“You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14).
I learned early in my Christian ‘walk’ that “doing church is hard work.” I am here to tell you that “doing marriage is also hard work.” Both require us “to put our hands to the plow and not turn back.”
When God says, “You will not commit adultery” he is giving us a word to live by. Not just those of us who are married. Not just those who have problems in marriage. It is a word for all of us to live by. This word to live by affirms that all of us are stakeholders in certain covenants and boundaries. And when those covenants and boundaries are broken, we are all affected.
As we continue our series we’re trying to reclaim one of God’s most precious gifts. To do that today, we’re going to need to speak very candidly about it – even though we’ve never been very good at talking about it in “church.”
Have you noticed? We can talk about worship, bible study, prayer, our witness, parenting, even marriage seminars, but we are uneasy talking about s-e-x. We can talk about 5 love languages, 10 habits of successful marriages, 7 principles of good communication, but we can’t talk about s-e-x….until today. I want you to be comfortable because I am comfortable discussing this subject.
For some of us, our parents never said anything about it. For others, the only instruction we received was that sex was dirty….and it often came from equally uneducated teens our own age.
Sexuality is such a powerful part of human personality and behavior that we would naturally expect the Bible to address the subject. It is so powerful a part of human nature it needs divine direction. We need to know the rules by which this part of life is to be governed.
Scripture has a very balanced approach to matters pertaining to sex. For one thing, it is always tasteful yet very clear in what it says on the subject. That manner of approach will be our standard for this study of the seventh commandment.
For another, the Bible avoids the mistake of placing sex in either of the two extreme positions that human thought and conduct usually give it. It steers clear of the puritanical disposition to ignore or deny sexual passion in human beings; it also shuns the materialistic tendency to focus all of life around this one aspect of personality.
Sexuality is treated as an important part of human personality, and sexual acts are ordained of God as a means by which a husband and wife may express their love for and commitment to one another in a language without words.
The seventh commandment is intended to exalt and defend the sacredness of sex within marriage and to show us how destructive the same power can be when taken from its proper context and made ugly by sin.
So today we need to speak very honestly about sex and intimacy for two reasons. First of all, the Bible does! Sex was God’s idea; there is an entire book of the Bible focused on it; and in fact, there is more sexual imagery in the Bible than you can shake a stick at.
Sex was given as a gift to us: God’s children, living in a marriage relationship, trying to honor Him. He gave it to us. Shouldn’t our marriages have more sex and better sex than anyone else?
But there’s a second reason we need to talk about it: It’s about time. Our silence has in many ways allowed the world to define what sex should be. To be honest, the church has run from this topic for far too long and in doing so, we have conceded this ground to the enemy. Here’s what I mean:
- Every 2 ½ minutes, someone in America is sexually assaulted.
- Almost three-quarters (73%) of the victims knew their assailants.
- In 2010, almost 225,000 rapes occurred; 48% of the victims were under the age of 18.
- There is a serious problem found on our college/university campuses right now about sexual assaults. It is very much in the news!
- Wendy is working with a group of young girls (most under 13) in Kigali who have come out of sex trafficking, or have been raped (usually by a family friend and relative, and many are pregnant as a result. Funds that have been sent to them are now being used to pay for a Christian counselor to spend time with them monthly. After her first month with these girls, she had to seek some counseling herself to process what she was hearing. They are also providing a part-time guard on the place since they are easy victims)
Satan has been very effective at polluting what God created sex to be. In fact, it has become a double-edged sword. It can be used for the greatest good, or the greatest evil. There is no gift that on the one hand holds more promise, and on the other is more fraught with danger than sex. There is no holy act that is as susceptible to contamination. Sex is the perfect gift from God, and the perfect weapon of the enemy.
We can’t afford to tiptoe around the subject any longer. It’s time to take ownership of the dialogue. It’s time to reclaim God’s gift!
1.Sacred sex is relationship-based.
You might say “Well of course it is!” but not necessarily. The corruption of sex occurs outside of relationship: a fantasy in your mind about someone at the office, pornography after your spouse goes to sleep, adult movies in your hotel room alone, or sex with a stranger. But sacred sex is always within the context of one specific kind of relationship – married heterosexuals – and we’ll talk about why in a minute.
Sacred sex is relationship-based because it takes real courage to be fully connected to another person – to be completely vulnerable with them. It takes a lot of courage to open ourselves to another human. In fact, if you remember your King James Version Bible, you may recall that the Hebrew word for sex was translated “to know.” “Adam knew Eve, and she conceived a son…” I don’t think that’s an accident. Sacred sex is built on relationship, where we are known – where all the walls between us come down.
2.Sacred sex is grounded in intimacy. This is especially challenging for men, who need about 15 seconds to be “in the starting blocks and ready for action.” Gentlemen, I hate to be the one to break this to you, but intimacy cannot be achieved in the 15 seconds it takes you to be ready for sex. To say the same thing in a different way: men are like a micro-wave oven (fast) and women are more like a crock-pot (very-y-y slow).
Sacred sex is grounded in intimacy because it values the person more than anything else. – and that doesn’t come across so well when you walk in the door and say, “I’m ready!” During counseling one time, a woman said to a minister, “You know, I think my husband just needs my body parts to show up. As long as that happens, he’s fine. Sometimes I wish he’d love me – the person”. I suspect there is a chorus of millions of women behind her who would echo that sentiment.
I need to talk with the men here because the intimacy we’re talking about is often an issue with men. In God’s plan for sex, emotional intimacy comes before physical. That’s not how we were conditioned, but it is God’s way. Taking a sincere interest in your wife’s day…helping out around the house instead of criticizing…giving her your full attention instead of halfway listening while you check email…that builds trust that spreads throughout your marriage. God’s plan is to connect first and foremost with the person, not just the body parts.
Imagine this: what if your wife heard you praying for her? What if, in her presence, you asked God to make you a better husband, a better servant, a better father? What if you confessed your wish to please her? That, gentlemen, is Biblical foreplay. Could you imagine how turbo-charged your entire marriage would be if she saw you making provision for a romantic mood, instead of just showing up and tapping your feet?
3.Sacred lovers are servants – broken sex is selfish. “Why can’t you do what I like? Why can’t you meet my needs?” Sacred sex doesn’t sound like that – sacred sex is servant-based. Sacred sex seeks the pleasure of the other before your own. That’s what a servant does.
4.Sacred sex is based on freedom – it’s not rules-oriented. Because the world has perverted what sex was meant to be, we get into a lot of needless “what’s ok and what’s not ok” discussions.
It’s interesting the Bible doesn’t go into a lot of detail about what’s permissible and what’s not. Christians ask themselves a lot of technique questions they really don’t need to. Basically, there are two Scriptural principles:
- Is it within a heterosexual marriage?
- Does it honor your spouse and lead to mutual pleasure?
The Bible is basically silent when it comes to the “how’s” of sex – except for the Song of Solomon. …at least three things:
- Focus more on giving, and see what happens.
- They talk to each other a lot.
- Lust and seduction are wrong outside of a marriage, but terrific within one.
5.Sacred sex is open – unholy sex is secretive. Satan would have us develop a double life where our greatest fantasies are played outside of the presence and accountability of our spouses. But there is no association between light and dark, between secrecy and godliness. Is there anything about your sexuality that your mate doesn’t know? A fantasy about someone else? A habit you’ve developed while traveling on business?
Stop and think – because secrecy is one of Satan’s strongest tools. Jesus said, Those who do what is right come to the light gladly, so everyone can see that they are doing what God wants. (John 3:21, NLT) A compartment of your sex life that is in darkness, that is withheld from your wife or your husband, is a tool of the enemy. Make the necessary changes in your habits and in your thought patterns!
6.Sacred sex leads to fulfillment – broken sex ends in emptiness. Sex is all about achieving a oneness that fuses the two together. And we need to deal here with the most pervasive enemy of sacred sex today: pornography.
I counseled a guy who began by surfing the web for porn at night. At first it was just here and there, but then it became an hour, then two, then three. Three hours a night, while his wife slept, and he was still empty when he finished. Unholy sex always ends in emptiness. Similar stories can be told of single men who fell into similar traps.
The message that husband sent to his wife was this: “You are not enough.” Can you imagine how empty she felt afterward? How unfulfilled? I can’t imagine how ashamed she must have felt. Pornography will do that to a marriage. I wonder how he would feel if the roles were reversed?
Sacred sex, though, leaves you fulfilled because you are both servants, because your spouse seeks to honor you, so that more than anything else, you are cherished.
7.Sacred sex is a vehicle – worldly sex is an idol. Sex becomes an idol when it becomes all about you. An idol is something that takes the place of God, and sex becomes an idol when it stops pointing people to God. Sex should be a directional arrow pointing us to its Creator.
And you husbands must love your wives with the same love Christ showed the church. He gave up his life for her; as the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.” (Eph. 5:25, 31-32, NLT)
Did you catch that? “The two are united into one…it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.”
God shows you Himself through the expression of sexual love. Stop and think: What does God want from us? To join His Spirit with ours. Listen to I Corinthians 6: Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ? Should a man take his body, which belongs to Christ, and join it to a prostitute? Never! And don’t you know that if a man joins himself to a prostitute, he becomes one body with her? For the Scriptures say, “The two are united into one.” But the person who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. (I Cor. 6:15-17, NLT)
“Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for God will judge the immoral and adulterous” (Hebrews 13:4).
There is a special sort of guilt that attaches to adultery, fornication, homosexuality, and other offenses against the sanctity of sex. Paul put it this way: “Shun immorality. Every other sin which a man commits is outside the body; but the immoral man sins against his own body” (l Corinthians 6: 18). In other words, no other sin a human commits involves his person and personality so directly as sexual immorality.
Sex is intended of God to be the blending of two bodies and spirits in the most intimate and holy of relationships possible for human beings. Taking this beautiful act outside its proper context (i.e., marriage) is a sin against one’s own person, his partner’s personality, and the God who intended the act for the unique relationship of marriage.
There is a great story of a boy and his friend who were talking one day when his friend asked, “Do you know what ‘sex’ is?” The boy said he had heard about it, but really didn’t know. So he went to his mom and asked, “Mom, what is sex? Where did I came from?”
His mom then launched into an elaborate story of a very large bird, with white feathers and a big beak, and how that bird had delivered both him and his sister. Not satisfied, he went to his grandmother, who told him that very same bird had brought his mom years ago, and in fact had brought his grandmother to her parents. Completely confused, the young boy said: “That sure is complicated! Tommy said he came from South Carolina!”
The boy went back outside to his friend, who asked, “So, did you find out about sex?” To which the boy replied, “No, but I found out there hasn’t been a normal birth in our family for three generations.”