Yesterday we introduced Paul’s discussion in chapter 6 by reminding ourselves of God’s standard in the area of sexuality: No sexual activity—in thought or deed—outside the boundaries of biblical marriage, which is defined by the Bible as one man with one woman united for life. This sounds so narrow-minded and judgmental to the modern ears, but we can’t soft-pedal what the Bible says about something, especially something that has such a meaningful impact—both good and bad—on pretty near everyone in the human race.
Before we move on in the passage, however, I need to maybe correct a common misunderstanding about this issue. God is pro-sex. The Bible is pro-sex. The Church should be pro-sex. I won’t go into detail here for obvious reasons, but check out passages such as here, or the entire book of the Song of Solomon. God’s main instrument in his anti-adultery program is frequent sexual activity between husband and wife. He doesn’t just encourage it: He commands it.
Let me give two illustrations about the Bible’s view towards sexuality. First, it’s frequently compared to a fire in Scripture (like here). Within its proper confines, fire is a wonderful thing: In a fireplace, in a barbecue pit, on a stove, etc. However, if you let it outside those proper confines, if you just “set it free,” then its destructive capability is immeasurable. Or think of a garden versus a jungle. A garden is where a person puts up a fence, breaks up soil, plants, weeds, fertilizes, and keeps careful watch over what’s been planted. That’s the difference between a garden and jungle. If I’m carefully pulling up weeds in a garden, would you say I’m “Anti-plant”? Of course the opposite would be true: I take careful care of a garden because I love plants. This is the same sense in which the God of the Bible is pro-sex as he created it to be.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s look at Paul’s arguments against sexual immorality for the Christian. Notice that this is for the believer, not the nonbeliever. I don’t want lost people to hurt themselves, but if I was talking to a nonbeliever this would not be a main point of interest in our conversation. But for a follower of Christ, the expectations are really different.
First, in answer to their (partially true) slogan “I have the right to do anything,” he points out that “not everything is beneficial.” God created everything in this world as good, but sin has entered the picture and distorted everything. God created food, and we overeat and eat things not good for us. God created stone and wood, and we make weapons and kill others with them. He created sex, and although in and of itself it’s a good thing, it’s like fire: Really good within its proper confines, extremely dangerous and incredibly destructive outside them. Everything that the Lord created as good we have a tendency to misuse.
Second—in answer to the same slogan—he says “. . .yes, but I will not be mastered by anything.” God created sex as a good thing, but outside of its proper confines it’s not just destructive but addictive. It provides a “high” that’s not easily duplicated by any drug on the black market. But a believer has to not just “go with the flow” and let his natural desires control him. Any natural desire—for food, to be a parent, for friendship, etc.—can become an idol. I think I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: Anything that controls you besides Jesus Christ is an idol.
Third, he introduces another (partially true) slogan: “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” In fairness, there’s debate among biblical scholars as to where Paul’s quotation of the Corinthians ends and his own response begins; some say the quote ends after “food,” and his response is “and/but God will destroy them both.” Quite frankly, where you come down on that question really isn’t all that important.
It is true that God created food for the stomach and the stomach for food. But there are two problems with this: 1) The analogy of food and sex is not perfect. We absolutely have to have food or we die. 2) Even if you maintain this analogy for the sake of argument, eating food has to be maintained within its proper boundaries just like sex has to, otherwise we’ll be weighing 600+ pounds apiece.
But there’s more to this response. The body doesn’t belong to sexual immorality but to the Lord. If you’re a believer, he owns you twice over, first by creating you and second by redeeming you. You belong to him, and he belongs to you (in the sense that you’re associated with him, not in the sense that you own him).
This leads into the most heartbreaking aspect of sexual immorality in the life of a believer who falls for this trap. It’s not just an issue of you belonging to the Lord; you are—now and forever—united to him through the Holy Spirit. When you indulge in sin, you’re bringing sin right into his temple. He lives inside of you. He experiences what you experience. When you click and go to that website, he has to go there with you.
That, and that alone, should be enough to motivate you to stay away from this.
Lord Jesus, I know all too well how easy I can fall. In fact, I’d fall in a heartbeat without you holding me up and protecting me from temptations I’m not strong enough to resist. Give me wisdom, strength, and a healthy low opinion of my own righteousness. Please.