SEX, LIES AND CONSEQUENCES
“Singleness, Celibacy and Wedded Bliss”
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.’”—Gen 1:27
And to give them a little incentive, he made the act of procreation pleasurable and desirable. It’s called sex.
And what did God think about sex?
31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” So…
Sex was God’s idea
God made sex and said, “It is good!”
Sex is not wrong or evil. But like virtually all created things, sex was created for a particular context.
Illus. Cars are incredible creations. They make life easier. Open up all kinds of potential to see sights, go distances unheard of to former generations.
But cars are surrounded by many contextual rules.
You can’t drive them over the speed limit. You can’t go the wrong way down a one way. You have to have a license to operate one. You can’t drive under the influence of anything that impairs your judgment, and so on. If you break the rules you will answer to a higher authority—a judge.
We have absolutely no problem understanding these things and very willingly go to drivers ed to learn the rules about driving a car.
Yet our culture is communicating to us that sex, which is far more complicated and important, has no rules.
That you can operate it in the context of your choosing;
that you can take it out of its God-given context, that you will answer to no one, that you won’t get ticketed no matter how you operate it. THEY ARE WRONG.
Principle: God made sex for one context—Marriage
Heb 13:4 “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” NIV
“Honor marriage, and guard the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband. God draws a firm line against casual and illicit sex.” TM
“Let marriage be held in honor (esteemed worthy, precious, of great price, and especially dear) in all things. And thus let the marriage bed be undefiled (kept undishonored); for God will judge and punish the unchaste [all guilty of sexual vice] and adulterous.” AMP
So clearly, sex has a context. It is marriage.
And scripture is very clear about sex within marriage.
1 Corinthians 7:1-7
Now concerning the matters about which you wrote. It is well for a man not to touch a woman. But because of the temptation to immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.”
Why? To avoid immorality.
“The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not rule over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not rule over his own body, but the wife does. Do not refuse one another except perhaps by agreement for a season, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, lest Satan tempt you through lack of self-control.”
Tempt you to what? Sexual immorality. Paul goes on:
“I say this by way of concession, not of command. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own special gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.”
These passages teach at least four things.
1. Celibacy, which in Paul’s view is a Gift to Be Celebrated
You might even call 1 Corinthians 7 Paul's manifesto for the unmarried life.
When he says in verse 1, "It is well for a man not to touch a woman," he means the same thing he does in verse 8: "To the unmarried and the widow I say that it is well for them to remain single as I do." "It is good not to touch a woman," means, "It is good to be single."
The Bible’s view of singleness is at complete odds with the Modern View.
Paul was so completely committed to a life of celibacy that he longed for everyone to have it. To Paul, to be single was to be celibate.
The reason he celebrated the single life is exactly the opposite of why many people today love singleness and will even break up marriages in order to be single again.
Today singleness is cherished by many because it brings maximum freedom. No one cramps your style. You’re a free agent. You answer to no one. And you can play the sexual field.
But Paul cherished his singleness because it put him utterly at the disposal of the Lord Jesus.
“An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband.”—(32-34)
Principle: Singleness frees one to be an undistracted slave for Christ
The contemporary view promotes singleness (but not chastity) because it frees from slavery. Paul promotes singleness (and chastity) because it frees for slavery—namely, slavery to Christ.
God has called many of you to a life of celibacy, at least for now. If you’re single, you’re called to be celibate during this time.
The teaching of this passage for you is that this is a gift to be celebrated, not a burden to be tolerated.
You should be dreaming—as many of you are—how your freedom can be maximized for the cause of Christ here and around the world. You have some advantages that the married do not have.
2. Celibacy Is Not for Everybody
Not everyone is called to celibacy with Paul. Verse 7: "I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own special gift from God, one of one kind and one of another." As much as Paul would like to commend celibacy to everybody, he defers to the wisdom of God who calls some to marriage. Celibacy is not for everybody.
Marriage , on the other hand, is to be a dam against the flood of two things: Fornication and Adultery
First, marriage protects from fornication—sexual relations outside marriage.
After saying in verse 1 that it's a good calling not to be sexually involved at all (that is, celibacy is good), Paul says in verse 2: "But because of the temptation to immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband."
This is a clear prohibition of premarital sexual intercourse.
And Paul most definitely had in mind premarital sex between engaged couples when he prohibited immorality in this chapter.
Look, for example, at 1 Corinthians 7:36-37. "If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed (the word is literally "virgin"), if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry—it is no sin.”
Notice, he’s saying that if you can’t see one another and keep it pure, it’s better to marry than burn with frustrating passion leading to sin.
“But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed (i.e., to keep her a virgin), he will do well." Which takes us back to the point of verse 1, "It is well not to touch a woman."
Now, let's be honest. Is it not clear what Paul teaches about premarital sex for engaged couples?
He teaches that singleness is to be preferred (as we saw earlier), but that if sexual desire is strong . . . what? Go ahead and sleep together since you are committed to each other and have enjoyed every other form of intimacy? No!
He says, if the desire is that strong, get married.
Principle: Premarital sexual intercourse for engaged couples is not a Christian option.
The same thing is clear from our text here in verse 2. "Because of the temptation to immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband."
He does not say that getting engaged is the solution to sexual temptation. He does not say that a verbal commitment prior to marriage justifies the act of sexual intercourse.
He does not say, Go ahead, God understands. Or, Go ahead, you’re married in the eyes of God.
He says, "If your desire for sexual relations with your fiancé is that strong, go ahead, get married."
Next, Marriage is a Dam Against Adultery
Verses 3-5: "The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not rule over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not rule over his own body, but the wife does. Do not refuse one another except perhaps by agreement for a season, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, lest Satan tempt you through lack of self-control."
It is clear from this text that good sexual relations in marriage are intended as a dam against the flood of adultery.
Husbands and wives have a duty to offer sexual relations to each other in such a way that the temptation of adultery is significantly weakened.
The implication of this passage is that husbands and wives should satisfy each other sexually, so that their eyes and hearts do not roam after satisfaction elsewhere. Author John Piper offers three elements to this satisfaction:
1. The Frequency of Sexual Relations
In verse 5, Paul addresses the frequency of sexual intimacy. He says that married couples should not abstain very long from sexual relations lest they fall prey to the temptation of adultery. Frequency is one element that makes up the satisfaction of sexual relations.
2. Physical Attraction
Another would be whether a husband and wife are physically attractive to each other.
“I admit,” says Piper, “that this is a very sensitive and very complex area. It is sensitive because there are many things about ourselves that we can't change and others that are hard to change.
Nevertheless, if it is true that being physically attractive to each other is part of what makes sexual relations satisfying, then I think this text implies that husbands and wives have a spiritual duty to try to be attractive to each other.
None of us can compete with the sex symbols of our day.
And we shouldn't try. But surely the biblical way is a balance between a nervous self-consciousness about every wrinkle and pound and gray hair on the one side, and on the other side a thoughtless negligence that gives no attention to the way our partner would like us to dress or eat or bathe or act in public.
The exhortation of this Scripture is that we should be sexually satisfying to our spouses, in order to head off the temptation to seek satisfaction elsewhere.”
Piper closes by writing:
“Let me insert a warning. Don't infer from this that, if your partner does not satisfy you, you have the right to go seek satisfaction elsewhere. Marriage is infinitely more than sex. And a disappointment in that area is not an honorable discharge from the relationship.”
And then a third element to sexual satisfaction within marriage is:
3. The Overall Quality of the Relationship
Besides frequency of sexual relations and attractiveness to each other, satisfaction also depends on the overall quality of the relationship.
If there is anger or bitterness or resentment or hurt feelings, we don't usually touch each other, let alone embrace.
So this text is also an exhortation to humble ourselves and repent and seek forgiveness and renewal in our marriages.
A final thought:
We do not live in a culture that provides the kind of encouragement and support for life-long marriage commitment that it used to.
In fact, the forces around us are constantly suggesting that we are fools to stay in a troubled relationship.
The church must therefore double its efforts to create a community where another message and another power is the air we breathe.
So far then:
Celibacy is a gift to be celebrated.
Celibacy is not for everybody.
Marriage is a dam against the flood of fornication and adultery, because it offers God's way to satisfy sexual desire.
Next Time: Million-Dollar Definitions: What Those Confusing Sexual Words Mean