Asking for a Friend

Week 5
What’s the Big Deal with Sex Outside of Marriage?

Have you ever heard someone ask an awkward or embarrassing question, followed by this statement…Asking for a friend? They don’t want to own the question themselves, so they pretend to be asking on behalf of someone else.

For instance – Does the five second rule apply to all foods? Like if you drop a chip on the ground, for sure you pick the chip up and you eat it if it has been there for less than 5 seconds. But what if you drop mashed potatoes? Does the five second rule still apply? Inquiring minds want to know.

In this series we have been digging into some significant questions that many have asked, not for themselves, of course, but they are asking for a friend. A good asking for a friend question would be the one a reporter boldly asked Olympic swimmer, Michael Phelps. I bet you can guess what it was. Have you ever peed in the pool? He said he had, and he thinks everyone does! In addition to not being able to swim, that is just one more reason why I typically stay out of the pool.

Speaking of the pool, we are going to jump in the deep end this morning, as we tackle the tough topic of SEX. We cannot afford to be silent on a topic like this because it affects us all. The truth is, the Bible has a lot to say about sex. And if there is any place that culture and the Word of God collide, it is on this topic.

Let’s stop pretending and face the truth. Contemporary culture’s approach to sex is not working. It has never worked. And it never will work because it contradicts the clear teaching of scripture.

Some of you could testify to the fact that you made a decision as a teenager, or a college student, and it really didn’t seem like that big of a deal at the time. But, in the next stage of life, you began to realize how past decisions impact your life for years to come. You didn’t see it coming until you were already in the next stage of life, but by then, it was too late.

If you have bought into cultures approach to sexuality, you may want to argue with me and tell me how old fashioned this sounds, and how outdated it seems. You may think culture’s approach is working out just fine for you. But a couple of relationships down the road, or another stage or two of life from right now, you’ll discover that it didn’t work, and it isn’t working, because it never does.

Life is never BETTER when you operate OUTSIDE of God’s intended design.

That is true in every aspect of your life. Don’t buy into one of the most deceptive lies of our culture. When you turn your back on God’s design, life always becomes more complicated and confusing. There is overwhelming evidence all around us that proves culture’s approach to sexuality is broken.

Where do you think all the struggles with intimacy are coming from? Do you think that is God’s plan? What about all the sexual addictions, pornography. and abuse?
Are these the result of living by God’s holy standards? Of course not. So many of the problems in marriages, the regrets, the ghosts of the past that have impacted multiplied millions of lives, these are the result of people falling for the satan’s big lie.

The good news is that God loves us. He wants us to experience His best. And He has a lot to say about the gift of sexuality. Why shouldn’t He. He is the One who created it. It should come as no surprise that what God says is radically different than what culture has to say. I admit, it may sound a little old-fashioned when you hear it. But it is something we all need to be reminded of every once in a while. The Bible says…

Sex is for MARRIED people ONLY.

I told you it would sound old fashioned! This is what many of us were taught growing up. And we believed it. I believed it. Even as a teenager, before I was ever a pastor, I bought into this biblical idea that sex was for married people. That made sense to me, even as a teenager. And then, a few years later, I went off to college and I met a girl, and we started dating. Some of you are going to find this hard to believe, but she grew up being taught the same thing and believing the same thing I did! How weird is that? I know it sounds old fashioned.

This goes all the way back into the 1900’s. 1982 to be exact. Back in the last century, we believed what the Bible said, and believe it or not, even then we were so out of sync with culture.

Laurie and I dated for about a year before we were married. We were in college hundreds of miles from either of our parents. I had a car. We were attracted to each other. She thought I was hot. I know. I get tired of hearing it myself. But that is what she said. She thought I was hot. I knew she was hot! But we decided that we were going to wait because we believed that sex was just for married people. Now, if I could go back and live that stage of my life over again, I admit there would be some things I would change, but I wouldn’t change that.

Did I miss out? I guess I did in some ways. But I know lots of people who wish they could go back and miss out on some things in life themselves. Do you know why? They found out that culture’s way isn’t best. By deciding not to have sex before marriage, I guess I did miss out. I missed out. I missed out on worrying about being caught. I missed out on wondering if I got my girlfriend pregnant. I missed out on fear of contract a sexually transmitted disease or sexually transmitted infection. I missed out on bringing those memories into the bedroom when I did get married.

When you understand what the Bible says, and you see the benefit of operating according to God’s standards, nobody looks back on their life and says, “I wish I just slept around more.”

Nobody has ever come into my office and said, Pastor…The reason I’m struggling in my life today is because of a lack of sex. Things would be so much better if I had sex sooner in my life. My life would be so much better if I had sex with more people.

In all my years of pastoral ministry, I have never heard that story. Do you know why? Because that story does not exist. It is a lie. Deep down inside, we all know it is a lie.
And it doesn’t help to not talk about it. If we are going to avoid difficult topics like this, because it is awkward, or someone might be offended, or hurt, or reminded of some ugliness in their past, how will your kids, and your grandkids, and young adults, and others ever learn there is a better way?

There is a price to pay when we DISREGARD God’s clear INSTRUCTION.

So, every once in a while, we just need to pause, state the truth, and point out what’s obvious. Sex is for MARRIED people. Not adults, not people who think they are ready-for-it, not even consenting adults. From a biblical standpoint, sex is for MARRIED people.

That’s because sex is like a fire. A fire’s good when it’s in the fire pit. Fire’s not good when it is raging through a forest or a neighborhood. The problem is not the fire. The problem is the location of the fire. Fire is good in the fireplace or in the furnace.
But fire is extremely dangerous when it spreads to the wrong location.

About the only thing I like about camping is the campfire (and the food). We used to camp a little when our kids were small. They always wanted to play around in the fire with a stick. Inevitably, they would get their sticks on fire, and then they would want to run through the woods because they thought they had a torch.

Responsible parents, like we were, have them bring the fire and put it back in the fire pit. We understand that fire is good when it is contained. But it can get out of control so quickly when it is taken outside the proper context. Something so wonderful can become extraordinarily dangerous and destructive if it is not handled properly.

The Apostle Paul planted a church in a culture where they just thought sex was a recreational activity. Sex was just something to do. They believed the lie. So, this is what Paul said about God’s take on the whole sex thing.

“Flee from sexual immorality.” – 1 Corinthians 6:18a (NIV)

We all know what it means to flee. It means to run away! Flee from sexuality immorality.
Run away from it. Don’t flirt with it. Don’t entertain it. Don’t see how close you can get.
Flee from sexual immorality.

We understand flee, but I think we need to define immorality. We seem to have forgotten what immorality is in America these days. We live in a culture that has been tirelessly working to redefine everything that matters. Have you noticed that? We see it in sexuality, race, gender issues, etc. You name it.

Contemporary culture attempts to customize Christianity.

People seem to think they can cut and paste the Word of God and redefine terms to accommodate their chosen lifestyle. We don’t get to define morality. God has already done that. He is the Authority. We are not a law unto ourselves. We must define immorality the way the Bible defines it.

In both the Old and New Testaments, IMMORALITY is defined as sexuality (or sensuality) outside the context of marriage. Paul is saying, “When it comes to sexual activity or sensuality outside the context of marriage, you must flee, you need to run away from that.” We need to pay special attention to the next part of verse 18. “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body…” – 1 Corinthians 6:18a (NIV)

There are all kind of sins, but sexual sin is exclusive. It is in a category all its own. Sexual sin is in a category all its own because of the way it impacts you. Sexual sin is in a category all its own because it takes a toll on human beings on a level like no other sin. That is what makes sexual sin different than any other sin. The consequences are different than any other sin. Sexual sin can quickly erode a person’s capacity for intimacy and leave lasting scars on the soul. And yet, in its proper context, it provides a depth of relationship and a closeness that God intended for a husband and wife.

Sexual sin has a way of staying with you. That’s because sex isn’t just a physical thing. Sex is a soul thing. It’s a heart thing. People often struggle with issues stemming from sexual sins for an entire lifetime. When a fire is taken out of its intended context, the results can be catastrophic. Sex is like that. It is about intimacy. It is about covenant. It is about oneness.

When you take sex out of the context God designed it for, it impacts your ability to be intimate. I want you to notice how Paul concludes verse 18…“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:18 (NIV) God’s saying, “You’re going to hurt yourself.”

I can just hear somebody say, “I didn’t hurt myself. I got out scot-free. I just changed my telephone number. Nobody got a disease…that we know of. Nobody’ died. Nobody got hurt. Nobody found out. Nobody got pregnant. I’m fine! I’m free! It is all good.” If you think like that, it tells me you don’t understand sex. You hurt yourself…in addition to hurting that other person…and their future spouse…and your future spouse.

So, what do you do with that? I know what some of you are thinking; “What would you expect from the preacher? Of course, he would say that? What year is this anyway?”
I get it. You put this message up against all the messages you have seen and heard in a lifetime of movies, and TV shows you have been exposed to in American culture, and it is hard to hear.

I came to church today knowing many people wouldn’t like what I had to say.
It is uncomfortable. It sounds archaic. But stand still in the light of truth and allow your eyes to adjust. Our culture has fallen for the big lie. The big lie says that sex is only physical. If it feels good, do it. As long as two people consent, it is no big deal. It’s nobody else’s business. Be with as many people as you want as often as you want.
It is just something to do. Just be careful. Use protection. It’s all good.

It is not all good. Somebody needs to say it. Culture’s approach to sexuality DOESN’T WORK. It isn’t working. I hasn’t worked. It won’t work. That’s why, in both the Old and New Testaments, our loving God reminds us that sex is about intimacy. It’s about oneness. It’s about a permanent relationship. And you’ll either trust God and figure it out and reap the rewards. Or you will do your own thing and suffer the hard consequences.

I believe most of us would admit this is true. Most of us don’t have to be convinced. We heard it before. We knew about it. We even believe it. And up to now, this is not the path that you have chosen. Culture’s path was easier. It was acceptable. That’s the path most of your friends took. You get it now. You did the wrong thing. You should have chosen differently.

So, what do you do now? What’s your next step? How should you respond to what has been? The answer is simple. It is always the same when we realize we have done the wrong thing. Repent!

Do you know what it means to repent? REPENT means to run away, to flee, to turn around, do a 180 and go in the opposite direction. If you have committed sexual sin, you need to repent. Maybe you need to get alone with God. Maybe you need to quit making excuses. Maybe you need to quit sidestepping the issue. Go all the way back to those magazines in elementary school, that date, that trip, that night, that relationship, whatever it was, and you repent.

Repentance says, “I’m not only sorry, but I am sorry enough to change.” God, I repent. I am ready to call sin what it is. I will quit making excuses. It was not only a mistake. It was not only an error in judgment. It was sin. It was wrong. It is wrong. You tell God you are sorry, and you ask Him to forgive you.

REPENTANCE means you do whatever it takes to turn things around.

If you take this seriously, this could mean some significant lifestyle changes for some. You may have to get rid of your Internet at home. You might have to do away with that cable subscription. It may mean you quit hanging out with certain people. You may have to quit going certain places. You may have to change your living arrangements.

To repent means you take some drastic measures to make things right. Do you know why you should consider such drastic measures? Because sexual sin is so dangerous! If you have given into to sexual immorality on any level, it is time to repent of your sexual sin before Almighty God.

I believe this could open the door to a new level of intimacy in your marriage. It could open the door to a new level of intimacy in your relationship with God. But that won’t happen as long as you keep making excuses. In your heart you know what I am saying is true.

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV)

Sexual sin brings with it physical, emotionally, mental, and spiritual consequences. Please don’t underestimate the power of sexual immorality. It has devastated countless lives and destroyed families, churches, and communities. God wants to protect you from the pain that comes from sexual sin. Honor God with your body. Listen to His Word. Then do what it says. These are decisions you will never regret.

You will never regret living a life that HONORS God.

We honor God by trusting what He says and by obeying His Word. That is a decision you will never regret. God designed sex and He knows how it functions best.