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24th April 2016
The message of our culture is that if you truly want to be happy, if you want to have fun, if you want to have freedom, you must have sex. Sex is used to sell products of all kinds. It’s also often how we define ourselves – straight or gay, single or married.
Sex is something that God has created to be wonderful but it has been distorted. You don't have to look very far to see that:
• £2,000 is spent on pornography every second. That's £4 million by the end of the preach. Porn has become the wallpaper of people's lives.
• There are up to 36 million people in slavery in the world today, many in the sex trade. Human trafficking is the second largest criminal ‘industry’ in the world now, having overtaken arms dealing, and second only to drug trafficking.
• The NHS treated 500,000 sexually transmitted diseases last year, and 200,000 unwanted pregnancies ended in abortion.
What God has given as a beautiful gift has been distorted.
The verses about sexual immortality are written to the Church, not to the wider community. These instructions are for those who have been empowered by the Spirit to live as dearly loved children of God. It says we should "walk in the way of love". Our behavior flows from our identity – it’s based on the fact that we are in Christ, adopted children of God.
The Bible says that sexual immorality is adultery, fornication (sex outside of marriage), looking at pornography, everything outside of the marriage covenant. And the apostle Paul says there shouldn't even be a hint of it in God's people!
Sexual immorality is part of a list that includes greed and how we talk, and at certain times in history the Church has looked down on people for sexual sin while being fine with other things that are right there alongside it.
So what is God's plan for sex? Sex is a gift from God. He designed it. He isn't prudish about it; He isn't embarrassed by it. It's a gift, but we mustn't turn it into an idol – we so often do that with God’s gifts! Men and women are gifts to one another. God made it to be fun, but set it in the context of a marriage relationship, where one man and one woman commit themselves to each other, exclusively, for life.
Sex is more than a physical act. There's no such thing as casual sex, because God has designed it to join two people together. It impacts the mind, the heart and the spirit. Marriage is consummated by sex. It is a complete giving of yourself to another – the Hebrew word is ‘yada’, which means to know and see deeply. It represents something of the deep unifying of Christ and His Church.
If we take something spiritual and strip away the divine, we destroy it.
Sex is for pleasure. The Church hasn't done well with this truth over the centuries, but there's a book in the Bible that's all about the physical relationship between a man and a woman – it's as inspired by God as the book of Romans.
Sex is for procreation. Sex was God’s means for filling the world. Children are a gift from God, and in marriage there is a security that does not exist in any other social arrangement.
So what about same–sex attraction? It's a massive subject in the world today – there's been a big shift in culture. We as a church need to be a place of love and support, not shame. We need to be a church where the legitimate desire for love can be achieved outside of romantic and sexual love, by providing a place of real love and community. Christians aren't called to judge culture for their sexual activity, but to live our lives in such a way that we display God's better intention for sex and relationships.
What about singleness? It's held in high regard in the Bible. Jesus never had sex, but He was a perfect man. We need to recognise in this church that both marriage and singleness are gifts from God, and that it is possible to live a fulfilled and satisfied life without ever having sex, even though the world would say the opposite.
Being single is not the same as being alone. Family units need to do better at drawing people in so that they do not experience loneliness, but experience family, community and love.
The apostle Paul says we can "walk in the way of love". Whatever we have done or has been done to us, however much we’ve messed up or been messed up, there is a way back. God loves us. He hates our sin, but He loves us. Everyone has sinned. Jesus came to deal with sin by dying on a cross for it. He offers grace, mercy and forgiveness to us.
Following Jesus is costly, but the Bible compares it to someone who found treasure hidden in a field, went and sold all he had and bought the field. Jesus is like that treasure – following Him costs us everything, but is completely worth it!
If you would like to listen to the sermon, you can download it here.
Posted by Paul Mann