Recognizing Modern Idolatry Day 4: The Idol of Sex, Part 2
We paused yesterday’s study on the idol of sex with the reminder that it is God’s unchanging Word that dictates our morality and not what the changing culture decides. Let’s look at what God says about sexuality and His design for sex within marriage.
There absolutely is one clear Biblical sexual ethic; as Christopher Yuan succinctly states in his book Holy Sexuality, the sexual standard for followers of Christ is “chastity in singleness and faithfulness in marriage.” It is as simple—and as difficult—as this. Whether the church at-large has always taught this correctly is irrelevant; the Bible is abundantly clear. We can read Mark 10:6-9, Romans 1:21-25, Ephesians 5:3-6, Colossians 3:5-7, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8, and Galatians 5:19-21. There are many more passages in both the Old and New Testaments which clearly demonstrate the value God places on marriage and sexual purity. The fact that the commands of God are challenging for us as believers to live out does not suggest that their validity is out of date; instead, the difficulty reminds us just how prone to sin we are.
So, we must evaluate how our own views of sex align with God’s view. Single believers, if your sexual desires are consistently drawing your eyes and affections toward lustful thoughts and choices that God calls sinful, and you seek to justify your desires rather than repent, you may be worshipping the idol of sex. Married believers, if your sexual desires are drawing your eyes and your affections away from the spouse God has given you and/or toward lustful thoughts and choices that God calls sinful, you may be worshipping the idol of sex. If you are consistently making excuses for the sexual choices of yourself and others and you succumb to lust with absolutely no desire to fight, then turn and examine your heart before God and His Word, because you are pursuing pleasure at the expense of purity. Confess your idolatry and repent.
When our sexuality has distracted us from worshipping God rightly, our practical response in repentance will be to cultivate purity in our thought lives, in our speech, and in our behavior. If we truly view our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit in accordance with Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians, we will be far more careful to give honor to the Lord in how we approach matters of sexuality. We will take every step to know God’s will for our sexual lives and then follow it in a way that honors Him and reveals the beauty of His design. We will not flaunt our bodies in inappropriate ways to others or value sexual attractiveness to an unhealthy degree. When sex is rightly seen as a God-given gift and responsibility, we will obey God first and express our sexual desires only as a means to enjoy intimacy with our spouses and to grow our families. Moreover, whenever we do fall short of God’s standard of purity, we will run to the cross of Jesus, repent, and refocus our attention on the Savior who died to set us free from the bondage of sexual sin and bring us into pure freedom.
When we have found ourselves idolizing sexuality—whether we have refused to honor God’s design for marriage, harbored lustful thoughts, made crude sexual comments, or engaged in pornography, fornication, homosexuality, or adultery—we must let Scripture and the sacrifice of Christ sink into our hearts. He died to release us from these chains with which Satan tries so often to enslave us. No matter the shame or guilt we feel, if we humble ourselves before Him, He forgives and will give us the strength we need to turn from our sin. We must endeavor to lead lives of purity; we must learn to see our sexual nature as a gift from God’s hand to be used wisely only within His plan. We should treasure this opportunity to show the world that the counter-cultural ways of Christ are truly the ones that bring about our ultimate flourishing.
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8, ESV)