STUDY THREE: BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES FOR SEX
© Rosemary Bardsley 2009, 2014
We move now to two moral principles which have particular significance for spirituality and sex. These two principles help us to understand why God commands and prohibits what he does, and also to define what our actions and attitudes should be in sexual choices where the Bible is silent. They are principles that were in Jesus’ mind when he pushed the commandments to their source in Matthew 5. Both of them are explicit in the Ten Commandments.
God’s standard for sex is clear: sex is intended for one context only: one man with one woman within a formal permanent marriage, which is terminated only by the death of one [heterosexual monogamy].
A. THE PRINCIPLE OF RESPECT FOR HUMAN BEINGS – read Genesis 9:6
Grounded in our creation in the image of God is the principle of respect for human beings. God holds the well-being of people a priority. Disrespect for human beings was one of the first expressions of our rebellion against God [Adam’s putting the blame on Eve, and Cain’s murder of Abel]. Right through the Bible we find that rejection of God leads to lack of respect for the image of God, that is, for other human beings. Those of us who know God, and have been reunited with God through Jesus Christ, have now to re-orient our thinking and bring our behaviour towards others in line with this Biblical principle of respect for the other.
Study the references in Section #1A in the Study Three Worksheet. As you study each reference answer each of the three questions.
Now complete Section #1B in the Worksheet.
B. THE PRINCIPLE OF SEXUAL PURITY – read 1Corinthians 6:12-20
We are surrounded in our society with a pervasive preoccupation with sex. It is impossible to escape this exposure. In this context it is imperative for the Christian to both know and submit to the Biblical principle of sexual purity.
Respect for the other is based on the fact of creation, and although we did not look at it, also on the fact of salvation. God’s demand for sexual purity is also based on these two foundational facts.
We were created to image God. To glorify God. We are far more than physical beings. We are certainly far more that our sexual identity. We are not to see each other as sex-objects. Our identity, our purpose, our God-planned goal, as we have seen in the session of Biblical Life Priorities, is God’s glory. Our whole life takes its meaning from him. Our whole life is centred on him. He, the eternal Spirit, has also set eternity in human hearts [Ecclesiastes 3:11].
Because of salvation we are his blood-bought [2Corinthians 6:20] and precious treasure. We, including our bodies, belong to the Lord, not to ourselves [6:13]. We, including our bodies, are destined for a glorious eternity [6:14]. Our bodies are actually ‘members of Christ’ [6:15]. We are united to the Lord and one with him in spirit [6:17]. Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit [6:19] who dwells in us as God’s gift to us. In the light of this incredible salvation sexual impurity is completely out of place, completely incongruous [6:12,13, 15-16, 18-19]. The only sexual choice that is open to Christians is the choice to honour God with our bodies [6:20] on the path of sexual purity.
Where it hits the ground in our everyday choices this priority of sexual purity translates into the biblical choices listed below. We will need to deliberately commit ourselves to these four choices as our foundational choices in all sexual matters, and to constantly deliberately apply these four biblical choices at each point of sexual decision.
Biblical Choice #1: Say no to sexual sins. [Exodus 20:14].
There are actions and attitudes that God calls sin, that our contemporary culture considers normal and right. We need to take God’s word, the Bible, as our standard, not the view of our peers.
For an extensive list of sexual practices that God forbids read Leviticus 18. Please read this, and write out a list of the forbidden relationships and practices.
See also Ephesians 5:3a, where Paul gives a ‘blanket statement’ to cover sexual sin.
Note that the word ‘adultery’ specifically refers to sexual relations between two people where at least one of whom is married to a third party. The word is sometimes used to cover sexual sins generally. The word ‘fornication’ usually refers to any sexual sin.
Biblical Choice #2: Say no to lust. [Read Matthew 5:27-30].
Jesus pointed out that lust is the foundational sin out of which adultery, and by inference all other sexual sins, is born.
This is where to deal with sexual impurity and sexual temptation – at their source in our hearts and thoughts. Jesus, by the use of graphic images, demands that we deal ruthlessly with this root cause of sexual sin.
Biblical Choice #3: Say yes to godly wisdom. [Read Proverbs 2:1-22; 5:1-23; 6:20-29].
Solomon, who certainly would have known heaps about sexual temptations, is anxious to steer his son on the right course. To prevent him falling into sexual sin-traps he counsels him to listen to godly wisdom.
Acceptance of God’s wisdom and God’s word on the matter is really the only road to sexual purity.
Biblical Choice #4: Say yes to self control. [Read 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8].
Here Paul aligns self-control in sexual matters with:
- God’s will
- The knowledge of God
- Doing the right thing by the other person
- Awareness of God’s judgment
- Right attitude to God
Paul also indicates that sexual impurity goes hand in hand with rejection of these standards.
Go to the Study Three Worksheet and complete Section 2A now.
In our contemporary culture it is extremely important for this principle of sexual purity to be embraced and demonstrated in the lives of Christians and Christian leaders. Our society has not only lost touch with God’s laws about sex, but has also lost almost all concept of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ in sexual [and other] matters.
Go to the Study Three Worksheet, Section #2B.
This lists a number of life situations in which biblical sexual standards are in head-on conflict with the world in which we live. It is important for you to work through these and identify what your response as a Christian should be in each of these situations.