Before we get into the main FAQ of the morning, I want to address a another one real quick: Why would God make the universe as big as he did? How do we know we are the only life form and, assuming we are, how do we deal with our insignificance?
Well, first – the Bible doesn’t say anything either proving or making it impossible to have life on other planets. Should life ever be found on another planet – it would neither prove nor disprove God’s existence. The bible is mankinds story. It’s about God redeeming us from our fallen messed up state.
The great author C.S. Lewis wrote a space trilogy (It doesn’t compare in mastery to his Chronicles of Narnia) – but the premise of the book is indeed that there is life on other planets – but ours is the only planet that has fallen into sin. The rest of the universe in essence enjoys fellowship with one another – but we are quarantined from it – lest we spread the infection of our sin to the rest of the unfallen universe.
An interesting idea. And one that would actually not be unbiblical. So who knows, right?
Now about the question of why the universe is so big – let me read a portion of writing from Dallas Willard – who likes to paint a big picture of what it means when the bible says that when God makes everything new – we will ‘rein with God.” in Revelation 5.
He writes… that Jesus, “is currently preparing for us to join him (John 14:2-4). We will see him in the stunning surroundings that he had with the Father before the beginning of the created cosmos (17:24). And we will actively participate in the future governance of the Universe.
We will not sit around looking at one another or at God for eternity but will join the eternal Logos, reign with him,” in the endlessly ongoing creative work of God.
In other words the universe is part of God’s Kingdom. Our world is fallen and groans to be made new. But I think that this author is trying to help us understand that the universe is part of the Kingdom of God. And when we go to be with God – it includes the possibility of endless exploration. Endless enjoyment of God and his creative and re-creative work in us and the universe. And I think it’s lovely to include this in our thinking of what awaits us when we think of eternity…
Now to address the second half – which hints at feeling insignificant when we consider how huge the universe is, and how small we are in comparison – it’s easy for us to therefore imply that we are insignificant when compared to the scope of the universe.
But oh the entire Bible, from beginning to end, is telling a different story – it is the story of the tremendous significance God places on your life and mine. It is the story of how God so loved this world, that he was willing to pay the ultimate price to bring us to himself.
We might not feel worthy of His love – but we are never worthless – we are quite the opposite. We are his beloved. We are his bride. He not only loves you but he likes you!
He would trade this universe in if that is what it would have taken to repair the relationship between himself and you. It just so happened that it took alot more than that. It took the life of Jesus to repair the damage sin has caused. So – listen – yes we are unworthy – but never insignificant.
In God’s view – there is nothing in all of your 41 trillion stars worth more than you.
So let’s move on to our big question of the day… The big question we are going to talk about today is this question. Why does God care about sex and sexuality?
Well, I’m glad we get a chance to talk about sex and romance a little today. And for you seventh graders out there today and this is your second Sunday in big church – see? You thought it would be boring? It’s not. Just slightly mortifying to be sitting next to your parents as I talk about sex.
But it’s important for you to hear what I’m saying. So listen carefully. Because the Bible has much to say about it. It doesn’t shy away from the subject.
As a matter of fact – did you know there is an entire book of the Bible – song of songs – or song of solomon- the entire book is about a husband and his bride and it’s very straight up sexual – in a 1000 BC kind of way. I mean chapter 4 is his description of her body – your hair is like a flock of goats descending Mt Gilead. Rowl! And don’t get me started on your fawns! Twins of a gazelle!
Chapter five is her description of his body – his lips dripping with myrrh! I don’t know what that means but she likes it. His body is polished ivory! Well, how nice of you to notice darling…
So let’s begin by talking about what the Bible would say is the purpose of sex. It is, of course, for the purpose of reproduction – be fruitful and multiply – but it is far more than that. Sex is the most powerful bonding agent in the world.
Forget gorilla glue, or crazy glue – those things can’t touch the soul. But sex is intended to unite a husband and wife at a level far beyond a physical level. Emotionally, physically, spiritually and permanently. Sex is created by God as a gift to unite a husband and a wife at the deepest levels. It is intended by him to be shared solely and exclusively within the confines of marriage.
Oh Phil – are you telling us to wait until we are married to have sex? You are so old fashioned. Well, if by old fashioned you mean I agree with what the Bible says was ordained by God before the creation of the world, then yes, I’m old Fashioned. But so was Jesus.
Jesus was, when in Matthew 19 he stated, 4 “Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’” 5 And he said, “‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ 6 Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.”
Sex is created as God’s gift to a husband and wife because it is the ultimate soul bonding activity between two people. It is the ultimate act of vulnerability – two people naked and without shame.
Isn’t it interesting that one of the more popular phrases associated with the morning after an elicit affair is “taking the walk the of shame.” There is no walk of shame when you are married. The walk of shame belongs to people who have turned sex into a recreational hobby.
Now I don’t want to rant about this because there are many people who have not followed God’s plan on this and so you might be hurting and wounded from your past decisions that you regret. And you’ve already brought your past sins to God and you’ve been washed and forgiven and this isn’t meant to drudge back up that which has been buried in the grave by Jesus. So this isn’t meant to rub salt in wounds.
But my guess is that there are some people in here who, internally, want to argue with me. It’s just sex, you might say. It’s just sex.
But sex is created by God to be something much more than biological, or physical. It is God’s ordained way to be able to express to another person I am permanently and exclusively yours. I am completely and utterly yours.
Sex is powerful. It is like the Mississippi river. Powerful and a blessing when it stays within it’s banks. But when it overflows the banks, it causes destruction and pain.
We live in a culture where it’s considered Puritanical to suggest that there ought to be boundaries restricting sexual activity. Sex has completely overrun it’s banks. It has been taken out of it’s context and it is causing a flood of devastation and pain in it’s path.
Let me put it this way – I heard someone say one time that in America there are only two religions. There is Christianity. And there is sex. Anything else comes in a distant third. Christianity and sex. Although I would argue that there is right now in our culture a third competitor – and that is the religion of love.
We live in a world where ‘love wins’. Where the only thing that counts is love. Love is a right – and whom I love is of no concern to anyone. Romantic love has become an idol in our culture that people are chasing with religious fervor. And God help the one who stands up to say – wait, this isn’t right. Even if that person is God himself.
Sex and love have overflowed their banks in our society and the mantra of our society is that there ought not to be any banks at all. Everyone chooses what is ‘right’ for themselves and no one may raise a voice of dissent except haters, zealots, and bigots.
Sex and romantic love have been elevated to a position once occupied by God alone. And maybe you think I’m overstating it… So I want to prove to you that our culture has elevated sex and sexuality to a place that was once reserved for God. And so we’re going to play a little game called – is this a Christian worship song, or is this a Billboard top ten song?
Do these the lyrics of a top ten song on the radio? Or are they lyrics to a top ten worship song being sung today in churches all around the country this morning?
I can’t feel my face when I’m with you
But I love it, but I love it, oh
I can’t feel my face when I’m with you
But I love it, but I love it, oh
Can’t feel my face by weeknd #1 on the charts.
I started off with an easy one – want you to feel good about yoursef.Notice the elevation of Romantic love…
When I need motivation
You are my one solution
‘Cause you stay strong
You are always in my corner
Right there when I need you
I’m empty without you.
Cheerleader by OMI #2 on the charts – elevation of romantic love. I’m empty without you. I might have changed the SHE to you, but I don’t want to make it too easy, right?
I need you, I need you, I need you, I need you
I need you, I need you, I need you, I need you
I need you, I need you
I need you the most
Where are you now by Skrillex and diplo #7 and Justin Beiber.
Gonna wear that dress you like, skin-tight
Do my hair up real, real nice
And syncopate my skin to your heart beating
‘Cause I just wanna look good for you, good for you, uh-huh
Selena Gomez #5 Good for you At least this is different – it’s elevating sex – and you know if I read the rest of the lyrics its pretty obvious – there is no allusion to sex in songs nowadays. It’s blatant and blunt and crass.
For instance –
8. “Cool For The Summer”
by Demi Lovato
Tell me what you want, What you like
Got my mind on your body and your body on my mind
6. Worth It – by Fifth Harmony
Give it to me, I’m worth it
Baby I’m worth it
Uh huh I’m worth it
Gimme gimme I’m worth it
Give it to me, I’m worth it
Baby I’m worth it
Uh huh I’m worth it
Gimme gimme I’m worth it
And they say poetry is dead.
I don’t have any worship songs here. let me break down the top ten songs for you.
three were about the joy of the everlasting love found.
Three were about the pain of losing that everlasting love.
Three were about having sex.
One was about fighting and overcoming difficulty.
So why am I sharing lyrics from these songs? I am making the point that our culture has elevated sex, and romantic love into a place that once was reserved for God.
I just want to share one more lyrics – and this song is two years old now but spent time as the number one song in Billboards charts in 2013 – by Bruno Mars called “Locked out of Heaven”
Never had much faith in love or miracles
Never wanna put my heart on the line
But swimming in your water is something spiritual
I’m born again every time you spend the night
‘Cause your sex takes me to paradise
Yeah, your sex takes me to paradise
I mention this song because I think it most clearly makes the point. The words paradise, born again, spiritual – What one used to find that in God – we’re looking for now in sex.
So back to out question: Why does God care? Why does the bible give so many restrictions about sexual activity? Because Sex, and Love, are powerful, and if misused can become Idols that cause great destruction and pain.
Let me show you three dangers of making sex and romantic love into idols. But first – let me say this to you all. There may be some people in here and you are sexually active with your boyfriend or girlfriend and this talk is making you uncomfortable. There may be people in here who are living together and you might be seething right now because you feel I am embarrassing you or judging you.
And I want to tell you that I am not. And we will not judge you. This church will not judge you. I mean this room is filled with people who might be married now but have a history they would say is not matching up to God’s original design for marriage. And it’s filled with people who have regrets in this area. It’s filled with sinners saved by grace – and so we and I am not judging.
In fact – if you are newer to the faith or not yet a Christian, I wouldn’t expect behavior to conform to God’s standards here. One doesn’t gain God’s love through behaving correctly. But once one encounters the glory of God’s love – it changes behaviors.
So the conventional wisdom of this world says move in together. The conventional wisdom is that, hey, it’s just sex. It’s just sex.
But I think you deserve to hear a different voice. And so I am sharing this because it’s a small voice compared to the voice of culture. But it is a message that needs to be clearly communicated and understood.
I believe it contains the message that God wants you to know. You deserve to know that there is a different kingdom, where people do things a different way.
And so – I say these things and I may at times rant against a culture that is set up against God’s way – but I am not ranting against you. I truly love you. I love you enough to preach what you deserve to hear, not necessarily what you want to hear.
So – let’s talk now about three dangers of making sex and romantic love into idols.
1. Sex outside of it’s created intent dehumanizes people.
Sex within the boundaries of marriage is the ultimate act of vulnerability – where one gives themselves completely and exclusively to another. It is created to be an act of abandoning yourself into another – I am wholly and only yours.
When sex is removed from that sphere and chased as a thrill, it becomes an act of taking. Of getting yourself some. It’s not a surrendering of oneself – it’s a conquest of another. It is the opposite of it’s intent.
Let me ask – is the book Fifty Shades of Gray – is that an uplifting love story? I haven’t read it – I assume it must be very romantic and uplifting – I mean that story has grossed almost 600 million dollars.
Or is it a story of taking and demanding. Is it a story of vulnerability and tenderness or is it a story of conquest and domination.
Is pornography loving in any way? Is it loving to your spouse to be secretly captured by it? Is it loving to those people in the videos you are lusting after? How bad off is a woman who has to turn to making videos like that? What has happened in her life to bring her to that?
Is it in any way loving to hire a prostitute? Is it in any way loving to go home with a person you met at a bar for an hour? Where is the love in that? There is only taking and conquest.
Is it in any way loving to have an affair on your spouse? If the person you are having an affair with is married, how is it loving to his or her spouse, or his or her children? Isn’t it dehumanizing to them to steal their family member for your own selfish desires?
Sitting at a bar and swiping through an app like tinder that will help you find another person looking for a thrill – you look at the picture and brush them away or beckon them for pleasure – how can that be anything other than dehumanizing? This person is nothing to you other than a body.
Hey, you know Demi Lovato – she isn’t singing – “I’ve got your mind on my mind. Or I’ve got your best interest on my mind. And my mind on your best interest, right? No – I’ve got your body on my mind.
Sex – dehumanizes people.
Now conversely – and I can’t spend as much time with this right now as I’d like – but – the idolization of romanctic love – that operates oppositely – it doesn’t dehumanize people, it deifies people. We get this idea of romantic love -that prince charming will rescue me and we will love happily ever after without ever having to experience real life together. So we have to be careful not to idolize this image of what we think the perfect spouse looks like – they will never live up to it.
Secondly – sex and the pursuit of romantic love that overflowing it’s banks will devours you. It will enslave you…
Any time you end up behaving in ways that you know you don’t want to do any longer -that you know are putting yourself at risk and others at risk, then you are not master of it any more it owns you. You are it’s slave.
How many have been involved in a relationship that they knew was bad for them. But the sexual/romantic aspect of the relationship kept them in it. You think – I knew I shouldn’t have slept with them but I did t anyway?
Sex and romance are powerful and they will rule you.
How many are being ruled by pornography? You are enslaved to it? How many are heading to bars knowing they are liable to make a decision they will wake up to regret the next day?
How many, in an effort to chase the romantic ideal – have tried to turn themselves into something they aren’t just to get that person to stay interested in them?
How many have given themselves sexually to another in an effort to keep them?
And as a long time youth pastor – it pains me when I see young people stay with one another in an obviously unhealthy over dependent relationship because – they have given themselves to their boyfriend sexually and now cannot stand to think they made a mistake. It’s too humiliating to leave and do what they know needs to be done.
I always tell students that Guys are great but they make lousy Gods. Girls are great but they make lousy gods. So people get shackled into bad relationships because we have made an idol out of romance or sex. And when we make sex and romance the ideal – it rules us. It devours us. It dehumanizes US!
Lastly – when we turn sex and romantic love into an idol – It always disappoints
I want to point to one story in the bible that, I think, shows us the problem of placing on others, what ought only to be given to God. And I owe Tim Keller, and his book Counterfeit Gods, for this excellent insight into an ancient story that we find all the way back in the book of Genesis, chapter 29.
This is the sad story of Jacob and Rachel and Leah – and this story illustrates how it is possible to make romantic love and marriage into an idol.
The story is of Jacob, a schemer who is on the run – he is running away from his family. He had just puled off the ultimate robbery. He stole the lions share of his father’s estate by duping his witless brother. Then he pulls a grand scheme on his father to get from his father a blessing that belonged to his brother. With his bridges in the family now burned, Jacob is running for his life.
In his travels, he meets Rachel at a well. Jacob has no one. He meets Rachel – and she is described as being “lovely in form and very beautiful.” This is the 2000 BC way of writing that Rachel was hot.
Jacob was over the top infatuated with Rachel right away. I’ve got to have her. And he will do anything to make her his wife. And in the custom of the time he had to pay a dowry for her hand – and he says to her father, I’ll work for you for seven years for her. An enormous price – way way over the top. But Jacob was smitten.
Chapter 29:20 says that Jacob served seven years but it felt like only a few days because of his love and desire for Rachel. This seems like a prince charming story, but there are hints that there is more going on here than maybe it seems. Verse 21 is a rather graphic statement coming from an ancient text. It says that when the seven years were up, Jacob turns to his father in law – and says, “Give me my wife. My time is completed and I want to lie with her.”
Listen, this is an interesting turn of phrase. I’m friendly with my father in law but I don’t know if I’ve ever said, I want to have sex with your daughter.” But this is exactly what he says to Laban.
Tim Keller writes that “The narrator is showing us a man overwhelmed with emotional and sexual longing for one woman. Why? Because Jacob’s life was empty. He never had his father’s love. He lost his beloved mother’s love. He certainly had no sense of God’s love and care. Then he beheld the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, and he must have said to himself, “If I had her, finally, something would be right in my miserable life.”
How many people in our society are consumed with finding ‘their soul mate.” What does that mean? The one who will complete me?
Well the story goes on… the night of the wedding – the schemer Jacob gets conned himself. When night falls, it gets dark, Jacob perhaps a little drinking at the wedding? Goes into the wedding quarters to be with his wife. But Laban doesn’t send Rachel in – instead he sends his older daughter Leah.
Who was Leah? Well, if Rachel was lovely in form and very beautiful, it simply says of Leah that she was weak eyes. What exactly does that mean? Not easy on the eyes? Not lovely in form? Not beautiful?
So Jacob enters the tent thinking he is about to receive the one thing that will complete him and fulfill him and make everything okay. And check out this verse Genesis 29:25, “When morning came, there was Leah!”
Now listen – this is important. Whether you desire sex, or you desire romance, if you desire anything or anyone to do for you what only God can do for you – then you are going to be disappointed. You are going to think you have gone to bed with Rachel, and you will get up and it will always be Leah.
No person can do for your soul, what God can do. Only God can affirm and validate you. But the world has pushed aside God – the source of infinite love and are reaching to one another to carry the weight of their deepest hopes and longings, and they cannot do it.
There are plenty of people in this world who are looking on Saturday night for that one who will complete them – they thought they found their Rachel – and they have given themselves to another with the idea that I have finally found that one who completes me – and behold – its Leah.
The problem with elevating sex and romance to the level our society has done is that it is asking something from it that it cannot deliver. But even more problematic – sex is purposely powerful.
So that’s how we are answering the question today. Sex and the pursuit of romantic love are easily made idols that will cause immense pain and devastation when allowed to overflow the banks of their purpose.
Chase God with all your heart. When you are married allow your intimacy to bond you, powerfully and soulfully, and let’s not forget… frequently. Can I get an amen!