“The Bible and Sexuality”
October 11, 2015
Years ago I preached a series of sermons on marriage and family issues. Near the end of the series, I preached a sermon on a biblical perspective of sexuality from 1 Corinthians 7. And I talked pretty plainly about the topic. When we got home from church that afternoon, the sermon topic came up and our girls were pretty quiet about it. So I asked them a couple leading questions, and they stayed quiet. Finally, after more prodding, one of them said (rather loudly), “Dad! You can’t talk about that in church!”
In a similar way, sometime in my seminary years I realized that my father had been in seminary when the Supreme Court made the Roe v. Wade decision. And we were in Dallas at that time, where the case was initially filed. Since I was too young to remember specifics about church life from those days, I asked my dad, “What did the church say? Who was speaking against abortion and what did they say?” And my dad sadly said, “Virtually no one said anything; you didn’t talk about those kinds of things in church back then.”
Well, we may be somewhat uncomfortable to talk about sexuality and abortion and homosexuality, yet the Lord is not. He has spoken clearly about these issues and more. For instance, He not only wrote Song of Solomon, but He put it in the Bible right there where anyone can read it!
So as we find ourselves in the middle of the wrath of God section of Romans 1, I thought it would be helpful to pull back for two weeks to give some background perspective so that we can understand this chapter more fully and clearly. So this week I want to do a biblical overview of sexuality — what is God’s purpose in our sexuality and what is our purpose in using our sexuality? And then next week I want to overview what the Scriptures say about homosexuality. And then with that background, I want us to come back to Romans 1 to see how the wrath of God is manifested against idolaters and how that wrath relates to what God says about homosexuals there.
A word to the unmarried (the unmarried, and the unmarried again):
- This season in life is a gift of God’s grace to you so that you might have undistracted devotion and service to the Lord (1 Cor. 7:35). While marriage is good and a gift from the Lord, it is distracting (and God has designed it that way). It limits ministry opportunities because of the need to care for a spouse and children. If you are single, you do not have those restraints, so use them to serve.
- This is an opportunity to glorify God with your sexual purity. In 1 Cor. 6:20, Paul says, “For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” That applies to both married and single. The way you glorify God with your sexuality is by remaining pure and unstained by sin. There is much in this message that will help you do that.
A word to all of us about the corruption of sexuality in our culture:
What we see in our world is nothing new. Early Christian thought about sexuality was greatly influenced by Greek thought — that the body was the prison of the soul, resulting in two divergent ideas — that what I do with my body doesn’t matter (licentiousness), or that my body is to be punished and dealt with harshly (asceticism and legalism).
That influence was seen in the Roman Empire where four kinds of marriages were common —
- “Tent companionship” between a man and a woman slave — but only as long as owner wanted.
- “Common law marriage” — recognized as married after 1 year of cohabitating.
- “Purchased marriage” — a father would sell his daughter to a man.
- “Traditional marriage” — the ceremony looked much like our wedding ceremonies, yet even here divorce was common (some were married 20+ times!).
“The early church had members that had lived together, and were still living together, under all four marriage arrangements. It also had those who had multiple marriages and divorces. Not only that, but some believers had gotten the notion that being single and celibate was more spiritual than being married, and they disparaged marriage entirely. Perhaps someone was teaching that sex was ‘unspiritual’ and should be altogether forsaken.” [MacArthur, 1 Corinthians, 154.]
All of this produced a slogan that had apparently been quoted in the Corinthian letter to Paul — “it is good for a man not to touch a woman” (7:1). This was proposed even for those who were married. “If angels do not have sexual relationships (Lk. 20:35), then that’s good for us too” was the idea.
Paul was writing to correct that faulty thinking — external pressures had left the church confused. The same kinds of things are occurring in the church today.
- Some are abusing spiritual liberty and physical desires into a cornucopia of sexual indulgence.
- Some withhold from God-given, God-approved marital love for a variety of reasons.
Both have distorted views of sexuality. The libertine needs to understand (and act on) the real path to sexual joy (6:18a). The legalist needs to understand (and act on) God’s gift of sexuality in marriage.
And if this is the way it was in the early church, we should take encouragement that there is hope for us!
So here is where we are going today:
Sex is a gift from God to be used in marriage alone to reflect God’s glory.
- God’s Purposes in Our Gender and Sexuality
- God created all mankind to reflect His image (Gen. 1:27a)
- God created us gender-specific to reflect His image (Gen. 1:27b)
- God created marriage as the single expression of our sexuality (Gen. 2:24-25; Mt. 19:5-6)
- God created marital sex for procreation and enjoyment (Gen. 2:24-25; Prov. 5:15-19)
- God created sexual parameters for our protection and His glory (Gen. 1:27; 1 Th. 4:3-5; Prov. 5-7)
- Our Purposes in the Use of Our Sexuality
- Our sexuality is a reflection of what we desire (Lk. 6:45; Mt. 5:27-30)
- Our sexuality in marriage is a gift to give, not a right to take (1 Cor. 7:3-5)
- Our sexuality in marriage is a reflection of our union with Christ (Eph. 5:1-2, 32-33)
Download the rest of this sermon on a biblical perspective of sexuality.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website later today.