RATING YOUR DATING WHILE WAITING FOR MATING
November 16, 1997
When I was a teenager, I became fascinated with a dangerous sport, shark fishing, off the beach, that is. One night a few brave buddies and I ventured down to Galveston Island, Texas, and we set up camp on the beach right next to the Flagship Hotel. We had a pretty interesting way of catching these beasts. Because our big game rod and reel was too big to cast, we had one guy stand on the beach with the rod and reel and a second guy would bait the end of the line with the shark’s favorite food, a bloody stingray. Then another guy, who was a little bit crazy, would take the bloody stingray, put it in a rubber dingy and motor the rubber dingy a half mile off shore while the guy on the beach was feeding him line. Once the guy in the rubber dingy got a half mile off shore, he would throw the shark bait overboard.
The guy who was a little bit crazy was me. That’s right! One night I was one half mile off shore in my rubber raft with a big chunk of bloody stingray in the bottom of the raft. It was pitch black dark and I was kind of scared, to be honest with you. I threw the bloody stingray overboard. When I saw it settle into the coffee black waters of the Gulf of Mexico, I turned around and started up my Sears outboard, 2.5 horsepower motor to get out of the area. Blood was in the area, sharks were all over the place and I didn’t want to become some kind of appetizer for the shark’s main course. To my horror, the engine quit.
In the eerie silence, I looked down and could see my worst nightmare developing before my eyes. The shark line had become entangled in the motor. Dangling dangerously about three feet below the little raft was this big chunk of stingray. Now I want you to get the picture. I am in the raft, the stingray is dangling behind the raft. On the beach is my buddy and I am hooked to a big game rod and reel. It was like I was a human fishing cork. I was in a dangerous bind, a very dangerous bind.
I think that a lot of people here are in dangerous binds right now. No, you are not tangled up in shark line, but you are tangled in the binds of premarital sex. Premarital sex is a dangerous bind. The Bible has a lot to say about this dangerous premarital sex bind. The Word of God says five times directly and 23 times indirectly, “Singles abstain from sex until marriage.” Now when I make a comment like that from God’s Word, what do you think is the typical response from those in our midst who are unmarried? Do you think that the typical response is this? “Ed, thank you so much for showing me God’s great word and God’s view on sex. I am so happy that I have to wait until marriage for sexual intercourse.” Do you think that most singles say that? No, they don’t. Most singles have this kind of reaction: “What! Why is God raining on my sexual parade? Here God arbitrarily one day decides that those who are single have to abstain from sex and those who are married have a blank check. God is unfair. God is mean. I don’t understand it. I don’t like it.”
Singles fail to see the “why” behind God’s prohibition of no sex before marriage. God has given us this concept for our own good. Think about all the things that God does for our own good. We are made in His image, for our own good. We are the crown of His creation, for our own good. He has given us the Bible for guidance, for our own good. He has given us the church for encouragement and support, for our own good. And then He comes along and says for us to wait until marriage to have sex. It is for our own good. You see, we cannot break God’s law without suffering consequences.
I want to share with you three dangerous consequences of premarital sex. These consequences are dangers that God wants to spare us from. The first consequence is that premarital sex causes me to build barriers. Isaiah 59:2, “Your sin causes separation between you and God.” Psalm 66:18, David speaking, “If I tolerate sin, if I allow it to dwell in my heart, God will not hear my prayers.” As a believer, what happened to David’s life when he was involved in sexual sin? A barrier was built between himself and God. When a barrier is between you and another party, you can’t communicate, you can’t fellowship, and you can’t really connect with the person. Premarital sex builds barriers.
I remember, as a kid, I used to watch Johnny Carson. I used to love it when Johnny would have people on his show who would try to break the domino record from the Guinness Book of World Records. Remember these guys and gals would line up all these dominos and Johnny would walk out. He would push one domino and the dominos would knock into one another and eventually, sometimes after several minutes, they would all fall. Everyone would cheer and Johnny would announce that they had broken the world record. Sexual sin is just like those dominos because it will start a domino effect in your life that can lead to spiritual ruin.
The first domino is sexual intercourse outside of marriage. The next domino is the guilt that takes place. The Holy Spirit convicts you and you know that it is wrong. Then after guilt comes the domino of self-deception. You are deceived into thinking that everything is okay. Everybody is doing it. This is the 90s. The next domino is desertion. You become cold and apathetic and you turn your back on God and the church. Then who knows what happens to you in eternity.
It is impossible to have authentic fellowship with God and to be involved in premarital sex. You can’t do it. That math doesn’t work. It is a pipe dream. We have to understand our sexuality in terms of the image of God. Listen very carefully. When God made man, He stamped on man his masculine character qualities. When God made female, He stamped on her feminine character qualities from His personality. Thus, when a man and a woman have sex together in the context of marriage, the total image of God is coming together in its masculine aspects and its feminine aspects. That is why the Bible says that the math of marriage is two becoming one. It is a oneness, it is a blending, it is a cleaving, it is like Super Glue, the Bible says. Thus, when we have sexual intercourse outside of marriage, we are making a mockery of the image of God. God says that He wants His image to take place in the context of a lifelong commitment, not in the back seat of some car or not because you are engaged, or not because you really love the guy.
1 Thessalonians 4:3, “Avoid sexual immorality.” I want you to notice something. Every time God gives us a freedom, He always puts that freedom within a fence. He says that sex is a gift but it must be practiced by His directives. He says to stay within His fence. The moment that we jump the fence, we are going to get in trouble. It might seem okay for a while, but one day we are going to wake up and experience pain and alienation and separation. God loves you and me so much, He wants to spare us from all of that.
I love what CS Lewis said: “Pleasure is God’s invention, not the devil’s.” If you are having sex outside of marriage, for the most part it is a pleasurable way of using someone because you want the sex without the commitment. Avoid sexual immorality.
Now some hear this and say, “Okay, avoid sexual immorality, but we are engaged. We know that we are going to get married.” You might want to check your Bibles later. There is no conditional clauses here. The Bible says that we are not to have sex before marriage—not tonight, not prom night, not engagement night, not any night. Premarital sex causes us to build barriers. That is the first danger of a dangerous bind.
The second danger of this dangerous bind is that premarital sex fractures feelings. It builds barriers but it also fractures feelings. In the top of my closet I have two knives. My five year old, EJ, discovered the knives the other day and he asked me to take them down. I did. He looked at them and asked if he could hold them. I gave him one knife. He then asked to have the other knife. He had two knives. The blades were not out. He was just holding the closed knives. I told him that was fine, then put them back in the closet. About a week later he pulled on my trousers. “Hey, Daddy, can we go in your closet and hold the knives.” I tell him okay and we go in the closet to get the knives. He holds them and you can tell that he really feels…male, you know. Then I decided that since EJ is fairly mature for his age, I would take the blade out and show him the right way to hold a knife. After all, I was right there with him. So I showed him how to hold the knife. Well, here is what he did. He grabbed the blade of a razor sharp buck knife. When he did, I told him to release the blade, to unclench his grip. He held onto it for a second and then he slowly released it and I took it gently from his hand. Now one day I am going to show him the proper way to use a knife. Obviously, he is too young now. But, he was smart enough to release the knife when asked to by his father whom he trusts.
Sexuality is a lot like the knife. Many of us take our sexuality and we hold it and grasp it tightly and say that it is ours. “I will do with it what I please. I will do it my way.” “God says, give me the knife. Give me your sexuality.” And if we hold it too tightly, it can wound and scar and maim and fracture us for life. God is simply saying, “Unclench your grip. Quit white-knuckling your sexuality. Give it to Me.” And once God takes it, He will show us how to use this awesome gift that goes beyond description in the loving commitment of marriage.
Sex is not just a physical thing. That is why you can’t do it with somebody and just walk away. It is not one-dimensional. It is multi-faceted and multi-dimensional. There is a spiritual aspect to it, an emotional aspect to it, a psychological aspect to it. It is God’s gift, it is a bonding thing. And that is why so many breakups are so traumatic. When you have premarital sex involved, you are really merging a lot of stuff together that goes beyond the physical realm. Then, when the people separate and stop dating, you have got some serious feelings to deal with. For example, there are suicide hotlines set up on college campuses across our land. If you do some research on these hotlines, you will find that the number one call they receive happens to be from people who have been involved in a dating relationship where premarital sex was involved who just broke up. It fractures feelings. And, again, our loving God wants to spare us from this stuff. He says that it pains Him to see people that matter to Him having scars and wounds and brokenness due to sex outside the marriage bed.
The third danger or consequence of premarital sex is that it ruins relationships. I am in a series on dating. I conclude this series next week. We have been telling you from God’s Word how important courtship is. It is a time when you should develop communication, intimacy, spiritual core values, conflict-resolution. This is important work that must be done during the courtship phase. When you get involved in premarital sex, here is what you do. You pole vault over all the important stuff because you want the thrills and the chills and the electricity of sex. Thus, you retard and stymie the relationship. And every time you pole vault, it is great because you are soaring higher and higher and higher. But once you go over the bar, you fall down into the pit, don’t you? It can ruin relationships. God says to spend the time dating working on the hard stuff and once that is gotten right, then, if you feel led to get married, you will have sex and keep a beautiful thing beautiful. But don’t do the pole vaulting thing. It can ruin relationships.
We are familiar with all the STDs around our world today, sexually transmitted diseases. If you are involved in premarital sex you could contract AIDS, syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes. On this stage, I want to give you a new STD that many have in this place who are involved in premarital sex. You have never heard about this STD, you might want to write it down. It is not a sexually transmitted disease, it is a stupid thinking disorder. Because sex is so powerful when you lock into someone with sex, it gives you the stupid thinking disorder. It destroys your discernment. You can’t tell if this person is right for you or not because of the power of sex.
Most experts agree that sex and the electricity of sex can bond you and hold you together for about three to five years. What happens? You date someone three or four times, go to bed with that person and sex is hot and heavy for a couple of months. Then you get married and three to five years later you wake up and wonder what you did. “I messed up. Where did I go wrong? Oh, no.” The power of sex. You are paying the high price of promiscuity and your relationship is ruined. Don’t do it. Save yourself. Wait until marriage.
You know it is kind of funny. Most men endure some dating relationship stuff for sex, and most women, not all, endure the sex just for the relationship. And every time I talk about sex, for the most part here is what happens. Women are saying, “That’s right. Yes.” And the guys are saying, “Oh, man, this is a joke.” And I see it again when I shake hands. People come through the line. The women are saying, “I really enjoyed that message. Thanks so much.” The guys aren’t saying anything. That is a broad brush statement, but you know what I am talking about.
I know what you are thinking, though, because you are thinking like I did when I began to study this. You are thinking, “Okay, this is fine. No sexual intercourse before marriage. I understand it builds barriers, fractures feelings, ruins relationships.” But then you say to yourself that you have the green light to do everything just short of sex. “Hey, it’s not that bad.” Well, let’s wait and look and see what the scripture says. The Bible says throughout its pages that there are three sexual prohibitions. The first is adultery, that is having sex with someone other than your spouse. The second is fornication, that is premarital sex. The third is a prohibition rarely discussed or talked about especially in church. It is mentioned in Colossians 3:5, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5. The term is “sexual immorality.” You have got adultery, fornication, and sexual immorality. Here is the definition; sexual immorality is defined as sexual involvement just short of intercourse.
There are three stages of physical contact in any dating relationship. The first phase is the embracing stage, the kissing and the hugging. The second stage begins to get dangerous. That is when you begin to caress and feel the person with their clothes on. The third stage is the stimulation stage. You get into serious trouble here. That is when oftentimes the clothing is removed and you have genital stimulation which often leads to climax. Most counselors, pastors, and theologians across the board would say, stop at stage one. Stop at the embracing stage. Because if you go to stage two, the caressing stage, or especially stage three, the stimulation stage, you are going to heap pain on your life that God wants to spare you from.
I know many here are struggling in this area because we are sexual beings. I know for many of you, your virginity is past tense. I don’t care where you are in this realm, I have got some wonderful news for you. We serve a God who will give you another change. We serve a God who will break down barriers. We serve a God who will fix feelings. We serve a God who will restore relationship and that is why it is so exciting to talk about this topic. You can come here today and leave this place free and pure, with another opportunity to do it God’s way. But it is something that I can’t do for you. You have got to do it yourself. You have got to do business between you and God. I can tell you how to do it and show you what the Bible says about it, but you have to make the choice.
You know I kind of left you dangling literally with the shark story. You must be wondering. Did he get away? What happened? I will tell you what happened. I was this human fishing cork out there and I knew I was in trouble. The razor sharp hooks could come up and puncture the raft. I was half a mile off shore and a shark could come and eat the raft. So I did something radical. I took the big game shark line in my hands and I bit through it. My gums were bleeding and everything but I bit through it. When I bit through it, I freed myself and the little raft began to float. But the current began to take me out to sea. I had a tiny K-Mart paddle in the raft and I took that paddle and began to paddle against that current. I paddled for about an hour until finally I made it to the shores of safety. I can’t tell you how good it felt to be on the beach.
Hey, singles, those involved in a dangerous premarital sexual bind, it is time you do something radical. God will give you the strength right now. It is time for you to break the line, break the chain, that entangles you. It is time for you to get rid of this dangerous bind. Once you do, you will feel the currents of our culture take you back out to sea. You will feel the waves of sensuality leaping up. I am going to challenge you, inspired by the Holy Spirit of God Himself, to begin to row against the current of our culture and row and row and row. Stay pure and keep your virginity until you hit the shores of sexual purity. There is no foundation like it. There is no feeling like it. There is no life like it. There is no sex like it until you know that you have made a decision that from this day forward you will remain pure until you say, “I do,” before God.
Dangerous binds. Get rid of them. God will help you and you will be so glad that you did.