Our culture’s cloud of sexual living continues to get darker, denser and more and more expansive. Everything is becoming normal and everyone is starting younger.
Sexual immorality is no respecter of persons. This has little to do with homosexuality vs. heterosexuality or any of the many cultural wars going on in this arena today. It’s so easy (and wrong) for Christians to point the finger at homosexuals or gay marriage as corrupting God’s design for sex when divorce, premarital sex and sexually explicit material in entertainment took care of this long ago. We could care less that our favorite show on Netflix shows sex and nudity and conditions to long for this outside of wedlock, but we’ll get fired up about those gays! Um, how about we each take a look in the mirror at how we have bought in to culture’s polluted view of sex, a pollution that has infiltrated every square inch of our society and has influenced each and every one of us. If you’re not divorced, you haven’t had premarital sex, you’ve never lusted, you’ve never looked at pornography or read romance novels, you’ve never watched sexually explicit nude scenes in movies or TV, and you’ve never fantasized about being with someone other than your spouse, then I guess you’re allowed to start pointing fingers.
As a whole, our culture has swallowed the bait of anytime, anywhere sex hook-line-and-sinker. Christians of all ages are wondering if culture got it right and we got it wrong. Christians of all ages are caving in to the crushing tide of culture’s take on sexual intimacy… some caving in slowly, others doing so with reckless abandon.
These are dark times sexually. In fact, sexual promiscuity is so normal, it can start to feel like it’s the only sane option, even to mature believers. And for those new or weak in the faith, sexual fidelity in marriage alone can feel as unreal as unicorns and leprechauns.
But here’s the catch: everyone is still as empty as they’ve ever been. The rock stars, movie stars and star athletes who have all the sex they’d ever want with pretty much whoever they’d want are still unfulfilled. They are still chasing more sex, going bankrupt, having drug overdoses, and committing suicide. I’m not celebrating this at all, I’m mourning it. And simply pointing out that the golden chalice of casual sex is not the solution to one’s longing that it’s made out to be.
You hear a lot of talk nowadays about how Christians need to catch up with the times when it comes to sex; that we and our Bible are outdated. But the reality is, Christians have always been called to show the world there’s a better path. 1st century Corinth was known for temple prostitution for the Greek goddess Aphrodite. In the midst of this very accepted cultural practice, Paul (in 1 Corinthians 6:16) quotes a very old text from Genesis 2:24, Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” If anything would be considered outdated in a culture where church activities included random sexual escapades with strangers, it would have been the ancient book of Genesis, saying that when a man and woman have sex, they become one person. But Paul doesn’t hold back. He presents Genesis as the once-and-for-all design for sex, something that will never change no matter how popular and culturally normal it is to do otherwise. He doesn’t give compromises or shortcuts. He lays it out quite clearly, (verse 18) Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.
There are so many side effects to our culture’s do-whatever-you-want sexual ethics. Again, my point here is not to show (and make judgment on) how other people’s sexual behavior has corrupted our culture. My point is to show the great sense of urgency for Christians to not conform to the patterns of this world when it comes to sex, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. So we can test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)
Take objectification for example. No rational person on earth would argue that it’s God’s will for human being to be treated as objects. Objectification is at the heart of slavery, rape, murder, child abuse and so many other atrocities. People are people and are to be treated with dignity and honor. People are to be seen as the complex and layered human beings they are, not as surface-level pieces of meat to be consumed and discarded. Yet that is exactly what today’s Temple of Aphrodite teaches us.
It’s the reason men look at a woman’s chest instead of her eyes. (Men have been trained by porn, NFL cheerleaders, the Swimsuit Edition, Victoria’s Secret, Game of Thrones, and on and on and on to do this — what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas! If you sit under these professors, you can’t switch off what they’ve taught you.)
It’s the reason so many hearts are broken when a sexual partner moves on to someone else.
It’s the reason for the vast majority of abortions. (I can have sex with who I want, when I want, and don’t tell me otherwise)
Sex without the hassle.
Sex without humanity.
Sex for me.
Sex with objects.
People are now objects. I can’t stop seeing them as objects. I must have them, then I must have the next one.
I don’t care about the person, but I need that body.
Consume and discard.
Culture ebbs and flows, God’s will doesn’t.
Many Christians today from outside of the West (like in Africa, Asia, etc.) are appalled at how Western Christianity (Europe, United States, etc.) has conformed to the patterns of the world when it comes to sex. They are appalled at our twisting of Scripture and at our acceptance of and participation in immorality. But namely, they are appalled at how we are disgracing “The Way” of following Jesus as it was called in the 1st century in a sexual era when it’s most needed for us to shine the light of God’s will brighter than ever. Instead of being transformed, we are simply conforming.
It is in the darkest times that light needs to be steadfast.
This is not done through protests, picketing or the judgment of others. It’s to be done at the foot of the cross. It’s to be done through repentance and running to Jesus, allowing Jesus to make us whole so we stop looking for our acceptance, approval and validation at the Temple of Aphrodite and all its empty promises. It can then be done through a visual example, like a lit up city on a hill, giving a guiding light for the whole world to witness. To witness and say, “I want that kind of love in my life.”
The best case that can be made for marriage is for Christians (whether single or married) to model the dignifying, honoring, loving, human, self-sacrificing design God set out for humanity. A design that requires 100% of a man to merge with 100% of a woman in a bond that is as unbreakable as the bond Jesus has with his Church.