Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What Does the Bible Have to Say About Sex?

This is a lesson I am giving tonight to teens and their parents.  It is a little long, but I believe worth the reading.

What is sex?  Some people may look at the question and say “What a simple question” while others will see obvious problems with it.  In 1998 President Bill Clinton brought into question the definition of sex during a trial concerning allegations of his having an affair with intern Monica Lewinsky.  Our society has continued to blur the lines concerning sex.
What is sex?  It is important for us to have a clear definition of sex and as we take a look through the Bible a biblical definition will develop, but I am not going to begin with the definition of sex.  I want to begin with something that seems completely off the subject.  I want to begin with the statement “we are no longer bound to the laws found in the Old Testament.”

Part of the whole sex issue can actually be tied to an argument that says we are no longer bound by the laws of the Old Testament.  To a certain extent this is true.  We don’t allow the laws concerning clothing to dictate what kind of clothes we wear nor do we allow food laws to influence what we eat or don’t eat.  The fact is, we don’t follow much of the law today. 

Old Testament laws are quite extensive when it comes to sex, but many people argue that since we don’t’ follow the Old Testament laws concerning clothes and food why should we follow the laws concerning sex.  Aren’t such laws antiquated?  They served a function back then, but do we really need to follow such laws into today’s more open-minded world?

When the Gospel was being preached to the Gentiles Jewish Christians were asking similar questions.  It became such a concern that the first church council was called together in Jerusalem.  We find a recounting of this in Acts 15.  Out of this council came four things Gentiles were asked to abstain from.  Three of these things dealt with food and the fourth dealt with sexual immorality.

The leaders in Jerusalem agreed that the Gentiles should not be bound by the same ritualistic laws that Jews were unable to keep generation after generation, but laws concerning food were amongst some of the easier to observe and most Jews did observe them.  If the Gentiles were sensitive and observed some of these “more important” food laws both Jews and Gentiles could fellowship with one another.

So the Jewish Christian leaders basically said that Gentiles did not have to follow the Old Testament laws, well, at least ritual laws.  A distinction needs to be made between the different kinds of laws found in the Old Testament.  There were ritualistic laws which the Jewish Christians realized were not important enough to enforce on the Gentile Christians, but there were also moral laws.  These moral laws were never abolished.  All moral laws can be summed up by the two great commandments of “Love God” and “Love your neighbor.”  Two commands that Jesus himself promoted.

I believe there is some confusion when it comes to sex though.  Two people can engage in sexual acts without thinking that they have offended each other in any way.  In fact, they may even look at what they are doing as a form of “loving” one another.   You can see this confusion in a phrase we use to describe sex.  We call it “love making.”  In a very real sense it can be love making, but the lines have been blurred.

Something else that may not be clear is the definition of “sexual immorality.”  What is sexual immorality?  This phrase alone tells us that there are sexual acts that are not moral.  With all the confusion of what is sexually acceptable today and what is not it is no wonder Christian teens are struggling with sex.  Statistics show that there is little difference between Christian and non-Christian teens when it comes to sex.  The percentages of those engaged in sex before marriage is pretty much equal amongst the two.

The fact that New Testament scripture continually speaks against sexual immorality should cause us to stop and consider exactly what it is.  If there are sexual acts that are immoral then where do we find them?  The New Testament itself doesn’t do much in defining what these acts are.  The reason for this is that the foundation has already been laid and is found in the Old Testament.  God spent a lot of time defining what is sexually acceptable and what is not.

So I want to spend the rest of our time looking at what is constituted as sexually immoral.   Before we do this I want to stress the importance of sexual purity.  The only acceptable place for sex to take place is within the context of marriage.  I Corinthians 7:1-5 can’t make it any clearer.  Sex is to be between one man and one woman who are married.  It is not to be between two people who really believe they are going to get married.  It is not to be between two people who agree to engage in sex as just a way to get release.  It is ONLY to be done in the confines of a marriage between a man and a woman.  This understanding is built upon what God has revealed through Old Testament scripture.

So let’s see what the Old Testament has to say.  Let’s start with Leviticus 18:20-23.  Sexual immorality includes adultery, homosexuality and bestiality.   A Christian should never engage in any of these sexual relationships!   As a side note, a Christian should never practice transvestitism.  We find this in Deut 22:5.

Leviticus 20:10ff tells us how certain sexual relationships will be punished.  In doing so it expands upon the three we just covered to include incest and polyamory. 

So the Old Testament laws pretty much limit sexual relations with your spouse, but some might want to argue that a person could engage in sexual activity without actually having intercourse.  What is commonly referred to as first, second and third base.  A couple of people could do everything up to the point of actual sexual intercourse and not law would be violated.  So some might want to argue but they would be wrong.

Leviticus chapter 20 uses the phrase “uncover the nakedness” showing that it isn’t just sexual intercourse outside of marriage that is wrong, but it includes the uncovering of sexual organs.  Let me put it even more plain then that.  The only one who should ever see or touch your sexual organs is the person you are married to!!  Plain and simple!!  This then goes to include not only personal contact but visual contact as well.  With that being said we now understand why pornography is included in sexual immorality and not only pornography but lust as well.  Jesus says in Matthew 5:27-30 that even the thought of having sexual contact with someone who is not your wife is considered sexual immorality (or adultery).

Jesus says in Matthew 15:10-20 that when it comes down to it, it isn’t just the act that is sinful but the mere thought of committing the act. 

Paul goes on to say in 1 Corinthians 6:18 that sexual sin is a sin against ones own body.  Whereas most sin is done outside the body, meaning against others (for sins is selfishness), sexual sin is sinning against one’s own body.  Why?  Read the entire passage of 1 Corinthians 6:12-20.  Our bodies are temples where the Holy Spirit resides.  Would any Christian dream of walking into a church and smear its walls, pulpit and communion table with their own excrement?  When we sin sexually this is exactly what we are doing.  We are polluting the temple in which the Holy Spirit lives.

I would also like you to consider this.  Jesus said that God detests divorce.  His reason, those who divorce for any reason other then sexual immorality and marry another commit adultery and they stigmatize their ex-spouse as an adulterer.  Now divorce is very common in today’s society and you would be under the impression that it doesn’t stigmatize like it used to, and to a certain extent you would be right.  But let me tell you what sex with more then one person does.  First, you have bound yourself to another person that is more then physical but spiritual as well.  Second, there will always be problems in the marriage due to the fact that one or both partners had given themselves to someone else.  There will be questions of whether one is truly committed to their current spouse.  Comparisons will be made, which is not fair to your spouse.  Overall, it is better to enter into a marriage being sexually pure, not having any expectations of what should happen and excited to discover what this wonderful gift of sex is all about with each other.

So let’s end with answering the question we began with.  What is sex?  According to Scripture it goes beyond the physical act of intercourse.  The term “sex” is applied to the whole realm of physical and/or visual contact of sexual organs with the intent to cause physical pleasure to oneself and/or another.

How far can a Christian go?  The answer is, short of causing sexual pleasure to oneself and/or another person.  Think about how far that one goes.  This means that even kissing can be included in the definition of sex.  If it causes physical pleasure leading to sexual pleasure then it should be avoided as well.  The only appropriate place for sex and sexual activity is within the confines of marriage between one man and one woman.  It is unacceptable in any other context.

I do want to say this.  If you have had sex in the past there is no need to feel guilty.  You can have a new start.  I’m not saying it isn’t going to be as easy as if you never had sex at all, but you have a loving God who provided forgiveness for all sin including sexual sin.  If you have had sex and you have not done so you need to confess your sin.  Admit that you have done wrong in God’s eyes.  You need to repent of that sin.  You need to turn away from it.  This means you are going to have to get some people involved.  If you are struggling sexually with a girlfriend or boyfriend I encourage you to get your parents, or someone godly you trust, involved.  Set boundaries and allow these people to hold you accountable.  Most importantly, accept God’s forgiveness and move on doing what is right.


Sara said...

Excellent job Brian! Can't wait untill next week.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the details for those of us who missed it! Good job, Pastor Brian! Lynette :)