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Teaching series from 1 Corinthians

Christianity and Human Sexuality

1 Corinthians 6:12-20

Teaching t05402


Paul now turns to the issue of human sexuality. By their behavior (vs 15), the Corinthians were giving further evidence that they weren't thinking or operating from God's perspective ("mind of Christ").

Two Misapplied Maxims (vs 12-14)

To justify their behavior, they were evidently quoting two maxims/slogans Paul taught them—but misapplying them . . . 

"All things are lawful."

Paul affirms that this is true with regard to our standing before God (vs 11). No sin can cause the Christian to forfeit God's acceptance. If there ever was a place for him to qualify this, this is it! But he refuses to back off from the radical grace of God.

But Paul denies that sin won't affect the quality of our lives (" . . . but all things are not profitable . . . but I will not be mastered by anything."). God's grace doesn't rescue me from the negative (this-life) consequences of disregarding his moral will for my life, any more than it rescues me from the consequences of jumping off a cliff or walking through a glass door. We can forfeit the blessings that result from living life as God designed it. We can forfeit the moral freedom God intends for us, and instead become enslaved to degrading passions (2 Pet. 2:19). Nowhere is this more true than in our sexual behavior, as we will see . . . 

"Food is for the stomach, and the stomach is for food."

Paul affirms that the truth of this statement with regard to food: "Eat whatever foods you like. Dietary preference is not a moral issue." He rejected as unbiblical superstition the idea that eating certain foods can cause us to lose our security in Christ, or to defile our relationship with God. God created all foods for us to eat freely. "My stomach is growling." "Then eat food—that's what God gave you food for." "What kind of food?" "Whatever kind you want."

But the Corinthian Christians were applying this same thinking to their sexual and behavior."I'm horny." "Then have sex—that's what God gave you sexual organs for." "What kind of sex?" "Whatever kind of sex you want." “Have sex whenever & with whomever you want. Sexual preference is not a moral issue.”

Does this sound familiar? Because western culture has rejected God's revealed will for human sexuality, it has been almost entirely removed from the realm of morality and spirituality. In its place we have only one guiding principle: "sexual preference." "Sexual preference" (with same sex; with multiple partners; before marriage; within marriage) is a virtually amoral category, like left-handedness or skin color. Sexual desire is now an urge to be satisfied however I want to satisfy it. Only a strange, arbitrary, hypocritical limitation that it should be between "consenting adults" remains (why "consenting?" why "adults?" [1] ).

Our culture affirms "sexual preference" as an inalienable right—and then gasps in horror and surprise at the inevitable fruit of it: the exponential increase of child sexual abuse, one-parent homes (which is the major factor driving youth crime, drugs, poverty, illiteracy [2] ), marital failure and STD's. We are witnessing the breakdown of our society because of our insistence on this "right." The foundational structure in society is the family, and sexual morality is the structure which safeguards the family. Only a major moral reformation can reverse this trend.

Over against this, Paul reminds them and us that God has revealed his will for human sexuality. "The body is not for immorality (all sex outside of heterosexual, monogamous marriage—Gen. 2:24)." This is not some arbitrary restriction based on God's hatred of the physical. God gave us our bodies, complete with the equipment to enjoy sex. God values our bodies so much he will give us new bodies when these die (vs 14). But our bodies and our sexuality have a purpose which we must understand if we are to enjoy sexual activity and not destroy ourselves with it! Paul now explains this purpose, and gives us practical guidance based on that purpose . . . 

God's Purpose For Your Body: Personal Union (vs 15-18)

Read vs 15-17. The theme that unites these verses is personal union. God's primary purpose for our bodies is to experience oneness in the context of personal love relationship. We all have a deep-seated thirst to experience oneness with another person ("urge to merge"). When we don't have this, we feel lonely—like having an itch we can't scratch. This is an essential part of personhood, as opposed to being an object or a thing. This is the way God is (TRINITY: Jn. 17:5,21), and this is what it means to be created in his image.

This desire is to be filled first and foundationally by union with God himself (vs 17). We can actually be "joined to the Lord" and become "one spirit with him." When you ask Christ to forgive your sins, he actually indwells you through the Holy Spirit and forges a permanent and intimate union between you and him (Rev. 3:20), which becomes the foundational personal union in your life (AUGUSTINE’S & PASCAL’S QUOTES). But you have to choose this and open the door . . . 

This desire is also to be filled by union with another human in the context of heterosexual marriage (vs 16; context of Gen. 2:24). The primary purpose of sexual intercourse is neither procreation nor self-gratification! It is the unique expression of sharing my being with my wife in the context of a committed personal relationship of self-giving love—with both of us united with Christ in a love relationship. Sex within this context is the best, most satisfying, sexiest sex there is! And the ones who have it best here are the those who have never had sex in any other context (ME: I didn't miss anything by not indulging in pre-marital sex!).

Because this is God's purpose for our bodies, for a Christian to commit sexual immorality is a desecration of Christ (vs 15—EXPLAIN THE DESECRATION OF ANTIOCHUS EPIPHANES). It is also a desecration of ourselves (read vs 18). Sexual immorality is destructive to us in a way that other sins are not, since it defiles the deepest purpose of our lives. We cannot ultimately break God's moral law; we illustrate it by breaking ourselves on it. Consider the following modern myths:

"Casual sex is harmless." There is no such thing as "casual sex." You may relate to another person like a KLEENEX, but that doesn't change the fact that you have forged a profound personal union with him/her. You can't look at the person the same way ever again. You take that person with you into your marriage, and can never share yourself solely with your spouse.

This is why there is unique pain when (even casual) sexual relationships break up. A union in the very fabric of your being has been ripped apart. The guilt and anguish and anger that results from this wrongful union causes deep emotional pain and scars that can be substantially healed by God, but never completely removed in this life (NAIL/HOLE).

“Pre-marital sex won’t negatively affect my chances for marital success.” The truth is that the more sexually active you are before marriage, the more difficulty you will have getting married and succeeding in marriage. This is true not only with those who are promiscuous, but also for those who live together (COHABITATION STATS: more likely to divorce; less likely to enjoy marriage). The commitment to marriage is more difficult for those who have lived with the benefits of sex beforehand. The pain of broken sexual relationships makes people more less willing to be truly vulnerable, which is necessary for a healthy marriage. The habit of diversity in sexual pleasure makes sexual faithfulness within marriage more difficult and sexual betrayal more likely.

“Most marriages can overcome adultery.” "INDECENT PROPOSAL" told the truth here—except for the unrealistic ending. This is a betrayal so deep that, apart from the forgiveness and healing power of Christ, it does irreparable damage to the marriage.

“It won’t seriously affect my relationship with God.” This is completely untrue. While you are still accepted by God if you have received Christ, your relationship with God is profoundly disrupted when you get involved in sexual sin. You have involved him in a union which rejects his loving authority on a very serious level ("grieves" Holy Spirit). This is why you find your prayer life up on blocks, your aversion to other Christians, and the Word going dead—until you agree with him and turn away from this.

God's Provision For Sexual Restoration

"I have blown it so badly in this area that there is no hope for me!" Apart from God and his grace, this would be true. But because God is a God of grace, there is hope for all of us, no matter how damaged we may be. You can experience God's forgiveness and his progressive healing. But you have to appropriate his grace.

Be cleansed by Christ's forgiveness (vs 11). No matter how sinful you have been, no matter how damaged you are, no matter how much you view yourself as an unclean thing—God is prepared to accept you and make you his child and cleanse away your guilt. Receive Christ—and keep focusing on your new standing with God.

"Flee immorality" (vs 18). Sex is powerful. Anything with great power for good also has great potential for damage (FIRE). Don't toy with it—respect it and run from its misuse!

If you are sexually promiscuous, turn away from this way of life!

If you're in an immoral relationship, get out of it—even if it means sacrificing the relationship!

Guard the sexual purity of your dating relationship. Stay out of sexually tempting situations (FLIRTING; MEAT MARKET BARS; SPENDING THE NIGHT; LONG MAKE-OUT SESSIONS; VACATIONS/TRIPS).

Start practicing self-control in your thought-life (FANTASIES; PORN).

Pursue spiritual growth (vs 20). It isn't enough to flee the negative if you don't replace it the positive. "Glorify God in your body" means making God and his purpose for your life your first priority. Lasting change in sexual behavior is the result of solid spiritual growth.

Focus on becoming rather than finding the right person. By relating to God through prayer and learning his Word, and by beginning to serve him in every area of your life, you can substantially lessen the loneliness and facilitate God's healing in your life.

Get involved in "body life." God has designed another way for us to experience union—with other walking Christians. Christ- centered love relationships provide another way to experience personal oneness. Other Christians help you learn how to walk with God. They provide you with reminders of God's perspective in this area, and accountability as well. Get involved in fellowship!!! For some of you, this is why you keep falling (1 Thess. 4:9-10 in context) . . . 


[1] The problem here is that there is no authoritative voice on where the line should be drawn or if there should be any line at all. From a secular view point, one might note that the concepts of consent and adulthood are both tied to mature moral judgment by a developed rational-moral agent. Nevertheless, rational-moral agency would arguably prohibit certain behaviors sanctioned by the “sexual preference” outlook, the appropriateness of the concept of rational-moral agency in an evolutionary-biological worldview notwithstanding.

[2] "Illegitimacy is the single most important social problem of our time--more important than crime, drugs, poverty illiteracy, welfare or homelessness because it drives everything else." Charles Murray, quoted in William J. Bennett, The Index of Leading Cultural Indicators (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994), p. 48.