Monday, April 28, 2008

Go ahead ask anything - Sermon 3

Question 8: "Given it's potential for damage, why doesn't the church teach more about sex?"


This week Jim started out with a very funny story about a misunderstanding he had once with a woman on a plane - really, you need to download the podcast for this one, it is hilarious! Then he went through the following scriptures:

I Corinthians 6:9-11, Genesis 38:9, Song of Solomon 7:6-8, I Corinthians 6:13-20

Take home: To be in God's company you must stay in God's plan for sexuality.

Why is the church reluctant to talk about sex?
1. We are uncomfortable with our sexuality.
2. We are conditioned by our culture to think about sexuality in negative terms.
3. We are afraid of sexuality's power.
4. We are afraid because we might be rejected.

Jim then offered a few ideas for managing sex within a biblical framework:

1. Acknowledge that you are a sexual being. Sex is a good gift from God.
2. You must determine what your boundaries are. Set them a little further out than where you want to fight the battle.
3. Get an accountability partner.
4. Make sure that sexuality is part of the discussion in your home.
5. Protect yourself with some kind of Internet filter.

As always, Jim did a very good job setting the table for discussion... though there are always more things to say and additional comments to be made. Let's take them one by one and add a bit more commentary.

One and two can be taken together:
1. We are uncomfortable with our sexuality.
2. We are conditioned by our culture to think about sexuality in
negative terms.

Hmm... I actually think the "church" is more to blame for this than the culture. From at least the time of the puritans forward the church has been responsible for repressing any talk about sexuality in the culture. Who goes up in arms whenever there is a program on TV that talks about sex? The church! Jim is one of the very few pastors I know who is willing to hit this topic head on in church! Well done Jim!

Right now in Marion, IN there is a huge billboard with the word SEX in huge letters above a picture of two people's feet sticking out from under a blanket. It is an advertisement for a new church in town called "The River" where they are trying to actively engage the culture on issues like sex and money. Of course, they are the talk of the town - though not as positively as you might hope.

Lately, the culture has been on a quest to embrace sexual expression. To pull it out of the closet and into the public square. This is an over-reaction on the part of the culture. We (the church) must be very careful not to over-react in the opposite direction. We must maintain the discussion by balancing a healthy regard for sex with a strong desire to protect the abuse and degradation of men, women, and children.

3. We are afraid of sexuality's power.

I am not sure that "afraid" is the right term. Again, it throws the shadow of "bad" over sex. Rather, we do not know how to deal with the powerful draw of human sexuality. Sex sells! We all know that. But we are built that way - no matter how you slice it, the eyes of a heterosexual male will be drawn to the shape of the female body and vice ver se. This is neither wrong, nor is it unhealthy - it is the way GOD made us! The challenge is that God has asked us to exercise self control.

As with so many things that God made, we (the devil) have taken them and distorted what was beautiful, replacing it with something cheap and tawdry. The beauty of sex (and it's real power) lies in the way that it reinforces the spiritual link between two married people. There is some very interesting research emerging in this regard. When you look at the human brain during sex it lights up in the same way as it does when humans are meditating or praying intently. These intense spiritual experiences hit the pleasure regions of the brain with a jolt of incredibly powerful stimuli.

Equally fascinating is the observation that cocaine and pornography stimulate the same pleasure inducing synapses - trouble is, they do not link to anything real. Cocaine use leads to more cocaine use, porn addiction pulls the user away from their spouse and toward the fantasy world of porn. The power of pornography is that it pulls the user away from their spouse by linking them to an imaginary sex partner. Of course, extramarital affairs have the same effect - only with a real person at the other end.

4. We fear rejection: This is a fundamental human fear. We long to belong to a group. To be accepted for who we are and valued for what we believe. This fear of rejection plays itself out in many ways. Sex, is certainly one of them. As Jim described, we fear rejection on both ends of the sexual expression spectrum. Some of this can be drawn from out puritanical origins and some from our basic human fears.

Jim's four recommendations are sound - though it might have been helpful for him to expound on the second a bit more. Still, question #1 in the series is coming and I think he will be even more direct when he arrives there.

Do you think Jim's approach to this question was adequate?
What would you add or take away?
Are there passages in the Bible that address this subject with any more frankness than the ones Jim chose?
What do you think?

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