Summary: July 1989. Our sexual behavior matters to God, and He has expressed His will. When we go our own ways, it hurts Him as well as others and ourselves. He can and will redeem even from this most painful sin.
A number of years ago a friend of mine was teaching a group of children the Ten Commandments in Vacation Bible School. In order to teach the Ten Commandments, she says, she was given a set of pictures. Each of the pictures illustrated the bad behavior forbidden by the Commandment; each picture showed the No-no behavior.
So of course for the commandment, "Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image," there was a picture of somebody in front of what looked like an Indian totem pole, raising his hands in prayer. Don’t do that. And for the commandment, "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy," there was a picture of somebody else mowing the lawn with the church steeple in the background. She got quite interested when for the commandment, "Honor thy father and thy mother," there was a graphic picture of some pint-size Mike Tyson slugging his old gray mom right in the jaw. This stuff was really getting specific!
Well, my friend said she could hardly wait for the picture for the seventh commandment. What would these artists dare to show in order to illustrate for children what is meant when God says, "Thou shalt not commit adultery?" What a surprise she received, and what a relief, too, I guess, when the picture turned out to be a farmer, getting ready to take his milk pails to the dairy, but first watering down the milk! Adultery had become adulteration!
I see a little parable in that for the church. Just as the illustrators decided they would protect children from the harsh realities of so-called sex by changing adultery to adulteration, so also we have frequently decided that the church is no place for sex. You just don’t get into this in church; talk about salvation, talk about the Bible, talk about everything else, but stay with the safe sins. That seems to have been our pattern.
Frankly, I am not entirely sure why it is that we want to de-sex our faith. I am not quite sure why it is, but I do know that it’s been around along, long time. Some churches require that their ministers not marry, as if somehow admitting that you are a sexual creature disqualifies you from serving in the Lord’s name.
Some Christians like to make little remarks and little jokes and imply that there are three genders abroad in the land: men, women, and preachers. Well, lest there be any debate on that subject, and lest there be any concern about my qualifications to discern the word of God on this subject, let me report that there are two young people in my household, and that it has been about two thousand years since the last recorded virgin birth!
I want us this morning to see this: that sexual expression is and always has been a vitally important aspect of human life. It is addressed over and over again in the Bible; and if we are, as we like to say we are, a Bible-believing people, then that means we have to examine the whole Bible. We can’t leave anything out. And so with Hosea’s help, today we are going to struggle with this matter, "Struggling With the Pain of Faithlessness"
Now it is not really easy to pick out one single passage in the book to read and interpret; in fact I changed my mind about some of the verses I would read even after we printed the bulletin. Let me just share some portions of the book of Hosea with you, and work with you through what we know of Hosea’s marriage. I want you to hear what Hosea did about pain and about infidelity, and what he teaches us about God’s way of dealing with our sexuality.
The account begins with the prophet Hosea hearing an awesome command from his God, a command, I suspect, he could hardly believe, but there it was: Hosea 1: 2-3a
Marriage to an immoral woman by almost anybody’s standards, children who may or may not have been the prophet’s own children, but who carry names with those bullet messages in them. You remember about them from two weeks ago when I started this series.
And then, in poetry form the prophet’s cry of pain; or is it God’s cry of pain? You are never quite sure:
2: 2 He pronounces the divorce formula, he wants to get rid of her. Can you blame him?
But he cries out, “Plead with her, plead …” 2:3, he really wants to punish her for what she is doing.
It gets even more painful. This is what you have done to me by your faithlessness; this is what I feel and what I want to do: 2: 12-13. “I will punish her because she has forgotten me …”