This post is the manuscript of my message for Elevate Makati (February 21).
Today, I’m going to discuss is an exciting yet difficult topic—sex. I remember a time when I was invited to speak about sexual purity to a group of graduating students. The group consisted of two kinds of students: high school seniors and 6th graders. And seated in front of me were the female 6th graders, aged 11 or 12.
So being the straightforward speaker that I am, I boldly spoke on the topic. Then there was a time that I saw a girl in front of me covered her ears, closed her eyes, and screamed a bit. I kept on speaking. But inside me I was like, “Oh no, Enzo! You’ve taken their innocence away! Because of you, they now know about sex!”
Indeed, sex is a difficult topic. But we need to talk about it. Here’s the reality: If we will not learn about sex in the church, we will learn about it from the world. And it’s way better that we learn about it in the former.
Sex is also an interesting topic. Authors Gerald Hiestand and Jay Thomas comment:
On the whole, human beings are fascinated with sex—men and women, young and old, Christians, atheists, and everyone in between. In all cultures, throughout all of history, sexual desire has been one of the greatest motivators of the human will. Men and women throw away their families, houses, money, and land in order to be sexually satisfied. Some are addicted to it. Wars have been fought over it. We compose songs about it, make movies about it, and write stories about it.1
So why discuss sex in a series on love? Many people equate sex to love. Romantic relationships are expected to have a sexual element in it. Just take a look at the romantic movies shown nowadays and almost every movie has a sex scene.
People now have a low (even distorted) view of love and sex. Case in point is the 50 Shades phenomenon. So let’s know what the Bible says about sex and what we are expected to do. Here are 7 points:
1. GOD CREATED SEX. THEREFORE, IT IS GOOD.
There are lots of things the Bible says about sex. But let me show you a few. First, we have to understand that God created sex (“by him all things were created”—Colossians 1:16). Therefore it is good (“everything created by God is good”—1 Timothy 4:4).
Also, God designed sex to be enjoyed by a husband and a wife. He commanded our first parents Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28). He gave this command to a married heterosexual couple.
Let me just say that God is pro-sex. If you’re not convinced with that, just take a look at Song of Solomon or Song of Songs. This book is the most erotic of all books in the Bible. Its theme is about the celebration of marital love.
2. SIN, HOWEVER, CORRUPTED SEX.
After the Fall, when Adam and Eve sinned, sin distorted sex. Since then, many kinds of sexual perversion happened. These include, but not limited to, the following: Pre-marital sex (Deuteronomy 22:13-21; see discussion below), adultery (Exodus 20:14, Deuteronomy 22:22-24), homosexual intercourse (Leviticus 18:22, 20:13), rape (Deuteronomy 22:25-27), and prostitution (Leviticus 19:29, Deuteronomy 23:17-18).
Nowadays, the surroundings aren’t even helping. The truth is that we are living in hypersexualized culture. In his excellent book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis says why remaining sexually pure is difficult. One of the reasons for this is because of what he calls a “contemporary propaganda for lust.”
Poster after poster, film after film, novel after novel, associate the idea of sexual indulgence with the ideas of health, normality, youth, frankness, and good humour.2
What he was saying is that unbiblical sex had become acceptable. And while the book was published in 1952 (and the talks in which the book was based from happened years earlier), Lewis’ observation remains true these days. In fact, it has gone worse. We now have movies and TV series about adultery. We now have books that are sexually graphic, mainly appealing to women. We now have easier and instant access to porn (thanks to the Internet!).3
3. SEX ISN’T REALLY THE PROBLEM.
God created sex and it is good. But sin distorted. So sex, per se, isn’t bad. It’s sexual immorality that’s the problem. The Bible, in many times, warns against it. In fact, the words “sexual immorality” is translated porneia in Greek (it’s obviously where we get the word “porn”). It refers to all kinds of sexual sin we can imagine. It is an umbrella term for anything sexual that is outside of God’s design for sex. Pre-marital sex and adultery are included.
Speaking of pre-marital sex, let me tackle this issue further. I did some research and found about a study conducted back in 2013 on the sexual behavior of the Filipino youth.
The [2013 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study (YAFS 4)] shows that one in every three youth aged 15 to 24 years old has engaged in premarital sex, the number increasing by more than 14 percent from almost 20 years ago, when the second YAFS was conducted. This translates to about 6.2 million youth who have engaged in sexual intercourse before marriage…
One in every three young people had already committed in pre-marital sex. That’s huge and troubling!
Here’s another interesting finding:
A new phenomenon in sexual activities among the youth has also emerged…: friends with benefits—3.5 percent or nearly 800,000 of the youth have experienced regularly having sex with friends they are not in a romantic relationship with.4
Aside from pre-marital sex being a sin or a distortion of God’s design, let me show a problem (there’s actually a myriad of problems at a human level but I won’t discuss here for a lack of time and space). We have to realize that sex is a deeply uniting act. It unites a man and a woman at all levels of their lives. So when a person engages in pre-marital sex (or any sex outside of marriage), he or she is uniting with someone who isn’t his or her spouse, at all levels. In his excellent book The Meaning of Marriage, Tim Keller writes:
The Bible says don’t unite with someone physically unless you are also willing to unite with the person emotionally, personally, socially, economically, and legally.5
Would you like to be united with someone who isn’t your spouse? My prayer is that you will abstain from pre-marital sex and any other sexual sins, and that you will resolve to only be united to your future spouse.
4. THERE IS FREEDOM OFFERED IN THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST.
If you are enslaved to pre-marital sex or any sexual sin for that matter, don’t lose hope. Jesus Christ offers us freedom. In fact, His very name means that He will save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). He will not only save us from the eternal consequences of sin, but also from the enslaving power of sin.
Moreover, the death Jesus died, He died to sin (Romans 6:10). Therefore, we must consider ourselves “dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11). We are called to freedom, but let’s not use that freedom to sin (Galatians 5:13).
The moment we place our faith in Christ and His finished work on the cross, sexual sins no longer have hold on us. Jesus has set us free from the power of sexual sin!
5. GOD’S WILL IS THAT WE LIVE SEXUALLY PURE LIVES.
Now that in Christ we have been set free from the slavery of sexual sin, God would want us to live lives of purity. First Thessalonians 4:3-8 says:
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 8Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. (Emphasis added)
The word sanctification simply means the process of becoming holy, or becoming more and more like Jesus. God wants us to be holy, because He himself is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). That is His will for us! And that can happen when we avoid sexual immorality (v. 3), practice self-control (v. 4), and love our brothers and sisters (v. 6), among many others.
6. JUST LIKE ANY SIN, WE ARE TO DEAL WITH SEXUAL SIN RADICALLY.
Because God’s will for us is to be holy, then we have to fight any sexual sin with all our might, in the power of the Spirit. And just like any sin, we are to deal with it radically. Matthew 5:29-30 says:
If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.
This doesn’t mean that we take this command literally, but it only means that we are to deal with sin radically. We should do whatever it takes to defeat sexual sins.
7. WAIT UNTIL WE’RE MARRIED TO HAVE SEX.
I can stop at the last point but I believe I must talk about waiting. Let’s go to Song of Songs 2:7 (NIV):
Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you / by the gazelles and by the does of the field: / Do not arouse or awaken love / until it so desires.
This verse is found in Song of Songs or Song of Solomon. As earlier mentioned, this book is the most erotic of all books in the Bible. Its theme is about the celebration of marital love. It’s a dialogue between King Solomon and his bride.
The context of our passage is that the bride is looking forward to enjoy her relationship with Solomon. In the eve of her wedding, she described herself as “sick with love” that she even needed to be refreshed with food (v.5). That’s how in love she was!
Then she feared that her “in-loveness” would also arouse love in the young maidens attending her (“daughters of Jerusalem”). So she charged them “Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.” I want you to notice something. She didn’t say, “Do not arouse or awaken love until you desire.” Instead, she said “until it so desires.” So love here is personified. And it doesn’t want to be awaken until the circumstance comes in which it has to be awakened. And what is that circumstance? It’s marriage! Clearly, Solomon’s bride had arrived in that life stage and her maidens have not.
Here’s the point: We are not to stir up romantic and sexual passions outside the context of a marriage relationship. So let’s wait until we’re married.
HOPE FOR THE SEXUALIZED PERSON
If you’re struggling with any sexual sin, don’t lose hope. Because of Christ and His finished work on the cross, sexual sins no longer have hold on us. Jesus has set us free from the enslaving power of sexual sin.
Have you asked Jesus to set you free from the power of sexual sin?
1Gerald Hiestand and Jay Thomas, Sex, Dating, and Relationships (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012), 17.
2C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York, NY: Walker and Company, 1987), 152.
3For a discussion on porn, visit my message, Breaking Free from Porn. Actually, many parts of this message have been taken there.
4http://www.interaksyon.com/article/80226/1-in-3-filipino-youth-aged-15-24-has-engaged-in-premarital-sex—survey, accessed 02-19-2015
5Timothy Keller and Kathy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage (New York, NY: Dutton, 2011), 256.