Summary: 8th in a Series on the 10 Commandments. God’s Word speaks clearly of the grandeur of sex in marriage. It also warns of the grief of sex outside marriage.


(Exodus 20:14)

A pastor is always a little reluctant to address the subject of sex. Among his concerns is the choice of a closing hymn. One pastor preached on this subject and began to notice the congregational snickering in the middle of the sermon. It was then he realized that the closing hymn was the old invitation song, “Oh, Why Not Tonight.”

One man, then the head of a major telecasting empire, showed no reluctance to address the subject. Ted Turner, with his great moral wisdom, issued ten commandments for contemporary society several years ago. Proposing new commandments about the environment, population control, and other social issues, he criticized the original ten:

We’re living with outmoded rules. The rules we’re living under are the Ten Commandments, and I bet nobody here even pays much attention to ‘em because they’re too old. When Moses went up on the mountain there were no nuclear weapons, there was no poverty. Today the commandments wouldn’t go over. Nobody around likes to be commanded [Cited by Steve Zeisler, “Required of Humans: Determination to Give Thanks,” Discovery Paper # 4188 (Peninsula Bible Church, October 29, 1988)].

In the Roman Catholic Church a debate rages over the sexual issues of abortion, divorce, birth control, and homosexuality. Father Charles Curran, of Catholic University in Washington, DC became the darling of the press as he attacked traditional church teachings. The Vatican forbade him to expound his views in the name of the church. Curran called a press conference to proclaim, “[It’s] my church as much as anyone else’s … my church is a big church, … My God is a big God, yes She is.” The press accused the church of “digging itself into irrelevancy” by its “backward-looking orthodoxy.” One headline read, “Polls show most Catholics agree with Curran.” Another article complained, “Such sanctification … cripples mankind’s ability to face today’s dilemmas.”

Chuck Colson comments accurately, “The church … is not a democracy. It can never be subject to majority rule. Its authority comes not from the consent of the governed, but from Christ its Head, who rules through Scripture and the Holy Spirit.” [Colson, The God of Stones & Spiders (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1990), 138]. He says, “a church run by the whims of transient majorities is a sorry sight” and quotes Joseph Sobran, “It can be exalting to belong to a church that is five hundred years behind the times and sublimely indifferent to fashion; it is mortifying to belong to a church that is five minutes behind the times, huffing and puffing to catch up” [Colson].

God’s Word speaks clearly of the grandeur of sex in marriage. It also warns of the grief of sex outside marriage.


A cartoon offered an insightful commentary on our times. Moses has returned from Sinai and meeting with God. He says to the people, “I’ve got good news and bad news. First, the good news. I talked Him down from 21 to 10. The bad news is He won’t budge on number 7.”

Some in the world of religion are still trying to budge Him. Denominational groups are embroiled in sexual controversy. A task force of the 2.9-million-member Presbyterian Church (USA) suggested the abandonment of traditional sanctions against sex outside marriage, including homosexuality. They wanted to replace rigid sexual taboos with a vaguely defined ethic of “justice-love.” The Episcopal Church considered a plan to permit the ordination of active gays and lesbians.

Declining membership drives the debate. Marvin Ellison, professor of Christian ethics at Bangor Theological Seminary and a member of the Presbyterian task force says, “Our pews are emptying and our outdated attitudes about sex have a great deal to do with it.” The Reverend Louis Evans Jr. spoke against this appalling approach: “What’s at stake is the very identity and character of the Presbyterian Church, which, from the beginning, has held the Scriptures as the sole authority of our faith and practice.” Evans identifies the shift from “biblical preeminence” to a more political and social agenda as the reason for the membership decline [“The Gospel on Sex,” U.S. News & World Report (June 10, 19910, 60].

The Bible teaches that human sexuality is dynamic, not depraved or dirty. God’s gift of sex enriches our lives. It is for procreation, but for recreation as well. God intends it to be fun. There is a marvelous freedom in the marriage relationship. Sex can be uninhibited rather than tentative, where there is a mutual commitment. Without that permanence, you can never be really free.

In an affair you must play a game. You put on a front to make yourself as appealing as possible. The first sign of weakness or a mistake might bring rejection. Fear nags that you might not please this uncommitted partner. It may look exciting in the flicks, but it is far from liberating.

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