Saturday, 5 October 2013

Less Private Than We Think

(Created before February 1, 2013)

To start off I'm going to quote the same true story as was mentioned in the sermon that inspired this article.

In John 8, Jesus was approached by a group of Pharisees with a woman who was guilty of adultery.  The Pharisees explained that the Law of Moses determined that she should be stoned for such an act.  Jesus said, "Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her."

Nobody threw any stones.  Not even these meticulous by-the-book Pharisees could claim that they were perfect.  That being said, I would go so far as to say that no one reading this is completely innocent in the issue that I will be discussing.

Jesus ended up telling the woman that he did not condemn her, and that she was to go live a life free of sin.  The point of sharing this isn't to put anybody down, but that we may strive to live a life the way God meant for us to live it.

Paul says that we really have no business judging the way nonChristians act (1 Corinthians 5:12), but that we should judge people who claim to be Christians.  Yet we are to it a loving and sensitive way (see Matthew 18:15) because like I said earlier, none of us are perfect; none but God is qualified to throw any stones.

If you are not yet a Christian, your first and foremost objective should be to become a Christian and accept the gift of life that Jesus died for.

However, if you're already one who is calling yourself a Christian, then you should be living with a loving zeal out of appreciation for the salvation you now have.  You are also part of the body of Christ.  This means that whatever actions you do affects the rest of the body.  Whether or not you do it in private.

Our bodies were specifically made for God (1 Corinthians 6:13).  This means that our bodies weren't made specifically to have sex.  As the pastor said this morning (1 Corinthians 6:12), "having sex is not a right."  (Don't forget to read the "a" in this past quotation marks, if you miss that things get very scary very fast) No one can look at Jesus and say that he was less a man because he was a virgin.  Nor can we look around at other people in our lives and say that they are not living life since they are not having sex.  There's many people in this world who physically can't have sex.  Yet their lives still have a purpose, their bodies still have a use.

If you're a Christian, chances are you have a good understanding  of what is meant by the term "sexual immorality."  Jesus said that those who look at a woman lustfully commit adultery in their heart (Matthew 5:28) - of course the same can be said about women who look at men.  Sex was intended by God solely for internal covenantal marriage between a man and a woman.  This means that any kind of sexual behaviour outside of marriage is wrong in God's eyes.  That includes premarital sex, homosexuality, and watching porn (which is lusting).

Many of those who have bothered reading this far are agreeing with me, because you are a Christian with sound doctrine behind you.  Yet there is something I'd like to bring up at this point that you may not necessarily agree with, or thought of before, let me know what you think.  So often I hear pastors and others bring up living with a member of the opposite sex (that you aren't related to) as an example of sexual immorality/sexual sin, or just sin in general.  I have a problem with this.  I don't think it's right to call something a sin that is not a sin.  That's called lying.

No, I don't think living with your girlfriend/boyfriend is a sin.  Please, show me in the bible where it says that it is.

However, the reason people say living with your girlfriend/boyfriend is a sin is because it is associated with pre-marital sex, which is a sin.  And living in this kind of setup does give one more opportunity to sin.

I've heard it said that it's not a sin to be foolish, however it's still foolish.  It's foolish to put yourself in a situation where you will have greater temptation to sin.

Another reason why a Christian probably shouldn't live with a member of the opposite sex is because of the image it presents to other people.  People that aren't privy to your sex life (which should be close to everybody) won't know that you are not having sex with the person you are living with, and assume the very opposite.  This will hinder our witness as changed and renewed people living for Christ.

On a related note I would like to implore especially females on the issue of the way you dress.  Is what you are wearing meant to inspire lust or jealousy from anybody?  What is your motive for wearing what you are wearing?  Especially for my sisters in Christ, keep in mind that although it's obviously impossible to stop people from lusting, we can do our part to not encourage it.  It may not be a sin to show skin, but in the particular situation you are in, is it wise?

I'm sure you could think of a million other "grey" areas on which personal discretion is advised.  Such as kissing.  Is it okay to kiss in a pre-marital relationship?  Well just like the act of living with someone, kissing in and of itself is rather quite harmless.  In some cultures it is done by way of greeting.

Yet it is possible to kiss lustfully, and lust is a sexual desire, which should only be for your spouse.  "Well we're engaged, so she will be my spouse."  To that I say the same thing.  Is she your spouse right now?  Are you married?  If not, your semantic attempts at justification don't hold.

I would like to bring up a truism that is well-known by now (and if it isn't well-known, then it should be).  "Where is the line?" is the wrong question to ask because we have the proclivity to dance as close as we can one side of the line once we have it in our heads that we know where it is.  But we are instead to ask ourselves "how can I live so that I have the least chance of stepping over the line?"

This in mind I believe we should be able to form our own opinions about kissing.

James 4:17 says that if we know to do good, and we don't do it, for us it is a sin.  This means that in a lot of cases, doing something foolish like moving in with someone is a sin, because we know that it would be better purposes of purity if we don't.  So personally, I'm not condoning the act of moving in with someone you may be sexually attracted to, nor do I necessarily condemn it.  I just urge you to make decisions about your place of residence with wisdom.

I love how in 1 Corinthians 6, Paul doesn't condemn sexual immorality because it leads to unplanned babies or sexually transmitted disease.  He condemns it because we, along with our very bodies, were bought with the price of the death of Jesus' own body, and that we should live out of appreciation of this fact.  We as Christians have new identities, we are saints, and we are to live like it.

Something else in 1 Corinthians 6 that caught my eye and is incredibly relevant today was when two people have a sexual intercourse, the bible says "the two will become one flesh."  This is mentioned right after Paul says that whoever is with a prostitute is one with her in body (verse 16).  I believe that I can safely draw a line between this passage and the passage I mentioned earlier when Jesus says that whoever lusts in their heart has committed adultery.  If sexual sin isn't limited to a physical interaction, then in a way, we were "one in body" or "one flesh" with more people than we would care to admit.

Now to be completely honest, I'm not 100% sure what it means to be in one flesh or one body with someone.  Yet somehow I know that it I'm very safe in drawing the conclusion that when someone has pre-marital/homosexual sex, lusting over someone that is not their spouse, indulges in pornography, they are experiencing a part of someone else's body in a way that they have no right to.
First and foremost, our bodies belong to God (1 Corinthians 6:19 ), so not only are we sinning against our own bodies, but we are sinning against the one who gave us these bodies.  I want us to draw something positive from this, however.  This means that whoever we are, and whatever we look like, God wants us (because we already belong to him):  he doesn't just want us as in our personality or our spirit, he wants our physical bodies as well.  We are desired on all levels.  Whoever we are and whatever we look like God can/will use us to further his glory.

Perhaps by now you are still wondering why I titled this article the way I did.  You are wondering why I'm saying that the way you conduct yourself privately isn't as private as you think.

In the sermon that this was inspired by, the pastor said that whoever sins against their own body sins against the whole body of Christ.  That who we are as far the body of Christ is concerned is more than what actions we can perform in relationship with other people.  He used the illustration of how after the battle of Jericho, one man's personal private sin caused the death of many Israelites.

Now you can get from that what you choose to, but here's the point that I want to make.  When we are unrepentant of sexual sin, we are being a slave to our sin.  We are not turning around and leaving it behind as a Christian should.  If we are unrepentant of sin, however private it may seem to us, we are not whole-heartedly serving God, as we can only serve one master.  When we are unrepentant, we will not be bearing the fruit, or serving God, in the magnificent way that we could be.  This affects the whole body of Christ.  To take an illustration out of 1 Corinthians 5:  just a little yeast leavens the whole batch of bread.  Our sins are less private than we think.  Not only does God see it, but it affects how effective we are as functioning members of Christ.

I would like to end this article by reminding you the conclusion of the story I had brought up at the beginning:  Jesus didn't condemn the adulterer.  Why didn't he condemn her if she had just done something that was blatantly wrong?  Because he has the power to forgive any sin, no matter how dirty.  The condemnation that God had for that woman was brought down on Jesus when he died.  This forgiveness is available to whoever chooses to accept it.

God is bigger and more powerful than any kind of sin.

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