Hi, welcome to Redeem the Commute. I’m Ryan, your host of the Daily Challenges. Today’s Wednesday, so it’s the day we try to let our thoughts be challenged and transformed by the words of the Bible that we saw yesterday.
We’re exploring how following Jesus resets our views of sex and marriage, using a passage from the Bible where the author, Paul, related misuse of food with misuse of sex. To justify unlimited sexual freedom, people will say, things like: Sex is a natural part of life. We have a need for sexual release, just like a need for food and water. I just need to meet the right person, be sexually compatible with someone, to find fulfillment.
To say that, we have to separate our physical selves from our spiritual selves, and God didn’t design them to be divided. Paul makes it very clear, our bodies are not just a throwaway container for our souls, but they are part and parcel of who we are as God’s creations. God didn’t create us as souls with containers, but as human beings…all in one.
The Corinthian Christians he wrote were those who committed to intentionally practicing life in God’s kingdom, even while they are still in this world. That’s what makes them Christians, they are followers of Jesus, and members of a church community.
When the Corinthians decided to be Christians, to follow Jesus and reconnect with God through his power rather than their own, they weren’t just making a decision that impacted their souls, but that impacted every part of who they were, bodies included.
Paul goes so far as to say they are joined with Christ…not just in some spiritual sense, but in a way so physical, tangible and real that he says if they go and join their bodies with a prostitute…it’s like they have joined Christ with a prostitute.
That is a clear image that our bodies matter, the physical reality of sex matters as much as the spiritual aspect, and so following Jesus naturally means trying to view sexuality in light of God’s kingdom plans, rather than our own plans.
So what did God make sex for? What limits did he give, or what boundaries did he lay out? It might surprise you. Here is what comes after yesterday’s reading from 1 Corinthians:
7 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 Now as a concession, not a command, I say this. 7 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. 8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. 9 But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
See how Paul views marriage and celibacy as “containers” for sexuality.
First, he encourages people to be celibate like him. Recognizes that’s hard, but full devotion to God’s kingdom is what he’s all about, and why many have chosen celibacy like him. In a culture obsessed with sex, like our own, this is a clear way to signal that sex is not a god to be worshipped, it is not our identity, it is not all that our culture says it is.
For those who can’t be celibate, Paul gives a backup option of marriage. Most people assume that Christian teaching is entirely pro-marriage, but Paul only suggests it as a backup to celibacy!
Even within marriage, Paul makes clear there are God-given limits to sexual expression. Sex isn’t to be selfish, you give up authority over your body. Sex isn’t to be abusive, either. Sex, or depriving of sex, isn’t to be used to control someone. Sex isn’t to be the only reason for the relationship, the spouses should be able to stop for prayer. Yes, prayer is more important, another clear way for Paul to communicate that sex isn’t meant to be the ultimate goal in life, or our source of meaning – God is.
Question: Whether you’re married or not, how does this lens of having been reset in Christ change your views of marriage and sex? Does it challenge our culture’s view?Read the Bible in Sync Today