MODERN SEXUALITY SERMON SERIES
THE REALITY OF SEXUALITY
JANUARY 9, 1994
Every time I turn to Genesis 2, I’m reminded of the pastor who was preaching on this particular subject. He had purchased one of those loose-leaf Bibles that men of the cloth love to have since they can insert their notes without anyone knowing. He was walking from one of those giant throne chairs to the pulpit and one of the note pages he was to preach from, fell to the floor. He was unaware of that fact. He walked up and in a very pastoral voice, read, “And Adam said to Eve…” He turned the page and he began to search frantically for his notes. “And Adam said to Eve”, “And Adam said to Eve…, very interesting, a leaf is missing”.
This morning, we are going to talk about a very interesting and fascinating subject called the reality of our sexuality. I am just beginning a six-week series entitled, “Sexuality In The 90s”. Every time I talk about sexuality, attendance increases, people hang on every word. I realize though, while we were planning for this particular series, that sensitive chords would be struck in the hearts and lives of many. Some issues would resurface that have been buried for years and years. Some would feel threatened; others exposed; others embarrassed; but we would all hang on every syllable, on every sound, on every drama because sexuality has a perpetual mystique about it, doesn’t it?
We’re bombarded by sexual missiles wherever we turn. During a recent twelve-week span of prime time television, there were over 2,000 sexual acts depicted. Ninety percent of the sexual acts were outside the marriage bed. What do we do about sexuality? Twenty five years ago, the Beatles recorded their smash hit “I Want To Hold Your Hand”, and recently George Michael is singing, “I Want Your Sex”. What do we do? What does the future hold as we approach this decade when people love to talk about sex, and in many circumstances, where sexuality is abused, perverted and used in ways that don’t glorify God. Some people say, “Let’s go ahead and pretend that we don’t have a problem. Let’s do the ostrich thing and put our heads in the sands of denial. I’ll just deny it!” Others say, “How about abstinence?” and they agree with author Leonard Brown who wrote the book entitled, “The End Of Sex”. Brown says we’ve OD’ed on it. Others agree with Gabriella Shaw who talks about the “new celibacy”, and she has a book entitled, “How To Take A Vacation From Sex And Love It”.
I don’t know about you, but I think abstinence and denying we have a problem are lousy answers. Instead of looking to the armchair experts, let’s see what the Lord has to say about the reality of our sexuality because we should not be ashamed to talk about what God was not ashamed to create. All you have to do is read the first few pages of Scripture to see that God invented sex. He invented sex first of all for pleasure, second of all for procreation. God commands us to be fruitful and multiply and that’s a verse of Scripture my wife and I have definitely been obeying recently. If you didn’t know it yet, we found out a couple of weeks ago we’re expecting twins.
Some are thinking right now, “Ed, time out. You kind of slipped over the point very, very quickly. You are telling me a holy God, my transcendent God created sex primarily for pleasure?! Come back!” Think about the Creation. God said after the first day, it was good. The second day, it was good. The third day, it was good. The fourth day, it was good. The fifth day, it was good. The sixth day after He made man, it was very good. Then in Genesis 2:18, God says something shocking, something out of nowhere. God says, “It is not good for the man to be alone”. We matter so much to God that God tapped Adam on the shoulder and said, “Adam, l’m going to end your aloneness. I’m going to create for you a suitable companion”. I’m sure Adam strolled through the garden wondering, “What’s a suitable companion? What’s a suitable companion?” God caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep. He took from Adam’s rib and made and fashioned a companion known as woman. The Hebrew term for man is pronounced “ish”. The Hebrew term for woman is pronounced “Ah”. The Bible doesn’t say what Adam’s first response was the first time he laid eyes on this curvaceous creature who was standing next to him totally nude. Maybe Adam said, “Ish, I’m man. Ahh! Woman!”
The Bible goes on to say in Genesis 2:24-25, “For this reason… ” In other words, God put a magnetism, an electricity called sexual drive between a man and a woman. Have you ever stopped and wondered how boring life would be without the sexual drive, with no attraction to a member of the opposite sex? That would really be boring. Men would live their entire lives on golf courses. Women would live at the malls. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and they will become one flesh”. The man and his wife were both naked…”, and we’re talking here about sexual intercourse and emotional intercourse, “…and they felt no shame”. As C.S. Lewis has said, pleasure was created by God, not Satan.
It’s amazing though that something so beautiful as sexuality, so fulfilling, so spectacular, has been abused by men and women. Think about it. God gave us rest as a gift. He wants us to take one day off each week. He wants us to replenish ourselves. We’ve abused that though. God gave us an appetite. An appetite is a gift. Many in our society are unmotivated, have no drive, no goals. They’re slothful. What if everything tasted the same?. God wants us to enjoy the different tastes of food, health food primarily. We’ve taken that though and abused it and we have obesity, we have many eating disorders that are very common. God has given us nature. His creation. His handiwork. We’re to enjoy it. Again though, we have polluted this environment. So it shouldn’t really surprise us that we’ve not kept a beautiful thing beautiful. I remember the slogan a couple years ago, “Keep America beautiful!” Have you kept your sexuality beautiful? Because God tells us in His Word, that should be the reality of our sexuality.
Why then are people having sex outside of marriage? Why are people taking this beautiful gift and using it for themselves or for the evil one instead of as an act of worship before God in the context of marriage? Recent statistics say that 50% of married men have had at least one adulterous relationship and now, as we enter the 90s, almost 50% of women have had extra-marital relationships. Why? What are the reasons?
Let me suggest three reasons very rapidly. First, the sexual drive is more flammable and complex than most of us realize. It’s unbelievable how an innocent flirtation can lead rapidly to a moral downfall. A couple of days ago I was driving on 635, LBJ Freeway, and in front of me there was a giant 18-wheeler and this 18-wheeler was full of gasoline. On the back I saw a sign I’ve seen many times before, “Warning. Contents are Flammable”. Meaning you don’t play with matches in front of the gas truck because if you do, the thing could explode and destroy homes and kill people. So many of us are playing with matches around flammable relationships, flammable places, movies, television shows, magazines, and we underestimate how strong, powerful and complex our sexual drives are. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:27, “You’ve heard that it was said, Do not commit adultery, but I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her”. The battle for sexual purity is in the mind. Many people here fantasize, they lust sexually after individuals. Jesus is not saying that we do not notice someone of the opposite sex who is handsome or beautiful. I’ve heard some pastors and teachers suggest that we should walk around with blinders on, that all of us should wear giant sacks and cover our eyes. That’s not true. We are to appreciate beauty. Billy Graham said it’s not the first look that gets you in trouble. It is the second, the third, and then the picture is painted. Oftentimes after we paint the picture, we begin to act on it. But even if we have painted a picture of sex with a person, that is sin. It’s just as if we had committed the act. If we have any exposure to pornography, any exposure, certain shows, movie channels on cable television, romance novels, some soap operas, we are messing around with something that could cause a giant immoral explosion.
Here’s the second reason why we’re breaking God’s directives in record numbers concerning our sexuality. It’s the fact that the values of our society are eroding at a record pace. As a kid, my family and I would vacation at beautiful, scenic Myrtle Beach, SC. We would rent a little beach house. I remember as an eight-year old looking at the ocean which was about 100 yards from the house. My brother and I would run across that hot sand until finally we could put our feet in the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean. We had wonderful times at Myrtle Beach. My family and I moved to Houston, and I didn’t return to Myrtle Beach for fifteen years. I went back to the same area where we vacationed. To my amazement, there was about 15 yards of beach left between the house and the ocean. I asked a local, “What is the deal?” He said, “Erosion”. Erosion because of storms and because of the constant bombardment of the waves. The sands now are gone. We stand on values, we stand on God’s Word, we stand on truth, but wave after wave of immorality has hit the shores and they keep hitting it over and over again. Many of us think we can wade in the waters of immorality but before we know it, erosion has taken place and the undertow has swept us out. Many here can say right now, “I am drowning. I need a life vest”. Some of you now are being tempted in a relationship to have sex before marriage. If you are married it could be to commit adultery, or it could be to engage in homosexuality. Don’t do it. If you feel yourself being pulled out, don’t wade in the water. Stand way up here on the beach, even if there is only ten yards of it, stand on God’s truth and He will honor and bless your life.
A third reason why we’re falling is the simple reality that the issues husbands and wives bring very complex issues to the altar in marriage. Many couples bring these issues to the marital table. When you deal with these issues, you have to really get serious. It’s very draining. There are arguments. There are disagreements. Tthere are relational sticking points, and when you’re working through these problems in a marriage, it makes a third party look very inviting. It’s the “greener grass” syndrome and it is easy to say, “Let’s go ahead and trash this relationship and get involved outside of marriage. She really understands me. He really listens to what I say”. Then you have the downfall.
A couple things occur when someone commits adultery. There are two costs involved. First, there is a spiritual cost. There is a spiritual cost when we commit adultery, when we have sex outside of marriage. People oftentimes say, “Ed, I can’t really reach God. It feels like there’s a force field around my prayer life. I’m not really connecting. I am disillusioned with the Lord”. Nine times out of ten they are involved in sexual sin. If you are involved in sexual sin, listen to me, if you’re involved in sexual sin, you cannot have a right relationship and fellowship with God. You can’t. Some of you who are living outside the marriage bed in sexual sin or some of you involved in homosexual relationships, it will never happen for you spiritually until you use this important, beautiful gift the way God wants you to use it. There is a major league spiritual cost. In fact, Hebrews 10 says that God chastises those He loves. He loves you so much, He loves me so much, He cannot stand to see us get away with this illicit behavior and He will discipline us. We discipline our children because we love our children. Our heavenly Father knows what’s best for us and He disciplines us.
Look at David, a man after God’s own heart. I don’t think anybody here has a relationship with God like David did. He penned the Psalms. His military strategies are still studied at West Point. He was a true follower of the Lord. At the peak of his career financially and relationally, he lusts after Bathsheba. He commits adultery. He has her husband killed. The Bible says his baby son died and that the sword never left his household. The judgement of God. We serve a God of grace, a God of mercy, a God who will forgive when we truly come clean, when we truly confess our sins to Him. I don’t care if you are the worst violator of adultery or sex outside of marriage. Today, if you’ll get serious about it and come clean, God can work a miracle and change your life. I’ve seen it happen in many lives. But in other lives you see this spiritual cost. David never was the man he used to be before he fell sexually, morally. There is something about it that separates it from other sins.
There’s also a marital cost. A marital cost. The temptations are there. When I even think about temptations, I think, first of all, that I love the Lord too much to commit adultery. I was a virgin when I got married. So was Lisa. She is the only woman I have ever known sexually and the only woman I plan on ever knowing. I love God too much to fall but you can never say you are above it. Never. That’s what Satan wants you to say, “Well, I’ve got this thing conquered. No problem for me”. Also, I love my children, LeeBeth, EJ and the twins that are coming, to much and I have seen what adultery has done to so many families. You’re talking scars, alienation, separation. Adultery. Just an hour of pleasure exchanged for a lifetime of devastation. I also love this church too much personally to get involved in a sin like that. Finally, I fear God. We like to talk about grace. We like to talk about forgiveness. But there is the judgment of God that will be on your life and on my life when we sin outside the marriage bed.
Remember Joseph, that patriarch, the man of many colors? Joseph was tempted by the Sharon Stone of Egypt, Potiphar’s wife, day after day after day. He could have easily fallen because he was so far away from home. He was brought up in that perverted culture. What did Joseph say? Joseph said, “I cannot do this wicked thing against God”. Against God. How about you? Think about your life. Think about where you are.
I want to list for you now four ways, four paths to sexual purity and if we really make these a part of our lives, especially a part of our sexuality, then God will bless and honor us. First, I have to maintain a vital relationship with Jesus Christ. That’s the most important thing. I talked about it a second ago. Remember Joseph? Joseph said, “I can’t sin against God”. Go to the Inventor and say, “Lord, I am open. You show me how I should respond, how I should act, how I should use this beautiful gift called my sexuality” because you cannot divorce your sexuality from who you are. Who we are as male and female is the essence of our sexuality. Sexuality used in the context of marriage can be, and should be, an act of worship. Do you have that vital relationship with Jesus?
Second, we have to develop a realistic view of our sexuality. One of my favorite commercials on television is the commercial featuring Troy Aikman for Logo Athletic. At the end Troy says, “Get real!” Have you seen that one? I love that. Get real! That’s what the Lord is telling me and He’s telling you – Get real! Get a realistic view of your sexuality. Don’t underestimate the power of temptation and don’t overestimate your strength. Rely on the Lord. I’m talking about all of us – single adults, those of us who are married. We should have very evident and obvious guidelines in our lives that will keep us away from most of the temptation. But too many of us we want to wade in the waters of immorality, “It won’t affect me”. I can play with matches in front of this giant 18-wheeler. “I don’t know what happened. I was just in this topless bar and…”
Here are some guidelines I have for my own life and the pastors of this church and I want to challenge you to adopt some of these guidelines. First, I never travel alone. Never. A couple of days ago, I went to the National Innovative Church Growth Conference and I took a member, one of my accountability partners, with me on the trip. Secondly, I never counsel a woman alone. For that matter, I rarely counsel women, but if I do, the door to my office is open and usually someone is in there with me. Third, I never meet a woman in a public place, a restaurant, for instance. I don’t even want to look like there’s anything happening. I never ride alone with another woman in a car. You might think, “That’s pretty strict, Ed”. But again, Satan loves to inch us. He loves to slowly erode our values, a little bit at a time. “You can see this movie even though it will feed lust, that one scene painted in your mind for months. It’s okay. You can go to this place. Don’t worry about it”. Then one day, you look around and you’re out to sea and the values are there on the beach and you’re saying “Bye bye” because lust has you. So, get real!
Third, develop a discerning mindset in regard to our permissive society. We have to have discernment. We have to perform radical surgery. I’m talking about in relationships and things we have around our house. Maybe for some that means canceling the cable subscription. Every time though we perform radical surgery, every time the Bible says we remove something, God will replace it with something else and bless us in a mighty way. He will honor it.
Fourth, I’m talking to married couples now, and those who will become married. Embark on a lifelong journey to enrich your marriage. Romance, court, communicate, have sex regularly. In fact, the Bible says in 1 Corinthians that we should satisfy each other so much in the marriage bed sexually, that we don’t even want to look at another person. In fact, Lisa and I went off on a vacation a couple of weeks ago and it was so good it felt illegal; and that’s what I’m talking about between a husband and a wife. What are you doing to enrich your marriage? Because you know when children come and you’re working one job and your spouse is working another job, it’s so easy for life to become monotonous with the same-old same-old. What are you doing for that spark? What you used to get her is what you use to keep her. What you used to get him is the same thing you use to keep him. Remember that one. That’s free of charge.
I want to conclude by talking about the grace of God because He can cleanse you. I don’t care how far away you are from Him in this area. He can cleanse you and forgive you. He can lift you up. He can support you, if you’ll rely on Him. I also want to give another word of challenge to those of you who are dating. I want you to say to the person you’re dating, and hopefully they’re a believer, that you will keep yourself sexually until you get married. If you’re involved in sex outside of marriage now, move out, stay apart for six months and then you can get married, but I’m saying minimum six months. For those of us who are married, I want us to say to our spouse after this service, “I am committed to you sexually” and I say that before you and I say that to Lisa – she’s not in this service, but I am committed to her in that physical way till death do us part. Fellowship Church, let’s keep, let’s keep a beautiful thing beautiful.