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Jesus, Marriage & Divorce 1 Corinthians 7:3-5, 10-24, 39-40

March 8th, 2010

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The apostle Paul is still addressing the same problems that the Corinthians had with sex and marriage being “unspiritual”, and believing perhaps that they should leave their marriages in order to be spiritual. But Paul embraces marriage and lifts it up the same way as Jesus. Paul shows that this is teaching from Jesus (v.10 – ‘not I, but the Lord’).

The Greek/Roman culture had a very low view of commitment and a very liberal view of divorce. However, the Christian view on these matters is clear – ‘the wife should not separate from her husband. . .and the husband should not divorce his wife’ (v.10).

To understand marriage and divorce we need to go back to Jesus’ teaching on it in Matthew 19:3-9. Jesus quote from the beginning of Genesis – going right back to when God created man and woman and there was the first marriage.

One Flesh

  • A couple become one when they are married – that is what they are.
  • It is a sacred, miraculous thing that reflects the mystery of the Trinity (one God in three Persons).
  • It is so profound and therefore should never be taken lightly.

Covenant Love

  • Our culture teaches that love and marriage is built purely on romantic love, but this does not make a marriage work. Romantic love is indeed a gift from God and should definitely be a part of a marriage, but it is not the foundation on which to build a marriage. We need to get our idea of love from the Bible.
  • Covenant love – choosing to love someone, choosing to commit yourself to them – is what makes a marriage work. Reflected in wedding vows – “Will you love” not “Do you love”.
  • The phrase ‘hold fast’ in this passage is key (v.5).
  • God loves us with covenant love – we look to reflect that love in our marriages.
  • Jeremiah 3 – God experiences divorce and betrayal personally, and that is why He hates it. The rules that allowed divorce were made because of sin and the hardness of the human heart – but it was never God’s intentions. He wants covenant love on display.

Recognising Reality

God understands human sinfulness and has compassion for victims, and so there are cases where divorce may be acceptable:

  • v.9 – sexual immorality is grounds for divorce. The bond of covenant love has been broken, and the victim is spiritually “widowed” so free from that bond.
  • Desertion can be grounds.
  • These things are never black and white though and must be dealt with on a case-by-case basis by the elders of the church. Reconciliation should always be explored because it is God’s intentions to restore.
  • If divorce was legitimate there are also grounds for remarriage – again not a black and white issue, and needs to be brought to the elders.
  • Incompatibility? This is a myth. A marriage is made up of 2 sinners! There is always going to be incompatibility, and there will also be seasons of hardship.
  • Married the “wrong person”? v.20 – remain in the condition you are in.

We need to work at our marriages:

  • Jesus came to give us a new heart so we can do things like commitment and covenant love.
  • Commit to physical love – safeguard your marriage from temptation.
  • Make your marriage holy – make it the thing you refuse to give up on.
  • Model Jesus & the gospel – beautify your spouse.

1 Corinthians 7: 1-2, 6-9, 25-38. Singleness and Marriage

February 15th, 2010

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Parts of this passage are potentially confusing; ‘It’s good for a man not to have sexual relations with a women’. This seems to contradict Genesis 2 and other scriptures. However, Paul (the writer of this letter) is quoting their (the Corinthians) opinion back to them, this is obviously something they would have said. The bible teaches that sex is good and encourages it wholeheartedly within marriage.

But as well as promoting marriage Paul believes that there is a wonderful role for singleness and is
keen to honour it. Singleness is a unique calling and can bring a liberty to follow God. The bible elevates a certain kind of singleness; for some kind of callings of God singleness can be appropriate.

The church needs to look after and dignify singles and families should be hospitable to them and serve them.

In our culture marriage has a very bad reputation and this has led to people embracing singleness or avoiding marriage for the wrong reasons, even within the church.

People in the church are nervous about marriage and can stay single for some of the following wrong reasons;

  • Concerned that they are loving their prospective partner more than God. They feel they’ve developed a unhealthy devotion which deflects from their relationship with God. Don’t be hooked into false spirituality, If that isn’t a tension we are balancing in courtship perhaps we should question the relationship?
  • The ‘Who is the one mentality’ is also to be avoided. God restored you to sonship not to be a robot. We’ve been given ability to make decisions and choose our own partners.
  • Guys can be picky, they can have a picture of beauty that isn’t biblical. Obviously you need to be attracted to your bride but physical beauty is quite secondary.
  • For some women misinterpretations of what a spiritual man is can hold people back. Don’t look for the ‘platform gift’ or christian eloquence, look at the heart.
  • Fear can hold people back but we can be set free by knowing God. If we are fearful we are then not really enjoying God. If we are exposed to the love of God it will overwhelm fear.

We can make marriages our God and try and make them perfect, this is not possible. There has only ever been one perfect husband.

Story of the bible is one of a husband and a bride.God pursues us as a husband to a bride  He is perfectly faithful to us and utterly beautiful. To see proof of this look at the cross of Jesus Christ where the greatest husband in history died for his wife, the people of God. He is faithful enough to be tortured and murdered for us.

1 Corinthians 6 v 12 – 20 Sex and Purity

February 1st, 2010

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The first experience of sex in the garden of Eden (Genesis 2) was without shame, there were no hang ups. But Adam and Eve fell away from God into rebellion and immediately were ashamed. One of the many results of our rebellion is a sense of shame and embarrassment associated with nakedness and sexuality. We now no longer use sex to worship God but now we can worship sex itself.

God’s model for us is to enjoy sex within a covenant relationship, a lifelong marriage commitment made before God of the body and soul to one another.

In sex we are looking for pleasure
We are designed to look for and find our pleasure in God. God intends pleasure for us and ultimately only He can give it to us. We look for it elsewhere but it can only give limited returns.

Sex is a magnificent gift from God but in itself it makes a terrible God.

In sex we are looking for love and security
We crave physical intimacy because we are looking for love, support, security, protection etc. Again God intended that this need was ultimately fulfilled in Him and Him alone.

A lifestyle pattern can develop of desiring physical intimacy and this, or the person who gives it, can become our saviour.  This can lead to a blinding dependence on people which can lead to abuse.

Defilement and the answer
The reason we are left feeling defiled is really the same reason we feel guilt. We feel guilt because of guilt. We feel defiled because we are defiled.

In the end something has to objectively be done to set us free and the fullest true answer is what Jesus alone can do. Through real repentance, which is rediscovering the person we should have been worshipping in the first place, we can be free. The route to freedom is finding our joy in Jesus.

Through the cross we can receive forgiveness and also cleansing from our sin. Part of the work of the cross is the removal of shame from us. It’s taken away. In our place Jesus has became the scapegoat, he became shame for us.

1 Corinthians 6:12 – 7:5 Why is Sex Such a Big Deal?

January 25th, 2010

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Sexual freedom is supposed to bring liberty but instead it enslaves and controls people. We think that somehow our physical bodies are disconnected from the spiritual. We think that what we do with our bodies doesn’t affect us but it does. Jesus was a physical man after the resurrection and is now still a physical man.

The sexual act creates a union, we become one flesh. It is created to take place in a marriage relationship. Marriage itself is a foretaste of something greater, it points to our union with Christ, we are his bride. Also, sex points to something better, something greater. God created sex to point to the joy we’ll experience in eternity with him. Knowing God is profound union, sex is a picture of that.

Our application
We should flee from sexual immorality and deal ruthlessly with temptation