Sexuality is all the rage today. Whether it’s the act of sex, a person’s sexual feelings, or a person’s sexual orientation. It’s all about sex. Some people view themselves as entirely sexual beings. Over a decade ago, I had lunch with a person who, while eating, started asking me if I would want to engage in sexual favors.
When I declined, the response was, “But we’re sexual beings, it’s what we do. Are you sure you don't want to?”
I got up and left. I didn’t know that by saying yes to lunch with a person that it meant I was interested in much more than that.
But this is what life looks like in “hookup culture.” If you give a nod to someone else to signify “Hello,” it could be interpreted as a hint to “hook-up.” People assume that everything is sexual—it's a Freudian-utopian-dystopia. Seriously. It’s also becoming more common for people to go to public places, like a bar or a club, or a coffee shop and to use a phone app in order to locate other people who are interested in a one night stand.
Dating websites have turned into hook-up websites. And websites that were once designed to be used to find a suitable spouse are now used to find a suitable man or woman to cheat on your current spouse with! If any of this is surprising to you, I'm not making this stuff up. This is the world we currently live in.
I’m sorry to be the one to have to tell you about it. But this is the world our children are growing up in and the one we currently live in. And if we can’t talk about any of it in the church or as Christians, then others will. And the consequences of our silence won't be pretty.
Our kids hear sex messages every day in movies, in music, in the classroom, on the playground, after school, inside bedrooms and outside at the park. Sex is everywhere—it's ubiquitous. Thousands of visually stimulating images surround us on our laptops, smartphones, televisions, and billboards. And we won’t always like what those others are saying about it not because we’re prudes but because it displeases the God who made us and redeems us.
The average age of first Internet exposure to pornography is 10.
10-year-olds will see graphic images and videos.
My guess is that this research is outdated now, because I've had parents and friends tell me their child's first exposure happened at 7, 8, and 9. So if we don’t address this biblical topic regularly, we’re going to lose our kids to sexual immorality. We might as well ask them to leave church now because the church is too prudish to talk about it.
The thing is, God is not too prudish to talk about sex or sexuality. He talks about it all across the pages of his Bible. And God has a plan for your sexual liberation.
God’s plan for your liberation.
The apostle Paul once said in a letter called 1 Corinthians, “All things are lawful for me.” [But I'll bet whenever you read that or heard that you didn't even notice the quotation marks in your Bible translation. I'll bet it was never pointed out.] I think often we read too quickly and we miss notes like this that translators want us to read.
For the longest time, I always thought these were Paul’s words. But see those quote marks? What does that mean when you quote someone? It means someone else said it, right? So it’s a signal that Paul is quoting the Corinthians who were saying this. So he quotes them, and then says “but not all things are helpful.” Then he quotes their slogan again, and says “but I will not be dominated by anything.”
So he’s not affirming their slogan.
We have a host of evidence that in Corinth at this time (the 1st century), there were temples where people would gather to worship other deities. And the temple precincts would host these dinner parties where you could go to fill your stomach and also have some sex too.
Prostitutes were available and they were on offer for you. You’d go to the dinner, have some food, and have some sex. It was all part of the experience, and to be a "Corinthian."
So the Corinthian Christians justified this city activity with the mantra: “All things are lawful for me.” Maybe you have heard people justify something that you thought was wrong by appealing to their “Christian Liberty”? I am not saying we don’t have Christian Liberty, for example, to eat or not eat certain foods, or to drink wine or not drink wine, etc. I’m just pointing out an error with appealing to liberty.
“All things are lawful for me” was another way of saying “I have the right to do whatever I want.” That’s what some Corinthian Christians believed. They believed they could do what they want, when they want, with whomever they want, however they want.
This idea of autonomy is not unique to Corinth. It’s our problem too. Gosh, we hate it when others tell us what to do. The greatest crime in America today is to tell someone else that they are not the master of their fate and captain of their soul.
Question: Do we have the right to do anything we want with our bodies?
We don’t really have the right to do whatever we want. Nobody really believes that. When you get arrested, an officer says to you “You have the right to remain silent.” That’s not really permission to say whatever you want in that moment. The option is to be quiet or else you’re going have more problems than you already have.
So, Paul challenges this idea. All things are not lawful. He’s saying, Look, no, you can’t have sex with prostitutes and think it’s still pleasing to God. Your body is too important for sex outside of marriage.
They wanted to use their “freedom in Christ” to sleep around. But Paul says, by going and sleeping around all you prove is that you’re not really free. If that’s the life you still want to live then you’re still a slave to sin. Sex is still your god and idol. Someone who is truly free in Christ won’t be mastered by an idol like sex. “Christian liberty” is not a license to sin.
Check out how the Corinthians downplay sex though in 1 Cor. 6:13. They are quoted again with a slogan “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food.” The idea is, our tummies get hungry, so we need to eat. In the same way, if we have a desire for sex, we need to have sex in order to satisfy that desire.
I remember a friend once told me, “It’s just sex...it’s no different from pooping.” I replied, “And you really believe that?” He said, “Yeah.” So, I said, “When you get a girlfriend or a wife, do you want other men to sleep with her? If it’s 'just sex’ it shouldn’t bother you.” He continued on for a few years believing this lie before settling down with a wife and child. I’m pretty sure he realized sex is far more sacred than that and doesn’t want anyone else to be with her. Because it’s NOT just sex.
In the 1940s, C.S. Lewis heard from his colleagues that sex was a bodily appetite that humans have, just like we have for food. If only we knew this, they said, and people could readily have sex whenever they wanted it, people would stop being driven crazy about sex. Lewis challenged this:
“Suppose you come to a country where you could fill a theatre by simply bringing a covered plate on to the stage and then slowly lifting the cover so as to let everyone see, just before the lights went out, that it contained a mutton chop or a bit of bacon, would you not think in that country something had gone wrong with the appetite for food? . . . One critic said that if he found a country in which strip-tease acts with food were popular, he would conclude that the people of that country were starving.”
This scene is laughable, but it gets at the root of the problem. In a sex-crazed culture, people are starving. We are hungry for God and nothing ever fills us up because we’re eating junk food instead of the feast that God has put before us.
“you’re always sort of prowling. You could talk to two or three girls at a bar and pick the best one, or you can swipe a couple hundred people a day—the sample size is so much larger. It’s setting up two or three Tinder dates a week and, chances are, sleeping with all of them, so you could rack up 100 girls you’ve slept with in a year.”
I won’t go on. You get the point.
But a lot of these people are unsatisfied. They can rack up hundreds of sexual partners, and they’ll walk away feeling emptier each time. Outside of the competition with others, there is no meaning. It’s just a game. There is more sex available than before. Sex is not “just biological” like food. Sex has far more meaning than that. Our capacity for romance stems from our being made in the image of God.
The problem is when a good thing like sex becomes a god. We turn it into an idol that we want to serve and please more than God. Some people are controlled by this idol out of fear: writing off relationships because they always end in hurt.
Others are controlled by the allure of sex, they’re mastered by it. So if you are too afraid to love, or if you are too enamored by it, it has become a god to you. Either way, if that describes you then you’re still a slave to sex.
God wants to liberate you from your lust for sex. Worshipping sex will never bring true intimacy. Only God can provide satisfaction to what we all long for. When you are tempted sexually, turn and return to God’s promise for real intimacy.
Sexual lust says, “Long for what you can’t have and you will be happy."
But the gospel says: “Rejoice in what you have already in Jesus, and you will truly be happy.”
God’s plan of liberation includes your body. The body isn’t meant for sexual immorality, it’s meant for the Lord. God is the one who made you and he is going to raise your body from the dead. It is GOD who gives us liberty in the first place, and who can actually give us the satisfaction and happiness that we all long for but can't seem to hold onto. We turn God's good gifts into tiny gods that cannot free us but actually enslave us.
He freed us to live unto him. We were not made for sexual immorality, and we sure weren’t redeemed so that we could continue to be sexually immoral. We are freed from sin to live for the Lord.
When we have sex with someone who is not our spouse (sex in the mind or in the body, guys and girls), when we do that, we’re in effect saying that we don’t believe the gospel. So through our actions we’re telling a lie.
You see, the gospel is that Jesus gave himself up for us—totally, unconditionally, permanently, exclusively. He died for you to give you the kind of life he had. He suffered so you would not have to suffer forever. Because of that your body and your soul have enormous VALUE. You are worth it to him.
Sexual immorality preaches the opposite message: it says you are garbage. Your body is trash and waste. You’re just a piece of meat that should just be used again and again until you’re used up. And when someone hotter comes along you’re kicked to the curb.
That’s the message you see with the whole porn industry. And it’s the message that sustains sex trafficking all around the world, including in the U.S.! This message—wherever it is being preached—is satanic and destructive. It’s the same message that holds people in abusive relationships of domestic violence. DON’T BELIEVE THE LIE.
In the gospel, God says you’re beautiful because his son gave himself for you. Your body is now for the Lord. We were not saved so we can trash our bodies or be treated like we are waste. In Christ, you are of infinite worth to the God who created you and has redeemed you.
We’re given life again so we can give our body back to God in holiness and good works. He doesn’t want us to give our bodies to anybody and everybody else sexually. The body is for the Lord.
When we engage in sexual activity that is outside of marriage, we abuse our own body, and we abuse the body of Christ. Because the body is not designed for this. In Christ, our body belongs to the Lord and is connected to him in such a strong and powerful way that just as God raised Christ up, he will also raise our bodies up.
This intimate bond of our bodies to Jesus is what makes sexual immorality such a crime. It’s inconsistent with WHO WE ARE already.
Your identity, your self-worth is not based on how many girls or guys you’ve slept with. Your worth is not tied up with how sexy people think you are, or getting approval or attraction from the opposite or the same sex. It’s also not based on how many people you didn’t sleep with.
Your immorality or your morality won’t get you into heaven.
Only faith in Jesus can counteract our religion and irreligion. So if you are in Christ, your identity and your worth are centered on the One who died for unworthy people like you and me. Your identity is based on Jesus who gave up everything for you.
When you come to Christ, you die to your old self. “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.” It’s past tense, something that has happened already to you. So, it’s not a victory that you have to strive hard to achieve; it’s a victory for you to receive. You know a lot of us may believe the gospel in our minds, but we don’t always believe it in our hearts.
It’s so easy to think of Christianity as “yup, I’m forgiven by Jesus...okay now what do I have to do?” And the list making gets started. And we try to perform and earn and do something big and great to please God. Or we try to point out all of the things we haven’t done, but that others around us do. Jesus did not die to do away with the guilt of sin only to leave it up to us to gain victor over the power of sin. No. Jesus has taken away both the guilt and tyranny of our sin. We’re free.
The gospel frees you from the grip of sexual immorality in your heart and mind. It’s good news not only for the former sex slave or prostitute, or woman who used to crave the attention of other men and thought giving up her own body was the answer to being full, or guys who mistakenly believe that a woman is an object to use rather than a person worthy of all his love and respect, and this list goes on. It's expansive enough to include wherever you might find yourself in thought, word, or deed.
The gospel is good news for sexually immoral people who repent and believe, yes, but it’s also good news for believers who have long believed and still battle sexual sin on a daily basis. The gospel is good news for you men and women who are still looking at porn. The gospel is good news for you men and women who are lusting after a co-worker or neighbor. The gospel is good news for any and every sinner.
It’s good news, because it tells you Jesus kept his heart pure for you. Jesus was tempted, but he didn’t sin.
So in Christ, you’re a sex slave no more. Jesus has freed you from that old life and you’re worth far more to him than slavery.