I’m publishing my upcoming sermon here so parents can read it for themselves and decide if it is appropriate for their children.
Text: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 9/11/2016
Main Point: Sex and sexuality are not ultimate; God is ultimate
In 1991 Salt-n-Pepa sang the introduction to this sermon.
Let’s talk about sex for now
To the people at home or in the crowd
It keeps coming up anyhow
Don’t decoy, avoid, or make void the topic
‘Cause that ain’t gonna stop it
Now we talk about sex on the radio and video shows
Many will know anything goes
Let’s tell it how it is, and how it could be
How it was, and of course, how it should be
Those who think it’s dirty have a choice
Pick up the needle, press pause, or turn the radio off
Will that stop us, Pep? I doubt it
All right then, come on, Spin
Let’s talk about sex, baby
Let’s talk about you and me
Let’s talk about all the good things
And the bad things that may be
Let’s talk about sex
Now, Salt-N-Pepa are not inviting us into a conversation about God’s design for sex or sexuality. Salt-N-Pepa want us to embrace the world’s view of sex. Somethings have changed drastically since 1991 but one thing hasn’t changed. God has a good design for sex. Without being childish or prudish we need to navigate the rough personal and cultural waters of sexuality.
Let’s begin with truth that will help us find and keep the right perspective, Philippians 3:1-11
I. Sex and sexuality are not ultimate: God is ultimate
The Apostle Paul is here encouraging us to affirm and then begin to live in pursuit of the supremacy of Jesus Christ. Jesus is better than your nationality. Jesus is better than your spirituality. Jesus is better than your reputation. Jesus is better than anything you could do or gain in this world.
- Sex is rubbish compared to Christ (Phil 3:1-8; 1 Cor 7:1)
There does not appear to be any good reason to think the Apostle Paul disagrees with the Corinthian’s statement in 1 Corinthians 7:1, “Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: ‘It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.’” 1 Corinthians 7 makes the case that it is good to be single. It is good to be single and therefore it is good to not have sex.
Look at 1 Corinthians 7:6-9 (read it). Paul is single and expresses his desire for everyone to be single. Paul is not affirming a Corinthian hook up culture. He is affirming the goodness of the single life but he also realizes the celibate life is not for everyone. Marriage is for some people and singleness is for some people. Remember, being single is good. Look over at 1 Corinthians 7:32-35.
The goodness of the single life is the ability to be devoted solely to the Lord. The goodness of the single life is to be more available to pursue and know the all surpassing greatness of Jesus Christ. With the Apostle’s call to be single, his deliberate choice to not marry, let’s turn back over to Philippians 3:7-8 (read it).
The Apostle Paul had the right to take a wife (1 Cor 9:5) but he intentionally gave up that right in order that he might be fully devoted to the pursuit of the glory of God in Jesus Christ. Paul did not need a woman in order to be a man. He didn’t need someone to complete him. He found Christ to be more than enough. In fact, foregoing a wife, children, and sex was counted as rubbish compared to the greatness of Jesus Christ. You do not need a spouse in order to be complete or happy or fully human. You need Jesus Christ. In the pursuit of Christ it is crucial to be on guard.
- Beware of the enslaving power of your appetites (Phil 3:17-21; 2 Tim 3:1-5)
We were in Philippians 3:8. Now look across the page to Philippians 3:17-21 (read it).
Their god is their belly. They are ruled by their appetites. Think about it this way, what do you have to have in order to be safe and happy? For some it is new clothes. Others need to make a big sell in order to feel happy. Some need another round, another hit, or another pill. Still others need sweets, the prospect of a vacation, or their family in order to feel content and secure. Now, it should be no surprise to hear that some people need sex or pornography in order to feel safe and happy. What do you want? What is your god?
So how do you know if something good like rich food, family, or sex is starting to take over and enslave you? If you have to have it to be happy, or, if you are only happy when you have it, then you are most likely enslaved. If you can’t sleep without that person or that thing then you are most likely enslaved. If you can’t thank God for it, or if you have stopped thanking God for it, then you might be enslaved.
Married and single alike, will face times of sexual temptation. Alongside a deepening joy in Jesus Christ, what can we do?
II. We need to understand God’s good purposes for making us sexual persons
- Sex is for procreation (Gen 1:27-28)
Adam and Eve were created naked and not ashamed (Gen 2:25). Look at Genesis 1:27-28 (read it)
After blessing them, the first command God gives them is to make babies; be fruitful and multiply. God made us male and female in order that a husband and wife would have children. Outside of the clear biblical prohibitions of homosexuality (1 Cor 6:9-10), there is also the common sense understanding that homosexuality is unnatural because it cannot produce children. It is good for husbands and wives to multiply. Therefore, deliberate childlessness and homosexuality are wrong. Sex is for procreation and
- Sex is for unity (Gen 2:23-25; 1 Cor 6:16-18)
Look over at Genesis 2:23-25 (read it).
A man shall leave his father and his mother and unite himself to his wife. The husband and wife become a new family. There is a level of intimacy shared between a husband and wife which has no competitors. It is a sign of the fall that dogs have become man’s best friend. A man’s best friend is his wife, or at least should be and their union is typified mainly when the two become one flesh. A lack of unity, bitterness and resentment, will hinder a husband and wife coming together. Sex is for procreation, unity, and
- Sex is for shared joy
Let’s go back to 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 (read it).
With the ideas that the wife’s body belongs to the husband and the husband’s body belongs to his wife, let’s read Philippians 2:1-7. Husband, demand nothing from your wife that is selfish or conceited. Care for her. Wife, withhold nothing from your husband as an act of rivalry. Care for him. Husband and wife come together to serve one another. Count the other more significant than yourself. Find ways to care for one another and enter into one another’s joy. Pursue unity, through forgiveness and trust. This unity will help fuel your shared joy. Sex is for procreation, unity, shared joy, and
- Sex is a God-given gift to be richly enjoyed (1 Tim 4:1-5; Song of Solomon)
Turn in your bibles to 1 Timothy 4:1-5 (read it). Some people were forbidding marriage and some foods. God created these things to be received with thanksgiving. These things are good. Sex is a great blessing given by God. It is good to be married and to have sex.
The Song of Solomon is an entire book of the bible written as a celebration of the union of husband and wife. The book is filled with mutual affirmation as they encourage one another. The book is filled with mutual carefulness for one another. The Song of Solomon is a biblical celebration of the goodness of sexuality. Sex is good and marriage is good
- Pursue the good gained from marriage (1 Cor 7:2; 5)
There are seasons when husbands and wives should devote themselves to the Lord with an undivided devotion. Look at 1 Corinthians 7:5. There can be short seasons when husbands and wives agree to abstinence in order to devote that relationship energy and investment into spiritual pursuits. These seasons of deprivation need to be agreed upon, few, and far between. Because marriage is a God-given means of fighting against immorality. Look at 1 Corinthians 7:2, “But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman should have her own husband.”
Men will be tempted with sexual immorality. Women will be tempted with sexual immorality. Get married, love one another, serve one another, and care for one another. Look at 1 Corinthians 7:8-9, “To the unmarried and the widow I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion. One reason marriage is good is because it is a God-given means of fighting against sexual immorality.
Another reason marriage is good is security. Marriage provides the relational security for the powerful intimacy of sex. Marriage provides the long term commitment to know one another and forgive one another and reconcile with one another.
Sex is powerful; use it carefully. In 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 the Apostle Paul warns against sexual immorality. God tells us in 1 Corinthians 6:18 to flee from sexual immorality because every other sin a person commits is outside this body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. The physical, emotional, and spiritual union which occurs in the act of sex is safe only in marriage. That union is safe only in marriage.
Sex is like atom smashing. In an atom smasher two particles spin rapidly and then collide creating a phenomenal amount of energy. You don’t want scientists to be smashing atoms anywhere they want with whomever they want. The energy of atom smashing requires a safe place. The intimacy and union of sex is a good and wonderful thing which requires the safety of marriage.
Hebrews 13:4 tells us, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterer.” Value marriage. Marriage is good and beautiful in its own right. And in marriage be sure to keep the marriage bed pure. As Christ is pure to his church, so husbands be pure to your wife. As the church is pure to Christ, wives be pure to your husband.
III. How to pursue holiness
- Sex is ruined by shame; pursue holiness in your marriage
Adam and Eve were naked and not ashamed. Then they sinned against God, introduced selfishness, and suddenly wanted to hide from God and hide their nakedness from one another. It’s not that Adam and Eve became ugly in the fall. It makes more sense that Adam and Eve became shameful and untrusting in the fall. Adam and Eve hid from God because their sin made a separation between themselves and God. Adam and Eve covered their nakedness from one another because their sin made a separation between husband and wife. Where there is unrepented sin there can be no trusting unity. If your wife doesn’t trust you, don’t expect her to unite with you. If you have sin in your life and feel shameful about that sin it is hard to give yourself to your spouse. Pursue personal holiness in your marriage. Repent and believe the gospel in your marriage. Reconciliation with God and one another will remove the shame, increase the trust, and invite intimacy. Do you want to have a God-honoring sexuality? Repent and believe the gospel. Here is a practical strategy for holiness.
ANTHEM is an acronym from John Piper to help men and women fight for sexual purity. The link is at the bottom of your notes as well as on the church facebook page. We don’t have time to unpack the details. I want to introduce you to the strategy of A- avoid. Flee those situations and avoid those situations like TV shows, books, and solitary time. A- Avoid. N- say no. Tell yourself no. You have 5 seconds before that temptation lodges itself in your mind. A- Avoid. N- say No. T- turn. Turn your mind to that which is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. Avoid, say no, turn, and H- hold. Hold onto that which is good. Do not let go. Set your eyes on heavenly things and keep them there. Endure as long as it takes. Avoid, say no, turn, hold, and E- enjoy. Turn from sin and hold onto to the good until you gain the all surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus your Lord. Be unashamed of your pursuit of joy in Christ. And M-move. Do not let yourself get idle. Immorality thrives in idle times. Check it out yourself it is good and helpful. Finally,
- Advice for parents
- Invite questions and carefully answer questions
Spend time together talking.
I love the question, where did I come from? When asked, one mom thought it was time for the talk but the child was asking about the previous town they lived in. Be sure you are answering the question actually being asked.
Regularly ask your child if there is anything he/she wants to talk about. When it turns to sexual matters, use terms like loving, touching, and acting like husband and wife. Adultery is when a husband lives with another woman and treats her like his wife when they aren’t married. Fornication is when two people who aren’t married come together and act like they are married. Pornography is when a person looks at another person and dreams about being married when they aren’t.
As your child matures then explain your answers appropriately. The most important thing here is to be with your child talking about things that matter. If you build a relationship where you can talk about mattering things like fear, death, God, and joy then it will be more natural to talk about sexual things.
Here is the last piece of advice
- Celebrate the development of your child
Celebrate milestones in your child’s life. As a church, we celebrate the milestones of birth, graduating out of the nursery, graduating out of children’s worship time, and baptism. Parent, you can make a big deal out of turning ten and turning sixteen. Give them a biblical Christ-centered understanding of their bodies, sexuality, and being responsible. Dads, take your sons for a day away and talk appropriately about why bodies develop. Mom, you can do the same with your daughters. There are all kinds of helps out there for having these types of talks and setting up milestone ceremonies. Take advantage of each new stage to celebrate and teach your child.
Parents and church, we need to, we must, teach and model the good and godly way. Let us work and forgive and love so that each of us knows how to enjoy God and enjoy others for the glory of God and the good of others.