Many times in our lives we underestimate the power of sexuality, ours and those around us. We underestimate our desires, longings, addictions and past sexual histories.
When you read Scripture, you see that we are created for relationships, for intimacy. We are created for knowing and we long for that. Yet, our culture has connected sex, love, and intimacy and made it a big mess.
You can be intimate with someone without having sex. You can have sex with someone without being intimate.
This confusion has led many of us to look for intimacy in places we can’t find it.
We look for it in sexual relationships outside of marriage, affection from co-workers, emotional relationships outside of marriage and porn.
Often I’ll hear people say, “Believing sex outside of marriage is wrong is so prudish, so old-fashioned. Doesn’t everyone have sex before marriage, out of marriage, look at porn?” Here’s my question, “Has sex outside of marriage made your life better? Has looking at porn made your life and relationships richer? More meaningful? Deeper? Has cheating on your spouse made your life better? Less stressful?” The answer is no. But we think it will, so we do it.
Where it Begins
It is important to understand where this begins.
1 Thessalonians says: For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God.
We must understand as best as we can where our sexual desire got off track. For many of us, that got off track at a young age and in a painful memory.
Having sex as a teenager, being raped, abused, or molested. It was the discomfort we felt when friends pressured us to kiss someone, or struggling with same sex attraction and not being sure what it meant.
Too often in Christian circles we read verses like Matthew 5:27 – 30 on lust and adultery and look for ways to battle them, which is important, but we rarely understand where they came from.
Yet, if we don’t desire holiness and purity, if we don’t understand where things became broken, we won’t know what to fix or what we’re even trying to get to.
For me, this is facing what I learned about sex at a sleepover when I was 11, and the dad brought down a box filled with porn and said to us, “It’s about time you boys learn about this.” I need to look at what that taught me, how that shaped me and changed me. How has that impacted my way of relating to others over the last 27 years?
What is often the most painful about this looking back is we see what was taken from us.
Redemption and Sexuality
Many times we’ll struggle with this question: If God is in control, why didn’t he stop that? Why did he allow that first experience? This is a heart-wrenching question.
As a follower of Jesus, according to the New Testament, you are in Christ. You were in Christ before the foundation of the world. Ephesians 1 says that if you are saved, a follower of Jesus, redeemed, you were chosen before the foundations of the world, your eternity and hope were sealed before God created anything.
This means everything in our lives is ‘in Christ.’ Our joys and pains. All has been redeemed and is being made new. We only think about what we’re walking through right now, in the future or from the time that we became aware of Jesus. But there was a time before we were aware of Jesus that he was aware of us.
Being in Christ means that those painful moments, that abuse, pain, heartache, destruction, addiction, Jesus was not absent or somewhere else, but was with you. And, because he knows holiness, beauty and goodness, the way God intended things to be, he feels and knows your pain and my pain even deeper than we ever could, because he knows how it should be. This is what took him to the cross, to redeem and make new, that pain, that abuse, that destruction.
Being ‘in Christ’ means I have the power to battle all the sin I face and experience the life Jesus experiences with the Father.
I think it is interesting in Matthew 5 that Jesus puts anger/murder next to adultery/lust. Both destroy people, both rob people of life and joy.
What Jesus is pointing to is a greater righteousness and hope.
Many times when it comes to our love lives, dating, marriages, addictions, sexual histories, broken promises, broken commitments and broken hearts, we say, “There’s no hope.” The gospel of Jesus, the hope of Jesus says, “There’s always hope.”
Jesus came to make you whole. This doesn’t mean that your past, your hurt, the scars you carry on your body, heart, brain or soul disappear, but it does mean they change.
This is the invitation that Jesus has for us in Matthew 5. Do we trust that his picture of holiness is better than our picture of broken connection through our sexuality?