God’s Rules for Sex
Why does God put limits on our sexual expression? Sexual sin is powerful and destructive. Why does God have so many laws about sexual sins? Instructions about sexual behavior would have been vital for 3 million people on a forty-year camping trip. But they would be equally important when they entered the promised land and settled down as a nation.
Paul, in Colossians 3:5-8, recognizes the importance of strong rules about sex for believers, because sexual sins have the power to disrupt and destroy the church. Sins involving sex are not innocent dabblings in forbidden pleasures, as is so often portrayed, but powerful destroyers of relationships. They bring confusion and tear down the climate of respect, trust, and credibility so essential for solid marriages and secure children.
Why is sex so important?
“But the man who commits adultery is an utter fool, for he destroys his own soul.” (Proverbs 6:32, tlb)
Sexual sin begins with desire and ends in tragedy. Regard lust as a warning sign of danger ahead. When you notice that you are attracted to a person of the opposite sex or are preoccupied with thoughts of him or her, your desires may lead you to sin. Ask God to help you change your desires before you are drawn into sin.
Sex outside marriage always hurts somebody. Some people argue that it is all right to break God’s law against sexual sin if nobody gets hurt. In truth, somebody always gets hurt. Spouses are devastated. Children are scarred. The partners themselves, even if they escape disease and unwanted pregnancy, lose their ability to fulfill commitments, to feel sexual desire, to trust, and to be entirely open with another person. God’s laws are not arbitrary. They do not forbid good, clean fun; rather, they warn us against destroying yourself through unwise actions or running ahead of God’s timetable.
“That is why I say to run from sexual sin. No other sin affects the body as this one does. When you sin this sin it is against your own body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18, tlb)
The power of sexual sin must never be underestimated. Sexual immorality is a temptation that is always before us. In movies and on television, sex outside marriage is treated as a normal, even desirable, part of life. Marriage is often shown as confining and joyless. We can even be looked down on by others if we are suspected of being pure. But God does not forbid sexual sin just to be difficult. He knows its power to destroy us physically and spiritually. It has devastated countless lives and destroyed families, churches, communities, and even nations. God wants to protect us from damaging our self and others, and so he offers to fill us—our loneliness, our desires—with himself.
How does sexual sin begin?
“But I say: Anyone who even looks at a woman with lust in his eye has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28, tlb)
Sexual sin begins in the mind. God considers mental adultery as serious as physical adultery. The Old Testament law said that it is wrong for a person to have sex with someone other than his or her spouse (Exodus 20:14). But Jesus said that the desire to have sex with someone other than your spouse is mental adultery and thus sin. Jesus emphasized that if the act is wrong, then so is the intention. To be faithful to your spouse with your body but not your mind is to break the trust so vital to a strong marriage.
Why should we follow God’s laws about sex?
“Be happy, yes, rejoice in the wife of your youth.” (Proverbs 5:18, tlb)
Sex is a gift God gives to married people for their mutual enjoyment. God does not intend faithfulness in marriage to be boring, lifeless, pleasureless, and dull. Real happiness comes when we decide to find pleasure in the relationship God has given or will give us and to commit our self to making it pleasurable for our spouse. The real danger is in doubting that God knows and cares for us. We then may resent his timing and carelessly pursue sexual pleasure without his blessing.
Sexuality is a natural, God-given desire. Sexual temptations are difficult to withstand because they appeal to the normal and natural desires that God has given us. Marriage provides God’s way to satisfy these natural sexualdesires and to strengthen the partners against temptation. Married couples have the responsibility to care for each other.
What if it’s already too late?
Peter’s story in the Bible is awesome news for those of us who feel like screw ups. He is proof that failure is not the end of the story when it comes to God. You see, after Jesus came back to life, he and Peter had a little seaside meeting (see John 21). Three times, Peter had denied Jesus. Now, three times Jesus asked him, “Do you love me?”
“You know that I love you, Lord,” Peter answered each time, his voice cracking. And Jesus did know it. He not only forgave Peter, but he gave him a new job: “Feed my sheep.” Jesus asked Peter to lead and care for his people after he was gone. Peter went on to introduce thousands of people to Christ, he wrote two books of the Bible, and he was possibly the most respected and influential leader of the early church. He died a martyr’s death because of his rock solid faith in Jesus.
Do you feel like you’ve really blown it? Do you feel unacceptable or useless in God’s eyes? Then do what Peter did. Seek forgiveness and restoration. Take Jesus up on his promise: “Whoever comes to me I will never drive away” (John 6:37).
Finding strength to resist temptation
God offers us His strength to resist the images we see in the media and the thoughts that sometimes assault our minds. He doesn’t just tell us to resist temptation, He offers the power of His spirit to come alongside us. God wants to be our leverage in living, empowering us to feel better about ourselves, more excited about our future, more grateful for those we love and more enthusiastic about our faith.
Are you tired of trying to do it all yourself? Ask God to be the leverage you need in being more confident in who you are, more in tune with those you love, and more effective in your marketplace. Why not pray this simple prayer and by faith invite Him to fill you with His Spirit:
Dear Father, I need you. I acknowledge that I have sinned against you by directing my own life. I thank you that You have forgiven my sins through Christ’s death on the cross for me. I now invite Christ to again take His place on the throne of my life. Fill me with the Holy Spirit as You commanded me to be filled, and as You promised in Your word that You would do if I asked in faith. I pray this in the name of Jesus. As an expression of my faith, I thank You for directing my life and for filling me with the Holy Spirit. Amen.