Monday, May 31, 2010

Questions About Sex

We had a great Sunday yesterday at church.  We usually have less people in attendance over Memorial Day weekend because so many families are traveling, but we were up yesterday - most likely because we were covering the tough topic of sex.  It seems everyone could use some help in maturing in this area of our lives.  Here are some of the many text messages that came in after I preached yesterday and my best attempt at a quick answer...

1) Will we be condemned before God if we have had sex before marriage?  Sex outside of marriage is the same as every other sin in God's economy, meaning that it does bring condemnation and death, but not any more than stealing or lying or gossiping does.  Sin is sin, and the grace of God poured out in the blood of Jesus Christ covers all sin.  Sexual sin is unique (as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:18) in some of its consequences in our own lives, but it is not unique in its consequence for our relationship with God.  When we trust Jesus as Savior, He saves us from all sin - sexual sin included.  As I said Sunday, sometime the most difficult part of moving beyond our sexual past is forgiving ourselves - in other words, believing that God's forgiveness is real.  Be encouraged - His forgiveness covers all our sin.

2) Does it cause men to struggle with purity when ladies in their life dress immodestly?  The short answer is yes.  The Bible speaks to how women dress in multiple places because women can use their physical beauty as a source of trust (an idol) that they can use to manipulate men and get what they want in life.  Men are attracted to women by sight, and since women are not attracted to men by sight (as much), they can fail to understand and appreciate how their dress can impact men.  All this being said, men cannot wait for all women to begin to dress modestly to have a mental life of purity.  Even if most of the women in our lives dress modestly, there will still be women around us (at the store, the bank, at work) who don't, and we have to develop the discipline of not lusting over those women.

3) Is adultery the only free pass to unforgiveness and divorce?  Jesus said that divorce was acceptable in situations where adultery had been committed, but He didn't say it was best or even desirable.  Divorce never fixes the situation - it simply changes the difficulties that you are dealing with.  I believe that couples can reconcile even after adultery occurs if repentance is sincere and life-change occurs.  Also, everyone needs to recognize that adultery is not a free pass to unforgiveness.  Unforgiveness is deadly to the person holding on the pain and hurt and bitterness, not the person who has hurt us.  Regardless of what someone has done to us (even including adultery), we cannot live with unforgiveness in our hearts.  We must forgive by the power of the Spirit in us.

4) What if you try to confess and talk about your past with your spouse but they don't want to hear it?  This is a great question, and actually, a very common one.  Because most of us bring sexual issues with us into our marriage relationship, we have to be wise about how we handle our past.  In my personal opinion, we need to confess in broad terms what we have done and/or experienced that will impact our sexual relationship in marriage.  However, I don't think we need to confess every detail of everything we've ever done sexually.  That would be unnecessary and painful to our spouse.  Our spouse does need to know if we've been sexually active or if we have struggled with pornography addiction, etc., but they don't need to know that on October 4, 1998, I went out with this person and we made out at the movies.  It is pointless to go into that much detail unless there is something in a specific experience (where sexual abuse or date rape, etc.) that continues to cause you pain and hurt in your sexual relationship with your spouse.

5) What is God's view on homosexuality?  Does God love his gay children as well or are they going to hell?  I am really thankful to be able to attempt an answer to this question.  I know that this is a difficult question for many people either because of their own sexual struggles or because of friends and family who have shared that they are gay.  First, we need to recognize that all people are created in the image of God and given significance and worth and value by God.  Rather than label people based on their sexual desires or orientation, we need to label all people as just people first.  I am not a straight man first.  I am just a man, created and loved by God.  Second, we need to apologize for all the terrible things that people in our tribe have said toward homosexual people.  We have many stupid, unloving people in our tribe who have held signs that have said terrible things like "God hates fags."  I hope and pray for the day that homosexual men and women can forgive us for that and take a new look at Jesus Christ.  Finally, we need to confess that the Bible does say that homosexual activity is outside the will and plan of God.  The Bible doesn't condemn homosexual desire, just like it doesn't condemn heterosexual desire.  The question is what we do with that desire.  If we use our heterosexual desire inside of marriage, then we are honoring God with it.  If we use our heterosexual desire outside of marriage, then we are not honoring God with it.  If someone has homosexual desire, then they are challenged by Scripture to live a celibate life in order to honor God with their desires.  I understand that this is difficult, but all men and women are challenged to submit their sexual desire under the lordship of Jesus, and as best as I can understand Scripture, this is what it means for men and women with homosexual desire.

6) Finally, what can we say about David and the OT kings who had all those wives?  Is God okay with multiples wives?  Another great question!  From the very beginning of the Bible (Genesis 2), God set up marriage to be between one woman and one man for life.  When Jesus and Paul speak to the issue of marriage, they go back to Genesis 2 to show that God's design and intention for marriage has never changed.  Within this bigger biblical narrative, we can see that David and the other OT kings were outside of God's plan by taking on multiple wives.  In fact, the Scriptures never glorify what they did or tell us to follow their example.  Rather, the text tells us that it was their multiple wives that led their hearts astray from the heart of God.  As they added wives from different lands who worshiped different gods, they brought idols into their homes, and their allegiance to their many wives eventually led them astray spiritually.  Instead of exalting what they did, the Bible tells that what they did was foolish and did great damage to them personally and the nation of Israel.

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