Thursday, February 18, 2016

Sex, Love and Life - #7 in a Series on the Ten Commandments

Exodus 20:1-17

And God spoke all these words:

"I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

"You shall have no other gods before me.

"You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

"You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

"Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

"Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

"You shall not murder.

"You shall not commit adultery.

"You shall not steal.

"You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

"You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."

Matthew 5:27-29
"You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery .'   But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

When I was a little boy, my Mom and Dad gave me a set of toy garden tools.  A rake, a shovel, stuff like that.

They were child size tools and made of plastic.

To this day I do not know why, but when my parents gave them to me, my Dad looked at me and said, “whatever you do, don’t hit your sister with it.”

Why did he say that?

I had intention of hitting my sister with the toy shovel.

It bothered me – and I wondered what would happen if I did hit her with it.

So in order to find out, one day I hit her with it.

She cried, told Dad, I got in trouble.

Gifts are great – but sometimes you can take these gifts and misuse them.

Jonathan (Jay) Vargas was a 19 year old who won the lottery!  In 2008 he took home $35.3 million dollars.  He used his wealth to start a pro wrestling business.

He called it “Wrestlicious” – featuring all female wrestlers clad in bikinis.  It lasted one year, and after that he was broke, and even in debt.
          A gift misused.
God gives us many gifts, and I believe that every single one of them is subject to being misused by humans. 

Plants and chemicals can be used in ways that make medicine. It is a good gift. Then again, we can misuse that gift by taking plants and chemicals by making unhealthy drugs.

     Throughout the Bible, Scripture refers to wine as something that is good.  It is a blessing. Take that blessing and drink too much and the gift becomes a curse.  And the Bible is clear in its opposition to drunkenness. 

     Take the gifts of knowledge and learning and we can enrich our lives for the better.  But technology can also dehumanize our lives and pollute our world.

     Any gift of God can be misused.

Sex is a gift of God. It was created and designed by God. Like any other gift, it can also be misused.


It fascinates us.

We are driven by sex.  And for some people, the drive is beyond the apparent control of their better judgment.

We laugh at jokes about sex, and we cry when we are hurt by sex.

God created sexuality as a way of having children – one of the first instructions God ordered in creation was to tell men and women to be fruitful and to multiply.  God gave us our sexuality to do this.

But there is more to sex than having children – it is about pleasure, joy, and intimacy.  The Old Testament book of Song of Solomon was an ancient work of literature that many wanted to keep out of the Bible.

     In Song of Solomon, sexual love is the main theme of that book.  It is very graphic in its descriptions. 

     Sex was created by God and is therefore, like all other creations of his, good.  And like all other creations, we can take it and misuse it.

          And so we come to this in our series on the Ten Commandments – you shall not commit adultery. 

          And the misuse of the gift of sexuality – specifically within a marriage -- is adultery.

          When you are married, you give that part of your nature – that sexual part – to be reserved for only you and your spouse.


This part of a marriage can be the most powerful expression of intimacy in the marriage bond.  It is not the only expression of intimacy and love, but there is something powerfully emotional and spiritual about this gift, so that we’re not only united in body, but we’re also united in soul and spirit. This is why sexual misconduct often deeply wounds people far more than many other kinds of sin.

In Hebrews 13, the author writes, "Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure…” 

Marriage is a commitment.

It is being loyal to each other.

It is being nurturing and caring for one another. 

It is being faithful to each other – not just physically faithful, but faithful in terms of support and encouragement and love.

So where are you in this commandment?  

Maybe you feel excluded from today’s sermon because you are happily and faithfully married.  Which is great.

But let me suggest that adultery may not have anything to do with physical activity with someone else.  Jesus, in Matthew’s Gospel, broadened the boundaries of this commandment to include even simple thoughts of lust.

Would it not be true that you can work seventy hours a week and do a great harm to your partnership and family.

You can close off your emotions and cut off communications – and thereby undermine the covenant you have with your partner.

You can be disrespectful to your partner. You can be physically abusive to your partner.  You can be manipulative of your partner.  Violating your covenant relationship can come in all sorts of forms.

So where are you in this commandment?  You might feel left out.  You might be single – which is fine.  But even if you are single this commandment speaks to you by calling you to respect the marriage of other people. 

Or you might be single because you are so young.  And perhaps this commandment is calling you to think about shaping the ethics you will embrace as you grow up.  And you will have to consider – will your passions control you as you grow up  – or will you control and enjoy your passions in appropriate ways.

So where are you in this commandment?   

You may be an adult who has blatantly violated your marriage vows by infidelity.  And if that is the case, you may be wondering if you have committed the unforgivable sin.

Well here is the thing about sin – Jesus never condemns, he always shows grace.  In the Gospel of John he says to the woman caught in adultery, “Go now, and sin no more” (John 8:7).

There is no need to be paralyzed with guilt. Go and live the transformed life made possible by the grace of God.

I know – easy for me to say.  But keep in mind that any healing takes time – and work.  So take the time and get to work.

So where are you in this commandment? 

You may be the person who has been betrayed or is having a difficult time forgiving your partner.  Well, that is one of the challenges of the Christian life.  Loving others who are difficult to love, and forgiving those who hurt us is a healing process, and as I just said, healing takes time – and work.  So take the time and get to work. 

Even if the marriage cannot be healed, your heart needs healing.

God gave us both marriage and sexuality as gifts – not to be misused, but to be savored and enjoyed.

We sometimes look at the Ten Commandments as a burdensome list of rules, but they are in themselves gifts.  They are given not to burden us, but to bless us, so that we may more fully enjoy life in all of the many areas of living.