See Luminosity

Part 6: The Power of Sex Gone Wrong

Part 6: The Power of Sex Gone Wrong

Read the other parts of this series here:

 

Part 1: Secular Sex Values: The New Standard for the World

Part 2: Comprehensive Sex Education, Secular Sex Coming to Your Children

Part 3: The Man Who Changed Morality: Sex Researcher Alfred Kinsey

Part 4: Alfred Kinsey and Cultural Moral Transformation

Part 5: The Power of Biblical Sex

Part 6: The Power of Sex Gone Wrong

Part 7: Sex and Worldview: A Battle for the Soul

Part 8: Summary: How Sex Has Changed the World

The Power of Sex

The only God-ordained place for sex is within the boundary of marriage between husband and wife. Why?

Because sex has power. Power that can only benefit when it is channeled appropriately. And marital sex, God’s plan for sexuality, is the only way sexuality reflects the nature of its Creator – the only way it is truly “good”. Sex, as part of the physical, emotional, and spiritual union of marriage between complementary genders, is an opportunity for humans to be able to experience and participate in the essence of who God is, and to share in the power He has.

The marital relationship, and sex within it, gives God’s creation the opportunity to experience the companionship and wholeness that is the essence of the Trinity, the responsibility to service and giving in relationships in order to receive, and the power to create and nurture beings so that they can participate with the Creator. Sex cannot accomplish these things, and cannot mirror attributes of the Triune God, apart from the permanent union of marriage between male and female. Even worse, sex outside of marriage, as a deviation of God’s created intent and purpose, constitutes sin that separates people from God.

What does this mean, practically? It means that people are to abstain from sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman, and remain sexually faithful to one’s spouse within marriage. No other options exist within the biblical framework for sexuality. In fact, understanding that anything which falls short of God’s created intent or will is sin – any deviation of sex from these guidelines constitute sin.

  • “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” Hebrews 13:4
  • Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer—may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love. Why, my son, be intoxicated with another man’s wife? Why embrace the bosom of a wayward woman? For your ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all your paths. The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them; the cords of their sins hold them fast. For lack of discipline they will die, led astray by their own great folly.” Proverbs 5:15-23

Sex, as a means for people to participate in the nature of God, has tremendous power. Within the proper boundaries – the boundaries of the marital relationship – it allows people to share in God’s power: the power of simultaneous unity and community, the power of chosen mutual submission, and the power to create and nurture personhood. By doing so, marital sex has great capacity for drawing people to the Lord.

But there is another side to the story. When used outside of the boundaries for which it was created, sex unleashes power that is distorted for the opposite direction –the power for dividing and separating, the power to take from and degrade others for personal gain, and the power to extinguish and damage personhood. And, most fundamentally, misconstrued sex has the capacity to draw people away from the Lord.

Scripture acknowledges the unique power sex has over people. And it is a power that is stronger, with greater consequences, than most of us realize.

Sexual Immorality – Putting up the Veil

 

  • ”Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 6:18-20

1 Corinthians makes a distinction between sexual sin and all other kinds of sins. All other sins are outside the body, but sexual sin is against one’s own body where the Holy Spirit is – inside. Whereas all sin separates us from God by virtue of being contrary to His character, scripture indicates that there is something different, something deeper, something more fundamental, about sexual sin. Why is this?

I believe it has to do with the fact that there is a spiritual consequence that is more profound for our connection with God that sexual sin brings. This scripture gives us a clue as to why that is.

The Old Testament Temple

In the Old Testament, the temple was the place where God resided. Prior to the Holy Spirit being given at Pentecost, God’s presence resided in physical locations (the burning bush, the cloud that led the Israelites, the Ark of the Covenant, etc.). The tabernacle, and then later the temple, was the main place where God manifested Himself to His people in a way that could be experienced, but there was always a barrier between the people and God due to His holiness and their sinfulness.

The holiest place of the temple, where the presence of God resided, was known as the Holy of Holies, or Most Holy Place, which was separated from the rest of the temple by a veil (2 Chronicles 3:10-14, Heb. 9, Lev. 16). The holiness of God was so pervasive, so all-consuming that people, in their sinfulness, could not come into direct contact with Yahweh, or they would die.  (Deut. 18:16, 2 Sam. 6:8-11, Lev. 9:23-10:3). The High Priest was the only person allowed to enter the Holy of Holies – and then only once a year after making meticulous preparations of cleanliness, and bringing with him blood to offer as a sacrifice (Heb. 9:1-15, Leviticus 16). Even the Priest, if He were not able to appropriate make atonement for His and the people’s sins before God’s holiness through following God’s precise requirements for cleanliness and sacrifice, would die. (Leviticus 16). In fact, the seriousness of the priest’s task was such that he was mandated by God to wear bells on the hem of his garment (Exodus 39:25-26) – likely required so that the ringing of the bells would signify to others whether or not the priest had survived the performance of his duties in the Holy of Holies.

People came to the temple to worship and connect to God Himself. But people’s sin kept them from being able to have unity with God. In the Old Testament this separation was not only spiritual, but physical: the veil prevented the people from directly experiencing God’s presence.

Christ changed all of that.

The New Temple

When Christ died, veil to Holy of Holies tore in two (Matthew 27:45-54) – a symbol that mankind, because of Christ’s payment for sin, could now approach the throne of grace. The barrier of sin was overcome. Humanity, through the sacrifice of Christ for sinfulness, received Christ’s holiness. They were then able to, for the first time, experience God’s presence, and holiness, directly. And very shortly, that presence came in a new way – through the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit came to all believers at Pentecost, and when it did, the temple moved. God’s manifestation, the way He could be experienced, was through His presence in the new temple…

The temple of the bodies of His people.

We could now have unprecedented unity with the God of the universe by way of the Holy Spirit living in us.

Once we have accepted Christ’s sacrifice for our sin, we become the new temple for the Holy Spirit. We are saved – no longer separated from God – through the conferring of justification. The Holy Spirit comes to reside within us, giving us direct access to God.

But in order to be unified with the Holy Spirit, and to be able to actively experience Him and hear Him and have Him work in us, we must be on the path toward sanctification – repenting of sin to become more like God. When we confess our sin and purge our lives of sin, moment-by-moment, the Holy Spirit works in and through us. When we do not, even though the Holy Spirit is there, it is like being separated by the veil to the Holy of Holies. God’s presence remains, but we lose access to Him. We can’t hear Him or feel Him or be guided by Him effectively, because the unconfessed sin breaks our union with Him:

  • “Then the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces. Should I let them inquire of me at all?…‘When [they] separate themselves from me and set up idols in their hearts and put a wicked stumbling block before their faces…I will set my face against them and make them an example and a byword. I will remove them from my people”. Ezekiel 14:2,7-8.
  • “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” Psalm 66:18
  • “If anyone turns a deaf ear to my instruction, even their prayers are detestable.” Proverbs 28:9
  • “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives…so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” 1 Peter 3:7
  • “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11:25
  • “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24
  • “Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him.” 1 John 3:21
  • “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” Isaiah 59:2

Enter the power of sexual sin.

Sexual Sin Re-hangs the Veil

Let’s look again at 1 Corinthians 6.

  • ”Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 6:18-20

The verse says that sexual sins are outside a person’s body, but whoever sins sexually sins against his own body. This means that when we sin sexually, we are sinning against the temple of the Lord – where God Himself resides. Sexual sin effectively separates us from God just like the Israelites were separated from the Holy of Holies.

The next verses provide even more clarification about how sexual sin separates one from God in a unique way:

  • “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything… The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.” 1 Corinthians 6:12-17

The body was made to be God’s temple. The unity with one’s spouse draws a person into union of spirit with the Lord as well. The physical-emotional-spiritual connection between Christian husband and wife coming together in marital sex unites those spouses not only with each other, but with the God who lives in them. Conversely, sex outside of marriage violates and breaks the union not only of husband and wife, but the union with God, who is living within our bodily temples.

In effect, sexual sin starts to functionally re-hang the veil in our lives that Christ’s blood, in actuality, tore down.

The Power of Sexual Immorality

I believe that scripture tells us that sexual sin, more than any other, puts up the veil in our “body temples”. Just like its power to draw us in connectivity to both our spouse and the Lord, its ability to separate us from others and from God is unique. There is a component to sex that has the capability of sucking us down into relational carnage and spiritual apostasy like nothing else. All other sins are outside the body, but sexual immorality is against one’s own body – against the temple of The Lord. Recapturing unity with The Lord (and with others) is easier with other sins than it is with sexual immorality, not because God sees sex differently from other sins, but because of the holistic consequences it has on our beings.

Sexual sin captures us like nothing else.

Sex is power. When enjoyed in the guidelines of marriage as God intended it, that force brings us into an experience of everything good – all of the good that is the essence of God Himself. But when that power is unrestrained, or when no longer channeled into its created framework, it becomes a tremendous force of destruction – a means for ushering us into the nature of Satan.

Scripture warns about the unique power that sexual sin has.

Scripture on the Power of Sex

Song of Solomon

Song of Solomon warns against arousing sexual desire before the marriage relationship:

  • “Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field; Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.” (1:7)

And emphasizes the importance of sealing the marriage vow, due to the power of sensual love:

  • “Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm, for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave, It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away.” (8:6-7)

Later, Song of Solomon advises what how to protect young women’s sexual purity, depending on whether the young woman is a “wall”, or a “door”:

  • “We have a little sister, and her breasts are not yet grown. What shall we do for our sister on the day she is spoken for? If she is a wall, we will build towers of silver on her. If she is a door, we will enclose her with panels of cedar.” (8:8-9)

The theme reverberates: sexual love is tremendously powerful, should be treated with caution, and must be protected for the marriage relationship.

Malachi

In the book of Malachi, God underscores the centrality of the marital relationship, and the comprehensive physical-emotional-spiritual union that it entails:

  • “Another thing you do: You flood the Lord’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer looks with favor on your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth. “The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the Lord Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.” Malachi 2:13-16

God demonstrates that unfaithfulness to one’s spouse violates a person’s oneness, in body and spirit, with God. These verses equate marital unfaithfulness with violence, and illustrate that through marital sex, God shares his creative and nurturing power, out of an interest for “godly offspring”. Most critically, Malachi’s words show that sexual sin, through breaking the marriage covenant, breaks God’s connection and relationship with His people.

David

The incredible power of sexual sin is evident in King David’s adultery with Bathsheba. The man after God’s own heart brought calamity to his household because of his sin:

  • “Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’ “This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’” Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the Lord, the son born to you will die.” 2 Samuel 12:10-14.

And true to this prophecy, the consequences of David’s sin were lived out through his sons: His first son by Bathsheba died (2 Samuel 12); Amnon committed incest with his sister Tamar (2 Samuel 13); Absalom killed his brother Amnon (2 Samuel 13), tried to take over David’s throne (2 Samuel 15), and slept with his father’s concubines (2 Samuel 16); Adonijah declared himself king over David (1 Kings 1), and Solomon’s love for foreign women turned him away from God (1 Kings 11). David’s sexual sin had repercussions that lasted for generations.

Proverbs

Proverbs also addresses the power and entrapment of sexual sin, and how it leads to a loss of honor and dignity, loss of home and wealth, and, ultimately, death:

  • “Wisdom will save you also from the adulterous woman, from the wayward woman with her seductive words, who has left the partner of her youth and ignored the covenant she made before God. Surely her house leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead. None who go to her return or attain the paths of life.” Proverbs 2:16-19
  • “For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave.” Proverbs 5:3-5
  • “Now then, my sons, listen to me; do not turn aside from what I say. Keep to a path far from her, do not go near the door of her house, lest you lose your honor to others and your dignity to one who is cruel, lest strangers feast on your wealth and your toil enrich the house of another. At the end of your life you will groan, when your flesh and body are spent.” Proverb 5:7-11
  • “For this command is a lamp, this teaching is a light, and correction and instruction are the way to life, keeping you from your neighbor’s wife, from the smooth talk of a wayward woman. Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes. For a prostitute can be had for a loaf of bread, but another man’s wife preys on your very life. Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched? So is he who sleeps with another man’s wife; no one who touches her will go unpunished….But a man who commits adultery has no sense; whoever does so destroys himself. Blows and disgrace are his lot, and his shame will never be wiped away.” Proverbs 6:23-33

Paul

Paul addresses the power of sex, and the subsequent necessity of protecting the sexual relationship in marriage, in his exhortation to the Corinthians:

  • “But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband….Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” 1 Corinthians 7:2-5:
  • “But if [the unmarried widows] cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” 1 Corinthians 7:9

Christ

Contrary to the popular notion that Christ was “soft” on sexual sin, Jesus actually took a harder stance on sexual sin than his contemporary Jewish culture (and Jewish law) – going beyond the law to a higher standard. He also implied the eternal, catastrophic consequences of unrepentant sexual sin:

  • “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” Matthew 5:27-29
  • “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” Mark 7:21-23
  • “Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.” Matthew 19:3-8.

Consequences of Sex Gone Wrong

Scripture is crystal clear – sex is incredibly powerful, and this power is destructive when not channeled through the permanent, committed, physical/emotional/spiritual union of marriage.

This should not be surprising. Part 5 explained the ways marital sex exemplifies the nature and essence of God, and invites humanity to share in His power – the power of companionship and wholeness, mutual giving and fulfillment, and the ability to create and nurture life. The converse is equally true: sex outside of God’s intention has the power to exemplify the nature and essence of Satan – the power of dissolution and destruction, taking and leaving empty, and killing. Just as God is goodness, pleasure, freedom, and life, Satan is evil, pain, bondage, and death.

Contrary to the secular promise of freedom and pleasure from unrestricted sex, reality supplies abundant testimony to the devastating consequences of sex outside of God’s created plan. Many a young woman has experienced the loss of dignity from waking up after a night of drunken sex to a guy who wanted nothing more than a good time. Plenty of husbands have had their assets divided up in child support and alimony, following a divorce as a result of infidelity. Children are raised in homes without fathers when the men who beget them choose personal freedom over personal responsibility. Sexual addiction has become an epidemic – wreaking havoc on individuals and families at an unprecedented rate.[1] Thousands of unborn babies are killed through abortion when sex has led to unintended, and unwanted, pregnancy. AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases destroy health and can lead to physical death. But it is often the other deaths – the death of relationships, as well as the destruction to psychological and emotional well-being – in which sexual sin specializes the most. Scripture underscores what reality plays out – sex is a force of disaster when not enjoyed within the boundaries of the marriage relationship for which it was created.

However, the worst consequence of sexual sin is not physical, emotional, or relational.

Sexual Sin as Idolatry

Sexual sin not only has the power to destroy our physical, emotional, and relational lives – it can decimate our spiritual lives as well.

  • “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” Colossians 3:5
  • “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people…For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient…For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.” Ephesians 5:3-12
  • “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality;that each of you should learn to control your own bodyin a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8

These verses equate sexual sin (amongst other things) with idolatry. In other words, unrepentant sex outside of God’s boundaries is akin to worshiping another god. It is, for all intents and purposes, a rejection of the Lord.

Why? Because it puts self – personal pleasure – above God; anything that is elevated above the Lord is idolatry.

  • “You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3
  • “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple….In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” Luke 14:26, 33

This concept is played out in the Old Testament repeatedly, with the faithlessness of the Israelites (God’s people) being compared to adultery. The parallels between the sexual relationship of marriage and the relationship of God’s people to Himself are particularly cogent in Proverbs (2, 5-7), Jeremiah (3, 5, 23), Ezekiel (16, 23) and the book of Hosea. The comprehensive physical-emotional-spiritual union of husband and wife are an earthly picture of the bond between God and His people.

Scripture underscores time and time again the comprehensiveness of the physical-emotional-spiritual union of marriage, and how that relationship echoes the one between Him and those who love Him. As a result, violating this union, the Bible reiterates, is a rejection of God Himself: the essence of idolatry.

Eternal Consequences of Unrepentant Sexual Sin

 

Idolatry not only angers the Lord and separates people from Him; it keeps people from the Kingdom of God. Because sexual sin has the power to separate a person from God, it brings with it eternal consequences: unrepentant sexual immorality can keep people from fellowship with God forever.

  • “In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.” Jude 1:7
  • ”Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau…” Hebrews 12:14-16
  •  “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” Hebrews 13:4
  • “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God…24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:19-21, 24
  • “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with mennor 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.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
  • “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” Revelation 21:8

Far beyond simply a physical action, sexual sin has phenomenal emotional, relational and spiritual force as well. Its destructive power not only separates us from others, but it can jeopardize our relationship with God Himself, and our ability to live eternally with Him.

Forgiveness For Past Sexual Sin – Justification

 

What does this mean? Sex is not, contrary to what the world’s voices tell us, just about pleasure. In fact, to say so is akin to claiming that a climb to the top of Mount Everest is about enjoying the flowers the terrain produces. Certainly the flowers are a beautiful, wonderful part of the climb, but they do not begin to encapsulate the magnitude of the experience of scaling the world’s highest peak. Sex between a husband and a wife certainly is and should be a pleasure – but what it is, fundamentally, is a sacrament that ushers us into the presence and power of God. And, because of that, sexual deviation has, conversely, a unique potential to cut us off from the presence and power of God.

There are two parts to our spiritual journey:

1) Justification, by which we are saved through faith, and

2) Sanctification, by which we are made more like Christ through our daily repentance of sin and efforts to walk with Him in obedience.

Sexual purity is central to our process of sanctification. Our practice of sexuality is essential to our connection with The Lord. It means that all expressions of sexuality outside of those intended by the Creator within marriage between a man and a woman are sins that separate us from each other, and from God in a fundamental way. What does that mean for those of us who have sinned sexually in some way? Those of us – all of us – who have been less than pure before our Lord, in thought and deed? Does this mean that any sexual sin will keep us from the Kingdom of God?

When we accept Christ’s payment for our sin through faith in Him by confessing our past sin, we are forgiven. We are no longer bound by our past failures, and God’s grace covers our iniquities through Christ’s sacrifice, giving us eternal life (1 John 1:9). Christ has made us pure! That is justification.

  • “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:10
  • “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:5-7
  • “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Once we have confessed our sin – sexual or otherwise – and have received Christ’s sacrifice for our sins by choosing to be His disciple, we are completely forgiven. He removes our sin as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12), and sees Christ’s atonement rather than our sin. Christ’s blood covers over our sin and we, incredibly, receive His righteousness!

  • “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” Romans 8:1

Repentance and Sexual Purity – Sanctification

But scripture is clear that justification alone is not the only factor. We also have an obligation to continue our process of becoming more pure – of becoming more like Him. That is sanctification. It is persistent, unrepentant sin that jeopardizes our eternal place with the Lord; a rejection of the process of becoming more like Christ. A person who has been truly justified – saved – by the Holy Spirit cannot help but be on the path of sanctification.

It is, of course, not our place to judge whether or not someone else is on the path of sanctification – that is the Spirit’s job:

  • “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Romans 8:16-17

Our job is to focus on ourselves; to focus daily, once having been justified, on loving the Lord and becoming more like Him. If we are God’s children, through both justification and sanctification, we will enjoy eternity with Him.

The process of sanctification is, along with justification, is essential for our status as God’s children. Those who are “His” are obedient to His commands:

  • “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21
  • “Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” John 14:23
  • “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.” 1 John 3:9-10
  • “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” Romans 6:22
  •  If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.” 1 John 1:6
  • “ We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” Hebrews 2:1
  • “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” Romans 8:5-8,13
  • “Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.” 1 John 2:4
  • “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” John 15:5-6
  • “Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” Galatians 6:8

Our focus, then must be on ourselves. It must be on working, moment-by-moment to becoming more like Him in all ways, including in our sexual lives. It means that we repent, as soon as we move even slightly in the direction of sin. We recognize our sin, admit it, and take intentional steps to both turn away from sexual sin and seek His way. When we do so, He offers forgiveness, and our unity with Him is restored.

It means that we walk with Christ daily, reading His word, listening for His voice, responding to the Holy Spirit’s conviction, and seeking His purity and righteousness.

Jesus and Sexual Sin

Jesus’ response to sexual sin, with the woman caught in adultery (John 8), is instructive to all of us. When others were looking to condemn her, Jesus pointed them first back to their own sin; to a recognition of their own unworthiness before God. He then turned to the woman and offered forgiveness for her sexual sin. But he did so with the expectation that she would change: “Go now, and leave your life of sin.”

Christ’s message was this:

1) Focus on your own sin before seeking to judge anyone else; always use your own unworthiness before God as the starting point.

2) Forgiveness is always offered for sexual sin that is confessed and rejected.

3) To be a follower of Christ, one must continually work toward becoming righteous, including living a life of sexual purity.

Living It Out

This means that we – all of us – need to re-examine our views of sex, our responses toward sex and marriage, and our own sexual behaviors. It means that we must stop compartmentalizing sex as simply a physical act, and see it instead as a sacrament that ushers us into the presence and power of God.

I realize what I’m saying. And I realize just how counter-cultural, and, in many cases, how difficult it is.

It means that young men whose hormones are raging will have to give their desires to The Lord and remain abstinent until they marry. It means that women whose husbands give them little affection or love must choose to flee temptations provided by an attentive co-worker. It means that those who find themselves attracted to persons of the same sex will have to refuse to act on their homosexual desires, even if it means not ever having a sexual mate, and find their fulfillment in the Lord. It means that men will have to put radical protections in place for themselves to avoid indulging sexual attraction through fantasies or pornography. It means that women will have to give up romance novels and movies that capture their emotional and sexual fantasy. It means people struggling with gender identity must find their identity in Christ, to help them embrace the gender given them by the Creator. It means that young people will have to reevaluate how interactions with potential partners help them, or impede them in preparing for marriage, and make changes accordingly so that their dating relationships honor the Lord. It means seeing relationships as opportunities for service rather than opportunities for entertainment. It means valuing obedience and responsibility more than self-fulfillment and self-indulgence.

It means choosing God’s commands over our own desires.

It is hard. Sometimes agonizingly, excruciatingly hard.

Yes.

But Christ knew that denying self and following Him were hard. He knew it, because He lived out “hard”. That’s why Christ said:

  • “You must deny yourself and take up your cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23 and
  • “For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-15

Deny yourself. Yes, even in the area of sexuality. We deny ourselves to any expression of sexuality that falls short of God’s plan, just as we deny ourselves any expression of any part of our humanity that falls short of God’s plan. It is this denial of self in obedience that show we are truly His.

  •  “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me.” John 14:21
  • “The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them.” 1 John 3:24

The Lord knows the challenge, but He also knows the solution. He said:

  • “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, for I have overcome the world” John 16:33.
  • And He said “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrew 13:4-6, Deut. 31:6, John 14:16-17).

We don’t have to do it alone. As we walk the path of sanctification, the path of self-denial in obedience to Christ, He is with us. And, ultimately, we do it with eternity in mind – living in expectation of the life with Him to come. And God says that when we do, we will get our reward in heaven.

  • “For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.” Matthew 16:27
  • “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

Reclaiming a Biblical View of Sexuality

Christians must reclaim a biblical view and expression of sexuality, for our own ability to have unity with the Holy Spirit, for our process of sanctification, and for our ability to impact the world for Him. Sex has a spiritual, emotional, and physical power like nothing else in the human experience – the ability to experience God’s community, God’s mutual giving in relationships, and God’s power to create and nurture. Sex is one of the most fundamental powers in the human experience, both to draw us to the Lord and to tear us away from Him and others. We cannot become like Christ when we do not allow Him to have control over that power in our lives.

But we don’t deny ourselves alone. We have God, living within the temples of our bodies, to give us the power, comfort, and fulfillment we need to do it.

And, in the end, we will get our reward.

And it will be ever so much better even than sex. Any good we experienced from sex on this earth will pale in comparison.

 


[1] Newsweek, (2011, Nov. 25). “The Sex Addiction Epidemic.” Retrieved from The Daily Beast. http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2011/11/27/the-sex-addiction-epidemic.html

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *