by David Hoke Pastor - Emmanuel Baptist Church 2303 Evesham Road, Voorhees, NJ 08043 609-627-9089
"You shall not commit adultery." (Exodus 20:14)
Sex --- that is the topic of this sermon. It is said that a preacher must capture the attention of his hearers within the first thirty seconds of his message. Sex is a topic that attracts a lot of attention, and rightly so. Sex is important. Sex is one thing that impacts all of our lives, either for good or for ill. All of us have given sex much thought, and all of us have to deal with sex at some time or another. How do you deal with this important issue?
The church has had much to say about sex throughout history. Some of what the church has said has been good. Unfortunately, there have been some views, propagated by well-intentioned individuals, which have labeled the church as anti-sex. There has been a prudishness, a negativism, concerning sex which has been communicated to many. At various times, sex has been portrayed as the ultimate "no-no." It is because of these views that we have defined the term "immoral" in terms of sexual sin. Often the church is viewed as still living in the Victorian Era where skirts were made for piano legs lest they be too revealing.
The church's attitude concerning sex has not always been God's attitude. In fact, God has much to say about sex in the Bible. Perhaps it may surprise you to know that much of what God has to say is very positive. In fact, God is pro-sex. Did you realize that? What do you think that God thinks about sex?
All of us are interested in sex, all of us desire to have a fulfilling sex-life. Dr. Ruth may have coined the popular phrase "good sex" but do you really believe she understands the term? What we need to do is to look at sex from a biblical perspective. We need to understand the reasons why we were created as sexual beings. We need to understand how God intends for sex to impact our lives. And finally we need to understand the dangers inherent in the misuse of sex.
It is important to understand that we were created for companionship. When God created man, He said that it was not good for a man to be alone. Then God created a woman to be a companion for the man. This was in God's plan all along. He created a man - -- He created a woman from the man --- and then he brought the man and the woman together.
What do you suppose Adam said when he first saw Eve? Maybe he said, "Hi madam, I'm Adam." Does that seem far fetched? What Adam really said was "Whoooo Man!" That is why she is called woman. You don't buy that either do you? Of course, Adam could have said, "Hey, babe, you are the best looking woman I've ever seen."
I'm sure Adam said a lot of things to Eve. The Bible indicates that he received her as "Bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh." Adam received her as a part of himself. God then instructed them to come together in a one flesh union. He intended for them to have a personal, intimate, pleasurable, sexual union in which they would find fulfillment and satisfaction.
God is pro-sex. He created us male and female, in other words, as sexual beings. He intended that the sexual relationship be one which would give us pleasure. It was His idea.
Now some have perverted sex by negative attitudes toward it. There have always been ascetics, those who deny themselves any pleasure at all. There have also always been those who consider physical things inherently inferior to spiritual things. Others would like you to believe that there is a certain shame attached to sex. But that presupposes that sex is sinful. Only when Adam and Eve became aware of their sin did they cover themselves to hide their nakedness. There is shame in sin. But to conclude that sex is inherently sinful is to make a false assumption. That assumption is not supported by Scripture.
While there are some who pervert sex by their negative attitudes, still others pervert sex by letting it consume them. God intended sex to provide fulfillment in a mutually satisfying relationship. Some, however, turn it into lust. Lust, by it's very nature, is one-sided. Lust is a desire to use another for our own pleasure. And lust can become all consuming. Lust is a perversion of sexuality. God did not create lust, man created it.
We were created for companionship, with all the sexual aspects of that relationship implies. But that companionship was designed to exist in a committed relationship. We were not only created for companionship, we were created for commitment. That commitment is known to us as marriage.
When God created Eve and brought her to Adam, He joined them together for life. That was the first marriage in human history. Since that time, men and women have entered into a covenant relationship called marriage in which they have agreed to live their lives together as partners. In that committed relationship called marriage, we share our lives together, face life together, reproduce and raise children together, share burdens together, and grow old together. And part of that relationship is sexual.
Remember, God is pro-sex. But He is pro-sex when sex is within the context of the marriage relationship. That is the message of the Seventh Commandment. When God says, "You shall not commit adultery," He confines the proper area for sexual relationships to marriage. You may say it another way. Sex is for marriage, and only for marriage.
Sex is risky business. By it's very definition, it is one of the most intimate encounter two people can have. Because it is intimate, it places us in a very vulnerable situation. That is why God confines it to the committed covenant relationship of marriage. There, in the marriage relationship, trust can grow. There is love, devotion, respect, communication, confidentiality, and loyalty implied in the covenant of marriage. Why someone violates that trust, they violate another person. Adultery is not merely a sin against God, it is also a sin against another person. Additionally it is a sin against yourself. We do not live in isolation. Adultery causes pain. It destroys our relationships and robs us of our self-esteem. Adultery devastates whole families as it crushes our mate and cripples our children.
It is for these reasons that God so opposes adultery. He gives us this Seventh Commandment for our own good. It is a negative statement that becomes a positive way of life for us if heeded. It protects our self-worth, the sanctity of our marriage, the welfare of our children, and our relationship to God.
It may serve us well to look at some practical suggestions designed to help us avoid falling into the trap of adultery. All of us want to know how to safeguard our own marriages. All of us are interested in how to avoid becoming involved in relationships which are doomed to fail. There are several things that we can do.
The first things any of us can do is to center our life on Jesus Christ. The best defense is a good offense. As we aggressively follow Jesus Christ we will be strengthening our defenses against all sin. When Jesus becomes the center of our lives, His desires will become more important than our desires.
The second thing that you can do, if you are not married, is to marry only another Christian. The Bible repeatedly warns us of the dangers of marrying an unbeliever. So many Christian young people ignore this warning only to suffer the consequences of their actions. Do not be deceived into thinking that everything will work out because you "really love each other," or because your future mate will "become a Christian soon," or because you are "mature enough to handle it." When it falls apart, you will have to pay an enormous price. Don't do it.
A third thing you can do is to focus on ways to communicate to one another. The sexual fulfillment of the marriage relationship will depend greatly on the success of our communication. Unless we develop intimacy outside of the bedroom, we will never develop intimacy inside of the bedroom. We must focus on our communication. Read books on it. Listen to tapes about. Practice it until you perfect it. But by all means do it.
The fourth thing you can do is to give attention to meeting your partners sexual needs so completely that there will be no desire to look elsewhere. If we love our mate, we should desire to fulfill him or her sexually. We must, with great sensitivity, and much communication, attempt to ascertain the legitimate sexual needs of our mates. And, at the same time, we must be willing to give of ourselves in order to meet those needs. This requires great sensitivity and understanding, but the effort is worth it.
Fifthly and finally, we must avoid any and all relationships that might tempt us to stray. If you are honest with yourself you have to admit some members of the opposite sex probably attract you just a little more than they should. Unless you build a wall of protection around yourself by avoiding certain types of contact with those individuals, you may live to regret it. The Bible exhorts us to flee temptation. We are also exhorted not to be overconfident in our own ability to stand, lest we fall. I was always told that if you play around the creek-bank long enough, you're sure to slide in. We are not just protecting ourselves, we are protecting our relationship with our mate. We are protecting our families. We are protecting our relationship with God. We are protecting that other person. We are protecting their mate, their family, their relationship with God. We must be careful in this regard.
Let me add a word about pre-marital sex. We live in an age where pre-marital sex is popular. It is no longer considered the serious sin that it is. But whatever the view of our society, we must hear and heed the Word of God.
Because we are created for marriage we must wait until marriage for sex. Sex belongs in marriage, but only in marriage. God, in His wisdom ordained it to be so.
Sex is giving of yourself on many levels. God confines it to the marriage relationship in order to protect us. Obviously, by doing so we are protected from the many diseases which abound in our society today. We are also protected from unwanted pregnancies, where there is no commitment on the part of the would-be parents. We are protected from the emotional pain, the loss of self-esteem, and the feeling of having cheapened ourselves. We are also protected from the unwanted memories which will surface in the future. God knew what He was doing when He ordained sex for marriage. Guard your mind because it all starts there. Keep you relationship to Jesus strong, and be careful to avoid tempting situations.
Finally, let me say that sexual sin is not the unpardonable sin. You may have committed this sin, and right now your stomach is churning and your palms are sweating. You may feel a sense of conviction over your own unfaithfulness, your own promiscuity. You may be guilty as charged. If you are, then you must understand that God's grace is bigger than your sin. If you are willing to bring your sin to Jesus, He is willing to forgive you. His blood, shed on Calvary in payment for your sin, can cleanse you of that sin right now.
If you confess your sin to God, He can and will grant you His forgiveness. Just as He met the woman caught in the very act of adultery and cleansed her based on her repentant spirit, so He will cleanse you if you have a repentant heart.
May God grant us all the power to live with clean hearts and hands before Him. May God give us the grace to affair-proof our marriages, and to keep pleasure undefiled.