Most of us would be surprised to do a survey of the Bible with our singular goal to be to discern what is written therein about human sexuality. Scripture is filled with references about sex. These references include the beauty of marital intimacy, the prohibition of God concerning sex outside of heterosexual marriage, the ordaining of human life through conception, and the consequences that arise when we lean to our own understanding or cultural norms concerning human sexuality. The scriptures are actually quite clear about the topic of sex. While there is abounding debate and chaos in our culture concerning sexuality, singleness, marriage & gender identification, the Church is called to align our hearts with the heart of God. There is still only one God-blessed outlet for human sexuality, and there are countless other outlets that people, even Christians, might choose which lead to heartbreak, sin and personal loss. In the current generation that has much to say about sexuality, we need to listen carefully to God’s truth and let His voice be the one which guides us.
“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helper suitable for him.” So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept. Then He took one of his ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man, He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. Then Adam said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she will be called Woman, for she was taken out of Man.” Therefore, a man will leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and they will become one flesh. They were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. Adam had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived, gave birth…” (excerpts from Genesis 2 & 4)
In the heart of God, the plan has never been complex. From the beginning, it has been the design of God to give one woman and one man to each other. They enter into covenant with one another as husband and wife. Within the context of that marriage, they give themselves to each other in physical intimacy. God designed male and female anatomy to offer deep pleasure to one another. Sexual intimacy fosters a deep oneness in spirit between husband and wife. Children often come forth from the sexual union of husband and wife, therefore the social anchor of the family unit is also hinged to the sexual intimacy of a husband and wife. Within the confines of marriage, sexual intimacy is blessed and broad. Whatever two (and only two!) people decide fulfills them in the marriage bed is blessed by God. Each wife has her own husband. Each husband has his own wife. Because of this, God forbids both adulteryand fornication. I want to take the remainder of today’s blog and speak to these two prevalent (but counterfeit) expressions of human sexuality.
Any sexual activity outside of the confines of marriage constitutes fornication. The English word fornication comes from the Greek word porneia. You can easily see that we derive the word pornography from this Greek word. This word is broadly used to describe any sexual contact outside the bounds of heterosexual marriage. Fornication occurs through a whole host of activities which are more numerous than can be listed here. These activities would include pre-marital heterosexual sex, any type of sexual stimulation and/or climax that might not include penetration, any and all homosexual activity, masturbation, pornography, pedophilia and bestiality. The Church has too long been silent in discussing these issues, and because we have chosen silence due to the awkwardness of speaking on these sensitive topics, the voice of authority in our culture concerning sex has fallen to unbiblical, even depraved, sources. The verses below clearly reveal the heart of God concerning fornication in the lives of the unmarried. Remember, these teachings were all addressing what was and is expected of those who follow Jesus.
- Christians in the early Church were commanded to abstain from fornication (Acts 15:20)
- Fornication is condemned by the Apostle Paul (Romans 1:29)
- Fornicators are seen to be disciplined in the local assembly (1 Corinthians 5)
- Those who engage in fornication degrade Christ Himself (1 Cor 6:15-19)
- Fornication is a characteristic of those who are unsaved (Galatians 5:19)
- Christians are called to repent of the sin of fornication (2 Corinthians 12:21)
- The will of God is that Christians completely abstain from fornication (1 Thessalonians 4:3)
While not all fornication constitutes adultery, all adultery does involve fornication. Adultery occurs when someone steps outside of that marriage covenant and engages in sexual intercourse or other sexual activity with another person who is not their spouse. Adultery can also include an unmarried person engaging in sexual activity with someone who is married. The seventh of the Ten Commandments forbids this type of sexual expression. For all of time, this has been considered sin by God. Though times have changed along with views on sexuality, God’s heart is forever fixed. Sex is gloriously good, even spiritual, when experienced within the protective and holy confines of martial covenant. Jesus actually amplified the heart of God on this issue by expanding our understanding of adultery to include the potential of our hearts cultivating lustful desire for someone (Matthew 5:28). To look upon someone with the intent to make them objects of our sexual desires constitutes adultery in the heart. This teaching from Jesus reveals how seriously God takes our call to guard our hearts from sexual sins. Jesus takes this issue of sexual activity beyond what the normal teaching of His day communicated. The religious Hebrews all understood that committing physical sexual adultery was sinful. They modified their behavior accordingly as an expression of their desire to keep the Law and honor God. Jesus goes much deeper than their bodies in what He says here. He goes after their hearts. In a strong move, Jesus takes the don’t touch prohibition and introduces a don’t look command. Imagine the men in the crowd feeling a grip on their hearts as Jesus begins to instruct them about how they view women. When we understand the plain sense of what Jesus is saying here, we can see how pornography violates the heart and will of God. It is impossible to view pornography without committing adultery of the heart. I will take it a step further and submit that the typically acceptable cultural norms of watching non-porn classified movies that include nudity, sexual activity and images which incite lust in our hearts would never pass the lust-test that God would place upon these forms of entertainment. Personally speaking, it was saddening to me to learn how many Christians watched the wildly popular HBO series Game of Thrones which included simulated sex, rape, anal sex, homosexual activity and full frontal nudity. While we may get a technical free-pass on physical adultery simply because we have not engaged in physical sexual activity with someone other than our spouse, the ease with which many Christians give themselves to sexualized forms of entertainment clearly falls into the realm of adultery in the heart.
Friends, God is calling His people to elevate our consecration of what we believe and practice in this realm of human sexuality. The culture has assumed the main voice of authority concerning sex, and our generation is showing the results of believing what culture says. Sadly, the Church seems to have dipped to this same level of tolerance for what we give our minds, hearts and bodies to. We have stopped being concerned with the heart of God on this issue because we have been made numb to it. May we honor the Lord in renewed commitment to sexual purity. May we stop asking how far we can go without “technically breaking the rules and sinning.” May we flee sexual immorality (1 Cor. 6:18). May we obey the will of God to abstain from fornication (1 Thess 4:3). The issue is not vague when we read our bibles, and to adopt a biblical view of sexuality does not make us old fashioned in our views. It makes us New Testament in our views.
It reveals that we love God enough to deny our impulses and lean upon His Spirit.
It proves that our discipleship doesn’t end at that place where we have to deny ourselves.
The Lord is calling us to come in closer.
Jesus is waiting for His bride to prepare herself for the coming wedding.
I’ve left us enough to think about today, but I’ll have more to say on this topic in upcoming blogs.
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