The Problem of Sex
A message in our series The Problem of God. We are preaching on Faith to build your hope. Find all the Problem of God messages here and build your faith, so you can be filled with hope!
In 2007 Barna research asked many unbelievers why they rejected faith in God. The top 6 responses weren’t evidential. They were moralistic. Christians hate homosexuals. Christians are judgmental. Christians are hypocrites.
Today I’m going to tackle the top two. Sexuality and Hypocrisy.
The Problem of Sex is this morning- this message will be PG-13.
The Problem of Hypocrisy is tonight, as a bonus message.
If you can’t stand hypocrites, you’re in good company because neither could Jesus. We are going to read some his most scathing sermon and it’s directed toward hypocrites.
Before I get started with my message, I need to tell you about this book. Some of you have probably heard of it. The author says the problem some of you are having is that you don’t have enough sex.Can you believe that? This book was written by a prominent Christian. He said that the way to deal with this world of sexual temptation is for husbands and wives to have sex more often. This book, believe it or not is in your Bible.
It’s Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. (Find our series on the Corinthians here)
Corinth was a very sexualized city and culture. It was known for it’s prostitution industry. Corinth had temples dedicated to sex and prostitution- where the temples employed people for the purpose of sexual favors. Some of the Christians were struggling to leave this part of their lives behind, some were saying that to leave all of that behind that they needed to just recognize that sex is evil always…
But, when Paul writes to these people he doesn’t say, “all sex is bad! Just stay away from it.” No, instead he says “flee fornication, and so you’ll be able to flee fornication let every man have a wife and every woman a husband and have sex with your spouse regularly.”
Let’s look at it together cause I’m sure some of you don’t believe that’s in the Bible.
We’ll actually start in chapter 6 in verse 15 and we’ll read to 7:6.
The past 2 generations have each had their own sexual revolutions. In the 60’s and 70’s the sexual landscape changed dramatically as The Pill became ubiquitous. I actually read one London journalist recounting of this era by saying
“we’d been brought up to say ‘no’ to sex, but the only reason for that was because we might get pregnant…But now, armed with the pill, and with every man knowing you were armed with the pill, pregnancy was no longer a reason to say ‘no’ to sex. And men exploited this mercilessly. To be honest, I mainly remember the 60s as an endless round of miserable promiscuity, a time when often it seemed easier and, believe it or not, more polite, to sleep with a man than to chuck him out of your flat.”
The following sexual revolution was brought about by the internet. This started with the ever present availability of pornography and has led to the digital hookup culture with apps dedicated to helping people find someone to hookup with.
The economists Stephen Dubner and Stephen Levvit wrote in their book Freakonomics that the economics of prostitution have been drastically affected because sex is more readily available than ever before. Fewer men are willing to pay as high of a premium for sex because they can more readily get it for free.
It’s in this dually revolutionized culture that we sit today- and because cultures views on sex have dramatically changed in multiple directions, the Bible’s take on sex and sexuality is a very pronounced problem many people have with coming to believe in God and follow Christ.
For many people, the idea of becoming of a Christ follower is to never have a sex life again.
It’s this context that has led to quotes like these:
“The worst feature of the Christian religion is its attitude toward sex.” – Bertrand Russel
Margaret Sanger held that Christians are moralists who promote self denial and suppression because of our teaching on abstinence before marriage.
Christopher Hitchens said that religious people should be banned from modern discourse about sexuality in general.
Then, over the past 6 months, we’ve seen a dam burst and a flood of accusations against powerful people in politics, Hollywood, private sector, and even the church have come pouring in.
The damn began to crack on October 5th when the New York Times broke a story of sexual of misconduct by Hollywood Power Player Harvey Weinstein.
The allegations and stories that have come tumbling out since then point to the problem that I want to help define this morning. The sexual revolution has directed us toward conclusions that are not only false, but ultimately direct us toward great harm to ourselves and others.
Now, let me be clear- I’m not saying anyone who doesn’t hold to the scriptural teachings on sex is a predator like Harvey Weinstein or Kevin Spacey.
Rather, I’m saying that our culture’s high priority on the autonomous self and failure to recognize limitations as healthy and embrace restrictions as beneficial lead toward a dissatisfied sexual culture and an age of miserable promiscuity.
When we fail to recognize limitations as healthy and embrace restrictions as beneficial, we will find ourselves sexually dissatisfied and miserably promiscuous.
Clark does a great job in his book of pointing out that ever since the enlightenment we’ve had this attitude that as individuals we have the ability and power to decide what is best for our selves, what serves our self interest and leads toward the construction of a progressive society with self regulation.
Because of this mindset, we view any restriction on what we do with our money, time, energy, etc as a threat to our rights.
However, as we know, our actions have an impact on others.
The stop sign at the end of 5th St might feel like a restriction to you, but really it’s a safety measure for the others on the highway and by extension to you and your family too…
If we go around tearing down stop signs because we like to go fast and we’ve got fast cars and they should be free to run, we’ll put ourselves and others in our community in quite a bit of danger.
What we have in our culture right now is a sexual landscape where stop signs have been torn down and while some are using common sense, we have as a society made the roads much less safe.
But the Bible is seen as repressive because of the guidelines it lays down for sexuality. The church is resisted because of the perspectives on sex…
There’s a little bit of hypocrisy here. No one says, ugh. I wish the church would stop feeding the homeless and get their noses out of where they don’t belong.
I wish the church would stop trying to help addicts and stop putting their noses in our streets where they don’t belong…
However, when it comes to sexuality and sexual ethics, suddenly the church is not allowed to weigh in…
What we find in scripture is not a backwards perspective on sex. What we find in scripture is not a sexually repressive or oppressive take, but rather it is an approach that leads toward the greatest degree of sexual satisfaction possible in this broken world.
I want to contrast the Biblical perspective on sex with 3 unbiblical perspectives on sex.
3 unbiblical perspectives on sex:
Sex is bad.
Sex is god.
Sex is appetite.
The church hasn’t helped it’s cause with it’s standard approach to sex. A good deal of what is heard in youth groups is
“Sex is gross, dirty, evil, and vile so save it for the one you truly love.”
The Catholic Church has probably hurt the PR of the church as a whole on this front because they pray to the virgin Mary, require their priests and nuns to stay celibate, and took the stance the sex was only to be for procreation- or for the purpose of having children.
God created sex.
Genesis makes sure to point out that God put Adam and Eve in paradise NAKED and they were not ashamed.
God presents Eve to Adam and he says, man and woman will become a one flesh union.
God then tells Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply.
But scripture makes it clear that sex was not just for the purpose of reproduction but for pleasure.
Proverbs 5:18 says to rejoice in the wife of they youth. May her breasts fill you at all times with delight.
Deuteronomy 24:5 commanded Israel to not require any young man in the first year of his marriage to go into battle so that he may stay and home to enjoy and pleasure his wife.
The book of the Bible of Song of Solomon is a book of erotic poetry. Young Jewish boys weren’t allowed to read it until they came of age.
It’s a back and forth between two young lovers and then God speaks in 5:1 and he doesn’t say, “knock it off you dirty kids” but rather he says “eat friends, drink, and be drunk with love!”
In other words, God wasn’t a killjoy. Rather God wanted them to enjoy themselves.
So when Paul writes to the believers in the sex crazed city of Corinth, he doesn’t say don’t even talk about it! He says, stay away from sexual sin by enjoying sex in the appropriate context of marriage!
When he says this, he’s not harshing their vibe, he’s not ruining their fun, rather he’s telling them what is the most appropriate AND best means of enjoying God’s gift of sex.
Our culture has this recurring joke that makes fun of marriage as the end of a sex life, but that’s simply not true.
In a groundbreaking study, Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher published in The Case for Marriage the number of married people having sex twice a week is double the number of cohabitating couples who have sex at the same frequency.
The percentage of both men and women who were physically and emotional context with their sex life was higher for married persons.
A survey of sexuality by the State University of New York at Stonybrook which was called the most authoritative ever study by US News and World Report found that of all sexually active people, those were most satisfied were married people.
While marriage is the whipping boy of many comedians, it’s truly the context where the greatest contentment can be found.
3 unbiblical perspectives on sex:
Sex is bad.
Sex is god.
Sex is appetite.
How many of you have heard the fable of the boy who cried wolf?
When the boy had cried wolf and there wasn’t one, the people stopped listening to the message. When the wolf did show up, no one believed the boy.
Sex is to give this clear message. It’s the most powerful non-verbal signal of unity, love, commitment, and even covenant.
But with the flippancy of our culture toward sex, the meaning of the signal has been lost. For men who have spent years looking at images and having sexual encounters with women they’ve never even met, much less loved, the meaning of the signal is lost.
Even later in life when they are married, the satisfaction and contentment that arises from sex with their spouse will have lost something.
Parents, protect your children from pornography. It’s the greatest gift you can give their marriage.
In our current culture, sex is almost seen as the ultimate expression of who we are and even our identity.
Many parents think it’s healthy to allow their children to become introduced to sex at the appropriate age- but what we are gearing our children up for is to filter their whole world view through sex.
Today most people identify themselves with their sexuality.
It’s for this reason we have all these current debates about gender, transgender, homosexuality.
We’ve missed the boat on what all this rests upon.
Our identity is found first in God. That’s who you are… You are God’s child. You are loved by God.
I’ve had people tell me that Good, Good father is too simplistic…
Maybe, but we need to recapture that simple message that who I am is in relation to him as a good father. Who I am is his child.
Because we have lost our identity in God, we have gone searching for it in sex and thereby made sex our god.
Margaret Sanger said
“Sexual liberation is the only method to finding inner peace and security and beauty. Remove the constraints and prohibitions, which now hinder the release of inner energies, and most of the larger evils of society will perish. Through sex mankind will attain the great spiritual illumination, which will transform the world and light up the only path to an earthly paradise.”
Talk about exclusive claims…
Sex as god thinking is nothing new. It was present in Corinth.
Paul says here that sex should be enjoyed in the context of marriage, but he does give a scenario wherein sex may be a distraction. The mission of God.
Paul says, sex is great and all, but have you tried serving God?
If you aren’t married, or if you’re unable to have sex, the sex as god culture wonders what you have to live for…
In their book, the demise of guys, Philip Zimbardo and Nikita Duncan address the impact that a liberal sexual ethic has had on western culture.
Easy access to sex affect men’s motivation to achieve other life goals. Given the choice between masturbating over porn and going out on a date with a real girl, that is to say a girl who doesn’t look like a porn star and wont show up in lingerie, more and more young men simply prefer the sure thing of online porn…
We now have a prevalence of Peter Pan syndrome- a growing crop of young men who have never been called to sacrifice, never been called to a major commitment, who only know of major campaigns and effort in video game reality and other passive activities…
3 unbiblical perspectives on sex:
Sex is bad.
Sex is god.
Sex is appetite.
Another popular perspective on sex is that it’s just an appetite.
This was the perspective that many people in Corinth had, for that reason Paul says “meats for the belly and the belly for meats” treating sex as just another appetite of our animal like instincts…
This is seen in the works of Alfred Kinsey who’s book the Sexual Behavior in the Human Male lectured scientist on referring to sexual practices as normal and abnormal, instead urging us to view sexual practices without ethical comment…
Similarly, an article in the New York Academy of the sciences entitle “Why Men Rape” argued that rape itself is not a pathology but rather simply a result of our evolution adaptation for maximizing our reproductive success similar to “the leopards spots and the giraffe’s elongated neck.”
In other words, Rape is natural.
Paul says here, don’t you know that he who commits sexual sin sins against his own body, for the act of sex is two people becoming one flesh…
Sex is most definitely more than appetite, more than a physical act, or a biological function.
If you doubt that, ask a victim of sexual abuse if the pain stopped when the act was done….
It lingers because we are more than physical specimens. We are more than a mashup of cells and biology.
We are spirit, emotions, and have a soul that can be hurt.
The perspective of scripture is that we should never get naked and vulnerable with someone physically until we’ve gotten intimate with them in every other way…
What we find is that the more we get transparent physically with people with whom we’ve not gotten transparent in every other way, the harder it is to get transparent emotionally… the harder it is to give our hearts away….
Jesus hung on the cross, the object of shame, so you need not be ashamed….