Sexuality and the Christian hope
1 Cor 6:12-7:1 and 7:25-31
1 Corinthians 6:12-7:7New International Version (NIV)
12 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”[a]17 But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.[b]
18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore, honour God with your bodies.
Concerning Married Life
7 Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” …
1 Corinthians 7:25-31New International Version (NIV)
Concerning the Unmarried
25 Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26 Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for a man to remain as he is. 27 Are you pledged to a woman? Do not seek to be released. Are you free from such a commitment? Do not look for a wife. 28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.
29 What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; 30 those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; 31 those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.
This morning we are concluding our two part series; we are again looking at how the Christian hope gives us so much more than person salvation; it colours our view of the world so that we can hope in every situation and it gives us joy that helps us to really honour our lives and each other.
So, this morning we are talking about sexuality and the Christian hope. Now to talk to this this morning we have to look at where we find ourselves as a society.
Today as you look at the world we find ourselves in, sex is everywhere; we are essentially an over-sexed society. Now, we have to ask why? And today as we reflect on what Paul says we will see how Christianity actually fixes this oversexed world-view.
Essentially, why we find ourselves in our current predicament is that we live in a world where God has been stripped of every sphere and so humanity is left with gaping hole of significance; and we have placed romance and sex in the place of God.
Sigmund Freud said, all religion is sexual repression, however, we now see that all sexuality is repressed religiosity. (Keller)
You see we as a society have taken the significance and hope that we would have had in God and placed it in romance and sexuality. That is why when today we criticise someone’s sexual identity you are committing the ultimate sin, because in our world it is our very significance and identity.
We will see from Paul, that sex is a bad thing to put your hopes in and it is more powerful than simply a way to feel significance.
So, let’s get into the passage; Paul describes to us The Corinthians
1.The two views of sexuality
We see these two views that we prominent in Corinth and you will see that they are the two most prominent views still alive today. We see these two views in 6:13 and 7:1.
13 You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.”
This view essentially is that sex is an need; it is an itch that has to be scratched. Therefore, follow your animal instincts and satisfy your need when it arises.
The second view that the Corinthian church had was 7:1 which said;
Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” …
Literally in the Greek it says, a man must not even touch a woman.
This view sees sex as a dirty act needed for procreation; and therefore, outside the context of breeding it must be denied, ignored and repressed at all costs.
Now I want you to see that we haven’t moved that much forward in our views today; you will have your more conservative views and the more liberal and both undervalue God’s view of sexuality.
So let’s look at…
2.Paul’s higher view of sexuality
We read this in verse 6:16.
Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”
Now when most people see this verse they see it as Paul saying the two become one flesh Paul is talking about the physical nature of sex.
However, if we read it as such Paul is making no point in this passage, It would then Paul saying do you not know that he who has physical union with a prostitute has physical union with her.
Paul is saying that when you have sex a personal transformation is happening here you are becoming one personhood with another. What he is saying here, therefore, is astounding! He is saying, sex in any circumstances is designed as an act of deep and profound commitment; not merely of body parts but a full giving of one’s entire self to another. Two personhoods coming together. You see in the Greek the word for flesh means more than our meat; it is the physical personhood of man.
Paul is saying God did not invent sex to be a defiling but necessary mode of procreation, neither did God make sex as a mode of self-gratification and self-expression.
Paul says sex was designed as a way of doing “radical self-donation.” Sex is God’s given way of giving yourself over to someone so completely that it results in personal transformation.
In other words; sex outside of marriage is dangerous, not because God doesn’t want you to have fun. Paul is saying that when we have sex outside of committed love we are undervaluing and cheapening its power to transform us we are short-circuiting it very nature.
Paul is saying that sex is a God designed way of intimacy that literally has you committing yourself to another in all ways. This is why sex outside of a proper commitment breaks this; because what you are saying when you simply have sex outside of the marriage commitment is that I want to use you to get a thrill; not I want to give myself to you, but rather I will use you for the experience.
Paul shows us that sex is more than the world could imagine and then he does something completely strange after giving this higher view of sex say; you know what church; you can completely live without it.
3.The shocking view of marriage and singleness
From 7:25-31 Paul says essentially are you married; good. Are you single? Stay single, because getting married is hard work! literally its full of troubles.
You would never hear that in the ancient world or today in fact. I have heard young people today say I would rather die than be celibate!
Why because we have placed so much of our identity in finding “the one” essentially, church unlike in the ancient world we have elevated sexuality and romantic love to the point of deity; we would rather die than be celibate because we are taught through Disney films and romance novels that unless we find our one true love we are bound to a half existence!
Unless we express our deep felt sexuality we cannot possibly be satisfied.
Earnest Becker in his The Denial of Death states the following;
We are the first society who has wide spread belief that there is no ultimate future. Never has there been a people who had such a view of the insignificance of human life. As a result, therefor, has never been a society that places so much emphasis on finding your one true love... We secular people still need to know that our life matters in the grand scheme of things. We still want to merge ourselves with some higher meaning in trust and gratitude... But if we no longer have God, how do we do this? One of the first ways that occurred to the modern person was the romantic solution. The self-glorification that human beings need in our innermost being, we now look to not to God, we look for it in the love partner. What is it we want when we elevate the love partner to this position? We want to be rid of our faults we want to be rid of our feelings of nothingness. We want to be justified, we want to know that our existence has not been in vain. We want redemption, nothing less.
Now Paul writes against this this; he writes to the Corinthian church as says stay single, its fine, your significance does not lie in being married, or unmarried; your significance comes from your hope (in the gospel).
This might shake us today; “you mean I can be happy and fulfilled without romance and sex?” well, yes! Because in the world that Paul was writing it was far more radical to suggest this.
You see the difference between our world-view that the one in Paul’s day, was that unlike us who are seeking our meaning and personal fulfilment from our sexuality, in Paul’s day there was no such thing as individual honour success or achievement. You only had family honour success or achievement. Therefore, you had to be married and you had to have children or you had no significance at all.
So Paul saying you can have a hope a future and significance apart from family and children and sexuality is deeply profound, how, could he ever say this? What claims could carry all this?
Well the gospel and the Christian hope.
4.How our hope defines all this
How could Paul in two chapters show us a view of sexuality that is more profound than both the modern view or the ancient view and yet say in almost the same sentence; you don’t need it.
Well it was because Paul had a clear understanding of the Gospel, which leads to a certainty of what we look forward to in the Christian future.
You see church, the gospel says; you are more wicked that you can ever know, and yet more loved than you can possibly imagine. And therefore, it gives us a rock solid hope a hope that cannot be shaken, because it is not dependent upon our ability. Essentially the Gospel says; Jesus did it all, and by faith His righteousness is now yours.
And because nothing can shake that we can hold on the words of Christ with certainty that God’s promised future is ours.
Which means, the intimacy and meaning that we are trying to glean from things like our sexuality (that in fact sexuality cannot deliver) are certain in Christ; we will have that in all its glory one day! And in fact, are starting to taste even now.
Essentially church, sexuality is only a dim mirror of the intimacy we were made for with God.
You see church; God has made you for intimacy; but unless you get that from God himself you will always be demanding it from others; and they can’t give it! Only God is the eternal love that you long for, only God is a love without end, only God knows you to the core and still thinks you are wonderfully made. So, only God can heal the deep longings of our hearts. Those longing that you are trying to seek through intimacy with others.
So church, sexuality is a beautiful gift that God has given to marriage to create self-donation, intimacy, and covenant; however, it is not why we were made.
We were made for intimacy with him, and even the wonder of marriage is merely a dim reflection of the wonder of the intimacy you were made for with God.