February 25, 2007
Part 1: Sex was God’s idea!
Introduction: No one is better qualified to repair something than its designer and creator. No one speaks more clearly to today’s sexual confusion than God.
1. Sex was God’s idea!
A. For _____________________: the expression of ___________________.
Song of Solomon
B. For _____________________: the enjoyment of ___________________.
C. For _____________________: the extension of ____________________.
2. You are a ________________________________________________________.
Matthew 5:27-28, 2 Samuel 13
3. Sex ______________________________________________________ culture.
February 25, 2007
Part 1: Sex was God’s idea!
Fever! For the next few weeks, we're going to talk about sex; we’ll take an honest look at our sexuality and see what God has to say about it. Today's message, Sex was God’s idea, will lay the groundwork for all we’ll talk about in the next few weeks. I’m going to give you a theology of sex! Let's pray.
Announcements and offering
Men’s and Women’s retreats coming up—pick up a brochure today at the Information Resource Center.
Men’s breakfast moved up a week—this Saturday at 8:30 in the Commons.
Foursquare Live broadcast on March 10 – stop by the Information Resource Center for info about speakers and registration.
ILL: In the early days of the automobile, a Model-T Ford stalled in the middle of the road. The driver couldn't get it started no matter how hard he cranked or how much he tried to adjust the spark. Just then a chauffeured limousine pulled up behind him, and a wiry, energetic man stepped out from the back seat and offered his assistance. After looking under the hood and tinkering with something for a few moments, the stranger said, "Now try it!" and the engine roared to life and purred like a kitten. Extending his hand to the driver, the well-dressed man identified himself as Henry Ford. "I designed and built these cars," he said, "so I know what to do when something goes wrong."
No one is better qualified to repair something than its designer and creator. The best person to fix a Model T was Henry Ford because he designed and built that car. He knew it inside and out. The best person to speak to our sexual confusion is God, because He designed and created us as sexual creatures.
Sadly, God’s voice isn’t heard much in this arena. Many churches don’t address the subject at all.
ILL: I became a Christian when I was 13 and in the 8th grade--when a young man's hormones have just kicked in. Through the next five years of junior and senior high school, there was not one sermon in our church on sex; in fact, I don't think the word was ever uttered in church! It was as though we all
pretended that sex was something that good Christians didn't think or talk about; it was as if we had all been supernaturally neutered at conversion!
But what we lacked in church, we more than made up for in youth group! There, pooling our ignorance and guided by our inflamed hormones, we composed a brilliant theology of human sexuality. (I'll share some of our conclusions with you next week.) Looking back, I believe it was a sad mistake that those least qualified to teach on this subject did, while those most qualified were silent.
Even today, almost 50 years into a sexual revolution that has shattered families and destroyed lives, many churches remain strangely silent. While our culture drifts on a sea of moral relativism toward inevitable shipwreck, those who know what God says about this vital subject hesitate to stand up and speak out, or go to the other extreme and issue an angry tirade that smacks of self-righteousness and legalism.
We live in a sexually crazed and confused culture, and it is literally killing people, wrecking marriages, destroying families, and breaking hearts. This is a time to speak clearly and compassionately, to explain God's purposes and standards for sex, and to extend God's mercy and help to those who have failed and are hurting. We want you to know God's will in this important area, to receive God's power to do His will, and to experience God's forgiveness if you've failed.
Let’s set the foundation. I want to say something about God, something about you, and something about our culture.
1. Sex was God’s idea!
The sexual awakening didn't begin in the 60's. It began at creation, when Adam woke up from the first surgery and saw what God had fashioned. The story is in Genesis 2. God had created Adam, the first man, but Adam was lonely. And God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." First, God paraded all the animals by Adam, but no suitable helper was found. The words "suitable helper" mean "someone who corresponded" to Adam, someone like himself in every way and yet different; someone with whom he could interact as equals, as peers. The parade of animals wasn't God's attempt to convince Adam to be happy with one of them. "See, wouldn't you like a nice puppy? Man's best friend, you know--very loyal, and they never talk back!" It was just the opposite: God was showing Adam how different he was from everything else, and accentuating Adam's loneliness. By the time the parade ended, Adam's loneliness was acute: "There is no one for me." That's when God said, "I've got a little surprise for you; I think you'll like it a lot, but I need your cooperation. I want to do a little surgery, and I need to put you to sleep." Adam agreed, God administered the first anesthesia, and when Adam awoke, he took one look at Eve and said, "Wow! What a hottie!" That's the literal meaning of the Hebrew words! That was the beginning of the sexual awakening, and the sparks have been flying ever since.
Sex is in the very beginning of the Bible, in the creation. Sex, you see, was God's idea. He designed us as sexual creatures.
Genesis 1:27-28 "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.' God saw all that He had made and it was very good."
God created us male and female, sexual creatures. Sex is not an accident, or an afterthought; it is an integral part of God's design. And God looked at His design and said, "It is very good." After everything else He created, God said that it was good, but after creating male and female, God said it was very good. And after 31 years of marriage, I concur; it is very good! God designed us as sexual creatures; sex is God's good gift to us.
Some Christians believe that sex was the original sin; they say that Adam and Eve eating the fruit was symbolic of the first sexual act. This leads, of course, to the conclusion that sex is sinful, wrong, dirty. But that is a mistaken view. Mankind's fall into sin is described in Genesis 3, after the creation stories in Genesis 1-2 in which God created us male and female and commanded us to multiply, and there is only one way that you can obey that command that I know of. Adam and Eve were making love long before they ate the forbidden fruit. The Bible never teaches that sex is the original sin; it teaches that sex is God's good gift to us.
But God's good gift was given with some clearly defined boundaries. Sex is for marriage. God intends that His good gift be enjoyed by a husband and wife committed to a lifelong relationship with each other. At the end of the creation story, when Adam awakens to behold his wife, the marriage ordinance is given.
Genesis 2:24-25 "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame."
God who created sex describes here its context: one man, one woman, one flesh for a lifetime. God's good gift is for marriage.
For those who are single and struggling with sexual frustration, please don't check out yet! I know you might be thinking, "Oh great! I've got these strong desires, and you say they're good, and then tell me that God says 'No, no, no! Not unless you're married.' So what am I supposed to do?" That's next week's message: Safe Sex for Singles. We’re going to have a lot of fun next weekend; it may be the most important message in this series.
God designed sex; it was His idea; He designed it for marriage, and said it was very good. Why? What are God's purposes for wiring us the way He did? Here are three purposes for sex.
A. For adoration: the expression of marital love.
Our most common euphemism for the sex act is "making love.” And making love is an appropriate name for sex, because God intended the sexual act as a physical expression of love between a married couple. Husband and wife share an act of incredible intimacy and closeness; love is communicated in tender words and caresses that express the lover's delight with the loved one. Of all the creatures on earth that copulate, only human beings do it face to face, as an expression of love.
The Bible uses the language of love when talking about sexual desire. The Song of Solomon is one of the most erotic and elegant love poems ever penned. Perhaps someone has told you that it is an allegory of Christ and the Church; that may be true. But first it is simply a love song that was sung at a wedding; a song that drips with desire. I can remember how shocked I was to find it in the Bible, and how fascinated I was--it seemed pretty steamy to me! Listen to a few verses:
Song of Solomon 1:2
2 Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—
for your love is more delightful than wine.
Song of Solomon 7:6-10
6 How beautiful you are and how pleasing,
O love, with your delights!
7 Your stature is like that of the palm,
and your breasts like clusters of fruit.
8 I said, “I will climb the palm tree;
I will take hold of its fruit.”
May your breasts be like the clusters of the vine,
the fragrance of your breath like apples,
9 and your mouth like the best wine.
May the wine go straight to my lover,
flowing gently over lips and teeth.
10 I belong to my lover,
and his desire is for me.
Song of Solomon 8:6-7
6 Place me like a seal over your heart,
like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
like a mighty flame.
7 Many waters cannot quench love;
rivers cannot wash it away.
If one were to give
all the wealth of his house for love,
it would be utterly scorned.
Pretty erotic stuff; how many of you can hardly wait to get home and read this whole book? All this erotic, steamy, sexual desire, and it's all in the language of love. God's gift of sex was intended to express the deep love of husband and wife.
Song of Solomon also has some stuff that has always struck me a little funny.
Song of Solomon 4:1-4
How beautiful you are, my darling!
Oh, how beautiful!
Your eyes behind your veil are doves.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
descending from Mount Gilead.
2 Your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn,
coming up from the washing.
Each has its twin;
not one of them is alone.
3 Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon;
your mouth is lovely.
Your temples behind your veil
are like the halves of a pomegranate.
4 Your neck is like the tower of David,
built with elegance;
on it hang a thousand shields,
all of them shields of warriors.
Song of Solomon 7:2-4
2 Your navel is a rounded goblet
that never lacks blended wine.
Your waist is a mound of wheat
encircled by lilies.
3 Your breasts are like two fawns,
twins of a gazelle.
4 Your neck is like an ivory tower.
Your eyes are the pools of Heshbon
by the gate of Bath Rabbim.
Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon
looking toward Damascus.
God's good gift was intended to express the deep love of husband and wife.
B. For recreation: the enjoyment of physical pleasure.
God's good gift was intended for pleasure. Sex is fun! It is enjoyable! And God intended it to be that way. Remember, He is the one who designed your body. All those nerve endings that produce such powerful feelings of pleasure: God's idea! He could have made it drudgery, or a duty; instead he made it a delight.
ILL: I remember explaining to our children how babies are conceived. They couldn't believe it! "Gross!" And then one of them said, "Well, you've only done it a couple of times, right? I mean, just enough to have us."
"Well, not exactly," I said. "We do it lots. We enjoy it."
"Gross!" They couldn't believe that anyone could enjoy something like that. We carefully explained that God made it fun, so that married couples would enjoy making love.
I'm glad God did it the way He did! If sex were just for procreation, to produce children, then I suspect that it wouldn't be such fun; I mean, the rest of the birthing process isn't exactly fun, is it ladies? If God's sole purpose for sex was to produce children, then I imagine He would have made it far less enjoyable. "Well dear, I hate to do it, but if we're ever going to have children, we've got to, so let's get it over with!"
Just like the Bible uses the language of love to describe sex, it also uses the language of pleasure. Just one example:
Proverbs 5:18-19, "May you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer--may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love."
Notice the language of pleasure: rejoice, be satisfied and be captivated.
Not only was sex God's idea, but the physical pleasure of sex was too. Your body has the capacity for sexual pleasure because God made it so. God's good gift was intended for pleasure.
C. For procreation: the extension of the human race.
God's good gift was intended to produce children. This is obvious. At creation, God commanded them to be fruitful and increase in number.
Genesis 1:28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.”
ILL: Last weekend, Laina and I and the kids were in Portland attending my niece’s wedding. At the wedding, the officiating pastor encouraged us to give Raulie and Hillary a blessing. So at the reception, when I was asked to propose a toast, I asked everyone to repeat after me. “Be fruitful, and multiply and fill the earth.” Make your parents happy!
There is only one way I know that you can be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth: you’ve got to have sex!
God's good gift was intended to produce children.
So here are three purposes for sex: God created us as sexual creatures for adoration, recreation and procreation; to express love, to experience pleasure, and to extend the human race. Sex was God’s idea: He created it to express love, to experience pleasure, and to extend the human race.
2. You are a sexual creature.
Every cell in your body carries a sexual code, either an XX chromosomal structure if you are a female, or an XY if you are a male. Every cell in your body is sexual. Within weeks after conception, your body begins to produce hormones--androgen for males, and estrogen for females. These stimulate the development and function of the sexual organs, including brain development; affect social behavior and stimulate sexual desire and interest. You are a sexual creature! Your sexuality is coded into every cell of your body and is impossible to escape or ignore. So you might as well learn how to live with it!
How do we live with it? What do we do with all these powerful urges? You can't wish it away, so do how do manage it? We'll talk more in depth about this in the next few messages, but let me give you a quick roadmap of sexual awakening and activity.
First, curiosity. The most powerful sexual organ in your body is your mind. Sex begins in the brain. It starts with sexual curiosity, which we've all seen in small children. Sexual curiosity begins as soon as children are old enough to notice the differences between boys and girls.
ILL: Jared told me about visiting a pastor and his wife who had two children: a precocious 2 ½ year old daughter, and a brand new son. Their daughter was fascinated that her new brother had some parts she didn't have. Not long after their son was born, the pastor hosted a distinguished elderly missionary in his home. The pastors' daughter wasted no time asking him, "Do you have a penis?" When he slowly nodded, she told him how remarkable that was because so did her dad and her new brother!
We need to be as straightforward and honest as we can be with our children when they ask us about sex. If they sense your discomfort or displeasure, they quickly figure out that they should ask elsewhere, and usually the information they get elsewhere isn't what you want them to have! This curiosity is natural and universal. Teenagers are in an almost perpetual state of sexual curiosity.
ILL: I know I was! I remember in the summer after 7th grade finding one of my mother's nursing books. It was a book on childbirth and was liberally illustrated with graphic black and white photographs. What a find for a sexually curious 12 year old! I snuck it out of the house and showed it to my friends at strawberry patch, which made me real popular, until my parents got called and told that I had brought a dirty book to the strawberry patch.
It is not just children and teens who are sexually curious; so are adults. Even a magazine as conservative as Reader's Digest successfully uses sexual curiosity to sell their magazine. Prominently displayed near checkout counters at every supermarket, almost every month there is an article on sex that is highlighted in bold print. Here are just a few actual titles from Reader’s Digest:
“Is there sex after children?”
“Sex after 35: it can be better!”
"Avoiding marriage-bed burnout"
"Sex secrets about men women should know"
"How to be a more sensual lover"
“Surprising health benefits of sex”
How many of you would like to know those health benefits? Everybody's curious!
After curiosity, the next step is attraction. Males and females find each other attractive; there is a spark of interest, intrigue, desire to know the other person. This is the sexual mystique, that mysterious chemistry that happens between the sexes. This attraction or interest is natural and not wrong. The first time your daughter comes home interested in a boy at school, don't fall off the couch and have a cow. This is natural; there is nothing wrong with this attraction; it is the way God designed us. And this happens to adults as well as teens; all through your life you will meet people of the opposite sex whom you find attractive, and that's ok.
The next step is temptation: the desire to be sexually involved when we shouldn't. It is not wrong to be tempted; it is not a sin to be tempted; the Bible says that Jesus was tempted in every way like we are, and was without sin. Jesus experienced sexual temptations, but He didn't cave in to them. Curiosity, attraction, temptation: temptation is the point where the important choice is made. This is the fork in the road. You can say no to temptation, wait for marriage, and be in God's will. Or you can say yes, give in, and start down the road to trouble.
If you give in to temptation, the next step is usually fantasy. You begin to manufacture vivid sexual scenarios, exciting and secretive sexual rendezvous that end in sexual ecstasy. We tell ourselves there's no harm in it; it's just a mental preoccupation. But Jesus said that such fantasy is the cornerstone of sexual sin.
Matthew 5:28 "Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."
It is the lustful look combined with the imagination of the heart that eventually leads to the act. The fantasies become reality, but never what we imagined.
2 Samuel 13 tells the tragic story of Amnon, the son of King David, who became deeply infatuated with his half-sister, Tamar. He was frustrated to the point of illness because he could not have her. Finally, by pretending to be sick, he tricked her into coming into his bedroom, and then raped her. He lived out his fantasy. But verse 15 tells the result:
2 Samuel 13:15 "Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her."
His fantasy had become a reality, and it wasn't what he had imagined. That is always the way of sexual fantasy...it is just that: fantasy. And it is wrong.
Fantasies give way to flirtation. We make small compromises, playing on the edge of the volcano, thinking we are still in control when actually we're about to be swallowed alive.
Flirtation can lead to passion, where as in Amnon's case, our fantasies are lived out to our lasting regret.
And when our passions don't satisfy us, we move to the last step, perversion, seeking new thrills through increasingly more twisted forms of sexual behavior.
Sin doesn't begin with curiosity or attraction or temptation. It starts with the decision to give into temptation, to fantasize, and it ends with passion and perversion, and leaves a trail of broken lives.
ILL: A pastor I know was called late one evening by a couple in his church. They had both gotten involved in adulterous relationships, and they wanted him to sit down and explain to their two children, a 4 and 6 year old, that their family was going to break up because Mommy and Daddy had found better partners. This pastor picked up the children and put them on his lap and began to explain to them what was going to happen. As he talked, the surprise on their faces turned to tears, and he began to cry too. He wanted to ask those parents, "Look what's going on. Is your pleasure worth this? What good is sexual pleasure that scars these kids for the rest of their lives? Is it that good?"
Many people think that adultery and fornication are where sexual sin starts. It's not. It starts in the mind with a decision to fantasize. Adultery and fornication are just the sad culmination.
You are a sexual creature. It is important to understand how God has wired you, and how to manage your sexuality. Our sexuality is not to be ignored or denied; we ought to be grateful for it, for it is God's good gift. But it must, with God's help, be controlled.
3. Sex has been abused by our culture.
God designed sex; it is His good gift. But that gift has been abused by our culture. What God intended to express love is often purely selfish. What God intended to give pleasure has often produced pain and heartache. What God intended to extend life has often resulted in death. This is not because sex is bad, but because it is misused and abused.
ILL: I think most of you know that my son Jeff died of an accidental overdose of a prescription medicine that he obtained illegally. There has been a lot in the news lately about the abuse of prescription meds.
Maybe you’ve heard of “pharm parties”—pharm spelled p-h-a-r-m, short for pharmaceuticals. Kids are raiding their parents’ medicine cabinets and stealing meds. At the party, they empty all the bottles into a bowl and mix them up, then everyone grabs a handful and downs them. It’s Russian roulette with prescription meds, and kids are dying.
When a high school kid gets his wisdom teeth out, he’ll usually get a prescription for a painkiller. He’ll also get phone calls from classmates asking if he has any meds left over, and they’ll offer to buy them.
People assume these meds are safe because they are prescription meds. Most of us would agree that prescription meds are a good thing. But when they’re abused, when they’re used improperly, they are dangerous and destructive.
That's what we have done with sex. What God intended for good, we have twisted and abused until it is dangerous and destructive.
We live in a sex-crazed culture. On billboards, television, bathroom walls, and in music, the message is the same: indulge and enjoy, with no thought for consequences. Every day, we are bombarded by sexual missiles.
ILL: A friend and I drove by a huge billboard with a bikini-clad model laying seductively by a car battery. I said, "Now what does that have to do with car batteries?" My friend said, "That sells batteries. It got your attention didn't it?"
These sexual signals are everywhere; and the message they communicate has resulted in a legacy of guilt, shame, sickness, and death. Sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS, are the epidemics, the plagues of our age. The tragedies of the sexual revolution include widespread promiscuity; millions of teen pregnancies, unwed mothers, and abortions; sexual addictions; a multi-billion dollar pornography industry that fuels everything from sado-masochism to pedophilia, bestiality, incest, and rape. Add to that the confusion and despair of homosexuality, the heartbreak of adultery and divorce, and the chaos of a unisex society in which gender differences are ignored, and you have a culture caving in on itself. I don't even need to give statistics; many of us in this room are victims.
So God designed sex and made it good, but we have abused it and created an incredible mess. Where do we go from here? That’s what we’re going to talk about the next 4 weeks, as we allow God’s word to make some sense out of the sexual chaos of our culture.