Summary: Sex sells...are you buying? Sex is an every-day, all-day, in-your-face issue. What are we to do?
"Godly Sexuality" – Part 1
God’s stand on sexuality, marriage, divorce and remarriage is clear when we take the whole of Scripture, prayerfully read it and then trust the Holy Spirit to open our hearts and minds to the truth.
We have to be willing to receive and accept the message, however. We have to lay down our personal desires, our personal fears, and our personal prejudices and be completely open to what God has to say. Are we willing to do that? If not, then we will be unable to know and understand – let alone accept – God’s truth. I had a lot of preconceived ideas, a lot of fears and prejudices when I began delving into this section of the Scriptures. Sharing what I have been learning is an exciting prospect, and it is going to take a couple of sessions. Please, bare with me … it will be worth it.
First of all, let’s look at where Jesus is, whom He is talking to, and the flow of what He has been saying so far.
Jesus is sitting on a hillside, teaching the standards of the Kingdom of God to a group of people who are as common as anyone you might find in any society on earth. They are everyday people, like you and me, and they have the same needs, the same wants and desires, the same weaknesses, the same fears, the same strengths, and the same potential for good or ill.
Mixed in amongst them are the religious leaders and teachers of the Mosaic Law, the men who held huge power and influence over the lives of the Jewish people. And, Jesus is teaching in a way and with a power that none of either group had experienced before … and, they were listening.
Jesus has also been teaching in a way that completely contradicted the teaching of the Pharisees, the religious gurus of the day. They taught that the external act alone was what was regulated by the Law (7th Commandment in this case, Exodus 20:14, Deuteronomy 5:18) and what God judged. They regarded evil thoughts and a wanton imagination as of little consequence and so were not prevented by the Law. Jesus, on the other hand, has been teaching throughout this section that the heart of the Law deals specifically with the underlying attitudes of the heart. The Pharisees thought that their standards were high… They had no idea.
One of the things that awes me about Christ’s teaching is His ability to so readily select the ideal points and contrasts to teach to get His point across in the most penetrating way. Here is just one example. He begins this section selecting a commandment that His listeners were least likely to have broken – committing murder. He then demonstrates that the intentions of the heart, not just the outward action, are what really determine whether or not we are violating the Law of God. Jesus then chooses the commandment that His listeners are most likely to have broken – committing adultery. And, once again, He goes beneath the surface into the heart of the Law and exposes the heart of man.
The seventh commandment says, "Thou shall not commit adultery." Nevertheless, this sin has been committed throughout history. Under Mosaic Law, if a couple was caught in the act of adultery, both were to be killed (Deuteronomy 22:22).
Jesus is telling His listeners, and telling us as well, that lust is equivalent to adultery, just as anger is equivalent to murder. Pretty high standard, wouldn’t you say? But, can we really expect or accept anything less from The Most High God? Not at all. Remember, God’s standard is absolute perfection. Our failure to meet that standard is why Jesus had to come in the first place.
So, here sits Jesus … God in the flesh. And, He is clearly and simply stating that the standard for His followers is to be sexual purity before marriage, and dedicated fidelity afterwards … no exceptions.
Adultery plays havoc with personal, domestic and national happiness. David’s affair with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11) led to a cover-up, the murder of Bathsheba’s husband, and the death of the infant that resulted from the adulterous union. Nathan the prophet later came to David and declared that, because of it, violence would be commonplace in David’s household (2 Samuel 12:10). One disaster after another struck his family, including incestuous rape, murder, and revolt (2 Samuel 12-15). It all started with David seeking to “lust after her” in his heart.
Today, adultery seems more rampant than ever. While tabloid stories report the affairs of politicians, millionaires, and movie stars, films like "The English Patient," "The Prince of Tides," or "The Bridges of Madison Country" feature and even promote adultery.