Sexual Purity—God’s Will
Investigations by the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News documented that more than 700 people, many of them children, had been molested by Southern Baptist pastors, church employees, and volunteers in the last twenty years. Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission for the Southern Baptists, expressed that the revelations are “alarming and scandalous” and called for immediate, open reporting about abuse, and comfort and support for the harmed. Dr. Albert Mohler, the President of Southern Seminary, publicly apologized for his support of C.J. Mahaney whose Sovereign Grace Church covered up the sexual abuse of children, and JD Greear, President of the Southern Baptist Convention, stressed that 700 victims can’t be the “whole story.” He expressed righteous anger and horror at what the abusers had done and how leaders had allowed them to continue while silencing the victims.
If ever it was time for those of us who claim to trust Jesus Christ to listen to what the Apostle Paul indicated was the essence of the pure, distinctive life that true followers of Jesus must actually live, it’s now. And it’s about sex.
“For this is the will of God-- your personal dedication to him as your Sovereign Lord, and this means you must abstain from all forms of sexual immorality. Each of you must know how to control his or her vessel (body) in holiness and honor, not controlled by lustful passions, like the pagans, who don’t know God. No one should transgress against his brother and take advantage of him by immoral actions because the Lord will actively punish all this kind of behavior.
When I was with you, I told you, solemnly testifying that God would judge immorality. For God has not called us to live lives of sexual impurity, but to be set apart, sanctified for him. Therefore, the one who rejects what I’m saying is not rejecting human commands but God’s, the very one who is giving us His Holy Spirit to control our lusts.” 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8
Paul commands that there should be a distinct difference when it came to sex between how the Thessalonians lived before they trusted in Jesus and after. He doesn’t expect those who don’t know God to control their sexual passions, but he does expect believers to. Our culture often proclaims that the passion of sex freely expressed is liberating. They shout this until someone gets hurt, and then it’s lawsuits.
God has said from the beginning that sex outside the bounds of a covenant marriage between a man and a woman wounds and destroys. Paul didn’t shout in the marketplace of Thessalonica at the entrance to their fertility rite temples how wicked they were. Instead, he shared the forgiveness and power of transformation Jesus brings, and then he challenged all those who believed to live like it. The unbelieving world has the right to call us out and expose us when we don’t act like Jesus teaches us to act, and even worse, shelter those who keep on abusing the most vulnerable. It’s time to fast and pray, and as the Body of Christ cry out for his forgiveness.
LORD, by the power of your Spirit bring healing and restoration to the victims of sexual abuse as church leaders do accept their responsibility to deal strongly with unrepentant, repeated sin. Demonstrate by the joy and health that true sexual purity brings to your children by the power of your Spirit controlling our lusts how good it is to be liberated by Jesus.
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