Tuesday, June 09, 2015

An Appeal for Purity

Cape May, New Jersey - the Atlantic shoreline

(Linda and I are teaching a seminar on sexual purity and a few other things Sunday night at Redeemer, so I'm thinking a lot about these things.)

Before I was a follower of Jesus one of the things I wanted to do the most was have sex with girls. The truth is I didn't have as much sex as some of my fraternity brothers did. Some of them were screwing girls left and right, and I only could look on with envy. My understanding was that this was normal. In the Godless universe as I understood it, who really cares?

When I entered the Kingdom of God things were different. In my new life I was told that genital intercourse was reserved for marriage. This radically different viewpoint made sense to me, and still does. I do not expect this to make any sense to someone who is not a God-believer or not a Jesus-follower. In this I have no judgment against you. You are, perhaps, like I was. Like, what's the big deal about premarital and extramarital intercourse? Of course.

In my fraternity one of the brothers had a little black book. The black book contained the names of a lot of girls on campus, and had numerical ratings from '1' to '10' next to their names. A '1' meant she would in no way have sex with you on the first date; a '10' meant she would definitely have sex with you on the first date. My fraternity brother charged ten dollars to look at the black book, which was constantly being updated. Many of us, including me, thought this was so cool because we wanted to have sex, almost more than anything. Girls were for our pleasure. 

The Kingdom of God is way different from this. God's Kingdom is upside-down compared to this. Kingdom thinking operates in the light, not the twilight.

I'm writing to any of you who say you love and worship God and Jesus and The Kingdom. If you are screwing around, why? In God's Kingdom this is unrighteousness. In their book Real Relationships Les and Leslie Parrott write:

"Having genital sex before marriage is clearly not in line with God’s principles. Sexual intercourse is a “life-uniting act,” as our friend Lewis Smedes calls it. That’s why sex outside of marriage is “sex-too-soon.” It violates the intended purpose of sex. “It is wrong,” according to Smedes, “because unmarried people thereby engage in a life-uniting act without a life-uniting intent…. Intercourse signs and seals— and maybe even delivers— a life-union; and life union means marriage.””

In God's Kingdom do not mess with this. It is the road to relational failure (see the Parrott's book for the supportive scholarship). I know others are doing it, but why do you care what others think and do? That kind of thinking is what created the mess you and I were once in. I know there are people who act like I used to. I understand this. But you and I are not them any more. It's time to choose your kingdom and embrace it. You and I have left that dark kingdom with its compulsive disordered sex-obsessiveness.

Our sex-worshiping culture shows us that something has gone wrong. C.S. Lewis once wrote:

“You can get a large audience together for a strip-tease act—that is, to watch a girl undress on the stage. Now suppose you came to a country where you could fill a theater by simply bringing a covered plate on to the stage and then slowly lifting the cover so as to let every one see, just before the lights went out, that it contained a mutton chop or a bit of bacon, would you not think that in that country something had gone wrong with the appetite for food?”

Look - sex was God's idea, not the enemy's. The destroyer of our soul works by taking things God made and then OCD-perverting them so that our love for the distortion destroys us from the inside. Surely the One who invented sexuality knows best how to enjoy it, right?

If you are a Jesus-lover but have blown it in this area, come back. You know about the cross. You know about forgiveness. We all need forgiveness. Me too. You know that repentance means doing a 180 and changing directions. Step up and be like the prodigal son. Do it now.

Stop rationalizing your failure. Rationalization belongs to the kingdom of darkness. Rationalization muddies things. What once was clear to you has become cloudy. Just how many translations of 1 Corinthians 6:18 do you need? Our loving God, thankfully, pursues after us and then, counter-culturally, throws a party in heaven when we come home.

Flee from sexual immorality. (NIV)

There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for “becoming one” with another. Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body. (The Message)

Run from immoral behavior. (The Voice)