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Summary: Why can’t we talk about sex in the context of Christian marriage? Does sex belong to the world or to God? Where does our sexuality come from and when are desires a good thing?

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IS “SEX” A DIRTY WORD?

Some time ago I watched a movie called “Arabesque” in which Gregory Peck plays a stodgy professor of hieroglyphics. He is explaining the various symbols on a chart and how to interpret them. The lecture is dry and anything but captivating. In fact a young man is nearly sleeping in the front row. That is, until the professor interrupts his droning by yelling the word “SEX!” The young man bolts upright and is stunned to attention. “I’m glad we found something that might interest you Walters,” the professor says slyly.

There’s a lot of power in this little word. We dare not speak it in just any circle. Polite conversation with those we don’t know well steers clear of the topic. Some of us even frown to hear it mentioned in church. The words “sex” and “sexuality” burn our ears. “There’s no children’s church today, don’t you know there are kids present?” you might say. And I would reply, “How do you think those kids got here?”

As early as the Middle Ages people began to withdraw from the word and the activity, viewing sex as defiling, dirty and unworthy of good Christians. It didn’t help that the Church taught that sex was only for procreation and was otherwise to be abstained from. The church made “sex” a dirty word based on a faulty understanding of scripture.

Is “sex” a dirty word? If as we have taught in the last two decades that sex is the gift and plan of God, why can’t we speak of sex as God intended it? Television is allowed to trivialize it; commercials are allowed to use it to sell products; movies draw attendance from it and teach that their law of love permits adultery and promiscuity. Why then is the Church today so squeamish about sending the right message about sex, especially when we know the truth? Probably because we don’t understand this amazing gift.

When we began this series in early Fall I told you that Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthians in answer to some questions they were asking. If these Corinthians asked Paul the same questions today, I believe they would have asked them in our vernacular: Is “sex” a dirty word Paul? Is our sexuality a product of the curse of Adam’s sin?

After 6 chapters Paul now begins to answer their questions. How does a single person find victory in the midst of a sex-crazed society? If sex is sinful, why would people get married? Is it wrong to long for love?

1. Is it a sin to be single?

Yes it is. Let it be known that in the late 20th century the Church has made it pretty clear that it is a sin to be single. Any person age 20 and up will tell you that the Church has made it difficult to be single in our marriage-based culture. The most persistent questions any single person hears are: When are you getting married? Why don’t you marry him? Why are you so picky? Lower your standards.

I was a single minister for 7 years and I was ostracized in social and ministerial gatherings because of it. Once a single person marries the attitude changes – people accept you. My uncle is nearing 80 and the senior ladies in his church are still trying to set him up. He’s been a bachelor all his life. Why are they still trying? Because it is wrong to be single.

Paul, on the other hand, has something different to say: “Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not marry” (v. 1). This makes it sound like marriage is the issue. But the original language reads…it is good for a man not to touch a woman. In the ancient world this was a euphemism for sex. So not only is it better not to marry, it is advisable to avoid sex altogether.

What possible reason would Paul have for teaching this? First of all we must consider the context. In the previous chapter Paul wrote that Christians should not join their bodies with that of prostitutes. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and we have no business with sellers of sex. Corinth was a highly sexual society, much like Canada today. If a person is going to follow Christ it is better not to get mixed up in this kind of lifestyle. That’s why the NIV’s “marry” does not speak to the issue of sexual promiscuity rampant there.

Why else would Paul endorse celibacy? Why should Christians choose to be single? He gives three very good reasons in verses 25-40 of this chapter:

a) Troubles – First he says, “(v. 28b)”. We need only look at the current divorce rate in our country to know that there are plenty of troubles in marriages. Life does not get easier when you are married; the fairytale is not reality.

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