I teach the Bible verse by verse, book by book. I love teaching the Bible this way as it preserves the context of the books and also forces us to deal with some hard issues like church discipline, politics and any of the social issues that are hot in today’s world.
Even when I know that there will be possible waves made by a passage of Scripture, I pray and trust God’s Word and His Holy Spirit to work things out. I try to pass on the content and meaning of the passage in a way that is as unfiltered as possible. Filled with the love and grace of Jesus, always to the best of my ability, but hopefully not filled with my desire to manage the Word. My opinion is never what people should hear, but what the Lord has to say on a subject.
In my time teaching God’s Word, I have covered a lot of tough subjects. Strangely enough, the one that has been providing me the most personal discomfort is sex. Yes, sex the normal healthy expression of a married couple’s love for each other is making me squirm, I admit it. I am in church teaching the Bible, I should not be talking about (drops to a whisper) S-E-X should I?
I don’t think I am alone on this either. The passages that I have taught on are from 1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 6 – 7 where Paul talks about bad versions of sexuality and then sexual intimacy in marriage. As part of my preparation, I read commentaries and sometimes listen to what other pastors have said about the passage.
The funny thing that I have noticed is that the other pastors are squirming too. We as a group are just flat out uncomfortable talking about sex. Christians in general just don’t like talking about it. It is understandable but I don’t think on a whole it is a good thing.
If you look at God’s plan for sex in the Bible, it is a wonderful thing. It is a gift given from the Lord to a man and his wife to make them one in a unique way. Paul takes us back to Genesis in 1 Corinthians, when he says that sexual intimacy results in two becoming one flesh in the marriage bed. Consider that amazing truth. Two separately created images of God become one in a way that God Himself planned for the good of two of His children and their marriage. That alone is pretty mind boggling.
Also fascinating is the link that God lays out between this same sexual intimacy and the relationship between Jesus and His church. Jesus’ relationship is not sexual, not saying that at all, but what is the picture of the relationship between the Lord and His church – Bridegroom and Bride. What is the feast that we will celebrate with Jesus when He returns to take us home – the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. God has deliberately linked the unbelievable closeness and love of the marital relationship between a man and his wife with that of Jesus and His church. For us as physical beings, two becoming one flesh is a big part of that picture. It points us forward to the amazing love and communion that Jesus will have with His church for all eternity. It is a wonderful blessing from the Lord and something that we as a church should rejoice over. God gave us something that points us to what is to come with Jesus in a spiritual way.
The world takes that intention of God to bond two into one in marriage and twists it so far out of whack that the result looks nothing like the original. Have you noticed how many times I have had to use limiting descriptors in this post? The world’s version is one of bondage, power, addiction and sometimes just filthy enslavement. Paul talks about the result of this alteration even being bonding the Holy Spirit and Jesus with a prostitute at times. Yuck! Yes, this is bad. The world’s version of sexual intimacy is not God’s.
Paul talks about the result of this alteration even being bonding the Holy Spirit and Jesus with a prostitute at times. Yuck! Yes, this is bad. The world’s version of sexual intimacy is not God’s and we are good to avoid it.
But the church often responds to this worldly picture by snapping back to the opposite extreme. Bad, Bad, Bad! Sex is bad! We can’t even talk about sex even if you are married. Shameful!
God created sexual intimacy between husband and wife and talks about it in the Bible quite a bit and yet our response ranges from uncomfortable avoidance of the subject to fire and brimstone pronouncements of shamefulness. It seems like we are letting the world and its sins dictate to the church rather than listening to God’s direction and following God’s intentions.
Yes, the world’s version of sex is not God’s but the point is God has a version. Since it is God’s, it is good and holy and sanctified and meant for His people and their good as He lays out. Since it is from God, it is a thing of joy that we should be grateful for and not ashamed of. We will not know the truth about marital intimacy “as He lays out” if we don’t talk about it, even in church.
If we retreat from that truth than we rob His people of the benefit of His direction on something He created for their good to avoid the world. This is just unfair to God’s people and leaves them open to filling in the gaps of information with the stuff from the world – which it is only too happy to provide.
So I still might be uncomfortable when talking about the sex-focused sections of Scripture, sex was a forbidden subject for me growing up but that is another story. If I ever teach the Song of Solomon I will likely be bright red during the entire time, two words – catholic school.
But God intended marital intimacy between a husband and wife to be something special and wonderful for us. Something that created a new oneness and makes a marriage better while also pointing to God. We should embrace that gift as it was intended and try not to shy away from the subject when God puts it before us. God talks about so we should too, regardless of what the world has done.