Last fall, I had coffee with a new believer who is in her 20s, and during our conversation, I learned that she was living with her boyfriend. This information surprised me, but it shouldn't have. New believer. Didn't grow up in a Christian home (or even in the Bible belt). And while she had been attending Brook Hills for a few months, she didn't know much about studying Scripture and wasn't in the Word with any sort of regularity. In my college small group, one of the girl's parents did not even get married until after having lived together for several years. Several of my girls - some from Christian homes, some with unbelieving parents - have been sexually active.
My point is that we cannot assume people - including Christians - know what the Bible teaches regarding sex. Or if you grew up hearing about "True Love Waits" in your church youth group, all you know is not to have premarital sex. You know what NOT to do (or you at least know not to have intercourse before marriage. Don't get me started on the fact that many people in the church do not understand that sexual intimacy involves more than just intercourse). You hear the prohibitions, but no one provides biblical teaching on sex beyond the prohibitions, which is one reason why I so appreciated Pastor Jim's sermon from yesterday.
If the church remains silent on issues such as sexuality and marriage because it's uncomfortable to talk about, then we shouldn't be surprised if people in our faith families look and act just like the world. During the sermon, I thought about the different family backgrounds and experiences represented by the people in the worship gathering. I wondered how many of those listening had been taught to think that sex is dirty or shameful. How many women who had heard that sex is something that the female has to "endure" in marriage. How many women who saw and heard growing up that cohabitation is acceptable, that divorce is to be expected, or that you can sleep with whoever whenever you want. What we have been explicitly and implicitly taught about sex and marriage affects us. What have you been taught? How has that affected your perception of sex, marriage, and relationships?
For those who are single, Paul states twice in 1 Corinthians 7:6-8 that he wishes everyone would remain single, and he calls singleness a “gift.” What does this mean? How is singleness a gift? Do you consider your singleness to be a gift or a curse? Have you made an idol out of marriage? How are you using your singleness for the glory of God? How are you making the most of your singleness for God’s Kingdom and not just for your own pleasure?
For those who are married, how is your marriage proclaiming the gospel? This is one of the purposes of marriage (Eph. 5:22-33). In what ways, wives, are you living out your role of glad submission to your husband? What challenges do you face in fulfilling your role in your marriage relationship? What steps can be taken to address those challenges? What thoughts, attitudes, and actions hinder you from gladly loving and serving your husband through sexual intimacy? With regards to intimacy, how can you better serve your spouse this week?
For those with kids, how are you equipping your children to fight against sexual temptation? Who is teaching your child about sexuality? What temptations is your child facing at his or her particular age? When I was student teaching at a middle school back in Georgia, I had several of my 7th and 8th grade students get pregnant, and I even busted a 5th grader - a 5th grader! - for having condoms and telling a girl he wanted to use it on her. Especially in an age of smart phone apps such as Snapchat (an app that deletes pictures and messages after 10 seconds of being viewed), please talk to your kids about sexual immorality, the Internet, sexting (sending sexually explicit pictures or messages via text), etc. Use Pastor David’s three types of relationships from the previous week’s sermon to discuss with your child what is appropriate in each of their relationships. What are you explicitly and implicitly teaching your child about marriage and about sex? Often, kids hear about the things they should not do, but are they also hearing about God’s good design for sex?
Whether you are single or married, we are all encouraged to frequently express thanksgiving to God. He is sufficient, and He has a sovereign plan for each of our lives. How are you pursuing gratitude in your heart for where God has you? What specific things are you thankful for? If you struggle with resentment, regret, jealousy, or wishing for a different lot in life, how can you combat these temptations? For you, what is at the root of such struggles? How can you intentionally practice gratitude this week?