Fire is a good thing--but take that same fire out of the fireplace, and it becomes a raging force that can burn out of control and destroy homes, destroy families, and destroy lives.
In our culture today, the fire is out of the fireplace:
- 16 million Americans are addicted to compulsive sexual behavior
- 40 million Americans are addicted to online porn
- 1 in 3 American teens get pregnant before age of 20
- For the first time in history, the majority of babies born to women under 30 are born outside marriage, meaning they have no father in the home. Studies have shown that these children are 5 times more likely to live below poverty level than children who live in a home with both parents.
All of this stems from the sexualization of our culture. Sex is used to sell everything from clothing to shaving cream. The covers of mainstream magazines, visible on the racks at your local drugstore, feature provocative photos of models or movie stars, and articles like "10 Ways to Drive Him Wild in Bed." If you're an average television viewer, you're going to witness 14,000 sexual acts on TV this year--nearly all of them will involve unmarried people--and in almost none of them will there be any consequences such as unplanned pregnancy, AIDS, herpes, or low self-worth resulting from feeling used. The overwhelming message is, "Everybody's doing it, it's all fun, nobody gets hurt, there are no consequences, and no responsibility."
The Corinthians lived in a very similar culture. Paul writes to them in 1 Corinthians 6 to avoid sexual immorality (sexual activity outside of marriage). But it's not just because he's a prude. It's because of his high view of the human body. Paul says that for those who belong to Jesus, our bodies are "parts of Christ"--what we do to our bodies, we're doing to Jesus. And when two bodies join in the act of sex, "the two become one." Sex is more than a few moments of physical pleasure--it's a spiritual experience in which two lives are joined at a deep level. God's plan for this is expressed in Genesis 2:24--"This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one." These words are repeated throughout the New Testament, by Jesus, and again by Paul in Ephesians 5.
Paul's advice? "Run from sexual sin!" (v. 18). Notice he doesn't say, "use your willpower!" He says, in effect, "Put a concrete firewall between yourself and any fire that's out of the fireplace. Don't play with it. You will get burned."
Parents: Talk with your kids. Not just about the "Birds and the Bees," but about your values. About how your family is different from the culture around them. In a survey of 1000 young people between the ages of 12-19, 85% of them said it would be easier to postpone sex if they were able to have open, honest conversations with their parents about such topics.
Married couples: Stoke the fire! Get it burning so bright and hot that nobody else can touch it. Strengthening your relationship in every area--especially the spiritual area--will strengthen what happens in the bedroom.
Singles (including young people): Think about your choices! Someone who knew I was speaking on this topic allowed me to share her story of being on "both sides of the coin" when it comes to sexual morality. She had had several intimate partners before she began dating the man who is now her husband. She says:
"My husband had saved himself for me. He was still a virgin. He thought that, because he had saved himself, God would have set aside someone for him who had also saved herself. Instead, he fell in love with me.We struggled through his heartbreak and my guilt. Sometimes even after marriage, the devil will rear his ugly head and remind us of that sin ... If I'd thought I was cheating on my husband, maybe I would have made different choices."Finally, if you're a sexual addict, or addicted to porn: get help! REV. WES SHARPE, who was once on staff at Covenant, is now a specialist in this area. He's a good place to start.
Paul wraps up "the talk" with these words, which beautifully sum up everything he's said:
Don't you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. -- 1 Corinthians 6:19-20