Yesterday I wrote about fire and duct tape and sex.
They are all great things in the right context, but can cause problems in the right context.
We were looking at 1 Thessalonians 4 and Paul’s instruction to “abstain sexual immorality.” As I explained yesterday, sex is something God designed to strengthen and reinforce the connection between a husband and wife and it is a beautiful, wonderful thing in that unique context. But it’s a very dangerous thing when taken out of that context.
What we don’t usually stop to think about is that sex, when taken outside of the context of a committed marriage, can cause a great deal of collateral damage.
What am I talking about?
We know that babies come from sex. When sex is taken outside of the marriage context, babies can be conceived without the loving family to support, care for, and nurture that child.
Sexually transmitted diseases, as the term plainly explains, come from and are passed on through sexual activity. When sex is taken outside of the marriage context, those things get passed around from person to person to person. When sex is kept in the marriage context, there is almost no chance of those diseases entering into the relationship.
But this barely scratches the surface of the potential collateral damage. In the very next verse in 1 Thessalonians, Paul seems to be warning us about the problems cause by the misuse of this good gift:
“… That no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you” (1 Thess 4.6).
I know, that verse doesn’t make any reference to the sexuality issues that we have been discussing. However, it is the continuing thought from the previous few verses. When he writes, “in this matter,” he is referring to the issue of sexual immorality. He urges that they (and we) not “transgress and wrong his brother in this matter.” You see, our sexuality, when taken out of the context for which God designed it, doesn’t just hurt us. It hurts everyone around us.
The very nature of sex requires another person. Even in acts of self-gratification, there is most always another body in mind. We can easily overlook the danger because we don’t recognize the emotional impact of our sexuality.
Paul warns us not to wrong our brother. While I don’t believe he is speaking merely of the males around us or even the spiritual brothers, but rather the people with whom we are sharing life—especially in our faith families. When we begin to entertain sexual thoughts and eventually actions outside of the context of marriage, it affects the way we see people and interact with people around us.
If a man entertains sexual thoughts about a woman that isn’t his wife, according to Jesus he has already committed in his heart the loathsome act of adultery (Matt 5.27-28). That affects the way he sees and cares for that woman. It affects the way he sees and cares for her husband. It affects the man’s relationship with his own wife as well. There is a great deal of collateral damage to be found. And that’s before there has been any action that goes with it.
The damage that has become so incredibly prevalent in families all over the world because of misused sexual appetites is, it seems to me, epidemic. It affects all of us.
Maybe today you’re reading this and you’re beginning to wonder how much collateral damage you have caused or how much of it you have experienced in your own life. But I want you to know something very, very important. I serve a God of immeasurable grace and goodness who is and has always been in the business of restoring damaged and broken people. His great grace can and will heal up the damage and help us overcome the hurts. All we have to do is invite Him into the brokenness and let Him direct our steps through the trap-riddled landscape of this beautiful broken world.
Our unwillingness to let Him direct and protect this very significant and special aspect of our lives will put us in a dangerous place and produce an alarming amount of collateral damage. But turning it over to His guidance will make it the best it can possibly be.
Father, you created us and our sexual appetites. Help us to trust You and to genuinely believe that Your design is the very best for us. Lead us—even in this most personal and sensitive aspect of our life.