Prescription for Sexual Sanity

This has to be one of the best sermons done on having a healthy view of sex and sexuality. I believe this is from the 2001 Harding Lectures and it is by Don McLaughlin from the North Atlanta Church of Christ. I can’t remember if it was Philip or Daniel who brought this tape to my attention. Thanks to Don for permission to upload this.

Prescription for Sexual Sanity

Ripening Issues in the Church of Christ – Pornography

Another repeated message of the college rally last weekend was that many college students are struggling with pornography addictions. In Randy Harris and Chris Seidman’s question and answer period many of the questions submitted were related to pornography. When fully grown pornography becomes an addiction that can be as powerful as crack cocaine. The behavioral reinforcements that come from the resulting neurotransmitters released upon viewing pornography largely mimic what is produced by drugs like crack.

The Danger of Addiction:

One of the best definitions of addiction I have ever heard is that non-addicts love people and use objects and addicts use people and love objects. Addiction is a distortion of reality and a reshuffling of priorities that results from feeding unhealthy patterns of behavior and the subsequent release of neurotransmitters that brings pleasure from the activity or substance. Like any other sin it is taking something God made for good, sex, and using it in a way it was not intended to be used. Sex is something to be shared in the context of marriage. When it is it is being used as it was intended good results. When it is used outside of marriage or when it is used inside of marriage in a way not intended (ie – with an image alone rather than with your spouse together) it produces deadly spiritual consequences. I believe it was James Dobson who gave the image of godly vs. ungodly sex and sexuality being like a fire in a house. When it is put in the fireplace in the living room, where it was intended to go, it brings light and warmth and goodness but when it is on the couch in the living room, it destroys the whole house. Sex inside the context of marriage is a beautiful thing but when it is abused it can be deadly.

Renewing a Healthy Sense of Sexuality:

We need to renew our sense of healthy sex and sexuality. Our young people have been surrounded by unhealthy images of what it means to be sexy and what the norms are of expressing that sexuality. Where has the voice of the church been on helping our young people get a healthy view of their sexuality? Many have been silent. Many have acted like it is yucky or a taboo subject that is “off limits.” So where do young people go for their information? They don’t have to look any further than the magazine rack at the checkout aisle or the television and movies that are readily accessible (not to mention the internet). We have to start talking about this with our young people in our homes AND churches from an early age. To keep silent is to passively allow a death sentence on our children. We have to renew in our families and churches a healthy sexuality and it needs to start with our men. We need to hear it in our Bible classes, small groups, and from the pulpit. But won’t someone get embarrassed? Of course they will but wouldn’t you rather someone get embarrassed than someone get addicted?

Shon Smith illustrated this situation being like a tourist who traveled to the Nile River. He saw all these people sunbathing on the shore and they were mangled, missing arms and legs. All of a sudden he saw how it had happened. A crocodile come out of the river and bit one of the sunbathers leaving them disfigured and mangled. But no one moved. No one seemed surprised. They just stayed right there and continued to be attacked by the crocodiles. He yelled, “Why don’t you move?!? Why do you just sit there and get devoured by the crocodiles…why doesn’t someone do something? Don’t you know this is killing you?” But they just sat there.

We need some people shouting about this. We need some people raising their voices about how devastating this can be. We need to be made aware of how prevalent this problem actually is – not over there somewhere but right there in your church, in your home, among your family and friends. And like I have said over and over again here, we need safe places to talk about these things where we can express who we really are and what we really struggle with and find accountability and love rather than judgment and wrath.

Sexual Purity and Parallels With Our Relationship with God

Scripture often uses things that we already know about in order to help us gain insights into things that we have not yet experienced. Jesus compares the kingdom of God to a mustard seed. Heaven is said to have streets of gold and gates of pearl. The church’s/Christians’ relationship with God as being his bride. It is not that we will have a complete husband/wife relationship with Christ in heaven. It does mean that there are parallels with a marital relationship in terms of love, faithfulness, and purity in our relationship with Christ. In Revelation, the consummation of all creation occurs when the church is finally wed to the bridegroom, Christ. In Revelation 19:6-9 John writes,

“6Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
“Hallelujah!
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
7Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
8Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)

9Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”

In John 14:1-4, Jesus says he is going to prepare a place for his disciples that they will eventually get to come and be a part of. He says that in his Father’s house there are many rooms (NIV) or plenty or room (TNIV). Jesus may be referring to his patriolocal society in which following marriage the newly married couple often lived near the eldest male relative of the husband’s family. Some households would even have wings of the house for the male children’s families. Jesus is saying that when he leaves the earth and goes back to heaven he will be going to his Father’s house to make preparation for our arrival. It also reminds us that just as their identity was focused on the eldest father, our identity is focused on our heavenly Father. We will dwell with him, in his house.

But something has to happen first. We have to be married to his Son. Because he is holy his bride has to be holy as well. Scripture describes sin as spiritual adultery (Hosea for example). Because all have sinned we have a HUGE problem when it comes time to be united with the groom because we are not spiritual virgins due to our spiritual adultery. When the bride and groom come together to consummate their new marriage it is important that the woman (in a spiritual sense, the church) be found a virgin. If she was not, the shame of that situation would be made known and the penalty was death.

Following the wedding ceremony the husband and wife go to consummate their relationship and the truth is exposed – she is not a virgin! What does Jesus do for his church at that point? He lovingly assures her that her shame will not be exposed and she will indeed not face the death penalty. No one else will find out because he will give the evidence of her virginity by his own blood as a sign of her purity. Through the blood of the bridegroom the sins and prior unfaithfulness of the bride are removed and we are then able to live in relationship with God and Christ forever.

What an amazing thing God has done by forgiving our sins. It was not easy task. It did not come at an easy price. He took our shame, the shame we should have endured by having the truth of our spiritual adultery exposed…he took upon himself. Praise be to God for his mercy and grace! Praise be to God that he was willing to cover our shame and nakedness. Praise God for his faithfulness even when our faithfulness was lacking. Don’t you know how committed a bride who has been through that with her groom would be committed to being faithful to him?

(HT: Kathy Cherry for pointing some of this out to me.)