Click here for a debrief of last week's sermon on "The Cross and Christian Sexuality (Part 1)."
One of the first conversations I had in the office this morning involved noting that Pastor David strongly urged people to get into community and not deal with sin in isolation yet questioning whether or not our small group leaders (and the church at large) are equipped to address questions regarding homosexuality, pornography, masturbation, and how far is too far? Are parents equipped to talk about sexuality with their children? Big questions, so here's a few talking points about yesterday's sermon...
How Far Is Too Far?
Last fall, my small group discussed different aspects of biblical womanhood. On the week that we looked at 1 Corinthians 6 and the topic of purity, I had a list of actions (holding hands, cuddling, kissing on the lips, laying down together, etc.) and asked the girls to check the actions they thought were permissible in a dating/engaged relationship. This became something I talked through with them one-on-one outside of small group, and I quickly learned that we cannot assume that Christians are all on the same page when it comes to what's okay/not okay to do with your boyfriend.
Even though the Bible doesn't specifically mention dating or courtship, it does contain helpful principles that apply to the gray area of boundaries and what dating couples should or should not do together. In the sermon, Pastor David described three God-ordained categories for relationships between men and women: neighbor relationships, family relationships, and marriage relationships. Sexual activity of any kind is only permitted in the marriage relationship. So what are the implications for dating couples? Treat the person you're dating or engaged to as your sibling. Would you kiss your sibling on the lips? Would you make out with your sibling? Ask yourself that question when thinking through physical boundaries in your relationship, and remember that our working definition of sexual immorality is "sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and a woman." You may not like this response - that the standard for purity in your dating/engaged relationship is for nothing sexual to occur, but is your reason for not liking it the fact that you desire to do those things that ought to be reserved for marriage? This goes hand-in-hand with the clear sexual prohibition from the sermon on "No sexual looking or touching outside of marriage" (Gen. 9:22-24; Job 31:1-4; Matt. 5:27-29; Deut. 25:11-12; Heb. 13:4.
"Treat younger women as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, in all purity." -1 Timothy 5:1-2
No Entertaining Ourselves with or Joking Around about Sex Outside of Marriage
This one hit me and has caused me to question how accustomed I have become to hearing people's comments on TV or in conversations. My hearing has almost become dulled in this area because it is so common to hear people talk about who they did what with. And it is hypocritical to say I'm not going to do something, but I don't mind hearing about it or watching you do it (and even pay money to watch you do it)! Not only do we need to avoid participating in such sins ourselves, we need to avoid entertaining ourselves with others' sins. Also, think about how the things we read and watch affect our thinking and desires (and what we let our kids watch and what that does to shape their thinking). Are we filling ourselves and dwelling on things that honor God? Are we dulling our senses to the point that we don't see sexual immorality as all that bad and even find it entertaining? We should grieve over it and run from it, not pay money to see it!
"Sexual immorality and all impurity and covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among the saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God." -Ephesians 5:3
No Sexual Immodesty Provoking Wrong Sexual Desires for Others
Ladies, maybe you're tired of hearing "Modest is Hottest." Or maybe you never heard that cliche but heard "Dress for Success," which if you're looking for success in the guy department meant dressing in low-cut tops, short bottoms, and tight clothing. Does the way that you dress glorify God? Does it honor the men around you? This doesn't mean you have to wear turtlenecks, ankle-length baggy dresses, or a burkha. I do want to point out that the guys are responsible for what they do with their eyes and thoughts, so we don't "make" them sin with what we wear. At the same, we should want to dress in a way that doesn't tempt them or make it harder for them. It's one of those situations where we dress and act in a way that doesn't cause a brother to stumble.
So what should you wear? Here are a few questions that can help in thinking through clothing options, and if you still aren't sure, ask a trusted friend to help you. And if you aren't sure, then the safe decision would be not to wear it.
- Why do you want to wear that particular item of clothing? (What's your motivation? We know when we're trying to draw attention.)
- When you raise your arms, does your stomach show?
- When you bend down, do any of your undergarments show?
- When you put your arms by your side, do your hands touch fabric or skin? How much skin?
- Does your top show cleavage?
- Are your clothes too tight?
Also, do you spend more time concerned with what you look like then you do in time with God?
To reiterate, this isn't about legalism. It's about honoring God with our bodies. It's about our witness. It's about respecting and helping our brothers.
"likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearlers or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness - with good works." -1 Timothy 2:9-10
The Gospel and Pornography and Masturbation
These aren't just guy issues. Last summer, I discovered that a girl I disciple has struggled with masturbation. While I was shocked, I quickly learned that many women face temptation with these issues but are too ashamed to confess it. If this is you, I encourage you to find a godly, trusted woman and to ask her for prayer, accountability, and support. Christian counseling can also be helpful in equipping you to understand your sin and to overcome it. But don't try to deal with sin in isolation. This is one way that Satan keeps us trapped in our sin. What steps can you take, with God's help, to fight against temptation? What are the times that you struggle and want to give in the most to your sin? Plan ahead for such times (when you're alone on the weekend, when it's that time of the month, significant anniversaries, etc.). Get in the Word and get the Word in you! You may not feel like studying Scripture, memorizing Scripture, or talking to God, but you need Him and need His Word to fill your mind. You can't fight sin on your own strength, and He's provided His Spirit, His Word, and His people to come alongside you if you will let them.
For more information about fighting sin in your thoughts, visit these two previous posts: "The War Within" and "Shepherding People in Crisis (Part 1)." Also, be sure to download the additional handout (It's part of the Small Group Guide) from Sunday's sermon entitled "The Gospel and Pornography."
"Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against the soul." -1 Peter 2:11
What stood out to you the most about yesterday's sermon? What question(s) do you have regarding the sermon or sermon text? What convicted you? What encouraged you?
- Small Group Discussion Guide (This accompanies the sermon)
- Faith Family Worship Guide (A resource to help you discuss the sermon with your preschooler, child, or student)
- The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges
- Seeing with New Eyes by David Powlison
- Washed and Waiting by Wesley Hill (homosexuality)
- CCEF (Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation) has helpful resources on homosexuality and pornography
- Sex, Dating, and Relationships by Gerald Hiestand & Jay Thomas
- The Hole in Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung
- "Can We Talk About Same-Sex Marriage" (Earlier BH Women Blog post)