The Sanctity of Sexuality
Proposition: In the removal of absolutes which begins with the truth of One God, Saviour and Creator comes the removal of the sanctity of Life and Sexuality.
Introduction: A few weeks ago we began a series called ‘Hot Potatoes’, the first in that series looked at origins, at Creation and Creator. The second one examined the core issue of taking life, whether that be by abortion, infanticide, suicide, homicide or euthanasia. It asked the question, “Is life sacred?” If life is sacred then the issue is not just about quality of life, it’s about the sanctity of life. The third in this series arises out of the reality that since life is sacred there is design and purpose to it from God’s perspective. Perhaps the greatest way that we experience that design and purpose is in the uniqueness of who we are as sexual beings. God made mankind into male and female, He sanctified our sexuality. One of the ‘Hot Potatoes’ the church experiences today is sexuality. The confusion about homosexuality, the increasing use of sex as a casual entertainment and other sexual distortions like transgender, transvestite, fornication, pornography and prostitution are endemic. To take just one issue like homosexuality or pornography would be to miss the larger picture. These are related issues arising from a godless worldview.
This is not a new confusion for mankind. Homosexuality, fornication and pedophilia have been part of other cultures and times. Fourteen out of the first fifteen Roman emperors were bisexual or homosexual. At the very time Paul was writing 1 Corinthians Nero was emperor. He had taken a boy named Sporus and had him castrated. He then married him, brought him to the palace with a great procession, and made the boy his "wife." Later, Nero lived with another man, and Nero was declared to be the other man's "wife." The depravity of man influences how he uses sexuality and it becomes a drifting morality when he invites godlessness to rule his heart. This morning let’s look at a brief passage of Scripture that cautions Christians, setting out guiding principles for holiness and reexamining the design and purpose of sexuality. Have a look at 1 Cor. 6:9-20.
I. God’s Original Design For Mankind Was That They Bear His Image.
The creation of male and female was meant to reflect the character, personhood and design of God. By them would come procreation, a divine command. By them would come the elements of family, father and son, mother and daughter. By them would come the authority to parent, to teach and raise the children that would one day fill and populate the kingdom of God. When we alter that design we also by inference alter the image of the One who designed it. We become like a deceived Eve who hears the voice of the tempter saying, “Did God really say…”. Satan not only challenged the words of God to Eve but he also challenged the motivation of God, making God out to be less than good, less than holy, less than trustworthy. Sin will always have these characteristics, does God really say this and if so can God really be trusted when what I want and what He wants are opposing desires. So have a look at what Paul writes in 1 Cor. 6:9. Unrighteous actions and motivations are deceptions. They hold out an alternative which on the surface seems good, is justifiable, seemingly without a downside but it’s a Trojan horse. If you let it in it will open up when you least expect it and will destroy your world from the inside out. Paul’s emphasis is upon that which deceives us, certainly sexuality is a major tool for deception, for sin, but it’s not the only cause of ruin. He lists 10 things, four of them are sexual in nature, five are how we treat ourselves and others and one is specifically about the deception that calls us to abandon faith in Jesus Christ. All are sinful activities that arise out being deceived. The cost of the deception is that it can induce a sin that leads to unbelief in Christ which will leave you in a place of choosing to be against the holiness of God. It will leave you outside of the eternal kingdom of God. But what it also implies is that one of God’s greatest purposes and designs for man and woman as His image bearers is that they would be His children in an eternity- based holiness where God would enjoy them and there they would enjoy Him forever.
II. God’s Design For Sexuality Places Redemption In Christ Higher Than Sin.
When Paul lists the various deceptions that are meant to destroy us and denigrate God he says, “And such were some of you but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” The principle here is that there is no sin that can’t be forgiven if we will agree with God about it and turn from it and be restored. In the current arguments being presented regarding homosexuality the premise is that people are born with an inclination or attraction to the same sex. This implies that there is a moral neutrality to being gay, that it’s just the way I am, that it’s not a choice but rather a genetic assignment. From this comes the political embracing of rights for all morally neutral people. It becomes a, ‘I did not choose, I cannot change’, position which is the opposite of what Paul has just said when he described the way that we are washed, sanctified, justified in the name of Christ and by the Holy Spirit. From a Scriptural point of view that which is natural or seemingly always there is not necessarily good. “The natural man does not receive the things of God" (1 Cor 2:14). Ephesians 2:3 says, “we were by nature children of wrath…”. Who you naturally are, if that argument is valid, still doesn’t release you from what is right. If you have a natural inclination to be a sociopath, that does not release you to exercise it. Neither can you make the distinction between an inclination towards homosexuality verses an active homosexual relationship, the degree of the nature is not what determines it being justified. Jesus amplified that in Matt. 5:28, “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Ultimately the question becomes, ‘Is Jesus greater than all my sin?’ If your answer is ‘Yes’, repentance and forgiveness are there.
Paul presents a series of principles to us regarding sexuality:
1. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. He uses the freedom of eating whatever you want as not necessarily being what’s best for you. This principle especially applies to things like fornication. In our world sex has become so casual it is like an appetite. When people have sex with another person and neither person is married that is fornication. Our world says this is just a matter of two consenting adults, a casual encounter that is widely accepted. Some couples have taken the belief that to live together and have sex together before marriage will help them choose whether this is the person they will want to marry. Research is showing that couples that cohabitate before marriage are more likely to divorce, commitment is more difficult and they have more difficulty with intimacy and trust in their relationship. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
2. Sexual purity begins with the recognition that your body is part of the body of Christ. Paul offers a rhetorical question, a question that implies an obvious answer. “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?” The obvious answer here should be, ‘Of course I do.’ The design of God was for one man and one woman to be bound together in marriage. Those two bound together as one in marriage were then one part with Christ. The church is called the bride of Christ, it is joined to Him, He died for it, bound Himself to her and is inseparable from her. To bind yourself to another outside of marriage whether that be with a prostitute or a common law ‘spouse’, is to then make Christ common, secular or profane.
It’s why Paul concludes that thought with, “But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.”
3. Sexual purity is meant to glorify God. It declares that your body is His first, your marriage partners second and yours third. Paul puts forward another rhetorical question, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” The answer again should be, ‘Of course I know that’. If you do then you must also know that sexual sin is different in impact than other kinds of sin like lying or stealing. Sexual sin is you sinning against yourself. It’s like taking something of great preciousness, like a Ferrari and then using it to transport pigs. You can do that, if a whole culture was doing it might even seem right, it might even seem like it was your right, you might even say that you were born with an inclination to move hogs this way but the end result is that this is not what the Ferrari was designed for. The purpose of sexuality s to declare that your body is sacred, even as your life is sacred. It’s to declare that the reason it’s sacred is because you have been bought and paid for with the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Your body is sacred because God Himself has taken up residence in your body. It’s sacred because it belongs to God. It’s why Paul concludes the way he does, “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”