GOOD SEX, BAD SEX
- Pastor Mark Driscoll
- 1 Corinthians 6:12-7:7
- April 23, 2006
Father God, thank you for being a good father who loves us, who cares for us. Who cares enough to pay attention to our lives, to speak the truth to us. And God, I pray that tonight we would accept that you’re a good father, and when you tell us to do something it’s because you love us and you want good things for us. When you tell us not to do something, it is likewise because you love us, and you want to prevent us from running headlong into harm like foolish children are so prone to do. I pray tonight as we listen to the teachings of your Word that we would acknowledge that at times we are like rebellious children who think they know better than their father – but indeed, we don’t.
May you bring us to repentance and honesty and the truth. May you send the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin. And may you keep the person and work of Jesus ever-present on the forefront of our thinking, so that we would have hope to be different people with different lives. And so we give our time to you in Jesus’ good name. Amen.
Well, to establish context, the Corinthian church that Paul is writing this letter to was a lot like Seattle. Everybody was young, hip, cool, single, unmarried, living in condos, drinking cocktails. You know, posting weird ads on Craigslist, hanging out at Starbucks, trying to get lucky, break all the commandments – that’s what they were trying to do. And they were new Christians who came into church with all kinds of sexual experience; alternative lifestyles, total confusion about gender and the body and sex, and so even though they were Christians, they still had a lot of thinking and a lot of sexual activity that was incongruent with Christianity.
So Paul is dialoguing with them in this letter, and he is taking a lot of their objections to Christian teaching, and he is refuting them and explaining them patiently. So we will launch right in talking about bad sex. Okay – bad sex, beginning in chapter 6:12. Paul says, “Everything is permissible for me.” Actually, that is the Corinthians saying, “We can do whatever we want.” Paul responds by saying, “But not everything is beneficial.” The Corinthians were countering, then, “Everything is permissible for me.” But Paul then retorts, “But I will not be mastered by anything.”
So their first point is this: look, if there’s two consenting adults, no children, no rape, no abuse, and two consenting adults want to have sex, what’s wrong with that? It’s not against the law. We’re still upright, moral, law-abiding citizens. There’s no crime when an adult man and an adult woman get together, get naked, and have sex. Who cares? Who is it for us to judge? Paul says just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s moral. Just because the government accepts it doesn’t mean God accepts it. And just because the nation doesn’t have a problem with it doesn’t mean that God’s kingdom doesn’t have a problem with it.
But the ethical standards for God’s people and God’s kingdom is altogether superior to and higher than the normal world that we live in and the governments that we participate in. And so God’s standards are much higher. If all you can ascend to is just, “I don’t break the laws of my nation,” that is just the very beginning of Christian ethics. That is by no means the high-water mark of spirituality, morality, and a life that’s committed wholeheartedly to Jesus. In addition, what he is saying is this: they say, “Well, we’re free to do whatever we want.” And Paul says, “You’re not free, because you’re having sex.”
You’re out of control. You’re mastered and enslaved by it. Those of you who are porn addicts, you’re not free. Those of you who can’t stop sleeping with your boyfriend or girlfriend, you’re not free. Those of you who can’t stop going from one troubled relationship to another, you’re not free. You’re stuck in a rut of sin – habitual pattern of death – and you might fly under the banner of “I’m free, and I’m liberated, and I get to have sex with whomever I want, and I get to do as I please.” And Paul is saying, “No. In fact, you’re a slave.” Those who are free have self-control. Those who are free can say “no.”
Those who are free are not compelled to disobey God, because that is not freedom; that is death. And that is enslavement to one’s lusts and sin, which leads to nothing but trouble. Again, some of you will come in here, Christian and non, say, “Two consenting adults – where is the problem?” The problem is that you belong to God. The problem is you were made by God. The problem is you will answer to God. And the problem is that though the state doesn’t have a problem with such things as sex before marriage – which is fornication.
Just because the state doesn’t have a problem with it – there’s a lot of things that legally are permissible, but are not good for you, in this country. Paul says the same thing in his day. He then continues – it’s getting quiet. Everybody’s saying, “He’s gonna tell me to keep my pants on.” Yes, he is. Verse 13 – and some of you right now are whispering in your girlfriend’s ear, “He’s not talking to us, baby. We’re married in our heart.” What he means is you’re married in your pants. That’s what he means, so don’t listen to him. That’s the devil, right? That’s the devil. Don’t listen to him. “We’re married in God’s eyes.” No. God’s eyes are blazing fire, blinking. You’re not married in his eyes – you’re kindling, right? Knock it off.
Verse 13 – “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food” – verse 13 the Corinthians say – “but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality.” “It’s not?” No, it wasn’t. “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord” – that’s Jesus – “from the dead, and he will raise us also.”
Here we go. Here’s what he’s saying: the Corinthians were saying, “We just have natural biological urges. When you’re hungry, you eat. When you’re thirsty, you drink. When you got snot in your nose, you blow your nose. Dudes have needs. What’s so different about that natural biological function? Because nobody goes, ‘Oh my goodness, you ate! Oh, you’re going to hell for that.’”
You know, I was hungry, we ate; that’s what we do. What the Corinthians are saying, isn’t the sexual drive and desire, isn’t that just a natural normal biological function? And if it’s just a natural normal biological function, why do we say it’s “dirty” if we do something about it? Why do we say it’s unacceptable? This is just physiology. This is just biology. This is just the body just functioning. What’s so gross about that? Some of you have heard this. You’ve been told you’re a highly evolved animal – that’s all you are.
You have base needs and instincts, and you should act on those, because after all, you’re just an animal. “Well, that’s just the way we are.” We’re just highly evolved animals; that’s all we are. And whenever we feel the urge, we should just relieve the urge, and we should have sex. And it’s a biological function. It’s good. It’s just the clashing together of two bodies. What’s the harm? Where’s the foul?” Yeah, you’re also an image-bearer of God. You’re not an animal. As an image-bearer of God, you have dignity, value and worth. And when two people have sex, it’s not like two animals that don’t have souls.
It’s two human beings that do have souls, and when they have sex their souls are connected, not just their bodies. And that is a sacred thing, and that’s why great damage is done when sex is inappropriate, because it damages, wounds, shames, scars the soul. The invisible, immaterial, image-bearing portion of who we are is marred and stained, and oftentimes altogether broken because of sexual sin. It’s not just two bodies coming together. When you have that ideology, though – sort of Darwinian evolution, you’re a highly evolved animal. If it scratches, itch. If you’re hungry, eat. If you’re thirsty, drink. If you have an urge, then go find somebody to have sex with.
If you continue that, you end up with a kind of illogic that we live within our culture. See, you can’t just be an absolute pure materialist and still hold to any Christian concept of sexuality. You just can’t be. He then goes on, and he says that one of the arguments they are giving is essentially this: “It’s my body. I get to do what I want to do.” You ever heard this? Right? “Get your hands off my body.” They even had those bumper stickers on their camels. There’s nothing new, right? “It’s my body!” Really – it is your body? Who told you that? See, what he’s saying is this: who made your Body? God. Who came to live without sin in a body, be tempted in a body, die and rise in a body, to redeem you and your body? Your God, Jesus Christ.
Who’s coming again to judge you in your body, including the deeds and misdeeds you’ve done in your body? Who will you spend eternity within your body? Jesus. So who owns your body? It ain’t you. If you went to public school, you could still figure that out. He made it, he redeemed it, it’s gonna be with him – it looks like it’s his, right? It is his body. The body belongs to Jesus Christ, who redeemed it. So you can’t say, “It’s my body! It’s my body!” You didn’t make the thing. You didn’t redeem the thing. You’re not gonna resurrect the thing. It’s all on loan. Be a good steward of it. Jesus didn’t give you this body to go whoring around and doing sin. That’s not why he gave you the body.
He gave you the body to honor him, to enjoy life, to worship him, to obey him – not to dishonor him, not to disregard him. That is not what he intended in giving us physical bodies. So these kinds of arguments – isn’t it curious – they’re really not that new. They’re the same old arguments. “We’re consenting adults!” But you’re acting like children. “Well, it’s a natural biological urge.” You’re not an animal. “Well, it’s my body!” Actually, it’s not. It’s a gift from God on loan; be a good steward. See, as Christians we view gender, we view sex, we view marriage, we view relationship, altogether different.
Paul continues, verse 15: “Do you now know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!” Some of you say, “I’ve never been with a prostitute.” Prostitution is where sexual favors are done in exchange for some form of compensation. For some women, it is obvious, because you give them money and they do sexual favors. Same thing for some men – you give them money, and they do sexual favors. For others, it’s more subtle and sly.
The guy pulls up, takes the lady out to dinner, a nice play, a game, spends a couple hundred bucks, and at the end of the date assumes that he has a right to a sexual favor because he spent a lot of money. We call that prostitution. Sometimes it’s $10.00 bills on the dresser, and sometimes it is dinner on the table, but either way, it is saying, “I am now paying for sex, and I expect to get it.” That’s why some women prefer to go Dutch, because that way they can look at the dude and say, “You didn’t pay for jack, and you’re not getting anything. We’re even.” Which shows you how absolutely corrupted the world we live in is, when a woman feels pressured to give at least some measure of sexual favor because a guy paid for a movie and a bucket of popcorn.
“Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute” – someone who is in some sort of exchange for sexual favor – “is one with her in body? For it is said, ‘The two will become one flesh.’” That is a quote from Genesis.
“But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.” Here’s what he’s saying: another argument that is given is, “I am an individual, and what I do just affects me – particularly sexually. What I do does not involve you. This is a private matter. It is not a public matter. This is a personal matter. This is not a community issue. What I’m doing doesn’t hurt anyone. It’s just my life. Leave me alone.” How many teenagers pull this line? And the truth, what he’s saying is it does involve other people.
How many of you, your mom or dad gave this same stupid illogic? Had an affair, destroyed the family, ran off with someone else, looked at you and said, “Don’t take it personally. This is just my life. It doesn’t affect you.” What are you, nuts? When you have sex with somebody other than Mom or Dad, that affects the whole family, right? That affects everybody and everything. It’s cataclysmic damage across the horizon. When you have sex, you are betraying your family, your friends, their family, their friends. You’re betraying your church and the relationships that God has given you, if you love God. And it affects us all. We’re not islands of oasis. We’re connected. We’re connected together with our family and our friends and our church. And most importantly, we’re connected to Jesus. He’s gonna tell us in a moment that if you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit lives in you.
How many of you – you would live differently if Jesus was always hanging out with you? You’re going, “Hey, I’m going to the strip club with Jesus.” You’re like, “Probably not,” right? Right? “I’m making out with my girlfriend,” with Jesus. No, probably not. Jesus sees everything. You say, “But I turn the lights out.” He still sees everything. He knows everything. He’s all-present, and in some real sense, Jesus goes with his people, Paul is saying.
If Jesus were sitting here, would I do this? If Jesus were sitting here, would we be doing this? If not, then don’t do it, because where’s Jesus? Right there. Right there. That’s why we need to get into this constant understanding that we are never alone. We’re not individuals. We’re always with Jesus, and that’s a good thing. It’s a wonderful thing.
And it’s a tragic and terrible thing when we run off into sexual sin, because in some real way, we’re implicating Jesus in our sin, because he is present with us. Now, he’s not a sinner; he’s still clean and pure. But he is in some way so connected to us, Paul is saying, that when we’re out whoring around, we’re dragging Jesus along, and at least his reputation. Verse 18 – “Flee” – here’s what you do, then. You say, “Well, what do I do? What do I do? What do I do?” Here you go, I got a verse, verse 18: “Flee from sexual immorality.” Run like crazy. Run, run, run, run, run, right?
Girl comes up to you at the bar, “What’s your name?” My name is run really fast. My middle name is really. And just run, right? Just run for it. Dude comes up, “What’s your sign?” That’s my sign. Right, ladies? Give him the sign. I didn’t do it, but you know what I’m saying, right? Run! “You won’t have sex with me?” “No.” “Why?” “Jesus is here.” “Oh. That kills everything.” “I know. That’s why I said it.” Just run, run, run! You say, “But they’re really cute!” Run – fast! Run really fast, like Joseph from Potiphar’s wife. Just run! That’s why all single people should always wear track shoes no matter what, even when they’re sleeping – just in case.
“All other sins a man commits are outside his body,” right – like jaywalking, that’s out here, Sex – that’s a little more intimate. “But he who sins sexually sins against his own body. So you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit,” that God dwells in you if you are a Christian, “who is in you, whom you have received from God. You are not your” – what? “You are not your own.” You belong to Jesus. Why? “You were bought with a price.” What price? The sinless life, substitutionary death, bodily resurrection of Jesus, who came as our eternal God in body to be tempted, like we are, Hebrews 4 says, but never to sin as we do. Died to purchase us, to claim us as his own.
If you are a Christian, you belong to Jesus. You can’t say, “It’s just me.” Nope. “It’s my body.” Nope. “I get to do what I want.” Huh-uh; Jesus. If you’re a Christian, Jesus matters to you most. Jesus matters to you most, and if you care most about sex, that is your god, not Jesus. If Jesus is your God, those things become secondary priority. All things become secondary priority. You were bought with a price. Jesus has purchased us who believe in him as his people. We belong to him. “Therefore honor God with your body.” Honor God with your body, because the body is one of the ways that we honor and worship God.
What we do in the body is part of our relationship with God. Some of you say, “No, it’s not.” Yes, it is. Those of you who are having sex with your boyfriend or girlfriend – how’s your prayer life? How’s your Bible memorization? How’s your Scripture study? How’s your small group going? Bad. You can’t have sex with your girlfriend and then spend a lot of time meditating on Proverbs. You just feel nasty and gross about it. You can’t be a gal who’s sleeping with her boyfriend, who then gets done, climbs out of his bed, and goes to prayer meeting. You can’t. It does affect your relationship with God, absolutely, because sin separates you from others and you from God, and it leads to death, and it kills relationships, and that’s what it does.
So honor God with your body. Run from sexual sin. Let me make this clear. What he is saying is that not all sin has the same effects. Now, some of you are saying, “All sin is equal.” Okay, it is; great, you read James, ducky for you. But not all sin has the same effects. For example, if I go out right now and commit adultery, that affects my wife, my kids, the church, the reputation of the gospel. If I jaywalk, not exactly the same level of damage, I’ve done a lot of counseling with married couples; I’ve never had a couple come in and say, “He’s jaywalking. I don’t feel like I can trust him. I think we need a divorce. It’s irreconcilable. I just can’t be with a jaywalker.” I’ve never heard that.
What I’ve heard is, “He’s a porn addict.” “She’s a flirt.” “She’s got a boyfriend and a girlfriend, and another boyfriend. This isn’t good.” I’ve heard her come in and say, “Well, he’s running around on me.” Yeah, okay, that’s cataclysmic devastation. All other sins are outside of the body. It doesn’t mean they’re good, but it means when you’re sinning at the level of the soul, with a level of intimacy and sacredness that God intends for sexuality, that the damage is deeper and more cataclysmic. So what does that mean? Don’t have sex before marriage.
I’m as clear as I could be, right? Bad sex is all sex that’s not with your heterosexual spouse. All sex is bad sex that’s not sex only – I’ll add that too – with your heterosexual spouse. “I don’t have a spouse.” Then you have no sex. “But the sex was good.” No, it’s bad sex, okay? You are not allowed to have sex before marriage. “Okay, what else?” That’s it. Let me just state this, right? How many of you are single?
And I know some of you are already over the line, crazy, out of control, sexually involved, married in their heart – no, you’re not. You’re married in your pants. Knock it off. That’s what he’s saying. You can’t have sex before marriage. You say, “Well, what about other things?” None of it – no intercourse, outer course, upper course, downward course – you’re course-free. There’s no coursing of any kind. Geeze! You’ll be like, “Where’s the line? Where’s the line?” There is no line. Don’t do anything, and then get married, and then do it all. It’s easy. There’s no line.
It’s nothing or everything. That’s it. People come in, “Well, can we do this?” Whatever you’re thinking, you freak – no, you can’t do that, okay? It’s all bad sex. Okay, so now we’ll talk about the good sex. Chapter 7:1 – good sex – okay. “Now, for the matters you wrote about” – they got questions. “It is good for a man not to marry.” There’s a lot of married guys who are like, “Amen!” All right, put your hand down. That’s not what he’s talking about.
I think a better translation that’s a footnote in this translation – it’s predominant in some – is this: It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman. Meaning if you’re not married, you shouldn’t have any sexual relations, contact of any sort or kind, ever, no matter what, the end, period, thank you, Jesus, amen. Okay? “But since there is so much immorality” – you’re all crazy. You all got stuff. You all got sin. You’re all over the line. “Each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.” Here’s what he does simultaneously: he doesn’t condemn sex. He condemns sex outside of marriage, like fornication, which is sex before marriage.
He condemns sinful sex, not sex. Let me make that clear. We are not against sex. We are for marriage; that’s what we are, right? So what he’s saying is he’s not against sex, but he’s for marriage. You shouldn’t be having any sex, but since many of you want to have sex, you should get married. Not just run off and get married, but you should work toward marriage. You should aspire to marriage. You should prepare yourself for marriage. You should pursue Godly, appropriate marriage, and you should be married. This is the answer to the biological question. “I have desires – what should I do?” Get a job. Get some verses memorized. Walk with Jesus.
Meet a gal who loves the Lord. Go through the premarital class here. Get married. Go home. Enjoy each other. Keep the marriage bed pure. If you have desires, be married – that’s what he’s saying. You want to have that desire met? Don’t be some lazy, short-cutting man or woman looking for sex. You’re not looking for sex, you’re looking for marriage. Sex is a great benefit in marriage, but if all you’re looking for is sex you will avoid marriage, and sex only works in marriage. It’s like fire. It’s great in the fireplace. You take it out – trouble! Right? Sex is great in the marriage. You take it out – trouble!
Some of you know that. You’ve had broken hearts. You have regrets and remorse, and they said they loved you. They cheated on you, heartbreak, disaster, trouble, grief. Don’t pursue sex. Do aspire to marriage. That’s what he’s saying. So when you get married – how many of you are married? I’m married – married 13 years to my lovely wife. The next section is for Christian married people. Good verses. Verse 3: “The husband” – how many husbands – “The husband” – this is us, gentlemen – “should fulfill his marital duty to his wife.” That’s a good verse. We believe in a literal interpretation of Scripture, and we are putting the fun back in fundamentalism tonight – that’s what we’re doing!
What that means is a wife has sexual needs and desires, and the husband says, “Yes, ma’am – reporting for duty! He says, “Great. Then that’s what I’m doing, because I love you. I have a duty. I have a duty to satisfy you, to please you.”
Now, the Puritans get a bad rap on this. There was actually a Puritan church where a guy didn’t satisfy his wife, and they brought him up on church discipline.
That’s what I love about the woman in the Song of Solomon. She speaks first, she speaks often, she speaks frankly and freely. She tells her husband, “I like this. I don’t like this. This is good. This is bad.” Men don’t know. A lot of women are like, “He should know.” We don’t know jack about women. We know nothing. It is a total mystery, man. You have to tell us, in short sentences, preferably with a lot of verbs, because we just do not know what we are doing. We don’t know what we’re thinking let alone what you’re thinking. So you gotta tell us, okay, we’ll keep going. “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and,” “Likewise, the wife to her husband.”
Because see, what happens is sex gets negotiated in the marriage. No, no, no. It should be the husband saying, “Honey, whatever you want, makes you happy.” The wife saying, “Whatever you want, what makes you happy.” We serve each other, love each other, take care of one another; mutual satisfaction and joy. That is a Christian, Biblical, good, happy, delightful marriage. My next one’s good, too. Verse 4: “The wife’s body,” “does not belong to her alone, but also to her husband.”
You know, the wife wants to please her husband, wants to share her body with her husband, wants to give herself to her husband, wants to be the object of desire for her husband. And it keeps going – “The husband’s body does not belong to him alone, but also to his wife.”
Which means what? When she comes in and says, “I want to cuddle,” the dude’s like, “Cuddle? I don’t want to cuddle.” He will be doing what? Cuddling, because she has a verse too. “You’re gonna cuddle. That’s my body. Sit it down. Hold my hand. Rub my back. Brush my hair. Be my friend. Talk to me.” He can’t say, “I don’t do that.” “That’s my body – bring it over here and load it up with words and affection.” What this also means is the wife has jurisdiction over her husband’s body, which means if the wife says, “I want two eyebrows on my body,” you give her two eyebrows, right? If she says, “You need to bathe. You need to use deodorant – everywhere. You need to clip your nails. You need to get a haircut, and you need to use product, because you look homeless and it’s not good.” Right?
“You need during the weekends to dress like a human being. I’m tired of you walking around in your underwear and a wolf sweatshirt. You can no longer wear tennis shoes with a suit. You can no longer wear white socks with black pants. Knock it off – repent! Get some new socks. You need to wear cologne, right, so you smell nice to me.”
And so a husband should then say, “Baby, how could I be more attractive to you?” “If you could see your shoes – that would be attractive. Hit the treadmill.” “All right, that’s what we’re doing with your body,” right? Now, my wife and I, we have these conversations, right, and I’m like, “Do you like looking at me? What do you want?” She’s like, “I want you to shave.” That’s why I don’t have a beard. I like having a beard, because I grow one every 37 seconds, and it’s easier. I’m like a freaking Chia Pet, you know. I start in the morning – by the evening I’m like ZZ Topp. It’s crazy on Sunday, but she’s like, “I don’t like the beard.” Okay, cool. “I go to kiss you, and it’s all rough.” Okay, cool, because you know what, this is her body. So I dress it, care for it, tend to it, you know. Because why – because I love my wife, and I want her to look at me, and I want her to like being with me.
Verse 5: “Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. I say this as a concession, not as a command.”
Here’s what he’s saying: God made us male, female. Are men and women equal? Yes.
No need to fight. By virtue of creation, men and women are equal – but different – totally different. God made us male and female, made marriage, made the human body with lots of opportunities for sexual pleasure. But God made the body for sexual pleasure; made marriage as the context for sexual union to occur. And so you need to know that the body is made good, and marriage is made good, and sex is made good, and we may do bad things, but God’s original intentions were quite good. And some of you will think this is nasty, but God created sex.
It wasn’t like God made the man, made the women, went and got a ham sandwich, came back, and was like, “What the heck is that going on down there! Oh, my goodness – I can’t believe it – look at that craziness! I never knew they’d do that! Oh, how did they come up with that? That’s the freakiest thing I’ve ever seen!” You know? Right? I mean, you look at the parts and it’s like that seems to be what the plan was, right? God created the body for pleasure, for sex, to be enjoyed in marriage. So sex is good. The body is good. Nudity’s good. Providing it’s all in the context of marriage; that’s all. We’re not against sex; we’re for marriage.
And God made sex for multiple reasons. The first is, it is for pleasure. I mean Song of Solomon continually talks about sex without talking about children. I love my Catholic brothers and sisters, but the Catholic church oftentimes has taught, “Sex is for procreation.” It’s also for fun, you know – and so you can have fun. It’s enjoyable to be married and take care of one another. Pleasure’s fine; we’re all for pleasure, we’re all for joy, we’re all for satisfaction – in marriage – that’s all. That’s all.
Additionally, sex is for children. Genesis 1:28: “Be fruitful and multiply and increase in number.” That moment of greatest union and intimacy and love and trust and joy is when a child and life is brought into conception. We say it is beautiful, glorious and good. I’ve had five kids with my lovely wife, and I love the fact that I get to love this woman, enjoy this women, and bear children with this woman. It’s a wonderful gift of God.
Additionally, it’s for oneness. Genesis 2:24: “The husband and the wife became one flesh” – one. See, that’s the problem when you’re having sex with your boyfriend or girlfriend, you’re not one. You still have your own bank accounts, your own life. That’s why living together, cohabitation, has a higher divorce rate than just plain old marriage, because you can’t practice for marriage. You’re either one or you’re two. There is no such thing as one and one living parallel lives. Oneness is where you come together as one. That includes your checkbook, your schedule, your address, and your bodies, coming together as one. This is about intimacy. This is about connecting at the heart level and the soul level. This is about having more than just sex.
This is about having life together in love and joy and affection, bound together as God’s people. It is for pleasure. It is for children. It is for oneness. Genesis 4:1: “Adam lay with his wife Eve, and he knew her.” It’s for knowledge. You know what, I know my wife like no one knows her. I know her like no one knows her. I know her sin, and what Jesus has forgiven her for. I know her fears. I know her dreams. I know her past, her present; I know the hope of her future. She knows things of me; I know things of her that no one else knows. We have intimacy. We have knowledge of each other that leads to intimacy in the bedroom, where we know each other in a sexual way in a way that other people don’t have any relationship with us.
See and the problem is that so oftentimes the problem isn’t the marriage bed; it’s all the stuff outside of the marriage. When there’s not oneness, knowledge, trust, vulnerability, love that creeps into the bedroom, because if you don’t really know each other, and you’re not really connected to each other, it’s not going to lead to a good marriage bed. That’s why you must not have sex before marriage, because you can’t really get to know someone when you’re sleeping with them. You can’t ask them important questions. You can’t connect at the level of the heart, or the mind, or the soul. You can’t pray together.
You can’t work through theological disagreements. You can’t talk about past sin. You can’t bring up present sin. You can’t grow and mature together, because you’re totally compromised by the sexual relationship. You feel guilty. You feel ashamed. You feel dirty. You feel compromised. You feel paralyzed. You feel stuck. And you don’t really get to know a person, because you’re not talking through the matters of the heart. You’re preoccupied with the matters of the body.
Additionally, God gave sex for comfort – fifth point. This is often overlooked. 2 Samuel 12 gives an occasion where a child dies. The husband is just mourning and just devastated, and the wife comes to be with him, and they have sex in a loving, connecting way. And this is the way it works – I’ll give you an example. Husband comes home, long, hard day. Everything’s falling apart. He’s really stressed out. He’s really burdened. Wife says, “What can I do to help?” He says, “Honey, there’s nothing you can do. It’s totally out of your hands. It is what it is.” She says, “Well then, come here. Let me hold you. Let me talk to you. Let me kiss you. Let me snuggle with you. Let me make love to you. Let me at least have you not feel alone.”
See, sometimes we give our body as a gift to our spouse, as much for the connection and the comfort, you know? The wife who has gone through a catastrophe – maybe someone she loves, family or friend, has died. Comes home, is just devastated. The husband says, “I don’t know what to do; I can’t fix it. I can’t problem-solve it. I can’t make it go away. But what I can do it I can love you. I can embrace you. I can comfort you. I can lay with you. I can hold you. I can kiss you, so at least you don’t feel alone.” See, that’s why those who just have sex, they miss so many of the wonderful opportunities to connect at more than just the biological level. And lastly, here in 1 Corinthians 7, God gives sex for protection. If you’re in a marriage that doesn’t have frequent good sex – that doesn’t have intimacy, knowledge, oneness, connection – that doesn’t have pleasure – you are vulnerable to sexual temptation.
You are open to sexual danger, because the man whose emotional needs are unmet from his wife, all of a sudden another woman gives him compliments. Likewise with a wife – the husband who is not attentive to her because he’s too distracted, all of a sudden another man takes a fancy to her, encourages, compliments her, and starts to meet her needs. Next thing you know, an emotional connection leads to a physical connection, leads to devastation in all parts of the marriage. So what he’s saying is don’t deny one another. There is nothing, I think, that is as devastating as one person constantly wanting to be together, and the other constantly rejecting them. It’s disgraceful. It’s humiliating.
It’s embarrassing – “what, my own spouse doesn’t want to be with me? I’m always on offense; they’re always on defense – that’s no fun.” “You should not deny one another but by mutual consent.” What that means is if the husband wants to be together, you should be together. If the wife wants to be together, you should be together. Some say, “Well, how often? How often? How often?” You know what, the Bible doesn’t say. The Bible doesn’t say how often you should be together.
I’ve seen so many Christians neglect their spouses; neglect the emotional, physical, sexual union; neglect the intimacy, the investing in one another, the complementing and supporting of one another. And it’s, “I can’t believe that they weren’t faithful.” Well, you didn’t tend to your garden, and weeds grew up, is what Song of Solomon would say. You must tend to your garden; otherwise the weeds will indeed grow. And what he’s saying is this: if you deprive one another, and you’re not taking care of one another, and one person gets bitter, angry, frustrated, feels rejected, hurt, or let down, what happens is when you go to bed – and I want you to keep this visual image in your mind.
Husband goes to bed and lays over here, maybe with his back turned. Wife goes to bed over here, maybe with her back turned. And there’s a lot of space between them. What he’s saying is this: in that bed there’s room for Satan. That’s what he’s saying. That Satan crawls into that bed, and Satan sleeps between that couple; that there shouldn’t be that kind of distance, physically. That when there is, you’re giving Satan opportunity to get in there, create temptation, bitterness, anger, neglect, rejection, hurt, devastation, destruction, adultery, divorce – all kinds of things. The key is stay close together so there’s no room for Satan in your bed. That’s what Paul is saying.
Now, there may be occasions when you do not have regular sexual relationships. I’ll give you some examples. Husband goes on a business trip. The wife is in bed rest with a hard pregnancy. The wife just gave birth to a kid and is not able to have natural relations for a month or two. Maybe the marriage is really bad. Financially you’re out of control, you’re at each other’s throats, you’re angry, you’re not getting along, you’re fighting. You say, “You know what, we need to get help. We need to go to a pastor, Biblical counselor. We need to deal with our sin. We need to mature. We need to grow up. We need to change. And let’s work out all our junk, so then we can come together again, and then be together in loving unity and intimacy. Because right now we just feel like enemies and sleeping with my enemy is not any fun.” So you may have occasions when you take a break for a predescribed set number of days, for spiritual purposes or physical purposes, with the full intention of resuming normal relations as quickly as possible, before Satan gets in there.
So here’s what he’s saying: if you have a strong sexual desire, aspire to marriage. Work toward marriage. Prepare yourself to be married. But some of you are single, right? Some of you are unmarried. This is the point in the sermon where you all start whining.
Verse 7 is for the single people that are here, that have endured the whole sermon. Verse 7: Paul says, “I wish that all men were as I am.” Was he married or single? Single. We don’t know if he was always single, divorced, widowed – we don’t know. “But each man has his own gift from God. One has this gift, another has that.” What he’s saying is this: not everyone is married. Now, all of us are single at some point. Statistically, over 90 percent of you will marry, so most of you will be married. Some of you will never marry. Some of you will get married, and tragically, you’ll be divorced. We’ll deal with that in a few weeks.
Some of you will get married, and you’ll be widowed – your spouse will die, and you’ll be single again. So you’re all single at some point. Statistically, most of you will be married, and statistically, most of us will be single again at some point. So how should we view singleness? As a curse – “I’m cursed. I’m just cursed of God. I’m all by myself.” Should you view it that way? What did he just call singleness? A gift. There are married people here who would say, “I agree with that.” Right?
“Well, I know we shouldn’t be together, but I was a little bored, so I started hanging out with them because I was lonely. And they wanted to have sex, and I felt like it was time, and we were married in our heart, and I wasn’t really walking with the Lord. And then I felt guilty, so we got married, and now I hate their guts and want to kill myself. Singleness is a gift.” That’s true. It’s so much better to be single than married to the wrong person, amen? You can get married, and it can be miserable and horrible – if they don’t love Jesus, if they don’t love you, if they don’t want to have kids, or you have kids and they don’t want to take responsibility to raise them.
If they’re irresponsible, if they’re not dependable, if they won’t pray with you, worship Jesus with you, live life with you, confess sin to you, practice the gospel with you. If they won’t do that, Paul says you know what, being single is just a gift. Some of you are single and you’re like, “God, why have you held out on me?” He hasn’t held out on you. Jesus Christ was single. You’re in good company, and it’s not junior varsity – amen? You’re in good company. God became a human being, lived a full, happy, healthy, perfect life. Never had sex with a woman – he had a lot of woman friends. He never had sex with a guy – he had a lot of guy friends.
He had a full emotional life, lots of connection, meaningful significance. He had lots of ministry that he did, lots of people that he served. Nobody would look at Jesus and say, “Junior varsity – too bad he never got to have sex.” No. Jesus was single. Paul is single. Jeremiah was single. There’s lots of people in the Bible that were Godly, holy, good – God wasn’t holding out on them. You can live – and there are some ways that singleness is good. You can finish your degree. You can start your career. You have time for friends and family. You can do ministry that us married folk can’t do, particularly those of us with a lot of kids.
And you know what, maybe God is looking at it saying, “You know what, until the person comes along that I think is fit for you, my gift to you is nobody, because it’s better than heartbreak and devastation.” Nothing is better than evil, and some of you ladies are like, “No, I need a man.” You have a man. His name is Jesus. That’s the man you need. That’s the man you can walk with, you can talk to, you can hear from, you can pour out your soul to, you can trust. And if Jesus should provide another man that’s like him, then certainly welcome him. And if not, do not settle. Too many men settle, and particularly too many women settle. They get around 30, they start freaking out; “Oh my gosh, it’s like Christmas Eve, I’m the last thing on the shelf. Somebody better pick me!”
Calm down. It’s better to be single than divorced. It’s better to be single than devastated. It’s better to be single than destroyed. It’s a gift of God to not in desperation hook up with the wrong person and have an absolutely destroyed life – particularly when you’re into it with a few kids, and they’re implicated in that poor decision. It is a gift, and for those of you who are unmarried, I want you to see it as not the punishment of a mean father, but the blessed gift and protection of a loving father. There are too many marriages even that fly under the banner of Christian that we deal with, that should have never gotten married in the first place.
And now they need to honor their covenant, but it is long, hard, painful toil, and it would have been a gift had they waited and remained single, perhaps for the rest of their life. It would’ve been a gift. So I need you who are unmarried to know that God is not against you – he is for you. And that God is not cursing you – he is blessing you. And that God has given you the gift of singleness, and you need receive it as a gift. Some of you at this point are feeling bad because you’re already over the line. You say, “I’m not a virgin. I’ve got sexual experience. I’ve already blown it. I get the whole keep your hands to yourself, love Jesus, get married – I get it, but it’s too late. What about me?”
Now, here’s my story: I get it. I understand. I didn’t become a Christian till I was 19 years of age. Before that, I was sexually active. The worst regrets of my whole life are connected to that. Of all the things I’ve ever done, the one thing that I wish I could undo was not being a virgin when I got married, and not just being able to give myself to my lovely wife. We’ve been married 13 years, coming up on 14. That is my one regret. I had to confess all that to her in pre-marriage. I needed to call the woman that I had been with when I got saved, ask her forgiveness. I had to call her husband, ask his forgiveness. I had to deal with all of my sin.
It was painful. It was embarrassing. It was humiliating. It was unpleasant. But it was the truth, okay? And so some of you walk in here like I walked into my first church, saying, “Okay, I blew it – what now?” When I met Jesus I realized that I belonged to Jesus. My body belonged to Jesus as his Lordship extended over my pants. And that I needed to repent of sin and get my stuff together. And so I did. I repented. I stopped. I changed. I ran from sin and ran toward Christ. You can’t run toward both at the same time; they’re in opposite directions. Turned my back on sin, turned my face to Jesus, ran hard; been running hard ever since.
Here’s the good news: Christianity is a religion for those who have blown it. The truth is we’ve all sinned, fallen short of God’s glory. We’ve all blown it. We’re all sinners. Some of us it’s sexual – many of us it’s sexual. Some of us it’s other kinds of sin. Jesus Christ lived a sinless life, as my example. Jesus died for my sin, paying my penalty. Jesus rose to forgive my sin. He sent the Holy Spirit in me to enable me to live by a power not my own, to say “no” to sin, “yes” to God as a new man. So I assure you of this: Jesus Christ forgives sinners, he changes them, and he’s gracious and good like none other. And now Jesus has allowed me to be faithful to my wife.
I’m not the porn guy. I’m not the flirt with another girl guy. I’m not the emotional and inappropriate guy. I’m just not. I’m a one-woman man; I love my wife. I’m pleased with my wife. I enjoy my wife. I’m satisfied with my wife. I dig my wife. I’m into my wife. And it wasn’t going to be that way apart from Jesus, and it wasn’t that way, apart from Jesus, because in and of my natural self I’m all about destruction. But with Jesus, him controlling me through the Holy Spirit, enabling me to be a new man, I assure you, my heart, my mind, my desires, my life is changed. So my hope for you is that you are honest about your sin – particularly that which is sexual.
And that you give it to Jesus, and allow the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ to do its work, forgiving, cleansing, healing, renewing, redeeming, restoring. Sending the Holy Spirit to empower and enable you to live a new life as a new person, free of all of that shame and guilt – because some of you are carrying it around, thinking, “I’m damaged goods. I deserve what I’ve gotten. I should just settle because I’ve already blown it. Who would want to be with me?” You’re a new creation in Christ. Old things pass away, and all things become new, and God can and does restore and redeem people in a beautiful way. You need to take Jesus up on his word.
You need to give your sin to him and allow him to be the Lord who absolutely in every way will reshape, refashion, and remake you and your life, including your sexuality. We invite you to that; we invite you to Jesus. I’m a guy who can tell you firsthand that I understand, and I’m not standing up here saying, “You’d better have walked in here pure – otherwise there’s no hope for you.” However you walked in here, if you take the hand of Jesus, when you walk out, all things will be made good. I assure you of that – in his time, by his grace, through his power, by his death and his resurrection, people and things change.
We’re gonna give you a chance to respond to Jesus. Some of you will become a Christian tonight. You’ve had the wrong god – your god has been sex, – you’ve had the wrong god. You need to let that god go, and you need to take hands with the Lord Jesus Christ; the new God; the real God; the only God. For those of you that have, you need to confess your sin. Maybe for some of you, it’s single – being discontent, angry with God, for being single. Sexually inappropriate – maybe for some of you it’s marriage, and you have denied your spouse and used sex as a bartering chip to try and control the marriage, and you’ve created an embittered situation where Satan is sleeping in your bed. All of that needs to be repented to God and those you’ve sinned against.
When you’re ready to partake of communion, remembering body and blood of Jesus, we sing and celebrate that there’s new life in Christ. We give our tithes and offerings. And we leave here focused on the most important relationship, which alone satisfies the longings of the human heart, and that is a relationship with the living God, the Lord Jesus Christ. And we begin all of our relationships with that relationship, and through that relationship we’re able then to enter into other relationships whereby we don’t act like animals, and we don’ t treat people in inappropriate ways.
Father God, I thank you for your Word. It’s true, it’s perfect, it’s good. I thank you for the truth about us – that we’re imperfect, we’re liars, and we do evil. I thank you, God, that you can be as honest as you need to be, because Jesus has come to take away sin and to change us. And so you leave us not in condemnation, but in transformation. God, I thank you that you saved me from the hollow and empty way of life that I was pursuing. I pray that same thing for my friends here today. For those who are unmarried, God, I pray they would embrace your gift.
For those, Lord God, who are sexually immoral, fornicating, crossing boundaries that should not be crossed, I pray they would repent to those they are offending, and to you; that they would come to their senses, and a clean way of living. God, for those who are married, I pray that the marriage bed would be sweet, it would be pure; there would be frequent satisfaction and enjoyment. That there wouldn’t be separate lives being lived, but that the marriages would be marked by oneness and knowledge and pleasure and joy, and I pray you would bless those homes with children, and that there would be a good safeguard through pleasure and joy against temptation into sin.
God, for those of us who have blown it, we ask for grace, and we thank you that it comes through Jesus. Amen.
The Corinthian Church was filled with people who were in all sorts of sexual sin. Paul spoke frankly about the difference between good sex and bad sex while also refuting their silly arguments denying that the lordship of Jesus extended over their pants…