The devil is a liar. Since the beginning, lies have been his stock and trade, his most valuable weapon against God's children. So effective are his lies that the world and our hearts sing harmony to his melody.
When it comes to the realm of sexual morality, the battle between truth and lies rages around and within us. In last Sunday's sermon on the end of 1 Corinthians 6, our church family explored several of the most common and attractive lies whispered to us frequently. The goal of that sermon and this post is to help us to spot the lies and rejoice in the goodness of God's plan for us.
Lie #1 - "Sex is amoral." Several years ago Carl Trueman argued that "the ethics, and increasingly the laws, surrounding sexual behavior are coming to rest exclusively on the idea of consent." That is, in the realm of sexual morality, there is no morality. No sexual act, given the most basic definition of consent, should be considered immoral. The Corinthians thought this, arguing that just as "food is meant for the stomach and stomach for food," (1 Cor. 6:13) our reproductive organs were meant for sex--therefore, sex has no more morality than eating.
But our Creator informs us differently: sex is intrinsically, inevitably moral. Both in purpose and practice, it will be throughout this age tied into issues of right and wrong. And rather than bucking against His determination of reality, Christians ought to rejoice: the fact is, that when morality is stripped away from sex, it begins to lose its meaning and glory. Sex is moral, which is just to say that sex matters.
Lie #2 - "My body, my business" or the popular variant, "No one is getting hurt." Closely tied to the first lie is this one, arguing that every type of sexual act which has consent is totally victimless. Therefore, the reasoning goes, no one should care what others do behind closed doors.
But this lie undermines the fundamental purpose of sex, which is unity. "...do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, 'the two will become one flesh.'" (1 Cor. 6:16) Sex was designed by God primarily as a means to show, celebrate and achieve a unity between husband and wife, its secondary purpose being procreation. Here, Paul makes clear that the effect of sex (unity) doesn't disappear when sex is removed from its proper place. Therefore, sexual sin, even when consent is present, will inevitably have tragic results. Those results may be ignored or downplayed, but they remain and the more honest inheritors of the sexual revolution are willing to admit it.
Lie #3 - "My desires identify me." It may be oddly encouraging to know there is no new sexual sin present in our culture. But what is fairly new, historians tell us, is the willing identifying and defining of people on the basis of their sexuality or sexual urges. As our humanity is reduced to hormonal urges, those urges become more and more foundational to who we believe we are. And so we are implicitly and explicitly encouraged to identify ourselves according to our proclivities and urges.
In response, God preaches the gospel to us. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Paul lists a series of offenses which, if clung to, will keep people from inheriting the kingdom of God. He continues, "And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of our God." The good news about Jesus is that our identity is in Jesus. It's not in what we've done, what we're doing and even what we want to do. This means, in part, that the idea of a gay Christian (or an adulterating Christian or a sexually abusive Christian...) is anti-gospel. We are not our desires!
Lie #4 - "I am my own" or the popular Disney form, "Follow your heart." How often we are encouraged to be true to ourselves, to follow our own path... "You do you." Underneath these seemingly Hallmark-like sentiments are hellish lies, that you belong to yourself and your ultimate accountability is to your heart, your desires. Therefore, to deny yourself something you desire is, to many minds, fundamentally immoral.
Again, God proclaims the good news of Jesus to us when He says in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, "You are not your own, for you were bought with a price." While many, Christians included, will rankle at being refused the perceived fundamental right of self-possession, true wisdom will see the joy in this statement. In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul will show how marriage means that my body and sexuality belong to my spouse. But even more fundamentally, if you are a follower of Jesus, you are not your own because He bought you. With His blood! He cares so much for you--every part of you, body and soul--that He gave everything to win you. The gospel means simply that by trusting in Jesus, you get God and God gets you. Not only is this the best deal in human history, it also reminds us that we weren't doing that well on our own in the first place.
To prevent a blog post from turning into a book, I'll stop here. There are many more lies preached to us with such conviction they seem like fact. But let God be true and every man a liar. God's truth is always better. He's never withheld something genuinely good from us. And His plan for sexuality is worth believing, rejoicing in and proclaiming.