Posted by: lepages | October 18, 2010

Moral Dilemmas – Sexuality

My second preach from our series on ‘Moral Dilemmas’, addressed the dilemmas we face over our sexuality. You can listen to the preach on our church website here, or you can read the notes I preached from below.

‘Moral Dilemmas’ 03/10/10
‘Sexuality’

Introduction
I love sex!!
Actually, more than sex, I love Julie! (For those who don’t know who Julie is, she’s my wife!!)

Sex is a wonderful gift from God which he has given, which when used in a loving relationship between a husband and a wife, serves to cement that relationship together in intimate physical sharing of every part of who we are as human beings – body, mind and spirit.

It has been a part of society, right from the very beginning of time. In Genesis 2:24,25 it records these words:-
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”

The physical joining together of a man and woman in marriage in a sexual relationship without shame has been there since the time of Adam and Eve.

We don’t talk about sex very often at church. Maybe we should do so more!

It’s the topic of conversation in every aspect of society. It’s the subject of a huge percentage of what we see on our tv screens, on billboards, in advertising, in art, in the music industry, walking through our town shopping centres. It’s the subject of debate and discussion and changes in law on an ongoing basis. Your average newspaper has stories relating to the area, and the popular press is obsessed with this as far as celebrities are concerned.

Is this something new and a terrible reflection on the state of our society today?

As I’ve reflected on this in the past week or so, I think I’ve reached the conclusion that it’s not so different to what it’s been at any stage in human history. The difference is that living in a visual world, we are constantly faced with images which can stir us sexually in a way in which perhaps was not so easy in the past.

Our sexuality is part of what we are as human beings. God created us as sexual beings – he designed our bodies not just for producing babies, but for intimate pleasure. Sadly, as with so much of life it brings ‘Moral Dilemmas’

I don’t know if you’ve ever realised how much this book (the Bible) is full of conversation about our sexuality as human beings?

I know Trevor (one of our elders) has drawn our attention before now to how much financial matters feature in scripture – I want to draw our attention to how much sexual matters feature in scripture.

There may be some bemused faces out there, but what I’m saying is true – and much of it isn’t just about innuendo – it’s in your face.

Scripture is incredibly honest. It’s always a warts and all about life in every aspect.

The passages I’m about to refer to now are not passages which I have sought out in study and preparation for teaching this morning – these are passages which I just ‘happen’ to have come to in my personal Bible reading, guided by reading plans, Bible reading notes and so on.

The edition of ‘Word for Today’ that I’m using at present in it’s guided Bible reading has been taking me through Genesis. Earlier this week I came to Genesis 38 & 39 – two very contrasting chapters dealing with sexual matters in a very in your face kind of way. If you’re easily offended by matters of a sexual nature I suggest you don’t turn to the passage, and I suggest you stick your fingers in your ears or take an opportunity to pop out to the loo at this point!!

We’re not going to read the two chapters, but if you’d like to be able to scan the passages to see what’s actually there and see whether what I’m saying really comes out of the Bible then you can do so. You’ll find the passages on pages 42-44 of the church Bibles.

Chapter 38 relates some of the account of Judah’s life, one of Jacob’s sons, and brother to Joseph, who features in the next chapter. It relates how he met a woman and married her. The first thing recorded after the marriage is that he “lay with her” v2 – sex was high on the agenda! Within a short time she has had three children.

The first of their sons, once he has grown up is married to a woman called Tamar – he’s an evil man and dies without producing any children. So Judah, the father tells the next son to go and sleep with his brother’s wife Tamar and get her pregnant to continue his brother’s line. Well, he doesn’t object to the sex – in v9 it says “whenever he lay with his brother’s wife” – so it sounds like it might have been quite a frequent occurrence!! He obviously enjoyed it, but he didn’t want Tamar to get pregnant, so he made sure he wasn’t in her when he was about to ‘come’ and its recorded “he spilled his semen on the ground”! This is pretty in your face talk about sexuality!

He dies too without producing children, but having had an active sex life. His father Judah promises Tamar the youngest brother once he ‘grows up’.

Some time later Judah’s wife dies. After recovering from his grief he goes back to work, which involves travelling to another town to check on the men shearing his sheep. Tamar, hearing of this plots a plan to get herself pregnant by her father-in-law. She dresses herself up as a prostitute and goes to hang out in the red light district on the edge of the town. As Judah approaches the town, he sees a prostitute hawking her wares, approaches her and agrees payment without recognising who it is and they sleep together.

Some months later he hears that Tamar is pregnant as a result of engaging in prostitution and he wants her killed for the disgrace this brings on his family name…. until he finds out he’s the father!

Do the words ‘moral dilemmas’ ring out from this account or what??!!

In the next chapter we have Judah’s brother Joseph as the central character. He too faces sexual moral dilemmas, though deals with them in a better way. He ends up managing the household of Potiphar, one of the Pharoah’s officials. Whilst his employer is out at work, his employer’s wife throws herself at Joseph – “Come to bed with me!” she cries…. repeatedly!

And Joseph resists the temptation. (False accusations – Protecting the Young?)

ILLUSTRATE opticians – how I faced the battle of temptation with a rather stunning patient.

The same day that I read this passage from Genesis 38&39, I also read these verses from Proverbs 6:32-34
“..a man who commits adultery lacks judgement; whoever does so destroys himself.
Blows and disgraces are his lot, and his shame will never be wiped away; for jealousy arouses a husband’s fury, and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge.”

If that wasn’t enough to convince you of the Bible’s honesty about sexuality, have a read of Song of Songs – a book of erotic poetry – to the married couples here, if your sex life is dragging, try reading Song of Songs together or to each other – that may well stir things up a bit!!

Our series title is ‘Moral Dilemmas’.
In no other area of life is there probably more conflict with a Biblical world view and the society around us, than in the area of sexuality.

The Bible portrays sexuality as a very precious thing within the life of a married relationship between a husband and a wife, as part of what it means to become one flesh. It portrays too the awful pain that is caused when that sexual activity extends beyond the married relationship.

In our world today, in many ways sex is now portrayed as just something you do, as a recreational activity, it’s expected that you will engage in it – there is an assumption that you will have sex with your boyfriend or girlfriend. In combating sexually transmitted diseases the suggestion that you refrain from sexual activity until you are ready to enter into a life long commitment to a husband or wife is not made. Instead it is just suggested that you use a condom. Well, that’s a wise thing to do, but why settle for second best? Why not suggest keeping yourself as a special gift for one person that you can give something to that you have never and will never give to anyone else, as long as you both shall live.

It’s accepted in film/drama/comedy that people will sleep with whoever, whenever, with very little portrayal of the awful emotional pain that can follow having given of yourself to another. (Whether through broken/damaged relationships, unanticipated pregnancy, transmission and catching of sexually transmitted diseases.)

I remember one 30 something chap describing his struggle in this area on the basis that he could go out any Friday/Saturday night and pretty much guarantee that he’d be able to sleep with someone if he wanted to.
What our world doesn’t tell us in it’s passion to give freedom to people to do whatever they like, whenever they like, however they like is the awful negative effects this can have in the short term emotionally and physically, or in the long term, damaging future relationships.

What scripture does is very different.
It tells us that we are sexual beings – that our sexual urges are a normal part of who we are as human beings. It portrays what God has made us sexual beings for – to enjoy a loving, intimate sexual relationship with a husband or wife for life.

It also portrays what happens when we step outside of that confine which God has put there for our blessing – it shows the pain of damaged relationships, it shows the hurt which is caused, the disappointment, the frustration.

As human beings we are all different. Some of us have a much higher sexuality than others. Some are able to live single, celibate lives without difficulty. For others this is a near impossibility and their bodies burst with desire for sexual fulfilment.

Scripture faces this head on!

Turn with me if you would to 1 Corinthians 7:1-9

READ 1 Corinthians 7:1-9

Do you find yourself facing moral temptation to engage in sexual activity outside of a married relationship?

Well, get married if you’re not married, or commit yourself to saving yourself so that you have something very precious to give to your future husband or wife – something which no-one else will ever have or receive.

If you’re married and facing sexual temptation make sure the sexual side of your relationship is being worked out to the full. When you get married your body no longer belongs to yourself – you give it to your husband or wife – ‘I’m feeling tired’, ‘I’ve had a hard day’, ‘I’m not in the mood’, go against scripture. As a husband or as a wife you have a responsibility to give yourself in free and loving abandon to your other half – it’s not about taking from the other half – it’s about in love giving yourself to your other half.

Often in magazines now you can find sex tips – they even feature in Christianity magazine at times! That can be helpful to help you bring sexual fulfilment to your other half. But I think there is something which is a little sad about it at times – the focus is often (not always!) on the sexual act, rather than the context. There’s an old phrase which we could well do with bringing to the fore again…. ‘making love’……. because that is what our sexuality is supposed to be about – our demonstrating physically to our husband or our wife the depth of our love and commitment to them so that we bring them pleasure and fulfilment with all that we are.

Our series title is ‘Moral Dilemmas’.

The Bible is quite clear that sex outside of the married relationship between a husband and a wife is morally wrong – that is what it is given for, as a uniting as one flesh of husband and wife.

Who knows that the word ‘porn’ exists in scripture?

Well, you won’t find it translated as that in any of our English translations as far as I’m aware. But the word ‘porneia’ and its derivatives occurs over 50 times in the New Testament.

The New Living Translation translates Galatians 5:19 like this:-
“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature (lit. ‘the flesh’), your lives will produce these evil results: sexual immorality, impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure…”

The word ‘porneia’ is here translated ‘sexual immorality’.
We have a choice in life as to whether we give in to the desires of our flesh.

It is said of Martin Luther that he once said ‘You can’t stop a bird flying over your head, but you can stop it nesting in your hair.’

You have a choice – you see a stunning girl or a hunky guy walking along the road, you can see them and say thank you to God for making such a great looking human being, or you can choose to lust after them and let your thoughts wander and stir you physically.

In the same way, as you flick through a magazine or a newspaper, or flick through the TV channels, or surf the net, you may come across images that stir your flesh – you then have a choice as to whether to turn the page, change the channel, shut the website window and stop the bird nesting in your hair.

Different things and different people can stir our flesh, our sexuality at different stages in our lives and we have a choice as to whether we give ourselves to them or not.

In Romans 1, Paul writes of God’s wrath being revealed against the godlessness and wickedness of human beings who have rejected him and his truth and of how he has a result ‘given them over’ to their desires. In verses 24-28 he says these things:-

“Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires (lit. the flesh) of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator – who is for ever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. Furthermore, since they did not think it worth while to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind to do what ought not to be done.”

Conclusion
As we sit or stand here this morning and reflect on these moral dilemmas some of us may well be very conscious of how we have failed in many different ways.
Jesus, faced with a woman caught in adultery said to her ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.’ John 8:11 NKJV
As we confess our sin to God he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness through his sacrifice on the cross.

Some of us may be facing the struggle and saying ‘how do I resist temptation?’ ‘How do I allow the birds to fly over my head, but stop them nesting in my hair?’
Hebrews 12:1-3 has a wise declaration of truth:-
‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.’

We have to throw it off. We might need the help of others to do that, though no-one else can do it for us. And then we have to fix our eyes on Jesus. I would say that it is very difficult to focus on Jesus, on what he has done for us, and lust at the same time. When you face temptation, fix your eyes on Jesus.

If you need help with anything, then please speak with me after the service, or with another member of the prayer team, you might like to share with others and have them stand with you in your cell group (if you’re not part of a group, then join one).

But before we conclude the service I want to give us an opportunity to respond.

Ministry –
1. Those who have failed
2. Those facing the battle of temptation
3. Those who need to see God more fully and have their minds renewed

895 Lord I come to you

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