Today I would like to examine a topic of considerable difficulty for many Christians today. Some of the most prevalent sins committed by Christians involve sexuality in some form, be it adultery, fornication, pornography, or other such things. Let us now examine these adversities and how to handle them.
Sexuality is always a difficult topic, and our society today does not make our jobs any easier. Sex is ubiquitous; it is in our e-mail box, on the television, in the magazine rack at the checkout counter of the grocery store. The mantra of “sex sells” is an understatement; one can find sex being used to sell everything from automobiles to chewing gum. There are no scruples when it comes to sexuality on the television or on the radio. Everywhere we look we are bombarded by sexuality, and most of the world has accepted this. Fornication, or “living together,” is not only accepted but extolled. Adultery is in theory still “wrong” in the eyes of most people, but that does not seem to stop them from being adulterers. While heterosexual marriages end up in divorce more often than not, homosexuality is approved to the point of allowing “homosexual marriages!” Meanwhile, the average teenager and twenty-something cannot help but notice the immodesty of the age, for whenever the temperature rises above 70 degrees many girls will wear clothing that leaves little, if anything, to the imagination. That same young man might be checking his e-mail box and find not just links to pornography, but pornographic pictures sent to him without any provocation!
In a society such as ours, with this sexual desire burning feverishly, it is extremely difficult to remain pure. It does not help that our society seems to despise abstinence and purity, considering them relics of an earlier era. We may take to heart, however, the fact that our society is at least not as bad (yet) as the Roman world of Jesus and Paul, where you were considered strange to the point of heretical if you decided to only have sexual relations with your wife. Adultery was so rampant that Herodotus, a Greek historian, remarks with wonder when one of his historical characters “happened to fall in love with his own wife.” Therefore, we see that sexuality and sexual sin has been a perpetual problem in the history of the world. What, then, are we to do about it?
Let us now examine the Scriptures concerning sexuality:
- Do not be afraid to marry in order to resist temptation. Our society has not only become more sexually open, but also has begun to despise younger marriages. One becomes sexually mature by 16 but is not expected to marry for at least another eight to ten years. For those Christians who are above 18 and in serious relationships, remember these two passages of Scripture, 1 Corinthians 10:13 and 1 Corinthians 7:9:
There hath no temptation taken you but such as man can bear: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation make also the way of escape, that ye may be able to endure it.
But if they have not continency, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.
We as Christians must also remember to not be overly critical of younger Christians in their early twenties who desire to marry, for we ought not be a stumbling block to them in their desire to be faithful to God.
- In marriage, do not defraud one another sexually. Paul says the following in 1 Corinthians 7:3-5:
Let the husband render unto the wife her due: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power over her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power over his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be by consent for a season, that ye may give yourselves unto prayer, and may be together again, that Satan tempt you not because of your incontinency.
The marriage was designed for intimacy (Hebrews 13:4), and a proper marital relationship will involve the sexual satisfaction of both husband and wife. This is necessary so that there will not be temptation to sin, as seen above in verse 5. This is a difficult saying, and one not often explored, but nonetheless it must be spoken– too many Christians (many of them men) have turned to adultery and pornography because their sexual needs were not being fulfilled by their spouse.
- Marry, but marry without an eye for others. Sexual sins do not end in marriage, and the temptations for sin are just as great if not greater. Remember the words of the Lord in Malachi 2:16a, Matthew 5:27-28, and Matthew 5:31-32:
“For I hate putting away,” saith the LORD, the God of Israel.
“Ye have heard that it was said, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery:’
but I say unto you, that every one that looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”
“It was said also, ‘Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:’
but I say unto you, that every one that putteth away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, maketh her an adulteress: and whosoever shall marry her when she is put away committeth adultery.”
These verses teach plainly the following: 1) do not divorce (except for those whose spouse has committed adultery, and even then it does not have to be so); 2) do not look upon a woman to lust (and yes, this does include pornography; what human looks at pornography for any other reason?); and 3) do not commit adultery. The message may sound contradictory, but do not marry just for sexual satisfaction, but for the purpose of helping one another get to Heaven.
- Be modest. This message is directed primarily toward the ladies, but is also relevant for men. A woman’s body, no matter how beautiful or grotesque it may be in her own eyes, can be very sexually enticing to a man. A woman who uncovers much of her flesh, or just certain portions of her flesh, appears in the eyes of many men to be seductive and portrays her as available. Let us hear the words of the Scriptures in Proverbs 7:9-10, 1 Timothy 2:9-10 and 1 Peter 3:3-4:
And, behold, there met him a woman With the attire of a harlot, and wily of heart. She is clamorous and wilful; Her feet abide not in her house.
In like manner, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefastness and sobriety; not with braided hair, and gold or pearls or costly raiment; but (which becometh women professing godliness) through good works.
Whose adorning let it not be the outward adorning of braiding the hair, and of wearing jewels of gold, or of putting on apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in the incorruptible apparel of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
We see here that modesty is very important for the Christian, especially the Christian woman, so as to not give a cause of stumbling for men.
- If you are tempted to perform a sexual sin, do not think that it comes without consequence. One of the primary justifications that many give for themselves when they commit sexual sins is the “harmlessness” of it all. If one looks at pornography, or fornicates, who does it harm? No one is defrauded of property, no one is physically injured, so what would the problem be? The sexually transmitted diseases of our day, including AIDS, has in some ways lessened this form of logic, but this type of argument is predicted even by Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:16-20:
Or know ye not that he that is joined to a harlot is one body? for, “The twain,” saith he, “shall become one flesh.”
But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. Or know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God? and ye are not your own; for ye were bought with a price: glorify God therefore in your body.
The message of Paul is clear: while there may not be physical consequences for the sexual sin, it does provide strong offense to the body which happens to be the temple of the Holy Spirit. If you are considering a sexual sin and attempt to justify it to yourself thinking that no one needs to know and that you are not hurting anyone, ask yourself: if the Holy Spirit were present, would you do it? If you were in a temple of God, would you do this thing? Most likely you would not do so– therefore, why even consider doing such things in the flesh when your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?
Sexuality, in the proper marital relationship, can be a very rewarding part of one’s life. Unfortunately, our society has used and perverted that impulse for monetary gain. Meanwhile, our society has also began accepting things that are simply not right in the Scriptures, and should be forsaken by all Christians. In this oversexed society, we must remember the words of Jesus with more diligence in Matthew 5:14-16:
“Ye are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a lamp, and put it under the bushel, but on the stand; and it shineth unto all that are in the house. Even so let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
We must show our light to men in the area of sexual purity by living up to the Biblical ideal: the husband of one wife (or vice versa) or intending on doing so, not defrauding one another, dressing modestly, and renouncing the ungodliness of the sexual lusts of the society. This message is critical for Christians young in the flesh, who are armed with hormones but must contain them. I would exhort these young Christians by declaring to them that it is not wrong to marry to prevent fornication– but do not marry for that alone. Marry someone intending on being their partner from life, and spare the church of the future many of the marriage, divorce, and remarriage woes that currently are spreading. Dress modestly yourselves, and work diligently to refrain from lusting for others, especially when they are dressed immodestly. Many a man and woman have ruined their lives and the lives of others by engaging in sexual sin. Keep your light pure and shining, maintain your sexuality in the Biblical constraints, and continue to live for Heaven.