train, but I’m guessing that it was a bit surprising to see your friends and family members covered in a rainbow hue. Perhaps that led to some conversations about your beliefs. Despite all the other things happening in the world, because of the American Supreme Court’s decision to allow Same-Sex Marriage, homosexuality is almost all anyone is talking about these days.
Homosexuality was once a taboo subject, but it is now everywhere in our culture. 10-15 years ago we started seeing the first gay characters on TV, but now we have shows that have homosexual families as the main characters. Television, YouTube and Netflix have show after show dedicated to the homosexual movie watcher. Many celebrities are “coming out of the closet” and proudly call themselves homosexuals. Schools have signs that say “homophobia free zone” and many businesses in Carleton Place and Ottawa have a rainbow sticker on the front door. On July 20, 2005, Canada became the fourth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide with the approval of the Civil Marriage Act. This is a current, cultural issue.
Not too surprisingly, more and more people who claim to be Christians are coming out as pro-homosexual too. Some because they feel pressure to, others because they know some nice LGBT people and feel they can’t condemn them, some because they have no idea what the Bible says about the subject – and have heard someone saying that the Bible is ok with it, they assume it’s ok with God. Between political pressure, cultural pressure, and biblical ignorance, there are a lot of people who claim to be followers of Jesus who believe the Bible, and are more than willing to support same-sex marriage.
The fact that our surrounding culture has decided that there are only two positions: pro-gay or homophobic, doesn’t help. They’ve decided that to disagree with someone means to hate them – and therefore words like extremist and bigot get thrown at anyone who disagrees with popular opinion. So the pressure to conform is HUGE – and more and more Christians, pastors, churches, and even formerly conservative denominations are changing their historic stance on marriage to conform. Anglicans, Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians… they all have churches and sects that have decided to conform to the new ethic.
I still remember in 2008, reading about when Anglican Bishop Gene Robinson married his partner, telling his churches that he is “doing what God is telling him to do,” even saying at the announcement that he has “always wanted to be a June bride.” He divorced in 2014.
People of the Word
But Christians are people of The Word. We believe that God has revealed Himself, His Law, and His Will, in His Word, the Bible. We are people who believe that God gets to tell us what to do and how to do it, regardless of how we feel or what culture and politics say. We don’t believe we have the right to reinterpret the God’s Word to fit the cultural shifts happening around us. God’s word is declarative, not suggestive. Something to be followed, not something that changes according to the opinion of the day. Christians believe God has given us an immutable, unchangeable, moral law. And so we work hard to read His Word to understand it well, so we can follow it wholeheartedly.
Why? Because we love God and want to obey Him. Because we fear God and don’t want to face His wrath. Because we believe God knows better than we do about how the world works. Because we know that God’s ways are higher than ours and His thoughts are higher than ours. Because we trust God and know He wants the best for us.
Responding to Homosexuality
But following Jesus and God’s Word will, as Christ said it would, rile up our spiritual and worldly enemies, bring us into conflict with others, and lead to attacks and misrepresentation (John 15:18; Matthew 5:11). Which is part of the reason that there is a perception by many people outside the church that we are homophobic, afraid of homosexuals, that we hate them, or believe ourselves to be better than them; that we do not demonstrate the love of Jesus toward the homosexual community. And part of that is, sadly, true. Many believers, talk a lot about love, but have not done well at loving our gay neighbour as ourselves (Mark 12:29-31).
So today I want to talk about two things: First, if we are going to be a people that holds the position that the practice of homosexuality is a sin, then we must be people who know from the scriptures what we believe, and why we believe it. Second we need to determine in our own hearts and minds whether we are perpetuating the problem of hating homosexual people.
My Bias & Agenda
I’ll be perfectly honest, I don’t have a lot of experience with LGBT people. I don’t think I know any. I want you to know that when I speak of homosexuality, I’m not speaking as someone who is in relationship with anyone who is gay… that I know of. Not on purpose, but simply because it hasn’t happened. Everything that I know about the homosexual culture is based on second hand information from newspapers, articles, books and stories from friends of friends. That’s why I’m going to stick to what the Bible says. I’m not going to give personal commentary, because I don’t have any.
I certainly can’t address everything there is to say about homosexuality in culture, the church, and the scriptures in one sermon, but there are some things that I think we need to know about this topic today. Christians can’t be people who say “God says that homosexuality is wrong” and not be able to turn to the chapter or verse that says so – and then be able to make a coherent argument that intelligently and lovingly explain why it says that.
So what I want to do is take a tour through the bible and look at some of the key scriptures that are in debate among the various groups regarding Homosexuality in the Bible. I hope this will help you understand part of the confusion in the minds of many, and also give you the strength to defend what you believe.
Marriage in Genesis
First Genesis 2:18-25:
“Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’ Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”
We need to start here by talking about the original, normative order of creation. This is the beginning of humankind, the prototype and model for how it is supposed to be. The first couple was created by God, and the first marriage was presided over by God. He made them male and female, and only together could they represent His image the best. Adam searched all over creation for another mate, and none was found, and turned to God for a proper, equally glorious, yet complimentary being.
This is the normative model, and is the one that is intended by God. This is the most specific reference we have in the Bible for God’s perfect intent for human relationships and sexuality: a husband and wife that go forth, enjoy life together and have children. It is quoted at the beginning of the story of the world, and then again by Jesus in Matthew 19 when He talks about marriage. He adds: “Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
When Jesus is asked about divorce, instead of giving a simple yes or no answer, He goes back to the book of Genesis, the original created order, and sets out the standard by which God will judge all sexual matters, and then tells us not to mess with it. This is how the Chrisitian Church should speak about marriage too: One man and one woman becoming one flesh in a loving, committed relationship that produces a loving, committed family that grows in love and obedience to God. God didn’t call it “good” until that was done.
The church has done a very poor job of communicating this over the past century as we have changed marriage to simply being about “two people that love each other”, even giving advice such as: “Find your soul-mate before you get married.” and “Don’t have kids for the first few years so you can enjoy one another.” – assuming that the true joy of marriage only happens with the man and woman. In truth, that’s only part of the package.
Homosexuality breaks this normative model in multiple ways.
- Two people of the same gender cannot fully represent the image of God.
- Two people of the same gender cannot “go forth and multiply”, filling the earth, and making new believers and servants of God.
- Two people of the same gender do not “compliment” one another, being equal but necessarily different in order to create something greater.
The Destruction of Sodom
Next we turn to Genesis 19, the story of the destruction of Sodom. If you don’t know the story, please take a minute to read it. For a long time heinous sexual sins (including homosexuality) were simply called “sodomy”. Because of that some Christians will use this story as God’s number one place of condemnation of homosexuals. “See how much God hates them? He destroyed the whole city because they were practicing homosexuality!”
That’s actually an incorrect interpretation of what happened. In fact Ezekiel 16:49 tells us that there was a list of offences against the city, “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” and Jude 7 says nothing of homosexuality in particular, but as only one of the many sexually immoral things they were doing to offend God.
The story of Sodom is similar to that of the world before the Flood. The depravity of the city was so deep that they it was actually normal and acceptable to homosexually gang-rape some new people that came into town. In verse 9 they say, “How dare you judge us! You’re a foreigner who doesn’t know how it goes around here.” Basically saying that they couldn’t care less what God’s people thought or how anyone else would feel, because the city had all decided to accept that behavior as ok. It wasn’t just the one group that was judged, but the whole city. It was only by supernatural intervention that Lot and his family were able to get away. And even after God struck the mob blind, they kept coming at the door trying to please their own selfish desires. They were like animals. This was a spiritually blind city full of deplorable sins of multiple kinds. God did not destroy it only because they practiced homosexuality, but that was certainly one of their sins.
God’s Law for Israel
Next we turn to Leviticus 18:22 (and 20:13). These chapters contain a large portion of the Law of God regarding how His people were supposed to have sex – and it’s very specific. One of the many laws was “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.” but if you look up and down either chapter there are a number of unlawful sexual practices, and many of them hold the punishment of death, and are also described as “detestable, perverse, profane, unclean and abominations” to God.
Verses 1-5 are a reminder to Israel that it doesn’t matter what’s going on around them, but that they need follow God’s standard. This was as important then as it is now. I’m not going to read the whole chapter, but let me read this first part:
“And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, I am the LORD your God. You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you. You shall not walk in their statutes. You shall follow my rules and keep my statutes and walk in them. I am the LORD your God. You shall therefore keep my statutes and my rules; if a person does them, he shall live by them: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 18:1-5)
This is just as true today. God reminds his people that He sets the standard and no matter where you live, what culture you are surrounded by, or what popular opinion says… His people need to hold to His standard. Then He makes it clear what His standards for sexuality are.
- Verses 6-18 deal with all kinds of incest and unlawful inter-family sexual relationships which are called “depraved”.
- Verse 19 deals with sex during the menstrual cycle… though there is no descriptor here of God’s feelings about it, and we know from Leviticus 15:24 that it was not “punishable”, but caused a person to be ceremonially unclean for 7 days.
- Verse 20 God commands that there be no adultery and calls it “unclean” – and later tells them that adultery would be punished by death.
- Verse 21 deals with killing babies and giving children away to be temple prostitutes, which is called “profane”.
- And verse 23 says that there should be no sex with animals because it is a “perversion”.
One argument that pro-gay people will give is that verse 22 is not about all homosexual sex, and therefore a committed, same-sex relationship is absolutely fine with God. They argue that this passage is talking about having homosexual sex as worship to other gods. But the plain interpretation, and the rest of the context make it clear that it isn’t about religious worship, but within a list of all sorts of sexual sins. “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman.” Simply means that men cannot have sex with men.
It’s not talking about temple prostitutes or idol worship for most of the passage. The whole context is about right sexuality among the Israelite community and the law applies to multiple kinds of sexual sins, not just homosexuality. Interpreting this passage in that way, and accepting “committed homosexual relationships”, forces the interpreter to do the same for the rest of the passage and accept adultery, incest and bestiality under certain circumstances as ok with God too.
Ruth & Naomi, David & Jonathan
Another thing that pro-homosexual interpreters like to do is try to find LGBT precident in scripture. They figure that if they can find homosexual relationships in scripture, then that means that it must be ok with God. Of course that means they have to forget everything we’ve already covered, but it doesn’t stop them from trying.
One famous passage is the story in Ruth where Naomi leaves Moab after her husband and sons die and tells her daughters-in-law to go home because there is no life for them if they follower her. Ruth, out of love for her mother-in-law “clings” to Naomi, while her other daughter-in-law, Orpah leaves.
Pro-Homosexual interpreters will use the word “cling” as an argument to say that Naomi and Ruth were in a lesbian relationship because it is the same word that is used in Genesis 2 when God says that a man will “leave his father and mother and cling / cleave to his wife.” That is quite a stretch linguistically, and very incompatible with the story line. The whole story revolves around Naomi helping Ruth woo a husband named Boaz.
The word there is the Hebrew word DABAQ meaning “stick to, cling to, or keep close.” It’s the word for what glue does. God uses it to show how the relationship between man and wife should be, but it’s also used for being so thirsty a persons tongue “sticks” to the roof of their mouth (Ps 22:15), and as a condemnation of people that have “sticky fingers” and steal things (Deut 13:17). It’s also used all over scripture to describe someone who is “lovingly devoted to their king or God. (Deut 10:20, 11:22, 2 Sam 20:2, 1 Kings 11:2, Joshua 23:12)
They do the same for the relationship between David and Jonathan. In 1 Samuel 18:3-4 it says
“Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.”
And in David’s song in 2 Samuel 1:26 he says
“I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.”
Pro-gay interpreters point to this passage and say that David and Jonathan were clearly in a homosexual relationship. Why? Because apparently two men can’t possibly be this close of friends and love one another that deeply without having sex? That kind of thinking only comes from our pornified culture.
This has always, historically, been interpreted as a non-sexual, close friendship. There is no sexuality mentioned in the passage, or the context, at all. Here we see Jonathan, the blood successor to the throne, the son of King Saul, pledging his loyalty, not only as a friend, but as a servant. He was taking off his royal clothes, and even his weapons, and handing them over to the new king of Israel. This man was not a sexual partner, but an amazingly loyal friend who not only disobeyed his father the king, but even gave up his birthright to David because he believed God had chosen David instead.
As I said, our hyper-sexualized, macho, pornified culture has no way to process a very close friendship between two men – they simply can’t – and I think that means we’ve lost something as a culture.
Homosexuality Condemned in the New Testament
Ok, so let’s move on to the New Testament. Romans 1:26-27 is very clear… and again, we need the context so we’ll read from verse 21:
“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”
I could preach on this one all day, but I don’t have the time… this is the Bible’s clearest teaching about God’s denunciation of homosexuality between men or women. Homosexuality was just as practiced in Paul’s day as it is in ours. In fact, it was encouraged by many of the pagan religions.
It seems pretty clear from the translation that the interpretation of verses 26-27 should be obvious, but pro-homosexual interpreters say that it’s only a sin when heterosexual people perform homosexual acts… hence… that would be “unnatural” (PARA PHYSIS) for them. The whole point hinging on the fact that God would never condemn anyone for something that comes naturally to them. Which is absurd, considering how naturally so many other sins come to us.
The vast majority of scholars agree that it’s a very weak argument. This is not referring to “unnatural” feelings, but “unnatural” actions… physiological / biological “unnaturalness”. The passage here is saying that sin is anything that is counter to the natural pattern set out by God in nature – including male-male and female-female sexual relationships. Right back to Genesis 2 again.
Sex, Sin, Idolatry and Amazing Grace
But there’s something more to look at here. This is a passage about idolatry. We create idols of self, popularity, success, anger, or even of sex. Sex can be our idol too… and Paul seems to be using homosexual relationships as a point of reference for how rampant the worship of sex had gotten in that culture. It was an extreme example of a pervasive problem – even in the church.
In Corinth, and in Rome, the church was having lots of sin problems, including sexual sin, and Paul was showing them how far mankind had gotten away from God’s original plan.
He’s setting up the argument so that we all know how terribly sinful we are – so that in a couple chapters He can teach us about how amazing God’s gracious loving salvation. It’s a contrast! Look how gross we are, and how loving God is! We are thieves, drunkards, greedy people, those who disobey their parents, and people who worship idols of all kinds – and yet Jesus still died for us and offers us forgiveness.
He does the same thing in 1 Corinthians 6 when he reminds the church about how messed up they were. They were not acting like Christians! Paul points out how bad had it gotten by saying they were suing each other instead of working things out the way Jesus taught them to. Then Paul gives them this reminder in verse 9,
“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
Paul implores them to remember that Jesus Christ washed away the sin and the muck from their lives, and the no longer needed to live in it because they had the Spirit of God inside of them! God delights in saving and justifying sinners because He loves us so very much. But he doesn’t want us going back to eat the garbage of the world. And among this list of things that are He mentions that the world is trying to feed them is “sexually immorally” and “homosexuality”.
Now, you may tune out a bit at this next part, but it’s important because you might hear it somewhere. Some people look at the phrase “homosexual offenders” and will disagree with its meaning. And it all revolves around the Greek word ARSENOKOITES.
Advocates for homosexuality will say this word doesn’t apply to homosexuals, but to male prostitutes, boys forced into sexual acts with older men, homosexual rape, or men who share their beds with lots of people. They say it applies to everyone except a committed, homosexual relationship. They do not believe it is interpreted to mean “any man who has sex with any other man.” The real issue here is the word that Paul chose to use.
He basically coined the word himself… something Paul did a lot of in his writings. It is only used twice in the New Testament, and is rarely used outside of it (1 Timothy 1:10). The word itself can be broken into two root words. ARREN – Which is the word for “A Male” and KOITE which is a feminine noun meaning “A bed”, “the marriage bed”, and is also used for “having sexual intercourse”. The same way we would say “did you go to bed with them” and know what we mean, so did the Greeks.
Paul came up with this term to specifically reference to the passage we looked at before Leviticus 18:22, “’Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.” Paul’s word ARSENOKOITES literally means, “one who beds a male” to specifically reference the Levitical law prohibiting homosexuality. He uses it again in in another list of sins when he is again talking about the Law of the Old Testament.
Paul is clearly tying his made up word to the Levitical law. He is not making homosexuality a worse sin than others, in fact in 1 Timothy he lists it right beside adultery.
All Sexual Immorality is Sin
Our last stop is in Hebrews 13:4,
“Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”
This is where the application comes to all of us, not just homosexuals. God’s standard for human sexuality is this: One woman, one man, becoming one flesh, in the bonds of marriage – and has been this way since the beginning of creation. Anything outside of that is contrary to biblical teaching, and is sin.
When the author of Hebrews uses the words “sexually immoral”, he is using a very important word there. It is the word PORNOS. It is the biblical catch-all, junk-drawer word for all sexual activity outside of one woman, one man, in marriage. It means “fornicator” or “one is has sex outside of God’s law”. The root word is PORNEIA which is basically the word for a person who uses their body sexually for selfish purposes… whether that’s getting money, or simply fulfilling their own lust. Another form of the word is PORNEUO which means to give one’s body over to satisfy the lust of another person. It’s all sin.
- When the counsel of Jerusalem met in Acts 15 to lay down some guidelines for the new churches they said, “You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from PORNEIA.”
- When Jesus was contrasting what it means to be truly unclean he said in Matthew 15, “But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, PORNEIA…”
- And Paul in Ephesians 5:3 told the churches, “But among you there must not be even a hint of PORNEIA…”
The Christian church need to understand this and get this right. Sexual sin is very serious in God’s eyes. Anything outside of a sexual relationship between a man and a women, in marriage, is wrong and condemned in God’s eyes, and will not be blessed. Viewing pornography, reading sexual stories, committing adultery, sexual play before marriage, and homosexuality are all equally wrong according to God and should not be done among Christians.
Everything outside of the blessing of marriage is a perversion of God’s natural order, and will result in judgment. Romans 1 reminds us that as we do this our bodies get degraded, our hearts become darkened, we become dominated by fleshly desires, and we get confused about truth… we then become in bondage to uncontrollable passions. In other words, your sexual sins will chew you up and spit you out. They will damage you body, mind and soul.
God loves us, which is why He tells us to put it in the confines of marriage! Sex is a beautiful, wonderful, pleasurable, gift from God. But it is also very powerful.
When we have sex it is far more than a physical union, it is a spiritual one. (1 Corinthians 6:12-19) We cannot divide the two, body and spirit. Every sexual partner, every sexual action is not merely a physical act, but a spiritual one. We unite ourselves spiritually with the people we use as sexual objects – whether they are real or imaginary. The world tells us that we are merely fulfilling a biological desire, doing something natural, but we are also doing something intensely emotional and spiritual too. And the way God has structured our existence is that when we become “one” with another person sexually, a spiritual bond is created, and that bond stays with us… and it carries into every other relationship – including with God.
That is why adultery severs the bond of marriage. The person is no longer of one flesh and spirit with their spouse, but they are physically and spiritually divided.
This issue is not about being homophobic, but being hypocritical. Somehow we believe that being in an active homosexual relationship is worse somehow than the heterosexual couple that is unmarried and sleeping together, or going home and viewing pornography on the internet, or watching sexuality on TV, or fanaticizing about the guy or girl at work. It’s not. We believe somehow that the practicing lesbians are sinning more than the married man who flirts with his secretary, or the wife who reads 50 Shades of Grey… they’re not. Sexual sin is sexual sin. Sexual sin in all its forms is idolatry and wrong.
So how should Christians respond to the wave of LGBT support we are seeing in so many places?
First we need to evaluate our own lives for sexual sin. Jesus says that we need to examine the log in our own eye before we take the splinter from someone else’s – and wow, does the church ever have a log in its eye when it comes to sexual sin. Lust, adultery and pornography are HUGE problems in the Christian church – and are at the same “sin level” as homosexuality. I’m watching pastors and Christians explode their marriages all the time. This is a gospel issue. We need Jesus as much as anyone, and need to get right with Him. We have some major repenting to do about our own sexual sins before we go about condemning others.
Second, we need to evaluate our attitudes and actions for how we use our words and the jokes we make – and repent if we have been callous or unloving towards the LGBT community. Some Christians are quite cruel in their words about these people, and we need to repent and ask forgiveness of God and our homosexual neighbours.
Third, we need to evaluate whether our church is a place where a person can come, with any kind of sin problem, sexual or otherwise, and if it is a place where they can talk about it without being judged, condemned and hurt. Can we love the person, care for them, and adequately counsel them in regards to their sin? We all want to be part of a church that loves us despite our failures, and wants to help us grow closer to Jesus – so let us do the same for others.
I don’t really want to talk about this and I’m fairly sure that there are some who don’t want to hear it, but we must address the evil, insidious, and deceptive sin of pornography.
This week, just in time for Valentine’s Day, a movie called 50 Shades of Grey will be released. This movie is based on a book of the same name. Both the book and the movie are classified as erotica, which is a form of pornography.
There was a big ratings controversy because normally a movie like this would be banned from mainline theatres. However, since they know this movie is going to make a tonne of money, and despite its pornographic and violent content, the movie will be released in two versions: one rated NC-17, which is basically X, and one rated R with a few of the most graphic scenes cropped down.
Anti-pornography and sexual exploitation groups have worked hard to try to get the film boycotted or at least given a stronger, adult rating. Some theatres in Britian are looking for permission to have themselves get an exception and “legally change themselves into sex-film venues” so they can show the more hard-core version.
What’s in 50 Shades of Grey?
What is the big deal, you might be asking? There have been lots of movies of a sexual nature that have come to the theatres, so what makes this one different? Well, this one is more dangerous – by far. To quote the US National Center on Sexual Exploitation:
“Hollywood is advertising the Fifty Shades story as an erotic love affair, but it is really about sexual abuse and violence against women. The porn industry has poised men and women to receive the message that sexual violence is enjoyable. Fifty Shades models this porn message and Hollywood cashes the check.”
Obviously, I refuse to buy or read the book, but I took some time this week to read some chapter analyses from a website set up by a professional therapist and abuse victim who takes apart each section of the book, shows what’s happening, and explains the damage being done. I managed to make it about half-way through the chapter 8 analysis before I had to quit. It was some of the most disturbing stuff I’ve ever read.
Let me read to you the excellent summary of the book put out by a site called “End Sexual Exploitation”:
“The Fifty Shades trilogy follows wealthy and powerful businessman Christian Grey as he meets Anastasia Steele, a virginal college student lacking confidence, and woos her into his BDSM (sexual sadism or torture sex) world and ‘red room of pain.’ The relationship maps onto what would be considered an abusive relationship rife domestic violence in the real world. Christian puts Ana under contract to serve as a sexual ‘submissive’ and uses intimidation, coercion, humiliation, violence, stalking, manipulation, jealousy and other controlling behaviors to groom Ana and keep her under his domination. The franchise advertises it as a love affair and erotic sex—what it’s really about is abuse and violence…”
I can attest that this is a very accurate description.
Erotica Goes Mainstream
Pornography, erotica and sexual perversion have always been popular –it’s been around forever – but for a very long time it lived in the shadows. Pornographic movies were kept away from other movies, dirty magazines were kept behind the counter, blocked out with paper, and delivered in black bags. Sexualized images used to be blocked out and only seen very late. But now, with advent of the internet, porn has gone mainstream. It’s easily accessed on our home computers and can be brought up on any smartphone, anywhere. (I appreciate Tim Challies’ post on this)
And it’s growing even more popular. Porn hasn’t stayed in the shadows. It’s not just in the dirty magazines and on the bad-websites… it’s on TV, at the movie theatre, and in Superbowl commercials. We live in a pornified society.
Advertisers figured out a long time ago that they can hock more product if they juice it with sexuality, but this is more than a pretty girl in an advertising campaign. Pornography is now a normal part of popular TV shows and mainstream books. It’s literally everywhere.
And it’s sneaky. Let me give you an example from our church. In an attempt to get you used to their brand and their form of writing, Harlequin (the publisher of the erotica novels) put out a series called “Love Inspired” for Christians. One of the first things I did when came here was to clear out an entire shelf of Harlequin romance novels. Our church library had novels by the same publishing company that released “10 Rules to Sex Up a Blind Date”.
As I said, porn is everywhere, and it’s going more and more mainstream. How mainstream? 50 Shades of Grey, the book about sexual sadism or torture sex, was the #1 bestselling book of 2012 and the #2 bestselling book in 2013! In some places it outpaced Harry Potter for how fast it sold. The author has made millions of dollars. The movie trailer has more than 48 million hits on YouTube. And the movie is, supposedly on track to make 60 million dollars in its opening weekend. That puts it in the territory of The Lego Movie, Star Wars 1, and many of the Marvel Movies. Presale ticket numbers are already much larger than expected.
And do you know who’s buying those tickets? Women. Women are way into porn right now. Not just secular women, but married, Christian women too. There was a survey conducted that showed that the same ladies who were the best customers for bible studies were, at the same time, reading 50 Shades of Grey.
They are releasing both R and NC-17 versions of the film because the fans of the book are demanding it. The producer of the film recently said:
“What we’re kind of hearing from the fans is they want it dirty… they want it as close as possible [to the book]…. The sex scenes featuring bondage, spanking and sadomasochism were a big part of the appeal of the so-called ‘mommy porn’ books by EL James.”
That’s what they’re calling this phenomenon: “Mommy Porn”. Married, conservative, women with children are going crazy for this book series. Yes, it’s still mostly men that use porn and struggle with porn addiction, but women are rapidly increasing in number. Men escape into hyper-sexualized images, but women are more interested in the storyline. Therein lies the danger of 50 Shades of Grey and other forms of literary erotica. They “fill the relational void of their loneliness, marital strife, or the pain of abuse” with pornographic fantasy (source). Just as many men have generated a personal harem in their mind, a rolodex full of pornographic images, so now do women have their own version of sexualized and pornographic library.
Satan has almost destroyed men with porn and his next target is women – and it’s working. Even against Christian women. Satan is inviting women to consume spiritual death – and they are in record numbers.
Statistics show that many men in the church use pornography regularly, and some of them are addicted. Research also suggests that 20% (that’s 1 in 5) of Christian women use online porn regularly. I know more women who call themselves Christian and have read 50 Shades. One author I read tells the story of visiting a friend who is a sex therapist who said, “For the first twenty-five years I had no women in my sexual counselling. Now 30 percent of all the people I see for sexual addictions are women.”(“Culture Shock” by Chip Ingram, Pg 48)
Every man I have ever had a deep conversation with has admitted that they struggle (or have struggled) with pornography. That includes preachers, youth pastors, elders, Sunday school teachers, ushers, small group leaders and everyone else. Now, it’s the females in the church that get to feel guilt, shame, discontent, disconnect from God, and shrink away from the faith.
Most of the people who bought this book, Christians included, didn’t give it a second thought. That shows how insidious it is. Their consciences should be screaming at them, but they aren’t. There might be a gentle whisper of the Holy Spirit, but He is quickly told to shut-up because they are “just curious”.
That kind thinking that brings porn into the mainstream – it normalizes it. It builds the callous around our hearts and makes us more accepting of sin. People can’t see what’s right and wrong anymore because they live bathed in sexual sin. Folks watching House of Cards, Game of Thrones, Trueblood, or almost anything on HBO or Showtime are supporting the normalization of pornography. We watch, they make more, we deaden our souls.
The Slope of Depravity
This is no surprise to Christians. Romans 1:16-32 tells us all about the corruption that comes from accepting and exposing ourselves to a regular diet of sin.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’” (vs 16-17)
Paul is going to spend the rest of the book talking about the “power of God for salvation to everyone” through Jesus Christ. Here he introduces the topic by talking about the “righteousness of God” that has been “revealed” – which he’ll go on to explain to mean the righteousness that comes through faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But before he gives the Good News, he has to give the bad.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” (vs 18)
God through the prophets and Jesus and his Apostles didn’t just “reveal” “the righteousness of God”, but have also “revealed” the “unrighteousness of men.” And even though their sin has been “revealed” to them, instead of admitting it and repenting they “suppress the truth” because they love their sin more than God. They see the truth, but reject it and actively try to put an end to it.
Keep reading and we’ll see how the suppression of the truth leads directly to sexual sin.
“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” (vs 19-23)
There’s the first step. Every human being has an inherent knowledge that there is something greater than themselves. Humanity universally recognizes the “invisible attributes” of God. We see it in the creation around us and the conscience within us. Everyone ever born has an “inner sense of what God requires, but they choose not to live up to it.” (Life Application Bible Commentary – Romans, Pg 24.)
They love their sin, and want to be their own gods, so instead of acknowledging this truth, they suppress it, ignore it, and speak against it. In other words they darken their hearts. And, like any bad scientist, in order to prop up their selfish conclusions, they come up with all manner of wise-sounding nonsense, twisting the evidence before them to match their own conclusions.
But it doesn’t stop there.
“Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” (vs 24-25)
CS Lewis once wrote:
“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell, choose it.”
Tim Keller adds:
“All God does in the end with people is give them what they most want, including freedom from himself. What could be more fair than that?”
People have an inward sense of the existence and moral law of God, but they always choose against it. And God allows us that choice. Just as He allowed Adam and Eve to eat from the tree, so He allows every person to make their own choices about how they will live their lives, even if conscience cries out against it. And people are geared for worship – we must worship something – and therefore we turn our worship to created things.
And the ultimate created thing, the pinnacle of God’s creation isn’t “birds and animals and creeping things”, but humanity. We don’t stop at worshipping merely all the wonderful things God created around us – though that’s where we start – but we are inevitably drawn to worship God’s greatest creation: us. This leads us to all manner of “impurity”: pride, theft, covetousness, wrath… and ultimately to the greatest mix of idolatry and worship: sexual sin.
“They exchanged the truth about god for a lie and worshiped and serve the creature.” God’s greatest “creature” is humanity, and the greatest form of personal, physical, emotional pleasure we can get is through sex. But, because we worship ourselves and not God, we don’t want to experience it God’s way… we want the lie we’ve crafted for ourselves… and so we create our own rules about it.
“For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.” (vs 26-27)
Again, we see God giving people what they want. In their depraved minds, bent on worshipping the idol of humanity and getting as much sexual fulfilment as they can, they create more and more unnatural and depraved ways of finding physical pleasure. God set the law in nature that sexuality is between the male and female of the species. And He set the law in our hearts so that we know inherently that it’s sin. That could be why the gay-rights proponents are working so hard to get the blessing of church ministers (and therefore God) – to assuage their guilt at the knowledge that what they are doing is against God.
God’s way isn’t what they want, so they seek to normalize and find approval for homosexuality, lesbianism, and polygamy. They exchanged truth for the lie, suppressed the truth, and come up with their own forms of wisdom to make excuses for their out of control passions.
But it doesn’t even stop there. Since humanity is worshipping the creation rather than the Creator, they find that creation comes up lacking. Normal, godly sex isn’t enough. Their own perversions of it aren’t enough. Homosexual sex isn’t enough. Polygamy isn’t enough. Humanity simply can’t come up with anything close to what God offers in committed, heterosexual marriage, but people are unwilling to turn back to God and accept His gift the way He’s offered it. They’ve darkened their heart and believed the lie so their sin must go deeper.
The spiral towards hell continues.
“And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.” (vs 28)
They go from a “foolish heart” to “dishonourable passions” to “a debased mind”. “Debased” means corrupted, depraved, perverted, deteriorated. Their worship of humanity ultimately becomes worship of self. And when you’re god, you make the rules. Therefore everyone around you exists to serve you. Take what you want and punish anyone who gets in your way. So their out-of-control lust descends into all manner of sexual perversions and selfish behaviour including rape, incest, child porn, and other forms of evil.
“They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” (vs 29-32)
They completely throw off any form of authority or godly morality and make themselves (and anyone that thinks like them) the decider of right from wrong. Of course they give approval to “those who practice” the same sins as them! They’re doing it, and they are a god, so it must be ok. That’s why so few stand up against pornography, abortion, or euthanasia. It’s because they are so steeped in their own sinful perversions that they can’t help but give approval to those who are doing what they are doing. Otherwise they’d be hypocrites!
Do you see how the slope of depravity works?
- Deny the existence of God and become gods ourselves.
- Since we are gods, we are worthy of worship, therefore we worship ourselves.
- Our worship of self naturally turns towards one of the best things He gave humanity, sexuality, which is quickly corrupted because we are corrupt creatures.
- Our form of corruption is unfulfilling so we must try others.
- We go from foolishness to corruption to debasement, coming up with more and more ways to pleasure ourselves and harm others.
- And to make it right, we petition and then force others to agree with what we are doing – or else.
You must see that this is happening in many forms right now.
This is why I can’t stress enough how dangerous and destructive pornography and erotica is. Constant exposure to pornography, which is the worship of humanity, and ultimately the worship of personal pleasure, darkens the heart. It creates expectations that are absolutely unattainable in reality. Soon the fantasy relationships become more important (and certainly more exciting) than the real ones, which creates discontent, resentment, and boredom. Which means going back to the porn for another hit. But that porn doesn’t do it, so you have to get more depraved. Soon just watching doesn’t work for you and you have to go try it out. This isn’t just me saying this, it’s documented fact. And it’s not just Christians saying this.
Exposure to pornography has also created what people are calling the “Rape Culture”. 50 Shades of Grey is the perfect example of how depravity has become normalized to the point where rape and violence towards women is seen as acceptable.
“Pornography is the theory, and rape is the practice.” (Feminist Robin Morgan)
“The porn industry has poised men and women to receive the message that sexual violence is enjoyable. Fifty Shades models this porn message and Hollywood cashes the check…” (Dawn Hawkins of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation)
Pornography is getting more and more violent and the acceptance of 50 Shades in the mainstream is a glaring example of its effects. People now openly talk about adding bondage, roleplaying, torture, and all forms of physical and emotional abuse to their list of things they want to try in the bedroom. All under the guise of “erotic liberty” and “consent” … which is laughable considering the violent, manipulative and deplorable nature of the acts. But to their darkened hearts and depraved minds, it’s normal… and acceptable… and helpful… and fun.
You’ve no doubt heard by now about the public trial of CBC’s disgraced host Jian Ghomeshi. He is literally a real life example of the lifestyle promoted in 50 Shades. He’s a middle aged, wealthy, intelligent, persuasive celebrity man luring, manipulating and threatening young women into violent sexual encounters. More and more women have stepped forward against this man, but some, at the time, went along with what Ghomeshi was doing – giving tacit consent because they were afraid of what would happen if they didn’t. This is what 50 Shades looks like when it’s played out in reality. It’s not fun, it’s sexual abuse.
The Rape Myth
An Encyclopedia of Psychology I have says, “The presentation of rape themes in pornography has been one expression of the sex and violence linkage and has led researchers to conclude that this results in increased acceptance of the rape myth, of rape fantasies, and of violence against women. Even where pornography is only implicitly hostile to women, without overt violence, a dehumanizing effect still is found…. The dangers from pornography are now widely established in the mainstream of the psychological literature, and legal restrictions on child pornography apply in many countries.”(Baker Encyclopedia of Psychology & Counseling, 2nd ed., p. 884)
“The perpetrators [of rape and prostitution and pornography and child molestation] are in a common set of beliefs, and when we look at the research we can see some of those common beliefs, so that we know that individuals who are exposed to pornographic media have beliefs such as [thinking that] rape victims like to be raped, they don’t suffer so much when they’re raped, ‘she got what she wanted’ when she was raped, women make false accusations of rape because it isn’t really rape, sex is really either good or great and there isn’t any other option other than good or great, no one is really traumatized by it. All of these are part of the rape myth. People who use pornography accept the rape myth to a greater degree than others. So we have a sense that pornography is teaching them to think like a rapist and then triggering them to act like rapists…. When you cheapen sex and you cheapen women’s bodies, when you treat people like things there’s a consequence and one of the consequences is sexual violence…” (Dr. Mary Anne Layden, director of the Sexual Trauma and Psychopathology Program in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania)
Scripture on Pornography
All over the scriptures we are told about what an amazing gift sex is – God is certainly NOT anti-sex – but He also warns us to be careful with it. For the same reasons, and more, that these experts are starting to figure out. We’ve already read Romans 1, but the power, beauty and danger of sex is all over scripture.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.” (Matthew 5:27-30)
This isn’t just for men, it’s also for women. Jesus is so serious about us not getting on the slippery slope of erotica, pornography and masturbation that He says it would be better for us to gouge out our eyes and cut off our hands than to go there.
Paul says to the believers in Corinth who are committing gross sexual sins even inside their church. Here he talks about the spiritual reality of pornography, adultery, and masturbation.
“The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, ‘The two will become one flesh.’ But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Cor 6:13-20)
For a Christian to look at porn, read erotica, and be addicted to masturbation, is the same as when the Israelites would walk into the Temple of God and put up a false idol right next to the Ark of the Covenant. It’s a deplorable sin with far-reaching, spiritual consequences.
How serious are these consequences?
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them…” (Ephesians 5:1-6)
Sexual sin is a sign of a hard heart towards God. Partnering with pornographers and erotica publishers by buying and recommending their products is a sign of being a non-believer. Paul says “sexual immorality… must not even be named among” the people of God!
If you think you’re a Christian and can look at porn, read 50 Shades of Grey, fanaticize about extra-marital sex, accept pornography as good and helpful, reading it without guilt and shame, and enjoying that kind of impurity, then that’s a sign that you’re way beyond grieving the Holy Spirit and are actually working with “the sons of obedience” who are under “the wrath of God”. That’s not a place you want to be.
Words of Hope
Let me close with some words of hope. Sex is as wonderful as it is powerful.
“God resists any notion that we can separate sexual desires or actions from the rest of our life. God [wants] the best for us and wants to protect sex and its sacred power for two people to bond in an environment where they know intimately and are known.” (“Culture Shock” by Chip Ingram, Pg 60)
We live in a culture that says that if you want sex you should go get it: anytime, anywhere, with anyone. But the teachings of scripture says,
“No, that premise may seem logical, but it misses God’s design for sex… Sex functions like the fire in a fireplace. God wants the fire to burn hot and passionate inside the fireplace of marriage, where it brings light, hear, warmth, and intimacy. But when the fire is taken out of the fireplace to places it shouldn’t be, it destroys and its purpose is also destroyed…. God declared the boundaries of the fireplace so He could also say, ‘I want to protect you. I want to provide for you. I want to give you the highest and the best.’ More than just an action, sex matters to God and he gave it to us as a sacred gift.”(“Culture Shock” by Chip Ingram, Pg 66)
If you are stuck in sexual sin, trapped under its weight, constantly feeding yourself death, and want to get free, I want to read to you two more scriptures.
“For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Romans 8:13-15)
“They will return to it and remove all its vile images and detestable idols. I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.” (Ezekiel 11:18-21)
You’ve lived according to the flesh, and you’ve felt the destruction of your spirit, but you don’t have to stay that way. Turn from your sin, hate it, repent from it, and come to Jesus who offers you forgiveness and strength. He offers life “led by the Spirit of God”. Call out to your Father in Heaven and ask for forgiveness. Exchange the lie for the truth. When you are under temptation, call out to your Father in Heaven because you have been adopted as his child and He will come to you.
Remove the “vile images and detestable idols” from your life and stop living with a divided heart. Stop making excuses for them and see them for what they are – lies and detestable things that lead to death. God promises, when you turn to Him, that He will give you a new spirit, a new heart, and the ability to obey Him.
If you have sinned against someone through sexual sin, ask God’s forgiveness, and then ask forgiveness of the person you have sinned against. Whether you tempted them to sexual sin, committed sin with them, or used them selfishly to gratify your own flesh, talk to God about it, cleanse your heart and then go and ask forgiveness of the person you sinned against, and God promises to cleanse you, give you a new heart, and make you into one of His children.
Once you’ve asked forgiveness of God and the other person, don’t try to continue the fight alone. You need God’s help and you need the help of other Christians. Tell someone you trust. Ask them to help you and hold you accountable. And together, let’s live lives of purity and love – the kind that God intended for us.
The 22nd episode of “Carnivore Theology”.
The LGBT Episode
This beginning of the year, super-sized episode, takes on a current, controversial and emotionally charged topic: What does the Bible say about Homosexuality? How should we, as followers of Christ respond to the LGBT movement?
As Always, We Want Your Feedback
Please give it a listen and then give let us know what you think in comments section below, by e-mailing me, commenting on our Facebook page, or on Twitter! It would be great if you’d rate us on iTunes too! We’d also really appreciate if you’d pass them around to your friends. Sharing is caring!