“For the Love!” | Week 2
For the Love! a typical expression in our society. An explicative of sorts. “FOR THE LOVE! FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS PURE AND HOLY. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!”
Last week, Pastor Will brought a great message: For the Love of God! I GIVE financially.
Today, Valentine’s Day, ….pause….(are ya’ll ready for this)….we are going to take this phrase and talk about one of the most practical and applicable topics: For the Love of God!
Matthew 5:27 “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your hand—even your stronger hand—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. (NLT)
Jesus teaches in ch 5-7 (Sermon on the Mount) how to live everyday life. Sex is a big part of life. In fact, if sex didn’t happen you wouldn’t even be alive. (let’s not think about that. no one wants to think about that.)
Bible is full of positive thoughts on sex. Don’t have time to list them all.
You want a couple of examples???
Genesis 2 – God brings Eve to Adam and Adam bursts into song. He writes the first poem, “At last, this is flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone…” Don’t forget, they were naked! The Bible starts with a naked man singing passionate love songs over a naked women in the presence of God. That is just the start!
The book of Proverbs has some love gems too! Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth…Let her breasts satisfy you always. May you always be captivated by her love.
People ask me if I’m fundamental and think the Bible is literal… ‘Well sometimes there is an advantage!”
The first thing that Jesus teaches in our passage is:
THE INTEGRITY OF SEX
In Matthew 5, Jesus accepts this Old Testament law on sex. The law says do not commit adultery: No sex outside of a covenant. Sex only inside a covenant. No sex outside of marriage.
The essence of marriage is a Covenant. There is no other way to describe it. Covenants create relationships. A covenant creates a far more loving and intimate relationship than a ‘legal’ relationship. It is far more binding and enduring than a merely emotional relationship.
Let’s look at two distinctly different types of relationships across San Marcos right now:
In a consumer relationship you relate to a vendor. You have a relationship as long as the vendor has a product at a good price. But you are always looking for an upgrade. You say, “We have a relationship, but you have to keep adjusting to me and if you don’t meet my needs, I’m out of here! My needs are more important than the relationship.” “My needs are more important. If I can get my needs met somewhere else cheaper or quicker, then that is more important than our relationship.”
The complete opposite of a consumer relationship. A Covenant relationship says, “I will adjust to you because I have made a promise.”
“The relationship is more important than my needs. My needs are less important that the sustenance of this relationship.”
If both people are ready to make a covenant (marriage), then three powerful things result:
- You finally have a Zone of Security. A Zone of Safety. A place where you can finally be yourself. In a consumer relationship you are always marketing. You are always selling yourself. You have to perform! In a covenant, you have a zone of safety. You can get rid of the facades and finally let them know about your insecurities. You can stop spinning, marketing, and be yourself.
- Deeper Feelings grow when are committed in spite of your feelings. Example: parents and children is another example of covenant relationship. Parents give and give and give and it takes a long time for kids to give back and it never catches up really. For parents, it is not a consumer relationship at all. You give and give and give. You do it so much and are so much invested that you love them EVEN when they act really really bad. Because you are so invested in them in a covenant relationship, you have a DEEPER love and connection to them. In the same way, if your marriage is a covenant relationship, then you have these same deeper transcending feelings than you have in a consumer relationship.
- There is FREEDOM. Freedom from your emotional bondage. Danish Philosopher Kierkegaard said, “If you are in a relationship where you have to feel it… “if you are not meeting my needs, then I am out of here.” Then, you are a slave to your feelings. You are not free, you are bound to your emotions.” In a covenant marriage, you are not a puppet on a string. Your relationship is more important than my feelings.
What does this all have to do with SEX? EVERYTHING The Bible says that sex is a covenant good, not a consumer good.
Remember, a consumer good is a way you keep someone in a relationship. You have a need.
- Women want a man and use sexuality to get him.
- Men want sex and find a woman to fulfill him.
Sex is a consumer good in our culture.
However, the Bible tells us that it is NOT a consumer good, but a covenant good.
In a covenant, when you have made a promise, sex becomes like a sacrament. We don’t the word “sacrament” a whole lot at PromiseLand, but we definitely have sacraments. A sacrament is an external visible sign of an invisible reality. It is an external symbol of an internal reality. Communion and baptism are examples of sacraments. External sign of something else going on.
When you use sex inside of a covenant, it becomes a vehicle for engaging the whole person in an act of self giving and self commitment. In marriage, when people make themselves physically naked and vulnerable, it is a sign of what I have done with their whole life. By giving up my independence and making this promise of covenant marriage, sex is a sign of what I have done with my whole life. That is the why, according to the Bible, sex outside of marriage lacks integrity. You are asking someone to do with their body what you’re not doing with your life. You are saying let’s be physically vulnerable but not whole-life vulnerable.
CS Lewis “The monstrosity of sexual intercourse outside marriage is that those who are trying to indulge in it are trying to isolate one kind of union (the sexual) from all other kinds of union which were intended to go along with it and create the whole union.”
To have physical union without whole-life union is a lack of integrity. When sex is inside a covenant, then each act is a renewal ceremony. It becomes a commitment apparatus. You are getting married all over again. You are committing all over again. An incredibly solidifying and nurturing act.
Sex inside of marriage says, “I belong completely and wholly to you and I am acting it out. I am giving you my body as a token of how I am giving you my complete life. I am open to you in every way.” Sex in this context is a very deeping/nurturing thing.
Sex in a consumer relationship says, “I love the feeling that I have with you.” You are taking and not giving. You are receiving. You are holding on to your life. You are not giving. It is a consumer good.
When you use sex like that, you are damaging its ability to be a commitment apparatus in the future.
If you are sexually active before marriage in consumer type relationships, then when you do get married, you carry that same sexual disfunction into a marriage even though you are legally married in the eyes of the government and God. You can still have that same consumer mindset in a marriage, because that is your only context for sex.
There are many articles coming out talking about how cohabitation seems to be counterproductive.
“The Downside of Cohabitation” article in New York Times, April 14, 2012 written by clinical psychologist, Meg Jay points out that there are more and more studies showing that people who live together before marriage are more likely to divorce than people who don’t. This goes totally against the thinking of the average San Martian or Texas State student.
2/3 to 3/4 of all young adults say that if you live together before marriage, you are more likely to make a good decision because you will figure out if you are compatible. In this article, the clinical physiologist says this is impossible. She says in her research, one of the things everyone agrees on is that their standards for a live-in boyfriend or girlfriend is lower than what they have for a spouse. One woman said, “I felt like I was on this ongoing, never ending audition to be his wife.” If you are living together, then you are in a consumer relationship. Why? Because you are thinking…could I do better than this? You are trying to figure out if you are compatible. You are trying to find out if this person is good enough to marry or if you could do better. You are looking out for yourself.
What is sex in a situation like that? MARKETING In this situation, sex is attracting. Sex is enticing. Sex is not trusting. Sex is not resting. It is not giving. So therefore, sex outside of marriage in no way prepares you for sex inside of marriage. In cohabitation, you are learning how to live as consumers. Marriage becomes simply this next phase where you are trapped in the relationship instead of covenant partners.
The Integrity of Sex is that there must be an integrity of body and life. You must not do with your body that which you wouldn’t do with your life.
the next thing Jesus teaches is:
THE CHALLENGE OF LUST
Jesus said, “Ok, you have heard that you must not have sex outside of marriage, but I want to talk to you about your mind and thinking…I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. ” The word “lust” that Jesus uses here is not talking about sex. The word is typically translated to mean idolatry covet and greed. Jesus is using a word that is associated with greed.
Just as we talked about last week, there is absolutely nothing wrong with making a lot of money. Money is not sin. Today, we are talking about the same thing. Sex in and of itself is not wrong or bad.
Greed is wrong for three reasons: Greed is Selfish. You want it for you. You want to take it from others. Greed is Addicting. We will work hard, break rules, do anything just to get it. Greed is Defining. We want it to affirm us in a way that only God can. That affirmation and false sense of fulfillment defines us.
How could we look sexually in greed or covetousness or idolatry “Lust”?
- Pornography and Self Gratification – Remember, we talked about sex not being a consumer good. Sex in the Bible is for giving and serving. It is not just for our self. However, pornography is completely selfish. It is completely a consumer good. Every second 28,000 Americans are looking at porn on the internet. Every second over $3000 is spent on porn on the internet. You have it when you want it, how you want it, where you want it. No one else is even there. Pornography is the exact opposite of what the Bible says sex should be. It is addicting. It is selfish. It brings about fantasy. In the book – Premarital Sex in America Mark Regnerus addresses the myth that pornography has no bearing on relationships or marriage or sex life. The prevailing Myth says: Porn is private and it doesn’t affect anything.
The truth: pornography affects virtually EVERYONE. Research shows:
- People who use pornography have crushingly unrealistic expectations for their partner. How you should look, act.
- They have a significantly lower tolerance for the difficulties of a real marriage. They are far far less willing to deal with the messiness of a real relationship.
- Women are increasingly are being forced to accommodate their appearance and behavior to the images and styles of pornography. It trickles down to all forms of media. Have you seen the magazines at the check out at the grocery store? Fashion industry, culture, movies, etc are all shaped after sexual consumerism.
Jesus is also addressing:
- Selfish Sex “Premarital Sex in America”- most people when asked why they participate in premarital sex answer, “To keep the relationship going.” Consumer. Adjust to me or I’m out of here.
Here is another issue Jesus is addressing here. A big one.
- Sex Requirement. The belief that you can’t be a whole person or happy person without sex. This is something that is actually being taught and propagated in our society. We are evolved animals that can not control ourselves and so we need to simply accept the fact that sex has to happen. THIS IS NOT BIBLICAL. TRUTH: The only person or thing that you look to as a human to fulfill you or that has control over you is GOD. Nothing else. Anything else that we say we have no control over becomes an idol for us. You can be whole without sex.
Let’s read verses 29-30 again:
So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your hand—even your stronger hand—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
He calls for drastic act. Jesus is saying, “Look at how this is damaging!” He is saying be drastic.
Jesus uses an interesting word for hell here. Gehenna. This was actually a literal place in Jerusalem where the trash was burned. In some previous centuries, there was child sacrifice here. Jesus is saying that hell is a place of unquenchable thirst and longing. He was using this literal place as a metaphor. The stench, the depravity, the loneliness, the Finality of Gehenna is where you are headed if you remain outside of God’s plan for sexuality.
If sex outside of marriage points to hell. Then, what does sex inside marriage point to?
What is the:
THE FUTURE OF LOVE
Romans 7 and Ephesians 5: that even the best sexual relationship is just a foretaste of what it will be like when we fall into the arms of God. Our true spouse.
In John 4, Jesus is talking to “the woman at the well”. He says, I have a water that if you drink it, you will never thirst again. All the longings you have inside will be fulfilled. She says, “Give me this water.” Jesus responds, “Bring to me your husband.” She says, “I don’t have one.” He responds, “Right, you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your own.”
Why does he talk about her messed up sex life?
He says, “I can satisfy your longings. You have been looking for it in all the wrong places. You have been looking to men to satisfy you. LUST. You have being trying to find in the arms of men, the deep affirmation that only God can bring. God can bring this closure.” God is spouse 1. Husband or wife is spouse 2.
If Erica does not love Jesus more than she loves me, then she will not be able to love me well. Even inside marriage you can be guilty of marriage idolatry. If her relationship with God is not stronger than the one with me, then she will look to her and I will look to her. I have to do the same thing. We will crush each other with this expectation. We fall into this consumer relationship and it is all about each other changing to fit the other.
You will never be well married unless Christ is your first spouse. Look to his spousal love. Then and only then will you be in the place of a healthy marriage relationship.