Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Abstaining from Sexual Immorality

1 Thes. 4:1-8 (ESV)
Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to live and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. [2] For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. [3] For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; [4] that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, [5] not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; [6] 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. [7] For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. [8] Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

For this is the will of God, your sanctification that you abstain from sexual immorality. I think one could make a few posts on this. Right now Rick Warren is back tracking on this particular issue. Quite frankly, though I think we have enough work to do in addressing this situation to those in the church. I don’t think this has to be a political issue. Law is not the realm of the church. But I would hate to see the church forced to do homosexual weddings as is now the case in Sweden.
I want to say at the outset that this isn’t about progressive sanctification. You don’t sanctify yourself by abstaining from sexual immorality. But a sanctified Christian living the life sanctified by God does not want to soil his/her sanctification with sexual immorality.
Quite frankly, I think we have dropped the ball as a church on this one. Mostly we are embarrassed to talk about it. The topic rarely comes up in sermons. Our kids are bombarded with sexual immorality. It is expected of them these days in the culture. For some reason our schools think they are nothing but animals, and to borrow the line from the Bloodhound Gang, expect them to do it like they do on the discovery channel. That is right it is expected of them. This is a shameful situation. It wasn’t much different in Paul’s day among the gentiles who didn’t know God. Boys paid for their education performing sexual favors for their teachers. Girls well they didn’t normally go to school, but became quite learned in matters of sex. A short walk through the alleys of Pompeii gives you an idea of what life was like, as the ancient life is graphically displayed in the well preserved frescoes. It is no stretch of the imagination to think that Christian often found themselves falling to the prevalent temptations. Especially when they came out of a life that thought little of it. Men were not expected to be chaste, though women were to be faithful to their husbands, if they weren’t sold into prostitution. Men were expected to patronize the brothels, it was in fact a religious duty they had. So nothing much has changed since Paul wrote this, except that the church is too embarrassed to talk about it.
I sometimes wonder though when it is so prevalent everywhere, why I am supposed to pussyfoot around the subject from the pulpit. I guess I do to spare the innocence of the younger ears in the congregation, though likelyhood has it, they would not know what I was talking about. I have been blunt about it with high school students once. I got a little heat over that. And maybe I was a bit graphic in my description of their iniquity, but it got the point across so I really don’t care what their parents think. No I don’t. I care about their kids too much to care if the parents are offended I spoke to their children that way. Get a clue parents, your kids are playing Russian Roulette. One quarter of all girls graduating from high school have an std. Likely the others have only beaten the odds and will succumb to something in the next few years. Make that half if you are African American. This is an epidemic of sexual hygiene. And we are dumb about it. As in silent. Too many of us think we are still in the fifties, meanwhile Christian girls are having anal intercourse in order to preserve their virginity as if that dealt only with the hymen. Seriously we need to teach our young men and girls to respect themselves more than that. We need to start teaching them that they are worth more than that, and they aren’t just mammals. They are God’s children, holy, pure, and forgiven. That God has a better plan for them to than to be someone’s play toy on a Friday night.
Not that we should treat it as taboo either. I think that has been the basic problem. It is taboo. It shouldn’t be. Neither should we be shocked and offended to hear that it happens, or that one of ours is guilty of it. We need to keep that forgiveness thing in mind. God wills us to be chaste. That is our sanctification, but our sanctification is found in forgiveness. I think we also have to start giving up the idea of the forced celibacy until they are 28 and have a successful law firm. Nothing wrong with marriage. Too young? No, I think we just have stupid ideas about what is best for people. We impose the impossible on the youth with these ideas. Well maybe it isn’t impossible for all. Some can wait till they are 28. But even those might be better off marrying a little younger. We treat it though as if they are ending their lives, and setting themselves up for failure if they marry before graduating college. I tend to thing maybe they are setting themselves up for failure by trying to wait that long. I guess it depends on what you think failure is. But my guess is our ways are not God’s. We need to start speaking about this more and more with our youth, especially in confirmation.


Friend of the Predigtamt said...

Finally, another dude who is aware of "Technical Virginity"...I've mentioned about that to some LCMS church worker and she defecated little green apples.

The abstinence programmes that I saw are un-Lutheran in theology and sets teens up for a huge failure. It's all about YOUR willpower, YOUR decision to be pure, YOUR co-operation with God. And once you broke your hymen, consider yourself damaged goods. What a horrid burden upon your conscience!

The funny thing about marriage is that when we were in Irvine, I got the impression that if you are not engaged or married by the senior year, something is badly wrong with you. Not once I hear any students telling me that they are waiting 'til 28 to start looking for Mr Right.

Bror Erickson said...

Friend of the Predigtamt,
No, I suppose most of them weren't waiting for 28. I just throw that age out there.
I am mixed on abstinence programs. I definitely think that abstinence till marriage is the the best, and most healthy approach. I also think that we put a huge burden on the children expecting them to wait so long for marriage. And forgiveness needs to be key to any Christian conversation on the topic. No one is ever damaged goods in Christ.

Nancy said...

I had a friend who was especially concerned about her wedding dress...She felt that she had sinned and it would be inappropriate for her to wear white...The pastor in counseling asked her if, when she had understood the word on abstaining from sexual immorality she had asked forgiveness...She answered yes...He replied...buy the white one!