The Big Idea: Sex is too dangerous to be played with and to sacred to be exploited.
How do we treat sex the way God wants us to when we live in a sex-saturated and sex-perverted culture? Actually, the culture of the New Testament was not really all that different from ours. So how did they think about sex and what difference did that make for them? And how can we find freedom and joy in the middle of the temptation and struggle?
Sex and the Man in the Mirror
Good morning, men. It is a joy to be with you this morning in this new year. It is exciting to think about the opportunities to kind of restart some things and maybe do some things differently for those of us who identified a few things we’d like to be different in 2016 than they were in 2015. What better than to start the new year talking about sex? I mean, I don’t know about you guys, but come on. I was joking with Steve that I’m not sure that we’re going to be able to contain all the people that want to come hear Pat Morley talk about it. We may have to open up some new locations or something about that.
You know, the reality is, of course, that sexuality is such a huge part of our culture. It’s such a huge part of who we are as men. It’s really, really important that we understand it and that we understand what God’s design for our sexuality is. We’ll find that that then ends up touching so many other aspects of our lives. The principles that apply there apply in many other places as well.
We are going to be looking at Romans chapter 13, Romans chapter 13, verse 11 and following. “Besides this, you know the time that the hour has come for you to awake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone, the day is at hand, so then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh to gratify its desires.” May God add understanding to the reading of his Holy Word.
Well, I wanted to kind of get started this year with a little bit of a competition. We’re men. Sex is a three letter word. Here’s what we’re going to do. At your tables, we’re going to have a three letter word contest. If you only have one guy at your table, two guys, you might want to temporarily join up with somebody else. You might want to pull your chairs kind of to one side of the table so you can whisper a little bit and not give away the answers to the other tables. What’s going to happen is I’m going to give you a definition. We’ve got ten words. Every table needs a scorekeeper so go ahead and volunteer to be a scorekeeper. Turn your sheet of paper over. If you can figure out the three letter word before I give it to you, honor system. If your table can figure out the three letter word before I give it to you, you get the points. There’s going to be a fantastic prize for the winning table this morning.
What is that about? You’re skeptical. I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it.
Here we go. Are you ready? The three letter word quiz. Whisper at your tables. Talk lowly. I’m only going to give you about fifteen seconds, twenty seconds, so you’re going to have to do it quick. The first ones should be a little bit easier than the last ones. Here we go.
To direct or to point in a direction. Talk. Share. All right. You ready? Three, two, one. Aim. If you got it, put down your points. Remember to speak quietly at your tables. Don’t give it away to other tables.
Here we go. Are you ready? Toward the stern. Toward the stern. Don’t give it away to everybody else. Toward the stern. Three, two, one. Aft. I’m hearing it too loudly up here. You’re going to have to whisper, guys.
A boy. A boy. Quietly. Okay. Very quietly. What do you think? A boy. Write down your points if you got the first two. Three, two, one. Lad. Okay. Lad.
A large, flightless bird. A large, flightless bird. Okay. Write down your points if you got them. If you got your points so far, make sure you got a scorekeeper keeping track of them. Three, two, one. A large, flightless bird is an emu.
To make someone annoyed or frustrated. This is five points. To make someone annoyed or frustrated. Okay. To make someone annoyed or frustrated. Remember to whisper at your tables, keep track of your points. Got about another five seconds here. Anybody got it yet? Whisper at your tables. Three, two, one. Vex. We’ll give you “irk” if you thought of “irk”. Okay. We’ll give you “irk.”
All right. You ready? We’re still going. We got five more. Here we go. Another five pointer. To chatter or talk. To chatter or talk for five points. Three letter word. To chatter or talk. Okay. Whisper at your tables. Whisper at your tables. Three, two, one. Gab. Okay.
Keep track of those points. To put a curse on. To put a curse on. Three letter word. To put a curse on. Make sure you’re tracking those points. Here we go. Three, two, one. Hex.
For five points. A brimless felt hat worn by men in North Africa. A felt hat worn by men in North Africa. Three letter word. Keep track of your points. Three, two, one. Fez. Okay.
All right. This is for seven points. An insect egg usually found in hair. An insect egg usually found in hair. Here we go. It’s a three letter word. An insect egg usually found in hair for seven points. Anybody get it? Three, two, one. A nit.
Okay. Here we go. The last one for nine points. For nine points. To know. To know. Anybody get a three letter word for to know? Nine points. Five more seconds. Three, two, one. Ken. Ken.
Add up your point totals for me. Add up your point totals for me. How did we do? Who’s got more than fifteen points? Raise your hands if you got more than fifteen points. More than sixteen points? Seventeen points? Eighteen points? Nineteen points? Twenty points? Twenty-one points? Twenty-two points? Twenty-three points? Twenty-four points? Twenty-five points. My goodness. Twenty-six points? Twenty-seven points? Twenty-eight? Twenty-nine? Thirty? Thirty-one? Thirty-two? What did you get?
Thirty-one. What do you have? Thirty-four. What do y’all have? Thirty-six. Oh my goodness. Can anybody beat thirty-six? We have a winner. Here we go. Here’s your prize. Here’s your prize. What we’re going to do is we’re going to take a selfie with me and when this message is posted on the internet, your picture will be up there on my Facebook. I don’t know about you guys, but the rest of you are probably pretty jealous at this point, aren’t you? Here we go. Are you ready? Get in there. Get in there, team. Here they are, the winners. All right. Great. Awesome.
Let’s go back to our other three letter word this morning. That is the idea of sex. You know, if you think about our culture today, sex has really gone wild. Sex has gone wild in our culture. Particularly for some of us are a little bit older and many of you are quite a bit older than I am, you’ve seen a huge transition from the sexual revolution of the 1960s all the way to where we are today. A huge transition in our culture.
Pornography has become incredibly pervasive and with the rise of technology, has become ubiquitous. It’s everywhere. It’s easily accessible. It’s not just pornography. The sexual revolution and free love and many people’s different approaches to the whole idea of sex and sex just being an activity like any other activity and I should be able to participate in it whenever I want. Then, we had cultures changing views of marriage for awhile. Although, ironically, that’s kind of coming back now. There was a lot of movements towards open marriages and all those kinds of things where sexuality wasn’t an integral part of necessarily a marriage relationship. Then, it goes on into things like television. Again, many of us have seen changes in what is allowed to be shown on television or what you see in regular movies or the billboards that are out there and all these different things that we deal with in our culture. It’s a hyper sexualized kind of thing.
What happens is that of course we are affected by that. We can’t help but be affected by that. I was talking to a younger believer and we were talking about a movie or something. I mentioned that somebody told me that it was pretty racy. It was kind of inappropriate. This person said, “Well, I don’t know. They waited till they were married. Gosh, the way that they handled the presentation of it was so tasteful. You didn’t really see anything or whatever.” I said, “Yeah, except for God didn’t really want people to be watching when people are having sex.” That little minor detail, you know. Culturally, it’s like, “If they don’t show a whole bunch of stuff and if they’re married then it’s really, really appropriate,” because of where we are and how we moved in our culture.
The interesting thing about it is the way that scripture addresses this problem. Many of us look at the 1950s or the 1900s or the kind of puritan Victorian era and we kind of think that’s how people have always thought about sex. In reality, that was an anomaly. Look at what scripture does. I’ll just take you to one passage here, one book, 1 Peter. If you want to turn with me, feel free to. 1 Peter chapter 2, 1 Peter chapter 2 verse 11. “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh which wage war against your soul. I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh which wage war against your soul.” What are these passions of the flesh that Peter is warning us about? Turn over to chapter 4 verse 3. “For the time that has passed suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.”
Peter is saying, “I want you to abstain from the passions of the flesh. I want you to live such a good life,” I didn’t read that part, “live such a good life among the Gentiles that they recognize that God has worked in your life.” What does that mean? Verse 4:3. It means to not do what the Gentiles are doing, which is living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.
How many times do you think the Bible, the New Testament, talks about immorality? If you had to guess, what number would come to your mind? It’s over 100 times in the New Testament that it talks about sexual immorality, adultery, impurity, sensuality, orgies, over 100 times. What’s happening in our culture today, it feels crazy to us, but it’s nothing new. It’s really not anything new. 300 years before Jesus, Demosthenes wrote this, “We keep prostitutes for pleasure. We keep concubines for the day to day needs of the body. We keep wives for the begetting of children and for the faithful guardianship of our homes.” He just wrote it. Not ashamed of it. I will not put on video for the record who’s voice came out there.
This is nothing new. What we’re dealing with, sex gone wild, is something that’s been happening throughout history. It’s also interesting when you look at the scriptures how often the idea of sexual immorality and drunkenness go together. Some people think, “Oh, the Bible doesn’t apply today. The Bible doesn’t apply today.” Let me just show you one simple way that the Bible has a lot of great answers for us. Think about the problem we have on college campuses today with sexual assault.
I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but it’s a huge problem. It’s a huge problem from how do we deal with it, why is it happening, how do we report it, how do we investigate it, all this stuff. Colleges are getting sued and being accused of covering things up, all kinds of crazy stuff is happening. Let’s just think about the situation that we’re dealing with. We’re taking young, eighteen, nineteen, twenty year olds full of hormones, we’re getting them drunk, and putting them in compromising positions with one another and then we’re asking them to figure out the next morning who did what and said what and how did something happen. That’s a nightmare. Guess what? Two thousand years ago, the Bible said, “Avoid drunkenness and sexual immorality.” Two thousand years ago, the writers of scripture knew that mixing drunkenness with sexual temptation was a bad idea. Today, in our sophisticated society, we’re trying to figure out how to deal with that on college campuses.
The Bible tells us that sex is not something to be played with. Think about a fire. We’re in our Florida winter, although that’s a little bit of joke, certainly this year. A fire is beautiful in a fireplace. There’s probably almost nothing as relaxing and fun and just great to look at and it’s awesome to be able to stand in front of and feel that warmth on a cold day. It’s beautiful in a fireplace. Now, imagine taking that exact same fire, those same logs, same flames, same everything, and moving it eight feet out into the center of your den. All of sudden, that fire’s not so pretty anymore, is it? That fire is incredibly dangerous when it’s in the wrong place. Sex is like that fire. It’s not something to be played with.
I remember, like everybody, my mom and dad said, “Don’t play with fire.” Do you remember that? Your mom and dad, “Hey, don’t play with fire. Don’t play with those matches. Fire is dangerous.”
Well, we have some family property over in South Carolina. When I was about eight or ten years old, we were doing a little bit of a controlled burn to burn down some brush and things like that. It was my job to watch a certain area to make sure that the fire didn’t jump across the road and get into the field or anything like that. I can still remember to this day that as I was kind of walking up and down and looking and making sure that the fire wasn’t getting too close. We had big green branches that we could kind of beat down on anything we saw trying to get into the road.
I turned around and looked back and all of a sudden, I saw in the field flames and smoke behind me in my area. I still remember what it felt like. I thought I was going to kill everybody in the state of South Carolina. It was all over, in my opinion. I mean, I was screaming. My dad and brother come. It looked almost exactly like this, just going up a hill. We were able to kind of get out there and contain it. I mean, it burned maybe a hundred yards or something up into this field. For a six year old, eight year old, it was a big deal. Just the fear that that brought because I knew how dangerous that fire could be. When it’s not contained, it’s incredibly dangerous.
The same thing is true about our sexuality. What’s happening in our culture today, and it’s so sad. It’s so sad to see people taking something that should be so good and using it to destroy themselves. Taking something that should be so good and using … Just yesterday, I think it was, or two days ago, a Christian celebrity who had gotten a divorce in the last few years released a statement talking about his issues and what had lead to that and the affair that he got involved in and all those things. Taking something good and allowing it to destroy us. That’s what’s happening to people all around us in our culture today because we’re playing with something that what not meant to be played with.
Why is sex so powerful? Have you ever thought about that? Why is sex so powerful? It has such an incredible draw on us as men. It affects our brains. We now know that looking at pornography and giving into the various forms of sexual temptation actually rewires the dopamine centers of our brains. I mean, there’s so much involved in the fact that sex touches us at the very core of our manhood. People innately recognize this in our culture. They may pretend that sex is just an activity that you can do like anything else, but the reality is that we know deeply that it’s something different.
Think about the F word. That’s a curse, obviously. It’s really not that obvious. I mean, think about that. That’s a loving expression of intimacy with another human being and we’ve turned that into a curse. Let’s think about this. Hug. A hug’s a nice thing, right? Can you imagine, “Hug you! Hug you, man!” Feeding someone. That’s nice. That’s a good thing to do. “Feed you, buddy!” Maybe somebody breaks an arm and you give them a splint so we turn that into a curse word. “Splint you!” It doesn’t make any sense. How in the world does that become a curse? It becomes a curse because innately people know that it is so special and it’s so sacred that to defame it is offensive, to defame it is offensive.
People want to offend, they want to shock, and so they take something that’s special and sacred and they treat it as profane. That’s how it becomes profanity. People know that sex is special. It borderlines on blasphemy to defame it the way that we do in our culture. It’s the same reason people make a curse out of Jesus Christ. How could you possibly make a curse word out of Jesus Christ? Because it’s meant to profane something that’s sacred and holy.
1 Corinthians chapter 6 verse 15, “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never. Do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her, for as it is written that two will become one flesh. The one who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.”
You see, the scriptures say that we are joined to Christ. That is the deeper reality that sexuality actually represents. Becoming one flesh with a woman is a image, it’s a representation, it’s an analogy to the oneness, first of all, of the trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together, but secondly, the union, the oneness we have with Jesus Christ. This is why the scriptures talk about the church, the people of the church, being the bride of Christ. We have been united to him. We have been made one with him. Paul over and over again, the New Testament, “We are in Christ.”
That, of course, is really the essence of the transformation that happens in us when we turn away from our sin and when we put our faith in Jesus Christ. God no longer looks at us and sees us by ourselves. He now looks at us and sees us united to the person of Jesus Christ. We get the forgiveness that comes through his death. We get the righteousness that comes through his obedience. We get the power that comes through his resurrection. We get the comfort that comes through the Holy Spirit How does all that happen? It happens because we have become on with Jesus. We are united with Jesus. This is what happens when we put our faith and trust in him. What this scripture is saying is that to take someone who has become united with Jesus and try to unite that in an inappropriate way with somebody else, become one flesh with a prostitute, to use sexuality in an invalid way, is really a violation of that unity that we have with Jesus Christ. It’s profaning something that’s supposed to be sacred.
There was, a couple years ago, you may have seen this. It was in the news for a little while. There’s a restaurant in Kansas City called Voltaire. Some people were meeting across the street. A husband and wife were having a business meeting and they went onto Yelp and they found that this restaurant had really good reviews. The wife called over and said, “Hey, we’re having a meeting over here. It’s going to continue. We’re in a boardroom. We’d like to get some takeout food.” The person at the restaurant said, “We don’t do takeout food.” She said, “I understand, but if you don’t mind, you can just prepare this. We’ll come over. We’ll pick it up. We’ll carry it back over here and we’ll eat it in the conference room.” “Well, we don’t send our food out like that.” She says, “Well, my husband’s a lawyer and he’s going to get on the phone.” The person says, “Well, fine.” The husband gets on, “We want takeout. We go to New York all the time and restaurants do this for us.” The person says, “Well, I’m glad that you guys get to travel. That’s really neat, but we don’t do takeout food.”
The husband and wife end up putting this very, very negative review on Yelp, the restaurant services review app. The owner of the restaurant ends up responding. He says, “On our Yelp description, it says very clearly that we do not do takeout. Our chef works hard to produce the food that he produces and he wants to present it to customers in our restaurant on a plate with the way that he wants it to look at the temperature that he wants them to enjoy it. We don’t have to give that food as takeout food if we don’t want to.” He goes on to give the example, “It would be like if this gentlemen had told me he was a tax attorney and I called him up and I said I wanted him to handle my divorce.” “Well, I’m a tax attorney.” “I don’t care. I want you to do my divorce.” “Well, tax attorneys don’t do divorces.” “Well, they do in New York. I’ve worked with tax attorneys in New York all the time that do divorces.” I mean, just an incredible review. It was hilarious. That’s what made it blow up.
The point is this. That restaurant believed that what they were creating for their customers was too special to be thrown into a takeout box. It’s too special to be thrown into a takeout box. That’s the reality with our sexuality. Sex is not meant to be thrown into a takeout box. That’s what’s happening in our culture all the time. It’s being commoditized, turned into something that you can consume on demand. It’s too powerful to be used the way our culture wants to use it. It is something that can destroy us if we don’t use it the way that God wants us to.
What’s the heart of the matter? Well, our attitude towards sex is a reflection of what’s going on in our hearts. Back at that passage in Romans chapter 13, where we started today, it says in verse 14, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Then, back in the passage we just read from 1 Corinthians, it talked about joined with Jesus Christ. Does that joined language remind you of anything? Can you think of anywhere else it talks about things being joined in the scriptures? Adam and Eve, right? All the way back to creation, they were joined together. This is the same Greek word that was used in the Greek translations of that Old Testament passage. What it’s saying is that marriage and sexuality are a deep expression of the kind of oneness that we have through that relationship with Jesus Christ. It literally means to be glued together, to be glued together. We have become truly one flesh.
When we fool around with sex, we’re disrespecting our relationship with Christ. If we’re married, we’re disrespecting and violating that union that we have with our spouse. It’s just dangerous.
If you’re here today and you’re stuck in temptation and it seems to just be dragging at you. It could be pornography. It could be relationships. It could be chat rooms. It could be all kinds of things. It’s dragging at you. It’s holding you around your ankles. Let me just encourage you, do whatever it takes to get free. Don’t fool around with this. Do not fool around with this. Every lie has an expiration date, as a preacher has said. Every lie has an expiration date.
The reality is that we have to ask the question of what’s going on in our hearts. What do I think looking at naked women is going to do for me that Jesus can’t do? That’s the deeper question. What am I getting from this that I don’t believe that God can provide to me through righteous means?
Maybe you’re just putting your toes in the water. Maybe you have started a little friendship with a woman and there’s a spark there or maybe you’re watching some things you shouldn’t or contemplating thinking about some things you shouldn’t. Whatever it is, think about, “Where does this end up in six months? Where does this end up in six years?” If the trajectory continued the way it’s been going for the last month or the last three months, where would you be in six years? The time to stop that is now, not after you’ve already got all those devastating consequences.
You know, I’ve never met a single man who got involved in an affair because he was walking down the street, saw a woman he thought was pretty, and just rented a hotel room. Almost never happens like that. It’s a long series of putting ourselves into compromising positions, taking little steps that we justify in our minds and our hearts, and then over a period of time, we find ourselves in a place that we never would imagine that we could be.
We have to ask ourselves, “What do we think the thrill of that relationship is going to do for us that Jesus won’t do?” It’s really about faith, it’s really about idolatry, it’s about looking to something other than Jesus Christ to satisfy our hearts. At the end of the day, they never will. This is why we see so many people in our culture who are gorging themselves on sexuality, who are gorging themselves on money or work. This is why I’ve said the principles apply in so many different aspects of our lives. Trying to have the perfect family, trying to have the super athletic kids. All these different things really mirror the sexual aspects of our lives, the way that our culture has sort of sensationalized all these things and shoves them down our throat to overflowing. Why? Because I’m hoping that the next little bit will be the thing that finally satisfies.
The truth is and the big idea today is that sex is too dangerous to be played with and too sacred to be exploited. Sex is too dangerous to be played with and too sacred to be exploited. Sex is something beautiful that God has given to us. If you’re married, love your wife well. Focus on her. Treat sex as a way to honor her and to glorify Jesus Christ. This is a beautiful thing that he has given us that is something that he wants us to enjoy appropriately. Don’t just gratify yourself, but do what 1 Corinthians 6:20 says. “You were bought with a Christ. Glorify God with your body.”
Sex is so beautiful when used the way God wants us to use it and it’s so deadly when we try to experience it on our own terms. Jesus has so much more for us than some greasy food thrown into a plastic Styrofoam container. He wants us to enjoy the real gift, the real chef’s meal that he provides as he allows us to experience sexuality the way that he designed it for our joy and his glory. Let’s pray.
Father, we thank you so much for this morning and I thank you for these men. Lord, as we think about what’s happening in our culture today, we do see so many people that are choking on sexuality. We are being inundated with images and ideas and, Lord, so many people are looking to sex to somehow satisfy the deepest needs of their hearts. We know that it never can because it was never meant to do that. Only you can do that.
Lord, I pray for every man that’s here, every man that’s watching, that you would help us to examine our own hearts to see where are we playing with something that we shouldn’t be playing with. How are we treating sex as something to be exploited, something to be used for our own desires? Lord, would you help us to understand that you want us to give ourselves away to our spouse, if we’re married? You want us to serve and honor her even in the area of sexuality. If we’re single, Lord, I pray that you would protect our hearts, that we would worship you more than we want to gratify the desires of our flesh. That we would remember that we have been joined to Jesus Christ.
If there are men watching today that have never come to that place, where they’ve asked you to forgive them of their sins, where they have turned away from looking to things like pornography or sexuality to satisfy them, that today would be the day, Lord, that you would draw them to yourself, that you would help them see that only Lord Jesus, only you, can really satisfy, only you can forgive us, only you can restore us and make us whole, only you can give us the power to be the men that you’ve called us to be. Lord, we put our faith and trust in you. We ask you to do in us what only you can do. For your glory, we pray in Jesus’ name, amen.