Almost every time I read the news there’s a story about someone whose life has been destroyed by sex.
Recently, the Wall Street Journal published a story about Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn claiming that dozens of employees were pressured to have sex with him.
The fallout in his life has been devastating. The day after the article came out, Wynn resigned as chairman of the Republican National Convention. The value of his company, Wynn Resorts, dropped $2 billion dollars. Investors filed multiple lawsuits against the company. He stepped down as chairman and was stripped of several awards and honors. Add his name to the list of disgraced men like Anthony Weiner, Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby and many others.
We are a San Clemente church that wants to shed light on the important topic of sex. These news stories teach us something very important about sex. It’s both wonderful and powerful. Nashville Tennessee Pastor Ray Ortland says “Sex is like fire. In the fireplace it keeps us warm. Outside the fireplace it burns the house down.”
In its proper context, sex is a wonderful, God-given gift. But out of its proper place it can destroy you.
Sex is powerful. Respect it.
Because sex is both wonderful and powerful, you must get this area of your life right. We are a family church and as such we believe that God has a plan for your sexual desire. And if you keep your sexual activity inside these boundaries, you will be wonderfully blessed.
If you don’t, it’ll bring you pain and destruction.
The Old Testament is loaded with lessons about sex. One concerns the time when David was the king of Israel. He was a great warrior and had a giant heart for God. But the second half of his life was not pretty, primarily because of the destructive power of sex not condoned by God.
2 Samuel 13 contains a story about Absalom, David’s son. Absalom had a beautiful sister named Tamar. And after a time Amnon, David’s son by a different wife, desired Tamar, his half sister. Amnon was so tormented by this desire that he made himself ill. She was the virgin daughter of the king and lived in the palace, under the king’s covering. She was inaccessible.
Yet Amnon was obsessed by this desire. Amnon’s cousin Jonadab, noticing Amnon’s distress, asked Amnon, “What’s wrong with you?” He said, “I love Tamar.” Jonadab instructed Amnon to pretend to be sick so that when the king visits, Amnon should tell him he wants his sister Tamar to bring him a meal.
And that’s what happened. When Tamar showed up, Amnon sent everyone out of his house.
When Tamar approached Tamar with the meal, he took hold of her and said “Come, lie with me, my sister.” She answered him, “No, my brother, do not violate me, for such a thing is not done in Israel.” It’s against the law to have sex with a sibling or half sibling in Israel. She would be disgraced in their culture, and he would come to be known as an “outrageous fool.” Think #MeeToo.
But he would not listen to her, and being stronger than she, he violated her.
Then Amnon hated her with very great hatred, and Amnon said to her, “Get up! Go!” He kicked her out of his house and bolted the door behind her. She tore her robe, put ashes on her head and went home weeping. She was violated, devastated. From that moment on, her life was changed. She moved into her brother Absalom’s home and lived single, probably for the rest of her life because she was no longer a virgin.
The moral of that story is this – when men are pure, women are safe. And when men are not pure, women are not safe. As a church in San Clemente, we want women to be safe in our community and our country.
Fast-forward to Jesus. He’s God in human form, part of the trinity. And He demonstrates by his life and teachings a tremendous respect and honor for women. Women travel with him and his disciples. He speaks kindly to them, acknowledges them, heals them. He taught that men should not divorce their wives. He taught that lustful thoughts are in the same category as adultery. And He demonstrated that God loves men and women equally because both are created in the image of God.
This was radical. Jesus taught this to a world where virtually everyone considered women as less than men. Women didn’t have the same legal rights as men. In some places women were bought and sold like property. Jesus’ radical new view of women changed the world.
Take a look around the world today. Where do women have rights? It is in places where Christianity has historic roots. Because of Jesus, sexual harassment is considered news. Without Jesus we wouldn’t be discussing this because women would be objects to be possessed, and Steve Wynn was just doing what came naturally. Jesus taught that women have value and dignity.
Twenty or so years later the Apostle Paul took Jesus’s message to the Gentiles. In one 1 Thessalonians 4:3 he said that “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality.
Sexual immorality in Greek is “porneia.”
It refers to three things:
- Fornication – any sexual relations between unmarried individuals. The Bible is teaches that sex is designed by God to be enjoyed only within marriage. Sex outside of marriage is sin whether you’re 16 or 66, never married, divorced, or widowed. There are no exceptions.
- Adultery – sexual relations between a married person and someone who is not his or her spouse.
Paul was speaking in the Roman world where it was normal for men to have sex with prostitutes and their slaves. What Paul taught was radical and outside cultural norms. As a follower of Christ, you must also break free from your cultural norms and live according to God’s design. One man and one woman for a lifetime.
- Lust – craving and intense desire for sexually immoral acts. One’s thought life, not just behavior, can lead to sexual immorality The craving that Amnon had for Tamar was not love – it was lust.
In Matthew 5:27-28 Jesus said that “everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Jesus makes you accountable and responsible for your private thoughts. Why? James 1:14 and 15 teach us that sin is first birthed in your mind.
That’s the story of Amnon. What you think about matters.
So sexual immorality is fornication, adultery and lust. The Bible says don’t do these things.
People raised in a Christian home were likely told this. If you were not raised in a Christian home, you probably got a different talk about sex. In my home, I was told “Don’t get your girlfriend pregnant. Everything else, however, is OK.”
I believe the problem is that we’re torn in two directions.
The world portrays sex as just physical, something fun to be enjoyed at will with anyone who will say yes.
Yet at the same time, most people also desire a meaningful, long-term love relationship. We want love and happily ever after.
The problem is that these two ideas are opposites. A fulfilling relationship and consequence-free sex are incompatible. They don’t go together. So we’re getting pulled in opposite directions.
The promise of the world fails to deliver fulfillment.
Sex is more than just physical. Sex is linked with the nonphysical part of who we are as people. Sex is a spiritual mystery.
Here’s God’s design for sex:
Matthew 19:5-6 states that Jesus said, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
Sex somehow forges a man to a woman. It’s God’s design that a man and woman come together in the bond of marriage and make a life-long, exclusive covenant with one another.
The two become one flesh, meaning they become mysteriously joined together. There is a oneness in their relationship.
Sex is designed to create marital intimacy. It’s a relational adhesive that sticks husbands and wives together. Yes it’s fun. Yes it makes babies. But it is also designed by God to join a couple together in intimacy.