The Sanctity and Sinfulness of Sex
When I taught the WOLBI Jeju students, in Proverbs 5, 6, 7 we met a wise, godly dad teaching his son about the exhilarating pleasure of sex in marriage, and therefore, the imperative to refrain from sex outside of marriage. I asked the students where they learned about sexuality. A few had the sex talk with their parents. No one said they learned about it at church, and almost all of them said they got the information from their peers, many on the internet. Like most American churches, sex is often on the taboo list of subjects in the churches here in Asia.
Down through the centuries, Christianity as a religion has had a love-hate relationship with sex. For example, in the Roman Catholic Church, priests and nuns maintain their special sanctity by remaining celibate, and in spite of the clear evidence that Jesus had siblings, indicating that his mother had sex with Joseph after his birth, for millions Mary remains the Virgin Mary, more holy because she never had sex.
All this pushes the idea that sex is somehow a necessary evil to keep the human race going, but hardly a subject God wants us to talk about in church, and this tells, especially our young people, that it is evil. The secular side responds by stressing that sex is not sinful, it’s liberating, and is to be practiced with abandon.
The Apostle Paul responds by telling us that sex is so holy and sacred it must only be practiced in the committed covenant of a marriage between a man and a woman, and that God will judge all forms of sex outside of marriage. As Paul moves toward the conclusion of his letter to the Galatians, he gets specific about the kinds of actions that flow from our sin nature, and sex outside of marriage is right at the top of his list.
“Now the actions of the sin nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and sensuality ...” Galatians 5:19
The term translated “sexual immorality” is the most general term in Greek to refer to all kinds of illicit sex. It covers the bases from fornication, to adultery, to homosexuality, etc. To understand the next term all we need to do is remember the graffiti on the walls of public bathrooms or listen to the dirty jokes told by late night talk show hosts when all the children are supposed to be in bed. And the final term Paul uses means to live just for the sensations of our bodies.
Romans 1 exposes the deadly spiral that the more we live to electrify our bodily pleasure, the kinkier things get. Many in contemporary culture, like the Romans and Greeks of old, proudly proclaim that all of this is just “innocent” fun. If that’s true, then why do we have to have increasing regulations on our university campuses because women are being abused and raped?
Paul is still telling us the truth. All those who practice this “free love” will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven (Galatians 5:21). He proclaims the Good News that can forgive us for sexual sin, but that the freedom we receive in Jesus is not the freedom to sin, but the freedom not to sin. Jesus’ Spirit is present to keep us free from the slavery to any kind of sexual immorality.
LORD, thanks for the incredible pleasure and joy of sex with the woman you gave me when I was only twenty. Continue to help Mary and me to be passionately in love with one another and to be kept safe from any form of sexual immorality.
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