Today we’re wrapping up our discussion of God’s plan for sex. We’ve talked about all the reasons why we need to stick to God’s plan instead of the plan given to us by our hormones, but here are three big ones which we need to keep in mind.
First, sexual activity constitutes a bonding process. Read vss. 15-17 again. When God created human sexuality, he designed it to be a lot different from most other creatures. With most of the rest of creation, sexuality is only a biological process for the purpose of reproduction. There are a few mammals and birds which mate for life, but most don’t. It’s different for us. When a man and woman engage in sexual activity, they’re bonded together spiritually and emotionally, not just physically. That bonding process lasts for a lifetime, and occurs whether they’re married or not; that’s what it means when he says that they’re “one flesh.” This “one flesh” union is meant to be with your spouse and with no one else. If you have sex with a person and then break up, then that harms you as if you separated your arm from yourself. This will harm you later down the road, I promise. Once you do get married, you’re going to be bringing that “baggage” with you into the marriage bed. The less of this you bring, the better.
Second, sexual immorality harms you in ways that other sins don’t. Paul specifically sets this area of sin apart from the rest when he says “All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.” What does this mean? He doesn’t elaborate, so we just have to deduce what the difference is. It could refer to the fact that this sin commonly has physical (and potentially lifelong) consequences, such as disease and unwanted pregnancy. But there's also the fact that we aren’t merely physical creations: We have a body, a soul, and a spirit (or however you want to divide or name the parts of us). And no “part” of us is really separated from the rest: What affects your body affects the nonphysical aspects of you. And this one activity, for good (doing it God’s way) or ill (doing it any other way)—in some mysterious way--affects the rest of you more so than just about anything else you can do with your body.
Third, you don’t belong to yourself. The common argument by abortion “rights” advocates is “I can do what I want with my own body.” This attitude is echoed by people in a lot of different areas, especially the sexual aspects of life. Well, there’s a smidgen of truth in that. You certainly have the right to do whatever you want with whatever belongs to you. But your body doesn’t belong to you. This is true even of nonbelievers, since God created all of us and thus has a sovereign claim on everyone, whether they acknowledge it or not. But for those of us who’ve been redeemed (bought back) by the precious blood of Christ, this is doubly true: He created us, and then he bought us back with his own blood. We belong to him twice over.
And when we placed our faith in him, he placed something—or Someone—in us. Our body is now the temple of the Holy Spirit, just like the Tabernacle and the Temple. That is where we worship him and he speaks to us. He lives inside us in a way that the Old Covenant believers could only dream of. The body of every believer is a permanent house for the Holy Spirit.
And when we engage in any sin--especially this one—we dishonor him. We pollute the temple, just like people in the past who brought idols into God’s house. We bring shame upon him and grieve the One who loves us with an everlasting love, the One who shed his own blood for us. He tells us to do the opposite, to honor him in the way we use our bodies in this arena.
I’d like to end this series on a positive note. In this same book (1 Corinthians) Paul addressed the fact that few of the believers in that church had managed to avoid sexual immorality before their conversion to Christ, and some had even fallen into it after becoming believers. But this is his word of hope to them: After listing several sexual and non-sexual sins, he tells them “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” No matter what they had done or even what they were doing, the sin in their past and present didn’t have to be the last word in their lives. In Christ, we’re “washed. . . sanctified [set apart for a special purpose]. . . and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
No matter what you’ve done and what you’re doing right now, he stands more than ready to forgive. All of us fall short of his standards, even as believers, both in sins sexual and non. But if you read this and are feeling guilty, know that his promise to ancient Israel is just as open to you as it was to them:
"Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are as scarlet,
They will be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They will be like wool."
Feeling dirty? Come to him and be cleansed. He’s waiting.
Lord Jesus, I thank you that in your name there is forgiveness, free and total and forever. From now on, by your grace, we’re doing things your way.