Today’s blog is a guest post by Justin Campbell. Justin is a 40 year old single guy living and working in St. Louis. You can read more by him at his blog More Than Don’t Have Sex, where he writes about singleness, Jesus, the church, and how we can all be in it together.
About two weeks ago I was relaxing at a hotel bar where I often go to chat with friends or write this blog. I was just about to shut it down when a gentleman showed up who was from out of town. He sat down and started to share about why he was in town etc. Anyway after a while he asked if I had a family and I said no, but I was about to get married. He of course congratulated me and shared he had been married for 20 years. Then he said this, “Of course you know, that once you get married, you’ll have less sex.” I laughed. I sure as heck hope not, because we are not having sex now.
It was the same when I was in college. I was literally the only person in my suite of 9, that didn’t have sex my freshmen year. They used to joke about it. I was also the person they came to when stuff in their life was hard. They knew I was different.
You see we don’t just flee from sexual immorality for ourselves. It’s one of God’s ways of separating us out – as a witness. It’s not just about you and me and our little moral battle.
One of the big misconceptions that people have is that sexual immorality is worse today than at other points in history. There is the idea that all of a sudden it’s “crazy” out there and that marriage is being devalued etc.
This leads to a couple of problems. First, there a lot of people who think what the Bible says about sex is “old school” and not relevant for today. On the other hand the Church ends up running around shouting that the world is ending, making an idol out of the family and longing for the past (which I think is the 1950’s America).
Now it is true that American culture is changing. But none of this is new. Neither is our call to live differently than the culture.
When you look at the sexual practices that God lays out in the old testament it needs to be understood that God was giving them these specifics for a reason. That reason is that all the other societies in the Near East were not practicing them. When God says, don’t sleep with an animal, He says it because others were. He’s not making up random stuff. The Near Eastern cultures were crazy, even by our standards. People were having sex in every way, with everybody and everything. They even worshiped to it.
God was saying to the Israelites, “You will not be like them. You are my people and this will distinguish you.”
The same is true in Paul’s letter to Corinth. They had written Paul and they asked him what they should do. How should they practice sexuality and marriage now that they had Jesus? Paul starts that whole message by saying, “Now for the questions you asked about – here’s how to apply God’s teaching and live the way He would want in your context.” Which was a completely pagan and dualistic context. Sound familiar?
If we are going to flee from sexual immorality we have to define what that is. The good news is that currently most folks are not sleeping with animals or temple prostitutes (at least I’ve never been tempted by either). So in our day, we can’t just take one liners from the Bible and try to make them mean what we want them to. Instead, we need to take the overall meaning of sex, marriage, and celibacy in the scriptures (which is pretty dang clear) and apply that to our current context. In legal terms it’s like law and case law. How does the law apply to our case today?
But beyond that we need to realize that our call to flee from immorality is not just as a set of rules to keep us out of trouble. God called Israel out. He made them His people and commanded them to live in a way that demonstrated Him to the world. One of the ways they were to do this was by how they behaved sexually. Paul tells the early church the same thing. You are set apart. You were bought at a price. You are NEW and different. Live like it – in the light!
One of the reasons we fail is that even in our morality or lack there of, it’s all about us. That wasn’t really the point. God has bigger plans. When we are set apart, people are drawn to us. Want to be counter cultural? Want to make a difference? Want to point towards God. Live this area of your life differently than the world. It was true 4000 years ago and it’s true now.