As the weed of secularization continues spreading its roots through the belly of western civilization, Christians must be active and vocal when discerning the damaging effects on our society’s sexual ethic. Confused, disoriented, and unable to draw a straight line between wrong and right – our culture’s moral compass is spinning out of control. 2017 granted us no shortage of examples to demonstrate that society is altogether ignoring scripture’s warnings about licentious sexual behavior. Undeniably, we are drunk and lost at sea in a ship named Moral Relativism.
Moral relativism, collateral damage from secularization and postmodernism, looks past Christianity’s objectivism and appeals to the culture to govern its morality and sexuality. It fantasizes we’re more informed than our prude religious ancestors. Empirically, we’ve grown and evolved into a superior version of our species. Add to that a growing list of gender and sexual orientations and even science is now unable to accurately define someone’s sexuality. The metaphorical doors of the sexual revolution are open wide enough for almost anyone to fit inside – except Jesus.
The exclusivity of Jesus’ sexual ethics and person stands in stark contrast to the inclusivity of the sexual and moral revolutions. Jesus requires holiness and warns of judgement for anything less. Many liberal Christian denominations are rejecting the demands Jesus puts on His church in the name of “love” and “inclusivity”. Nevertheless, the only objective source (holy scripture) by which we can understand Christ’s message on sexuality is clear: sex is reserved for the marriage bed and only to be between a man and woman. Without exclusivity in our sexuality and morality, we risk misrepresenting the gospel and the person of Jesus. It is the duty of the church to preach this truth boldly in the darkness.
The Treasure of Exclusivity and The Person of Jesus
As many have, I collected sports cards in my youth. Though getting some of your favorite players and teams was exciting, the most rewarding moment was when you opened a new pack and obtained an extremely rare card. The rarest of cards (and often some of the most valuable) were misprints. These were usually accidents at the factory that were not corrected before the product was packaged and shipped. Like a grammar Nazi finding an error in a published novel, finding an rare error card was the absolute Topps (pun intended).
Humanity has always used exclusivity to distinguish value. Speaking in generalities, something must be scarce if it is to have significant worth. This is true for currency, jewelry, athletic ability, consumer products, relationships, and technology; it is simple supply and demand. When we possess a lot of something in an unrestrained supply, it usually comes with a lesser intrinsic value. Exclusivity preserves integrity, promotes worth, and when understood in biblical terms – glorifies God.
The most evident example of this comes to us in the person of Jesus Christ. The world has never seen anything more exclusive than Jesus. God in the flesh and sinless; He has no equal. Although it is impossible to define God, there are countless words we may use to describe Him, but perhaps the most precise word we can offer up is “holy”. Jesus is certainly holy. He is unique, special, rare, perfect, sacred, and categorically separate from the rest of creation. Conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin, even His entrance into our world was unique. He performed miracles, read minds, and raised men from the dead. He smashed other religions that claimed to offer a route to God and declared Himself to be “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). He rose from the dead to secure an eternal salvation for those whom He purchased on the cross. Men and women for thousands of years have sought Him because He alone offers forgiveness, hope, and answers for our shame and guilt.
Aware of His uniqueness and exclusivity, Jesus compares Himself (and kingdom) to a great treasure. In Matthew 13:44-46, he says, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
But there is a problem. The treasure of Jesus’ holiness is so exclusive that sin cannot be in the presence of God; it must be punished and dealt with appropriately. As the people of Beth-Shemesh asked in 1 Samuel 6:20, we too must ask “Who can stand in the presence of the Lord, this holy God?” God’s exclusivity is too much for us.
One of the best examples of this comes to us in Luke 5, when Jesus joins a fishing Simon Peter. After hours with Peter yielding little to no success, Jesus tells Simon to “Put out into the deep and let your nets for a catch.” Simon, an experienced fisherman, replies, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” When they pulled up the results, “their nets were breaking” due to the number of fish in them. Simon Peter’s response to this miracle is very interesting. Verse 8 reads, “But when Simon Peter saw, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” Peter becomes instantly aware of his own sinfulness when faced with Jesus’ exclusivity.
Oh, that the western church would let this truth sink deep in her preaching! We need Christ preached as He is: holy, exclusive, and a perfect judge. Peter was instantly aware of the great chasm between Himself and Jesus. He would find out soon that the chasm created by Jesus’ exclusivity would be filled by Jesus as well.
In what has been called the great exchange, Christ bears our punishment and imputes to us His righteousness. By grace, through faith, He gifts us His exclusivity. His exemplary life becomes ours, and our death becomes His. Nevertheless, an exchange of this magnitude does not happen without evidence. Those who wear the righteousness of Jesus are constantly being sanctified by it. Jesus tells us that “you will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15b). Exclusivity begets exclusivity. Holiness produces sanctification. Salvation comes with good works (Ephesians 2:10). It’s critical for the church to embrace the exclusivity that clothes her.
If the church is to slow down moral relativism, she must preach the exclusive Jesus of the bible; the true Jesus. Only then will the treasure of Jesus be rightly seen. Liberal churches (under the pressure culture secularization) fantasize they have matured and grown beyond ethics of the bible, but in doing so they deny the holiness of the God that saved them. As those who profess the name of Christ, we are obligated to love the things Jesus loves and hate the things Jesus hates. He is the only permanent, magnetic-north for our world’s spinning moral compass.
The Temple of our Bodies and Sexual Immorality
If you have spent any time in the Christian culture, then I am sure you have heard the phrase, “ask Jesus into your heart.” It is used frequently for altar calls and to describe some professions of faith. While arguably of good intent, the phrasing could use some work. I once overheard someone draw attention to the error in this expression by commenting, “Ask Jesus into your heart? Why would He want to dwell in that black and nasty thing?”
When we are saved, God gives us a new heart. He washes us, purifies us, and creates a temple for the Holy Spirit to indwell. This is part of the great exchange I mentioned earlier. Our bodies become temples and instruments of worship for the only living God; they are not to be treated carelessly and/or abused. This is especially true when we think of sexual ethics. Sex is a profoundly personal and deeply spiritual act. Since its inception in The Garden of Eden, we have seen exclusivity demonstrated in sexuality. Jesus explains this plainly in Matthew 19:4-5, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”
Paul, in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, elaborates more on spiritual nature of sexuality, our bodies as the temple, and the unique dangers of sexual immorality:
He continues in verse 13:
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God….”
“The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. 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! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So, glorify God in your body.”
Paul, inspired by God, instructs on how we should handle sexual immorality: we should flee from it. A glance at the average western church might indicate that we have no idea what that word means. Not only are churches not fleeing from sexual immorality, but they are embracing it in their pulpits. It’s incredible to me that some argue Jesus and the bible support homosexuality! It’s one thing to deny scripture of possessing any authority for the modern day, yet another to twist the words in such a way you teach it endorses it. Sexual immorality has no place within the body of Christ, His church.
For clarity, I am not saying that anyone who has perpetrated sexual sins or endorses same-sex marriage can’t come to church. On the contrary, the church is a hospital and a place where the sinner is always welcome to attend. If sinlessness were the requirement to get in the door, all church buildings would be empty. The distinction I am attempting to make is in the message we give to those who enter. Are we telling them their sexual promiscuity is OK or are we telling them the truth? If we lie in the name of “love” and do not speak of the sins that God surely sees, we are not a friend; indeed, we are a deceiver, and the truth is not in us.
Inclusivity Destroys Our Eternal Purpose
A new “fruit” of the sexual revolution is deep confusion with our biological makeups. This is observed in an ever-growing list of sexual orientations and gender identities. When we remove Jesus’ ethics from its sexuality, not only do we “store up wrath for the day of judgement” (Romans 2:5), but we also deceive ourselves. There is purpose in God’s design and joy to be found in embracing the natural exclusivity of being biologically male or female; both are made in the image of God. Accepting our God-given identities is fulfilling, beautiful, and adds eternal purpose to our sexuality. Without a foundation of gender exclusivity, we will have a difficult time assigning meaning to lives and relationships. How can we know anything else if we don’t know ourselves?
One might argue that preserving a simple binary gender and heterosexual orientation flies against this logic. After all, as we add and develop new orientations there are additional options, more categories, and extra opportunities to be express uniqueness and God’s creativity. The problem with this argument is the same with gold versus fool’s gold; one is of real substance, but the other isn’t. Humanity will never be able to create a gender. As hard as we may try, this is a power unique to God. Any attempt to create original genders and sexual orientations are repeats of the first sin from the garden. We pridefully want to be God.
Sexual immorality and gender confusion tear us apart from understanding and fulfilling our roles in the world. A dolphin would never be content if it identified as armadillo; it would suffocate. It was designed and made with a unique ability to live where God placed it, the ocean. Everything in creation was made with a unique ability to live its own environment, and in doing so they glorify their maker. This is even more true for humans. After all, we are eternal beings with an enteral purpose. Perhaps this is best summed up in the first question of the Westminster Catechism.
Q. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever
We must embrace humanity’s exclusivity of being made in God’s image if we are to fulfill our chief end and “glorify God”.
An odd news story released a few months ago offers an interesting example of how an abandonment of exclusivity for unrestrained inclusivity becomes a slippery slope to aimlessness. This past summer, a Canadian elementary school offered inclusiveness training for their teachers. The training was aimed at helping teachers to “become more familiar with current language, sensitive to current issues, and share best practices in supporting their LGGBDBTTTIQQAAPP peers & students.”
That acronym is not a typo! For reference, it stands for: Lesbian, Gay, Genderqueer, Bisexual, Demisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Two-spirit, Intersex, Queer, Questioning, Asexual, Allies, Pansexual, and Polyamorous.
An attempt to bring dignity, meaning, and celebration to one’s sexual orientation (I’ll remind you again; these are elementary kids!) ends in a bizarre demonstration of inclusivity. First, sexuality should not be a focal point in school, much less 8-year-olds; that’s appalling and perverted (I’ll save that for another post). Secondly, how can any of these sexual identities be celebrated when they are amassed in a nonsensical open-ended, ever-growing acronym? Without exclusivity, we have no boundaries by which we can interpret and celebrate our own natural existence.
Entrusted with the oracles of God, Christians posses a unique insight into reality. The church is the lighthouse and pillar of truth our culture needs to be guided back to shore. Our opinions, ideals, and stances will be unpopular – probably to the point of intense persecution if “progress” continues – but this is our calling. We must boldly speak the truth about God, morals, sexuality, sin, judgement, hell, and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Despite being swept up in moral relativism, every person represented under the LGGBDBTTTIQQAAPP label is an individual made in the image of God. They are unique, eternal beings capable of extraordinary things. An acronym will never really define them – they are more remarkable than that! Yet, just like me they need the grace of Jesus to cover their sin. Outside of the saving grace of Jesus, we all remain covered by sin and under judgement – this is true regardless of anyone’s sexual orientation/identity.
The search for joy and acceptance many seek in the sexual revolution will only be found through embracing the grace and exclusivity of being reborn in Jesus. While He may be in direct opposition to all sexual immorality, He stands ready to forgive and those who come to Him. His holiness, power, and beauty will remain unmatched for all eternity. Jesus is the very essence of exclusivity, purpose, and truth. Seek Him while He still may be found!
Lastly, I want to state something very clearly. While I may not agree with the practice of homosexuality, and other non-binary sexual orientations, I do believe every person is worthy of the same respect, honor, and kindness. If given the opportunity, I would attempt to demonstrate the same level of kindness to anyone that crosses my path. Words of hatred and acts of violence aimed at someone because of their sexual choices have no place within Christianity. We might not agree on these topics, but we can disagree (even intensely) and maintain dialogue and mutual respect.
Authentic love always speaks the truth, even when it’s not easy.